Larkin’s on the Lake


By Dustin Swope – 2014

You don’t have to look very hard to find reasons to visit the town of Lake Lure. The pristine beach, crystal-clear water, and mountainous view in the distance make this place an excellent destination, whether it’s just for the day or as a rewarding vacation. Whatever your reason for visiting, there’s one restaurant that I don’t think anyone in the neighborhood should pass up: Larkin’s on the Lake.

Tucked away in one of the lakes many inlets overlooking its own private docks, Larkin’s is any easy spot for boaters to break for a casual lunch or tie the day off with a fresh meal. The same can be said for drivers along Highway 64, too. The restaurant’s parking lot is a quick turn off the road and hidden from approaching views by a strong tree line, so you might need to double back if you don’t already know where you’re headed. If you do manage to get turned around and into the parking lot, you’ll find your last-minute maneuver happily rewarded.

The restaurant is a two-story log cabin-style lake house by design, an apt aesthetic complement to the woods surrounding. The outside seating for co-occupant Bayside Bar and Grill on the first story continues the unpolished theme, but the restaurant of the second story is a class act. Not so much so that one feels underdressed in a t-shirt, but the interior decor at Larkins is by no means that of a roadside truck stop. The logged walls and carpeted floor do wonders to keep the noise level down, even in a full house of around thirty other diners. Not one component of the hardware at Larkin’s spoke of corners cut, from the table setting, to the furniture, and even the vintage decor lining the walls. And good luck maintaining any bad mood with a view like Larkin’s;I couldn’t help but enjoy myself.

The wait staff was also quite impressive during my visit to Larkin’s. Friendly but not intrusive, knowledgeable, happy to accommodate requests and dietary restrictions, and fast; what more could I ask for? Plenty of specialty drinks keep things interesting, like ice cream floats and margaritas that can make any hour of the day feel like five o’clock.

Essentially American offerings like babyback ribs, burgers, and a collection of grilled dishes take center stage, but I came here for the seafood. As a native Floridian, I may be out of my element when it comes to barbecue but I know my way around a fish filet and Larkin’s seafood combo platter (pictured below) was calling my name.




It might’ve had something to do with a 6:30am alarm or the hours of driving I’d clocked, but I found the portion size wanting, especially under a $24 price tag. To Larkin’s credit though, this meal was great! The shrimp weren’t otherworldly but they were large enough to carry flavor and texture, and the minimalist mashed potatoes were well-executed and a solid supporting act. The flounder was the real triumph though. Tender but composed, it separated cleanly for each bite. The seasoning was present and appreciated, and while far from tasting like low tide at the pier, the filet still retained the light flavor that assures diners that they’re actually eating seafood.

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t liked each element of the dish so much – it would’ve made the portion sizes much easier to get over.