Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose

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Mariaehlana
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2009/06/24 16:38:16 (permalink)

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 and Starbucks 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.


#1

20 Replies Related Threads

    FoodLuva
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/24 16:56:30 (permalink)
    oh Nicee i wish i can go on a trip
    #2
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/24 16:57:39 (permalink)
    Excellent report. I look forward to more.
    #3
    Mariaehlana
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/24 17:20:43 (permalink)
    I'm having some trouble with the pictures.. I'll have the next batch up shortly.
    post edited by Mariaehlana - 2009/06/24 17:22:20
    #4
    Mariaehlana
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/24 18:03:16 (permalink)
    Day 3 - Saturday, 27 September


    On Saturday we planned to drive from Anchorage to Seward, so we just grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel. About a half hour south of Anchorage is the town of Girdwood. We stopped to top off the gas tank and found a little bakery with hot ham and cheese stuffed croissants and apple fritters. We neglected to take pictures of either. I don't remember the name of the place, and going by Google Maps, it looks like it may have closed.
     
    Some pictures from our drive.



    Turnagain Arm around 8 am



    The road to Seward



    Mountain on Kenai Peninsula



    Kenai Lake

    We arrived in Seward and proceeded to the Alaska SeaLife Center. Great exhibits - a combination of informational stations and real sea life. This was especially exciting as we had not seen any Alaskan wildlife aside from birds to that point. I thought the moose would be running across the highway, and that bears would be ambling by the side of the road. Nope. Not a single moose. Not a single bear.




    View from Alaska SeaLife Center parking lot

    After looking at the fish, we were ready for lunch. Pretty much every place in Seward is on the water, so we were guaranteed a good view. We weren't prepared for this good a view though, at Ray's Waterfront.



    Yeah, that is right outside our window. Nice, isn't it? For lunch, we had crab legs. They were delicious - perfectly cooked, sweet, and tender.



    We also got appetizers - shrimp skewers and a seafood dip. Both were excellent, but nothing can compare to those crab legs.




    On the way back to Anchorage we stopped at the Wildlife Conservation Center. They take in wounded and/or orphaned animals and give them a secure environment. We finally got to see a moose!





    Moose like to sleep, apparently. I could be a moose. A lot of the animals were sleeping, actually. My favorite - the bears!






    They don't let you pet them. I asked. :)

    On the way back into Anchorage we stopped at the Moose's Tooth. There were no seats open (even at the bar), but we did discover that you can purchase a growler of beer to go. We left with the raspberry wheat. It was delicious - light raspberry flavor, very fresh tasting.

    Dinner that evening back in Anchorage was at a very swanky place called the Crow's Nest. We did not take pictures. We did a five course tasting menu paired with wine. It was good, but both Kim and I discovered that squab is not among the things we enjoy. The preparation was fine, but the taste a little too gamy. We did have an excellent halibut and a great cheese course.

    Day 4 - Sunday, 26 September

    The Sheraton offers a Sunday brunch for $28 (including unlimited champagne!). We decided to check that out. As hotel brunches go, this was one of the best I've ever had. There was a huge seafood buffet (including crab legs!), omelet bar, and all the usual suspects. Kim tried reindeer sausage. We forgot the camera in the room, and were too lazy to go and get it.

    In lieu of lunch, we asked for a cheese and fruit plate from room service and had that with our bottle of Alaskan wine. The folks at the Sheraton really went above and beyond on our visit. They put together a wonderful plate for us.

    Dinner that night was at Ginger.



    Mac'n'cheese with scallops






    Seared ahi tuna


    <IMG id=BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5351015645891073474 style="WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_8-fhE6h1rmE/SkKgYQjlFcI/AAAAAAAAAE0/EtN4twK0DW8/s320/Ginger+Dessert.JPG" />

    Chocolate banana bread pudding and green tea crème brule in the distance

    I wish I had taken a picture of the appetizers - I had a crab hotcake with habanero jam and sour cream. The appetizer was great, my entree was good. Kim really enjoyed her mac'n'cheese.

