Dragonfly restaurant in Truckee has a motto: “Dining on a Higher Level.” More about that later.
Imagine eating at Dragonfly, nestled in the mountains on Truckee’s Donner Pass Road, upstairs, on the patio, with a view of the busy commercial street and the mountains beyond.
Before you is a repast of pan-Asian cuisine, perhaps an appetizer of eggplant – but not the eggplant your grandma cooked. This eggplant is pureed, a hearty purple, with flavors of sesame seeds, ginger and garlic, a bit of honey and crispy wonton-like crackers to spread it on.
Next to come could be a Thai noodle bowl, containing grilled fresh prawns, Thai basil and Udon noodles in a flavorful green curry broth.
Or perhaps a sandwich of smoked turkey accompanied by smoked
bacon and pesto, served on flat bread with a crunchy, tasty Asian slaw?
As a lunch destination, Dragonfly manages to combine exquisite food, a relaxing, soothing atmosphere, Asian and nature-inspired decor with enough food choices to satisfy a myriad of tastes. The servers are friendly and pleasant and the food presentation is artistic, with drizzles of sauces and artfully stacked ingredients.
Owner/chef Billy McCullough is a bundle of energy, young good looks that belie his true age. Dragonfly is his vision, his passion and his crusade. His “Dining on a Higher Level” has multiple meanings: dragonflies in flight; his upstairs location; the successful effort to make the restaurant a cut above most others and the significance of the word ‘Dragonfly’.
“Every ancient culture has a dragonfly as a symbol,” McCullough said, adding that his wife, Phebe Bell, actually suggested the name. It connotes something mystical, but McCullough is quick to point out that there’s nothing mystical about the food – although some locals who frequent often would disagree.
The energetic chef has yearned for feedback on all aspects of Dragonfly, and although he’s cooking daily, he figured out a way to do it. Every single day, McCullough gets the reservation/guest list from the evening before and calls every single person to thank them for dining at his restaurant. He then asks for feedback and solicits comments on everything from the ambiance to the food itself.
“I like to nurture the people who come here. Some people are confused and ask ‘why’ and others recount every morsel they’ve eaten the night before. It can be kind of a pat on the back for me. I also open myself up to criticism and make changes based on what I hear,” McCullough said.
Vegetarians love Dragonfly because of the many meatless entrees. Why get a regular burger (which is on the menu) when you can have a grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich with red onion, tomato, sprouts and lemon-ginger aioli on a sesame bun? Or the seared Ahi burger with avocado-wasabi cream, mango-papaya salsa and French fries? A personal favorite for me is the Asian fish n’ chips: Mahi-Mahi tempura with fries and sweet and sour sauce. It’s so light and crispy that it practically melts in your mouth.
A word about prices – they’re reasonable, especially for the quality of the food. Appetizers at lunch are $3; most dishes are under $8; and the most expensive entree is $9. Don’t miss having lunch on a higher level.
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