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Citrus Heights Food Review: ‘The Lodge’ deserves 4-stars for breakfast

The Lodge, Citrus Heights, coffee, breakfast
A small sign indicates what’s inside The Lodge on Auburn Boulevard in Citrus Heights.

Reviewed by Nadezhda Otterstad
Tucked away behind a parking lot and several trees on the northern outskirts of Citrus Heights stands a unique, peaked-roof structure, decked with blue and white trim. A sign painted above the front entrance highlights that breakfast and lunch are served inside, and another bright orange sign facing Auburn Boulevard spells out “Coffee Shop” for the steady flow of traffic passing by. Curious to check out the place, my husband and I invited grandpa to watch the kids and set off for a visit to “The Lodge.”

Upon stepping inside the front entrance early one morning, the sound and smells of breakfast cooking met us as we were warmly greeted and invited to find a seat at one of several tables inside. We made our way down to one of the well-worn but clean booths where we met Aime (pronounced “Amy”), one of the diner’s cheerful waitresses.

As we browsed the menu, aromas wafted in from the nearby kitchen and encircled the dining area, bringing back memories of homemade meals. After perusing the extensive all-American menu, we settled on a pancake order and an omelet, which came with hash browns and a biscuit on the side. A short while later, Aime delivered several hot plates, and we were pleasantly surprised by the ample size of the portions and the savory smell of home-style food.

The three-egg omelet provided enough to share between us, and the food wasn’t too hot, nor smeared in excess oil. Even the coffee tasted a little above par for comparable restaurants, and consistent refills always came our way from Aime.

While finishing our meal, customers trickled in on their own or with families, with mild chatter adding to a relaxed and happy atmosphere inside. As several customers greeted the diner’s staff by name, it seemed the Lodge is definitely a spot for regulars.

Always curious to meet the face behind a good meal, we found out after breakfast that co-owner Yunhee is the inspiration in the Lodge’s kitchen. The Korean-born chef flashed her bright smile as she shared how she prepares the food in the kitchen, praising her discovery of American breakfasts as “the best breakfast in the world.” Lee, Yunhee’s husband and Lodge co-owner, was seated at one of the stools at the front counter and said he’s in charge of shopping for the diner — additionally pointing out several walls where he had created some wood design work.

Taking us back to her cooking, Yunhee mentioned several times that one of her food prep distinctives is to always chop her vegetables by hand, rather than with a machine – indicative of her passion for good cooking. It was also clear she enjoys making breakfast on the healthier side for her customers.

The 64-year-old chef is also in the Lodge’s kitchen six days a week, so no matter what day you visit, you’ll likely have your food turn out as expected – without any unwanted surprises from a different chef’s style. The Lodge is also open until 2 p.m. to accommodate the lunch crowd, but Yunhee said breakfasts are her specialty.

Although lunch isn’t bad, we agree that home-style breakfast is their specialty, and we don’t hesitate in giving the Citrus Heights “Lodge” a solid 4-out-of-5 stars for taste, service and one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

This review was originally published on The Citrus Heights Sentinel on Sept. 16, 2014.

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