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Pioneer Spirit

By Keegan Prosser on March 26, 2013 – No Comment

BY SETH TRUSCOTT

Once a place where hardworking tradesmen, woodcutters and lumberjacks gathered to build a community, Snoqualmie’s Woodman Lodge Steakhouse and Saloon is now a place to enjoy a great steak in an authentic pioneer atmosphere.

Originally built in 1902, the Lodge served the Modern Woodmen of America Camp 8630, and was a hub of social activity in a working town. Members of the Woodman Lodge did the dangerous jobs like harvesting timber, mining coal, building power plants and bringing the railroad over the Cascade Mountains. The local lodge served their fraternal needs through the 1970s.

Following a dramatic renovation, Peter LaHaye, an experienced restauranteur, reopened the Lodge in 2008. His vision gives diners a chance to travel back in time to an era when people worked hard, played hard, lived with honor and took the chances that paved the way for today’s lifestyle.

The century-old building got a completely new kitchen, ornate bars, tiled bathrooms. The upper story is dominated by an antique wooden bar. The interior flickers with light from dozens of gas lanterns.

The showpiece of the Lodge is its main bar. The zinc-topped, custom-made bar is surrounded by a wooden rail, supported by hand-crafted stanchions in the shape of eagle’s talons. Below, water flows through a spittoon, in the same fashion seen in the long-lost bars of more than a century ago.

To LaHaye, a memorable dining experience has to have three things: Great food, attentive service and a classic atmosphere.

“We get a lot of inquiring questions regarding the saloon bar with its running water spittoon trough, if the ceiling is original and who are the people in the historic Snoqualmie photos displayed throughout the restaurant,” LaHaye says. “It’s rewarding to see the guests’ reaction, and that what we have recreated is appreciated, and provides guests with a momentary escape back into time.

“If you are one who appreciates a rustic yet classy ambiance with a touch of taxidermy, gas lamps and history, this is your steakhouse,” he added.

The Woodman’s menu has evolved over the past five years, adhering to the traditional steak and shrimp cocktail options offered by city steakhouses. The Lodge is known for its appetizer options, and “being a steakhouse, we grill it!” LaHaye says. Even the Woodman Wedge Salad, lightly brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper, hits the grill for a golden-brown texture.

The main event is, of course, the steak. Unique to the Woodman is its 20-ounce Cowboy Steak. LaHaye was inspired to recreate this meal from experiences cooking ribeyes over an open Montana campfire.

The French-cut bone-in ribeye spends an hour in the smoker, before being grilled and topped with a cilantro-lime butter. Another favorite is the prime-grade Nebraska bone-in Delmonico, a New York strip cut from the rib end of the primal, which provides excellent marbling and flavor, says LaHaye.

The Woodman differentiates itself from traditional steakhouses by offering wild game and fresh seafood, in season.

It’s always smart to make reservations, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. The price range for dinner with cocktails is between $35 and $60 per person.

Woodman Lodge Steakhouse and Saloon is located at 38601 S.E. King St. next to the Snoqualmie Railway Museum depot. Call the Lodge at 425-888-4441, or visit woodmanlodge.com