Friday, July 13, 2012

Alaska's Denali dining:Princess' KING SALMON swings from savory to so-so (7-11-12)

Heading north from Anchorage our next stop was Denali National Park
the home Mt. McKinley, much wildlife and loads of fun, but not
necessarily good food.
Our first night at the Nenana Grill at the McKinley Chalet where we
stayed was uneventful and not really mentionable. The salmon Will had
was good, my Alaskan King Crab Legs were decent and the wine was great-
Apothic Red 2010 that we had for "dessert" when we returned from a dog
sledding excursion after dinner (the sun sets at midnight and rises at
4am, so it's never dark).
The next night we went next door to the Denali Princess Wilderness
Lodge's KING SALMON, definitely the top place in Glitter Gulch (the
not too affectionate name the locals call the hotel/restaurant/
shopping strip outside the National Park). King Salmon gets big points
for its ambiance and views of the mountains, but looses points with no
bread plates for the tasty hot Asiago bread. The wines here are
inferior by far to the Nenana next door and we decided to have some
drinks first - a very smart move.
The Alaskan SMOKED SALMON BLOODY MARY is a divine creation from Alaska
Distillery Smoked Salmon-infused Vodka (think Sunday brunch with a
bagel, lox and cream cheese without the cheese or carbs!), olives and
pickled string beans. Will also liked his McKinley Margarita with
Sauza Gold Tequila, Peach Schnapps, lime and of course, salt.
Samuel ordered the Denali Princess Lodge (must they use this in every
name) Brick Chicken which had a crispy crust that Samuel eventually
loved and a mountain berry compote which was a bizarre choice (and not
used), along with string beans and superb fingerling purple and white
Yukon potatoes.
Will and I split both apps and mains:
Coconut Crusted HALIBUT with Apricot Chutney was tasty as the chutney
was more like a marmalade and not sweet so as to add to the coconut's

The entrees were enjoyed with a bottle of STEELE CHARDONNAY, the top
choice on the menu (and it had 8 whites or maybe 10!). The Asiago
Crusted Alaskan HALIBUT came with a light panko-Asiago-herb crust and
was pan seared perfectly. Sadly the parmesan risotto was ice cold,
although the fried capers were fun. String beans came with every
entree but were called fresh vegetables on the menu; I guess they
change them often.
The most expensive fish on the menu was the restaurant's namesake the
Sea Salt Accented KING SALMON pan seared with gray sea salt atop a
cremini mushroom English pea risotto, which was not cold in a superb
beurre rouge sauce. The fish and dishes were good, but not a touch on
the Crow's Nest in we shall yet see what remains in
Fairbanks and the Alaskan north!