I love to live vicariously through my constant days of hard work and when I do, there’s usually an instant peace that somehow seems to make it all well worth the effort. Now take the holiday season for example. One thing I’ve always appreciated about the Christmas holiday season is getting together with unique family members and good friends I deeply care about. First of all, there’s a host of melodic vocal tones setting the pace for a terrific time. Obviously, I’m referring to the extra special harmonies created by happy festive voices traveling up and down the musical scales initiating legendary songs, while riveting expressive heart to heart exchanges.
Traditionally, these brilliant voices freely shout out amazing amounts of affirmative appreciations that enhance the magical points of emphasis. Needless to say, this is where everyone seems to be having a delightful time with assorted blessings, songs and individual charm. Now…that’s what I’m talking about.
On this specific day, my wife and I decided to take our out-of-town guests to Big Bear Lake for the day. She and I wanted to show them around the area which is quite beautiful in itself. We live in Arrowbear, California, which is a mountain community located about twenty-five minutes away from another mountain community, the quaint city of Big Bear Lake.
It was during the 2014 Christmas celebration that my daughter Brooke and her husband Jeremy had made plans to drive from their home in Sacramento (Northern California) to his brother’s house in Covina (Southern, California) for a few days of holiday spirit. That’s when I suggested that the two of them drive up the mountain and therefore, enjoy a day of total relaxation with two other people who love them very much; and they chose to do just that.
There’s nothing like the mountains during the holidays. To us mountain folks, it’s just another day in paradise; the ideal place to settle down. However, once travelers visit our alluring mountains, its distinctive styling becomes cemented in their minds and as luck would have it for everyone involved, today would be a pleasant day of food, fun and great conversation. Now, who could ever pass up an offer like this?
Year after year, Big Bear introduces three hundred days of sunshine, twenty-two miles of shoreline and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet in your life. In fact, flatlanders (locals who live down the mountain) and tourist (from around the country) alike, arrive on the scene in order to go boating, camping, hiking, etc., or maybe, just to spend time with friends and family.
Later in the afternoon, after showcasing numerous exhilarating spots of beauty and interest, we chose to stop at The Pines Lakefront for dinner and this was indeed a very good choice considering Glorietta and I hadn’t as of yet had the chance to dine at this particular eatery; mostly because, four months ago the new owners, my good friend, Dr. Jerry Lemke and his partner John Isaksen, had only recently announced the opening of their new and exciting fine dining restaurant.
The Pines Lakefront property instantly proved to be an adorable hideaway in the midst of everything that matters and at this time, it’s the only elegant place of dining situated on Big Bear Lake that features boat slips for those who choose to eat by way of boating. In other words, you drive to this eating spot and then, tie your boat to the dock while enjoying the sky’s gorgeous highlights, as you walk through the front door of The Pines Lakefront Restaurant, for “the Dine of your Life!”
The colorful brochures arranged on the table by the entrance announced that this meticulous business offers intimate lakefront dining; sunset cocktails on their heated outdoor garden patio, complete with a blazing fire pit; their perfect wedding and special event venue; a beautiful wedding gazebo lakeside; an award-winning chef’s admired gourmet menu; nightly piano music entertainment, a winter enthusiast’s happy hour beginning at 4pm and ending at 6pm; fine wines, liqueurs and cocktails; complimentary boat slips; smoked fish and game prepared from the restaurant’s personal smoker; and finally, fresh herbs that have been plucked from their private organic garden. From that point forward, I realized our group of four was in for a most remarkable dining experience.
One dining “plus” concerning the restaurant’s menu that I’d like to mention to future diners beforehand, is that once the four of us were handed menus everyone at our table instantaneously recognized the fact, that these menus were the perfect size as far as diners are concerned; meaning that it’s small enough to comfortably hold in one hand while pointing at your food selection with your other hand when ordering, without becoming overbearing. It measures a mere 14 inches by 8 ½ inches. Obviously, this menu had been created by someone who truly understands customer convenience.
The Pines Lakefront menu offered an extensive variety of food. It’s folded into six different sections featuring Breakfast, Luncheon, Dinner and a delicious assortment of items for Children. Additionally, it provides a special Gluten Free and Vegetarian Section. Wow, talk about catering to one’s clientele!
As an added bonus, the front of their menu contains the restaurant’s logo listed above a greeting from owners Dr. Jerry Lemke and John Isaksen explaining the Pines Lakefront’s theme, along with a picture of the restaurant. Then, last but certainly not least, a map showing its physical address, telephone number and email address. After familiarizing ourselves with the brochure and menu, my party of four just could not wait to sample their intriguing cuisine and that was a good thing.
