Built into the side of Mount Hood at an elevation of 6,000 feet, Timberline Lodge sits a mere 5,239 feet from the tallest point in Oregon. Posed quite literally on the mountain’s timberline, views from the second-story Cascade Dining Room are some of the most panoramic in the state.

Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Resort, Mount Hood, Ore.
[/media-credit] Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Resort, Mount Hood, Ore.

Completed in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, Timberline Lodge is a tribute to the rugged spirit of the Pacific Northwest. In the dining room, fires roast in stone hearths, and the original handcrafted hardwood tables and chairs have withstood the test of time.

Describing the restaurant’s atmosphere as casual and family-friendly, executive chef Jason Stoller Smith serves a variety of alpine cuisine that changes with the season. He uses food to help convey a sense of place.

“Timberline Lodge has always had a strong sense of place because of the nature of the building and the history behind it,” Stoller Smith said. “When people come up here, they’ll really see a great example of what the human spirit can do with their hands.

Salmon, Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Ore.
[/media-credit] Salmon, Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Ore.

“This is a mountain people have been coming to for 100 years and there’s a certain identity to that. When guests arrive at Timberline, they know they’re someplace special. That feeling comes from the lodge and the lodge environment. The food we serve should help translate that feeling.”

Sourcing ingredients from Portland and along the Columbia River Gorge, Stoller Smith is passionate about staying local and supporting a regional supply chain. Items on the menu vary with the seasons and the materials that are readily available.

“I’ve always felt food should revolve with the seasons; the quality of everything is better that way,” he said.

The Cascade Dining Room features an extensive lunch buffet, popular with groups on a circle tour of the region. Items on the buffet change daily, and everything is prepared from scratch. Regardless, the buffet menu always includes three fresh farmers market salads, daily soup, artisan bread with creamy butter, make-your-own waffles with assorted toppings, local produce, seasonal fruit and vegetables, an assortment of petit desserts, and carved or presented protein served at the chef’s “action station.” Gourmet coffee and tea is included.

Diners typically select from a dozen different dessert items, a buffet unto itself. Stoller Smith has two pastry chefs on his staff and attributes the popularity of the desserts to a wide breadth of working knowledge combined with the ability to produce a great variety of products in a short period of time.

Lunch buffet plate, Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Ore.
[/media-credit] Lunch buffet plate, Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Ore.

This year, Cascade Dining Room has a new butchering program.

“We’ve been butchering from a cattle rancher in the town of Hood River, but now we’ve got our own ranch set up where the product is grown specifically for us and is finished off on grains from our brewery,” Stoller Smith said. “It’s a nice tight-and-closed circle of products.”

The Cascade Dining Room at Timberline Lodge accommodates groups of 16 to 220, with seating available in a private room, the main lobby or inside the restaurant. Advance reservation and payment is required for large groups. Senior pricing is available; inquire with the sales and catering department.

Guests unload at the main lodge entrance and ample motorcoach parking is available in the lower lot.

For more information, call 503-272-3104 or visit timberlinelodge.com/dining.

Article by Julie Henning