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Posts Tagged ‘Imperial Hotel’

There’s nothing like house guests to propel you off the couch and out of the house.

It seems that every time we have visitors, we discover something new in our own backyard. Just when you think you know your neighborhood pretty darn well (especially when your town and all the towns around it are the size of postage stamps), an out-of-towner comes along and opens a previously unopened door and you think, how did I not know about this thing or place or person?

This was certainly the case this past week with my dad out in Drytown from Boston for eight days. We did our fair share of lounging around the house, attempting to keep cool in 100 degree heat, and we revisited some favorite haunts, but we also discovered a few amazing (a-ma-zing) new locations.

Over the year and five months we’ve been living in Amador County, we’ve started to rack up some great restaurants, bakeries, markets, hikes, and other fun local activities that are noteworthy enough to jot down for future days when guests are in town. Until now, though, they’ve been stored away in the cobwebs of my brain. For readers planning to tour the area or for those who just want a glimpse of life in gold country, I’ve decided to add a new feature to the blog, Foothill Finds.

The Foothills are nestled north to south along the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This is where the gold rush took place in the 1850s, and many of the towns here were once booming enough to be considered as potential state capitols (Drytown, which is now just a blip along Highway 49, once had 26 saloons in town!). Today the region is rural and sleepy, but there are plenty of historical points of interest, antique shops, good vineyards, good eats, and gorgeous landscapes to draw tourists to the area.

Foothill Finds will be part travelogue, part travel guide, a section in which I’ll share notes on where we’ve been that’s worth a detour.

So here goes, Foothill Finds, take one.

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Point of Interest: Imperial Hotel

Location: Amador City, CA

Activity: Drinks in the garden

Just three miles from our front door is the Imperial Hotel in the charming town of Amador City. We pass through there regularly for bread and pastries at our favorite local bakery, Andrae’s, and I go zipping through on my way to work at the Cheese Shoppe in Sutter Creek. But until last week, it had never occured to us to walk through the doors of the handsome 1879 brick facade of the Imperial.

So when Dad suggested we pop over for a drink, after hearing about the hotel all the way back in Boston, we jumped at the chance to investigate a new watering hole.

We drove the back road from Drytown past the Fremont and Bunker Hill mines and then down the hill into quiet Amador City, my favorite “city” in the area. The hotel sits facing the rest of town with a second story balcony that hangs out over the front of the building. The front door leads you straight into the saloon with an attractive barroom maintained in the style of what one would imagine were the glory days of the hotel.

We thought about sitting with the cowboy at the bar, but the room was heavily airconditioned, and I wanted to sit outside, so we walked through the long, exposed brick dining room to the back of the restaurant, where glass paneled doors led to an unexpected find, a European style garden.

Young olive trees, trellised vines, mini cypress in terra cotta planters, a bubbling fountain, and white globe lanterns overhead made us feel like we had stepped out the door into an Italian courtyard. What a heavenly perch for a pre-dinner drink.

Channeling my mother, my first reaction was, What a great spot for a party! And, as it turned out, they were hosting a rehearsal dinner in the garden an hour after we arrived. Had we not had to vacate our table for the incoming party, I could have easily whiled away the evening there. But an hour-long cocktail was plenty to appreciate the tranquility of the place and to add it to the “must return here” list.

Bastien and I ordered cosmopolitans, and Dad ordered a glass of Chandon Blanc de Noirs. And for $9, we split a Mediterranean Plate with house-made hummus, baba ghanoush, pita, greens with olives and roasted tomatoes. The rest of the menu advertises French and Italian influenced American bistro fare. A few highlights from the menu include Liberty Duck Breast ($29), Chicken Marsala ($23), Pumpkin ravioli ($13), and Bistro steak ($24).

The food, unfortunately, was the one disappointment of the evening. Someone in the kitchen clearly has yet to discover salt, and the hummus and baba ghanoush were completely bland. I can’t report on the rest of the food, as we didn’t stay for dinner, but as you can see from the photo below, our enjoyment was unmitigated by the flavorless appetizer.

It won’t be long before we’re headed back for more cosmos in the garden!

 

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