Fun Dining with Dennis and Michelle at the Log Cabin
Upon being greeted at the Log Cabin by General Manager Adam and Host Logan, Fun 101.3 radio station personalities Dennis Mitchell and Michelle Cruz were presented with two options for dining: the main dining room with a fireplace, or on the patio. Since it was a lovely summer evening, Michelle immediately requested to be outdoors. To the patio it was, as we were escorted through the recently renovated restaurant, which was reopened in early spring under new management. Nichole, one of the Log Cabin’s knowledgeable and professional servers, brought a small bouquet of flowers and bottle of complimentary Prosecco to the table. “Nice touch,” said Dennis, “No one ever did that for us before,” referring to the last eight years of dining out with FLL. The two started reminiscing about their last experience at the Log Cabin for FLL in 2011. They were anxious to see how this restaurant is reinventing itself.
Chef Steve Painter presented a sample from the regular menu to our Fun dining crew. Full of lobster meat and topped with tarragon sea foam, Dennis swirled the glistening cloud-like foam throughout the Lobster Bisque to incorporate it evenly. As the flavors melded and merged, Dennis declared the bisque richly praiseworthy from flavor to texture to creaminess. Bubbly, sweet and nutty Swiss Gruyere and Provolone crowned a crouton on top of the earthy French Onion Soup garnished with frizzled onions. A variety of house made miniature bread loaves, crusty on the outside soft on the inside, arrived with whipped butter. Dennis asked if he could dip the bread in the Lobster Bisque and while looking around, Michelle gave him permission to do so.
Southern comfort food was declared by Dennis when a plate of Shrimp and Grits, from the “Small Plates” part of the menu arrived at the table. The succulent garlic shrimp rested on a bed of South Carolina Anson Mills organic heirloom grits, and made room for blistered cherry tomatoes heightened by a lobster Bordelaise sauce in the Chef’s version of a Low Country favorite. After a debate over the difference between bacon and pork belly, Dennis and Michelle got to enjoy another serving of Pork Belly with pickled red cabbage, creamy carrot raisin salad, light smoked sweet corn and a malty buckwheat honey and chicken stock reduction.
Taking time to relax and take in the ambience of the iconic natural surroundings at the brick patio and courtyard, Dennis said, “I’m digging the music vibe out here,” referring to the hand-curated music selection that featured soft contemporary rock of singer-songwriter artists Jack Johnson, Nora Jones, Dave Matthews and more. Michelle chimed in, “The music is crisp and clear and not too loud at all.” They could tell the quality of the sound was that of Clair Solutions.
Our radio friends knew that the restaurant operated during the days of Prohibition and that in this most recent incarnation, bartenders are mixing drinks that evoke that era. Michelle had to have one well-crafted cocktail. Dennis was just happy that there was IPA on tap, realizing that there was never a tap system at the Log Cabin until just this spring.
Two seafood salads got the attention of our radio guests. Colossal chunks of unadulterated white lump crab resting on avocado and diced tomato came from the “Raw Bar” part of the menu in a pressed tomato wrap, served along with shredded asparagus and carrots and touched with edible flowers. “That’s the best thing I ever had in my life,” exclaimed Michelle after her first bite. Dennis said, “That looks like the best thing I’ll ever have in my life,” gazing at the lavish presentation on a slate platter.
Tarragon-spiked Green Goddess dressing coated Bibb lettuce, baby spinach, avocado, and tomatoes topped with what the Log Cabin calls a lobster “mitt” (claw) showered with local smoked bacon bits and tangy Roquefort cheese. Of the Lobster Cobb Salad, Dennis cried, “Lobster and bacon together, what could be better?” Michelle mumbled, “Lobster and… pork belly?”
The peppery and bitter leaves of an Arugula and Radicchio Salad were balanced out with fresh strawberries and blackberries, goat cheese mousseline cylinders, sprinkled with house-made granola with a perfect complement of lemon poppy seed dressing. A classic Caesar Salad rounded out the salad course with white anchovy, pillowy soft poached egg, briny herb cured olives, and a fresh flavored light and creamy house-made Caesar dressing and house made croutons. Before the entrees arrived, Nichole brought out individual hot cloth towelettes and lemon to wipe their hands and mouths saying, “It gives you a sense of starting over,” she said.
Michelle was excited to see a perfectly cooked medium-rare tenderloin filet come out of the kitchen served with house-made steak sauce, savory red onion marmalade and asparagus spears supported by Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. It looked like a classic steakhouse plate. One would have thought Dennis never ate mashed potatoes before given all of the accolades he had for the spuds. A few minutes later, Michelle said, “You’re not kidding about these potatoes, they have great flavor and consistency.” Those same mashed potatoes served as a bed for 2-day marinated fried chicken with red cabbage slaw, honey butter drizzle and pan gravy. Dennis sensed that the two-day marinating attributed to the tenderness of the chicken that sported brown and extra crispy skin. It was comfort on a plate.
One of Chef Steve’s signature entrees is an expertly prepared Barramundi, a white flaky flesh fish, seared and served with lump crab fondue, roasted beets, salmon caviar, pea tendrils, and wilted greens. A shellfish Bordelaise sauce and creamy spring pea puree interrelated on the plate forming a visual and succulent yin yang contrast to the Barramundi. Seared jumbo sea scallops got high praises as they swam with Prince Edward Island mussels and imported al dente linguini in a saffron cream sauce enriched with hints of sweet corn, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, leeks and Edamame beans.
At dessert time, there were oohs and aahs all around when a decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Bomb appeared at the table. Dennis asked, “Chocolate and peanut butter together, what could be better?” Michelle mumbled, “Chocolate and… pork belly?” A light and creamy New York Style Cheesecake was refreshing with fresh berries, sauce and whipped cream, as was a sublime Apple Tart with a side of vanilla ice cream. Petite Lemon Meringue Squares topped with whipped cream and lemon candies were also presented beautifully, while garnishes of dessert straws added a touch of elegance. Michelle paired her desserts with a Caramel Macchiato, espresso, steamed vanilla milk topped with whipped cream and caramel. It was noted that all of the Log Cabin’s coffee comes from Whiff Roasters in Lititz.
An attractive couple at the table next to Dennis and Michelle approached them and introduced themselves as Jim and Debbie. Debbie said, “My grandfather came here during Prohibition; my parents had their engagement party here in 1946.” She continued, “My shrimp and grits were fabulous tonight,” as the pair chuckled at all the fun the Fun 101.3 radio duo was having that night.
After a night of fun (and over-indulgence) Dennis and Michelle loved this current reinvention of the Log Cabin, as everything was well prepared, beautifully presented and amazingly flavorful. The atmosphere, service and small touches were also outstanding.
The Log Cabin
11 Lehoy Drive Leola, PA. 17540