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!
800-CHETOLA (243-8652) :: 828-295-5500
185 Chetola Lake Drive :: Blowing Rock, NC 28605
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 They have cozy (if a tiny bit outdated in decor) rooms with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs and they have a wine and cheese tasting every evening.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!
3005 Shulls Mill Road
Boone, North Carolina 28607
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.
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.
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.
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.