Hocking Hills fine dining surprise
Welcome my colleague Jason Lea, who blogs today to tell us about the wonderful food he found in Ohio's Hocking Hills region, which is close to straight south from Mentor:
On a recent long weekend in Hocking Hills I expected gorgeous foliage, secluded cabins in the woods, zip lines, rock climbing, ATVs, and no cell phone service.
I expected rustic fare — stick-to-your-ribs meatloaf and local produce.
What I got was fine dining.
Here’s a look:
The Inn at Cedar Falls:
If you spend a night this Logan, be sure to order the Wife of a Chef.
I don’t like to use the foodie cliché “decadent.” But this cocktail made from Chambord, Ciroc vodka and Godiva chocolate shavings is decadent. It tastes like a liquid chocolate-covered raspberry. To say it’s the best thing you can ingest at The Inn is not a slight to the other options.
For entrees, I recommend the shellfish pan roast (scallops, jumbo shrimp, asparagus, potato gnocchi and beurre blanc). For dessert (and you should get dessert), either the chocolate torte or the peanut butter creme brulee.
Cost: Expect to spend at least $25 for a meal at The Inn, especially with a dessert or a cocktail.
Glenlaurel, a Scottish-styled inn in Hocking Hills, provided my best (also most expensive meal) of the four-day trip.
The rack of New Zealand lamb was so good I had to take its picture, but the best dish was a smoked Gouda and riesling soup.
Eating is an event at Glenlaurel. A bagpipe calls you to the main hall. Some nights Innkeeper Emeritus Michael Daniels recites poetry as you eat.
Glenlaurel has no menu. If you’re a vegetarian or have special dietary needs, let them know in advance. They serve a pre-set six-course meal — appetizer, soup, salad, sorbet, entree and dessert. The main course is dictated by day. Six courses framed Saturday’s rack of lamb.
Note: Glenlaurel is in a dry municipality and you cannot buy alcohol there. If you want wine, bring your own.
Cost: Six-course meals: $49 per person; seven-course meals, $59.
Ravenwood Castle’s decor might be kitschy, but the food is dead serious.
You will love Ravenwood’s frozen pumpkin parfait. If this dessert were any thicker, it could qualify as a cheesecake. It ousted The Inn’s peanut butter creme brulee as my favorite dessert of the trip.
Ravenwood, like Glenlaurel, has no menu. It makes a three-course meal, except on Sundays when there is a seasonal buffet.
The entree for my meal was filet mignon, topped with crab meat and a bearnaise sauce. (It’s as good as it sounds.)
Cost: Three-course meals: $25 per person. The Sunday supper buffet: $18.
Etta’s Lunchbox Cafe
Find rib-sticking fare in Hocking Hills at Etta’s Lunchbox Cafe and Museum in New Plymouth.
Think bowls of chili so big they require two hands to transport, greasy-good sandwiches to fill your calorie quotient for the day and pizzas that put some Italian bistros to shame.
Its primary attraction isn’t the kitchen but the lunchbox museum. Owner, LaDora Ousley, and general manager, Tim Seewer, filled the shelves with metal and plastic pieces of nostalgia. No matter what your era, there is something in the museum that will remind you of your childhood. For me, it was the X-Men and Ninja Turtles lunchboxes. For many of my lunch companions, it was the Muppet Show or plain plaid boxes.
Cost: Meals start at $6.
Hocking Hills info: www.1800hocking.com.