Restaurant Review: GameKeeper in Boone, NC & Chetola Lodge

Boone and Blowing Rock are two of our treasures near the Piedmont.  Dustin and I took a little trip up to stay at Chetola Lodge for a long weekend at Valentine’s Day.  We were able to get out only the first night, when we visited the Gamekeeper Restaurant, but the next night we got snowed in.  It was beautiful, and cozy.  A really magical evening!

Chetola Resort

800-CHETOLA (243-8652) :: 828-295-5500

info@chetola.com 

185 Chetola Lake Drive :: Blowing Rock, NC 28605

http://www.chetola.com

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The grounds of this gorgeous resort are worth a visit, even if you park and walk around a bit.  Ponds, swans, walking trails…very natural and peaceful.

We stayed in the Bob Timberlake Inn and it was so personal.  They have cozy (if a tiny bit outdated in decor) rooms with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs and they have a wine and cheese tasting every evening.  We also enjoyed the indoor pool while it snowed outside.  Magical!

Gamekeeper Restaurant

3005 Shulls Mill Road
Boone, North Carolina 28607
828.963.7400

http://gamekeeper-nc.com

Gamekeeper Restaurant on Urbanspoon

First thing you should know is you need a reservation.  The winter hours are scarce and the tables were full when we were there.  Second thing you need to know is that if it is winter, you’ll need to call to make sure the restaurant is open.  The drive up is curvy and scary on a snowy road.  But…it certainly is charming in a snowy setting once you reach your destination.

As you might suspect, the restaurant has a glamorous hunting lodge feel.  There are fireplaces blazing inside and twigs along with eclectic artwork and low lighting.  It’s easy on the eyes and comfortable.  We were seated immediately and enjoyed wonderful service all night.

gamekeeper mixed game grill app

We started our meal with the Mixed Game Grill which had a variety of (chef’s choice) grilled game meats, sausages and dipping sauces.  On the night we visited, we got grilled ostrich and elk, yak and emu sausages, and mustard, horseradish and a peach-pear barbecue sauce for dipping.  All of these meats were topped with some hand-cut seasoned fries.  The grilled ostrich was crispy and hearty, not too gamey, as I was afraid.  The elk was absolutely the best thing I ate all night; it was grilled to perfection with a smoky crust.  I’d order a plateful of that.  The yak sausage was cooked crispy but it was dry and quite gamey tasting.  Not my favorite.  The emu sausage was better, with a creamier texture.  The fries were without question the best I’ve had.  They were planks of starchy deliciousness, seasoned properly.

A perfect accompaniment to this dish were the sauces that were served with it.  First there was a mustard sauce that was thick with whole mustard seeds; very bold!  There was also a horseradish sauce that was creamy and had just enough bite.  My favorite was the peach pear barbecue sauce.  It was sweet and matched perfectly with the char on the grilled meats.

gamekeeper pheasant pot pie

I had the Pheasant Pot Pie.  It was surprisingly good, but I’m not sure everyone would like it as much as I did.  The filling tasted a little “gluey” but it was so flavorful I overlooked the somewhat unpleasant texture.  The pheasant itself was cooked beautifully, and tasted like…wait for it…chicken.  But incredibly flavorful and tender chicken!  The pastry shell was flaky and perfect.  I also loved the accompanying vegetables with just a bit of char on them.  My only real criticism was that the whole dish lacked salt and it wasn’t provided on the table.  That is a bold move on a chef’s part, and in this case the move was the wrong one.  Chefs:  put salt and pepper on your tables.  We won’t think less of you for it.

gamekeeper bison hangar steak

 

Dustin had the Grilled Bison Hangar Steak, served with roasted potatoes and root vegetables.  Honestly, his was a little gamey tasting for me, but it was cooked well.  Again, we found the dish lacked seasoning.   Still, it was an experience.

 

 

 

 

Anniversary Week Menu

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So, most people’s New Year’s Resolutions include losing weight, stopping drinking or smoking, or being nicer. Mine was to cook more. In order to accomplish this, I have *got* to get more organized. No more jotting down a grocery list with recipes I’m tagging on Pinterest. I have to make a weekly menu, and shop for it once a week, to maximize my time. So..menus. Weekly menus. That’s my plan of action.

