Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What? Me Ski?

No way!

No way am I throwing my body down a mountain with long and narrow “boards” strapped to my feet. I am way too much of a klutz. I can inadvertently make a complete fool of myself at least two or three times a day without doing so on purpose. But, with enough opportunities to practice, I could gold medal in ski lodge. I could master sitting before a roaring fire while wearing a bulky sweater and holding the beverage of my choice. Like, maybe, a hot buttered rum.

But the Sawmill Run Restaurant with its large corner fire place and soaring beamed ceiling may be the closest that I will come.
“The Sawmill Run Restaurant is the next step in the rebirth of the Summerhaven Village community after the devastating fires of 2002-2003.
Leading the way in the redevelopment were such businesses as the Cookie Cabin, the General Store and the Living Rainbow Gift Shop. These businesses and their owners fought through the odds to begin to bring the Village back to its former glory....
(Their) simple mission being the rebuilding of the Village Center where once stood the Pie Shop, the Mt Lemmon Cafe, the Mt Lemmon Inn, and the Ponderosa Lodge. (Note the new Community Center, below).
The restaurant had to be first with a dual purpose to provide food and beverage to our mountain visitors and to provide a gathering spot for the community, our own safe haven” (

“The best thing about Sawmill Run is the view. The restaurant is open and airy, designed with a modern log-cabin feel. There are some great black-and-white photos of Mount Lemmon and a sawmill from the 1940s and '50s, and the restaurant's bar area has a large glass door that reveals beautiful views of the mountain. There is both indoor and patio seating…” (Joie Horwitz at
We arrived just before noon and were greeted at the door by a friendly silver-haired gentleman.
We don’t know if he is the owner or manager, but Chuck did have an extended conversation with him about their serving Fat Tire beer from the New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, CO. The three of us are impressed with that company’s green and employee empowerment philosophies.

Upon our arrival, the restaurant was almost empty, but quickly filled as the lunch hour progressed.

“…the menu at the Sawmill has many…choices—some of them downright healthy…. The grilled Caesar…is a treat—heads of baby Romaine lettuce are dipped in Caesar dressing and lightly grilled, then redressed with all the Caesar trimmings. The restaurant has burgers, baby-back ribs, and a variety of sandwiches. It has ‘championship chili’…that comes as a bit of a surprise. It's made with turkey and white beans instead of the more traditional ingredients…. The smoked and pulled meats constitute the heart of the menu. You can order them as a ‘carving board’ selection…or in a sandwich” (Tom Beal at

I couldn’t resist ordering the Smoked Monster sandwich. This was smoked and pulled chicken lightly moistened with a sauce that was neither too sweet nor too acidic. In fact, the sauce was the perfect accompaniment for the mild flavor of white meat chicken. On top of the chicken sat a small mound of the house mac (made with small shells) and cheese which in turn was topped with cheddar cheese.
At first I was a little disappointed with the amount of mac and cheese (which you can see peeking out on the right side of the sandwich), but reconsidered as I ate the sandwich. Here the taste of the chicken was the star—as it should have been.

“All of the sandwiches come with a side order. You can get a green salad, cole slaw, seasoned French fries, spicy sweet-potato tots, deep-fried corn, mac and cheese, grilled veggies, soup or collard greens. The sweet potato tots and the grilled corn are the favorites…” (Tom Beal at

And it was the tots that I selected to go with my sandwich. While our server told me that these, along with the fries, come into the restaurant frozen these are among the few items that are not made in-house. And the tots were particularly good when served with the smoked and sauced meat.

Chuck chose the Mount Turkey sandwich which contained thick or—as described on the menu—“Thanksgiving cut” breast of turkey with sautéed onions and peppers and melted cheese.
This came on a very good crusty baguette-style roll. I offered to split sandwiches with him, but he demurred being very happy with his choice. His loss. I thought mine was better, but it’s all a matter of personal preference.

For his side he ordered the mashed potatoes and gravy, which I didn’t bother to taste but which he assured me were very good with just enough lumps.

“The sides and the overall quality of the food make it easier to swallow the elevated prices, which are a couple bucks above valley prices.
Things are understandably more expensive on the mountain, where propane tanks must be filled and garbage bins hauled off to Tucson at a premium. The restaurant also pays its staff for traveling to work…” (Tom Beal at

While not quite a ski lodge, Sawmill Run is a great place--as the sign reads--“To eat, drink & have some fun!” and our lunch earns 4.0 Addies.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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