When the Lake Norfork Dam was completed in 1944, it changed the lives of residents and attracted new visitors to enjoy the area. Seventy-one years later, Lake Norfork changed the lives of a couple who were looking to settle down.
Richard and Kim Quiblier were working for a company that catered for professional golf events when they decided the years of traveling across the nation needed to change. Most of all, they wanted to be able to have a dog. The couple did an internet search for small resorts for sale and found Whispering Woods on Lake Norfork. The resort was built in the 1940s by Cecil and Irene Jennings to house workers for the dam construction. The stone building in the center of the resort was the original wash house for cabin guests. The restaurant was originally a country store. After one visit to the resort, they bought it, quit their jobs and moved to Arkansas on June 29, 2015. One of their first action items before settling in was to adopt Cooper, the couple’s dog.
Since that time, the couple has lovingly restored, expanded and updated the restaurant and the 11 tastefully decorated cabins. They have also added a patio that provides a relaxing area for guests to gaze at Lake Norfork. Live music is typically on the entertainment menu on Thursday and Sunday evenings.
During my visit, a couple of patrons raved about the wonderful fare and service at The Grill at Whispering Woods.
The dining room features a new American feel with abundant natural light that provides a warm coziness to accompany the great food.
“We use the freshest ingredients possible in our food and locally source as many items as we can,” said Richard, a veteran chef. “We add flair to our menu items that make them special for our guests.”
My dining experience began with a serving of bacon-wrapped dates. These bites of goodness have candied bacon wrapped around delectable warm dates with a balsamic glaze that makes the wonderful flavors explode with each bite. I also tried the Tuna Carpaccio, which was a lovely ahi tuna appetizer drizzled with a house-made horseradish that enhanced the fabulous flavor of the tuna.
As I completed the appetizers I was treated to a beautiful sunset over Lake Norfork.
My first entrée was the Pan-Seared Amberjack. This plate was stunning.
The perfectly prepared Amberjack filet was topped with tomatoes, basil and capers and served with creamed spinach and wild rice. This is definitely an A-plus menu item.
The Whispering Woods is also well known for its steaks. I sampled the hand-cut, Black Angus, bone-in filet steak (you can get a 14, 18 or 23 oz. cut) which was topped with a house-made tarragon butter and served with asparagus and a loaded baked potato. The tender cut of steak was very good, and the green peppercorn compound butter added a new taste dimension.
The restaurant offers fresh, homemade desserts that vary from day to day. I tried the Lemon Margarita Cake. This creation has layers of citrus sponge cake, lemon cheese cake and lemon cream, and is topped with toasted coconut. It was six layers of lemony perfection.
The grand finale was a slice of Banoffee Pie. Kim told me they brought Banoffee Pie to Arkansas, so I was excited to give it a try. I’m glad I did. It features a graham cracker crust and homemade caramel filling topped with a layer of ganache chocolate, a layer of sliced bananas and topped with whipped cream. This is my new favorite pie!
“This is the first and last place we plan to own,” the Quibliers said. “We plan to be here until we retire.”
Stop by The Grill at Whispering Woods and let Richard, Kim and their great staff provide you with a first-class dining experience in an atmosphere that will feed your soul while you enjoy a superb meal.
Dining recommendations? Contact Rob Roedel at firstname.lastname@example.org