After spending the day walking around lush gardens of The Huntington Library (and nearly wanting to gouge out my eyeballs to stop the itching), my boyfriend and I worked up quite an appetite.
We weren’t too familiar with the area we were in, so we decided to stop by somewhere on the way back home. On our way down, my bf suggest going to the North Woods Inn. Initially, I had no idea what he was talking about.
When we pulled up, I had this “Eureka!” moment. The North Woods Inn is a place I’ve seen many times, yet it had remained a mystery to me until that day. It can’t be missed from the freeway. It truly stands out. It’s a “log cabin” covered with “snow” all-year round in the middle of an industrial area in Southern California.
I had never known what the name of this place was or even what it was, since the building doesn’t have windows nor flashing lights. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The parking lot was not full. Heck, I couldn’t even tell if the place was even still operating. All I knew for sure was that “snow” on the rooftop hadn’t had a cleaning or been replaced in some time. Yet, it did still contrast decently with the smog.
When we opened the doors, it was like entering a new land. Suddenly the bright sunshine and heat disappeared. It was so dark inside. There were no patrons in sight. The only sign of life was the hostess.
She took us through more empty chairs and tables to another section of the restaurant (holy cow, I didn’t realize how big this place was!) where there were quite a few diners.
The peanut shells scattered on the ground alleviated some of my apprehension. The two of us were seated at a long bench that could easily seat about 15 people.
I looked at the menu and noticed there was no shortage of beef. I ordered the smallest size steak on the menu, which came with cheese bread, 2 kinds of salad, rice pilaf and a baked potato. Had I known what to expect, I probably would’ve fasted for a week.
There was a regular salad — or should I say ranch dressing with a few pieces of lettuce swimming in it? — and a coleslaw-like salad. It consisted of mostly red cabbage, which I normally would avoid at all costs. However, I had to choose between the lesser of two evils and decided to dip the end of my fork into it. It was surprisingly good. It made me anxious for what was to come.
If the buzz phrase in real estate is “location, location, location,” then North Woods Inn’s is “portions, portions, portions.”
My “small” steak was enough to feed my family in the Motherland. It was cooked medium just the way I wanted it. The giant baked potato alone could probably feed my aunt and her 13 kids. And just looking at the cheese bread made me gain 20 lbs. The rice pilaf, though, was meh. I think I would have tossed it out and fed the birds with it if there were windows.
Overall, I was surprised by the portions and quality of the food. I definitely want to come back and try some of their other menu items (the jumbo shrimp are calling my name). Also, since I’ve never been camping, it kind of made me feel like I was having a fine meal up in the mountains. Had it not been so warm that day, I think a pair of Uggs and a heavy coat would have completed the experience.
Bottom Line: Extremely generous portions and a cozy atmosphere make North Woods Inn a unique dining experience that you will never forget.