WASCO – The stars shone brighter over The Lodge on 64, after our leisurely drive into the countryside just west of downtown Wasco. Nestled along a treeline, the expansive restaurant-and-bar operation sits apart from civilization.
With a little imagination, the A-frame architecture feels like a wilderness retreat. Inviting dining rooms and stone fireplaces await, and there are rustic decor touches from the long wooden bar to wagon-wheel light fixtures, beams overhead and saddles on the walls. Scattered flat-screens are unobtrusive but tuned to games. A great selection of country tunes played, and the bar is home to weekly live entertainment.
Our attentive server brought us a loaf of bread still warm from the oven, which had the perfect chew to the crust. After slathering on the whipped butter, we had to remind ourselves not to spoil our appetites.
The Lodge on 64 made my entree choice easy with The Combo, featuring the rotisserie chicken that's a specialty at the restaurant, paired with barbecue, baby-back ribs. The ribs were delicious, but the chicken was spectacular, with its crispy skin and juicy meat.
I selected the original-style half chicken, but it also comes barbecued or Grecian. The menu notes the kitchen only uses organic chicken, free of antibiotics and hormones, and never frozen. Also available from the wood-burning rotisserie spit is slow-roasted duck served with orange sauce and dressing.
My dining companion opted for the Bulleit Whiskey Burger, and after tasting it, I was happy we had decided to share all the entrees. The half-pound, locally sourced prime black Angus beef is crowned with whiskey-soaked sauteed onions, dry-rub roasted bacon and smoked cheddar on a brioche bun. In this case, my companion substituted Swiss cheese. The burger was flavorful and cooked to order, and capped by a delectable homemade sauce we suspect was fortified with the dish's namesake whiskey.
Next time we hope to try one of the special sides, the sauteed spinach and feta, but it was sold out when we arrived late in the evening. Instead, we enjoyed the side salad with mixed greens and a house-made blue cheese dressing, plus the burger's hot and tasty fries and cole slaw, and the garlic mashed potatoes that proved addictive alongside my chicken and ribs.
Our server said salmon prepared in a variety of styles is another favorite at The Lodge on 64, along with the hand-cut black Angus steaks.
I spied a game area for kids off the end of one of the dining rooms, while the other has seating that can be closed off by glass doors for private parties. In warmer weather, an attractive patio beckons along the treeline side of the building.
And outside the entrance are several fire pits, where people can roast marshmallows for s'mores. Patrons will spot the complimentary ingredients and skewers on their way out, and can linger under the stars for a sweet finish to the night.
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
If you go
What: The Lodge on 64
Where: 41W379 Route 64, Wasco
Hours: 4 to about 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday; opening at noon Friday through Sunday, and staying open later Friday and Saturday
More info: 630-443-8000, thelodgeon64.com