"B.F.'s" Recollections Of Road Trip Repasts
Reno Road Trip

June 18, 2002 at 22:27:15

Day 1

Mr. and Mrs. Chino Wayne, together with Whoopi and Whitney
piled in to the sleek, dark Melanie with a ton of matching black
luggage (the luggage matching both itself and Melanie) and
finally hit the road at about 9:45 A.M., instead of the hoped for 7:00
A.M., to begin the long haul north. Melanie for the uninitiated is a
direct decendent of Heather who was the Chino Wayne’s faithful
Detroit iron on previous road trips. Whoopi (think of the movie
“Corinna, Corinna”) rode in the car with the Mrs. and Whitney
(think of a famous pop singer/actress who is married to a lesser
talent who dresses like a pimp daddy) rode in the luggage.

The first order of business, getting out of Chino, accomplished,
the Chino Wayne’s made their first pit stop in Stevenson Ranch at
the newly opened Coco’s. (Mrs. Chino Wayne had made it known
that the previous road trip pit stop at the Way Station in Newhall
would not do for her sensibilities, and Chino Wayne, feeling that
this was perhaps not the right moment to introduce the Mrs. to the
venerable Saugus Café opted for marital harmony.) The
scrambled eggs at Coco’s were decent, and decently not over
cooked. The bacon was unremarkable and the pancakes
tasteless, the waitress repeatedly addressing both Mr. and Mrs.
Chino Wayne as “Darlings” was only mildly annoying, but the food
was fortifying. Chino Wayne did snag a couple of blueberry
muffins and a banana nut muffin on the way out, which of course
was the true measure of a ‘hound in the field.

Chino Wayne had hoped to pay his first visit to Ikeda’s Market in
Auburn as the second pit stop, however, since the Chino Wayne’s
had not hit the road until late, and traffic on the I-5 was moving at
an 80 mile an hour crawl, pitting at Auburn was ruled out. So
about 5:30, just before the after work dinner rush, the Chino
Wayne’s pulled off of the I-80 Business Loop at Arden Way in
Sacramento, ready for a bathroom and food, in that order, but not
together. The Chino Wayne’s figured that the Peppermill in
Sacramento would be a good omen for a pit stop, in that its
interior was tele-ported directly from a Las Vegas casino. The
Chino Wayne’s drove two blocks past the location of the
Peppermill restaurant, passing El Torito, site of the first and last
(as in never again) road trip in which the Mother-In-Law-Of-Chino
Wayne preached on the evils of drink through an entire dinner, as
a prelude to the vacation from Hell, before realizing that the
Sacramento Peppermill was no more.

Instead, where the Peppermill once stood there arose an
Elephant Bar. So Hungry, and really needing a pit stop, the Chino
Wayne’s pulled in to the apparently recently opened in
Sacramento, Elephant bar.  As in the one and only previous
experience at an Elephant Bar, it was decorated nicely and
expensively, and there were young men and young women staff
running hither and yon. Ultimately it seemed that is what the staff
are best at in this establishment, running hither and yon, but
never with enough time to refill a glass.

Mrs. Chino Wayne ordered the “Safari Sampler” and Chino
Wayne ordered the sliced tri-tip. Mr. and Mrs. Chino Wayne knew
fully well that, despite the large, open kitchen, this joint exists to
sell drinks. Chino Wayne has also deduced that in order to pay
for all of the expensive atmospheric décor, besides selling
drinks, they must also have cut a deal with the glue factory in
order to score cheap provisions. The Safari Sampler consisted of
some ersatz barbecued baby back ribs, some Buffalo wings, and
some strips of beef for fajitas. It came with fries and baked beans
and coleslaw. The Mrs. ate all of her ribs, because she was
hungry, and is a rib-a-holic, she tasted one wing and passed the
rest to Chino Wayne, and tried to unravel one of the two flour
tortillas that were apparently rolled up together, then steamed (or
micro-waved) and then put on the plate. The tortillas, in their
rolled, intimate and warm state, came apart as the Mrs. tried to
unroll them. The Mrs. tasted gristle when she was finally able to
construct a fajita. So Chino Wayne scored the remaining wings,
which were meaty, and mild as they were apparently only covered
in Tabasco and nothing more potent. Chino Wayne also took care
of the remaining meat, which was not gristly, together with the
accompanying fried peppers and onions.  Mrs. Chino Wayne
would not touch the beans, ever considerate of her fellow traveler,
but Chino Wayne took a taste, they were probably the best item
on the plate. The Mrs. reported that the coleslaw was sadly
lacking in dressing.

