Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Upscale, Rustic"

Chuck: Midway through our walk among the Giant Trees at Sequoia National Park, we came upon the Wuksachi Lodge. Time for lunch.

Located in the heart of the Park, the Wuksachi Lodge is a relatively new lodge. It was built in 1999 and features natural granite rock and oak, cedar, and hickory woods.

A large granite sculpture mirroring the surrounding mountain peaks adorns the wall behind the registration desk.

The interior has been described as “upscale, rustic.” The furniture shown in these next two photos certainly exemplify the "rustic" nature of the furniture found in the lobby.

The 102-room Lodge was built as a replacement to the visitor services of the former Giant Forest Lodge in an effort to mitigate environmental impact to the historic sequoia forest. The new Lodge is located six miles north of the sequoia grove so that facilities could be built and maintained without damaging the shallow roots of the Big Trees (plus, there is no danger from falling sequoia trees or limbs).

The site was also chosen for its easy access to the high sierra trails and sequoia groves as well as panoramic views of the surrounding mountain peaks (elevation 7,200 feet).

Kate: We’ve had some mediocre national park lodge food (Zion) and some very good national park lodge food (Bryce Canyon and The Ahwahnee in Yosemite); the food at the Wuksachi Lodge dining room falls somewhere in between.

The lunch menu only listed about a dozen items, none of which inspired Chuck and me. So we both opted for the good all-American hamburger and fries.

Chuck also added a bowl of tortilla soup and a side of potato salad. Hungry man that Chuck.

The soup was the best item of the meal and could have been spectacular if only it was warmer. Seasoned with cumin; full of corn, beans, onions, peppers, and tomato; and topped with crisp tortilla strips, it was almost a meal in itself. And more was to come.

I ordered the California Burger with jack cheese, spinach, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and mild green chilies (left).

Chuck’s was the standard classic burger. We both ordered them medium, and they arrived cooked slightly past that point. I know many restaurants won’t cook ground beef any “rarer” than medium well. If that’s the case, tell me when I order. At least I’ll know what to expect. But both burgers had a great flame broiled char taste.

The fries were interesting. The exterior was greaseless and almost dry – similar to baked potato chips – but the interior was fluffy and moist. The potato salad, full of celery and green and red bell peppers, was less successful. Most of the potatoes hadn’t been cooked through, so the pieces had a decidedly crunchy texture.

The food didn’t live up to its surroundings and only merits 3.0 Addies.

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