A Tahoe phenomenon occurs on any given sunny weekend around noon at Homewood. “It’s ready, I can smell it,” yells a woman toward her husband. He’s standing in the Quail Chair lift line. Upon hearing her news, he clicks out of his skis, throws them in a nearby snow bank – clearly and abruptly abandoning his plan to keep skiing.
“Run ahead of us and grab a table,” he tells his wife in a tone of combined excitement and panic. Unzipped ski jacket flailing, he is now three steps ahead of their four kids and attempting to dignify his ski boot clad half run/half walk. His C3PO robot-speed-walk is his only hope of beating the salivating mob closing in on him, all headed toward the South Lodge deck.
What is going on?
As a vegetarian, I’ll admit to driving blind on the art of grilled meats; however, bearing witness to the Pavlovian response of approximately 200 guests downwind of the South Lodge, it’s apparent that people are not only trained; they are addicted to Homewood’s barbecue.
There are three plates available for lunch at Homewood’s South Lodge barbecue: sirloin, half of a chicken, or a combo plate of the two aforementioned. All three options are served with a garden salad and homemade garlic bread. Sounds simple enough. Hardly.
Homewood prides itself on three steak gospels: 1) Stop calling it “steak”. This is choice sirloin. 2) Only use six-month aged choice sirloin. 3) Never, never add barbecue sauce. “It’s all in the spice rub,” said Chris Patrick, Homewood’s chef. It wasn’t what he said, but how he said it: he actually stopped tending the huge mounds of roast beast, removed his sunglasses, and whispered this. And he was serious. Homewood’s special spice rub, slow-cook technique, and aged sirloin produce a dish analogous to epicurean nirvana.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Amber Kijanka, Homewood’s event manager. “It literally falls apart so easily that you don’t even need a knife,” she added in an increasingly distant tone, undoubtedly wishing for lunch.
Contrary to one’s first inkling, this is not a basic, boring bird devoid of character. The fowl burdened with a vanilla rep undergoes a glorious, flavorful transformation at Homewood’s weekend barbecue. “It’s a two-step process,” Chris Patrick explains with the joyous intensity of John Madden at the Super Bowl. “We grill the chicken first; then we steam it – not baste it – in beer,” he said. Of course. Beer. It makes the world turn. “This creates a nice, browned, crispy skin that covers a juicy, flavorful meat.
The grill itself is something to behold. At first glance, one might mistake it for medieval artillery. It’s huge. And at Homewood, propane and charcoal are publicly eschewed. “We only use a wood-fired barbecue,” said Ken Minkoff, Homewood’s Food & Beverage Manager/Barbecue Aficionado said with one hand on his hip, and the other thumbing toward the enormous pile of oak firewood behind him. “There’s just no other way,” he concluded quite definitively.
Eat at the Homewood Barbecue:
“Everyone must try Homewood’s barbecue. It’s unlike any lunch at the lake, and it is phenomenal,” said Kent Hoopingarner, Homewood’s General Manager. The South Lodge Barbecue fires up for lunch every Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, weather permitting. Skis and snowboards are optional; an appetite is mandatory.
- Grilled sirloin, garlic bread and salad – $12.
- 1/2 grilled chicken, garlic bread and salad – $12.
- Combo plate: sirloin, 1/2 grilled chicken, garlic bread and salad – $14.