Your little black book for entertainment

Susan’s Place (Wine Bar and Eatery) – Restaurant Review

Written By: Lola Grey - Jan• 28•11

Atmosphere:  The tangled garden is hidden through an arch way adorned with the sign “Susan’s Place wine bar and eatery”.  As you adventure along the entryway path you see trellises with wining wisteria and floating umbrellas to shade you.  You settle into a simple seating of plastic picnic tables and chairs or an occasional wood bench.  Relax and take a deep breath as you smell the fresh air and hear the gentle bubbles of water fountains that surround you in this graceful garden.  Glass of wine anyone?

Neighborhood:   Sutter Creek, CA.

   Susan’s is located a block off Main St. in “old town” Sutter Creek.  Sutter Creek was originally known as “Jewel of the Mother Lode” and was a home to fortune hunters from all around.  The town was named after John Sutter who traveled there from Sacramento looking for timber in 1846.  What they didn’t expect is that there was gold in those hills!!!  Not only did they find placer gold in Sutter but in 1851 they found gold bearing quartz.  As you can imagine Sutter Creek became a booming town.

  Today the mines are closed and Sutter Creek is a quiet little tourist town in Amador wine country.  Many of the old buildings are still standing and Sutter is a registered historical landmark of California.  There is plenty of sightseeing and historical tours to take when you’re out this way and of course there is wine tasting!  Susan has an obvious love of her home town and even includes a link on the website for things to do in Sutter.  This is one of the most adorable old towns you’ll ever see and well worth the drive.  Have lunch at Susan’s then take a drive to one of the many local attractions.

Price range:  $$ ($10- $25)

Dress code: Casual

Cuisine:  Mediterranean/California cuisine

Editorial profile:  You’ll be hard pressed to find a better atmosphere than the outdoor patio at Susan’s Place.  This garden courtyard is right out of the fairy tale books and yes there are even doves!  As beautiful as Susan’s is what keeps me coming back time and time again is the food.  As you relax and take a look at the menu you will see Susan’s creative takes on Mediterranean classics.  One of my favorites is the Greek pot roast, you have never tasted pot roast like this!  The beef is cooked in zinfandel wine, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and garlic.  It’s a surprisingly comforting meal that warms your soul.  This restaurant is right up “Foodie” ally providing smaller sized dishes that are crisp and elegant.  One of the especially neat things about Susan’s menu is that many of the dishes come with the sauce of your choosing and either rice or polenta.  The sauces are all house recipes and truly are delicious.  The style of Susan’s dishes are a little more on the mild side.  You will not find a lot of spice or strong flavors, instead you will taste the fresh vegetables and the complex yet light seasonings.  This is not to say the food is bland this, is what I would quit simply call, tasteful. 

  Now we can’t forget to mention the Susan’s is a wine bar and as such has an extensive wine list.  Every wine they carry has been tasted by Susan herself (by the way she is usually around so make sure to say hi).  If you are unsure of what wine is for you then go for the flight.  The flights have three different wines and are almost half a glass each, bon appétit!  If you’re in the mood for a game then order up a flight for you and your dinning partner and allow your waitress to choose.  The glasses will be numbered 1-3 and each of you will be handed an answer key for the others wines. Now try and guess, no peaking!  Before you leave you must take a gander through the desert menu.  They are decadent and are paired perfectly with a glass of port for and fantastic end to your meal.  Susan’s Place is my little black dress for food, tasteful and beautiful.

Special features:  Gorgeous outdoor seating, blind flights, location is great for sightseeing.


Recommended dishes:  Meatballs with mushroom, Mediterranean sauce and you HAVE to have the polenta.

Alcohol: Wine, wine, and more wine.

Corkage fee: N/A

Reservations:   Highly recommended

Insider tips:  After lunch take a tour of the Sutter gold mine right down the road. 

Payment methods accepted:  Major credit cards and cash.  *Susan would love for you to use cash to help her through the hard economic times!

Hours:  Thu-Sun 11:30 am – 8 pm

Address:  15 Eureka Street, Sutter Creek, CA. 95682

Parking: Small lots across the alley or street parking.


