Ta da! You can almost hear the fanfare as you pull through the gates and drive onto the former Hoover estate. Follow the road as it winds through a park-like setting, past a charming inn, then up a steep hill to a rustic lodge dubbed Fieldcrest of North Canton.
Those weary of dining in shopping centers and strip malls will find respite at the weekly brunch served in this impressive log building, which Herbert W. Hoover Sr. patterned after his favorite hunting lodge in Colorado.
And if you eat too much — a distinct possibility based on the array offered the day I visited — you can burn a few calories by strolling around the estate grounds.
The brunch opened in 2008 in a partnership with the now defunct Benjamin’s Grille. Currently, Executive Chef Paul Lincoln and his small staff create all the food for the Sunday brunch as well as for special events at Fieldcrest.
“We’re a full-service event center — weddings, baby showers, corporate affairs — 60 to 220 people,” Lincoln said. “The food for the brunch is family fare, but we do all levels of service and product, from seviche to calamari. I don’t carve ice, and I don’t bake, but I do everything else.”
The brunch menu changes a bit week to week based on seasonal offerings and includes desserts by
local bakers. The standard brunch dishes are here, from made-to-order waffles and omelets to the baked chicken and pasta. But there are surprises sprinkled throughout the impressive selection. One of my favorites was the meltingly tender roast pork with flat Italian green beans braised in tomato sauce and served over mashed potatoes. Homey and satisfying.
“A couple of our signature items are our roasted redskin Lodge Potatoes, the roast sirloin on the carving station, and our beautiful fresh seasonal fruit displays,” Lincoln said.
Of the breakfast fare, I gave high marks to the perfectly seasoned sausage gravy over biscuits. But the culinary highlight of my visit came from the most recent addition to the brunch buffet — the made-to-order pasta bar, manned by Lincoln himself.
Diners can choose from half a dozen sauces and dozens of add-ins. My heavenly carbonara with penne was studded with diced shrimp, chicken, bacon and onion and finished with heavy cream and cheese. It was an indulgence worth the price of admission.
My husband ordered the pesto sauce and told Lincoln to throw in whatever he wanted. The result was an explosion of flavors so arresting we found ourselves chewing slower and slower, so as to prolong the experience.
Lincoln is a wizard at coordination, deftly sautéing, stirring, and flipping three skillets at once, all the while chatting up the guests and keeping an eye on the other buffet stations. He has help from his extended family. His brother, John Lincoln, is his sous chef, and his son David Wnoroski and nephew Nowell Lincoln take turns manning the omelet station. Manager Janet Mohler says their repeat business is due in large part to Lincoln.
“It’s his food, but it’s his personality too,” Mohler said. “How he is with the customers, that’s the way he is all the time, even in the kitchen, where the public can’t see him. I don’t know how he handles all that stress.”
The brunch is $17 for adults, $9 for children ages 4-12, free for children 3 and younger. Part of that price is for the ambiance of the 86-year-old lodge, from the soaring ceiling with magnificent chandeliers to the cavernous stone fireplace. The red tartan plaid carpeting is on theme with the lodge, the pink paisley curtains less so. Don’t miss the restrooms, down the stairs with the antler chandelier.
Huge, on theme, and spotlessly clean.
Fieldcrest is at 1346 Easthill St. SE.
Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are recommended.
Call 330-966-222. For additional information, visit www.fieldcrestofnc.org.