The Woolgrower Hotel in Los Banos, California is a family style Basque Restaurant. You will be seated at red checkered oil cloth covered tables with other diners. This time of year at lunch there will be men in camouflage that have been duck hunting in the nearby duck club. It is a place that we try to go to when we are visiting family in the Central Valley in California. You have your choice of entrees: pork chops, roast lamb, roasted chicken, steak, lamb chops, etc. It varies slightly especially if they run out of a popular item. There is always a lot of food and it comes out from the kitchen fast…so pace yourself if you happen to go there. First course is homemade vegetable soup, bread and beans, next comes lettuce salad with the most fabulous dressing ever. Then lamb stew and sometimes potato salad. Your entree follows along with french fries. There are bottles of house wine included with your meal. Dessert is dry Jack cheese and ice cream in a plastic cup. Please don’t ask for mint jelly if you go…this is a Basque restaurant. Also, you can ask the server for a plastic bag to take home your leftover entree. I have yet gone and not taken home half of my entree. Another note…they only take cash…no credit cards or checks. I checked the reviews on Yelp and some people complained about the ambiance. This isn’t a fancy restaurant this is a family style restaurant with good simple food at a reasonable price ($20+ tip). If you leave there hungry it is your own fault.
My husband and I have tried to copy the salad dressing that they serve with the lettuce. Through trial and error we came up with something similar…but not quite. I have had friends tell me that it tastes just like it, but I think it tastes “almost” like it.
Here is our recipe…
Basque Salad Dressing
1 1/3 cup cider vinegar
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced or double pressed
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cups canola oil
2 cups Best Foods mayonnaise
pinch of black pepper
In a bowl that will allow easy whisking, add garlic to the vinegar. Whisk vigorously. Let sit a few minutes.
Whisk in salt, sugar, dry mustard and dash of pepper to vinegar in bowl. Blend ingredients.
Vigorously whisk in oil and then add mayonnaise.
Here is the finished product. It will keep for a month in the refrigerator. Just shake it before use as it separates.