“The greatest dishes are very simple dishes.”
I often rely on people to tell me about interesting places to eat, places that I might not find myself. One of those is hidden away in the city of Plymouth, the first place you come to in Amador county when you go south from here on Highway 49. Called the Plymouth Hotel, it is located at 9356 Main Street in downtown Plymouth. A right (west) turn on Main street will get you to it, a left turn will take you to Fiddletown or the Shenandoah Valley and its many great wineries.
The Plymouth Hotel was built in 1882 and still looks much like it did then. Outside, the building hasn’t changed, while inside, the bar area looks as much like a 19th century bar as I have ever seen, from the original back bar and bar, to the upright piano and pictures of John Wayne on the wall.
Diane Walton, who purchased the hotel in 1995, is refurbishing the place, to bring the upstairs hotel rooms up to today’s standards without losing the old atmosphere. “People don’t seem to like the small rooms with the bathroom down the hall,” said Walton. “And, even though I didn’t want to, I made other changes in the building like putting a new floor in the bar area. It was made of fir and on day a leg of one of the bar stools went through a thin spot, surprising the person sitting on it.”
Also on the main floor is the lobby for the hotel and what must have been a parlor, being converted into a Victorian era billiard room, complete with overhead lampshades hand made by Walton.
The walls throughout the hotel are covered with as eclectic a collection of of paintings that I have ever seen, many of them original works. “Most of my paintings are for sale,” added Walton. “One day a man came in an wanted to buy cigarettes. I told him he would have to go to the store down the street to get them. On his way out he met a customer smoking and asked for a cigarette. While he was smoking he leaned in and asked if a certain painting was for sale. I said, ‘Yes.’ He then asked how much and went back to smoking. Then he asked about another painting and the price. He finished his cigarette, bought both of them and left.”
I could go on an on about the building and the interesting owner, but I better get to the food.
Walton was a caterer with a café and a bakery in the Bay Area during the 70s and 80s. She also likes to travel and has spent a lot of time in Italy. She calls her menu “American with an Italian twist.”
It starts off with Paninis: Italian grilled sandwiches. These are not the familiar small buns often seen at restaurants, she makes them like you would find in Italy, on special rolls baked for her that are a few inches wide, just about an inch high and over a foot long. You can order a ham, salami, pastrami or Chipotle beef (I tried that and loved it. Lots of meat and delicious bread) Panini, with your choice of cheese. And there is a very special “Panini Martini Lunch Combo,” any Panini with a gin or vodka martini for a special price. I was tempted, but…
The menu also includes “Other Yummy Stuff” like tri-tip hot on a roll, a meatball sandwich, the Hotel Club, a chicken breast sandwich on a roll or bagel, an egg salad sandwich, a tuna melt, grilled cheese, hot link on a bun or a foot-long hot dog. There is also a chicken salad with light curry, apples and celery topped with cashews, homemade potato and pasta salad, garlic and rosemary soft breadsticks and, for dessert apple or cherry pie (ala mode if you wish) and cheesecake with fresh strawberries. She makes most everything and everything I tried was great.
There is seating at the bar, at several tables or outside in the beautiful courtyard you really have to see.
The Plymouth Hotel is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 until 7 and ond Friday and Saturday from 11 until 9. Live acoustic music on Fridays from 6 until 8.
For more information call (209) 245-4544.
By the way, the Amador County Fair, will be held on July 28-31 this year, just down the street from the hotel. And, if you can’t make the fair, Plymouth is just a neat place to visi