Chino Wayne’s medium-rare tri-tip came medium. Chino Wayne
had expected that he might have tasted some additional flavor
elements that might have come from a marinade or a rub, but
instead he just tasted ordinary, tough, meat. Chino Wayne
surmised that the lack of flavorings was another way of paying for
the décor. There were some nice vegetables on Chino Wayne’s
plate, some sliced carrots, zucchini and celery. All were cooked al
dente and still had some bite to them, and the celery, while not
usually encountered in this permutation, was very nice and
crunchy and complimented the other two vegetables. There was
also a clod of garlic mashed potatoes, that did not taste of garlic
at all. This was one of the strangest permutations of mashed
potatoes that Chino Wayne has ever encountered, as they had
the consistency of flannel, and held their shape, similar to the
way sand holds it shape when wet sculpted and then dried. They
must have been prepared hours earlier, and then held in a
warming oven. The unremarkable tri-tip, then redeemed itself, at
least slightly, as Chino Wayne was able to hack off hunks of
potato “aggregate” and soak them in the meat juices and make
them a bit more palatable. Chino Wayne had also started with a
Caesar salad, which like the coleslaw, was suspiciously devoid
of more than a teaspoon of dressing. Thus Chino Wayne
registered further credence to his theory that the décor was
financed, at least in part, by a lack of condiments. The Chino
Wayne’s passed on dessert, and obligingly turned the table over
to management, as by this time the Elephant Bar was packed,
with, apparently, the non ‘houndly masses. The entrees at
Elephant Bar ran about $13.00, some of the theme concoctions
in the bar also approach that price point.

The Chino Wayne’s finally arrived in Sparks, Nevada and checked
in to their room at John Ascuaga’s Nugget at 9:30 P.M. Just in
time for Chino Wayne to enjoy the Godfather Part I on cable and
the blueberry muffins liberated earlier from Coco’s, and Mrs.
Chino Wayne, fortified by her banana nut muffin, hit the slots.
Coco’s muffins were a tasty snack.

Day 2

Breakfast in the General Store, soon to be re-done as Rose’s
Café, the main 24 hour coffee shop type restaurant in the Nugget.
The usual egg dishes. The Denver omelet was prepared with
care and was cooked perfectly. Hash browns were nice individual
shreds, nicely browned and crispy on the edges. The bacon was
thick cut and not overdone. The ham steak was very salty, and
had a strange, almost chemical like taste. The ham steak side
dish was not the same ham that was chopped up in the omelet,
which tasted “normal”. The sourdough toast was typical
institutional sourdough. The service in this restaurant, and all the
others in the Nugget was very professional and friendly.

After a long day being nice to clients or potential clients, the Mrs.
duck-ed out of a boring, and worse, no-host, cocktail party and the
Chino Wayne’s repaired to the Nugget’s Rotisserie Buffet. One of
the nice things about the stay in the Nugget was that it never
seemed crowded, definitely not on the week days, and not even
on the weekend. So the first thing the buffet had going for it was
the lack of a line. There was a nice array of salad ingredients, and
composed salads. Crab legs and un-peeled shrimp. In addition
to various pasta salads, there was antipasto type vegetables,
smoked trout and sour cream herring. The main attraction was
Prime Rib, but in Chino Wayne’s estimation this beef had never
reached its prime. It was tough and a bit dry. On the other hand,
there was some wonderful baked salmon filets, with a yellow
sauce. The salmon was outstanding, moist and flavorful. Also
sampled was some good smoked pork loin with a bacon and
onion garnish. The pastry station offered decent sized portions,
not the typical minuscule portions prevalent at many other buffets.
The check for Mr. and Mrs. Chino Wayne came to $30.00. All in all
a good deal, good prices, some good items (other than the beef)
and good, attentive service.