Facebook:  N/A

Email: N/A

Phone number: 209-267-0945

Taj Mahal – Restaurant Review

Written By: Lola Grey - Jan• 27•11

Atmosphere:  Taj Mahal is a simply presented family run restaurant.  Most of the décor is of The Taj Mahal, Hindu deities, and typical Indian motif.  Tacky yet charming, the dining room is clean and comfortable with big windows and lots of light.  The staff will warmly greet you as you enter and show you to your table.  The smell alone gives you the first clue to how amazing your meal will be.  The authentic food will keep you coming back for more.  This is the kind of place to get a cup of chai in a snow storm or grab take out on movie night.


Neighborhood:  Located in South Lake Tahoe, CA. (inside the Quality Inn).

Price range:  $$ ($10- $25)

Dress code: Casual

Cuisine:  Indian

Editorial profile:  If you spend a lot of time in mom and pop Indian restaurants than you will know just what to expect at Taj Mahal.  The staff will politely address you as ‘sir’ and most speak broken English.  There aren’t a lot of frills here but there is some amazing food!  Indian food tends to be spicy; however Taj Mahal accommodates everyone by allowing you to order your dish mild, medium, or hot.  If you love it hot than you’ll be delighted that their spice doesn’t cover over the flavor in there dishes.  The meals are served family style and are meant to be shared with friends and loved ones.  The meets are lean cuts, the butter chicken has rich creamy sauce and the samosas… well you must try the veggie ones.  If you rather try a little of everything then come for the reasonably priced lunch buffet.  Admittedly the chai here is not one of my favorites but they do have a wide variety of Indian drinks to choose from such as mango lassi.  Like any family run businesses you may occasionally find that they are out of items of the menu.  I hope this means that many others are coming to enjoy the great food here!  Accept Taj Mahal for what it is not the Ritz but authentic Indian for a decent price.  If you find yourself in the neighborhood then stop in and give the self proclaimed ‘best Indian food in Tahoe’ a try.

Menu  This is a very condensed menu and doesn’t include all the dishes they make.

Recommended dishesChicken Makhani (butter chicken) My must have Indian food dish!

Alcohol: Wine and beer (try the traditional Indian beer Taj Mahal, its fantastic)

Corkage fee: N/A

Reservations: Usually not necessary

Insider tips:  Don’t forget the rice!  The dishes do not come with rice and rice is an additional $2.

Payment methods accepted:  All major credit cards and cash.

Hours:  Open 7 days a week.  Hours can vary so give them a call to check current times.

Address:  3838 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA. 96150

Parking: Adjacent parking lot


Facebook:  N/A

Email:  N/A

Phone number: 530-541-6495

Sierra Tahoe – Ski Resort Review

Written By: Lola Grey - Jan• 27•11

Atmosphere:  Here is where the local pros all gather to board.  Nestled at the base of the mountain are a few lodges where snow boarders and skier hangout out with ice cold beers and catch their breath.  This mountain is extreme fun.  The crowd is mostly 20-40’s and there are a lot less kids here than at Heavenly mountain.  You also won’t find as many newbie’s on the weekdays, this is the spot to come for even the most advanced.  The hills are steep and the runs are long, winding through beautiful woods.  If you like lots of tree skiing, this is your place.  Sierra Tahoe is a warm, friendly mountain with a touch of party to it.  Enjoy!


South Lake Tahoe, CA. (winter)

Heavenly Ski Resort is the main attraction in winter for this area.  Thousands of people a year flock to its hills for breathtaking views of the lake.  Although this is a premier spot for skiers, it lacks runs and parks for people looking to ride.  For those of us that keep our feet on a board lets hop on over to Sierra Tahoe for the day.  Sierra Tahoe is an easy drive from San Fran, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, and Reno.  It’s located just 12 miles west of Lake Tahoe in the Alpine forest.  There is not much to say about the surrounding area because there is not much here.  The nearest lodge is 12 miles away, so to say this is a hidden little gem is an understatement.  You won’t find hotels, restraints, or many tourists out this way.  What you will find is one of the best backwoods mountains around!

