Town of Portola Valley

Rossotti’s Alpine Inn, aka Zott’s, made a triumphant return when it re-opened for business last Friday afternoon at 5:00 pm. There’s much to like!

It now looks more like a proper beer garden that its roadhouse roots. The outside picnic tables with adjacent heaters and overhead lights seem to extend for miles. And they were packed, both when we stopped by on Saturday evening around 9:00 and again last night at 5:00 pm.

The earlier arrival allowed us to see not only the many improvements to the indoor and outdoor spaces, but all the games and activities available to guests. Ever yearn to sit in a saddle and lasso a cow? Well, you can do just that, thanks to the multiple lassos available to twirl — if you can convince someone to pretend to be a cow!

Tweener-age kids were lined up to play darts when not taking quick trips down to adjacent San Francisquito Creek which is at its wadeable best now that the rains of winter have come and gone. A group of boys were playing Jenga, or maybe just having a good time with the wooden blocks that make up that game. There’s also six bean bag games saluting universities, with Stanford and Cal among them.

A word on the food: The menu is much expanded and beyond what you might expect to be offered at a beer garden. What’s fun is the number of choices allows for a lot of mixing and matching, especially if you’re with a large group who can take advantage of the sharing boards.

We were just two so ordered the Alpine Burger — a 1/4 lb. patty served on a Brioche bun — one with a side of fries and the other with a side of  spicy purple cabbage coleslaw. The latter was delicious. Alas, the cooked food was on the cool side, even though we promptly fetched it when our phone alerted us. We’re guessing this will be a kink that gets worked out, given the overall ambition of the restaurant and its experienced operating group.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that you can now get cocktails at Zott’s. But it’s just as likely you’ll be attempted by the dozen beers on tap and the many bottled beers offered. There’s also good wines by the bottle listed, highlighted by Neely Bee Block Chardonnay from just up the road.

Zott’s, located at 3915 Alpine Road, is open from 5:00 to 10:00 pm for the first few weeks, eventually adding lunch hours. The wood-fired pizza truck will fire up nightly at 5:00 pm; the rest of the menu is offered whenever the beer garden is open. Leashed dogs are welcome outside. Note: the menu available when we were there was more extensive than the online version posted on Zott’s website.

Some background: Two years after the death of its owner Molly Alexander, the Alpine Inn was put up for sale in May, 2018. This followed on the heals of the equally-beloved Oasis in Menlo Park closing the previous March. Multiple parties made bids with Portola Valley residents Lori and Deke Hunter, Jim Kohlberg,  and Stephanie and Fred Harman emerging as the winners, with Greg St. Claire of the Avenir Restaurant Group acting as operating partner.

The roadhouse was designated a national historical landmark in 1973; a California state designation was made in 1969. Named initially Casa De Tableta, the structure, built by Felix Buelna in the 1850s, served as a gambling retreat and meeting place for Mexican-Californios. It was strategically located on the earliest trail used both by rancheros and American settlers crossing the Peninsula to the coast. It’s been a roadhouse of one kind or another since 1868, according to its historical marker, although the official Zott’s hat claims 1852, which is true of the structure itself.

Photos by Linda Hubbard (c) 2019

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