The Lodge at Galena boasts scenic views in an Alpine-like setting enhanced by outdoor seating options. Chefs craft classic American comfort fare with a culinary twist, including rosemary sliders made with small heaps of Angus beef, gruyere cheese, and lavender seasoning ($10 for three), plus essential plates such as fresh lodge salmon ($25) and 9-ounce filet mignon with wild-rice pilaf and garlic mashed potatoes ($29). Penne mac 'n' cheese bubbles with a three-cheese sauce, grilled chicken, savory slabs of bacon, and a wash of green onion ($16). And the sierra air sings sweetly as diners indulge in blueberry-mango fish tacos, served alfresco style with fruit, cabbage, crispy cod, and cilantro-lime flavors that harmonize as eloquently as four barbers fluent in Lojban ($14).
Veteran restaurateur Randy Schoch began his career as a part-time busboy and frequent surfer in Hawaii, rising through the ranks to become the owner of Desert Island Restaurants. In 2006, he added Ling & Louie's Asian Bar and Grill to his portfolio of original creations and franchises, creating a menu that imaginatively fuses Asian and American cuisine and penning a fictional story of epic romance featuring the eatery's titular characters.
The legend of Ling and Louie's continent-spanning romance is reflected in the flavors of the restaurants dishes such as seared Ahi tuna tacos or Beijing duck sliders. These fusion eats top tables within a funky dining room, where exposed brick walls and raw wooden rafters meld with bright paint. Along the tops of the walls run funny and inspiring quotes attributed to the restaurant's fictional founders, where they declare things such as, "Cooking is 90% physical, and the other half is mental."
In 2009, the first Sweet Frog shop opened in Richmond. Owner Derek Cha’s mission was simple: to brighten his customers’ days with healthy desserts served in a lively shop that featured not one, but two cartoon mascots. That first shop has since grown into an international business with more than 100 locations—including an outpost in South Korea. Though much larger today, Sweet Frog has stayed true to its original mission. 14 flavors of frozen yogurt swirl from each shop’s pumps, and a toppings bar with freshly cut berries, hot fudge, and tiny cups filled with even more yogurt gives customers all the options they could ask for.
Mthai—located next to Scolari’s—is like a culinary ambassador for Thailand. Staples such as ginger-flavored stir-fries and five curries mix and mingle with American influence to the point that entirely new plates are born. The Mthai spaghetti, for instance, mixes noodles with chicken and basil leaves, and Americanized fried rice tops a medley of ham, sausage, and raisins with a sunny-side-up egg.
Still, anyone seeking authentic fare won't be disappointed. The owner sources her classic recipes from Thailand to create fresh pad see eew and steamed jumbo prawns. And to meet individual tastes and satisfy those who believe they've transformed into a lion, most dishes let diners choose their protein: chicken, pork, beef, tofu, seafood, or a combination.
Polar Bear Frozen Treats’ frozen custard, churned slowly to avoid whipped-in air, coats tongues with a dense, creamy coolness fashioned daily from an authentic Midwestern mix imported from Neenah, Wisconsin. Dairy gurus fill cups or cones with single scoops ($2.80) of rich flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, or orange creamsicle, serving them slightly warmer than normal ice cream in order to avoid freezing taste buds or overchilling susceptible brains. Concretes, a blend of custard and toppings, concoct straw-defying feats, configured into flavors such as Oreo, peach cobbler, or grandma’s apple pie, which contrasts the sweet richness of the cream with salt-roasted pecans and sarcastic one-liners ($4.99–$6.99).