At Cottonwood Restaurant & Bar in Truckee, California, the building’s past as one of the nation’s oldest ski lodges, hand built from salvaged railroad ties in 1928, inspires the décor that features the original longboard skis, toboggans, sleds, and of course a pair of crutches. The building also has a “through the century” vibe with the vast dining room and deck added in the 1970s that overlook historic downtown Truckee. The evolution of this vibrant heritage of casually elegant dining and lively music scene inspires new ideas that flow from the historic setting, recently updated with soothing blue and beige tones, new carpet and natural wood tables that flow with the gorgeous views.
Exciting recent additions to the kitchen are chefs Ben Deinken and Joe Bell. Chef Ben served as Chef de Cuisine at the American Hotel, which hosted all of the broadcast networks during the Salt Lake City Olympics. He won first place at the P.C.A. cake and chocolate cooption in 2006 and was the Executive Chef at Chocolate Bar in Reno. At the West Shore Café, Chef Ben provided seasonal California cuisine and at Rapscallion he produced fresh seafood specials and top quality Angus Beef culinary creations. Chef Joe was the Executive Chef at Wild River Grille for five years after working with celebrity chef Mark Estee at Chez Louie, a French-inspired eatery located in the Nevada Museum of Art. Chef Joe was the opening chef of Feast, one of the best seafood and steak houses in Reno.
Chefs Ben and Joe leaned on all their culinary training to put together the best dishes Cottonwood has ever served, available now in the winter menu. https://cottonwoodrestaurant.com/menu-2/. From veggie to beef to game, they created a range of elegant comfort food. Their 3 Veggie Taco small plate offering evokes the feel and flavors of fresh, delicious street food, with all of the produce sourced from Tahoe Food Hub. The first bite of taco starts in the house made corn tortilla and continues through the roasted sweet potato and house made refried beans, topped with queso fresco, yellow salsa and a bit of cilantro with maybe a little sauce dripping down your chin. You won’t want to stop at three. Another fresh resource coup pulled off by Chef Ben is the fresh chickens from Delta Farm in Loomis, CA. https://www.delta-farm.com/about. With the motto of “Eat Clean, Live Well,” Delta Farm is raising pastured meats where quality and sustainability are equally important. Combined with produce from the Tahoe Food Hub, the half roasted chicken, flavored with thyme, garlic, parsley and shallots, is as succulent as you could hope for and is served with garlic whipped potatoes and a burnt orange sauce that pulls it all together.
With their Winter Green Salad, chefs Ben and Joe went as fresh and local as you can possibly get, with Tahoe Micro Greens (https://www.tahoemicrogreens.com/) providing fresh lettuces. Grown just for Cottonwood in a clean indoor environment that never uses pesticides, fertilizers, or even soil, the lettuce and microgreens are delivered live and used fresh. The lettuce greens are lightly chopped to retain peak flavor. Pickled cucumber, red onions and tomatoes are tossed with the salad and a sweet golden balsamic dressing and toasted pumpkin seeds. Other items on the menu include bone marrow with sweet shallot marmalade, bison, elk and venison in various forms, poutine and the classic Cottonwood whole leaf Caesar salad.
The chefs and their staff are looking forward to dishing out these comfort food favorites from the new commercial kitchen that is under construction on the east side of the Cottonwood dining room. Racing against the oncoming onslaught of winter, Mt. Lincoln Construction Co. is building a brand new 1,100 sq. ft. kitchen that will ensure the continued vitality of this historical treasure well into the 21st Century. In a few months, guests will enter through the 1920’s era bar and fireplace room to the 1970’s dining room, to be served nuanced flavors from the 2020 kitchen, while overlooking downtown Truckee built in the late 1800s. It will be three different centuries all rolled into one enveloping experience, with the artisans of current culinary creations providing the best, freshest, local sustainable agriculture in a delicious and lovely presentation for the enjoyment of guests, young and old.