Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Gualala Here We Come

After a full day walking the beige cliffs of Ft. Bragg, we slept like the dead in our cabins in the woods and woke up the next day with all appendages intact.  After a quick perusal of the perimeter of our cabins, no Buckners appeared to be hiding in the early morning mist waiting to dismember us, so we all gathered in Bob and Nguyen's cabin for breakfast and planned our day.

When we first arrived in Mendocino county an artist studio tour was happening in the town of Gualala.  We were able to meet some fine painters and sculptors and see where they worked, but we didn't get a chance to actually explore the area.  We decided to remedy that and return to Gualala which meant, of course, a return to the coast highway.  I was getting used to sightseeing in the car with my eyes half closed.

After tooling around the town's neighborhoods and driving into the forests, I wanted to go back to the coast highway (yes - voluntarily) and check out the St. Orres Inn, nicknamed The Russian House, an imposing structure perched on the coast highway that we had passed earlier.  Designed by Eric Black the main building echos a romantic Russian heritage.  I imagined seeing the brothers Karamazov gallop by.

Was that the ghost of Anna Karenina or abused Patricia Buckner peeking out of a tower window?  Hopefully, it was a just a real live guest of the Inn.

Entering inside the main building you'll find the soaring tower windows which give off a dramatic effect... 

... and a stunning dining room that serves northern coastal cuisine.  What, no borscht?  

It was time for lunch, but you've heard of "no room at the inn" - well, here there was "no lunch at the Inn" so we drove into town and discovered the Gualala Hotel Restaurant & Saloon. My imagination again ran rampant as I pictured dance hall girls and dollar-a-night hookers dressed in red satin and black garter belts walking the long balcony beckoning passersby to "come on in."

First opened in the late 1800's the hotel was a place that housed loggers and mill workers and their "ladies of the evening," as well as guests traveling north from San Francisco.  Sadly, the original hotel burned down in 1903, but was soon reopened serving tourists, travelers and workers ever since.  If walls could talk, this hotel would have many tales to tell.

Before sitting down to eat I had to explore the interior of the restaurant.  Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday would love the saloon.

The dining rooms were smartly designed with a minimalist decor, highlighting the artwork and the white linen.

The hotel's executive chef, Christian Anderson's breakfast, lunch and dinner menus features fresh local fare with a wide variety of choices.  From the lunch menu, I opted for the chicken Caesar salad with a creamy lemon and anchovy dressing.  I love Caesar salads and eat them often.  This one was a favorite.  More chefs need to remember the anchovies - whether in the salad or the dressing.  It's just an ordinary grilled chicken salad otherwise.

Richard went for the fish and chips.  Crispy on the outside and oh so good on the inside.  The same can be said about the hand cut chips.

Bob and Nguyen shared the fish tacos - simply delicious.

Before leaving we met Christian, who baked us a loaf of sour dough bread to take back to our cabins.  Still warm when he brought it out to us, the aroma was so intoxicating I wanted to tear into it even though we had just finished lunch.  I refrained.  We saved it for dinner.

I was sorry to leave the Gualala Hotel, but it was time to continue our excellent adventure.


36601 S. Highway One
Gualala, Calif.  95445

GUALALA HOTEL - Restaurant & Saloon
39301 S. Highway One
Gualala, Calif.  95445