When the snow hit the mountains towards the end of the year, I got together with some friends and our dogs to drive east and make some memories. Afterward we dropped in on Julian in search of a dog-friendly lunch.
We walked past the long lines outside each of the pie shops and wound up finding an empty patio outside a converted cottage restaurant The Julian Grille. While the last remaining snow was beginning to melt around midday, the air remained brisk, and a couple of parties ahead of us awaited spots in the Grille’s cozy, rustic interior dining rooms.
The white plastic chairs on the concrete patio were damp from the weather, and a modestly verdant trellis couldn’t compete the walls, ceilings, and vintage decorative accents inside. But the hostess assured us that accommodations would be made.
The dogs enjoyed sniffing around the yard and gardens around the front of the 20’s-era cottage while restaurant staff wiped and dried the outdoor furniture. The property sat above the street, exposing us to occasional cool breezes that suggested we were in for a chilly lunch.
But the Grille staff rolled out a patio heater, positioning our table between it and a freshly lit fieldstone fire pit. As the dual heat sources got to work, I decided to bolster their efforts with a hot apple cider. The spiced beverage warmed my belly and thawed my palate, and I turned my attention to food choices.
So I ordered the Wrangler, roast beef on a roll with grilled mushrooms, peppers, and onions, smothered in melted provolone and served with a warm au jus dip. Plus the day’s potato leek soup as a side.
The dogs sat at our feet while we basked in the unexpected comfort of the patio, and before we knew it two other parties had approached the restaurant with their dogs. Seeing our generously portioned plates coming out from the kitchen, they requested an outdoor table. As the staff got to work preparing more tables and more heat, a third party opted to wait for an outdoor seat.
The food remained warm long enough for me to eat it. The beef was tender, with the veggies seasoned just right. The melted cheese and sumptuous jus soaked the roll, the bread melting in the mouth with each bite. While my friends commented that Julian Grille had exceeded our expectations, I just nodded and chewed. The Wrangler was making me feel good about being a snow tourist.