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Goldfield's "new" café harkens back to the town's good ol' days.
Photo: Joyce Hollister (Northern Saloon and Café in Goldfield)
If you’re thirsty or hungry as you barrel along U.S. 95 between Beatty and Tonopah, there’s a new place in Goldfield to stop for refreshment. Ruth Andersen, a Beatty native, opened The Northern Saloon and Café in December after spending 10 months renovating the old Norm’s Place on North Columbia Avenue, a half-block off the main drag through town.
Andersen has traveled the world with her company, Salt Lake Seismic Services based in Utah and Arizona, blasting rock for highways and imploding buildings and other structures to make way for new construction. She’s also operated bars and restaurants in Alaska and Florida.
“I always missed the desert,” Andersen says. Last year she returned to Nevada, settled in Goldfield, and began restoring a few of the old structures ravaged by fire and neglect. Goldfield, a ghost of its former self, dates to the early 1900s and once was the largest city in Nevada.
When she took the old building over, there was a sign in front that read, “The Northern.” Andersen kept the name, which, she later learned, has a history of its own. The famed boxing promoter Tex Rickard opened his Northern Saloon in 1905 at a different site. It burned in the great Goldfield fire of 1923.
The new Northern features an 1800s antique hand-carved back bar from Italy. The dining room is decorated in a high Victorian style with soothing green bead board walls, Tiffany-style lamps, five-panel doors, a thick carpet, and stained glass.
Executive chef Keawe Aikau and his brother, Keni Aikau, Hawaiians who specialized in classic French cuisine at culinary arts schools in Portland and Phoenix, man the kitchen. They use fresh ingredients for salads, soups, and entrées. “We work with specialty food purveyors to see what we can get daily,” Keni says. “That’s what makes the food really good. People can taste the difference. And if you add a little bit of love to everything, you can’t go wrong.”
Keni’s favorite dish is a lemon- and herb-stuffed chicken with wild mushroom risotto and seasonal vegetables. Andersen likes the Buckboard Chicken Galliano—a breaded chicken breast stuffed with spinach and boursin cheese served on a risotto cake with sautéed vegetables and a sauce made with Galliano.
Steaks are charbroiled and finished with melted butter. A New York steak gets a wild mushroom demi glaze, and the rib steak, a Marsala glaze. The Northern’s chicken-fried steak is popular, Andersen says. It comes with country gravy and garlic mashed potatoes. “We have awesome salads; no iceburg lettuce is used,” she adds. The Aunt Sharon’s chicken salad, a bed of mixed baby greens topped with crasins, chopped pecans, and feta cheese, is drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette. The menu also has a buffalo burger and a bleu-cheese stuffed ranch burger one-and-a-half inches thick.
Desserts include Bananas Foster, flamed at your table, and the Dessert Tower, vanilla ice cream nestled on pecan brownies topped with raspberry liqueur and white and dark chocolate.
Specials are served on different nights of the week—Fish Night, Italian Night, and Prime Rib Night. For summer, there is an outdoor bar and barbecue area for luaus, and live music will be offered beginning in May.
Photo: Chefs Keni Aikau (left), his brother, Keawe, and owner Ruth Andersen toast with a glass of wine in the new Northern Saloon and Café‘s dining room. By Joyce Hollister
As of March 2010, The Northern Saloon and Café is closed, with no plans of re-opening.
The Northern Saloon and Café
317 Columbia Ave., Goldfield
775-485-9990 (restaurant); 775-485-3582 (bar)
Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mon. to Sat. (Sun. in the summer)