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GETAWAY DINING : Tips for Skiers Who Want to Make a Mountain Out of a Menu

February 13, 1992|BEVERLY BUSH SMITH | Beverly Bush Smith is a free-lance writer who regularly covers restaurant news for The Times Orange County Edition. and

During winter in Mammoth, a favorite weekend getaway destination of many Orange County residents, daytime living reduces itself to two essentials: skiing and eating. And, needless to say, the first is highly conducive to the second. Fortunately, more than 50 restaurants stand ready to satisfy high-altitude appetites. For those of you planning trips to the area this season, here's an admittedly subjective run-down of some options:

Nevados is the hot new kid on the block--a total redo of the continental-style Roget's. Owner Tim Dawson has remodeled the restaurant into one sleek, white-walled room. And with chef Terry Whitman, he's introduced a menu that allows you to eat a little or a lot. First courses include poached New Zealand green lip mussels in Thai curry broth and spinach salad with melon, feta cheese and pecans. There are several pizzas and pastas. Entrees vary from mahogany-roasted half chicken with hoisin-plum barbecue sauce to fresh salmon on soba noodles with jade sauce and fresh vegetables. Entrees range from $9.75 to $15.75. An excellent wine list is fairly priced. The location: Main Street and Minaret Road. Open for dinner daily, 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations: (619) 934-4466.

Whiskey Creek, still going strong after 20 years, continues to offer an extensive wine list, good values, friendly service and a frequently changing menu. Owner Sam Walker (who also owns Angels, for ribs and chicken, in Mammoth) began the Creek as a steakhouse, and has done a savvy job of keeping current. So while today's menu still offers steaks, lamb and prime rib, you'll also find newer dishes such as chicken caliente, pork chops with apple chutney and mahi mahi with hoisin plum sauce. Dinners are priced from $12.95 to $19.95, served daily from 6 to 10 p.m. at Main Street and Minaret Road. (619) 934-2555.

And by the way, if you're starving on your way to Mammoth, the completely rebuilt Whiskey Creek in Bishop presents two ways to dine. Enter and turn left, and the menu is as in Mammoth. Turn to your right, and you can also order smaller dishes, such as the sunshine salad with grilled chicken ($6), pot pies and soups. 524 Main St. (619) 934-2555.

The Mountainside Grill (formerly Altitude 9000) at the Mammoth Mountain Inn, opposite the Main Lodge, is your spot if you appreciate quiet wining and dining, with tables nicely spaced. (There's also that million-dollar view of Mammoth Mountain, framed by the window of the lounge.) The food? A continental-California mix that includes breast of duck with lime sauce and kiwi, carmarones flores (grilled, bacon-wrapped shrimp with jalapeno dipping sauce), and lamb loin with rosemary and mint demiglaze. Dinner prices: $11.95 to $18.95. The Grill serves breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily. Reservations: (619) 934-2581.

Anything Goes, though tiny, serves some of the most creative food in town. Susan Beck and Mary Pipersky began with an emphasis on gourmet food to go, but most of the business now is dine-in. Chef Chris Lueck's menu changes weekly. Some examples: lasagna made with sheets of polenta and vegetables; pasta with smoked chilies, cilantro creme and grilled chicken; beef filet with Italian smoked sausage, caramelized shallots and Madeira sauce. Full meals are $10 to $16. Breakfast and lunch served Thursday through Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner Thursday through Monday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. (Closed Wednesdays.) Old Mammoth Road in Sherwyn Plaza 4. (619) 934-2424.

O'Kelley and Dunn delighted with breakfasts (love those puffy cinnamon buns) and lunches before they recently settled in with dinners, which range from chili and salad with corn bread at $6.95 to sauerbraten ($10.95) and seafood pasta ($12.95). This cozy restaurant is adjacent to Von's in the Minaret Village Shopping Center, open Wednesday through Monday from 7:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Reservations: (619) 934-9316.

Off the beaten track, the Lakefront Restaurant in Tamarack Lodge offers continental fare, priced from $16 to $24 for a complete dinner, served with homemade herb bread. Take Main Street to Lake Mary Road and go 2.5 miles to Twin Lakes. Reservations: (619) 934-3534.

South of Mammoth, there's The Restaurant at Convict Lake. It delivers rustic elegance and a continental menu (veal scaloppine, beef Wellington), with prices averaging around $19 to $25. Open 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily. Take the Convict Lake exit off highway 395, opposite Mammoth's airport. Reservations: (619) 934-3803.

Favorites with local diners include the Mogul (tucked away on Tavern Road, off Old Mammoth Road), where servers cook your entrees (trout, chicken, steak) with surprising skill; Ocean Harvest on Old Mammoth Road, with its daily selection of fresh fish; and Natalie's, last year's addition to Old Mammoth Road, for country French with a California accent.

But the three best restaurant values have to be:

Bergers Burgers, which dishes up a Canadian stew-like beef soup that's virtually a meal for $4.95. Plus, there are juicy beef or buffalo burgers ($3.50 to $6.95) and full dinners ($12.95 for pork ribs). Open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily on Minaret Road at the foot of Canyon Boulevard. (619) 934-6622.

The Swiss Cafe's dinners are $6 to $11, and they bake their own bread and desserts. For breakfast, try the spinach omelet with mushroom sauce. Open daily, 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Old Mammoth Road at Meridian Boulevard. (619) 934-6196.

And that 21-year veteran, The Stove, is arguably the most popular choice for homey, hearty and cheap breakfasts, which you can order all day starting at 6:30 a.m. Additionally, lunch menu service begins at 12:30 p.m., dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.--selections ($5.95 to $11.95) vary from a Cajun turkey sandwich to fresh seafood. 644 Old Mammoth Road. (619) 934-2821.

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