Tomorrow is my 18th wedding anniversary. It’s a Monday. Blah. Day full of meetings and night full of homework, so no fancy restaurant for us. Instead I’ll fix us something yummy tomorrow, and kind of fancy. The rest of the week we can eat pork and beans, I guess.

So, for our appetizer I’ll make Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms.  It’s been my experience that nothing conveys love more than bacon and cheese.

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 5 -6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Bourbon
  • one 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 1/2 lbs fresh button mushrooms, stems removed
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • In a large skillet, cook the onions and bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the mixture from the skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, add the bourbon and cream cheese and stir constantly until the cream cheese is melted and mixed with the bourbon. Add the onion and bacon mixture back into the skillet and mix together. Add the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mix together.
  • Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the mushrooms are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Top with some Parmesan and put back into the oven to allow the cheese to melt. Remove from the oven and serve.

The main event is going to be steak with sauteed mushrooms, Caesar salad, broiled lobster tails and twice-baked potatoes.  Good heavens.  This is way better than I can get at our local steakhouse.

Fancy Anniversary Feast

Fancy Anniversary Feast

For the steak, I marinated it overnight and then grilled it to yummy perfection.

Steak Marinade

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all ingredients together and place steaks into freezer bag with marinade, preferably overnight.
  2. The original recipe used balsamic vinegar.Seems I never had that on hand so I just used white and listed that in the recipe, but balsamic is definitely better.

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Sauteed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 green onions with tops, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1. Saute green onion in butter until tender.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients; cook, uncovered, over low heat 30 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

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Lemony Caesar Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil (I always just use regular cooking oil)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled (I use canned, minced garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in blender.
  • Cover and process until creamy.
  • Serve over torn lettuce with Parmesan cheese and croutons.

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For the lobster, I just looked a recipe up on the internet and used it.  I don’t have lobster often enough to have a tried and true recipe.  I’ll have to change this.  Here’s one for you:  Broiled Lobster Tail with Brown Butter Sauce.

For the twice baked potatoes, I had no real recipe.  If you need one, here’s a good one:  Best Twice Baked Potatoes.

Lemon raspberry custard cake

Now after all of that wonderful, but quite substantial food, you need a very light dessert.  Nothing too heavy.  I present you with Raspberry-Lemon Custard Cakes.

Raspberry-Lemon Custard Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp raspberry extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Directions

  • Fill a roasting pan with 1/2 inch of hot tap water; place in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. You’ll need eight 6 oz. custard cups; place 4 or 5 raspberries on bottom of each.
  • Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with mixer on medium speed until foamy. Beat in 2 tbsp of the sugar until stiff, shiny peaks form when beaters are lifted.
  • With same beaters (no need to wash), beat yolks and remaining sugar in a large bowl until mixture is light; beat in flour, extract, lemon zest and juice. Gradually beat in milk. Using a wire whisk, gently fold egg whites in yolk mixture just until combined. Divide batter among prepared cups (cups should be filled to the top). Place cups in hot water in roasting pan.
  • Bake until puddings are puffed and golden brown on top, about 24 mins. Serve puddings warm or at room temperature, with confectioner’s sugar and remaining berries.

Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse in Davidson, NC

Flatiron is a steak place in Davidson, NC that we decided to try over the summer.  Such high hopes, because I love the town of Davidson.  Ultimately, this place just didn’t deliver.  While there were some high points to our meal, mostly our experience ranged from not great to not really memorable.

Flatiron calamari

We tried the Calamari Fries for an appetizer.  Ours came with a side dish of marinara sauce.  The calamari was tender, but the large mouthful of tender, almost flabby planks of squid actually put me off.  I prefer the rings, fried a little crispier.  I would definitely not get these again.

flatiron wedge

One of the better dishes was the Wedge Salad.  Hard to mess those up, but this one was exceptional with bacon, diced tomatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, red onion and topped with a yummy Buttermilk Ranch dressing.  Also, they served it a bit chopped and not in the traditional wedge shape, so it was much easier to cut.  Loved it!

flatiron goat cheese dip

Another pretty awesome dish is the Goat Cheese Bake.  They plop some goat cheese in a dish of marinara, bake it and serve with toast.  Simple and utterly delicious.

flat iron chicken fettucine

The Chicken Fettuccine Pasta dish was very good.  The chicken was tender, the sauce was flavorful.  The grilled bread atop was a nice touch.

flatiron filet mignon

The Filet Mignon was also a good dish.  It was cooked well, but the sauce was a little tangy.  I loved the brussels sprouts with the charred edges and the potato puree was creamy and seasoned well.

flatiron scallops with sweet potato risotto

The Seared Scallops were just fine.  They did have a nice sear, but were not seasoned as well as we’d like.  The sweet potato risotto that they were atop was delicious.  The grilled asparagus were nicely cooked.  The dish was fine, but not particularly memorable.

flatiron creme brule flatiron hot now donuts flatiron raspberry cheesecake

For dessert, they had quite a few offerings.  The Raspberry Cheesecake was probably the best thing our table sampled.  It was just sweet enough and very creamy.  The Creme Brulee is always a winner, and rarely have I had a bad one, this one was no disappointment.  The one dessert we sampled that was just inedible were the Hot Now Donuts.  They were like sugar coated bricks.  They are served in a paper bag, which is the best thing about them.  Maybe they were off that night, but I found them heavy and tough.  Never again.

The restaurant isn’t horrible.  There are simply better choices around.  A quick look around the menu shows me that they are trying to make some changes, so if I give it another try I will be sure and report my findings :)

Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse on Urbanspoon

Good ‘ole Comfort Food

Sometimes I like fancy, and sometimes I like comfort.  Last night I was in the mood for sandwiches, but my husband wanted meatloaf.  Ugh.  No one else in the house likes it, but he pulled the “I’ve been working all day” card, so I acquiesced.  Turns out this meatloaf was pretty darn good, even though I made it under duress.

Here’s the Comfort Food Night Menu:

  • Glazed Meatloaf
  • Darn Good Mashed Potatoes
  • The Lady’s Macaroni and Cheese
  • Marie Callender’s Cornbread

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The Very Best Glazed Meatloaf

The Very Best Glazed Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb chuck (ground beef)
  • 1/2 lb veal (optional. Use half pork and beef if you can’t find ground veal or don’t buy veal)
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a skillet over moderate heat, add the oil. Heat the oil until hot, but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, and hot sauce together. Add marjoram, thyme, salt, and pepper.In a large mixing bowl, combine the meats, egg-milk mixture, bread crumbs, parsley, and the cooked onion mixture.
  4. In a small bowl stir together ketchup, sugar, and vinegar. Set aside.
  5. Form 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture into a small patty, add it to a small oiled skillet, and cook until no longer pink. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
  6. Transfer meat mixture to an oiled loaf pan.*.
  7. *NOTE: The best way to make the meatloaf is to use a baking sheet, lined with foil. Place a cooling rack on top. Cut a piece of foil to be larger than a the loaf– and shape the meat into a loaf. Using a metal skewer, poke holes along the foil — usually every other hole.
  8. Place the shaped loaf on top of the foil. I prefer this method, as the loaf is less likely to “steam” in a loaf pan. You can also glaze all around the meatloaf, which is even better!
  9. Brush meat with ketchup glaze.Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, until glaze has set.
  10. Brush meat loaf with remaining glaze and bake for 15 minutes more; glaze again.
  11. My oven takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the desired doneness. Times do vary, so allow for that!
  12. Internal temperature of loaf should be 160 degrees F.

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Darn Good Mashed Potatoes

dgmp

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup heavy cream

directions

  • Place the potatoes in a large Dutch oven, cover with water and add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, (15-20 minutes). Drain well.

  • Place the drained potatoes in a large bowl, add butter and whip the potatoes with an electric mixer until there are no lumps. Pour in the cream and continue whipping until the potatoes are fluffy.

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Lady and Sons Mac and cheese photo TheLadysmacaroniandcheeseinzaarwaitingongame_zps4b32f522.jpg

The Lady’s Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 cups elbow macaroni, cooked & drained
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheddar.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture.

Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

Top with additional cheese if desired, and bake a few minutes more until cheese is melted.

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Marie Callender’s Cornbread

Marie Callendar's Cornbread

Marie Callendar’s Cornbread

  • 2 cups Bisquick baking mix
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup real butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease an 8×8″ pan on bottom and sides; set to the side.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until well blended.
  4. Add sugar, milk, melted butter and whisk thoroughly.
  5. Add Bisquick and cornmeal to egg mixture, and mix just enough to completely moisten dry ingredients and leave no lumps.
  6. Do not overmix.
  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out dry and top is firm to touch.
  8. Doubles easily into 9×13″ pan; adjust baking time accordingly.

