Late autumn is a great time to eat and imbibe in the Pacific Northwest. Dishes gain some heft and cocktails shift from refreshing to soothing. When you’re staying at rustic Suttle Lodge in Central Oregon, this comforting epicurean transition is made doubly so by a crackling fire place and a menu that takes the season head on.
While the Lodge has been around since the 1930s, the newest, most aesthetically pleasing and food-centric incarnation was established in 2015. With a couple of years under its belt, Suttle Lodge is settling into a house food and beverage program that is structured but not overly complicated, with a freshness that belies its fairly remote location.
Standouts on the fall menu include the pizzas, namely the #3, with fontina, mozzarella, ricotta, burrata and charred scallions. The pies are delightfully oversized for the price and feature toasted cracker crust. Equally thawing is the Lodge Queso, a creamy dip with a kick served with kale, turnips, olives, radishes and Olympia Provisions summer sausage. It’s like advanced crudités for winter’s impending chill. There are extra-homey sides like three different renditions of twice-baked potatoes (one including smoked trout, hot sauce, lemon and scallion) and the fried delicata “donuts” with grana padano cheese, spiced honey and lemon are wonderfully sweet, savory and zesty.
The cocktails reflect the fallen leaves and overnight freezes. Try the Winter Daiquiri, rum-soaked like it should be but accented with a friendly dash of nutmeg and bitters. The woodsy Table Sled blends bourbon, lime, doug fir and the earthiness of demerara while the Lodge Nog is a festive, after-hours treat. A decadent balance of rum, cognac, demerara and egg make this a go-to liquid desert at the Lodge. A streak of creativity runs through the Negroni, where Campari is replaced by the wine-based Cappelletti aperitif and is treated to orange oil and a touch of salt. All in all, it’s a fuller, hibernation-inducing take on the classic.
The food selections continue to be engineered by Josh McFadden of Ava Gene’s in Portland while the cocktails are the handiwork of Sean Hoard, who used to tend bar at Portland’s beloved Teardrop Lounge and is currently at The Commissary. There continues to be no draft beer at the main lodge — which doubles as the restaurant during the off-season — but there’s a decent can list and even Old Rasputin for those really looking sink into a fireside couch.