Jul 02, 2019 03:01PM
629 Main Street, Placerville, 530-344-7645, independentplacerville.com
If someone mentions the words Placerville and gold, you might naturally assume they’re referring to the area’s rich history of prospecting for nuggets in the rolling foothills and raging rivers. Sometimes, however, the golden nuggets come in the form of food at historic Main Street's The Independent.
I started with a pair of appetizers: tempura prawns and smoked salmon. The latter, beechwood-smoked salmon, arrived in a rosette surrounded by fried capers, house-made sage flatbread, horseradish crème fraîche, and red onions, resulting in a beautifully presented, hands-on plate that allowed me to build-my-own bite. The colossal-sized, wild-caught prawns had a light tempura (not the standard Japanese preparation) coating with the chef’s honey-sambal sauce alongside a blue cheese slaw. With just the right touch of heat, sweet, and crunch, it was another gold nugget.
After perusing their selection of greens, I decided on the harvest salad. The combination of fresh local pears, Marcona almonds, Point Reyes blue cheese, dried cherries, and caramel pear vinaigrette was perfectly textured with components of savory, sweet, and nutty…and a desire to finish every last bite.
For mains, our table agonized long and hard but decided on the 12-ounce molasses-brined pork chop and butternut pancetta prawn risotto. The double-cut chop came expertly grilled with a tinge of pink in the center, bathed in a mouthwatering apple-shallot gastrique and served with velvety, cheddar-parmesan polenta and al dente vegetables. I say it all the time: The test of a chef is serving perfect pork chops, especially double cut, and this one was as good as it gets. I followed with the risotto—al dente Arborio rice, salty pancetta, and roasted butternut squash topped with wild Mexican prawns. Creamy and cheesy, for risotto lovers, it’s a treasure trove of luxurious abundance.
Finally, the dessert conundrum: split and share one or two separate? When they’re made in-house and you have a sweet tooth, the answer’s obvious: bread pudding and. pot de crème! The bread pudding—baguette pain perdu soaked in creamy, cinnamon-studded custard, then sluiced in caramel sauce, and topped with vanilla ice cream—was straight decadence. The pot de crème, with its satiny chocolate interior and topping of espresso whipped cream and fresh strawberries, was equally indulgent.
Wherever your prospecting takes you, know that you can always strike gold at The Independent.
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (Sunday), 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (Monday-Thursday), 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Friday-Saturday)
TRY THIS: Tempura Prawns, Smoked Salmon, Harvest Salad, Truffle Mac & Cheese, Turnip Fries, Salmon Avocado Burger, Molasses-Brined Pork Chop, Butternut Pancetta Prawn Risotto, Bread Pudding
DRINKS: Full bar; specialty cocktails, beer, & wine
HEADS-UP: Spacious garden patio; kids’ menu; happy hour (Monday-Friday from 2-6 p.m. in the bar); vegan options; available for private events; sauces and desserts made from scratch; 20+ speciality cocktails made using fresh-squeezed juices and mixes/syrups crafted in-house; produce sourced from Northern California farms