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Restaurant: Diamond Springs Hotel
Address: 545 Main St. in Diamond Springs
Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.and closed Mondays.
The Diamond Springs Hotel describes itself as “Old Fashioned Country Cooking.” I can assure you it is much more than that. With that old-fashioned country cooking is a varied and exciting history unique to El Dorado County.
To put it bluntly the place is haunted.
Before I get to that, let’s talk about the food. The menu is large offering many fine selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The establishment prides itself on making everything from scratch, like your grandmother or your mother did back in the day. This is comfort food done extremely well, and the portions are significant and plentiful enough to keep diners coming back again and again — an excellent value for the money.
There are the staples, of course: waffles, egg dishes and country fried steak (my personal favorite).
There’s light fare for those counting calories, such as grilled chicken breast, steamed vegetables and a magnificently flavorful turkey burger that will satisfy the taste buds, in addition to items like the locally famous Chinese chicken salad.
The restaurant has a huge selection of fresh salads for every taste. You’ll have to visit to see how huge.
For dinner, Head Chef Kevin Schultz (in addition to Chef Leonard Landers) prepares the most magnificent meatloaf. He turns what is traditionally a very ordinary dish into something extraordinary by using a unique blend of spices that is a highly guarded house secret.
Probably the most popular item on the dinner menu currently is the 9-ounce prime rib dinner special served Friday and Saturday nights. The meal comes with soup or salad and all the fixings. Diners can also get fish and chips, prawns and scampi or, if you’ve got a big enough appetite, the massive and delectable combination of surf ‘n’ turf.
Owner Amy Shin and Chef Kevin have decided to bring back items of yesteryear like the Monte Cristo Sandwich. In their capable hands this staple becomes much more than a fried ham and cheese sandwich. It is almost transcendent in its flavor. As Kevin said, his food, “is nothing fancy. It’s just done right. There’s something to be said for using fresh ingredients prepared in the right way. There’s no substitute for that.”
The menu has something for everyone and I would encourage everyone to bring their families when they decide to come to the Diamond Springs Hotel.
The décor is casual country charm all the way, but not cluttered with too much Americana.
The wait staff is very well-trained in the ways of customer service and most have worked there for many years and know the regulars by name, as well as their dish preferences. They make you feel at ease as soon as you walk through the door.
The Diamond Springs Hotel is a relaxing and comfortable place, an escape from the hustle and bustle of frantic and fast-paced lives.
But let’s get back to those friendly ghosts. As I visited with owner Amy Shin, she told me of a recent encounter one of her regular guests had with one of the many “spirits” that call this place home.
Amy has two sons, and as she was coming into the restaurant one day a regular exclaimed, “Oh, I didn’t know you had a daughter.” Amy, incredulous, stated that she didn’t. The customer said, “Then who was that little girl with your two boys?” Amy looked around, as did her customer, and the little girl was nowhere to be seen. Amy said it gave her goose bumps.
Another time she and her husband were closing the restaurant when they heard a series of loud booms coming from the second floor, like someone angrily pacing back and forth. She thought it might have been one of her employees who used to take a cat nap for his break upstairs, so her husband went to take a look. He scoured the second floor, in closets, everywhere, but could find no one.
There have been many, many more such encounters at the restaurant and when you come by, the staff will be happy to share.
Amy has spent much time and effort creating a relaxed environment at her establishment, and nowhere is that more evident than the refurbished outside dining patio and garden.
Almost Zen-like in its tranquility, the patio offers a very unique dining experience that seats up to 60 people comfortably.
For those who like to have the occasional alcoholic beverage with a meal the Diamond Springs Hotel has a variety of beers and local wines to whet your whistle.
I would be remiss not to mention the fire that happened at the restaurant recently. Luckily it was contained early and didn’t cause catastrophic damage to the building.
The Diamond Springs Hotel, as the new banner says, is “Open For Business.”
Dining at the Diamond Springs Hotel is an experience you will not soon forget. Once you get a taste of history, you’ll be back. I guarantee it.
The Diamond Springs Hotel is located at 545 Main St. in Diamond Springs. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed Mondays.
For more information call 530-621-1730 or visit diamondspringshotel.net.