Louie Weideman, maitre d’ at “Linger Longer Steakhouse,” served some super supper clubs in Michigan before front-dooring his current version of high cotton in Lake Oconee, Georgia. Weideman, 75, greeted the greats at the Townsend Hotel’s “Rugby Grille” in Birmingham; answered the door buzzer at the speak easy-style cigar lounge above Big Rock Chophouse in the same tony town; and spent two seasons seating swells for Grand Hotel at “The Woods” on Mackinac Island. It was his tenure at Ritz-Carlton Dearborn which earned him an invitation to linger at the luxuriously low-key Ritz-Carlton Lodge Reynolds Plantation’s premier restaurant, where he uncorks his wisdom and wit along with the wine.
“I first thought the Georgia climate would be too hot for me but it’s been a wonderful experience,” said cue ball bald Weideman while subtly slipping “sirs” into his dialogue as I sipped Stag’s Leap after chef Chris Heath’s grilled pork belly, southern BLT stack salad, and braised short ribs with jalapeno creamed corn. Bourbon crème brulee was on the way and Louie, in the classic role of old-style steward colored the cuisine and cuvee with commentary.
Reynolds Plantation is hot, alright, with new ownership reinvesting in its’ colossal collection of lakes and links: 374 miles of shoreline around the fingers of a 20-mile long lake and 117 holes of golf just 90 miles east of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport – a Delta Airlines hub. Golf and boating – often thought to be mutually exclusive – are easily both pursuable on the same day due to the close proximity of each for homeowners and resort guests. Four full-service marinas with boat rentals and six golf courses never seem overly crowded since a Reynolds lifestyle – or visit – also includes fishing, swimming pools, tennis, fitness centers, spas fire pits and 21 miles of walking trails.
A complete golf experience might include a high-tech custom club-fitting at the resort’s TaylorMade Kingdom, followed by some surprisingly candid, colorful instruction and video analysis from acclaimed teacher Charlie King at Reynolds Golf Academy, then 18 holes on the scenic, peaceful and playable Oconee Course designed by Rees Jones. I loved the babbling brooks, sweeping scenery, gorgeous set back homes, and the quiet terrain. The dogwoods and pine trees plus the aromas are reminiscent of nearby Augusta National Golf Club. Other courses by Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Jim Engh and Bob Cupp are in the Reynolds repertoire, but they were for another day. After all, I figured I’d earned an evening appointment in Louie’s domain for a bespoke single malt scotch and stogie. You can, too, by logging on to ReynoldsPlantation.com for lakefront luxury – for life like Louie as a Reynolds resident – or a vacation like me.
Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at InviteYourself@aol.com or via TravelTattler.com His talk show can be heard weekday mornings in Lansing on 92.1 FM and Fox 47 TV.