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The Gamekeeper Revamped With New Wine Cellar, Tacky Gifts From Customers & More


Ken and Wendy Gordon, owner of The Gamekeeper

By Jesse Wood


The Gamekeeper abided by the “farm-to-table” concept before it was trendy, and well, a thought-out concept. As co-owner Wendy Gordon said, “I just hate that term. It should be how people eat anyway.”

But she doesn’t hate all the awards that keep coming The Gamekeeper’s way.

Along with several recognitions this year, The Gamekeeper, located in between Boone and Blowing Rock, has experienced quite a facelift, including renovations and a new bar menu during its 15th anniversary year.

The vineyard room has new cork floors, and handmade ash tables, which were crafted by local woodworker Allen Dawson, are in the dining room. Fresh coats of paint, deck work and new, unique flowerbeds and water cisterns weren’t the only other additions either.

The biggest change is the new wine cellar, which will be “christened” in about a month, according Cheryl Westbrook, a spokesperson with The Gamekeeper. It will be able to hold 900 bottles of wine.

Space will be saved in this sweet wine cellar for patrons to purchase and store their wines – sort of “like a wine club,” Wendy said.

But perhaps the tackiest change is all of the gifts given to owners, Ken and Wendy Gordon, to decorate the restaurant and bar on Shulls Mill Road. They have received an old school Atari game case compartment, a spiny wheel thing that has red poms poms attached and other stuff I don’t know how to describe.

The Gamekeeper traded folks $15 off and free appetizers in exchange for a tacky gift for Wendy to decorate the restaurant with and a number of customers took them up on the offer. Check out the establishment’s Facebook page to see some of the hilarious gifts.

“I got some awesome tacky gifts, fabulous, all kinds of crazy stuff,” Wendy said.

The new bar menu features 10 items under $8, including shark bites, smoked-duck egg rolls, antelope ravioli and more. Wendy mentioned a boar-style pig in the blanket with homemade mustard, ostrich sliders with chow chow and bison empanadas.

“It’s our take on classic bar food,” Wendy said.

About those awards …

It’s almost a broken record but The Gamekeeper earns awards, it seems, every other month. The Gamekeeper received its ninth annual AAA Diamond Award in January, which goes to the “finest hotels and restaurants in the world,” according to AAA Carolinas CEO David Parsons.

TripAdvisor awarded the restaurant its prestigious “Certificate of Excellence” for 2015. This recognition is earned through consistently great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor’s website.

The Gamekeeper was selected as one of local restaurants to be featured in Open Table Diners’ Choice Awards. The Diners’ Choice Award lists are designed to celebrate top-rated restaurants after being selected based on real feedback from diners.

Also, a number of blogs, including OnlyinYourState.com and TheCultureTrip.com recommended The Gamekeeper as one of the top restaurants in North Carolina.

“They take full advantage of what their location has to offer, making use of all sorts of local, organic ingredients in their ever-changing and always exhilarating menu. Meat lovers will love the choices here, as they offer dishes with all sorts of exotic meats, like ostrich, wild boar, and elk, all excellently prepared. However, they also cater to vegetarians with, for example, an exquisite cheese plate or a veggie plate full of everything that they can find in the nearby mountains,” according to the TheCultureTrip.com’s post titled North Carolina’s 10 Best Restaurants: A Foodie’s Guide.

OnlyinYourState.com wrote, “You haven’t experienced the High Country until you’ve dined at The Gamekeeper. Serving, yes you guessed it, a wide selection of game, this rustic mountain eatery is a mingling of elegance and Appalachian charm.”

Wendy also noted that Open Table ranked The Gamekeeper among the top 50 restaurants in the country.

“That is awesome,” Wendy said, reflecting on the many awards the restaurant earns each year.

Don’t forget The Gamekeeper, which is known for its elegant, yet unpretentious charm, also caters and is open for weddings rehearsal diners and the like.

The Gamekeeper is located at 3005 Shull’s Mill Road. For more information, click to http://gamekeeper-nc.com/ or to its Facebook page or call 828-963-7400.





Awesome tacky gifts.
“Thank you to some very special diners who bequeathed us with an authentically signed picture of Nascar Rock Star #43 – Richard Petty. Notice how he listed the Gk’s best bartenders. Who’s your personal favorite?” The Gamekeeper posted on its Facebook page.
Ken with his new Atari compartment case for the old school games. He looks pretty stoked.
ALong with great selection of beer and liquor, The Gamekeeper features a new bar menu with 10 items under eight bucks.


New cork floor and ash tables and fresh paint.