Sunday, July 12, 2009
The Lodge at Moosehead Lake Review
"We want people to leave here feeling like they've been hugged." - Linda Bortis
Just reading that I know I've been hugged recently by someone who really cares about my well-being. Although it is a metaphorical hug, it still felt all sorts of sweet.
The Lodge at Moosehead Lake (368 Lily Bay Rd, Greenville, ME 207.695.4400 Website) might just be the nicest place you can stay in the state of Maine. It isn't just the lodging though that makes the Lodge such a spectacular vacation destination; there is so much more.
There as so many options these days for places to stay. Some are fancy, some are purposefully simple. Some are expensive, some are (relatively) cheap. Some are in great locations, some serve as their own location. With so many choices though it seems only reasonable to be picky enough to choose destinations which have everything you are looking for. The Lodge has five guest rooms in the main building and four suites in an outbuilding; all of which have their own unique character. For the most part these rooms were stunning, some more than others. The suites were definitely more spacious yet didn't necessarily outshine the design choices in some of the other rooms.
We stayed in the Katahdin, purposefully designed for a romantic getaway and a favorite of honeymooners and folks celebrating their anniversary. Kramer notoriously tried to build separate levels in his living room to no avail but the Katahdin room does it with style. Everything from the ultra comfortable bed to the plush bathrobes was flawless in design and consideration of the guest. There were chocolate truffles to snack on, the weather report for the next day locally (and at home!), and more amenities than you could shake a stick at.
Co-owner Linda Bortis commented quite correctly that it is the little things that make the big differences. When her and her husband Dennis moved in, they stayed in every room and tried to figure out what it might be missing, what it needed to make it that much more welcoming, and then they took care of it. It was hard to find anything that hadn't been thought of.
The lodge boasts a restaurant staffed by a CIA graduate and assisted by both Linda and Dennis. The premise is 'Up North' cuisine which translates to foods with local color. Sweet Maine Crab Cakes, Maine Lobster, local bread and buffalo, Clam Chowder. Unpretentious food that isn't afraid to be fancy. The restaurant overlooks the Lodge's backyard and Moosehead Lake. A view so beautiful that even at sunset you don't find yourself wanting for more sun when it is cloudy.
We ordered a bottle of Saint M Riesling which went absolutely beautifully with the entire meal. For the meal we each went three courses.
First course - Caesar salad and Firecracker Duck Spring Rolls
The salad was standard, nothing mind blowing although the croutons were a little softer than normal which made for a less abrasive bite when you got one. The spring rolls were delicious. The duck was maybe even unnecessary as the sauce it was served with and the various vegetables in the spring roll were flavorful enough.
Second course - Mini penne pasta with fresh tomatoes and BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
The mini penne was visually appealing yet had little kick to it. The flavors were mild and none really stood out above the rest. The BBQ pulled pork was a whole other story; it was absolutely delicious. Not drenched in sauce yet extremely potent and flavorful, it was messy and filling as a BBQ sandwich should be but not a mess by any means. The home made sweet potato chips that came with it were hot out of the oven, some soft, some crispy, every single one delicious.
Third course - Lemon tart with fresh berries and chocolate cake
Although a bit tart, the lemon creme was delicious and didn't need the accompanying chocolate flavor to make it great. The shell was dry which meshed well with the very moist lemon creme. The chocolate cake was chocolate cake; delicious. There was a creme sauce that came with it and that added necessary flavor to it which was otherwise lacking a bit.
The server, Georgine (sp?), was gracious, considerate, and even comical at times. The three other couples at dinner were all celebrating something different and it made for an even more jovial meal.
Although not near any standard vacation destination in Maine (i.e. the Coast), Greenville, ME and the entire Moosehead Lake region is a haven for people who love the outdoors. Within short drives there are several major mountains to climb, there are lakes and coves to explore, and so much more. In addition, you are only two hours away from both of the major rafting locations in Maine, and less than an hour away from the Canadian border. The beauty that this region holds is a testament to the people who live there and how much they value the outdoors and the environment. Sure, it isn't a resort town, how in the world isn't that a good thing? Dennis summed their location up in one sentence which rang true for us the entire time we were there; "This area defies you to be tense and on a schedule."
After dinner we took a trip downstairs to Chloe's Pub (named affectionately after their French bulldog Chloe) for a game of darts and a nightcap. Linda and Dennis were both schmoozing with the customers and we were helped by a young lady at the bar. As the game was coming to a close and the patrons were trickling out Dennis made his way over to us and we had a chance to sit down and chat about his experiences at the Lodge. Well spoken and thoughtful in his choice of words he talked about what he loves about the business and shared his thoughts on the different types of people who show up at the Lodge.
Although he talked about his regular days being over twelve hours he followed it up by saying that he was also in a situation where he could take a brake and enjoy the natural beauty around him, something he couldn't previously do while in corporate America. One break he decided to take was to bring us to a piece of property a friend of his bought which had a specifically spectacular view of the whole region. It was clear at this moment that to Dennis, and to Linda as well, the Lodge isn't just a business or a job, it is a way of life. Fortunately for the world, it's a way of life that you can share with them, even if only for a few nights.