By Melissa Wynn

During a recent stay in Truckee, California, we spent an exceptional evening out. Set in the warmhearted early 19th Century ambiance of the Truckee Hotel (our lodging choice for the weekend and also featured this month), Moody’s Bistro & Lounge smartly complements its fine dining with critically praised, nationally touring, weekend jazz acts. Moody’s is named after J.F. Moody, the original proprietor of the Truckee Hotel. The restaurant’s namesake was known for his extravagant hospitality. What more could I ask for just downstairs from my room?

We were greeted at the door by rich, savory aromas and a soft, toe tapping tune. The busy hostess directed us to one of two half moon, raised booths with an excellent view of stage. Bonus! I love jazz and didn’t want to miss a note. Moody’s stage is an inviting one. The rich red velvet curtain is perfectly partnered with the dark woods of Moody’s decor. Some of music’s most talented artists have played here, including Paul McCartney, who has stepped under the lights more than once. Quartet Minus One was the listening delight of the evening and this trio of young musicians put on an incredible show. I sat and swayed to the music from their first number until their last. Co-owner J.J. Morgan, Moody’s front of the house guy and the joint’s A&R man, knows his jazz bands. He spent years earning his chops at the Up and Down Club, his first club in San Francisco. He’s a camera shy fellow and I loved his hat.

Two steaming mugs of coffee and two generous margaritas kicked off what proved to be a delectable meal. The menu at Moody’s Bistro & Lounge offers several dishes out of the ordinary and the four of us vowed to try something new. Flaky, delicate dungeness crab atop grilled Truckee sourdough ciabatta toast with a lemony kick was just the first of 3 appetizers that occupied our first half hour. The crowd was quickly growing. I strongly recommend calling ahead for reservations. Obviously popular with the locals, most of the patrons seemed to know one another. The down home camaraderie makes Moody’s an exceptionally comfortable place to hang out and visit for hours, which is exactly what we did. We sat nibbling on the succulent sushi, Ahi Tuna, prepared 4 ways. One is served raw and that a was first for two of us.

Mixed mushrooms on a bed of creamy polenta and topped with a sunny-side up fried egg was new to all of us and a very tasty combination I intend to try to make at home. I was already getting full before our Roasted Beet Salad arrived. Now this was a choice that made me take pause until I tried it. The beets are not pickled; they are slow roasted to tender perfection. The flavor is very mild and the red wine vinaigrette dressing gives it the perfect tongue tingling bite. I was pleasantly surprised. I guess that’s the whole adventure in trying something new. I wanted to try the Potato Gnocchi with Point Reyes bleu cheese, apple confit and macadamia nuts, but I knew I would never be able to get through something so rich after all we had already eaten. I decided on the Broken Arrow Ranch Venison Leg Tender, medium rare for my entree. Accompanied by potato puree, cipollini onions, fava greens, pancetta and huckleberry demi glaze, this juicy delicacy cut with my fork and was a mouth watering choice indeed. The Five Dot Ranch Fillet Mignon with a spunky béarnaise and spicy peppercorn sauce also graced our candle lit table. I couldn’t believe he ate the whole thing. After all those appetizers and the salad, it must have been delicious. The third selection enjoyed by our party was the evening special, a tantalizing Scallopini in an amazing wine sauce . Seasonal fresh veggies were the perfect side for dipping. Our final selection was the Hawaiian Opah. This delicate cut of flaky white fish is one of the best. It was voted best new dish experienced on this journey, by our group, full tummies and smiling faces all around. The menu is full of rare surprises and old favorites. Chef Guy Frenette presented a dining experience none of us will soon forget. The talented staff keeps this busy jaz bistro in smooth running order and service, where service is the name of the game. We never wanted for a thing: definitley an all around great time.

We also enjoyed admiring the framed show flyers from such jazz greats as Dizzy Gilespie, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington.

Enjoying Moody’s is simple: Bring a thirst for libations and a hunger for celebrated food created from the freshest, most honest ingredients. Come with the intention of releasing your inner music lover. Then sit back, relax and leave the rest to the handful of amazingly talented people ready to introduce you to the Moody’s experience. Too view the full lunch, dinner, dessert and wine menus as well as up coming musical guests and events please visit their website at

(530) 587-8688