Gerard Thompson knows how to surprise a guest, but only in the best possible way.
Thompson is the chef at Rough Creek Lodge, a luxury ranch resort about 15 minutes south of Glen Rose (that’s perhaps 90 miles southwest of Dallas and 75 minutes or so south of Fort Worth).
Thompson’s cooking will wow you, changing any pre-conceived notions of what a ranch stay is like around here. With such brunch dishes as country fried Texas quail with poached eggs, green-onion biscuits and chile-fired hollandaise, you figure out really quickly that this is not your grandpa’s dude ranch.
You go to Rough Creek for a luxury experience, first and foremost, but you don’t take a coat and tie. Set on the 11,000-acre Chalk Mountain Ranch, this is a resort that gives discerning travelers choices that deviate from the standard giddy-up experience found at most Texas ranch escapes.
Yes, you can certainly ride a horse (and the ones in the Rough Creek stable – with names like Trixie and Cat – are superb), but you can also shoot sporting clays, hunt game birds in season, fish, canoe, fly down a zip line, and get a first-rate massage in a serene spa, too. Heck, with a lovely chapel on site, you can even get married here.
Mostly, however, you book a stay at Rough Creek Lodge just to eat Thompson’s food. Morning, noon and night, he will pamper your palate in ways you’ll never forget. Everything – right down to your morning bagels – are made in the Rough Creek kitchen.
Among my favorite of Thompson’s dishes is his pan-roasted Hudson Valley foie gras, which he served last Saturday evening as an appetizer with whipped sweet potatoes, barbecued duck, and persimmon chutney on a black-pepper biscuit. He also makes an irresistible pork T-bone, soaked in molasses and bourbon, then grilled over oak. Thompson serves it with a sweet corn and wild mushroom hash.
The menu changes daily, guided by whatever Thompson likes among the freshest available products. More often than not, you can finish your meal – as I’ve done more time than I should – with his Valrhona chocolate lava cake, which gets a new twist from house-made peanut butter ice cream.
You can walk off your meals on hikes along the rolling landscape or work it scaling a rock-climbing wall. If it’s too cold out, you can loaf by a roaring fire in the main lodge. Me? I like to lazily doze off in a sublime suite overlooking the lake or in one of the swell new cottages, which are on the rustic side. I just make sure I’m up in time for that incredible breakfast.
June Naylor is State Fare Editor of EscapeHatchDallas. A Fort Worth-based food writer, cookbook author and restaurant critic, June has been a journalist on the Texas food scene for more than 20 years. Join her on one of her culinary adventures:TexasToastCulinaryTours.com.