    The next day we had an early flight. Breakfast was a mostly frozen turkey croissant on the plane. By the time we got back to my place in Virginia, it was after midnight. The next day we went out for pizza at Ciro's Ristorante before Kim headed back home. Ciro's is a little local Italian place that has the best pizza in the Northern Virginia area.

    I know I promised the addresses/phone numbers - I need to go back and look them up.
    post edited by Mariaehlana - 2009/06/24 18:49:11
    #5
    exsquidao
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/24 18:32:09 (permalink)
    Just to rip off a cpywrited saying....FANtastic...thanks for those pics, man I love KCL.
    #6
    Davydd
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/24 19:09:00 (permalink)
    We mirrored your trip to Alaska 8 years ago with the drive down to Seward from Anchorage, the places you visited, and hanging around Anchorage for a couple of days before taking an official 13 day tour and cruise. Brings back memories. I didn't take any pictures then but I still have 8 hours of unedited movies.

    Hang around long enough in Anchorage and you will see a moose. They are around. I saw them on the park trails right in Anchorage. My niece lives in Anchorage and works at the airport. She claims almost daily on Facebook that there is a moose stalking her.
    #7
    mayor al
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/24 20:20:07 (permalink)
    We did a 10 day fly-in visit a few years ago. Luckily we were able to meet-up with Lleechef and Zman (Roadfooders) who showed us some fine food and great scenery during our stay. We used the Alaska Railroad to Seward then took a day-tour of the area on one of the boat-tours. Lots of wildlife and Whales to see on that ride. The train was great as well, slowing down to allow photography of wildfire noted by the crew , as we passed.

    I agree the Anchorage-Seward area and Denali are  great places to enjoy a Summer trip !
    #8
    easydoesit
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/25 04:39:09 (permalink)
    What a great report, Mariaehlana, thanks for taking us along.  Looking forward to the rest.  All the pictures and narrative are very interesting.
     
    You are bringing back memories for me.  My wife and I lived in Alaska during the pipeline years, 1973 - 77.  We made many trips then from Minneapolis to Anchorage via Northwest, sometimes direct via Edmonton, sometimes with a change at Seattle.  What a difference in airline food since then!  This will sound impossible now, but we actually used to skip breakfast on purpose prior to the flight because we knew they would feed us on the plane, and we LOVED their great breakast -- we could choose from a couple options, and we always went for the sausage links and omelet, which also came with a fruit plate, rolls, real butter, real cream, etc.  Hot coffee, cloth napkins, and plenty of great service, things were different in those days.

    And you were so right to go for the crab, so good, so cheap, and so abundant.  At one point, my wife worked in an accounting office in Anchorage, and would go to lunch with her friends.  One day everybody ordered the special, which was -- this is 1970's prices -- a whole crab and two glasses of soda or beer for 5.00.  They were served a whole crab, all right -- in one piece on the plate, legs neatly folded in.  She was supposed to reach over, tear off a leg, and dig in.  She said, "I couldn't do that, it was looking at me!"  Her cheeseburger came shortly after.

    I don't actually recall Leroys, but I know what they are like.  One day I was at a place called Peggy's, closer to downtown.  Was sitting at the counter and chowing down breakfast when an older man with silver hair sat down next to me.  He started making conversation, and I confess I was more interested in breakfast then him, so I sort of mumbled replies and stayed focused on my plate.  At one point he made a comment to the waitress and she said, "Oh, you're always joking, Mister Egan." -- I looked!, and sure enough, it was Bill Egan, ex-governor of Alaska.  

    Small population, great people, the real McCoy, the original long hair and beard, tougher than nails with a pistol on their hip.  Boy, I liked 'em.   And I'm liking your report.
    #9
    Mariaehlana
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/25 08:25:19 (permalink)
    Thank you to everyone for the kind comments! I am glad to share my trip with everyone - I have been reading trip reports on here for years. They have always been my favorite part of this site.
     
    Davydd - Alaska is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I have a million more pictures - it was tough to choose which ones to include here! We heard so many wildlife stories before our trip, we came to the conclusion that the moose were simply hiding from us...just out of sight. I'm glad we got to see them at the Wildlife Conservation Center.
     
