Central Oregon: Where the Northwest’s fine dining goes for winter vacation.
Lodges and cabins have stood on the shores of Suttle Lake since the 1930s, falling to fire or flood, again and again, until new owners relaunched the property in 2016. Located just east of Santiam Pass, the resort sits between beery Bend and the wooded hot springs on Oregon’s western slopes. Hoodoo, a local’s mountain with downhill and cross--country skiing, is nine miles up the well-maintained highway.
Suttle’s two-story main lodge, fronted by a massive carved-wood door, holds 11 hotel rooms and a vintage record library. Lakefront cabins sleep up to eight in renovated luxe interiors, while snug rustic cabins evoke a retro postcard.
While updates (safety and aesthetic) were crucial, Suttle Lodge’s biggest coup came courtesy consulting chef Joshua McFadden, of Portland blockbusters Ava Gene’s and Tusk: His fish sandwich, similar to one he created for Suttle, got the hotel in Bon Appétit before it reopened. “It was always super important to make it feel like the menu items there were from that area,” he says. “That’s why there’s a trout sandwich and not scallops and oysters.”
This winter his lodge restaurant menu includes fried delicata-squash “doughnuts” with grana padano and pizzas on toasted cracker crusts; the fried fish sandwich relocates from the Boathouse until that seasonal eatery returns in spring.
But McFadden isn’t the only culinary royalty passing through; select Saturdays from January to April, the waterfront lobby becomes a dining room for chef dinners. This year the roster includes Peter Cho of Han Oak, another Portland superstar, and Seattle’s own Rachel Yang of Revel and John Sundstrom of Lark.
Come summer, Suttle Lake will come alive with fishing and boating, and the lodge’s own Boathouse will fill with day trippers discovering creative counter-service fare on a once-empty mountain route.
But as snow blankets the sleepy resort in its winter coat, the warmth will come straight from the kitchen to fill the whole lodge. As McFadden says, the remote lodge “forces you to stop and talk to the person next to you. That’s kind of a rare opportunity.”