Sneak Peak: Lake Placid Lodge

Lake Placid Lodge

When the Lake Placid Lodge throws open the doors to its brand new, Arts and Crafts–style main lodge on October 1 (the original 1882 Great Camp building was destroyed in a fire three years ago), it’s going to present a tough choice for visitors: to spend their days hiking the High Peaks, or to remain on the restaurant’s branch-framed wraparound porch sampling chef Kevin McCarthy’s food. Even the most outdoorsy among us may find ourselves raising another spoonful of McCarthy’s mind-blowingly fresh green pea soup and saying, “I’ll paddle the river tomorrow.”

Before taking over at Lake Placid Lodge, McCarthy spent nine years making a daily set menu for the clubby communal dinner table at The Point, the Garrett Hotel Group’s slightly posher property a few miles away. (The term slightly is relative: Both are Relais and Châteaux hotels.) His cooking has been consistently colored with local flavors; while at The Point he successfully cultivated relationships with North Country farmers to bring their produce to table.

McCarthy continues that farm-forward tradition at the Lodge, as I discovered on a recent stay there, when he and his fellow chef Brian Sutton gave me a sneak peek of the new menu. You can taste the best of the region in their rabbit loin and leg with jus and rabbit mousse, served with earthy black trumpet mushrooms, fava beans, and lentils. It’s a delicate yet masculine dish, full-bodied where it needs to be and with the high notes of the season. Equally satisfying are venison chops with jus and chanterelles (yes, mushrooming is big in these mountains). The chefs bring a light touch to a buttery trout with a fennel-pollen and tomato marmalade, barely touched by simple syrup to balance the tomatoes’ acidity. McCarthy proudly says that his son, Nate, grew those tomatoes himself in the family garden. A simple poached chicken lets the flavors of farmer Steve Tucker’s accompanying asparagus, baby carrots, beautiful green mizuna, and radishes speak for themselves in a gentle broth.

And even in desserts, such as a maple cake with spiced cider sorbet, McCarthy does the locals proud, using Last Chance Ranch maple syrup, which is prepared the old-school way, over wood fires. Pair it with a glass of Port or ice wine from wine director Christian Lacombe’s fine international list.

There are, of course, a lot of things about the Adirondacks that should never change—the acres and acres of wild space, snowshoeing around Whiteface, and, yes, Kate Hepburn, the loons. But when change comes in the form of McCarthy’s kitchen at the Lake Placid Lodge, it’s time to roll out the deer’s-head welcome mat.

Lake Placid Lodge Whiteface Inn Road, Lake Placid, New York (518-523-2700)

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