“The perfect restaurant; ambience, the orchestration, and most importantly the food. Oh, and did I mention the wine list? How about a wine list of nearly 600 labels that received the 2010 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for having “one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world”? In Groveland, too.

Bet you didn’t know you could travel any nearer than San Francisco to find such a kudo as that, did you? The Cellar Door is the impressive restaurant in the Groveland Hotel, and executive chef Greg Lutes crafts his dishes as an artist would, creating California-fresh cuisine worthy of the drive up the hill.

This particular trip (which, I might add, is only my first!), I started with a Bay shrimp stuffed California avocado with jalapeno lime dressing on a bed of greens and local tomatoes. Fresh and zesty with a jalapeno kick, it was as if everything had just come from the Farmer’s Market that morning. My entrée of radiatore pasta with Dungeness crab in a lemon dill cream with spinach was equally drool-worthy. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and the tartness of the lemon and dill complemented the shreds of fresh crab to a tee.

One of my dining companions ordered the salmon special, which is an inadequate identifier with Chef Greg’s delicate touch. I had to steal a bite, “…for the sake of the magazine!”, I exclaimed distracting him long enough to shave off a bite of this heavenly, moist filet. I didn’t really have room for dessert, but I sacrificed myself for the greater good and ordered the chocolate molten cake with strawberry sauce and mango sorbet, which was a lovely way to finish off my glass of Zinfandel, I must say.

I snuck a bite of my companion’s warm apple tart in caramel sauce and almost fell out of my chair from culinary ecstasy. Between Chef Greg’s expertise and tableside conversation, Lena, our attentive waitress, Tanya and Willow’s friendliness at the front desk, Peggy’s fascinating stories, and the splendid patio ambience, I’d say I’ve discovered quite a little slice of heaven at the Groveland Hotel!”

-Christine Tuohy

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