|Us on the Footbridge Over the Little Pigeon River|
|Great Blue Heron; Little Pigeon River|
|One of Many Turkeys|
|Annie at Laurel Falls|
|Cade's Cove, a Sea of Green Surrounded by Mountains|
|Yearling Bear Foraging for Leaf Buds|
|Mom is Calling Junior Back to Her; He Reluctantly Climbs Down|
|Mom and Baby Come to Join Yearling|
|Mom and Her Two Cubs|
|Mother Bear in on the Act, Eating Leaf Buds|
|Beautiful View from Restaurant Porch|
Those expectations seemed doomed almost immediately upon looking at the wine list which comprises a handful of wines. Still holding out hope, I asked if perhaps there were a full wine list. No such luck. The list is the list, a few very commonplace and ordinary wines with huge markups. We got a bottle of Champagne that was served in really clunky flutes. That seemed to be a trend for the trip: none of the restaurants in which we dined had really good stemware. Why is that?
The menu was equally limited with four appetizers, two salads, and five entrées. So much for our preferred method of ordering many appetizers to share: it wasn't going to happen with this menu. We bit the bullet and ordered traditionally, scallops and filet for Ann and mussels and pork shank for me. It was barely light enough (with a lot of help from Photoshop) to get pictures of the appetizers. It was too dark to record the entrées, not that we would have wanted to remember them. More on that in a moment.
|Scallops with Peppercorn Sauce|
Our sampling of the tiny and unimaginative menu led us to conclude that the food here is characterized by overuse: too much smoke on the smoked shrimp amuse bouche, too many peppercorns in the beurre blanc for the scallops, too much cheap saffron in the mussels. I've never had worse mussels; these reeked of sulfur (gunflint) and were tiny and flavorless. Ann's steak was buried in an obscuring sauce redolent of A-1; we have no idea how the meat tasted. My pork shank ($36 for an entrée that cost maybe $4) could have been cooked a bit longer, was not super flavorful pork to begin with, and was served off the bone on a wad of not well executed lukewarm to cold-in-the-center mash. I ate a third of the mussels, maybe half the pork, and none of the mash.
After we beat a hasty retreat without risking dessert, Ann wondered aloud and probably only half in jest if we could get pizza delivered: we both went to bed hungry. The experience made the decision to skip breakfast again the next morning a no-brainer. It's really a shame that a first-class property such as the Lodge at Buckberry Creek does not have a restaurant of comparable quality.