Yosemite National Park - Lodge at the Falls (last visit: May 2008).
This is the Lodge at the Fall's fine dining option - or perhaps I should say finer dining option, as compared to the Food Court.
The emphasis is on basic food. Entrées include simple preparations of trout, chicken, pasta and steak. Desserts tend toward the rich and heavy, such as flourless chocolate cake, mud pie, cheese cake and ice cream.
The single large high ceilinged room is made of wood boards. Lots of glass provides light during early evening hours. It's an informal, noisy place. I guess it tries to look like a modern lodge, but it's basically a plain, large room. Dress is very informal; my attire, slacks and a solid color t-shirt, was typical.
Service was pleasant but inexpert. Good: I was given a menu shortly after I was seated. Bad: it took a while for someone to take my order. Good: coffee and my appetizer came quickly. Bad: my entrée arrived far too soon; even though I'm a fast eater, my appetizer was just half finished.
If it sounds like the place was unexceptional, that's true - but it's also OK. The Mountain Room didn't pretend to be fancy; it was simply the fancier of the options available.
I started with the house bruschetta, served with warm spinach and artichoke spread. The four slices of crusty bread, buttered and toasted was OK; the dip was bland. Not bad, but not memorable.
Duck Confit and Pasta was a big bowl of penne pasta in a mild cream sauce, with goat cheese, tomato, spinach, onion and chives. There was a reasonable amount of duck meat. Confit? Maybe yes, maybe no, but the taste was fine. Taken as a whole, the dish was bland (do you sense a theme here?), but deserved a better than OK rating; call it half way to good.
Coffee was standard, as was the bread basket.
Expectations are everything. The Mountain Room made no pretensions about being a gourmet restaurant. Factoring in the location, my expectations were pretty low. The food exceeded my expectations; it was only fair, but not bad for a national park. It wasn't really worth the money, but what restaurant in a national park is? All in all, a reasonably happy experience.
The meal was $27, plus tip.
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