Monday, May 24, 2010

My Wyoming Food Adventures

I'm back everyone! Did you miss me?

I am happy to report that I had a fabulous vacation, filled with some amazing scenery and beautiful wildlife, but also plenty of good eating. Jackson is a culinary goldmine and I never had a bad meal there.

(For non-food photos, click here. Kevin's photos will be on our website soon too. For non-food talk of my entire trip,go here.)

We arrived in town on Sunday afternoon. It was 4PM and we were starving. It was too late for lunch, but early for dinner - unless you're on NY time. We realized we would just have to have a "linner" somewhere.

We ended up at The Cadillac Grille. The Cadillac is three restaurants in one. On one side is Billy's Giant Burgers, a very casual, family-oriented spot. This place is beloved by the locals as the best burger in town. On the other side is the Cadillac Grille Dining Room. This is the more upscale restaurant. In between is the Cadillac Lounge. It's the bar area and it serves alcohol (which Billy's does not) as well as both burgers from Billy's along with some of the appetizers from the Dining Room. We sat in the lounge, which has a rather interesting color scheme.

I ordered a cheeseburger off of the Billy's menu. I'm not sure it's quite as good as its reputation would suggest. It could have been a bit juicier, but I did enjoy it. The french fries that accompanied it were not so good. They were crispy, but had a dry texture. I like my fries to feel a little greasy.

The next day was spent driving all over Yellowstone with a tour guide. It was a very long day and we weren't able to get out for dinner until almost 9. Fortunately Jackson stays open for business pretty late. We decided to try the highly-recommended Snake River Grill. We were very glad we did.

SRG is a lovely restaurant. It has beautiful rustic decor that hides the degree of sophistication in the food.

We both started with a salad of spring greens, avocado, and fregola. It was an interesting combination, but it all worked really well together.

Next I had succulent short ribs on top of an olive oil pomme puree`. The wine reduction was a bit different from many other restaurants serve. It was topped with a lemon-parsley persillade that really made it special.

Kevin had trout topped with a sort of southwestern succotash.

I wanted something light for dessert, so I went for passionfruit sorbet with little almond tuilles on top and a puff of coconut whipped cream.

I wish I had ordered Kevin's dessert. It was brownie ice cream sandwiches covered in chocolate with caramel sauce on the side.

Our server, Paco, was incredibly charming and cheerful throughout the night. He almost seemed to be putting on a show.

We liked this place so much, we nicknamed it Iron Forge West.*

Tuesday we toured Grand Teton. We had lunch at the Signal Mountain Lodge where I ate my first elk chili. I didn't take my camera with me unfortunately. Too bad since the views from the dining room were spectacular. The chili was good, but if you hadn't told me it wasn't beef chili, I wouldn't have known.

Tuesday night we tried Trio American Bistro. It was conveniently one block down from our hotel.

Trio doesn't try to fit in with the Jackson decor with log cabin or cowboy themes. It goes for a minimalist hip urban look.

I started my meal with a nice asparagus salad topped with paremesan, fried onions, and truffle oil.

My entree was a tad disappointing. It was a pork chop with a cherry balsamic glaze garnished with cippollini onions and bits of apple. The problem was that it was just a bit too salty. I don't think the sweetness of the apples or the cherries came though enough because the chef used too much salt. If he had cut back a bit, the dish would have been perfect. I'd say 10 points for the idea, but 7 for the execution.

Dessert was a very nice (and very large) creme brulee` flavored with vanilla and orange.

Kevin had an arugula salad to start, which he said was too vinegary, a piece of halibut that he didn't seem to have an opinion of one way or the other, and an apple tart that he merely remarked was very large. He liked this place less than I did.

Wednesday we started the day with horseback riding, but Kevin wasn't feeling well in the afternoon. For dinner that night we opted to stay close to home and had dinner at our hotel. The Wort Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places and the bar has an illustrious past as both a neighborhood watering hole and a gambling parlor.

Their restaurant, The Silver Dollar Grille, is simply decorated with works of art from local artists along with the hotel's signature wagon wheel chandeliers and the bar's signature silver dollars embedded into the furniture.

I skipped the first course and opted for a buffalo filet.

This was absolutely delicious. The filet was beautifully prepared with a perfect crust on the outside that held all the sweet goodness of the port-wine and fig reduction that sauced it.

Kevin had root vegetable lasagne in a creamy sauce. Very unlike him, but he says he liked it. Back in NY, I'm usually the one who has trouble with menus because the nicer restaurants are full of seafood. In Jackson, there was never much seafood, but plenty of red meat, which I love, but he doesn't.

Dessert was a sweet huckleberry tart. Just like I felt like I couldn't stay in Jackson and not eat buffalo, I also couldn't stay in Jackson and not eat huckleberries. Nice buttery crust here.

Kevin's dessert had oreos, ice cream, caramel sauce, and I'm not sure what else. It certainly looked good!