    Mayor Al - We considered the rail trip, but decided against it as we wanted to stop at the Conservation Center. As it turned out, we pulled over about every 15 minutes to get out of the car and take pictures. It was the perfect time of year - the leaves were in their autumnal glory and the mountains were perfectly snow capped. The weather was nice and sunny too. I didn't need a jacket during the days, and just a light one at night.  I would have loved to do a boat tour. We were hoping to do the one to Portage Glacier, but it had closed for the year already. The tram to Alyeska was also closed for maintenance. I do plan to go back in a few years for a longer vacation, and do a lot more roadtripping.
     
    Easydoesit - My family traveled a lot by plane when I was growing up, mostly to/from South America. I also remember the delicious meals and great service you used to get. The best was on a KLM flight - we were on the second floor of the airplane, and they served filet mignon.  I remember it being perfectly cooked to medium rare.
     
    The crab in Alaska was out of this world. I could have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What really made the trip fantastic were all the wonderful people we met. Everyone, from the folks at the hotel to our waiter at Glacier Brewhouse, was friendly, happy to talk to us, and eager to give us recommendations on where to go.
    #10
    TnTinCT
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/25 10:39:36 (permalink)
    What a great trip report! We had breakfast in a place in Anchorage called the Snow City Cafe - it was fabulous, as a future recommendation to anyone heading up that way.
    #11
    ann peeples
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/25 13:27:49 (permalink)
    Enjoyed your report immensely...beautiful scenery and food. I too could eat crab all day!!
    #12
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/25 15:46:16 (permalink)
    All the food looks phenomenal, especially the crab.  One of my kids is a crab nut and would pester me for a trip to Alaska after seeing those photos!

    Did you get any photos of Russia?  I've heard that you can see it from Alaska...
     
    Brad
    post edited by Brad_Olson - 2009/06/25 15:47:37
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    Rusty246
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/25 15:54:19 (permalink)
    You definetely had me at "crab".  One of our local stores is having a 3 day sale on snow crab which suits me fine at $3.99lb!  Beautiful scenery.  I'm sure I'll never make it to Alaska in my lifetime so I'll have to just join you on your trip.
    post edited by Rusty246 - 2009/06/25 15:55:23
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    Davydd
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/25 17:41:26 (permalink)
    Brad_Olson
    Did you get any photos of Russia?  I've heard that you can see it from Alaska...
     
    Brad

    You know the answer to that. But if you have never been to Alaska it might be hard to understand the beauty and the scale of it. I think I can put it in context for a Midwesterner. The distance from Anchorage to Fairbanks is about the same as the distance from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Chicago. In proportion, Mt. McKinley is located about where the Wisconsin Dells would be relative to MSP or Chicago. You can see Mt. McKinley from Anchorage. In fact you can see Mt. McKinley from the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage. Overall height of Mt. McKinley is a bit misleading at a bit over 20,000 feet. If you go from plateau base to peak it is almost three times higher than any mountain in the US Rockies.

    #15
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/25 19:16:38 (permalink)
    Very nice trip report.  I really enjoyed reading it, and obviously you had a great time.  Thanks for sharing, and please keep the reports coming.
    #16
    badbyron722
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/26 10:38:19 (permalink)
    Nice Report.Hope to get there soon.
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    chrissie41
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/26 11:48:36 (permalink)
    Very nice!
    LOL, I would want to pet the bear too. I love bears.
    #18
    carolina bob
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/26 12:27:19 (permalink)
    Mariaehlana, are you sure that this is your first trip report? Hard to believe, because you write like a seasoned veteran of them.  A truly great report; I do hope that this won't be your only one.
    #19
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/26 12:39:55 (permalink)
    Brad_Olson


    Did you get any photos of Russia?  I've heard that you can see it from Alaska...
     
    Brad

    In fact, you can see Russia from Alaska.

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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Anchorage, AK - King Crab Legs, But No Moose 2009/06/26 14:05:04 (permalink)
    'Squab is not among the things you enjoy'--LOLOLOL.  This was an excellent trip report, mariaehlena, and the moose and bears were the icing on the cake.  I'm glad you had such a great trip!
    #21
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