THE SUTTLE LODGE

Food: () Price range $$ Ultra-casual everyday menu is enhanced by special dinner events.

Service: () Despite rustic environment, staff is friendly and professional.

Atmosphere: () There may be no more beautiful place to dine than Suttle Lake.

More Info

Location: 13300 U.S. Highway 20, Sisters

Hours: The Boathouse 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day through Sept. 9. The Skip welcomes visitors 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 2 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; it will open at 9 a.m. daily beginning Sept. 10.

Cuisine: Creative Italian-American

Price range: $8 to $17 at The Boathouse and Skip bar; Dock Dinners $125 and $150

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Try the parsnip chowder with cracked wheat and a cornucopia of other veggies.

Alcoholic beverages: Fully licensed

Outdoor seating: Boathouse dock and lodge deck

Reservations: Only for special dinners, when they are essential.

Contact: thesuttlelodge.com, 541-638-7001

Perhaps the most beautiful place to enjoy a meal in Central Oregon is on the fishing dock beside deep, glacial Suttle Lake.

We’re not talking about a picnic. We’re talking gourmet big-city fare paired with fine wines, served family-style to as many as 40 guests while the sun sets behind Mount Washington’s stark summit.

The Dock Dinner series at The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse, which continues on select Sundays through August, brings well-known Portland and Seattle chefs into Deschutes National Forest to serve outstanding meals as Willamette Valley winemakers pour some of their favorite vintages.

On July 22, my dining companion and I had the pleasure of enjoying a four-course dinner from The London Plane, in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square district, with biodynamic-certified wines from the Montinore Estate near Forest Grove.

Earlier this summer, Maya Lovelace of Portland’s Mae offered a Southern-style repast with wines from St. Reginald’s Parish. Still to come are meals from Cathy Whims and Rob Roy of Nostrana (an Aug. 5 Italian meal with Cameron Wines), and Sam Smith of Tusk, who on Aug. 12 will serve a Middle Eastern- influenced menu with Suzor Wines.

Dock Dinners, which begin at 5:30 p.m., are priced $125 to $150 per person, all-inclusive, by reservation only at thesuttlelodge.com/happening.

Everyday fare

Throughout the summer (Memorial Day weekend to Sept. 9), The Boathouse Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and light dinners. Developed with Portland restaurant consultant Joshua McFadden, executive chef at Ava Gene’s, The Boathouse — fully rebuilt on old bones a couple of years ago — has an uber-casual vibe.

Diners order at the counter and indulge at pine-wood booths with wraparound windows offering lake views. Besides food, The Boathouse also sells provisions and souvenirs, and rents watercraft.

The menu is simple yet creative. When the dining focus shifts in September to the historic Suttle Lodge itself, some of the more popular items will move to The Skip bar. The steamed-egg breakfast sandwich, the fish-and-chips sandwich (made with trout crusted in potato chips) and the Left Coast seafood chowder are three examples.

Resident chef Jacob Rodriguez heads the team that prepares the everyday menu, including square-cut, cracker-crust pizza, burgers and salads. Guests at The Skip may enjoy their food beside the stone fireplace, at the bar or at a large communal table.

Arabic barbecue

Our July 22 meal was prepared by chef Ricardo Valdes, who used an Arabic “mangal” barbecue to prepare the Eastern Mediterranean-style dinner.

We began with a pair of “toasts,” one made with artichoke hearts and muhammara (hot pepper) dip, the other with cucumber, preserved lemon and labneh (strained yogurt).

A salad course featured fava-bean hummus, an eggplant dip with pomegranate and heirloom tomatoes. The feast of seasonal vegetables also included fresh figs, snap peas, shiitake mushrooms, hazelnuts and much more.

The main entree was lamb kefta, a savory meat loaf presented with a variety of condiment sauces. My favorite was the minty Yemeni zhoug made with chilies, coriander leaves and garlic, but other choices — tahini, spicy harissa and urfa biber (Turkish chili peppers) yogurt sauce — added new dimensions of flavor. The meal also came with a tray of roasted zucchini, fennel bulbs and Tropea red onions.

The dessert course failed to hit the mark. Moist rosewater-pistachio cake, with a little too much lemon zest, was superior to a crispy hazelnut baklava that was badly overcooked. By this time, however, we were also sated on the first three courses.

Montivore Estate president Kristin Marchesi poured four wines, beginning with a refreshing Borealis white-wine spritz. The vegetable course was served with a 2016 L’Orange, a blend of skin-fermented pinot gris and muscat. The main course featured a 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir, the winery’s best-known wine. A fruity, sparkling Vivacé completed the choices.

Varied events

Even as the summer season begins to wind down, there is lots of food-and-beverage activity at The Suttle Lodge through August.

Every Wednesday, different Oregon breweries will serve their beers at weekly “brewer cookouts.” And every Thursday, Willamette Valley wineries will offer tastings between 5 and 7 p.m.: Day Wines on Aug. 2, Alexana on Aug. 9, Cooper Mountain on Aug. 16, Montinore on Aug. 23 and Jasper Sisco on Aug. 30.

Autumn activities will focus mainly on art, culture and the outdoors, and will include a women’s fly-fishing workshop and small lodge concerts. An exception will occur on Oct. 27, when Joshua McFadden, the consulting chef, prepares an Italian-style wild-mushroom dinner to climax a mushroom-foraging weekend workshop presented by Wildcraft Studio. Tickets are already on sale for the workshop.

From the holiday season through April 2019, The Suttle Lodge will reprise its guest chef series popular last winter. Chefs from Oregon and beyond can be expected to cook every other weekend, although exact dates have not yet been set.

Various incarnations of the Suttle Lake Lodge have operated at the east end of Suttle Lake, 14 miles northwest of Sisters, since the 1930s. The 15½-acre property was purchased in 2015 by The Mighty Union, a hospitality group best known for its role in developing Portland’s Ace Hotel, and reopened after major renovation in August 2016.

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at janderson@bendbulletin.com .

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