Price range:  $$ ($61/half day -$71 full day)  there are many package deals to pick from if you plan on staying more than one day 

Editorial profile:  What started as one locals dream to open a ski resort called “The Ranch” has grown into one of Lake Tahoe’s largest ski resorts.  There are over 2,000 skiable acres and ten chairlifts taking you to a top elevation of 8,852 feet.  It’s a no nonsense resort that gets straight to the point with a condensed bases and LOTS of well maintained mountain.  They have lessons and runs set up for people who are just learning so no matter what your skill level you’ll been well taken care of.  Take a browse through their website and you’ll see the fun, playful atmosphere that Sierra exudes.  They have silly names for their runs such as ‘preachers’ passion’ and ‘easy street’.  The map is well laid out  and all the runs are clearly marked, one heck of a user friendly mountain! They also have big heart on this big mountain with a focus on customer serves and a mission statement committing to eco education.  Sierra has twice been awarded the Silver Eagle for Environmental Education by the NSAA.  Now that’s some love of the outdoors! 

   Not only is this a beautiful place to ski, Sierra also has opened it arms to those who ride.  On the mountain you’ll find 2 parks and 2 pipes (9 foot/ 17 foot walls) to sharpen your skills at.  In fact Sierra has been ranked in the Top 10 Overall Resort, Best Pipes and Best Parks by TransWorld Snowboarding for several years.  The longest run is ‘sugar n’ spice’ covering 2.5 miles.  Are you read to come play yet?  Thinking about all the trees but not brave enough to go for it?  They even offer backcountry lessons for adults 18+ .  The fun doesn’t end on the runs either!  They have weekly events on the mountain such as wine tasting, live music, and ‘Take Over Tuesdays’.  Check out the calendar for all the latest events  All this fun starts winding down in April so get to the mountain and don’t miss out!!!!

Special features:  Great restraints and bars.  Set up for snowboarders to shred.  Backcountry skiing and riding.  Up to date online stats and live cam.

Alcohol:  Full bar at many of the lodges 🙂

Reservations: Go online to reserve any classes in advance

Insider tips:  Mondays is local’s day so you won’t have to deal with the crowds.  Tuesdays is ‘Terrain Park Take-over Tuesdays’ all about parks and pipes.

Payment methods accepted:  Major credit cards


Lift Operations

Weekends& Peak Periods:  8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Weekdays:  9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 

Tickets + Season Pass Office

Daily:  8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

 Rental Shop

Weekends & Peak Periods:  8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Weekdays:  8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 Blizzard Mountain

Tubing, Snow Play, and Snowshoeing

Daily:  10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Address:  1111 Sierra-at-Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, CA  95735

Parking:  Adjacent parking lot (4wheel drive is a must up here!)




Phone number:  General: 530.659.7453
24-hour Snow Phone:  530.659.7475
Season Pass Office: 530.659.7453 x208

Tahoe Seasons Resort – Hotel Review

Written By: Lola Grey - Jan• 27•11

Atmosphere:  The staff is here is friendly, egger to help and happily serve as your tour guides.  Just ask one of the staff for a recommendation to eat and they will plan your whole night!  As with most ski towns the people here are laid back and won’t bother you if you would rather be left alone.  The lodge is cozy and makes you feel like you walked back in time a little.  It’s a rustic 70’s lodge look with warm colors and lots of wood.  Your room is a loft style cabin in the woods… with a racy option of complete openness.  A Jacuzzi tube for a bubble bath and mount Heavenly right out your door, what more could you want?  This out of the way getaway is one of my favorites!  Let’s dive into all they have to offer…


South Lake Tahoe, CA (winter season)

If you find yourself lucky enough to take a trip to northern California you can’t go wrong with a trip to Lake Tahoe.  Your first glimpse of Lake Tahoe is one you’ll never forget; crystal blue waters, perfect sandy beaches surrounded by a spectacular alpine forest.  It is the highest lake of its size in the United States (being 22 miles long and 12 miles wide).  The water in Lake Tahoe is 99.9% pure making the lake so clear they say you could see a white dinner plate 78ft below the surface!!!   The lake used to be a gathering place for three peaceful Native American tribes that considered it a spiritual site and conducted sacred ceremonies on the south shore.  If you find yourself at the top of heavenly mountain you will see exactly what they meant.

