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Snake River Grill on a budget, or not
Jackson Hole, Wyo.-Yes, the valley’s only restaurant to have had its chef nominated as “Best Chef: Northwest” by the James Beard Foundation three years running is where you want your visiting family to take you (assuming they’re paying). But you can also take yourself to the Snake River Grill. And you can do it without breaking the bank. Of course this means skipping the alcohol—even the delicious Honey Badger cocktail (Glenfiddich Scotch, Amaro Nonino, honey syrup, lemon, $12). It doesn’t mean leaving hungry or unsatisfied though.
It wasn’t on the menu last week, but earlier this winter there was tomato soup topped with a “crouton” that was pretty much half of a grilled cheese sandwich. It cost $9 and was a simple but filling meal. There’s also a steak tartar pizza—this being Wyoming, of course we put raw meat on our pizza—that is always on the menu and is easily big and filling enough for two to share. It’s $20. So you can get your own soup and split a pizza with a friend and spend $20. I bet you spend much more than that in a single night at the Brew Pub. And you don’t have to shout across the table at the Grill. (Although I recommend sitting at the bar, which is first-come/first-served.)
When you’re in the mood to splurge there are three words you must know: Crispy Pork Shank ($31). There are several things on the menu that are more expensive (a 10-ounce New York Strip for $48, elk tenderloin medallions for $54…), but when your purpose is to get the best thing, the crispy pork shank is (arguably) it: crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. Even if the pork itself tasted like ass, which it doesn’t, of course, the textures alone could carry this dish.
When you’re having a dining event, you don’t just get the best entrée though. You also get a bunch of stuff to share with the table. Four to six people can easily enjoy one steak tartar pizza, which includes red onions, capers, parsley, lemon and sea salt in addition to raw prime beef (New York sirloin cut).
It’s rolled out to order and cooked on the clay floor of a 700-degree oven. (Sharing this among as many people as possible is a good idea as the restaurant rightly prefers you not take raw meat home in a doggie bag.)
And then you’ll want a couple of small plates, also for the table. My current favorites are also my perennial favorites: truffle fries and Brussels sprouts.
The former, served in the cutest cast iron mini-cauldron you’ll ever see (and perhaps the only cast iron mini-cauldron you’ll ever see), are shoestring fries topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano, thyme and sea salt ($9). The latter ($7) is the reason I am now addicted to Brussels sprouts.
Prior to a friend making me try these, I had thought the vegetable soggy and sulfurous. Now I think it sublime. Don’t be ashamed to ask for extra Red Eye Aioli, which it’s served with. It could make tree bark tasty. And if you’re truly, truly on a budget, you won’t be the first person to sit at the bar here and order only Brussels sprouts.
But a more complete budget meal would be the Brussels sprouts and a shared steak tartar pizza or 10-ounce burger topped with cheese and bacon ($18). The latter isn’t on the menu but it is available most nights. The burger has the added benefit of coming with a heaping pile of fries, which you can upgrade to truffle fries for a nominal cost.