Grand Canyon Lodge (North Rim)

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (last visit: September 2007).

Dining choices at the North Rim are extremely limited. Within the park, there's the lodge, a modest delicatessen, and a bar. There are no other choices nearby. The Lodge is the most ambitious attempt. I ate dinner here twice.

The Menu
The limited menu contains basic preparations of fish, chicken, steak and pasta. There are a number of vegetarian entrees.

The Atmosphere
The dining room feels like an old, huge lodge. It has massive stone walls and timbers. The log ceiling rises from a height of about 25 feet at the sides to around 40 feet at the center. Like the Lodge at Bryce Canyon, it's also noisy, tables are packed in tightly, and servers are rushing around, but not quite so much as at Bryce. I liked it.

Service was friendly, but not very good. Timing of courses was poor, especially at one meal. My appetizer arrived before I finished my salad; there was then a long wait for my entree.

Meal #1
The dinner side salad was standard but not bad. Bread was crusty and chewy; good.

I don't know what possessed me to order crab cakes as an appetizer - perhaps because nothing else sounded very good. What I got were flat cylinders of something that had little crab flavor or texture. It was more like a breaded fried dumpling than anything else.

A main course of Idaho trout was much more successful. It was sauteed, with the skin on. It was overcooked, but was still quite tasty.

Meal #2
No appetizer tonight - gotta leave room for dessert.

I played it safe with my choice of entree - a flat iron steak. It was cooked properly, but had no discernible seasoning. The accompanying broccoli rabe was steamed and nicely crunchy, but also had no seasoning. Mashed potatoes with red skins was smooth but - wait for it - also had no seasoning.

Dessert saved the meal. Chocolate truffle torte consisted of thick layers of ganache and cake, with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. It was ridiculously rich - just the way I like my chocolate desserts. It also was HUGE.

The food at Grand Canyon's North Rim is not its strong point. Given limited choices, I might go back to the Lodge to eat, but I'd be tempted to either get a snack at the deli, or bring food to the park in a cooler.

As at Bryce Canyon, a major criticism is the pretension of the restaurant. It tries to come across as a fine dining venue. It isn't.

The Bill
$30 to $35 dollars for a three course meal, plus drinks, tax and tip.

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