Reno – Memorial Day Weekend 2009

Where FOOD experiences become food EXPERIENCES.

Son Brian is being reassigned by the USDA from the Montpellier, France Lab to their lab in Reno NV. Carol and I traveled to Reno as advance scouts, as it were.

Lunch Saturday, May 23
The trip on California I-80 was one we had taken a few times – enroute to Lake Tahoe – including the stop for lunch at Ikeda in Auburn, the burger joint where everybody stops on their way to Tahoe. Traveling on to Reno was a new experience.

biggest little city...

biggest little city...

We arrived in Reno about 2:30 and got lost trying to find Peppermill, but broke off our search to meet with Brian’s realtor. Turns out we could see Peppermill from his office.

When we stepped into the Peppermill Resort and Casino, we were overwhelmed by the sprawling casino, not to mention the line at check-in, but there were six clerks on duty, so the line moved pretty fast. The only reason we were at the Peppermill was that C had mentioned it, and it was the same price as the Holiday Inn Express. Where to stay? That was a no-brainer.

Our room was in the Montego Bay Wing, a squat three-story motel type building off in back of the two hotel towers. It had only 14 rooms per floor.


To get there, we walked a series of long, but not oppressive corridors, past the Spa, outdoors and across a small parking lot. I liked that. While the walk was pretty long, we didn’t have to pack into an elevator and our wing was very quiet. I only saw one or two other people there.

Saturday Dinner
We had been told by Reno habitués that of the 11 restaurants Peppermill offers, the fish restaurant was a good choice, so we pulled out our trusty map of the hotel/casino and managed to find Oceana. How could we miss it?… Remember the Big Bopper song, “house o’ blue lights?”



As we sat waiting for our food, I was in awe over how they could use so many blue and green lights and yet balance the ambient light so that skin tones looked good.

My Ahi Tartare Tower and Carol’s Shrimp Louie

My Ahi Tartare Tower and Carol’s Shrimp Louie

Tower deconstructed

Tower deconstructed

Although the food was excellent in its presentation and taste, the setting was pure theater. My Ahi Tartare Tower was an architectural presentation of tuna tartare with avocado and crispy won ton. Carol’s Shrimp Louie was traditional, but with three sizes of shrimp. All yummy. And I must mention a 9 or 10-ounce pour of crisp and properly chilled white wine… for $8.

Sunday Breakfast
We took Sunday Breakfast at Biscotti’s Restaurant, overlooking the pool. The $13 Breakfast Pizza looked appealing, and I asked our server about the size, holding my hands in a “personal pizza” size circle. She assured us it was big enough for two.

May 09

Indeed, grilled flatbread topped with fresh tomatoes, scrambled eggs, arugula and cheese was a great way to start the morning.

Sunday Lunch


During the day, we were taken on a thorough tour of Reno’s neighborhoods and real estate, breaking for lunch at Red Robin, a huge burger joint in a strip mall. Good burgers and French Dip were served up by a painfully friendly staff. The quantities were extraordinary; I managed to eat about two-thirds of my French Dip sandwich, leaving the enormous pile of limp fries. The beer was good.

Sunday Dinner

By the end of the day, we were exhausted, and took refuge in the Chi Asian Restaurant, a “fine dining” restaurant just off the casino floor. C had the Lobster, prepared with ginger and Asian spices; I had Beef Chow Fun, one of my favorites. The food was plentiful but unremarkable, the secluded setting welcome.

Monday Brunch

We checked out of Peppermill and meandered through Virginia City to Carson City for brunch. We stopped at Mom & Pop’s Diner across from the State Capitol. Good food and friendly folks were the order of the morning.

Mom n Pop's Diner

Here’s my Breakfast Burrito served with Pop’s Potatoes… Yum. The potatoes were outstanding; crispy outside, moist and sweet inside. And I gotta show you the Men’s Room


A traveling note – avoid U.S. 50 in California, unless you enjoy a hundred miles of creepy crawly.

Monday, June 8, we’ll be off to Charlotte NC for a conference. I’m sure the food experiences there will be markedly different.

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