Kristine Xu is a journalism freshman and Mustang News food columnist. | Maggie Kaiserman/Mustang News

Mustang News File Photo

In this week’s food column, food columnist Kristine Xu gives us her take on Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steakhouse.

Kristine Xu

[follow id = “kristiners”]

Kristine Xu is a journalism freshman and Mustang News food columnist.

For any resident of San Luis Obispo, it’s an unwritten rule to dine at Madonna Inn at least once. After living in the area for approximately six months, I finally had the pleasure of visiting this lavishly decorated venue with a big group of my friends for a birthday dinner at Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steakhouse.

Regarded as a treasured landmark of the Central Coast, Madonna Inn is situated at the foot of Cerro San Luis Obispo. Visitors can dine at the attached restaurant or bakery, book a reservation for one of the many uniquely decorated hotel rooms or go horseback riding on the beautiful trails around the mountain.

Depending on the event and amount of people, it’s usually a smart decision to make a reservation to guarantee a prime dining experience. In our case, we called a week in advance to confirm reservations for our large party. When we got to the venue, our host immediately seated us near the back of the restaurant at a private table.

Everything in the restaurant was either bright pink, gilded in gold or intricately decorated. Our table was surrounded with ornate plush pink chairs, while heavy glass goblets in an array of different colors studded the tabletop. The word “ritzy” is what comes to mind regarding Madonna Inn’s magnificence, and just sitting at the table near the mirrored walls and intricate golden picture frames made me feel like a princess holding court in an opulent pink castle.

Our waiters circled the table, taking dinner requests quickly and efficiently before leaving us to nibble at the various complimentary antipastos and deliciously warm bread. I ordered the wild-caught Alaskan salmon, and split it with a friend to cover the costs. For college students like us, visiting Madonna Inn was an expensive investment that forced us to order lightly or split with a friend. But in addition to paying for delicious food and excellent service, that money goes toward the experience of dining in such a unique atmosphere.

In addition to being a popular venue for the San Luis Obispo swing dancing scene, Madonna Inn also hosts live band performances during dinner hours. Just as the band started performing its rendition of the theme song from “Titanic,” I was served a plate of salad with vibrant green lettuce generously topped with creamy blue cheese dressing.

Before long, mountainous plates of food came streaming out of the kitchen. A hefty filet of pale pink salmon dominated half of my plate, lightly sprinkled with pepper and paired with a side of green beans and rice pilaf. Everything had just the right amount of seasoning to entice the taste buds and satisfy cravings, with large enough portions to share between two hungry college students.

Photo by Kristine Xu

I pulled off a tender piece of the broiled salmon, dipping it into the side of ranch and relishing the delicious flavors in each bite. The rice pilaf was cooked perfectly, while the aroma of the herbs mixed well with the fresh smell of the salmon. My only complaint was the mushy texture and watery flavor of the green beans, which left an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth.

Without a doubt, the most memorable part of the meal was the thick slice of decadent cake to finish the visit. Adorned with luscious curls of pink chocolate shavings, Madonna Inn’s world-famous pink champagne cake was one of the many recommendations friends and relatives across the state have given me since I moved to San Luis Obispo.

Photo by Kristine Xu

Throughout the entire meal, the waiters provided excellent customer service and individual attention. I was so pleased by the visit as a whole that I am considering making it an annual tradition to visit Madonna Inn for dinner with my friends. While visiting Madonna Inn is more practical for important events such as birthdays or holidays, it is still a nice restaurant for a fancy dinner out anytime. If not for the numerous exquisite entrees, I will certainly find my way back here to indulge in more delicious slices of pink champagne cake.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.