Lake Tahoe Shakespeare’s Kitchen, ‘The Fantasticks’ quite the pairing | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe Shakespeare’s Kitchen, ‘The Fantasticks’ quite the pairing

Jenna Palacio
Special to the Sun
Tri-tip and Lagunitas pairs exceptionally well with a night of theater at Sand Harbor.
Jenna Palacio | Lake Tahoe Action

If you go

What: Shakespeare’s Kitchen

When: Throughout 2015 Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival summer season

Where: Sand Harbor State Park

Tickets: Performances start at $15

Info: www.laketahoeshakespeare.com

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — I love a good pairing. Beer and cheese, chocolate and wine … all cuisine has a promising array of coupling options, right? Of course it does. But have you ever considered what food to pair with an activity?

Perhaps not. I headed into the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s recent premiere of the Broadway production “The Fantasticks” with this conundrum: what to pair with an evening of theater?

To my surprise, the festival’s food and beverage offerings surpassed most special event fare that I’ve encountered. Opting for premium seating has primo benefits, mostly in the form of food and beverage service from the venue’s eatery, Shakespeare’s Kitchen.

Premium seats also offer bonus access to the new, cabana-esque lounge area, too. The curtained, pillowed, lake-view lounge area at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is a must if you’re not picnicking in the “cheap seats” like I usually do.

Back to the conundrum. To go with the sad, sweet love story of “The Fantasticks,” I opted for the tri-tip and asparagus salad, with bleu cheese dressed in a champagne vinaigrette. My date, who is not a fan of musicals but will gladly accompany me to Sand Harbor for a night of art and culture, ordered the Cali Burger – add bacon, obviously.

And hello, craft beer list. I paired my entrée with a Lagunitas Daytime Fractional Pale Ale. My date chose the Lagunitas IPA.

The service was friendly and attentive, but something bothered me about my $18 salad being served in a box and being expected to eat said salad on my lap. We dined in the side-stage lounge area, which was posh, comfortable and offered tables.

Shakespeare’s Kitchen also offers cheery picnic tables in the courtyard area. My beef about eating from a box on my lap subsided to the deliciousness that was smoked tri-tip, spring greens and bleu cheese having a preshow party with my taste buds.

My date’s entrée was not the played out, mass-produced stadium burger one might encounter in a venue such as this. Yes, it was probably pregrilled, but the ciabatta roll it was served on with pesto aioli was perfect for a summery preshow dinner. Both paired nicely with the beers from Lagunitas.

We had a little time to kill after dinner, so down to the beach we strolled. Spoiler alert — Sand Harbor’s Caribbean-blue water and views from the shore do not disappoint.

After returning to our seats, I was thinking some caffeine was in order. Our section’s service also offered preordering coffee for intermission. For me, avoiding waiting in line for a latté during intermission makes upgrading your seats so very worth it.

And another spoiler alert — Shakespeare’s Kitchen serves locally roasted coffee from Alpen Sierra. Conundrum solved: The perfect pairing for a night of theater at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is thoughtful cuisine that can be as light-hearted or serious as the show itself. A couple of proper craft beers doesn’t hurt either.

Overall, “The Fantasticks” was an entertaining show. I liked the Shakespearean undertones, like references to Pyramus and Thisbe, a la “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and the ever-so-snarky shout-out to “Romeo and Juliet,” the festival’s other summer 2015 show.

These quirks linked the two-production lineup at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival this year in a pairing all on its own. The plight of teenage love, with whiny, over-the-top angst from the main characters, left me mildly annoyed, but the solid acting and singing from the rest of the cast was a delight and made for a wonderful evening at this pillar of Lake Tahoe’s art and culture scene.

“The Fantasticks” runs through Aug. 23.