OAKHURST — Opened in 1875, Sierra Sky Ranch was once home to California’s largest cattle ranching operation and remains to this day a location favorited by tourists and locals alike for its rustic charm, convenient proximity to Yosemite National Park, and now, for the high-end dining experience that can be found at the rural resort’s newest amenity, Cowboy Tavern.
Upon entering, diners will be delighted by the touches of upscale sophistication rounding out the heirloom structures’ more traditional rustic charm. Heavy wooden timbers and polished bar tops blend with crystal chandeliers, hammered copper panelings, and large open windows, giving the space a warm and welcoming ambiance.
After taking in the thoughtfully displayed decor, as with all restaurants, the menu takes precedence. Chef Brandon Bollenbacher stands at the helm of Cowboy Tavern’s kitchen, providing insights and knowledge gained from a career influenced by years of 5-star resort experience and travel throughout Asia and Eastern Europe, lending to the inspired twists on classic dishes found in many of the tavern’s menu options.
Items like a deconstructed shepherd’s pie incorporating oriental spices, garden vegetables fried in tempura, and red onion jam on the Tavern Burger lend to a variety of flavors and aromas often uncommon in such a rural setting. Complete with a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, there are appetizers and entrees available to satisfy every diner’s desire. However, be sure not to overeat in the first two courses (it’s easy to do), because dessert is more than worth the wait at Cowboy Tavern.
For those seeking something on the sweet side, even the most determined of sugar snackers will easily find something suitable on Chef Brandon’s menu.
Craft-made ice cream featuring flavors like Mexican Chocolate, with hints of cinnamon and cayenne pepper, Guinness Chocolate Stout, velvety chocolate with a taste of (you guessed it) Guinness Stout, and Local Strawberry, along with several house-made sorbets, can be eaten alone or, if desired, coupled “a la mode” with a thoughtful selection of baked offerings crafted from seasonally minded ingredients like the Rustic Bread Pudding, resplendent with freshly charred peaches, bourbon anganiese, and toasted pecans or the Mixed Berry Pie, where locally grown berries meet cinnamon streusel, brown sugar whipped cream, and the recommended topping of the forever classic, vanilla bean ice cream.
A full three courses in and most diners are likely to be enjoying good conversation and contentedly finishing the last of what they ordered first; their evening’s libation.
A fine cocktail menu is like a good centerpiece on a well-laid table, easy to overlook, but a marvel to behold when paying close attention, and the cocktail menu at Cowboy Tavern is no exception.
Guests can enjoy the classic blending of bourbon and bitters, with a touch of sweetness added to the aromatic oils of an expressed orange peel for a forever classic such as the Old Fashioned, or a more contemporary take on the Tavern’s own creation, Ribbon Falls, crafted with muddled blackberries and mint for a light and refreshing adult beverage, or close out a happy evening of healthy eating with another classic, the Irish Coffee, a thoughtful combination of Jameson Irish Whiskey, freshly roasted coffee, and heavy cream, cinnamon and whipped cream at your request.
Whether it’s the warm ambiance of the historic landmark’s inviting original design, the inspired creations from Chef Brandon’s world-class menu, or the carefully crafted cocktails prepared by the Tavern’s bar team, Cowboy Tavern is happy to host you for an evening, or even a whole night if you’re so inclined to book a stay at Sierra Sky Ranch; the Tavern’s home.