Students delighted by return of Lodge dinners at Moosilauke
Moosilauke Ravine Lodge is open this summer to Dartmouth students for free meals, outdoor activities and Dartmouth-led programming.
For the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge has opened its doors to Dartmouth students for Lodge dinners. While the Lodge is still closed to the general public, students are able to go for a free multi-course meal.
Every week, Wednesday through Sunday, dinners are held at 6:30 p.m. While the Dartmouth Outing Club has been able to provide shuttles on some days, students with personal vehicles are also welcome to drive up on their own.
Anya Hirschfeld ’23 was able to make it up to the Lodge early in the term. She said she went in a friend’s car, but added that it was not an easy trip.
“It is a full hour of driving…You lose service for a bit, and it’s pretty twisty and windy,” Hirschfeld said. “But then the reward is intense.”
Despite dining there several weeks ago, Hirschfeld said the meal left a very lasting impression on her. Some of the courses included a tomato bisque with focaccia, a salad with coconut shreds and a squash lasagna with roasted beets, radishes and sweet potatoes, she said.
“They finished off with a delicious apple crisp with a single scoop of vanilla ice cream and a mint leaf on top,” she said. “They treated us well.”
Sam LeLacheur ’23 has been to the Lodge four times this term alone, three times for dinner and once for a hike up Mount Moosilauke on the evening of July 4. LeLacheur is a transfer student, so this term was his first opportunity to go to the Lodge.
“This is only my fourth term at Dartmouth,” he said. “I matriculated sophomore fall, and I missed out on a lot of the First-Year Trips experience at the Lodge and anything like that, so it was a completely new experience going up through the summer. And it was really like, wow, I cannot believe Dartmouth has this. It’s so amazing.”
LeLacheur added that he really appreciates the Lodge’s accessibility.
“You could just decide on a Wednesday, let’s get Lodge dinner on Thursday, give them a call and show up, and they’ll serve you a meal with these amazing views of the mountains, this wooden panelling aesthetic with the snowshoes on the walls,” he said. “It’s just a really cool experience to be able to have just at your fingertips.”
On the topic of food, “there’s a lot of variety,” LeLacheur said. “For every dish, there’s a surprise in the way it’s constructed and in what you’re getting. It’s always something refreshing, unexpected and very flavorful. What I’ve appreciated the most is that there’s a different bread every time. There’s always something different going on.”
Behind the rave food reviews and the variability in cuisine are the people who run the Lodge: Lodge crew members. This summer, Will Maresco ’19 is the Lodge manager and Chachi Riesco ’17 is the assistant manager.
Joseph Bravo ’24 is one of the crew members at the Lodge this summer. Like LeLacheur, this summer was Bravo’s first time at the Lodge. He and other crew members rotate through all the necessary tasks.
“Everyone does everything,” Bravo said. “We have someone who’s at the desk during the day, someone at the desk late afternoon. When we have dinner service, there’s a dishwasher, usually a couple servers, a head server or the host. And then, of course, there’s the cook, sometimes a sous [chef].”
Prior to this term, Bravo hadn’t had much experience in the kitchen.
“I have some cooking experience,” he said. “Just cooking for myself and maybe my family back home, but never before had I cooked for 50 people.”
Bravo also said that when he is in the kitchen, “the recipes are a good place for inspiration. A lot of them are detailed to how things work at the Lodge. There are details of whether it’s good for a large party, what’s the difficulty. We use the recipe book for some favorites and successes that we’ve had in the past.”
However, even with the availability of the recipe book, Bravo said he still has some creative liberty with what he decides to cook.
“For me specifically, I also just want to cook whatever I want to eat,” he said. “I have been going along the Asian route. I’m Filipino-American, so, for example, I’ve made pandesal. It was really nice to make Filipino bread.”
Aside from dinners, the Lodge has also begun hosting special programming on Thursdays. On July 29, biology professor Craig Layne led an ecology nature walk before dinner, and this week, Sarah Smith of the library’s Book Arts Workshop led a program in which students were able to make nature journals at the Lodge before their meal.
According to Bravo, Lodge managers are the ones responsible for coordinating these programming activities. He said that Riesco was the one primarily spearheading the programs, but that the crew members’ interests are taken into account during planning.
Even while working, Bravo is able to attend the programming. He was one of the attendants of the nature walk last week.
“It's just nice to walk onto the trail and stop everywhere, because there was just so much to see that you don’t usually notice,” he said. “[Layne] was pointing things out left and right. That was really nice.”
Other Lodge programming this term included a punk-themed prom on the night of July 31. After dinner, festivities included a punk dance party, an overnight in the cabins on the premises and a home-cooked breakfast the following morning.
Kira Householder ’23 was one of the attendees at the prom.
“It was really nice to be around a lot of people,” she said. “Obviously, dancing in a big group of people is still kind of a new thing.”
She also talked about the food at the Lodge, particularly the breakfast. Householder is vegan and said that the Lodge was very accommodating to her dietary restriction.
“If something was not vegan, they brought out a separate thing for me with almost each course,” she said. Instead of scrambled eggs, for example, she was served a smoothie.
Householder said that other dietary restrictions were also taken into account by a poster on the wall with all the allergens present in the dishes.
LeLacheur also went to Lodge prom and described it as “pretty surreal.”
“You’re just out in the middle of the woods without cell service for 12 or 13 hours, having a giant dance party and a free five-course meal and then sleeping in a very luxurious cabin for the night,” he said.
The Lodge will continue to host dinners throughout the rest of the term and is now also accepting reservations for overnight stays, which include breakfast. Some upcoming events include a dinner at the O-Farm co-hosted by the Farm Club and the Lodge on Aug. 6 and a nature walk and sketch hosted by Riesco next Thursday.
Overall, the consensus seems to be truly positive.
“Go,” Hirschfeld said. “You won’t regret it.”