Day 3

Chino Wayne spent a pleasant afternoon watching the USGA
tournament on one of the big screens in the sports book while
Mrs. Chino Wayne toiled away handing out freebies to greedy and
apparently forgetful conference goers, since one woman must
have forgotten that she collected a stress ball six times. The
Nugget sports book is adjacent to the race book and in between
them is Gabe’s Pub & Deli. A full bar and a deli counter where the
staff will prepare sandwiches and short orders. So a pleasant
afternoon was had by Chino Wayne, enjoying a couple of corned
beef & pastrami sandwiches (decent, not really good Jewish deli,
but decent) and some libations.

That evening Mrs. Chino Wayne played hooky from a four hour
business shindig that was going to be four hours too long in a
banquet room, and joined Chino Wayne at BJ’s Barbeque in
Sparks.  BJ’s came recommended by a fellow ‘hound, and as
expected, the fellow ‘hound truly had the scent for good Q.  BJ’s is
in a strip center storefront. Upon entering, the left side of the
establishment consists of a small dining area and the right side
consists of a counter behind which are four draft spigots and a
huge stainless steel “pit” with some really big, industrial size
stacks coming out of it and up through the roof.

Chino Wayne was ready to order a full slab, then add on some
other meats and sides, however, Mrs. Chino Wayne refused to
split a slab, saying in essence, “I don’t know if it will be any good”.
Mrs. Chino Wayne ordered the rib dinner with the mild BBQ
sauce, which came with five spare ribs, a side of potato salad,
corn bread and instead of a side of beans, ordered a separate
side of fries. Chino Wayne ordered the three meat combo, ribs,
brisket and a hot link with the hot BBQ sauce. Chino Wayne’s
combo also came with the potato salad and beans. Chino
Wayne's ribs were apparently baby backs, either that, or cut down
spare ribs. The ribs were very good, falling off the bone tender
and the sauce was tasty, but very low on the Scoville scale. The
brisket was tender, but seemed to consist mostly of bits and
pieces, but that did include some of those nice “burnt bits”. The
hot link unexpectedly came already sliced. It was tasty, had a nice
fine grain texture, and the skin was still tight and snappy. The
potato salad was very good, and seemed home made, and had a
nice egg-y taste, and the beans were excellent, mixed with some
of the BBQ sauce and bits of meat. Chino Wayne thoroughly
enjoyed his dinner and thought seriously about ordering a half a
slab to bring back to the room.

The Mrs. enjoyed her ribs and fries which were curly fries. Now
Chino Wayne disdains curly fries, but these were different. They
were not the small little rings that Chino Wayne has become
accustomed to seeing, but looked like large circles cut from the
mid-section of big potatoes. They were also very fresh and when
dipped in BBQ sauce were quite good. Chino Wayne also
snagged a couple of Mrs. Chino Wayne’s ribs (given up freely,
when Mrs. Chino Wayne lost her appetite after some woman had
apparently flooded the rest room, this development did not deter
Chino Wayne’s appetite however, possibly helped along by his
sampling of the Budweiser and Michelob). After polishing off the
better half’s spareribs, Chino Wayne thought again about a half
slab to go.

If you need a Q fix when in the Reno area, Chino Wayne highly
recommends BJ’s. Total tab, including one soda and two beers,
$33.00.

Day 4

Brunch in the Rotisserie Buffet at the Nugget.  All of the same
salads and cold dishes as the previous buffet.  An omelets
station, on the steam tables, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage,
home fries, apple crisp, “BBQ’d” short ribs, rotisserie chicken,
some sad looking fish, beef burgundy loaded with whole small
button mushrooms and pearl onions, rice, quiche, crepes stuffed
with a sweet cheese, and innumerable other hot items. The
usual dessert station. The food was filling and for the most part
good. Total tab for one, $10.50.

