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Restaurant: The Independent Restaurant and Bar
Address: 629 Main St., Suite 102, in Placerville
Hours: Open for lunch and dinner on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It is closed Tuesdays
I know it’s corny to start a review with a dictionary definition, but I am going to anyway.
Independent: “Free from influence, unique, standing alone.”
So what makes this restaurant that bold to call itself The Independent Restaurant and Bar?
This is the question I am going to attempt to answer by enjoying lunch at the nicely appointed restaurant on Main Street in Placerville.
One of my pet peeves in regards to menus (especially lunch menus) is quantity. When I am presented with a 17-page lunch menu my inner alarm immediately goes berserk.
It’s been my experience that an overstuffed menu can mean a lack of quality; sufficient at everything, a master of nothing. So I was pleasantly surprised by the compact and yet varied menu at The Independent.
There’s a lunch, dinner, late night and dessert menu and each offers tantalizingly unique choices for the diner to choose from.
From the lunch menu here is a sampling: turnip fries, including a selection of dipping sauces (Cajun, bleu cheese, horseradish crème fraiche); a prawn strawberry salad with goat cheese; grilled polenta cakes with portobello mushrooms and caramelized onions.
For dinner there are such delicacies as an oven roasted garlic bulb with a grilled crostini, a roasted beet salad, a salmon avocado hamburger and a stout marinated skirt steak. That’s not to say these more obscure and/or creative options can’t reside among more traditional fare because they have that, too.
The late night menu is naturally smaller but is no less eclectic. I mean, what other restaurant offers beer battered potato fries, crab cakes (with a herb Romesco sauce), tiger prawns and a marinated skirt steak after 9 p.m.?
Owners Jeff Thoma, Judy Thoma and Ben Carter explained the history: “Several years ago our family opened the now acclaimed Heyday Café in old town Placerville. The success and community support of Heyday inspired us to embark on a new venture, The Independent Restaurant and Bar. Opened in the fall of 2011, The Independent Restaurant and Bar is a dining destination presenting an outstanding American fusion menu and a top-tier full bar staffed by our friendly crew.”
Let’s talk libations. Since I was working I did not partake in any adult libations, but a quick glance at the offerings and I quickly made a mental note to come back. They have a seriously excellent selection of wines, some local some not so local, four selections of port (my personal favorite), an “eclectic mix of highly sought-after micro brews from California and the Pacific Northwest” and a veritable cornucopia of specialty cocktails that will satisfy any taste. The “Behind The Knees” (Gordon’s Gin, Elderflower Liqueur, Fresh Grapefruit and Float of Sparkling Wine) seems right up my alley (another mental note: I must try this).
Another neat thing about The Independent is diners can eat in the dining area, outside in a charming patio area or at the bar and watch a favorite sporting event.
There is also a “cool factor” in the owner’s choice of location. Whether they did it on purpose or not is irrelevant. The fact that The Independent is located “off the strip” makes it special, like a secret that’s passed on to friends.
The Independent Restaurant and Bar, 629 Main St., Suite 102, in Placerville, is open for lunch and dinner on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It is closed Tuesdays. For reservations call 530-344-7645.