A trip to the Moon

I’ve never understood why people equate a good restaurant in this area with other cities. When I mentioned to a few friends that I’d be eating at Jack Rabbit Moon, their response was to recall how the Incline Village restaurant was so San Francisco.

Having lived in S.F. for five years, I understand that the city is an ever-shifting epicenter of great food. However, they were talking about ambience as well. One friend complained that the restaurant was too loud, owing in part to the large, copper-topped bar and the intimacy of the dining room. I do not find these to be San Franciscan traits, but rather the end results of intelligent design and popularity. If there is too much crowd noise in Jack Rabbit Moon, it is because the small restaurant is constantly gaining in popularity.

In all of my visits to the restaurant, I’ve never seen it less than three-fourths full. My dining partner, Darolyn, and I arrived right on time for our 9 p.m. reservation on Sunday. We weren’t seated until 9:20 p.m. It was the Fourth of July weekend, and the restaurant was packed. The wait wouldn’t have been horrible if the bar hadn’t been so crowded that we didn’t get a drink served to us until just before we were seated. That’s a little too long to wait in any situation. Once we were seated underneath a giant artichoke, one of the many oversized vegetables painted on the walls, we learned that the holiday weekend had also taken its toll on the menu.

A few of the appetizers and one of the entrées were sold out, including the one I had set my eyes upon, the queso fresco crispy ravioli, which is served with corn, chorizo salsa and an avocado tequila vinaigrette. However, our server, Greg, let us know immediately they were unavailable so as to minimize our disappointment.

One thing that everyone who has eaten at Jack Rabbit Moon must agree on is that the restaurant has one of the most creative menus in the area. We took advantage of that creativity by starting off with a white bean and oven-dried tomato bruschetta with a pesto drizzle ($10) and a prosciutto and melon salad of baby greens with pecans and a citrus mint vinaigrette ($8). Both were exceptional, interesting updates of classic Italian dishes.

For entrées, Darolyn ordered the lamb loin ($24), and I chose the pesto-crusted salmon ($20). The lamb was cooked perfectly, thinly sliced and served in a circle around a serving of polenta and roasted vegetables. My salmon was nicely draped over a cylinder of black rice and surrounded by heirloom tomato salad and roasted tomato butter. Again, with brevity in mind, each entrée was something truly special. Dessert was nothing less than perfect and speaks volumes about the type of restaurant Jack Rabbit Moon is.

Darolyn went for the creme brulee ($7). It was served traditionally; the crust was just thick enough and the creme was still a bit cool underneath. I ordered the exquisite cinnamon donut holes, which were served with a raspberry dipping sauce ($7). They weren’t too greasy or too cakey—just ideal.

I like this restaurant because it’s not a place that puts on airs; it’s a place that aspires to create great food. It succeeds at that admirably. Although I had to wait upon arrival, after repeated visits, I’m certain this is food worth waiting for. It’s certainly quicker than driving to San Francisco.