ELEVATING THE SKI TRIP
How a restaurant at 6,200 feet builds an experience around the meal.
WRITTEN BY SUZIE DUNDAS
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HYATT REGENCY LAKE TAHOE
At first glance, it wouldn’t seem as if Lone Eagle Grille’s chefs need to worry too much about keeping their restaurant servers busy. With a classic mountain-lodge-of-yesteryear feeling and a stunning location on Tahoe’s picturesque north shore, it’s easy to imagine this restaurant coasting on its atmosphere alone.
However, chef de cuisine Shane Hammett says that’s not the case. He and his culinary team, along with the restaurant managers and resort staff, are tirelessly working to create for guests something they can’t get at just any Tahoe restaurant: a thoughtful and authentic gourmet experience.
Chef Hammett’s cuisine features seasonally inspired dishes, using ingredients locally sourced whenever possible from the Sierra’s agricultural regions. His favorites include organic asparagus in the spring and butternut squash in autumn, selected due to Hammett’s knowledge of the growing seasons and peak harvest times. To create dishes and combinations that pair well together, however, Hammett looks beyond his own knowledge and into the natural environment for inspiration.
“In the spring, we serve asparagus in several ways, owing to its versatility, from steamed and sautéed to on top of a salad,” Hammett says. “And for a complementary main dish, we pair it with a sustainable rainbow trout, which actually comes from the same Northern California delta where the asparagus is grown. Bringing that natural pairing inside to our guests gives Lone Eagle Grille a real farm-to-table aspect in a significant, meaningful way.”
It’s not just the cuisine that elevates this gourmet restaurant, though. From the moment guests walk in through the second-story main doors, they’re treated to a commanding view of the Lone Eagle Lounge, with dark wooden beams, a two-story stone fireplace, and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Lake Tahoe’s deep blue waters. Descending the stairs, guests will find that the lounge opens up into the dining room, the first stop in their culinary experience.
“It’s about more than our award-winning cuisine and wines,” says Kevin O’Brien, director of food and beverage at Lone Eagle Grille. “From the orientation of the tables in order to capture the best views to the sommelier who engages all our guests in conversations about their wine tastes and preferences, we take care to ensure every aspect of the dining room experience is conscientiously planned and heightens the overall experience.”
The experience at Lone Eagle Grille is centered around the cuisine, but it’s not the only part that’s been thoughtfully designed. Even Lone Eagle Grille’s cocktails are seasonally crafted and first start with the bartenders asking themselves, “What do we want guests to feel when sipping this cocktail?”
That forethought led to current cocktails like the Winter Spiced Sidecar, created with warming brandy, cognac, and cinnamon; and the Thyme Will Tell, with thyme, rich maple syrup, and Lone Eagle Grille’s own house-blend whiskey.
Mirroring Lone Eagle Grille’s authentic culinary experience is an equally satisfying aesthetic experience, resembling a luxurious Tahoe lodge. The connection to Tahoe extends to the oversized outdoor firepit overlooking Tahoe’s shores. Food and lounge service are happily provided in the outdoor spaces to allow guests to authentically connect the seasonal and local tastes with the views and natural ambiance of the region.
“Many of our guests are here on annual ski trips or family reunions,” Chef Hammett adds, “and it’s important to us as a restaurant to contribute to those memorable experiences. I want our guests to feel the same connection to Tahoe I feel, one that motivates me to creatively connect our dining experience with our alpine paradise.”
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NOTE: This is a sponsored post.
A lover of outdoor adventures, powder days, and unique culinary experiences, Suzie Dundas is a Truckee local and marketing manager for Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino.