A couple of weeks ago, my mother said she hadn’t been to the Ione Hotel and the Burke Family Restaurant inside the hotel in many years. I had never been there. So, we decided to drive to Ione and pick up a mid-day lunch from Burke Family Restaurant on April 7.
Though the restaurant has a website, their Facebook profile page has their most recent menus that were posted in late January. I called Burke’s Family Restaurant a little after 2:00 p.m. to place our orders.
My mother ordered the coconut shrimp from the Chef’s Selection menu that is available on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Items on the Chef’s Selection menu include vegetables, a choice of a side dish, a choice of soup or salad, and a dessert. My mother chose mashed potatoes as the side dish and a salad with ranch dressing.
The woman I talked with initially said the full dessert menu was available for the Chef’s Selection special, but later in our conversation, she said only half the menu was available. I chose the vanilla cake for my mother because the other two options had ice cream and my mother is sensitive to lactose.
I ordered a burger and added pepper jack cheese for one dollar more. The burger came with fries and a choice of soup or salad, so I ordered the salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I also ordered a carrot cake from the regular dessert menu.
After adventures getting through unusually heavy traffic from Jackson to Ione and then parking on Main Street in Ione, we entered the hotel and walked through the ornate lobby to the restaurant entrance. At the front of the entrance, an employee was working on sorting silverware and asked us if we wanted a table.
I told her we were there to pick up our meal, and another woman who sounded like the one I talked with on the phone came rushing out to the front to put our two plastic bags of food on a table next to the host podium and take our payment.
As we waited for the woman to come back with the credit card slip, I checked both bags and confirmed that all our food was there in various plastic containers. Once the woman came back, she quickly gave us directions for filling out the slips and thanked us, and then she rushed away.
Each of our lunches came in three parts: The main dish in a large plastic box, salads in small, separate plastic boxes, and desserts in their own small, separate boxes. Though both our main dishes were a little warm by the time we got home, we still had to microwave them for 45 seconds to a minute.
I started with the salad, which had crisp romaine lettuce, slices of tomato and cucumber (the latter without the rind), and one large ring of fresh red onion. The dressing was in a small lidded cup and tasted like raspberries.
The shoestring fries were piled up next to the large hamburger. The melted slice of pepper jack cheese on top and lettuce peeking out from the bottom. The beef patty looked like it was a third of a pound and was hand formed to fit between most of the standard hamburger bun with no sesame seeds.
I tore off a couple of bits of meat from the edge of the burger and could tell that it had been seasoned with salt and pepper, which I appreciated. The top of the bun didn’t cover the entire patty, but the patty sat on the entire bottom bun with a small gap between the edge of the patty and the edge of the bun.
As I ate through the burger, I noticed there were tomatoes and pickles as well as large pieces of romaine lettuce, some of which fell out of the burger as I ate. The burger itself was cooked medium all the way through, and I tasted condiments that seemed to be a combination of mustard and mayonnaise. The pepper jack cheese added a little more of a peppery flavor, but no heat. When I got to the end of the burger, I found there were still bites of meat to enjoy with the end of the bun.
Because there were so many fries, I only ate a few. The fries were seasoned with salt and pepper, but I found most of the fries to be rather chewy. I saved the rest of the fries so my mother and I could eat them with fish for the following night’s dinner, and after we baked them in the toaster oven, we both agreed that the fries were still hard to eat.
The carrot cake was mound-shaped and had a vanilla glaze on top. Though the cake was small, it didn’t need to be any larger because it was dense. I didn’t taste any carrot in the cake, so I suspect I ate a spice cake instead. Despite that, the cake plus the glaze made for a tasty treat.
My mother had four jumbo shrimp fried with coconut and a pineapple apricot glaze, a large helping of mashed potatoes, several broccoli florets, and sliced zucchini. The glaze was in a small lidded cup, and we weren’t sure what it was. We couldn’t smell anything, but my mother said it was tart but not hot. Only after I looked at the menu after our meal did I realize what the glaze was.
Despite that, my mother said she enjoyed the shrimp very much, and eating them reminded her of her vacations in Hawaii. The mashed potatoes were seasoned with salt and pepper, and she found she didn’t need to put butter on the potatoes to enjoy them.
My mother didn’t expect vegetables on the side, and while most of them were well cooked, one of the florets was overcooked and she had to put a tough floret stem on the side of her plate. The vegetables were a good complement to her salad, which she agreed was good and the ranch dressing was like Hidden Valley Ranch.
Her small vanilla cake was drizzled in a sauce we couldn’t identify and the box also had four raspberries. As she started eating, she said the light cake was likely angel food. It took her a couple more bites to identify the sauce as caramel. She enjoyed the cake and the fresh raspberries.
I enjoyed the burger, and I place it as the second-best hotel burger I’ve eaten in the county after Volcano Union Inn. After eating the fries for dinner on April 8, we agreed that the fries were the biggest disappointment of both our meals. The fries didn’t look overcooked, so perhaps their supplier isn’t up to par.
We both agreed that the produce, both in the salads and in my burger, was crisp and tasted fresh, with the only blemish being the one overcooked broccoli floret. The desserts have been highly touted on Burke’s Facebook profile, and we found that they were the right size, had the right balance of flavors, and were a satisfying end to our meals.
In all, we shine our green light on Burke Family Restaurant. We paid a little over $27 for our meals.
Want to Try Them?
Burke Family Restaurant is now open for limited dining per state requirements as well as take-out. They’re open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Sundays, and they’re closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
You can view more about Burke Family Restaurant on their website, and get updated menus and specials on their Facebook profile page. When you want to order, and/or have questions, call them at 209-274-4161.
Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.