Dude ranch dining trends
Times have changed since the days when the dude ranch cook simply fired up the campfire and then served guests with a plate of beans and brisket. Don’t get us wrong: we love cookouts. But as with contemporary cuisine everywhere, the dude ranch dining room has adapted to its share of trends. Now you can usually get low-sodium, low-fat, and even get vegan or other special menus (upon request). And some dude ranches go way above what you’d expect.
Take TRIPLE CREEK RANCH, in Darby, Montana. Here, dinner is a four-course event (prepared by a French Institute-trained executive chef). Of course, house wines are included, or guests may choose to add wine pairings from the ranch wine cellar (and how many dude ranches can boast such a cellar?) featuring premium wines from more than a dozen countries.
In a dining room with dramatic views of the Bitterroot Mountains, Triple Creek guests are treated to wholesome breakfasts, healthful lunches, and gourmet dinners–even tasting menus. They also have a Chef’s Table giving you an insider’s view of the ranch’s high-tech kitchen. After dinner, nibble on delights from the cheese cart, which include, says the website, “cheeses from the affineurs Hervé Mons, Randolph Hodgson and Luigi Guffanti”. And while the attire for guests is dude ranch casual, the lodge’s dining tables are set with crisp, white tablecloths and flickering candles. It all meets the standards demanded by membership in the exclusive Relais & Châteaux (the ranch has been a member since 1996).
Co-owner Wayne Kilpatrick notes, “We’re more the resort end of the Dude and Guest ranch industry. Guests come to Triple Creek not just to ride, but for the whole bit—romance, too.” Kilpatrick continues, “Our dining room is fine dining, but not communal; it’s more like a restaurant, so guests can spend time by themselves.”
More ranch dining: Another option for elegant dining is Wyoming’s Brooks Lake Lodge; for dinner, the lodge chefs prepare a three-course meal using the freshest ingredients and a regional flare; the menu changes nightly and is always followed by a dessert prepared by their pastry chef. For great Southern BBQ rib and chicken cookouts, plus homemade soups, breads, and pastries, visit Clear Creek Ranch in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains; it’s open from April through December.