Now Tahoe has become a premier resort area with heavenly ski resort and casinos on the strip to bring your night to life.  There are lodges at the base of the mountain to have a warm cocoa, shows at the casinos, and a wide variety of international food around town.  As you drive through the mountain you see little log cabins and resort lodges.  Tahoe truly has a warm friendly atmosphere and as a tourist town should be, the people are helpful and kind to all the new comers.  This is an international destination so enjoy the accents you’ll hear from all over the world.  The God Father 2 was filmed on location in Tahoe, so watch yourself at the casino or you just may get “an offer you can’t refuse”!

One of the best parts of Lake Tahoe is that it’s a transitional vacation destination.  In the winter you have a town full of “ski bums” and just the culture you would expect with it.  In the summer you have the boating and water skiing crowd, with all the party to go along!  In this review I’ll focus one a fantastic lodge to stay on your ski or snowboarding weekend 😉

Price range:  $$ ($110-$318 per night) Holidays Rates may vary

*They also offer packages that include hotel rooms and passes to local activities.

Editorial profile:  Tahoe Seasons Resort has 160 rooms and is literally across the street from heavenly ski resort’s California base lodge .  The valet and bell hops are a great help with parking and carrying your luggage to the room, however they do love tips so come with small bills ready!  One down side of this resort is that there is no self parking.  You are required to valet and those tips add up!  If you’re okay with the luxury of not having to fetch your own vehicle than you’ll love there jokes and warm wishes for your good day.    

   The suits are a dream come true to someone who loves a retro, wide open loft look.  Check out the floor plans on their website there are two sizes of rooms: one bedroom (sleeps up to four adults) or the master suit (sleeps up to six adults).  They have a cozy cabin feel with a large Jacuzzi tub in the center.  The bathroom is open with a large vanity area and a water closet for the toilet.  The Jacuzzi (big enough to fit all your friends) can be left open or closed up with shutters for a private bath.  Be for warned that the water pressure is quite low and the water temperature is cool out of the shower.  My advice is to draw yourself a nice bath and enjoy some morning water yoga!  When filling the tub the water gets nice and hot, aren’t you supposed to be relaxing anyway?  There is a refrigerator for your snacks and a gas fire place to warm you toes by.  Bring your computer and utilize the free WIFI to find places for dinner (  All and all the rooms are a charming addition to a weekend getaway.  I have to say if you have kids or don’t like open spaces this may not be the option for you, for the rest of us let’s move on to the amenities!

  The lobby is large with big windows that wrap around the building.  There is a fire place and a bar to grab a drink after a long day of skiing.   Better yet, grab a glass of wine and head to the game room.  The game room has a pool table and video games to entertain you before you venture to the casino for some dinner.  Do you need to rent your skis or board?  Take a walk to the end of the lobby and see the guys at Needle Peak Sports Shop.  The rental prices are all on line for you and if you already have your board they’ll wax it down for free.  In the morning be sure to stroll to the other end of the lobby to grab a bite to eat at the in house restaurant.  The food is a basic dinner style and will start your day off right.  They are open till 11am and it’s the only onsite restaurant so don’t snooze!  Before you hit the slopes you can duck into the gift shop to pick up your heavenly lift tickets for a little bit of a discount.  They also have all those touristy gifts for you to take back to family.  There is even an onsite activities department that will set you up with a sightseeing tour.

Dinning:  The On-Site Restaurant serves breakfast ONLY. Food can be delivered to your suite any time from Fat City Food Company, 7 days a week (11 am to 9:30 pm) by calling 530-542-2780.

Insider tips:  This resort is a part of a timeshare program and works with Vacation Resorts International and RCI .

 If you like to snow board then heavenly may not be your place.  The runs tend to flatten out and even the best boarder gets stuck.  I would highly recommend you take the 30min drive to Sierra Tahoe and enjoy the slops that the locals board 😉 .

Pets:  No pets

Smoking: This resort is non-smoking.

