Now, the food. If you’re familiar with Randy Rucker than you know he favors a cooking style that is definitely outside the box. Enough people watch Top Chef to be familiar with molecular gastronomy and that whole movement of challenging the way we prepare and eat food. If you’re not, read up on El Bulli. So, how was Rucker’s food going to fit in to a hyper-traditional, meat and potatoes environment?
Trophies a must for a wild game restaurant to provide that lodge atmosphere
We can start with the scallop. The last time I was at RL was just after my first son was born, Mother’s Day 2 years ago. I ordered the scallop appetizer. It was good, solid. Seared just right with a delicate sauce that didn’t distract. Simple and expected. This dinner, I also ordered the scallop appetizer, but it was different. “sea scallops, toast, chorizo, fennel” is how it’s listed on the menu. What came to the table were 2 perfectly cooked scallops, halved and turned on their sides. Each piece was sandwiched in the slimmest sliver of grilled (?) bread, just enough to give it that good white bread sponginess. I didn't even notice the chorizo, but I have to imagine it added some flavor without being so obvious. The scallops were lightly dressed in a broth and then topped with a seafood foam. Foam is a hallmark of the laboratory way of cooking. It was light, fresh, delicious. For me, the difference between the 1st scallop and this scallop is the best example of how Rucker has been able to change things up yet keep them the same.
Tuna wrapped watermelon with watermelon gazpacho
For salad course, I went traditional with heirloom tomatoes. Rucker adds “compressed black plums” to mix it up. They all sit in a literal bath of very fine Spanish olive oil. The plums were interesting- I can’t tell you what “compressed” really means, but they were paper thin yet still dense. I had to add a little salt to bring out the flavors but I was very happy. Hubs got “local peaches, goats milk feta, peas & shoots,lavender vinaigrette.” I thought to myself “peaches for a salad course?” but it was delicious. Sweet but earthy, refreshing and the lavender was something different for me that I really enjoyed.
Heirloom tomato salad, garnished with edible flowers
Peaches make a surprisingly earthy salad
Entrees. I am not as adventurous an eater as the husband and wild game generally does not appeal to me. So, when I go somewhere with a game-focused menu, I always seek out the steak. I love steak anyway, but it is definitely the most appealing option to me when faced with the likes of duck or elk (although boar chop was a solid 2nd choice). The “mignon of beef” on Rainbow Lodge’s menu is smoked. This made the outside dry and kind of crusty. The inside was tender, flavorful and meaty. It was like eating filet wrapped in beef jerky. My first few bites were kind of a disappointment. After all, I didn’t come to a restaurant of this caliber to eat beef jerky. Once I got in to the meat of the meat, though, it all came together. The potato crusted potatoes were like fancy tater tots. How could that be bad? The bordelaise was wonderful. The serving was large and I actually left some on the plate to save room for dessert. I definitely recommend the dish, just be prepared to question your 1st couple bites…
Filet, lightly smoked = well done outside, perfect medium rare inside
Buffalo makes for great short ribs
Super rich and just sweet enough, with vanilla bean ice cream