Lou La Bonte's Restauran is located at the east end of the quaint Sierra Nevada foothill town of Auburn, CA, the county seat of Placer County. Lou La Bonte's is definitely not a diner, or a greasy spoon restaurant, as it features elegant, yet casual dining, in a tasetfully decorated, and comfortable dining room.
Photo: If you're looking for breakfast, Lou La Bonte's sign points the way, but don't look earlier than 11:00 on weekday mornings. Yes, they serve prime rib for dinner!
Saturday morning, September 4, 2010 found us on our way to Reno for the holiday weekend, and although I've been traveling through Auburn for over 40 years, I'd never had the opportunity to pay Lou La Bonte's a visit, as Auburn is very close to Roseville, we usually skip Auburn altogether, when we're on our way over the hill. According to their web site, Lou La Bonte's has been open since 1946, so I felt it was time to pay the restaurant a visit, as any restaurant that's been in business for over 60 years must be doing something right. Not to mention that we were in the mood for a good breakfast... Since today was Saturday, La Bonte's opened early at 0800 for breakfast, rather than their usual breakfast opening time of 1100 on weekdays.
What grabs your attention when you walk through the decor is the bar - it's a full-service bar - complete with flat screen televisions, bar stools, quite a few tables, and of course lots of bottles. You can belly up to the bar and enjoy a drink, or you can take your meal in the bar, if you're in the mood for subdued lighting and intimate atmosphere, but our stomachs were telling us: Breakfast!! ... so we made our way through the bar, and sat down at a table in the spacious dining room.
Photo: The spacious, airy and tastefully decorated dining room. We were seated at a table near a window, which was very pleasant.
Photo: Carolyn brings our breakfasts to our table.
Lou La Bonte's dining room is comfortable, very spacious, and could be described as elegant, especially for a Gold Rush-era town such as Auburn. The room is tastefully decorated, has a Mediterranean influence and is light and airy. We were especially impressed by the white linen table cloths, which is not something that we see at the roadhouses and diners where we usually frequent. La Bonte's is a class act.
Our friendly server Carolyn placed menus on our table, took our drink orders, and brought ice water, with real ice, in a "glass" glass, which is a small touch which we always appreciate.
The breakfast menu does not feature "diner fare," so if you're looking for fine cuisine drowning in its own grease, covered with gravy, perhaps you should look at some of the other restaurants we've reviewed. The menu offers something for every taste, and features lots of scrambles - or if you prefer - you can have your entree presented as an omelet. We noted the menu features many attractive choices, but the scrambles really caught our eye. My wife, Sharlene ordered a Fresh Vegetable Scramble, which included two fresh eggs, fresh seasonal vegetables, melted jack and cheddar cheese topped with avocado slices. I considered ordering the Italian Sausage Scramble, but I told myself that I wasn't hungry enough for such a delightful breakfast, and instead ordered a rather generic plate of eggs, hash browns and toast. In a few minutes, I would be in for a pleasant surprise...
Photo: Carolyn snapped this photo of Sharlene and I, seated at our table, with our breakfasts in front of us.
Photo: My breakfast of sourdough toast, fried eggs, hash brown potatoes and coffee. Delicious, but a bit on the generic side, but that's what I ordered.
After spending what seemed like only a few minutes, enjoying the pleasant surroundings, the attractive decor, and some of the best coffee that Auburn has to offer, our breakfast arrived. My two eggs over easy were cooked perfectly - the yolks were intact - and the hash brown potatoes were cooked to a golden brown, chewy, moist, and no at all greasy. I'm not sure of the cooking method that La Bonte's uses, but it doesn't seem to use oil or grease. Sharlene's scramble was simply beautiful, covered with cheese, and accompanied by perfectly cooked hash brown potatoes. But where were the avocado slices that the menu promised?
Without further adieu, I began the pleasant task of enjoying my delicious breakfast, while Sharlene sort of picked at the side of her scramble with her fork, and took a small bite or two. After looking at her breakfast, I was beginning to regret that I'd ordered such a generic breakfast, and Sharlene read my mind and asked me if I wanted a taste of her scramble. After I sampled a bite, she asked what I thought it tasted like, and I said "Italian Sausage," but that couldn't be, as she'd ordered a vegetable scramble, and the restaurant would never place meat in a vegetable scramble, as that would be a public relations disaster if the meal was served to a hard-core vegan. I told her that I guess I had tasted a slice of mushroom, and left it at that.
A funny thing happened next, as our server, Carolyn, came to tour table, and very apologetically explained to us that there had been a mix-up in the kitchen, and they had delivered an Italian Sausage Scramble to my wife, rather than the Vegetable Scramble the she had ordered. Carolyn apologized for the mix-up and offered to bring the Vegetable Scramble, if Sharlene still wanted it. Sure - bring it on - and we got to keep the Italian Sausage Scramble, on the house's dime! So, I was the recipient of the remainder of Shalene's Italian Sausage Scramble, and her order of delicious hash brown potatoes.
Photo: Here's the Italian Sausage Scramble that was placed on our table my mistake. La Bonte's loss turned out to be my gain.
Photo: After the mix-up was resolved, this is the Vegetable Scramble that Sharlene ordered. She let me have a little taste, and I can tell you that this was one delicious veggie scramble!
By the time I'd polished off the breakfast I ordered, and the food I received from Sharlene, I was stuffed. As I mentioned before, the eggs and hash browns were great, but the Italian Sausage Scramble was spectacular. Here's what the meal was all about: Two farm fresh eggs, thinly sliced Italian sausage, diced spinach covered with melted Fontina cheese, and accompanied by some of the best hash brown potatoes that I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy. Sharlene's Fresh Vegetable Scramble also used two fresh eggs, with tomato slices, spinach, and bell peppers, with melted jack and cheddar cheese mixed in, and covered with sliced avocado. Delicious!
Lou La Bonte's made an honest mistake in mixing up the orders, but they did the right thing and made it right, with hassle, fuss or fanfare. We love a restaurant that has integrity, and treats diners with the respect due to a paying customer.
Photo: Judy, the owner of the restaurant, working at the full-service bar. Since it was about 9:00 in the morning, she was drinking ice water, and not a martini as it appears to be in the photo.
When you're headed to the Gold Country, and you're looking to enjoy a delicious meal in elegant surroundings, look no further than Lou La Bonte's Restaurant in Auburn.
La Bonte's Restaurant
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