At last, Fall is officially here and gone are100 plus degree days and sweltering nights. As the autumn sun begins to cast longer shadows over empty wheatfields and rocky western landscapes, now is a perfect time for a comfortable drive in the country, sitting outside to take the air and a time to savor the richness of friendships and the bounty of late summer harvests. Just about one hour due west of the metro lies a destination restaurant which is perfect for these pursuits.
White Dog Hill lies just east of Clinton Oklahoma ( Exit 71 on Interstate 40 then left on the service road until you see a white vintage pickup parked next to a red dirt road, turn right up the road to the restaurant.) Originally built as a country club and golf course in the 1920′s, the red sandstone structure crests a small hill overlooking the valley below and the city of Clinton to the West. The sandstone was quarried onsite and the quarry itself became part of the bulding’s lower floor supported by hugh wooden beams and braced with floor to ceiling mullioned windows These give onto a broad gravel semi circular courtyard filled with lavender bushes and fragrant rosemary . Furnished with adirondack chairs, this is the perfect perch from which to relax with a cocktail and contemplate the spectacular sunsets. Once the sun as passed the horizon, guests repair to the dining rooms on two levels to order from a small but well prepared menu of western specialties. There is also an a la carte special offered each day ( these run out quickly so order early or even by telephone when you call for a reservation).
After the meal, diners can retreat to an adjacent building which was once the caretakers house and is now an eclectic bar. The bar is known for is interesting mix of music, exotic drinks and a host of small intimate spaces both indoors and al fresco which are condusive to good conversation and relaxation. There are fireplaces, stoves and firepits to chase the cold of an early autumn evening and in the distance the lights of the city dance in the shimmer of lingering heat on the desert.
The building fell into disrepair and neglect during prohibition and was abandonded. Later, it led colorful lives as a honkey tonk, dance hall, gambling den and brothel. Any evidence of a golf course was quickly reclaimed by the desert and the buildings sat alone, swept by tumbleweeds and tornados for over a decade. At the trun of the century, it was rediscovered by its current owner and went through a lengthy period of restoration decoration before debuting as White Dog Hill. The restauant’s motto is “come for the view…stay for the food”! Both are worth the drive.
For a complete review with photos, go to route66food.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/white-dog-hill.