Pioneer Woman Recipes

I love love love Ree Drummond!  That sweet disposition, that beautiful smile, that fiery red hair.  She’s just a delight.  And it doesn’t hurt that she’s a heck of a cook.  Anyway, she is my hero, honey.

reeMain

This post is going to be all of the recipes of hers that I try.  You’ll love it.

First up: Simple Sesame Noodles.  You’ll love them.  We ate ours with teriyaki chicken.

To Try  PW Simple Sesame Noodles

You can find P Dub’s Recipe here:  Simple Sesame Noodles

 

Tenders in Cornelius

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Tenders is a popular fast-ish food joint in Cornelius, NC.  It is a on the corner of the beaten path, but you still have to know what you are looking for.  Hint: Follow the crowds, because this place is always jacked.

The food here is very fresh, and all of the ingredients are homemade.  Hand-breaded chicken tenders, not frozen and fried.  The fries are hand-cut and fried, not frozen.  In fact, they have NO freezers at all on premises.  The sauces are not processed bottled sauces, they whip them all up on site.  It’s a huge change from chains and you can taste the difference.

Another thing I love about this restaurant is that it is dine in, carry out or drive up.  Sometimes you just don’t want to get out of your car, you know?

OK, so by the name of the restaurant, you know you are getting some chicken fingers.  And you won’t be unhappy.  That’s what they do, and they do it well.  The chicken fingers are nuclear hot when they are delivered to you, and you get to choose your own sauce from about 8 homemade varieties.  You know I chose Ranch.  Delish!

Pics for your drooling pleasure…

Tenders Buffalo Chix Sammie Tenders Chicken Tender Basket

 

Tenders Fresh Food on Urbanspoon

The Cowfish

thecowfish_logo

Are you looking for an eclectic cuisine that fuses two well loved foods into one delicious dish? No? Nor was I. I just wanted to try food at a place called Cowfish. So glad we did!

We wanted both burgers and sushi, of course, so we opted to try the mini burgers of the week for our appetizers and each got a fancy sushi roll for lunch.

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The Burgers of the Week happened to be blue cheese burgers. Dustin was not a fan of blue cheese, but still managed to down two of them. They were cooked well, and very juicy. I loved them, but they were a little drippy (which all delicious burgers should be.) The Cowfish sauce was tangy sweet mayonnaise and the slaw was divine, even to someone like me who is usually pretty indifferent to slaw.

cowfishfiletroll

My sushi roll, The “Prime Time” Filet and Lobster Roll,  was one of the best things I’d ever had.  And clocking in at $22 for one roll, well it should be.  But, I’m telling you, one is all you will need.  It is very huge and quite filling.  The inside was comprised of buttery lobster and crisp, fresh cucumber matchsticks.  Atop this were rare (yet in my case, I asked for medium) strips of filet mignon and strips of smoky slices of portabello mushrooms that were panfried in the juices from the steak, then tossed in truffle oil.  This tasted like bacon!  Bacon veggies!  Brilliant!

cowfishspicytuna

Dustin chose the Blackened Tuna Roll.  Inside this is delicate lump crabmeat, gently mixed with cream cheese to make a delicious, light salad with a slight crunch from the tempura flakes. Topping this are strips of blackened tuna, a dollop of guacamole and a fresh sliver of jalapeno.  Talk about the perfect bite!  Everything was fresh and delicious.

cowfishapplewonton

For dessert (yes, we did) we shared an order of Apple Pie Wontons.  Holy Moly.  Homemade apple pie filling encased by a wonton wrapper and flash fried.  As if that wasn’t enough, they serve it with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream that is surprisingly light and airy and drizzled with a caramel sauce.  You can’t really go wrong with a fried wonton, but this one was so rich, with the crispy wrapper and the apple pie filling was sweet with just enough tart to balance.  It was plenty big enough to share.

The restaurant is much bigger than it appears from the outside.  We even sat on the patio and it had plenty of heaters out there to keep us warm.  Our service was amazing, we lacked nothing during our visit.  We will be back soon!

 

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar on Urbanspoon