Comfort Food Gets a Lift
Acclaimed restaurateur Michael Mina’s Bourbon Pub reopens in the Village at Northstar
Award-winning chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Michael Mina, who operates over 40 dining destinations, including his flagship Michelin-starred eponymous eatery in San Francisco, has added another concept to his culinary quiver—Bourbon Pub.
Located at the Village at Northstar at the base of the Big Springs gondola (there are two additional locations at SFO and Levi’s Stadium) and launched in November 2019, the 125-seat restaurant recently reopened after a COVID-induced hiatus, with adjustments to keep patrons and staff safe and healthy.
While most of Mina’s restaurants cater to a uniquely urban crowd, this is one of his first ventures into the realm of ski-in, ski-out dining; the other is the Handle Bar at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
“We were so excited to collaborate with Vail Resorts and really wanted to bring the Village at Northstar a lively year-round gathering place to enjoy elevated pub-inspired food, après ski offerings, craft cocktails and entertainment,” says Mina, who has been guest chef at the James Beard House numerous times and cooked for U.S. presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “When it comes to Lake Tahoe, I just knew Bourbon Pub was the right thing.”
ROY, one of San Francisco’s hottest design firms, is responsible for the restaurant’s mountain modern aesthetic, converting the former Tavern 6330 into a bright, buzzy space decked out in plaid, black-and-white buffalo check, light wood and leather; the main dining room features a landscape mural by Redwood City artist Megan Sara. A mudroom with cubbies and hooks gives guests a place to stash their winter outerwear while dining, and ample outdoor seating includes plentiful fire pits for ambiance and warmth.
Born in Egypt and raised in Washington, D.C., Mina brings his signature global mashup of flavors to the Bourbon Pub menu. The popular Bourbon Pub nachos, a stack of fried whole tortillas, beef chili, cotija cheese, avocado, crema, chili pepper and sunny-side-up egg, gets ceremoniously sliced with a satisfying crunch by the server, tableside.
Another customer favorite, the double cheeseburger, piles two beef patties, American cheese, caramelized and raw onions and a not-so-secret sauce blend of onion, tomato, mustard and vinegar, and comes with house-made potato chips or green salad. Mina says the secret to a perfect burger starts with selecting the right blend of meat—brisket, chuck and short rib with a 75-to-25-percent meat-to-fat ratio; Bourbon Pub’s beef is sourced from Carson Valley’s Bently Ranch herd of grass-fed, sustainably raised cattle. Patties should be loosely packed and bun brushed with butter and toasted so as to stand up to the burger juices.
While this season’s menu was still being finalized at press time, past options have included items such as Tokyo ginger-soy-marinated fried chicken and sriracha mayo; a truffled Caesar with little gem lettuce and sweet onion crema; and phyllo-crusted fish and chips. The lemon garlic broccolini with Calabrian chilis checked the umami box.
For a sweet finish, save room for the Bourbon Pub warm chocolate chip walnut cookies and ice-cold milk and the huckleberry sundae made with buttermilk ice cream and lemon curd.
A pub at a ski resort would not be worth its salt without a solid lineup of après-anything drinks. Some 15 beers are available on tap and by the bottle, along with over a dozen upmarket, largely California wines by the glass. There’s cocktails made with barrel-aged spirits like the Snow Fashioned mixed with Jim Beam, walnut Angostura and orange bitters; the Jalapeño Business employs vodka, lime, cucumber, basil, jalapeño and ginger beer. Bloody Marys here get Diane Mina’s mixer recipe made from organic heirloom tomatoes, olive brine, grated horseradish, Egyptian celery seed, Worcestershire, lemon juice, Tabasco, sea salt, honey and five peppercorn blend. The Dirty Diane adds cilantro, jalapeños, key lime and coriander seed.
COVID conditions permitting, Bourbon Pub is slated to remain open year-round, offering the opportunity to bask in a little Michael Mina glow in the warmth of summer too.
Bourbon Pub is open for lunch, après and dinner. Reservations required. 8001 North Village Way, Suite 8114, Truckee, CA; (530) 562-3201; northstarcalifornia.com
Incline Village-based writer Susan D. Rock is Tahoe Quarterly’s longtime Food & Wine editor.