Where Everything, and We Mean Everything, is Made from Scratch
By Karen Hendricks | Photography by Casey Martin
When Liberty Mountain Resort opened its Highland Lodge in 2015, Executive Chef Charles Rousey set the bar high at its Eagle & The Owl Public House. He wanted to make every single menu item fresh and in-house.
“I wouldn’t even call it a trend,” says the 49-year-old Chef Rousey. “It puts pride into a kitchen. We do everything here—cutting our meats and fish, grinding all the meat for our burgers. Most people buy deli turkey but we brine it, smoke it, slice it, and we know all the ingredients in it. That concept of trying to create everything from a scratch-made basis is what we’re trying to achieve.”
If the sweeping mountain views aren’t enough to sweep you off your feet, then Eagle & The Owl Public House’s fresh, homemade approach is sure to wow you.
“An Atmosphere for Creative Excitement and Adrenaline”
While Liberty Mountain is known as a winter sports destination—skiing, snow tubing, and more—Eagle & The Owl welcomes sports enthusiasts “straight off the mountain” as well as lodge guests and the general public. The restaurant’s large windows offer mountainous views, including skiers zipping down the snowy slopes in season. “It’s an atmosphere for creative excitement and adrenaline,” says Chef Rousey. “When we’ve got 3,000 people on the mountain coming here for dinner, it’s nice to be the catalyst for that.”
Pastrami Salmon is one of the highlights from the appetizer menu, “Shareables.” Salmon, cured in an herb-based seasoning similar to that traditionally used on pastrami, gives the fresh fish a unique flavor, accompanied by pickle chips brined in-house, citrus crème fraîche, and sirniki (Russian-style pancakes).
Burgers are anything but boring at Eagle & The Owl—the Pancho combines a house-ground burger with guacamole, pepper jack, red onion, a pico de gallo-buttermilk sauce, and arugula in a tomato tortilla. Turn it into a Lefty by adding a Tequila Shooter.
“This year we started making all of our own breads,” Chef Rousey says. “We make a focaccia-style bun for our Focaccia Burger with bacon jam, our house-cured bacon smoked for several hours with apple and hickory, banana peppers that we pickle, smoked Gouda, lettuce, and tomato.” There’s a story behind the sauce, Stoudt Bar-B-Que Beast, that pulls it all together.
“I come out to the dining room often—that’s how I’ve met so many people and built relationships,” says Chef Rousey. “That’s how I met two ladies from Waynesboro who make a barbeque sauce called Bar-B-Que Beast. In competitions, it’s come in fifth out of 300 or 400 competitors. They are passionate about it; it’s really good and it’s local. It’s now one of our staple items.”
Although the menu changes seasonally, New York Strip is a constant, classic menu entrée featuring 1855 brand steaks hailing from Pennsylvania farms. The tender steak is accompanied by Ike’s 16 sauce, slow-cooked (you guessed it) in-house. Greens are paired with the entrée in two ways—Haricot Verts and Caesar Salad, featuring a unique breaded, fried egg. “It’s all things Caesar, but with a twist,” says Chef Rousey.
Chef Rousey’s career path took a twist of its own in the late ‘80s. When the recession hit, he traded in his computer/tech industry job for a position at a little Italian restaurant in New Jersey. That was 29 years ago, and Chef Rousey hasn’t looked back. “I landed a job at a four-star kitchen in Hartford, Conn. The chef had worked for Wolfgang Puck and he propelled me into a passion for food,” he says.
He returned to his native North Carolina for several positions including executive chef at Wilmington Country Club for 10 years. He says the move to Liberty Mountain Resort several years ago was a welcome “adventure.”
“From Your Own Hand and Heart”
“We have a great working relationship, bouncing ideas off each other, and the end result is that everyone feels good about putting out a dish,” says Executive Sous Chef Josh Spataro, 36. He personally created the Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots, featuring house-made potato tots, jalapeños, tangy Caribbean barbeque sauce, house-cured bacon, and aged cheddar cheese.
“I think of Eagle & The Owl as a gastropub with rustic American health food,” Chef Spataro says. “What’s cool about the culinary field is putting smiles on people’s faces when you’ve created something from your own hand and heart.”
Fried Pecan Pie, Apple Cobbler, and a dessert called Chocolate Dome also put smiles on guests’ faces. Pastry Chef Marissa Tyler recently adapted the Chocolate Dome to create a new dessert. The S’mores Dome is anchored by a buttery graham cracker cake on the bottom, a chocolate glaze center filled with chocolate ganache, topped with a toasted marshmallow and graham cracker, all drizzled with chocolate sauce and fresh berries.
“We try to take classic desserts and make them unique,” says Chef Tyler. “The S’mores Dome is like having a taste of summer, in the winter.”
Chef Tyler says she appreciates the ability to have creative input at Eagle & The Owl—exactly the atmosphere Chef Rousey set out to create. “Having the staff involved creatively gets them fired up and excited. That brings camaraderie and a good team,” says Chef Rousey. Sounds like a house-made recipe
Eagle & The Owl Public House
Liberty Mountain Resort
78 Country Club Trail, Carroll Valley