To get things started, we slowly browsed the dinner menu careful to choose four different dishes, for it was time to sample a supply of invitational happiness. I firmly believe that when a group of people review a restaurant each should order a different dish. The reasoning for this way of thinking is how do you know that the food is any good if one doesn’t sample several entrees? The steak may taste good, but the seafood may not live up to standards. Finally, we were all ready to place our orders. My lady and I each chose the Tuscan Kale Salad ($13.00).
Kale or borecole is a vegetable with green or purple leaves in which the central leaves do not form a head. By the way, Kale’s considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated vegetables. This super green is one of the healthiest vegetables around and one way to relish the maximum nutrient is “raw through salads.” It was significant for all of us to eat well, but, still continue to eat healthy.
The Tuscan Kale Salad included yellow and brown raisins, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, fresh mangos, carrots and chef’s dressing. It was so delicious that Glorietta and I continued eyeing one another’s dish incase one of us finished first. Darn, I kept thinking. I wish she was already filled up so I could eat her leftovers. However, unfortunately for me, there was nothing left on either plate to savor.
My daughter and son-in-law ordered The Pines Lakefront Salad ($12.00) which was prepared with Butter Lettuce, Pine Nuts, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Roma Tomatoes and Raspberry Vinaigrette. The two of them announced in unison that their salads were quite tasty. Nevertheless, each continued to stare at us just in case our forks began to move towards their plates.
Next, our French Onion soups arrived piping hot, nevertheless, our guest reframed from partaking choosing instead to wait for their entrees. Of course that didn’t bother us. The two of us raved about the onion soup even more than we’d babbled over our salads. A single taste confirmed my feelings that the sweet onions in this particular soup…were to die for. In fact, one day in the near future, my wife and I plan to return for lunch and dine on nothing but, Tuscan Kale Salad, French Onion soup and their outrageously delectable bread. Oh yeah, create the hunger and they (people) will come!
Needless to say, the entrees were the real stars of the evening. Glorietta ordered the Ravioli with Ricotta, Mozzarella and Spinach Pasta ($17.00); Brooke requested Brook Trout Fillet ($24.00) which had been lightly breaded and spiced with Pines seasoning; Jeremy asked for the Linguine surrounded by Alfredo sauce ($17.00). I suppose the three fore-mentioned diners appreciated their entrees for I didn’t hear another word from any of them until they’d almost finished everything on their plates. The soft moans and enlightened groans along with the disappearance of food, guaranteed the fact of total enjoyment. Now let’s discuss my entrée, which was an indescribable pleasure.
As I feasted on the homemade bread and patiently sipped my glass of California’s Cabernet Sauvignon, I, Tito Luv, choose the marvelous Crab Cakes. Hmmm was my only dialogue. They were so satisfying that for the first time in my life I ate slowly and savored each tasteful mouthful. By the way, my bites were as small as any I’d ever taken in my privileged life.
The Crab Cakes were mouthwatering and simply scrumptious. In fact, the corners of my mouth handled the flavor with a mature attitude and respect. Naturally, all of us tried a slight taste of one another’s dish and afterwards, our eyes shined with total contentment.
Under the listings for desserts, there was a note expressing that diners should ask their server for the dessert specials of the day. However, there wasn’t a need for such a service at our table for it was always going to be Crème Brule for Two ($8.00), shared by the humans being sitting at the table. Simply put…it was wonderful, it was marvelous and everlasting! I even taste it now as I write this review.
Each and every bite melted in my mouth as it sang songs to me of pride and glory all the way down to my stomach. Stating it clearly, what a way to end a meal. The dish smelled so good I became afraid that our server (who at the time was bringing me a glass of Gran Marnier) might ask for a bite. Thank goodness he didn’t. This dish was rich with taste and texture. On my next visit, I plan to ask for a rematch.
The server (service) on the night we dined was excellent and we all appreciated his total effort. Of course, there were a few issues that new dining spots are known to have. Nonetheless, in the near future, I plan to revisit this fine establishment in order to write an updated restaurant review just to see how much it’s grown since its opening. Still, having only been in business for four months is much too soon to expect an absolute veteran’s aplomb.
The Pines Lakefront offers catering, and everything listed on their menu is available for carry-out. My name is Tito Luv and I suggest that you visit this fine restaurant. Then, you can officially brag to your friends and family that you’ve also had…The Dine of Your Life! For complete travel information, suggest that your family and friends go to www.mainperformanceusa.com.
Writer’s Note: Soon, you’ll be able to read my new travel book, “Dreams…Traveling with Tito Luv and Glorietta Valentine. It’ll be the sixth book I’ve written. After traveling to all 50 states, there will be photos, reviews and information on wining, dining, travel, interesting sites, etc., for your invigorating entertainment pleasure. For more information, please visit my author’s website at www.titoluv.com. Until next time, ciao!