BAXTER — New.
New dining room. New name. New and unique menu items. New.
That appears to be the running theme surrounding the Arrowwood Lodge Grill and Bar or formerly The Lodge in Baxter.
The hotel, waterpark and eatery just off Highway 371 has always blended into the north country well with its decor. That hasn’t changed. The dining room is small, but warm and relaxing. A fireplace and comfortable seats create a comfortable atmosphere.
Like many, I enjoy new, but just because something is new doesn’t make it better. Food, whether an old family recipe or a new idea, needs to be executed well. Unfortunately, on my visit during a Thursday night new didn’t translate into great because of execution.
It started with my calamari fritti. Billed as tender calamari lightly battered, fried and served with a lemon caper aioli and marinara sauce for $10. My first piece was under cooked and not tender at all. The lower I got into the glass the better the pieces were, but my first bite set the tone and that’s too bad.
Other, maybe better options, one could try are the grilled bruschetta ($8), crab cakes ($11), deep fried olives, which are Italian green olives stuffed with bleu cheese, breaded and then deep fried for $8 or the buffalo shrimp ($12).
A unique item on the small plate menu is a bubble bread dish: fried dough tossed in butter, garlic, parsley, Parmesan and served with marinara sauce for $7.
Steak seems to be a specialty and Arrowwood offers an 8-ounce filet mignon ($30), a 10-ounce sirloin ($22) or a 14-ounce rib eye ($28). Steaks come with soup or salad, garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables in a red wine demi glace.
A $2 topping can be added to the steak and choices includes sauteed mushrooms with garlic, bleu cheese crumbles, caramelized onions, pepper crusted, bleu cheese compound butter or blackened.
Pizzas range from $10-14 with Arrowwood’s version of the taco pizza, a buffalo chicken, margarita and a veggie rustica being the featured items. The rustica combines chipollini onions, grilled asparagus, roasted garlic, sun dried tomatoes served with a white sauce and a hint of goat cheese.
The highlight sandwich is the Squatch burger for $12. It’s a 1/2 pound Angus beef stuffed with bleu cheese crumbles and topped with hot bacon, pickled relish, Swiss and cheddar cheeses and crispy onion tangles with a squatch sauce.
Arrowwood does do a nice job of offering many vegetarian dishes, including the quinoa burger. It’s billed as a vegetarian’s delight with all essential amino acids in an artisan vegetarian burger with spinach and goat cheese on a brioche bun for $11.
A mushroom Marsala ravioli jumps off the pasta portion of the menu. It’s a mushroom stuffed ravioli tossed with herbed garlic marsala sauce for $17. The shrimp Arrabiata features angry shrimp, roasted garlic, onions, tomatoes, capers, basil, Italian sausage and spicy tomato sauce served with linguine for $18.
My entree selection came off the favorites and it was the chicken saltimbocca for $18. It’s a dish popular in Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Greece. Normally made with veal, this was chicken wrapped in prosciutto and sage. This entree also included fontina cheese and was accompanied with gnocchi in a vodka tomato sauce.
The protein was well prepared but heavy on herbs. My disappointment came with burnt gnocchi. In an attempt for a crisp outer shell and the pillowy lightness on the inside, the heating process went too far. The dish would have worked, too.
The night was capped off with tiramisu for dessert, but not in the usual square or rectangular fashion I’ve grown accustomed to. Instead it was layered in a parfait glass. It eased some of the miscues early in meal, but not enough.
On this night, the newness was lost in the execution.