963 Friends Lake Road
Chestertown, NY 12817
Friends Lake Inn is one of our favorite dining destinations. Hidden away on a quite country road above Friends Lake, this luxury inn also offers one of the Adirondack's premier dining opportunities. The top notch kitchen is complemented by one of the area's most extensive wine lists, and a service staff that balances professionalism with some down home, north country hospitality. One of our favorite ways of spending an evening at Friends Lake is to attend one of the wine themed dinners they host during the off season. (Off season for the wineries - not for the inn, which attracts a loyal following of skiers when the snow flies.) Last weekend they hosted a dinner designed around the wines of Napa's Grgich Hills Estates.
Wine buffs will remember the story of Mike Grgich, then the winemaker at Chateau Montelena, who showed up at a Paris wine tasting in 1976 with a bottle of his chardonnay, and blew away the competition - including the grand dames of Burgundy and Bordeaux. Sacre Bleu! It was the seminal event that quite literally put Napa on the map, along with the soon to be famous wine maker. Fast forward a bit and the unknown vintner had his name on the label (along with his new partner from Hills Brother coffee (Grgich Hills - get it?). His wines, particularly his chardonnay, are still considered by many to be some of the best produced anywhere. I wholeheartedly agree.
I envy Chef Matthew Bolton and the kitchen staff on nights like this, when they get to pair their creations with such a wonderful selection of wines. We were treated to five accompanied courses, with a running commentary by Robert Gerkin of Lauber Wines, who represents Grgich in New York.
The Grgich selections started with 2011 Fume Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc), which the kitchen paired with an arugula salad plated with luscious slices of grilled cantaloupe and star fruit. Next a glass of 2010 chardonnay showed up with a slice of lobster and scallop terrine. It was a masterful pairing if for no other reason than the dish held its own with the winery's signature wine which we were all there to taste. It was also a fabulous terrine, smooth as velvet and scented with tarragon. Two meat courses were prepared to show off the winery's big guns. Offerings of both merlot and cabernet arrived with plates of rare beef tenderloin and a wild boar chop encrusted with pistachios and hazelnuts. Wonderful stuff indeed.
|Pistachio & Hazelnut encrusted Wild Boar Chop|
A creme brulee for dessert brought another special treat, but not from Napa this time. Just over the Canadian border above Lake Champlain in south central Quebec you will find a collective of dozens of cideries along the "Cider Route". These artisanal producers make delicious apple ice wines and hard ciders with the frozen fruit left on the trees to concentrate the sugars. It is very similar to the process used with grapes for making dessert ice wines. The evening's selection of Neige Cidre de Glace was a great match for the creme brulee!
You do not have to wait for a wine dinner to enjoy an evening at Friends Lake Inn. You can view the regular dining menu here. For a more casual bistro setting the restaurant also offers a bar menu in the tavern, and reduced rate dinner specials on weekends during the winter.