If you have heard of the name Harrah’s you may think of Las Vegas, Reno, or Lake Tahoe but now people in the 209 can think about Northern California – Ione, to be exact. For many years the Caesars Entertainment Corporation has been looking for a place to build a casino and restaurant in Northern California and now that they have a partnership with the Buena Vista Rancheria tribe it has become a reality. In March 2018, they broke ground and were able to open just a year and one month later.
For those who may not be interested in the casino aspect, Harrah’s offers a very special upscale yet casual dining experience at Louie Oliver’s Restaurant and Bar. The patio doors in the restaurant open right up to stunning views of the Sierra Nevada and the outside dining in the bar has fire pits to give the evenings a warm glow. The restaurant inside features beam work and copper tiles and has comfortable seating.
“We are bringing a little bit of Caesars Vegas to Amador County,” stated Josh Kutcher, director of Food & Beverage Harrah’s. “I think we have a different product and a different atmosphere. We use a lot of local names and local vendors to bring it all together.”
The restaurant is open for lunch from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with happy hour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. There is another option for food at the Marketplace, which is like a food court that serves American, Mexican and Asian food. The full bar with an array of beers, spirits and wines are open until 1 a.m. during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends.
Louie Oliver’s is similar to a steakhouse featuring Harris Ranch Beef that is Certified Angus Beef with four main options: Filet, Ribeye, T-Bone and New York. However, guests will find a very approachable menu with a variety of offerings. Suggestions for lunch include the California Burger, the pesto BLT or a traditional Caesar salad. For dinner, try the Pistachio crusted lamb chops, airline chicken breast or the seared salmon to name a few.
The vision for the restaurant is farm to fork and they will change the menu to follow the local fruits and vegetables that are in season, which keeps their menu fresh.
Although the restaurant has only been open for a few months there are guest favorites at the restaurant for lunch and dinner. There are many starters like the fried calamari, jalapeno bacon wrapped scallops, or the tender and very tasty Beef Tenderloin Satay.
Another favorite is the blue crusted ribeye that is served with cream corn, roasted fingerling potatoes and a micro salad with peppery arugula to complement the steak. For dessert a must try is the Banana Toffee Bourbon Cake — a big cake with a big name. The cake is moist and has a burst of flavor with toffee, bourbon, bananas, butterscotch, vanilla and a little added sweetness from dates. This big hit has a banana, bourbon, caramel glaze sauce, chocolate covered toffee bits, whip cream and a mint sprig.
The restaurant was named after the great grandfather of the current tribal leader. Louie was the son of Casus and Lizzie Oliver who had been in the area since the 1800s. The family has a lot of history in the area and with a painting of Louie Oliver that hangs in the restaurant, he is honored and remembered.
The road trip off the beaten path that leads you to Harrah’s Northern California is worth the trip and is truly an adventure.