Ewings on the Kern -- fine dining in a fine town

Southern Sierra Sojournal: Part 2 in a Series

Ewings on the Kern -- fine dining in a fine townBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The school year is a double-whammy for me. Working with special needs students during school hours and then spending afternoons doing homework, taking quizzes and reading textbooks for online college courses is a lot of work. It’s rewarding. But it can be a lot of work. So when that final bell rings for summer – I’m looking to get away for a spell.

One of my favorite escapes is a short is a scenic, 70-minute drive through the mountains to beautiful Kernville, Calif. The 150-year old town, historically known for gold-mining and whisky-distilling, is a river rafting hotspot with lots of nearby hiking and camping opportunities. But it’s equally rewarding as a pleasant day trip when you’re not feeling quite so adventurous.

We slid into town a little later than we intended. I had to wait until my wife (who actually works for a living) got off work around lunchtime before we could hit the road. We also came across a Pacific Crest Trail hiker near Walker Pass who was fixin’ to get to Lake Isabella – down the road a ways from our destination.

He tossed his pack in the trunk and his name was Hunter and we enjoyed his company on our detour to the Lake before turning back around for the final stretch up the mountain.

We parked in the middle of town with 3-and-a-half hours to kill before our dinner reservation, so we made our usual rounds through the half-a-dozen antique stores, peaked into the Kernville Museum and we rolled up our jeans and soaked our feet in the Kern River.

But the main event was our 6:30 reservation at Ewings on the Kern. The 60-year old restaurant sits on a hill overlooking the river and is one of the finest dining experiences for miles. We were escorted out to the patio for counter seating right up against the balcony railing where we could really take in the sights.

The river roared below us, fairy-tale cottages were nestled among the green hills that loomed before us and we watched hawks and falcons soar above us. It would take a greater wordsmith than I to do the scene justice.

Now I have to tell a short story, because this trip to Ewings was a long time coming for me. I always saw the restaurant there – perched proudly above the surrounding buildings. But the brewery is right there on Mountain Highway 99 and it’s hard to turn down their Big Bleu Mine Burger. But we eventually made up our mind to try Ewings.

The first time my wife and I went there was a few years ago when local musician Alas de Liona was performing there. It was great, but we were sort of rushed and we knew we needed to come back again.

Then it was December of last year. School was out for Christmas break and the night before we were to hit the road, I had my inaugural gallbladder attack. One eight-hour E.R. visit later, I was told to take it easy on the fatty dairy, meat and processed grains. Basically anything you want to order at a restaurant that isn’t rabbit food.

Fast forward more than six months, my gallbladder has been surgically evicted and I’m ready to get back to eating like a red-blooded American. Now that may have been too much information, but I need you to understand how much I was looking forward to this trip.

Dinner consisted of fresh-baked bread rolls, a small-plate appetizer of fish tacos, baked lobster mac-and-cheese and a caramel brownie with vanilla ice cream. Since I already said the words “baked lobster mac-and-cheese,” I’m going out on a limb to say I don’t really need to say any more for you to understand how satisfying the dining experience was.

We were able to drive back home that same evening. Dinner aside, it was a fine day to marvel at this gem that God had placed at the foot of the Sequoia National Forest. I’ve easily been to Kernville more than a dozen times before, and I certainly hope to go dozens more in the future.

Pictured: Our view of the Kern River from the Ewings balcony. -- Photo by Brian Cosner

Story First Published: 2017-06-16