Dogwood in Arnold, CA is open for dinner seven days per week, is the best restaurant up here in the Sierras at 4,200 feet elevation, and it’s only 7/10ths of a mile from my front door. In decent weather, we can walk. There’s another place in town that’s very good, but it’s Italian cuisine which is done well, but when you want serious beef, pork, lamb, poultry and seafood proteins—such as you see on that grill and ready to go on—this is the place. If you want great pasta (and it is), Sarafina’s Italian Kitchen is the place.
Opened this summer, Don, the chef-owner, has years of experience as a chef, and in catering and restaurant management. The restaurant business is very tough up here because that business, like vacations—and the enormous percentage of homes up here that are vacation homes—is moderately seasonal. You have to be adequately capitalized, have a solid plan in place, secure good and reliable suppliers, and you have to be able to attract competent help that cares about putting out a quality product and service that pleases customers. Don seems to have it all wired, judging by what I see and hear. I often don’t use Yelp because so many reviews are so obviously petty and stupid, but he’s done quite well there, even, with a 4.1 overall Yelp rating.
Don’s a pretty good buddy, now. Bea and I went last night (busy Saturday), prompting this review; but when I’m up here by myself, I usually go mid-week when Don is less busy and we can talk food. We never talk anything else, but life in Arnold (his parents bought their vacation home up here in 1972). It’s an open kitchen with available bar seating and that picture is taken from my seat at the end of the bar. I get a nose full long before I get a mouth full. …A grilled nose full.
So, now you get to judge for yourselves. This is just a sampling of the many dishes I’ve had there since opening last summer. I don’t usually snap pictures because I’m too busy having an excellent time. The entire staff is adorable, competent, and attentive—and they are sticking around, attesting to Don’s good management.
No dessert pics, but they’re all made in-house, like carrot cake, chocolate cake, and the favorite of Bea and I, the Basque cake which is not too sweet, just enough.
So if you ever find yourself in the gold country, around the intersections of Hwy 49 and Hwy 4, or up at Bear Valley Ski Resort, then consider making a reservation for Friday – Sunday, or dropping in mid-week (at least for now). They’e at 1224 Oak Cir., Arnold, CA 95223 and (209) 813-7101. A party of two without reservations last night had to wait an hour just to be seated at the bar.