The menus are changing weekly, if not daily. They're like living, breathing entities. We talk to purveyors throughout the Northwest to find out what's available and then we build our menus around that.
McCall, ID (Vocus) June 9, 2010
The menus for the acclaimed dining establishments at Shore Lodge and Whitetail Club, including The Narrows restaurant and Lake Grill, are getting makeovers. In fact, the resort's executive chef, Eric Gruber, says they'll be changing constantly, because Shore Lodge is implementing a new philosophy where the menus emphasize fresh, seasonal, local and regional ingredients.
"The menus are changing weekly, if not daily," says Chef Gruber, who graduated from Scottsdale Culinary Institute with honors and has worked at several four-star, four-diamond restaurants. "They're like living, breathing entities. We talk to purveyors throughout the Northwest to find out what's available and then we build our menus around that."
According to Chef Gruber, about 20 percent to 35 percent of the restaurants' menus are static, with fish entrees and side dishes being the most prone to change. "We'll always offer our free-range organic chicken, which is sourced from Niman Ranch out of Boise, and we'll always have a certified Angus filet mignon and in-season fish on the menu," Gruber says. "But we'll suggest pairing them with something that's in season, which right now include artichokes, morels, Walla Walla onions, and asparagus."
Other noteworthy changes to The Narrows menu are an a-la-carte approach to dining, a new "small bites" section, and two available portions -- large and small -- for pastas and curries. "We offer a fine-dining experience without the traditional fine-dining menu," Chef Gruber says. "Going a la carte and focusing on single dishes instead of traditional entrées makes The Narrows very approachable. You're not forced to eat the protein/starch/veggie combo that the chef wants you to eat. Instead you can order those pork chops without that side of sweet potato pie if that's what you prefer."
Chef Gruber says patrons at The Narrows can build their own meals to order in the same sort of way one can at a Tapas restaurant. "Our approach to dining is the way people dine out in Europe -- where the quality of the food doesn't reflect the stuffiness of the room," he says. "You don't have to drop $50 on dinner. At The Narrows you can order a salad, a half order of scallops, an order of house-made fries, and maybe a glass of wine for only $20-25."
Current main courses at The Narrows include: filet mignon of beef with braised cipolinni onions and a blue-cheese demi glace; miso-glazed beef short ribs with togarishi rice; chimichurri prime skirt steak with grilled scallion-and-avocado salsa; Berkshire pork chop with prosciutto, apple chutney, and cider demi glace; blue-corn-crusted Idaho trout with Dungeness crab and pecan brown butter; and herb-roasted Lava Lake lamb chops with sourdough gremolata and locally picked huckleberries. The restaurant also offers two to-die-for soups -- Idaho potato leek and a soup of the day -- and five salads, seven small bites, a half-dozen pasta and one-pan wonders, and sides like baked crimini mushrooms, pomme frites, cauliflower gratinee, goat-cheese mashed potatoes, blue-cheese popovers, fried asparagus with anchovy mayonnaise, and wild-mushroom spoon bread.
Shore Lodge's new approach to dining may be pretty novel for the Gem State, but Chef Gruber says it's a trend that began with the advent of California cuisine in the 1970s. "The philosophy of building your menu around fresh, seasonal, locally grown ingredients was pioneered by Alice Waters when she opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., in 1971," he says. "Fine dining was brought to the U.S. in 1939 by French chefs who attended the New York World's Fair and ended up staying here, and they continued to order a great many of their ingredients from France. Alice thought it was crazy to fly in food from Europe when Northern California is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the U.S., so she started working with local farmers, which she describes as 'the chef's best friend.'
"Alice believes a restaurant's menu should reflect the ingredients instead of the ingredients reflecting the menu, which is a simple yet intelligent way of cooking to which I and a growing number of chefs prescribe. She didn't realize it at the time, but she launched the original farm-to-table, slow-food movement and in the process revolutionized dining in the U.S."
Shore Lodge operates four distinct eateries on the premises: The Narrows, Lake Grill, Narrows Lounge, and the Clubhouse at Whitetail. The Narrows is a fine-dining establishment open for dinner seven days a week that boasts floor-to-ceiling views of beautiful Payette Lake and the mountains of Central Idaho. Lake Grill, which offers a more casual experience and serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week, provides dinner and lakeside outdoor dining right on the water about four months out of the year. Narrows Lounge, which is open from noon to as late as midnight on the weekends and serves food from 4-10 p.m., offers a smaller sampling of The Narrows' menu, plus it observes a special Burger Night every Thursday. The Clubhouse at Whitetail is a casual establishment that is open mid-May through October and serves food daily. Shore Lodge also has a scrumptious in-room dining menu that adheres to its new philosophy.
The resort boasts more than 13,000 square feet of meeting and events spaces, and its food and beverage department takes the same fresh, seasonal, local approach to the food it prepares for events -- whether it's a business lunch for eight or a plated wedding-reception dinner for 250. "We try to steer our customers into the best products that will be available during the time of year their event is staged," Chef Gruber says. "We put the same effort and emphasis into every meal that goes out of here, whether it's kid's spaghetti at Lake Grill or a spare-no-expenses anniversary wine dinner at The Narrows. We don't take any dish for granted."
Established in 1948 and nestled on the sandy shores of beautiful Payette Lake, the iconic Shore Lodge is the premiere resort in Central Idaho and a quintessential mountain retreat. Having completed a major renovation in 2009, the property and its amenities are second to none and include Whitetail Club, an 18-hole, 1,200-acre golf course designed by U.S. Open winner Andy North. In addition, Shore Lodge is nearby three major river systems and only 5 miles from Brundage Mountain, which Ski Magazine says has "the best powder in North America" and which provides lift-assisted access to more than 20 miles of mountain bike trails.
Visit http://www.shorelodgemccall.com and http://www.whitetailclub.com, respectively, for more details about the resort and the golf course. Additional information about McCall and Valley County can be found at http://www.mccallchamber.org.