Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lazy Bear Lodge and Vidalia Restaurant, Boone NC

Late in the afternoon on Tuesday after beers at Appalachian Mountain Brewery, we made our way to our B&B, the Lazy Bear Lodge, west of Boone and about halfway to Valle Crucis. The B&B itself is a beautiful modern two-story log structure tucked into the trees and perched way up on a hillside with phenomenal views of the mountains. I failed to get pictures of the B&B for some reason. That's a shame because it is beautiful.

Owner and innkeeper Anne made us feel right at home while giving us the tour of the five rooms. We ended up choosing a second floor room with the incredible view that you see below. As a bonus, the room is situated up above several bird feeders that attract any number of birds and three species of squirrels.

During our stay, we would see three species of squirrel (gray, red, and southern flying squirrels). The very vocal but diminutive red squirrels would get up on the squirrel feeder and just raise hell with the gray squirrels. And we had a blast at dusk watching the tiny flying squirrels zooming between the trees and the pillars support the porch, running at top speed along the beams, and looking very much like flying chipmunks. The bats zipping around in the midst of all the commotion just added to the entertainment.

One of the Finest B&B Views Ever

From our Balcony
If you're not going to hang a real moosehead on your chimney, this sheet metal one is pretty cool and makes a great conversation starter.

Iron Moose
There aren't any moose in North Carolina, but there are sure a lot of white-tailed deer. At one point I looked over the balcony and saw seven does milling about below.

White-tailed  Doe Below our Balcony
In addition to the usual feeder birds, I also saw six (of the seven possible) species of woodpeckers during our stay: downy, hairy, red-bellied, yellow-bellied sapsucker, flicker, and pileated). The only woodpecker I didn't see was a red-headed woodpecker, and they just don't do forests, preferring more open areas such as river bottoms and orchards where they can hawk bugs on the wing. It was very relaxing to sit out on the balcony and watch the action at the feeders.

Raucously Loud Blue Jays

Mourning Dove and Tufted Titmouse
After unwinding for a while at the B&B, we set sail for downtown Boone to have dinner at Vidalia. I wish I could write glowing words about the experience, but it was just another disappointing meal from a restaurant with a creative menu, a modern space, good vibe, and reasonable prices. The service, wine list, and some aspects of the food left us wanting.

The wine list isn't worth writing about, especially for a place that bills itself as a wine bar. On the other hand, the menu seems pretty creative and we were eager to try many dishes, so we ordered four "snacks" and a single main course, never expecting to finish all this food, but wanting to see what the kitchen could do. Our server didn't bother to tell us that the snacks at this restaurant are as big as main courses at many other restaurants.

The most interesting dish may have been the Georgia pâté, a green peanut hummus that was great idea and tasty, but kind of clumsily plated. The accompanying hoe cakes were too thick for my liking.

Georgia Pâté, Green Peanut Hummus
We also order mac and cheese with sriracha crackling. Again, a pretty nice idea but really an indifferent dish. Three nickel size pieces of crackling does not cut it. I'd rather have no tomato on the dish than underripe and out of season tomato.

Mac and Cheese, Sriracha Cracklings
The southern poutine with pimiento cheese could have been a great riff on the French Canadian classic, but there was almost no gravy on our fries and our fries were stale.

Southern Poutine with Pimiento Cheese
The saving grace for me were the onion rings which were outstanding and some of the best I've had in years.

Outstanding Onion Rings
We also ordered a pork belly entrée, but by the time we got to it, it was too dark to photograph it. The pork belly was decent though the accompanying grits were dry and the vegetable medley was a mess.

After this pretty unsatisfying meal, we made the short drive back to the B&B where we quickly tucked in, in preparation for our trip to Roan Mountain on Wednesday.

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