Because there aren’t many, let’s get the disappointments out of the way right off the top. You unfortunately won’t find the Log Lady wandering around the Black Lodge, cradling a piece of wood in her arms while dispensing weirdness like “The tender boughs of innocence burn first, and the wind rises, and then all goodness is in jeopardy.”
Dangerously sexy Audrey Horne isn’t standing around tying cherry stems into bows with her tongue and there’s no Leland Palmer morphing into creepy Killer BOB in the washroom. On the plus side, you’ll find Laura Palmer sitting at the bar, albeit in a framed picture that will look familiar to anyone who ever found themselves reeled in by the creepy ’90s TV series Twin Peaks.
If you get all of the above references, you’re going to love the Black Lodge, which is at least partially inspired by the mystical place of the same name in David Lynch’s cult hit. Presumably due to logistical problems, it isn’t located in Ghostwood Forest surrounded by 12 young sycamore trees, but instead on a nondescript stretch of Kingsway, near Fraser. Fittingly, if you know your Black Lodge backstory, there is nothing to advertise the tiny eatery’s existence from the street—all you get is a bland black awning.
Yes, owners Matt Krysko and Claire Wyrostok have paid attention to details. They haven’t gone completely overboard—if they had, there would be garbanzo beans on the menu, served up by a dwarf in a red-velvet room. The décor is instead heavy on the wood, something that David Lynch would totally appreciate. Walls are made to look like the inside of a Snoqualmie Falls log cabin, right down to the old-school snowshoes, skis, and bear-skin rug tacked to them. The unvarnished tables look like two-foot-thick slabs from a mature Douglas fir tree, and the bar is, quite awesomely, framed by logs with the bark still attached. Decorations include strings of beer-can Christmas lights, a giant mural of what may or may not be a snow-capped Mount Baker, and vintage-looking pennants from Vernon, B.C., and Tobermory, Ontario.
Given the rustic décor, it should surprise no one that the food comes on blue-tin camping plates, the cocktails in matching enamelware coffee cups. And it’s awesome—like being in the middle of nowhere in Cascadia, rather than a few blocks off of Hipsterville.
If you’re a hard-core carnivore, the Black Lodge will require a quick rethinking of your dietary habits. While the menu includes beer brats, frankfurters, and Philly cheese-steak sandwiches, all of them are of the meat-free variety. That’s another way of saying that the “tree-hugger sandwich” probably does pretty well at this completely vegetarian restaurant, mostly because—if you can get past all the trees that died for the place—the Black Lodge is indeed a tree-hugger’s delight, many offerings also available as vegan and gluten-free options.
On the night we visited, our posse included a guy who refuses to eat vegetables, and is firmly of the opinion that if God didn’t want us to eat our feathered, finned, and furred friends, he wouldn’t have made them taste delicious. Despite this, he gave the Poutine Dog ($9.25) a (probably begrudging) thumbs-up, no shocker considering the cheese curds and fresh green onion were accented nicely by a lightly smoked veggie gravy.
Sometimes it pays to embrace one’s inner weirdo, with the John Candy ($9.25) sounding strange as hell, mostly because maple syrup doesn’t really belong anywhere near a beer-brat hot dog topped with caramelized onions, sauerkraut, cream cheese, and house-made veggie coconut “bacon”. The dish was wonderful, with the syrup adding an understated kiss of sweetness, and the whole execution earning bonus points for the fact that the dog didn’t—as is usually the case—explode into a soggy sauerkraut-juice-soaked mess halfway through. As for the Caesar salad ($7.50), no complaints about the dressing coming from a bottle (Little Creek, a boutique line from Kelowna), or for the liberal application of the coconut bacon, which the Black Lodge should sincerely package up and sell.
It’s hard to imagine a healthier carbs platter than the veggie burger sliders ($9.75), with light yet rich-tasting little chickpea and lentil patties served up on pint-size ciabatta buns. Accompanied by a shredded-beet-topped House Root Salad that (assuming you fall in the beets-are-evil camp) tastes better than it sounds, this dish leaves plenty of room for cherry-pie dessert.
Many cocktails were consumed along the way, the Dr. Jacoby (coconut rum, banana liquor, and pineapple juice) too sweet for its own good, the margarita (tequila, fresh lime) too watery. Better than it had any right to be, however, was the Caribou Blood (an odd-sounding but pleasantly heady mix of red wine, whisky, and maple syrup), and the Szarlota, where the combination of Żubrówka bison grass vodka, apple juice, and cinnamon was like pie-in-a-glass.
And speaking of pie, we finished with slices of cherry pie and vanilla ice cream, as well as coffee the bartender offered to fresh-brew. As advertised on the menu, it was a damn fine cherry pie.
It’s all crazy-cool—not to mention tasty—enough that Special Agent Dale Cooper might want to seriously think about giving up his booth at the Twin Peaks Double R Diner.
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