Ciera Is Luxury For The Stomach And The Soul In South Lake Tahoe
The Secret Is Out About This Award-Winning Gem Tucked Away In The Sierras, But Its Not Letting It Get To Its Head
It might be one of Lake Tahoe’s best kept secrets, a four diamond AAA restaurant for seven consecutive years in the back of a so-so casino and resort, the Mont Bleu, in South Lake Tahoe.
You would never guess from the small dingy casino floor and cheap eateries that circle the crap and poker tables that a sophisticated restaurant calls this place home, but tucked in the back near a nightclub is the Ciera Steak and Chophouse (55 Highway 50, South Lake Tahoe, 775-588-3515).
This restaurant isn’t to be missed! It’s another world from whatever else is going on at the Mont Bleu from the moment you are greeted by the hostess and taking into the dining room past the extensive wine room into the depths of red velvet curtains that separate the secluded booths from the general dining area.
The décor is simple and minimalist, with rich cherry wood and eucalyptus walls with pearl colored square shades framing the dining room speaking sophistication. The service is impeccable. Not to mention the food is out of this world. It is high class all around, a true treat in the Sierras.
Babes and our friends expressed doubt when I told them prior to our first experience that we were dinning in the hotel restaurant that night. They might have thought I lost my mind as I normally avoid hotel restaurants, but they didn’t quite say as much.
None of us believed the treat that we were in for that evening as we were seated in front of the kitchen which opened up into the dining room giving us a view of all of the action and privacy at our table, provided by the high back red velvet chairs.
The menu was incredible displaying an impressive array of offerings from Escargot Bourguignon, freshly shucked Malpeque Oysters on the half shell, Lobster Bisque, Filet Mignon, Gorgonzola and Pine Nut Crusted Sea Bass and more topped off by Chocolate Soufflé and closed by perfectly ripped strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate.
The first time we experienced Cierra, Babes and I shared the Lobster Bisque for starters while our friends enjoyed the Escargot Bourguignon and freshly shucked Malpeque Oysters on the half shell for starters. Everything melted into our mouths in sheer delightful deliciousness. Four our main course, I enjoyed the Filet Mignon and our friend enjoyed the Asian Smoked Muscovy Duck Breast while Babes tried the healthier fare, the Free Range Chicken Breast Mediterranean. We washed our dinner down with our own bottle of a 2009 Rosenblum Zinfandel.
Each dish was presented with a little flare and prepared to perfection.
Then there was the chocolate soufflé that melted everywhere when we dug into the warm, gooey chocolately goodness. It was well worth the wait as we sat around enjoying the rest of our champagne and wine. If the chocolate soufflé wasn’t enough, Babes loved the final touch when dark chocolate dipped strawberries were brought out on a tray of dry ice as guests’ send off at the end of the meal.
After a succulent meal that put us over the top endearing us to the restaurant, which its service is one of the finest we’ve ever experienced. It was an exquisite and worth every penny.
Upon our second visit, Babes and I were delighted to find that the menu rarely changes, unlike other restaurants where menus change seasonally or a few times a year.
This allowed us to sample other delights. We started the evening off with the pop of the cork from our 2011 J Brut Cuvee and the usual selection of four different breads accompanied with three butters cranberry, pesto and sea salt. Babes and I select the Asiago Cheese bread fresh from the oven.
We follow that with the Organic Country Greens, which is a mixture of green leaf lettuce dressed up with Bosc pears, yellow and red pear tomatoes, candied pecans, and Blue Stilton cheese drizzled with champagne vinaigrette.
I still ordered the Filet Mignon, but Babes decided to try the Gorgonzola and Pine Nut Crusted Sea Bass served on a bed of grilled spinach bathed in a lavender and basil infused cream sauce. The bass is topped off with a lump of crabmeat. The cream sauce was the perfect accessory as it was a light accoutrement to the fish. I normally won’t go near fish unless its sushi, but I couldn’t even resist asking for a bite this time. I enjoyed every moment that it was in my mouth. Babes was silent other than the happy murmurs of joy and approval that came from her agreement with each bite. My filet was once again cooked to perfection.
For a side dish we indulged in the White Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes that were cheesy goodness.
The main meal was more than enough for us, so we skipped desert this time, opting for coffee and a Lemoncelo. The coffee is desert enough served with a selection of sugar sticks, cinnamon sticks, chocolate flakes, Irish cream, and whip cream.
Babes also wanted to save room for the chocolate covered strawberries.
Ciera exceeded our expectations beyond our belief trumping one of our other favorite Lake Tahoe restaurants by a trillion times, not that we won’t return to that locate again. It is clearly a much loved restaurant by others as well. Throughout the night we witnessed families and couples fill the room and the private booths that form an L-shape around the outer part of the restaurant from the entrance to the kitchen.
The tables were rarely vacant, but no one ever felt rushed. Be prepared to spend at least three hours if not more when you make a reservation. Also, Ciera is a later dining delight. The restaurant begins to fill up later in the evening around 9 p.m., not during regular dinner hours, at least each time we dined.
THE DIRTY DISH
Ciera Steak and Chophouse, 55 Highway 50, South Lake Tahoe, NV 89449; 775-588-3515, Montbleuresort.com/Ciera
TYPE OF RESTAURANT: American with European influence
RATING: 5 = midnight blue
(0 inedible – 5 simply scrumptious)
AMBIANCE: Sophisticated and intimate without pomp and an experience in South Lake Tahoe not to be missed.
SCENE: Sophisticated menu and service, but a dress jacket and collared shirt or an appropriate dress isn’t required. Perfect for a special date to impress or pop the question or an extra special girls night out.
SERVICE: Perfection. The head server and assistant flawlessly attended to every need asked for and better yet not asked for without a misstep or interruption of the flow of conversation at the table. Food was brought out in perfect timing in presented beautifully and even with a surprising display of pizzazz.
NOISE LEVEL: Perfect. The tables were the perfect distance from each other that allowed for conversations to flow easily without interruption from neighbors.
RECOMMENDED DISHES:Escargot for starters, Gorgonzola and Pine Nut Crusted Sea Bass or Asian Smoked Muscovy Duck Breast, finish off the night with a Chocolate Ssoufflé, and don’t miss the coffee with its accoutrements (Baileys crème fraiche, caramel crème fraiche, shredded chocolate, sugar sticks, and the final piece de résistance strawberry’s dipped in the finest chocolate served on a chilly smoking tray of dry ice.
Bread three different types of breads (Asagio Cheese, Cranberry Walnut, Sour Dough, or Wheat) baked fresh served with three different butters: pesto, cranberry, and butter cream, where else do you get this type of selection?
SIP: We brought our own wine the first time, but we couldn’t help notice the cocktail selection, which we ordered from, and the impressive wine list and well stocked wine cellar. The second time, we took from the cellar, which in oenophile won’t be disappointed.
CHECK, PLEASE: $$$$ = Over $30
(price of average dinner/lunch/breakfast/brunch bill for an individual dinner)
THE EAT: What isn’t to like from the food and how it is presented to the service? It was as delightful to our taste buds as it was to the rest of our senses.
WORTH THE NIGHT OUT?: This was delicious!
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