Thursday morning we had breakfast at The Bunnery. This place is dangerous! You walk in and you are surrounded by counters full of baked goods. One side is all cakes and beautiful pies. The other side is every kind of breakfast pastry imaginable - plain croissants, filled croissants, sticky buns, cinnamon rolls, almond twists, cinnamon twists, muffins of all sorts - along with cookies, brownies, and lemon squares.

If you sit down to eat for breakfast, you are confronted with too many good choices. They make their own breads, waffles, and pancakes with their signature OSM (oats, sunflower, millet) flour. They have all sorts of egg dishes, including having your eggs with a breakfast pastry (croissant, coffee cake) instead of toast.

I had a Garden Benedict. This was an OSM bun topped with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and peppers and covered with fried eggs and hollandaise sauce. Can't say enough good things about it. The orange juice was fresh squeezed.

Thursday night I thought we should try some place a bit more casual than what we had been eating. There are a few Thai places in town and Thai is my favorite Asian cuisine, so we ventured out to find and try one. We ended up at Thai Me Up.

How can I resist a restaurant whose name is a pun and has this silly little vehicle in front?

The decor is pretty cool. I wish this photo captured how the bar was lit a bit better.

The humor doesn't end with the name of the restaurant. You need to read the entire menu all of the way through. You will laugh your head off.

We split an appetizer of spring rolls. We had peanut sauce and a seriously spicy chili sauce for dipping.

My entree was a lemongrass and ginger coconut curry. The menu claimed it was a special dish made via mortar and pestle and that it had limited availablity. I had no problem ordering it. I wanted a change from the usual coconut curry. Although this was advertised as spicy, it was rather mild, but very tasty.

Oh look! They found Bigfoot in the Tetons. Too bad they ended up shooting him and serving up his penis on a plate.

Oops. Sorry. It's just my dessert of a coconut-coated, fried banana. Yummy.

We went back to the Bunnery for breakfast the next morning. We were in a hurry because we were on our way to a Snake River float trip. We went for a takeout breakfast. It was nutritious. Really it was. Take my word for it. Okay. *Quicky turns away and wipes sticky bun glaze off face*

Friday night was our last night so we wanted to go somewhere fancy again. This time it was back to the Cadillac, but in the Dining Room this time.

Once again I skipped the appetizer and headed straight for the entree. I opted for a game mixed grill.

This was an elk t-bone, a buffalo NY strip, and wild boar sausage.

The elk t-bone was good. It mostly tasted like beef, but with just a subtle hint of something else. The buffalo was not nearly as well-prepared as the one I had at the Silver Dollar. It was somewhat gristly. When the server asked me how I felt about the meats, she said many customers said the same thing about the elk and the buffalo. The real standout here was the sausage. It was spicy and delicious - definitely the best meat on the plate.

Dessert was disappointing. I had a chocolate lava cake that was not sufficiently warm. The chocolate did not ooze out properly and the bottom of the cake was cold. It's hard to believe the worst dessert I had all week was the chocolate one.

Kevin had duck breast for dinner and apple tart for dessert. It was hard not to ask him why he never eats duck when I serve it to him!

My trip would have been wonderful even if the food had been horrible, but all of the delicious meals I ate in Jackson really put the icing on the proverbial cake. Not only was the food amazing, but we never had bad service in any restaurant. Everyone was prompt, courteous, and friendly. If you haven't been to Jackson, go for the mountains, go for the shopping, go for the art, and go for the wildlife, but make sure you don't neglect the restaurants!

*For those of you who may be new to this blog and don't understand the significance of the Iron Forge Inn, go here, here and here.


The Blonde Duck said...

I can't believe you ate elk chili. That burger at the first diner looked wickedly good!

bellini valli said...

What's a holiday without delicious food. So glad you had a great time!!!!

CookiePie said...

I love that you're such an adventurous eater! And I love the look of that huckleberry tart -- huckleberries are the BEST!

Emily said...

Nobody commented about the penis joke?!

That was hilarous. I liked it.

Everything looks really, really good, and your pictures are good too. Thank you for the recap. I'm glad you guys had a good time.

I'm so very curious about the huckleberry dessert. What do they taste like? I'm guessing... like a tart blueberry?

Sue said...

I have to admit I missed the male organ reference the first time I read your amazing post. Thanks, Em, for highlighting it.

I am in awe of your fantastically complete chronicling of your meals. Just posting all the pictures alone took ages, I'm sure.

I loved hearing about the buffalo. And it's great that there is so much quality dining and that it's not all chains. This is a great list of restaurants to keep handy. Kudos.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Duckie - It was a bit of a risk, but really not all the different from regular chili.

VAl - Thanks. It was a blast all around.

Cookie - I was a dummy not to take some huckleberry goods home like the jams and such. They were really good.

Em - Sick minds think alike! I knew a few people would appreciate that joke.

Huckleberries are sweeter than I expected them to be. Sort of like really sweet blackberries. I miss them!

Sue - The photos are chronicles have been an obsession for both of us since we came home! I had to get this blog up right away so I wouldn't foget all of hte places I ate.

Would you believe that Jackson has almost no chain restaurants? There are none in the town center and I can't even recall seeing any as we drove out of town - not even a McDonalds.