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New Cowboy Cuisine

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, elk osso buco and coq au vin are winning over the Mangy Moose crowd

Everyone knows fusion food; how about a fusion ski resort? Jackson, Wyoming, base camp for the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, is a one-horse town, and it's the hangout for celebrities like Harrison Ford. It's all log-cabin cuteness, and it's home to the glam Amangani resort, a centerfold in glossy shelter magazines. It's rib-eye country, and it's the site of a restaurant boomlet.

The cognoscenti still worship six-and-a-half-year-old Snake River Grill (307-733-0557), which looks like a trillionaire's log cabin and features chef Roger Freedman's elegant comfort food--Arctic char with beluga lentils; burgers with wild boar bacon and celery root remoulade; venison chops with cranberry-cherry relish. But now the Grill has to compete with two other sophisticated places that are also sending out new cowboy cuisine.

Consider the elk osso buco and antelope agnolotti created by chef David Gilbert. He and his wife, Cinzia, own Old Yellowstone Garage (307-734-6161), which will open in January near Jackson's trademark antler arches. The restaurant will serve Western-accented Piedmontese food and more than 100 wines. Its arrival is a very good thing, since the beloved old Old Yellowstone Garage, over in Dubois, Wyoming, is now shuttered.

For almost a year, diners have been following the buzz to the modern-looking Restaurant Terroir (307-739-2500), where chef Jeff Osaka has been turning out a short, sweet menu of bistro dishes. They might start with seared foie gras or a Vietnamese-inspired chicken salad dressed in soy and lime, then perhaps have a bourride-like fish soup with saffron and fennel or a simple coq au vin. For the cowboy, Restaurant Terroir does serve a fine rib-eye steak--just don't expect fries. In Jackson, where the cowboy is probably the CEO of cowboy.com, the choice is pommes frites.

Published December 1999
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