Elk River Inn & Restaurant – Slatyfork, WV

Elk River Inn & Restaurant – Slatyfork, WV

A few years back, Mike decided to make a “ski date” for us with two good friends. We went to a local mountain near our house, the boys set the girls up with lessons, and left us on the bunny hill to fend for ourselves. Long story short, his addiction to snowboarding began and if I wanted to spend any time with my fiancée in the winter months, I had to figure out how to ski.

The following winter, we booked our first trip to Snowshoe, West Virginia. It was opening weekend, and we were the first to arrive of our foursome at the resort. I had never heard a snow making machine before, but it was intense and even more thrilling to watch. We walked around the village like two kids in Disneyland. I will never forget that weekend: my terrifying ski lesson, watching our friend slide on his back spread-eagle down the hills while teaching himself to snowboard, or the absolute exhilarating feeling when everything finally clicks and you make it down the mountain without falling. We were all hooked. We spent every weekend possible at Snowshoe after that. With only a handful of resort style restaurants, we had to start exploring anything around the village for new places to eat. Luckily, we found Elk River Inn and Restaurant about 15 minutes away.

Mike and I were the only two pioneers on this trip, and when we came to the Elk River sign on the side of the road, we were surprised to see a tiny one car bridge beside it. “No Trucks”, read an additional sign. Well folks, it’s the middle of winter on a mountain top. Your only mode of transportation is a four-wheel drive truck. Mike and I looked at each other and decided to go for it. It was like a scene out of Indiana Jones. We both had our heads hanging out our windows to make sure the wheels stayed on the bridge. We slowly crept across with the icy brook lurking just a few feet away. We made it over safely only to find ANOTHER one car bridge to cross. With took a deep breath and steered across the bridge with our heads out the windows. A small gravel parking lot followed with a rustic wood and stone lodge to our right. The windows emitted a warm golden glow into the West Virginia wilderness. It looked like the prize oasis after proving our worth by crossing the bridges.

We were welcomed by hardwood floors, and simple wooden tables and chairs arranged around a large fireplace. That fireplace is the only source of heat for the entire dining and bar area. Request a table next to it when you book! There was a spot cleared on the opposite side of the room with three chairs side-by-side. A show with dinner…now this could be the start of something good. Our waitress was the most soothing, calm, and motherly figure. She was everything you want in the middle of a snow storm in West Virginia mountain woods. I felt instantly at ease. The menu was impressive for the area. You are lucky to find a gas station most of the time and here we are being offered roast lamb, seared duck, wellington, and quail! The question lingered…could they pull it off?

We started with the West Virginia Rainbow Trout Spread. Caught on the same river running just behind the building, it was the most flavorful trout smoked and blended with cream cheese and spices. This was damn good trout spread and we were both impressed with something that could be so plain Jane in other restaurants. Braised lamp empanadas were next and Mike was in his glory. The light flaky dough was a beautiful golden color and the lamb was so tender you didn’t even need to chew it. The seasoning harmonized the starch and protein beautifully and it has since become a dish we don’t skip.

There is an added quasi-romantic benefit to dining here. There is no cell phone signal. The area is a National Radio Quiet Zone for the Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory. No new messages, emails, texts, calls, or websites to interfere with dinner. You are forced to make some sort of connection with your dining partner and your surroundings. It’s not a bad perk. For those of you techies that don’t know how to enjoy a meal with your significant other, don’t worry. Elk River does give you something else to focus on during your dinner and possibly a good excuse to use your phone. The Elk River Ramblers soon occupied the three seats across the room. Self-categorized with a folk/old time/bluegrass/Celtic/Klezmer sound, they are the house band for Elk River Restaurant and perform on Thursday nights. There really couldn’t be a better accompaniment for this meal in this atmosphere. We were so impressed we recorded a few songs on our phones (Yay! Your phone can grace your hands with purpose now!) You couldn’t help but clap along in between bites.

Back to the meal:  Mike ordered the Earth and Sky entrée, which was lamb chops, quail, fava bean paella, saffron peas and sweet peppers.  He was beyond happy with his choice and raved about the quail. I ordered the Beef Duo, which was slow braised short ribs over rutabaga parsnip puree and petit beef wellington with boursin cheese, sherried mushrooms & warm wilted fall greens. I thought it was very well done and super ambitious for such a small operation. The wellington was slightly soggy on the bottom, but the beef was tender. The short ribs shined on the dish with fall apart texture and good savory juices.

Sticky Date Pudding and chocolate molten cake followed with cappuccinos for dessert. It was the perfect ending for me with the date pudding being more of a cake-texture with rich toffee sweetness. You can’t go wrong with chocolate and cappuccino, but this was exceptionally good firm cake with a warm gooey center that oozed through the crevices when pierced.

We have been back many times since with friends and family. We’ve spent several holidays and special occasions with them as well. Elk River Inn and Restaurant has consistency and quality in an otherwise unpredictable mountain resort dining selection.

 

 

 

 

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