IPA Magazine-Luxury Travel Reviews

The Wild Sage

wild sage1The highly acclaimed Wild Sage Restaurant, located within the stately Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa, is the place to experience fine dining at its best, offering cuisine so spectacular, it is the only restaurant in the town of Jackson to receive the coveted AAA Four Diamond rating, having earned that designation since 2004.

The creative menu revolves around all four seasons, featuring hearty, comfort food in the brisk fall and winter months, while offering lighter fare in spring and summer.  Wild Sage incorporates local, fresh ingredients year-round prepared in view of its exhibition-style kitchen.

There’s a feeling of warm, comfortable intimacy as you step into the cozy room that seats merely two dozen or so guests, featuring handcrafted wood furniture and bold, Western art.  Along the wall, near the huge custom-built racks nesting dozens of bottles of fine wines, a crackling fire glows within the river-rock fireplace.

After extensive travel, visiting high-end lodging properties around the world, owner Ron Harrison founded the Rusty Parrot in 1990, desiring to offer the ultimate in luxury accommodations.  From the beginning, Harrison wanted to serve his guests a hearty breakfast.  Indeed, dinners were not even served at the Rusty Parrot until a decade had passed.  The smallish kitchen was designed so the smell of fresh-baked muffins would waft down the halls, alerting the waking guests that something special was forthcoming.  Initially, guests made their way to the gathering room to find a sideboard laden with fresh-brewed coffee, just-baked muffins, an assortment of fruits and berries, fresh-squeezed juices, and other scrumptious offerings.  In time, a full-breakfast was served and the Rusty Parrot became known for its tantalizing array of breakfast creations.

The Chef’s Specialty Du Jour highlights each morning at the Wild Sage, displaying the chef’s skills as well as providing a tempting variation from the rest of the printed menu.  On our first morning we found the breakfast special was Crab Cake Eggs Benedict.  Surveying the menu further, I decided to try the Idaho Trout and Crispy Speck Ham Benedict, featuring two poached eggs, scallion polenta cake and hollandaise.  Speck ham is a dry-cured ham with an intense flavor, available from German Deli in Texas.  The combination of scallion polenta cake, topped with the speck ham (it resembled thick-cut, crisp bacon but tasted spicier), topped with the flavorful trout, topped by a poached egg, and crowned with hollandaise was extraordinary.  Each individual item had its own unique flavor, but the synergistic effect of savoring all together was an amazing experience.

My wife chose the Gran Marnier French Toast, a classic recipe in the pantheon of Wild Sage culinary creations.  For this exquisite, decadent dish, one-inch thick slices of French bread are soaked in a batter of eggs, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla bean, finely chopped orange zest, and a couple tablespoons of Grand Marnier liqueur.  Fried to a golden brown, the pieces of French Toast are served with a Tahitian Vanilla-Strawberry Coulis and Maple Cream Anglaise.  This was the best French Toast, she said, she had ever eaten.

Other offerings on the breakfast menu included Slow Roasted Pork Chili Verde, Classic Eggs Benedict, Huckleberry Whole Wheat Pancakes, Irish Steel Cut Oats, a Fresh Fruit Plate, as well as Granola and Yogurt and Pastry Du Jour.  In addition to regular and decaf organic coffees, one may order espresso, cappuccino or latte.

For dinner, during the month of October, the Wild Sage offered five appetizers.  Each night the chef prepares a Nightly Soup Inspiration.  On this particular evening a bean soup was featured.  Other appetizers include a Trio of Baby Beets served with Marcona Almonds; Sweet Pepper Crab Cake, served with Prawn Cream Sauce and Sweet Pepper Relish; Crispy Elk Skewers, with olive oil jelly and carrot-tahini puree; and House Cured Salmon, served with Daikon and Scallion salad, salmon roe, and wasabi-honey mustard dressing.  Taking the suggestion of our charming and informative server Tilly, a three-year veteran at the Lodge from Australia, we ordered the crab cakes, a choice we ordinarily would not have made.  It turned out this dish was the hit of the evening.  Tilly informed us that she had it on good authority that sophisticated crab cake enthusiasts from the East Coast of the U.S. held this particular delicacy in high esteem, and for good reason.  They were a hit!  The elk skewers were battered and very tasty, but the crab cakes were outrageously delectable.