Parking: Valet only

Reservations: Can be done on line or over the phone 

Payment methods accepted:  Major credit cards

Desk hours:  24 hours

Address:  3901 Saddle Road, P.O. Box 16300
                  South Lake Tahoe, California 96151 U.S.A.



Phone number: 530-541-6700

Tower Cafe – Restaurant Review

Written By: Lola Grey - Jan• 15•11

Atmosphere:  From the minute you walk up to Tower Café you’ll be entertained by the ELABORATE décor.  It is always bustling and there is no room to wait inside so enjoy the fresh air and your view of the historical Tower Theater.  In the winter months there is a large tent with heaters for you and your fellow patrons to cozy up in.  Don’t forget the coffee!  Tower Cafe has a table set up outside with fresh pot of joe so help yourself!  As you walk inside you will see, this is not your average café.  There are statues, paintings, carvings, lanterns, the most elaborately beautiful bouquets you’ll ever see and that’s just to start!  The café has a whimsical feel of a tourist’s trinket shop.  With all the drama you would expect from an owner who is a former film maker.  The staff is warm and friendly; they wear their own clothes and have their own style. Your job is to kick back, take a few photos and order up some great food.  If you are in the neighborhood in the warmer months be sure request a table on the patio.  This patio is really more of a garden with occasional fountains, carvings, and lots of wild vegetation!! You couldn’t pick a better spot for dessert and wine with a close friend 🙂  Tower Café is a family friendly, wildly entertaining venue that’s sure to put a smile on your face.

TOWER CAFÉ (International restaurant and bakery) 

Neighborhood:  Land Park, Downtown Sacramento, CA

Land Park is the major city park in Sacramento.  This area is well known for a few key landmarks and tower café is surely one of them.  You can journey to “funderland” and “fairytale town” which have rides and fairytale adventures for small children (or those that think they areJ ).  You can take a walk on the wild side at the Sacramento zoo or venture to Vic’s ice cream.  Vic’s was founded in 1947 and will take you back in time with its early 50’s feel.  It has been a favorite of many Sacramento politicians over the years so you really never know who you might meet! 

Last but not least I would like to take you to Tower Café, located in the old Tower Theater building.  This little corner of Sacramento is really a piece of history. Opening in 1938, the Tower Theatre is Sacramento’s oldest remaining, continuously running picture palace. It’s old world, vintage ambiance is now the downtown hub for a small selection of indie movies that you can’t find anywhere else around town.  It is also where the founder of Tower Records, Russ Solomon, starting selling records out of his father’s drug store located in the retail shops attached to the theater.  In time the drug store closed and the lease was acquired by former filmmaker James Seyman who gives us Tower Café….

Price range: $$ ($10-$25)

Dress code:  You’ll be among the down town hipsters so wear your favorite vintage threads or better yet “who cares what anyone thinks”.

Cuisine:  American, bakery, international (best known for their award winning brunch)

Editorial profile: Tower Café is a “worldly fusion eatery” opened on Earth Day 1990 with the mission of bring a city of diversity and experiences under one roof.  Surly owner James Seyman couldn’t have done it better!  The menu is remarkably diverse, serving everything from French toast to Thai steak.  The most amazing part about the wide array of dishes is how well each one of them is made.  Incredible flavor, fresh fruit, rich sauces and crisp veggies will delight your palate.  They are renowned for their outstanding brunch, which you can engage in on Sat or Sun till the late hour of 2pm.  Enjoy a morning toast with a mimosa and crapes that give Champs-Élysées a run for its money.  Tower Café also serves lunch and dinner that are just as diverse and enjoyable with a rotation of seasonal favorites.  This is the kind of place that keeps you coming back for that dish you still need to try.  Just when you thought you had tried it all… intro Pastry Chef Louise Mastrietti.  Louise’s pastries are made fresh daily and look as good as they taste.  There are traditional favorites like German chocolate cake, new ideas like lime cashew tart, and original looks like the yen and yang chocolate cheese cake.  She will even be glad to make a whole cake for you with courtesy of a 24hr notice.

Voted Best Breakfast and Best Sunday Brunch in the 2009 Sacramento magazine readers’ poll. 

