On Sunday, August 22, my sister drove from her home in Clovis to Jackson to enjoy the relatively clear skies and visit my mother and me for her 50th birthday. We decided to go to Lone Wolf Restaurant and Lounge at the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort, as we hadn’t been there in two years (also when my sister drove up here for her birthday).
Early that afternoon, I tried setting up a reservation for three on the Lone Wolf webpage within the Jackson Rancheria website. Lone Wolf uses the OpenTable system to make reservations online, but no matter what time I set, OpenTable said there were no reservations available. So, I called Lone Wolf before they opened at 4:00 p.m. and left a message asking for a reservation.
At about 4:15 p.m., Lone Wolf called me back and I asked for a 6:00 p.m. reservation. The man on the phone told me that 6:00 p.m. wasn’t available but 5:30 p.m. was. I wasn’t sure if my sister was going to arrive at my house in time, but I decided to risk it and set the appointment for 5:30. As it happened, my sister drove into the driveway at 5:10 p.m., and my mother, sister, and I piled into my mother’s car and I drove us to the Jackson Rancheria and parked in the self-park garage.
I thought that masks were optional, but once we came to the main entrance, a security guard was handing out masks for everyone. My sister was the only one who needed one, and signs on the casino floor said that masks are now mandatory regardless of vaccination status. We walked to the back of the casino and went up the elevator to the second floor. We arrived at the host podium at 5:35 p.m.
The host took us to our table nearby. As soon as we sat down, our waiter James gave us our menus and apologized. The menu was considerably shorter than the one posted on the Lone Wolf webpage, and James explained that the shorter menu was a result of what he called “staffing issues.” I looked at the one-page menu and saw that the bacon-wrapped meatloaf that was on the website menu wasn’t on the printed menu, so that left me with one option: the 12-ounce House Ground Burger with no cheese or other toppings. I also ordered a cup of clam chowder on the side.
I wasn’t surprised when my mother ordered the Blackened Atlantic Salmon, but I was a bit surprised when my sister ordered the 8-ounce Grilled Filet Mignon. They both ordered side salads with their meals. About 30 seconds after James took our orders, we received a complimentary plate of bread with a cup of spreadable butter. The bread came in two forms: a few long, thin strips of French bread with golden brown crusts and a few small wedges of sourdough bread with a lighter crust.
Before my soup arrived, I picked up a slice of the French bread and found it was still warm but not hot. The butter spread without any trouble, and I had no trouble eating it. The soup came with sprinkles of parsley on top, and the clams tasted fresh. My mother and sister liked their salads, but my mother said the red onions tasted strange and were too hot for her. She put the onions on her bread plate and I happily ate them. After a few bites of the onion, I realized they were pickled—a rare treat.
The House Ground Burger came with shoestring French fries, and the entire meal was presented on a rectangular plate. The menu says the burger is 12 ounces, but I presume that’s the pre-cooking weight because my online research says that burgers shrink about 25 percent. I eyeballed the meat patty peeking out from the large slices of iceberg lettuce and the patty looked like it was about nine ounces.
I saw tomatoes, red onions peeking out from underneath the lettuce. A thin layer of ketchup appeared between the patty and the bottom bun, too. The toasted brioche bun was the same size as the patty with a fluffy top bun and a bottom bun that was slightly thinner than the patty.
The burger reminded me of the Red Robin Smoke and Pepper burger in that it has a patty that’s about the same size and it also has ketchup. However, the Lone Wolf burger has tomatoes and red onions instead of bacon and cheese on the Red Robin burger.
I asked for no cheese on my Lone Wolf burger because I wanted to taste the meat. And here was the difference between the Lone Wolf burger and the Red Robin burger: The Lone Wolf House Ground Burger has better meat. It helped that the Lone Wolf chefs didn’t add a lot of ketchup to the top and bottom of the bun so the meat could take center stage. The iceberg lettuce was crisp, the tomato flavorful, and the onions were also pickled on my burger.