The salad courses offered consisted of Baby Arugula with brie, strawberries, toasted hazelnuts, aged balsamic and lemon oil; Mixed Greens served with heirloom cherry tomatoes, carmelized board bacon, shaved shallots, and a sherry vinaigrette; and Butter Lettuce, with avocado, grapefruit, carrot curls, and Guajillo-citrus dressing.  We opted for the arugula and mixed greens, both tasting fresh and lively with their respective dressings.

Six entrée items were listed on our October menu:  Snake River Farms Wagyu Tenderloin with potato leek Mille-Feuille, roasted asparagus and black garlic vinaigrette; Alaskan Halibut, with grilled artichokes, chickpeas, wild mushrooms, lemon Beurre monte, and Fennel-chive Gremolata; Dry Aged Buffalo Ribeye, with white bean mash, broccolini with preserved lemon X.O. sauce; Truffled Pheasant, with lemon whipped potatoes, baby carrots, and red wine jus; Lava Lakes Lamb T-Bone, with red quinoa tabbouleh, snap peas, and chimichurri; and Seared Diver Scallops, with herbed fingerling potatoes, shaved fennel, oranges, and vanilla-saffron cream.  I ordered the tenderloin which was cooked to perfection.  Two medallions of Kobe-style beef were peerlessly presented.  In addition, the potato serving was spectacular, particularly with the accompanying sauce.  My wife ordered the buffalo ribeye, a huge cut of meat with the bone in.  Since the fat was not trimmed off, allowing for more flavor in the meat, it must have also allowed the meat to be more intensely seared, giving it a charred taste.  It wasn’t altogether unpleasant, but noticeably charred.  The X.O. sauce, we learned, was from Hong Kong where the designation came from a high grade of brandy, indicating the best. Whatever the chef did to prepare this sauce, it made a superb accompaniment.

All five appetizers and six entrée items have a suggested wine pairing.  For example, for the Crispy Elk Skewers appetizer, the suggested pairing is the 2011 Henry Estate Pinot Noir from Umpqua, Oregon.  For the Dry Aged Buffalo Ribeye entrée, the suggested pairing is the 2011 Pascual Toso Malbec-Mendoza from Argentina.  I enjoyed a Napa Valley Clos du Val cabernet sauvignon with my tenderloin which enhanced the meal tremendously.  My wife, who ordered the ribeye, enjoyed the smooth taste of the Malbec.

A separate dessert menu featureed five options:  Huckleberry White Chocolate Mousse, with honey lavender syrup; Kaya Brulée, with mango compote; Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Torte, with Chambord ganache, hazelnut praline, and fresh berries; Wild Sage Sundae with basil infused strawberries, vanilla caramel, rhubarb  frozen yogurt, and lemon almond crumble; and an Artisanal Cheese Plate, featuring Membrillo, baguette and crackers.  We opted for the brulée and the sundae.  The Kaya brulée was prepared with coconut ingredients and tasted magnificent.  The combination of basil on strawberries was unusual and imparted a distinctive, Italian flavor.

In addition to an extensive wine menu, the Wild Sage features a Cocktail Menu with Aprés Dinner and Digestif recommendations.  Another menu featuring scotch, port, sherry, brandy, bourbon, grappa, and digestif options is available upon request.

Our seat near the exhibition kitchen allowed us to see the preparation of nearly every dish as three chefs worked continuously, cooking and assembling a vast array of meats, sauces, and garnishes with flair and style.  Their expertise was palpable and made for an entertaining evening of dining pleasure.  The food and service at the Wild Sage exceeded our every expectation.  After dining here, you’ll not only look forward to a return visit, but you’ll have a lot to reminisce about as you recall your experience with your dining companion.  You know you’ve had an enjoyable experience when the thoughts and flavors remain in your mind for hours afterward.


The Wild Sage Restaurant

Located within

The Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa

175 North Jackson Street

Jackson, Wyoming 83001

Toll Free: (800) 458-2004

Reservations:  (888) 739-1749

Local Phone: 307-733-2000

Website: www.rustyparrot.com


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