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EAT, DRINK & PLAY   -   THE DISH
Dee-lish! - Backwoods Inn
Restaurant Review
February, 2006 - Issue #16
If diners are initially unsure of what to order at the Backwoods Inn in Canyon Country, any uncertainties are usually settled in the parking lot immediately upon arrival.

The aromas of mesquite charcoal and charring beef escape the kitchen of this steakhouse and drift outside to greet arriving customers. Following the mouthwatering scents to the entrance leads through two sets of wooden double-doors. Upon entering, the first thing diners see are various cuts of meat being skillfully prepared and plated in the Backwoods' open kitchen. If standing with mouths agape, and enthralled by the sights and smells of the restaurant, the hostess is nearby to snap diners out of this ravenous trance.

Even with reservations, diners may have to wait a few minutes for a table - a perfect amount of time to take in the restaurant's unique old-fashioned atmosphere. Although there isn't much outside in the way of woods to match this restaurant's name, the rustic ambience inside will have diners thinking otherwise. Old rifles, beer steins and antique memorabilia are in glassed displays while the walls are dressed with old-timey wallpaper and punctuated with various framed photos of times past. When a table is ready, the hostess blazes a path through the sawdust-strewn floor and leads diners to comfy burgundy-hued booths.

The garlic bread is a decent starter, as giant slices of sourdough are slathered in butter and sprinkled with garlic salt. The shrimp cocktail is a fine choice as well and features meaty and firm chilled shrimp with a horseradish-laced cocktail sauce.

In addition to the appetizers, all entrees at the Backwoods Inn are served with soup or salad and a choice of French fries, a plain baked potato, or a stuffed baked potato. The clam chowder is excellent; it's creamy and full of tender bits of clam strips and a perfect amount of potatoes. The Backwoods Inn stuffed baked potato is perhaps the perfect foil for any entree. The recipe is top-secret, but upon inspection, the baked potato appears to be hollowed out and then stuffed with a mixture of potatoes, sour cream and butter, and then topped with cheese and paprika. Whatever the exact contents, the stuffed baked potato is delicious.

Like any good steakhouse, the Backwoods Inn takes pride in its meat preparation for its signature dishes. The steaks go straight to the mesquite broiler without any spices or flavorings, not even salt and pepper. The result is a perfectly charred and tender steak that is still full of mesquite flavor. However, it is possible to be disappointed in a nicely prepared steak, only if expecting the steak to be a sandwich. The Top Sirloin Steak Sandwich ($14.95) isn't really a sandwich, but rather an eight-ounce top sirloin served with two pieces of garlic bread. Although the steak in this "sandwich" is excellent, it's a bit of a disappointment, especially if garlic bread was already ordered as an appetizer. A better choice would be the Steak and Jumbo Fried Shrimp ($23.95). This is a nice surf and turf option on the menu and features an eight-ounce top sirloin with three large and delectable breaded shrimp.

The Prime Rib ($21.95) is also wonderful and arrives a perfect rose pink to match the pattern on the antique china it is served on. A mild au jus, as well as a sharp horseradish sauce, compliment the Prime Rib nicely. If a diner prefers something other than meat, even after being seduced by the sights and smells of a proper steakhouse, the Backwoods Inn also specializes in Australian Lobster, King Crab Legs, and a variety of other fresh seafood dishes.

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The Backwoods Inn is located at 17846 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and on Sunday and Monday from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The restaurant can be reached at 252-5522.
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