Dinner was after the show at the Nugget’s Trader Dick’s, a knock-
off of Trader Vic’s.  Mrs. Chino Wayne opted for the Young Chow
Fried Rice, Chino Wayne ordered the lemon scallops. The Chino
Wayne’s shared a tempura appetizer. The tempura batter was
just a tad too heavy, and just did not measure up the Chino
Wayne’s local hole-in-the-wall teriyaki joint, where mama-san
and papa-san do the cooking. The appetizer included carrots,
asparagus, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets and a couple of
jumbo shrimp. The asparagus, with little of the tempura batter
adhering was the best of the lot.

The fried rice was filling, but not appetizing looking enough for
Chino Wayne, an acknowledged fried rice junkie, to try it. The
scallops were also fried in tempura like batter and served over a
bed of broccoli florets with a sweet lemony dipping sauce. The
scallops themselves were of good quality and not over cooked,
so when judiciously dipped, or not dipped at all, were quite good.  

For dessert Chino Wayne talked the skeptical Mrs. Chino Wayne
in to trying the flaming (you gotta have a flaming dessert in a
Trader Dick’s, Rick’s, Chick’s, Vic’s) baked Alaska for two. Chino
Wayne had fond memories of home made baked Alaska and
wanted the Mrs. to try this delight. The baked Alaska consisted of
a brick of spumoni (tri-colored) ice cream encased in some
spongy cake and the requisite meringue and was flamed with
heated Kaluaha. It was sliced in half, more Kaluaha poured on it
and it was served.  Mrs. Chino Wayne thoroughly enjoyed it.
Chino Wayne reminded himself never to order flaming baked
Alaska in any “Trader ‘ic” restaurant again. Total tab for all of the
above, and one bourbon and seven came to about $50.00. Even
though this was a typical theme restaurant experience, it was a
nice, pleasant interlude for the Chino Wayne’s, even with the
cacophony of  waiters banging on the giant Chinese gong for the
birthday boy at an adjacent table.

Day 5

Breakfast at some non-descript hotel coffee shop on the south
side of Reno, better ham steak than the Nugget’s, scrambled
eggs, home fries, and bad pancakes for Chino Wayne.  A waffle
smothered in strawberries, and whipped cream and bacon for
Mrs. Chino Wayne, devoured with quick dispatch. Potato chips,
Coke, Calistoga water and Paydays on the road south of Auburn
for lunch.  Burgers, fries, a vanilla shake and, according to the
man at the window a “bucket” of lemonade at the In-In-Out in
Santa Clarita. The Chino Wayne’s then made their way back to
the old homestead in Chino, thoughts of those strange looking
chickens, that never seemed to ever get brown, that never emitted
any aroma, that never seemed to leave the spit, slowly but
steadily, turning under the light bulbs in the rotisserie contraption
at the entrance to the Nugget’s Rotisserie Buffet, turning over in
their collective unconscious.

BJ’s Barbeque
754 No. Mc Carran Blvd.
Sparks, NV
(775) 355-1010

Copyright ©  2005-2006 Wayne E. Frost, all rights reserved.
Coco's Bakery Restaurant
(661) 254-2776
24930 Pico Canyon Rd
Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381
Coco's Web Site

Ikeda's Fruit Bakery & Tasty Burgers
(530) 885-4243
13500 Lincoln Way
Auburn, CA 95603

Elephant Bar
(916) 564-2526
1500 Arden Way
Sacramento, CA 95815
Elephant Bar Web Site

John Ascuaga's Nugget
(775) 356-3300
1100 Nugget Ave
Sparks, NV 89431t
Nugget Web Site

BJ's
(775) 355-1010
754 N McCarran Blvd
Sparks, NV 89431