Truckee, CA 96161
Moody’s Bistro & Lounge is perhaps Truckee’s best food, wine and music destination.
The restaurant delivers a strong one-two-three combo that will leave you staggering, yet asking for more: There’s chef/co-owner Mark Estee and his culinary force flexing some serious muscle in the kitchen. Co-owner/general manager J.J. Morgan maneuvers a delicate balance between refined guest service and national musical talent. And Moody’s most recent addition is wine director Joseph Nase, a star sommelier.
Located in the historical Truckee Hotel on the town’s main drag, the entrance to Moody’s leads into a hip jazz club, styled after the 1920s era, with deep burgundy velvet drapery and rich wood architecture. The warm velvet and leather booths are a prime place to enjoy a quality meal while listening to the nightly jazz act. Beyond the lounge awaits the formal dining room, which can accommodate a table for two or large parties, offering top-rated service by Morgan’s team and Nase’s wine list. The third tier of seating at Moody’s is the backyard, brick garden patio. This is where you want to be on warm summer evenings. Even if the temperatures drop down after dark, the heat lamps will keep you warm.
The word “inspiring” doesn’t do justice to Estee’s refined technique of cooking. He takes everything to a whole new level. When I arrived at Moody’s on a Sunday night with my beautiful friend Cherie, I popped my head in the kitchen to say hello. Mark began to tell me how he had just finished butchering an entire hog he’d received from Niman Ranch. He is one of the few chefs in the country to get whole pigs from the renowned hormone-free rancher.
Cherie and I ordered the sautéed veal sweetbreads ($10). When we were finished with this dish, it looked like it had just been sent through the dishwasher. The ahi four-ways ($12) came next. Out of all the ahi appetizers I’ve eaten, this is by far the best. After that, we had the crispy herbed gnocchi with house-made ricotta cheese ($12). It was exquisite. Then came Moody’s braised tripe ($22). Estee is one of the few chefs in the area I would trust to prepare a dish like this. He specializes in offal—the innards of a cow or pig. You might not think that sounds very appetizing, but trust me on this one, you just might eat one of the best-tasting dishes you will ever have. After the tripe, we had the “Niman Ranch Big Ass Pork Platter,” ($26). This was an amazing dish of an assortment of Estee’s house-made pork treats, such as crispy trotters, house-smoked ham and a piece of seared coppa, all over a bed of buttery pureed potatoes and sautéed rapini. Before this plate arrived we were feeling full, but it tasted so good that we finished it. You know that the food has to taste pretty damned good to force us across the line of gluttony.
We wanted to end the experience on a sweet note, so Cherie and I shared the spiced apple cake with salted caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream ($8). We fought over the remaining bites of it—there are no friends when a dessert that good is in front of you.
Reservations are strongly recommended at Moody’s, which you can do at www.moodysbistro.com. There’s no telling when this place will be full with a long waiting list.