All things enormous

The Screamin’ Nachos would not be complete without a Dechutes Black Butte porter. <br>

The Screamin’ Nachos would not be complete without a Dechutes Black Butte porter.

Photo by David Robert

After a tough day of driving, there, like an oasis in sprawling south Reno, we saw Tamarack Junction. We pulled off Old Highway 395, aka South Virginia Street, and walked into an enormous room filled with slots and a big old bar with what looked like at least a dozen beers on tap. Flanking one side of the bar were tables and chairs below many TVs; this half of the room had all the smokiness and authenticity of a sports bar.

We settled into a booth on the other side of the bar, in a more traditional restaurant with big windows.

We ordered what anyone who’s been driving all day would: the Screamin’ Nachos ($8.95). Michael had a Dechutes Black Butte porter ($3.95). We nearly screamed when the nachos arrived—the mountainous platter was covered in a kaleidoscope of corn chips, including red, blue, yellow and kelly green. The chips adhered to the platter with gooey beans. Atop the rainbow of chips were huge hunks of tender, stew-like beef on one half, chicken on the other. Topping all this were pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream.

As we sat gazing at the eye-popping dish before diving in, Michael said, “That ain’t just your everyday plate of nachos, that’s for sure.”

After our energy was revitalized from the all the screamin’ of the nachos, we explored the rest of the menu, which offers a variety of salads, pizzas, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, pasta and your standard steaks and fresh fish specials. Wednesday is Italian night, featuring Eldorado mushroom ravioli. Light versions of some items are available.

After the nachos (we didn’t finish them all by far!), I had ravioli alla Bolognese ($8.95). The beef and veal stuffed pasta with herbs and parmesan, topped with meaty marinara sauce, was great. Served alongside the ravioli was a slice of yummy, dense garlic bread.

But Michael’s New York steak ($17.50), which arrived with a 6-inch sprig of rosemary protruding like a small evergreen tree from its center, stole the show. Michael was given the usual over-sized “survival knife” for dismembering the meat.

“Look, it’s perfect,” Michael said, holding up a piece of the meat. “It’s a perfect medium rare. It’s chewy, well-charred. This steak is right on the nut. It’s excellent. I’d say, ‘Right on, dude,’ to the chef.”

Then came the desserts. Tamarack Junction displays their desserts so you can drool while you’re waiting to be seated. The chocolate éclair and the pecan pie caught our attention, so we ordered one of each.

“That’s the biggest god-damned thing I’ve ever seen,” Michael said of the éclair. “It’s like a size 6 tennis shoe.”

Again, we stared at the food before us in amazement and had a slight sense of déjà vu. Tamarack Junction’s desserts rival Claim Jumper’s.

The pecan pie was torte-like. And it had a higher alcohol content than my Aunt Reoma’s Thanksgiving pecan pies had. But, oh, it was gooey and chewy!

The Godzilla-sized éclair was a bit elastic and bland. Overall, the dish was better looking than tasting. Size isn’t everything.

Tamarack Junction is a boutique casino with a refreshingly diverse crowd and food for your every mood. A great place to pound down a microbrew and some nachos with six of your best friends.