Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

New life for Coarsegold’s Broken Bit?

If you’re like me, every time you drive to the mountains on Highway 41, you get intrigued by the run-down Broken Bit restaurant and bar in Coarsegold. Besides being an awesome name, it just looks like the type of place that was once a hopping hub of activity.

It was. And it may be again.

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Erna’s Elderberry House celebrates 30 years with Austrian chef, dancing butlers

Four-star restaurant Erna’s Elderberry’s House in Oakhurst is already known for going all out for its meals. So what does such a restaurant do when it wants to celebrate its 30th anniversary? Throws a dinner that goes even more all out. For a celebration dinner at 6 p.m. Sunday, Erna’s will:

  • Fly in chef Toni Moerwald from Austria to prepare a five-course meal that includes potato soup with truffles, filet of “young venison” and a main course of wild char (that’s a fish).
  • Have dancers dressed up as butlers, maids and chefs and performing to “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty & the Beast.” The dancers will present the dessert, an anniversary torte, at the end of the meal.  
  • Have a gymnastics group of 7- to 10-year-olds tumbling on the lawn and handing out gifts as guests stroll through the gardens.

The dinner costs $195 per person and reservations are a must. You can see the full menu here (the dinner also celebrates Erna’s affiliation with Relais & Chateaux, an organization of fine hotels and restaurants).

Erna’s Elderberry House offers budget-friendly bar menu


Photo: Fresno Bee photographer Kurt Hegre.

The Valley has a five-star restaurant — Erna’s Elderberry House in Oakhurst — that’s on par with the Gary Danko restaurant in San Francisco and French Laundry near Napa. But I’m betting quite a few people out here dismiss Erna’s as being well out of their price range.

Starting tonight, the restaurant has a way to try out their award-winning food without breaking the bank. The wine cellar bar at the restaurant is offering a bar menu from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly. Nothing on the menu is over $20 and most items are under $10. It features heavy appetizers, including three cheeseburger sliders, an organic chicken schnitzel, and a grilled cheese sandwich with Gruyere cheese and caramelized onions, among other items.

Casual dress is acceptable. The director of operations said they wanted to create a place where customers could unwind with a nice glass of wine or a cocktail, but in a nicer environment than the typical hole-in-the-wall bar.

Reimer’s Candies opens in Oakhurst

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Photo courtesy of Reimer’s.

Reimer’s Candies has opened a location in Oakhurst, bringing its fudge, chocolate turtles and pomegranate gelato to another part of the valley.

If you’re not familiar with Reimer’s, the family-owned business has been making chocolate at its Three Rivers location for more than 57 years. It also has a store in Avila on the central coast. A favorite of locals and a stop for tourists, Reimer’s makes 86 kinds of chocolate and 24 kinds of ice cream and gelato. (And many people might not know that about 30% of its business happens behind the scenes, with Reimer’s shipping out chocolate under other brand names to stores as far away as Staten Island.)

It’s definitely a yummy place to visit. The smell of waffle cones baking in the oven was wafting through the front door last week. The company uses local nuts and fruits, including peaches from the owners’ peach tree for its popular peach ice cream come summer.

The Oakhurst store is in a former office building that the family majorly revamped, adding its trademark red and white exterior. Reimer’s is on the way out of town as you’re north at 41969 Highway 41, right near El Cid Mexican restaurant. Keep reading for some photos from my visit there last week.

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Facebook post of the day: the Disney edition

In honor of spring break, we can’t resist a Disneyland moment. Matt Sconce, one of the co-founders of the nifty Met Cinemas community membership model in Oakhurst, slipped out of town for a face-squeezing time on Splash Mountain. How’d he get his goatee to go that way?


Via Facebook, Sconce reported this week:

The Met is saved and over 3500 people have been watching movies! We have 2 digital theaters already, one more for Friday, and two last digital theaters coming the following week.

For more information on the Met, here’s the website.

Update: Oakhurst saves its movie theater

The Bee’s Angel Moreno reports:

The community effort to reopen the Met Cinemas movie theater in Oakhurst succeeded when a group raising support reached its goal of 3,000 subscriptions hours before its New Year’s Eve deadline, said Matt Sconce, one of the project’s three project leaders. The 3,000th subscription for the theater’s membership plan was recorded at 8:20 p.m. New Year’s Eve, ensuring that the new operating group can cover its costs.

Congratulations to Oakhurst. I’m sure there will be lots of people watching to see how this grand experiment works out.

For more details on the project, check out the Save the Met website.

Did They Just Say Fresno? And Oakhurst?

A couple DTJSF moments from this week:

First, the Fresno Grizzlies’ weekend promo where they team donned and then auctioned off special Harry Potter-themed jerseys caused a minor fuss online, thanks to Buzzfeed and others. Of course, the same ol’ tired Fresno jokes ensued, as seen in this Yahoo Sports’ “Out of Bounds” video featuring comic Frank Nicotero. It’s the second item.

Here’s a recent “Tonight Show” clip with a singer/guitarist from Oakhurst trying to impress William Shatner with the help of an accordion-playing dog.

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It’s easy being green in Oakhurst


Last week I had a cultural arts/tourism conference to speak at in Oakhurst, and on the way back I did one of my favorite things while in the area: stop at Timberline Gallery. This cooperative gallery is conveniently located on Highway 41 and boasts a strong lineup of mountain artists, including many of the big names that you’ll find on the popular annual Sierra Art Trails open-house tour.

I bumped into local watercolorist Ronna Adler doing her gallery-sitting chores for Timberline, and she told me about the cooperative’s newest idea: themed shows. The current show’s theme is “Being Green,” and a small room at the back of the gallery has been dedicated to whatever the member artists wanted to come up with.

I really liked this show, which runs through May 31. It feels fresh, spontaneous and fun. Some of the artists took the theme literally in terms of color. Others opted for views of nature. Though most of the individual pieces aren’t purposely light-hearted, there’s certainly a sense of whimsy at work here. I think it’s a great idea to have a loose theme for a group show. The concept sparks creativity on the part of the artists and cohesion for the viewer. Upcoming theme shows are “Faces” (June/July) and “Birds of a Feather” (August/September).

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