Photo by Dante Fontana from style magazineFresh ingredients really do make a meal special, particularly when they are creatively combined into colorful salads, savory soups, aromatic marinades and tangy sauces.

Comfortable, welcoming surroundings – especially in a French country cottage-style setting – also enhance a skillfully prepared lunch or dinner. These distinctions only just begin to describe a recent dining experience at the Gold Vine Grill in Somerset, located at the corner of Mount Aukum Road (E-16) and Grizzly Flat Road.

One glimpse at Gold Vine Grill’s menu presented us with a dining dilemma. It all started with the appetizer selections that included mouthwatering enticements like Ginger Shrimp Ravioli, Grilled Artichoke, and Smoked Salmon Quesadillas. It was a difficult decision, but our satisfying choice of the Antipasto Platter with Bombolini delighted the taste buds and left us eager for the entrées that followed.

Our palate-pleasing main courses included Somerset Broil (a flame-broiled hanger steak, topped with a tasty Diablo sauce and red onions) and Calamari Doré with a luscious white wine lemon caper sauce. Before selecting our entrées, we pondered a long while over several other persuasive offerings like Macadamia Crusted Mahi-Mahi, Chicken Scaloppini and Pork Chops (marinated in jalapeño and honey).

Gold Vine Grill’s dessert menu presented us with yet another agonizing decision. Everything sounded fabulous, from the Carrot Cake with maple cream cheese to the Chocolate Waffle Á La Mode! We finally decided on Chef Greg’s most popular dessert – Croissant Bread Pudding made with sun-dried cranberries and served with crème anglaise. Unique and delicious, no wonder it’s so popular! We can’t wait to return and try more of the menu.

Gold Vine Grill also serves wines of El Dorado, Amador and Placer Counties; in addition, it features five different gluten-free selections and provides catering and picnic-box lunches. A “gold”en restaurant, indeed!