The gray clouds clear, leaving Lake County’s iconic blue above the shores of Clear Lake. In the distance, Mt. Konocti reaches up against the crystal-clear sky. A boat takes its time launching at the nearest boat launch. It’s not a busy day on the lake. There’s no rush, and the boat owner knows that. A few people walk by, heading back to work somewhere on Main St, while others take their time over a meal and drink. It’s the lunch hour in Library Park.
Outside, a couple of patrons soak in the view from Park Place Restaurant’s outdoor patio while sipping on a glass of wine. Inside, lively music greets us, and happy patrons chatter amongst themselves. The atmosphere is energetic, upbeat, and contagious. The view from the lake isn’t going anywhere, even inside, and the vibes are irresistible.
We settle into our booth with a couple of menus. It’s been pre-Covid since we’ve visited last, so we take our time familiarizing ourselves with the menu. Our selection ranges from healthy choices to a variety of comfort foods. In the end, we settle for a little bit of both.
Careless Whisper by George Michael plays in the background loud enough to be noticed but not get in the way of conversation. I slip back in time to happy memories that unavoidably date me, but I can’t help but smile, and I sing along.
“I haven’t heard this tune in forever,” David joins me, and we sing the chorus together: “I’m never going to dance again. Guilty feet have got no rhythm. . .” The atmosphere is casual and chill. It’s the place to catch a bite to eat in the middle of the day fishing or meet with colleagues for a business lunch. It’s all part of owner Barbara Morris’ philosophy. Since 1986, she’s created quality food. Even though rumors of her selling have popped up for decades, she’s still here, running the restaurant.
“We want people to feel like they’re getting away,” she says. “We wanted to create a European feel, so we added blue awnings and pink petunias to create a fresh, outdoor café feel. And,” she laughs, “back in the ‘80s, things were quite different in Lakeport. We wanted to bring fresh, more current food to the area.”
She still has a farm in Upper Lake that provides much of the produce, and Park Place creates everything from scratch. They make pasta fresh every day, and all the sauces and dressings are homemade. Plus, she has the help of two great managers, Cory Costello, who runs the kitchen, and Carrie Wilder, who runs the dining room. “They keep me out of there,” she laughs. “And make me stay in the office.”
The care put into the food shows. Soon, the Bay Shrimp Salad arrives at our table prepared in classic California cuisine style: filled with avocado, fresh sprouts (a personal favorite of mine),tomatoes, cucumber, hard-boiled egg, and a generous helping of shrimp. Perfectly balanced with one of Park Place’s handmade dressings like their Thousand Island, each bite offers a distinct taste and texture purposefully chosen to accompany the shrimp. It’s a guilt-free indulgence.
While I dig into the salad, David is already several bites into his Bacon Blended burger, masterfully put together. The smoked bacon, gorgonzola cheese, and sauce blend perfectly with the patty for a continuous flavor. Every morsel balances perfectly with the tart of the pickles and earthy tones of the arugula. It’s dripping goodness and impossible to eat without a napkin: my favorite kind of burger.
“We’ve been here a long time,” Barb says. “It’s hard to keep, how do you say, the blush on the rose. But,” she pauses. “There’s something to be said for consistency.” It doesn’t matter if you come for lunch, dinner, or on a Tuesday or Saturday. You’ll always get great service, good music, and fresh, quality food.
While David and I pick at the few remaining French fries, life continues on the lake. In the distance, the boat has successfully launched and makes its way through the still waters. A jogger runs by with her dog. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing there’s nowhere else I would want to be.
50 Third St. Lakeport, CA
Monday 11 am-5 pm
Tuesday – Thursday 11 am-7 pm
Friday & Saturday 11 am-8 pm