Stillwaters Restaurant – Stonewall Jackson Resort, Roanoke, WV
Once upon a time, there was a State Park in wild, wonderful West Virginia. This State Park was special because it was disguised as a classy, comfortable, well-appointed hotel with a spa and a “fancy” restaurant. The restaurant wasn’t pretend-fancy….no, this one was actually white-linen, don’t-put-your-elbows-on-the table fancy. This was Stonewall Resort State Park in Roanoke.
Unlike some other state park that claims to be a “resort” (without naming any names, it starts with “Ca” and ends with “naan”) I truly feel pampered here. People say they have a wonderful golf course and there is a restaurant on the hill geared toward the crazy people who will chase that little white ball around all day. A bar is located downstairs in the lodge where you can enjoy sandwiches, a beer, and shoot a game of pool. I look forward to work events at Stonewall so I can eat in the main restaurant, Stillwaters.
For those of you who have yet to visit Stonewall, the interior of Stillwaters could be described as high-class rustic. The tables and chairs are made from what appears to be logs. The seats are comfortable, inviting you to linger at the table. If you prefer, you could dine outside under an umbrella with a view of the lake and pool. The tables are trimmed with all the flatware you might need, a white linen napkin, artfully folded, and a leather placemat.
Each day, Executive Chef Dale Hawkins tempts diners with a buffet consisting of cold, hot and dessert selections. If that doesn’t suit you, you are free to order off the menu. Of all the times I have been to Stillwaters, I have ordered off the menu only once. There is usually such a nice variety on the buffet, I have no trouble filling up on what I find inside the round, silver chafing dishes that line the buffet counter.
My SOP at Stillwaters is to peruse the buffet, take small samplings of everything that interests me, taste it all and then come back for more of my favorites. Today the buffet boasted: mixed spring green salad, chef’s salad, coleslaw, seasoned cauliflower, mashed potatoes, barbeque ribs, grilled chicken with honey and mint, linguine with basil cream sauce, broccoli-cheese soup and bread. According to plan, I took a small portion of the hot items, not wishing to fill up on salad today.
I appreciated the healthful options of grilled chicken and cauliflower, especially considering my low-carb diet. I can also appreciate the richness of the pasta and desserts. Chef Dale’s staff is able to accommodate special dietary needs, just ask. You could also find fish or a sandwich selection on your visit. The buffet changes daily and you can eat all you desire for $15.00. The soda prices left me a little raw – the highest I’ve paid in West Virginia, at a whopping $2.25. This will most definitely require me to smuggle in a 2-liter of Diet Coke next time I dine here. Note to self: buy a bigger handbag.
The grilled chicken with honey and mint was very good. In fact, I ate three small pieces. (I hope after reading this the Stonewall management team does not decide to raise the buffet price because of people like me!) Can I justify it by saying I was “protein-loading”??? Anyway, it was delicious. The cauliflower was well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. Fork-tender with a slight crispness. The linguine also was perfectly cooked. In a buffet situation, some items become cooked past the point of optimal by sitting and holding in the warmers. But this pasta was great. The cream sauce was rich with shreds of fresh basil and cherry tomatoes. In fact, it was so tasty, I got another little bit of pasta on my “second course”. The ribs were tender with a distinct smoky flavor and a sweet sauce. I enjoyed dipping the cauliflower in the barbeque sauce.
One thing you need to know about this place is: they make their own desserts. I have recently adopted a policy of inquiring if the desserts are homemade before I even consider ordering one. Not only do they make their own desserts, but Chef Dale told me they make nearly every sauce and dressing from scratch in the restaurant. I don’t think I need to tell you, seasoned diner, that this is a strange occurrence indeed at a State Park. Today the dessert selections were warm bread pudding, oatmeal raisin cookies, sugar-free walnut sponge cake, mini coconut cream “pies”, and chocolate sheet cake. I had one little bite of bread pudding and it was good – made my tummy warm and cozy. (Note to the Chef – consider adding whiskey.) I picked up a small piece of the chocolate cake. I ended up eating it all because the cake was moist and rich with a dark chocolate frosting and chocolate decorative drizzle on top. Even though the chocolate cake was carb-worthy, it couldn’t hold a candle to the lemon shortbread I enjoyed on my previous visit. I could have eaten the whole tray of the flaky, buttery, light shortbread.
Our service today was great. I received multiple drink refills – still didn’t get my money’s worth at that exhorbatent price, though – and Tandra asked several times if there was anything we couldn’t find that we wanted or if she could do anything else for us.
While we were exchanging credit cards and sipping the last of the Diet Coke, I noticed one of the cooks behind the glass at the buffet counter was cracking eggs into a container. A lot of eggs. Must have been 6 dozen eggs, because she was cracking for a long time, and I wondered what she would do with all those whites and yolks. I am sure you have had to endure the liquid eggs you are served at most hotel breakfasts. Ron complains about them every time he goes to Canaan and Waterfront Place for his work. He says they taste watery and fake. Well, you get real, fresh eggs for breakfast at Stillwaters – I saw the proof. And, check it out: they support local farmers who provide fresh, healthful, home-grown ingredients.
I think I can assert: this is the BEST State Park food in West Virginia. It has been my experience in this state to be cautious about hotel restaurants, even when they are not a state park. But you can sleep and eat at Stonewall with confidence. It’s a bit pricey in my opinion, but it is the “only game in town” – they have a captive audience that is too far away from other restaurants (about 10 miles) to worry too much about pricing themselves out of competition for business. Heck, it would cost more in gas to get a cheaper lunch…and there isn’t anything at the Weston exit worth driving to anyway. After further evaluation, I believe the pricing is simply capitalism at work. God bless the USA.
FOUR FORKS.Stillwaters Stonewall Resort State Park 940 Resort Drive Roanoke, WV 26447 304-269-8831