Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington, has been a destination for fans of the Columbia River Gorge since it opened in 1992. Known for expansive views of the river and gorge and inviting lodge decor, Skamania Lodge has always been recognized for quality and the compatibility with the surrounding natural environment.
Things are happening at Skamania Lodge which require a second look and a getaway to see what’s new.
Topping the list is the arrival of a new executive chef, Mark Henry, who leads the culinary direction of the two on-property restaurants and in-house banquet services. Most recently providing leadership at the well-regarded Eden Roc in Miami Beach, Chef Henry brings a fresh spirit and a desire to create culinary memories at Skamania Lodge. He’s focusing on locally-sourced foods and seasonal ingredients with a flair that may surprise you. His dedication to sustainable sourcing has earned him a green certification. Now a local resident, Chef Henry loves the area and his new position. His enthusiasm is catching. The menu will be ever-changing both seasonally and with the creations of the culinary team.
Chef Henry is not unfamiliar with northwest cuisine and the Portland food scene. During his career, he served as Executive Chef at the downtown Portland Marriott. Add in his experience at The Plaza in New York City, Marriott’s Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Eden Roc, Chef Henry has quite an impressive culinary background to draw from. He began his career as a dishwasher on the Jersey Shore. He soon found his way to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and his career took off. But even now, he is not above washing dishes or working the food line. He instills a team spirit in his staff and part of doing that is visibility and the willingness to provide direct service when needed.
There are some exciting new additions and changes at Skamania’s Cascade Dining Room and River Rock Lounge. While the Friday night buffet, a mainstay for years, has ended, a new, fresh seasonal a la carte menu will soon grace the tables. Add in new brunch with innovations such as a sushi station and locally sourced cuisine, and you have yet another reason to take the short scenic drive to Skamania Lodge.
While visiting Skamania Lodge, we had the pleasure of trying two of Chef Henry’s new creations. We started with farm-fresh salad featuring smoked local goat cheese (smoked in the Skamania Lodge kitchen), baby arugula, roasted beets, and toasted pine nuts drizzled with EVOO. Bread fresh out of the oven accompanied the salad.
Next we savored a dish featuring sautéed sea scallops (from Bedford, Massachusetts), soft polenta w/asiago cheese, balsamic glaze, crispy yam string, and local micro greens. Scallops are purchased from the East Coast of Canada and the U.S., since, unfortunately, the local Northwest scallops have been overfished.
Both dishes were memorable and made us vow to return for a relaxing outdoor meal overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. You, too, will likely decide to dine more than once at Skamania Lodge. You’ll want to return for special occasions, for everyday dining after a round of golf or a hike or just to relax in the lounge in front of the fireplace listening to live music. This foodie find is less than an hour from Portland.
Working Up an Appetite
There’s more to do at Skamania Lodge than just eat. When we pulled into the lodge grounds, we noticed an extensive zip line system in the trees. The new professionally led Zip Line Tour consists of seven lines, three sky bridges and 2.5 hours of stunning Columbia River views. Even on a warm day, it was cool in the canopy of the old growth forest surrounding Skamania Lodge.
The lodge is also upgrading their rooms. Always beautiful with upscale northwest lodge decor, the folks at Skamania Lodge are keeping up with the trends in luxury and comfort. The 254 rooms are gradually being updated to provide the newest and the best in electronics and luxury.
Skamania Lodge affords the visitor a sweeping view of the Columbia River Gorge, visible from many rooms and from the dining areas, paths and lawns. It is this unparalleled view which brings people to Skamania Lodge. It is innovations such as Chef Mark Henry’s creations in the dining room which will ensure that people want to return. – Story and Photos by Elizabeth Rose, RFT Contributor
Address: 1131 SW Skamania Lodge Way, Stevenson, WA 98648