The shoestring fries stood up vertically in a metal container and a small cup of ketchup sat between the burger and the fries. They had a crisp coating with the skins on the ends, and I ate a few fries during my meal. The fries had the right about of crunch but enough potatoes on the inside to provide heft, and the ketchup tasted like Heinz—what I consider the good stuff. I took the fries home for my mother and me to enjoy for dinner later in the week.
Salmon is my mother’s favorite fish, and so she ordered the Blackened Atlantic Salmon that comes with fregola, which is tiny spherical pasta, and corn kernels in a tomato parmesan broth and romesco sauce. (Romesco sauce is also tomato-based.)
Before she received her salmon dish, she ate several pieces of bread as well as the large salad that came with iceberg and romaine lettuce as well as slices of cucumber, tomatoes, and the aforementioned pickled red onions. There were also several croutons on top that my mother ate along with her bread.
The salmon dish was served in a large bowl. The fish was a rectangular block with the romesco sauce on top of it. The block was surrounded by pasta, corn, broth, and a few slices of cherry and pear tomatoes. The edge of the inner area was ringed by what looked like corn mush.
My mother and sister were full from eating a lot of bread as well as their salads. I only ate one slice of bread and had soup so I could keep my stomach empty enough to try one of the Lone Wolf desserts. James gave me several options that I remembered from viewing their dessert menu a couple of years ago on the Lone Wolf webpage, though the dessert menu is not available on the webpage now.
I chose the peach and blueberry crisp. After all, since it has fruit and granola, then it’s healthy. I also ordered it without the side of vanilla ice cream. A few minutes later, the crisp appeared in a small bowl; the bowl sat on a plate with a spoon on the plate ready for me to use it.
The granola that topped the entire crisp was golden brown but not burned, and some peach syrup bubbled up from the top. When I took my first spoonful, I saw plenty of peach slices as well as a couple of blueberries sitting in the peach goo. The ingredients were hot, but not so much that I burned anything in my mouth. I found that if I blew on the ingredients on each spoonful, I could enjoy each bite without having to sip from my water glass after every bite.
The peach slices were soft and the blueberries were firm, but neither ingredients were mushy. I couldn’t tell if the fruit was fresh, but it was more likely that the crisps were made during the day, frozen, and then heated up for serving. Despite that, I could easily taste the blueberries within all the sugary peach goodness. And the crunchy granola topping provided some mass as I chewed every bite until I emptied the cup.
I was happy with the burger not just because of the quality of the ingredients but also because I had a bite of burger with the bun from the first bite to the last. And the peach and blueberry crisp was the perfect end to the meal. When I asked to take the fries home, James returned a minute later with a rectangular paper box to put the fries in as well as a paper bag with twine handles to carry the food.
When James asked how our food was, my mother said the salmon was the best she ever had, and my mother has eaten a lot of salmon. My sister added that her filet mignon was tasty and easy to eat, and she gave the chef high marks. Though the menu said that the filet mignon came with mashed potatoes, but the meal came with a few sliced potatoes cooked in the steak juices. The three of us left happy and full.
My sister gave the potatoes to my mother, who took them home in a rectangular paper box and ate them for lunch the next day. My mother told me they were delicious. The Thursday after our meal at Lone Wolf, my mother heated up the leftover fries so both of us could enjoy fries with fish for dinner. The fries were just as good after being in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for almost four days, and my mother approved.
So, we bring out our green light for Lone Wolf Restaurant and Lounge. This is the place to have a meal to celebrate an important occasion like a 50th birthday, so be sure to bring a lot of cash if you don’t plan to use your credit card. The total cost for our meal was a little over $140.00.
Want to Try Them?
Lone Wolf Restaurant & Lounge is located on the second floor of the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort, and you must be 21 years old or older to enter. You need to travel most of the casino floor to get to the elevator and stairway leading up to Lone Wolf, and masks are required indoors regardless of vaccination status.
Lone Wolf is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The Lone Wolf webpage has information about specials and notes that Wednesdays and Thursdays are Locals Nights without further explanation.
Reservations are required, so if you want to reserve a table and/or have questions, skip making a reservation on the webpage and call Lone Wolf at 209-223-9653.
Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.