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FEED ME! Haydens Post is best debut in years
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – For those of you who never had the pleasure of drinking yourself silly at The Shady Lady, once located both literally and metaphorically in the bowels of the Snow King Resort, let’s just say it was a wonderfully horrible place. It closed in … actually, I have no idea when it closed because I swore it off after a February 2004 evening there ended in the emergency room.
Vomit-stained floors. A perpetual haze of cigarette smoke. It was entirely possible to go to the bathroom only to walk in on a couple having skanky sex. It was less likely, but not completely unheard of, that they would ask you to join them. So I have heard.
Only slightly less unsettling than the Shady was Snow King’s resident restaurant, Rafferty’s. Last summer, writing the first Zagat.com guide to the valley, I called out Rafferty’s profusion of plastic plants, dust balls, and buffets stocked with mystery food. I am fairly certain everything served at Rafferty’s was previously frozen or came from a can.
But it’s all a memory. Snow King Resort’s new owners have spent $17 million upgrading the property. Today, the resort is home to Hayden’s Post, and it is becoming a new favorite restaurant of mine in East Jackson.
The dinner menu includes Coffee Rubbed Elk ($34) and a Bison rib eye ($48) with a Zinfandel demi glace. The restaurant makes its Caesar Salad ($10) with kale. The Heritage Pork Tenderloin ($24) is served with heirloom bean stew.
Even its bar food is fancy. The Artisanal and Farmstand Cheeseboard ($16) includes a selection of local cheese alongside a honeycomb, nuts and fruit. The Bison Bratwurst ($12) includes truffle grain mustard. You get toast points with your Smoked Local Trout ($12).
Rafferty’s all-you-can-eat buffets of dubious substances and dusty, dated decor were at one end of the pretension scale. Hayden’s Post is at the complete opposite end. But I don’t mind pretension if the food is actually done well and it doesn’t carry into the service.
I’m happy to report the pretension at Hayden’s Post is completely confined to its menu descriptions; laugh at the excessive use of “artisanal,” “heritage,” and “heirloom” as you bite into some of the best Dutch Oven Bison Brisket ($19) you’ll ever have.
In fact, only a bitch like me would complain about how friendly and kind I found the entire staff. For reasons I cannot fathom, extreme niceness and competence bother me. But why would four servers in six minutes ask if I was enjoying the food? There was icing all over my face from having licked the skillet that once held a Cast Iron Cinnamon Roll ($5). This could be my new favorite breakfast item in town; they put just a smidge of sour cream in their icing to take it to the next level.
One reminder of what once was is the elegant Shady Lady cocktail ($9), with Four Roses Bourbon, Grand Marnier, Dolin Rouge Vermouth, and lemon juice. But it couldn’t be more different in spirit from its namesake.
Hayden’s Post, inside Snow King Resort. Open for breakfast (6:30-10:30), lunch (11:30-2), and dinner (5:30-10) daily. For reservations, 734-3187.