Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose
This will be my first trip report. Please be gentle...
Some of these places are not roadfood in the strictest sense. They did, however, capture the spirit of roadfood. I met some wonderful people. This trip was taken in September 2008.
I am back from an amazing Alaskan vacation with my best friend. Our hope was to find crab legs, Alaskan beer, and more crab legs. The journey was a success.
I am going to break down our gastronomical journey by day. Thursday, September 25
Our journey started with Dunkin Donuts
at the airport. I had a strawberry glazed doughnut and a pumpkin latte. Kim had a honey glazed and a mocha latte. We were off to a good start.
Then we boarded the plane. The first flight wasn't bad. Neither of us were hungry, so we just sat back and enjoyed some complimentary soda. Our layover in Minneapolis was pretty short, so we raced through the DQ Grill
line and grabbed a couple of burgers.
Eh. The burgers were edible. I am, however, glad that we ate there.
The flight from Minneapolis to Anchorage was about 5.25 hours. The food options? Snacky things ($5 for a can of Pringles!) or a lunch "box" for $10. The lunch box consisted of pasta salad, a ham and turkey sandwich, and a mini Twix bar. I miss the days of hot airline meals. We were consoled with the thought of the crab legs waiting for us in Anchorage.
Once we were on the ground and made our way to the hotel, we were both too excited/worn out to focus on food. The Chugach Mountains around Anchorage are beautiful. The conversation in the car mostly consisted of squealing and exclamations of "I can't believe we are in ALASKA!" and "Hey, there's Humpy's!"
We stayed at the Sheraton Anchorage. If you go to Anchorage, stay there. It is a beautiful hotel with great service. We had a fabulous room with panoramic views of the mountains and... a cemetery. Luckily, neither Kim nor I are troubled by the thought of zombies. The cemetery was beautiful and very peaceful looking. At any rate, I would imagine that zombies might have issues breaking through the partially frozen ground.
We checked out the hotel bar before dinner. This is where we discovered the goodness that is Alaskan Amber beer.
Our first dinner in the city was at the Glacier Brewhouse
. People were packed into the restaurant, but the service and quality of food did not suffer at all for it. We started with bread, a crab leg appetizer, and a cheddar/ale pot.
Entrees were crab legs (not pictured - same as the appetizer but more!) and walnut-pesto crusted halibut. The crab - red king crab to be exact - was perfectly steamed. The crab meat was sweet and tender. I think there may have been side dishes on the plate, but I didn't notice them at all. In retrospect, I should have ordered the crab appetizer as well. The halibut was delicious. No fishy taste, and the crust didn't overwhelm the fish.
For desserts we had the champagne citrus parfait and a bread pudding. Both were excellent. The parfait was partially eaten by the time we remembered to take a picture...
After dinner, we sat at their bar but we neglected to take pictures of our beers or our bartender. They had about 5 selections (of beers, not bartenders), and between the two of us, we sampled them all (once again, the beers, not the bartenders). They included Amber Ale, IPA, Brewhouse Blonde, Oatmeal Stout, Hefeweizen, and Imperial Blonde. I think. My memory might be a little foggy there...
We had a great time our first day and got some good bar/dining recommendations from our bartender. Once we got back to the hotel, we were pretty much done in for the day. Friday, September 26
We woke up early on Day 2, refreshed and ready to explore the city. Our first stop was going to be Hogg Brothers
for breakfast. I couldn't find a website for them, but I did read about a breakfast dish called "the trough" - a hollowed out loaf of bread stuffed with breakfast foods and topped with gravy. While "the trough" might have been too much even for me, I was intrigued enough to want to see the rest of their menu.
It was not to be.
We found Hogg Brothers
. We found it closed. Not just closed for the day, but closed forever. I have no idea if they relocated or not. We swung around the block and I noticed a promising sign. Leroy's
- Since 1963. It looked like the kind of place that locals would frequent, which is usually a good indication of how tasty the food will be.
We were greeting with the delicious aromas of coffee and bacon as we walked in the door. The place was just as I had imagined it would be - slightly frayed around the edges and filled with people that looked nothing like tourists. I was in heaven.
I decided to go with a sourdough waffle with syrup and butter, bacon, OJ, coffee, and hash browns. Kim went with either a Denver or a Spanish omelet (it had salsa on it), coffee, and milk. The food arrived, and sure enough, it was delicious. The hash browns were nicely browned and crisp on one side, and the waffle had a slight tang to it from the sourdough. The only downfall to the meal is that we ended up not being hungry at lunchtime.
After the filling breakfast, we were off to Modern Dwellers
for spicy Mayan hot chocolate and truffles. The spicy Mayan hot chocolate was unreal! They make it from drinking chocolate and some kind of pepper. It packs a serious punch. We sat in their lounge area and took our time enjoying our drinks and the view of the mountains. The truffles we decided to enjoy at the hotel later.
What goes better with chocolate than chips? Our next stop was the Alaska Chip Company
. We each bought a couple of bags, had the nice lady behind the counter take our picture, and were on our way to Alaska Wild Berry
. Alaska Wild Berry
is where tourists go to buy souvenirs, look at the giant chocolate fountain, and if you are Kim and I, pose with some life size teddy bears. We found some great stuff, including jellies, chocolates, and magnets (which you can't eat, but I still like them!).
After our shopping spree, we ventured on to Denali Winery
. They have an interesting method of aging their wines there - it is all done in large glass jugs. They only make three wines for general distribution. Customers can choose grapes and the winemaker will custom make cases of wine for them. They bring the grapes in from other locations. The three standard wines we tried were very good. A bottle of the chardonnay came back to the hotel with us for later consumption...
This is the point when we decided to skip lunch. Hey, it happens. Even to us. The next stop was the Russian Orthodox Museum
. We had a wonderful conversation with the folks there. Everyone in Alaska was very friendly.
When we got back to the hotel, we relaxed for a while. At some point, I ordered a room service cheeseburger (if there is room service, I have to order a cheeseburger - it's a quirk). It was tasty. Kim and I then separated. I went to the Ice Spa on the top floor for a Chai Spice Pedicure and Kim decided to try the sushi at the Ptarmigan Lounge. We both had a great time. The view from the pedicure chair was of downtown Anchorage and Cook Inlet. I could have stayed up there all day.
After our relaxing afternoon, we were ready to hit Simon and Seafort's
. This restaurant was not only came highly recommended to me, but I found myself re-reading the menu many, many times before our visit. We started out enjoying cocktails at the bar, then were escorted to a table with an amazing view.
For appetizers Kim had the seafood deviled egg trio (shrimp, salmon, and crab), and I had the king crab cake with pickled ginger, sweet and sour and beurre blanc sauces. Oh. My. God. I decided at that point that I could eat there every night.
Our entrees were lobster mac'n'cheese for Kim and grilled lobster tail w/grilled asparagus for me. There is nothing quite as satisfying as looking down at an enormous lobster tail and knowing that it is all yours. Well, all mine except for the bite I gave to Kim. We washed the meal down with champagne.
By the time dessert rolled around, we were both pretty full. We soldiered on though and ordered vanilla burnt cream and beignets with grand marnier jam and espresso chocolate sauce. We neglected to take pictures of the dessert. I skipped the tempting Century of Port, and we decided against going anywhere else that evening. By that point the thought of sleep was extremely appealing...
Days 3 and 4 to follow! I'll also include address/phone info for each place at the end of the report.