Texas Toast Massacre

Clearman’s North Woods Inn.

There’s always been something magical about snow-flocked log cabins. For many years, I’ve driven past the North Woods Inn, but never actually went inside. For several years, I would slow down enough to try and get a peek inside the doors—just hoping that some would be leaving just in time for me to get a quick glance. The place resembles everything about fantasy that I love. It’s got a log cabin feel, fake snow, larger than life windmills, and a unique air of mystery.

My boyfriend used to eat at North Woods Inn with his family when he was younger. They would take relatives from out-of-town there to enjoy a family meal of steak, cheese bread and salad. His stories made me want to eat there even more.

It’s not that I was expecting the best steak of my life or anything, but I wanted so badly to rekindle the time when families used to go out—you know, just a decade or so ago. Now it’s separate eating times, different meals from various fast food places, and no one talking or laughing. I’m fortunate that my family, and my boyfriend’s family is still akin to the old fashioned notion of eating together. There’s a special bond that’s created when you eat and drink with the people that you love. I’m Filipina, so food is an important aspect in my life. It’s not just the food itself that makes the experience great, but the quirky antics and family jargon that makes sharing meals together fun and memorable.

I’m not perfect, and neither is my boyfriend, but we make it a point to eat dinner together every night. With our dinner (whether it be Chik-fil-a or something homemade) we often have wine, which has further inspired me to chronicle those special times that are shared. Granted, from an outsider’s perspective, a couple eating on their couch in boxers and tank tops while watching Impractical Jokers may not seem like the most romantic scene—add in the juxtaposing factors of eating pizza with a $40 Kali Hart Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir, and you’ve got the stuff memories are made of.

My incredibly long tangent all boils down to this: sharing meals and wine is more important than people make it out to be these days. Take the time to enjoy every minute, every meal (whether it tastes good or not). You never know what’s gonna happen next.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Last Chance Gas Station.

Anyway, back to the story of Clearman’s North Woods Inn…We decided to invite my mom along to dinner. At first, she seemed a little apprehensive. My mom just needs a little bit of prodding to get her to tag along, and when she finally does concede, she ends up having more fun than she expected. Her excitement is fairly contagious, as it is limited for only really good things. She kept mentioning that she thought that North Woods Inn looked like a “place you go to die” or at least “be killed”. We were laughing at how she kept referencing the Texas Chainsaw Massacre style; I guess because of the whole log cabin thing.

Another view of North Woods Inn’s exterior.

For me, and perhaps my love for the macabre and fantasy, North Woods Inn always reminded me of winter gaiety and cozy enclosure. Otherwise, I didn’t mind the serial killer comments (I guess I’m pretty weird like that). Besides, I was about to massacre a 9 ounce rare steak, so I’m not exactly squeamish.


We step inside and an entitled sense of accomplishment cloaks me. I have finally stepped inside the magical log cabin where they give you bread, wine, and meat. I mean, what more can a girl ask for?

Inside Clearman’s North Woods Inn restaurant.

As we were seated in a red patent leather armchair, my stomach rumbled and reminded me of how hungry I was. The round table was as big as the dining table in our apartment, therefore, it was a good indication of the generous amount of food to come.

I already knew what I wanted to eat after asking my boyfriend what I should get, and immediately deciding against his suggestion. It’s a sensible process of deliberation for us—I ask him what I should get/do, and I select/do the opposite. I scan through the wine list, and I’m really impressed with their selection. They had a good range of varietals, plenty of Syrah to choose from. But I needed to be quintessential and pair my hearty steak with a good bold Cabernet Sauvignon. I went ahead with the BV Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve always loved BV wines and remembered reading about the highly prized 2007 BV Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.

I wasn’t let down with my wine choice. It was served in a rather durable goblet, and it was like drinking a glass of silky grape butter. It almost resembled the Justin Cabernet Sauvignon that my boyfriend and I have been rather obsessed about lately.

I made sure to try everything, of course. The free peanuts, the blue cheese salad, red cabbage salad, and of course helped myself to multiple slices of cheese bread. My entrée came on a serving platter that you’d put Thanksgiving turkey on; so all in all, I was rather pleased.

Fried scallops and baked potato with cheese butter.

The three of us filled our bellies with food and air as we ate and laughed. My mom retracted her serial killer comments from before as she became more enveloped by the interior warmth. It’s easy to tuck in and eat plenty when you’re having dinner in a dimly-lit cave. No wonder they have “Jack the bear” as their mascot, this is where he comes to hibernate. The experience nonetheless satiated my appetite and curiosity and made up for the many years of wondering what was inside.

Jack the bear at North Woods Inn.
Jack the bear at North Woods Inn.

My mom, boyfriend and I heave ourselves out of North Woods Inn and return to the view of Rosemead Boulevard. The street lights were bright, and the concrete were a cold comparison to the cozy climate we had just left. There was perhaps even a slight wave of melancholy, but more likely our serotonin levels trying to readjust after our gorging. That’s when I knew, I just needed more wine.

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