Voted Best Outdoor Dining and Best Breakfast in the 2008 Sacramento News & Review readers’ poll

Special features:  Post cards featuring the unique décor and historical location of Tower Café are available for 50 cents, fun for the tourist in all of us.


Recommended dishes:  Tower Café’s secret recipe has won”Best French Toast” several years in a row.  For lunch or dinner try the Thai steak salad.

Alcohol: Wine, beer, homemade sangria, soju, and a small mixed drink list.

Corkage fee:  N/A

Reservations:  They work on a first come first serve basis so give yourself some time.  I recommend grabbing a drink from the bar and enjoying your wait outside the cafe.  The only reservations available are for parties 6 or more from Sunday dinner through Friday lunch.  Friday dinner through Sunday brunch is excluded.

Insider tips1/2 price on selected bottles of wine every Monday.  $2 draft pints every Tuesday.

Payment methods accepted:  All major credit cards and cash

Hours:  Monday – Thursday: 8am-11pm (desserts and drinks 10pm-11pm)

            Friday – Saturday: 7am-12am (desserts and drinks 10pm-11pm)

            Sunday: 7am-11pm (desserts and drinks 10pm-11pm)

Address:  1518 Broadway

               Sacramento, CA.  95818

Parking: Private Lot



Phone number: 916-441-0222

Chantara – Restaurant Review

Written By: Lola Grey - Jan• 07•11

 Atmosphere:  As you walk in you feel like you’ve entered a little piece of Thailand.  The dim romantic lighting and the aroma of exotic spices will calm your mood immediately.  You’ll be surrounded by artifacts and statues imported from Thailand.  This includes a full size, carved wood, Thai temple that frames the bar.  The tables are rustic and chucky and the chairs are made of an Asian wicker that creeks just enough for you to know that they have history.  In the warmer months there is a patio to relax on beside the town lake.  Whether you’re cozied up to a table with friends or having a drink at the “temple” harnessing your chi, Chantra is an endearing experience I highly recommend.                                                                                                                                                

Neighborhood:  El Dorado Hills Town Center, CA

Town Center is an upscale emerging district of El Dorado Hills, CA. located about 20 miles east of Sacramento.  This lovely little district is built to look like a downtown main street.  Each of the buildings are built by a different architect having their own unique architecture.  The buildings are reminiscent of a school house, hotel, town hall, water tower, and so on.  On a nice day you’ll see people strolling along sidewalks peeking in the shops or dinning by the lakeside under 130 year old olive trees. 

Price range:  $$ ($10-$25) 

Dress code: You will fit right in here whether you’re in your everyday jeans or have on your 5 o’clock best.

Cuisine:  Thai cuisine

Editorial profile:  Thai cuisine places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components.  Chantra is a great example of quality Thai always having fresh vegetables and lean cuts of meat.  So far this is the best Thai I have found around town.  The peanut sauce with their satay is homemade and scrumptious.  The red curry (which is my ‘can’t go without’ dish) is not only tasty but they will make it nice and spicy if you like that kind of thing.  A friendly word of caution, if you’re new to Thai food, it is known for being spicy!  Thankfully Chantra accommodates everyone’s needs and will make their dishes from mild – Thai hot.  The one opportunity I see here is the availability of serves.  Chantra seems to be a family run business and as such can be a little under staffed.  With that being said the staff is friendly, warm and eager to help.  Pick a day when you feel like a leisurely meal and you’ll have a great time.

Special features:  Dishes are served family style, so get a few and share!

Menu:  http:  //

Recommended dishes:  Red Curry 😉

Alcohol: Full bar

Corkage fee: N/A

Reservations: Accepted but not necessary

Insider tips:  Town center is a great stop for date night!  Try Chantra for dinner and a movie at the Regal movie theater right down town center blvd.

Payment methods accepted:  all major credit cards and cash

Hours:  Mon-Sun 11am-3pm

            Mon-Sun 4:30pm-10pm


4361 town center blvd #110

El dorado Hills, CA

Parking:  adjacent parking lot

Website: N/A

Email: N/A

Phone number: (916) 939-0389