Once we had toured the Oregon Caves, it was time for lunch in the historic Oregon Caves Chateau! The Oregon Caves Chateau was built in 1934, in order to provide the tourists visiting the cave with lodging and meals. The Chateau was designed and built by Gust Lium, a local contractor with no formal training. His talents were recognized by the Forest Service, and he was responsible for several projects within the Siskiyou National Forest in Southern Oregon, where the Oregon Caves are located.
The Chateau is six stories tall, built over a steep ravine. The location makes its appearance a bit misleading, because when viewed from one direction, you can see all six stories, but from the front entrance, only the top three stories are visible. The Chateau has 23 guest rooms, and also houses a dining room and coffee shop. In front of one of the entrances to the coffee shop is a courtyard with a pond.
The style is considered National Park Rustic, with cedar siding on the exterior of the building, giving it a shaggy appearance. Inside, the Chateau has the largest public collection of Mason Monterey furniture, made by the Mason Manufacturing Company in the 1930s. Much of the furniture is in original condition, although some has been restored. Although we didn’t stay at the Chateau this time (one day I will!), the rooms all maintain their original appearance, with steam heaters, and no telephones or televisions. Some people would call this dated, but I appreciate the intention of making sure there are places that stay true to history.
But this post is about the coffee shop. It was completed in 1937, with birch and maple counter tops on a counter that snakes around the dining room and vinyl stools, and it is almost entirely original! The knotty pine paneling is original, but the oak parquet floor that was constructed in the 1930s had to be replaced with a tile floor after a 1963 flood. We were there for a late lunch, so it wasn’t that busy when we got there and we were able to get 4 stools all together.
They serve typical diner fare with a Northwest twist, but their signature items are the milkshakes and malts! They make them from real, hard ice cream and there is a long list of flavors that you can choose from. I am a purist, so I went with the chocolate. Each milkshake is huge, arriving in a full glass that is as big as the stainless steel cup it is made in. YUM!
I ordered the bison burger, which was perfectly made (I asked for mine medium rare) and fries. Jon had the Chef salad. They have a variety of other burgers and sandwiches, chili, chicken strips and meatloaf. Although the menu is pretty heavy on the meat, there are some vegetarian options, as well as a vegan burger. And you can substitute a gluten free bun on any of the burgers or sandwiches.
I really enjoyed just sitting on the stool, eating my burger and shake and chatting with Jon and his parents. It was a real treat to enjoy a meal in this historic setting, and it reminded me that we need to take the time to just slow down and see and experience what is right in front of you.
Have you stayed at the Oregon Caves Chateau or dined there?