One night, I decided that I wanted to visit New Hampshire. A week later, we loaded up the car and left for Labor Day weekend. It was an exhausting trip. We ended up skipping the hike up Mt. Washington given the 2hr drive from Lake Winnipesaukee. Our detour hike up Mt. Major was still fabulous nonetheless. Though we “slept” in and woke up around 9:30am each day, we were still exhausted. We ended up breaking the final drive home into two legs after we got lost and ended up in Boston. Luckily, we were able to pull into a service station and book a hotel in Stamford, CT courtesy of the free wifi at McDonalds (this is what happens when you refuse to get a smartphone). We couldn’t believe our luck- $30 for the night at a legit hotel? Well, the manager told us later on that he had accidentally entered the wrong price into the system and woke up from his nap to a $130 room being booked for $30. He was nice enough to honor our $30 price. But this is how most of the trip went- we were blessed and lucky to happen upon some good food at Lago, spectacular weather during our hike up Mt. Major and have the clouds clear away to some breathtaking views at Castle in the Clouds.
Mileage: 1,015 miles
Hours on road: +17hrs
Lago is most certainly a gem. Very few times do restaurants hit upon all four points- experience, taste, location and value- but Lago did it. Mark and I walked out agreeing that this was the best restaurant we’d ever been to together.
Before the bread is even served, you can grab a few crackers and slice your own cheese from a cutting board across from the hostess’s table. The ciabatta bread is mind numbingly amazing. It’s toasted slightly crisp on the outside but when you break into it, you’re literally pulling away fluff. It’s served with their rosemary infused olive oil, with a side of kosher salt, shaved parmesan and pepper. Delicioso.
Olio di Rosmarino e Aglio – Rosemary infused olive oil served with ciabatta
You can’t tell from this photograph, but we had a prime view of Lake Winnipesaukee from these windows. While the lake was indeed pretty, we were both captivated by the ambiance and decor inside. Details are littered abound. Each table has its unique design. The napkins have a double thin red line running through the corners. The candles aren’t just candles- they’re lamps and you can adjust the height of the flame.
Zucchine Fritte: Fresh zucchini with panko Parmesan crust. Spicy tomato sauce ($7)
We almost mistook these for mozzarella sticks. They’re actually thin slides of zucchini coated in a thick batter and fried. They were piping hot when they were first served but absolutely delicious.
UnCommon Sangria: OLE! By the glass or carafe – secret family recipe ($7/glass or $14/carafe)
The Sangria was probably my least favorite of everything we got. That being said, it wasn’t too bad. I thought there was a bit too much ice, which not only watered down the flavors, but also hurt my fillings. Still, for $14, we each got a full two glasses.
Bistecca di Lago: Seasoned, char-grilled steak with Gorgonzola butter ($19)
Mark’s first reaction to the steak was, “It could be better.” But the Gorgonzola butter completely changed everything. Mark actually abhors butter. In fact, I’ve never seen him eat it. In this case, however, he slathered the butter all over the steak, coating it with its richness. The only way I can begin describing this steak is through the Merovingian, who said, “You see, it’s like wiping your ass with silk, I love it.”
Spaghetti alla Carbonara: Pancetta, cream, peas, Parmesan and cracked black pepper ($14)
The Carbonara was to die for. I’ve never had such awesome carbonara. Given that it’s practically made with all cream and butter, you’d expect this to taste too rich after the first few bites. Nope, it was rich without being overboard and it took all of my willpower to stop myself from eating the whole thing. I thought my stomach was going to explode. They don’t skip out on the pancetta either. There’s a ton of it and it’s in thick chunks. We ended up boxing it and ate it for breakfast the next day. Microwaved, it tasted the same!
Cioccolato Budini: A rich dense chocolate ganache pudding, shortbread crust and espresso mascarpone cream, dusted with sea salt ($6)
We went with the server’s suggestion and got the budini. I can only describe it as a chocolate tart. The ganache was very, very dense, but the mascarpone helped mellow it out. This is the first time I’ve had ganache with mascarpone, and I think it works wonders more than cream. The best part about the whole dish was the sea salt. I could cry. It was so spectacular.
Perhaps it’s because we were at the restaurant for nearly 2.5 hours, but our server, Karen, dropped off two shots of Limoncello and some white chocolate before giving us the check. What a thoughtful gesture.
Mark and I were head over heels with our experience at Lago. We felt as if we ate like royalty and the check came out to around $75 including a 20% tip. With a lakeside view, an incredible ambiance and ridiculously delicious food, what a steal! You’re talking about appetizer, alcohol, two entrees and a dessert. We checked some nearby towns for similar restaurants but couldn’t find anything even remotely similar. One guy on Yelp put it precisely- “When looking for a nice elegant yet not stuffy place to enjoy a great meal in the lakes region, Lagos is your place.”
There’s not much to say about Mt. Major other than it offers some of the most breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesaukee. The summit is mostly rock with few trees, offering a gorgeous panoramic view of the lake. The hike itself is about an hour each way. It took us nearly three hours since we stopped to take pictures and eat lunch. This is a hike that’s totally doable with sneakers. Get here early on the weekends. It’s packed and parking overflows to the highway.
We took the blue trail up and the orange trail down. The blue trail is mostly pebbles with a well maintained path. There are some steep climbs toward the end that require using hands. The orange trail is known as the boulder trail. Both are very family friendly.
Castle in the Clouds
And with that, we were on our way home!
1 US Route 25
Meredith, NH 03253
Mount Major Hiking Info
Belknap, NH 03809
Wolfe’s Tavern Menu
90 North Main Street
Wolfeboro, NH 03894
Castle in the Clouds Website
455 Old Mountain Road
Moultonborough, NH 03254