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Restaurants & Bars

Trip to Rapid City SD [Really really long....]

P. | Jun 24, 200512:55 PM

When I arrived in Rapid City for a work trip earlier this week. I had no idea what to expect. The natural beauty of the place overwhelmed me. After searching around chowhound and then asking, I had not found any current recommendations for the area. So here are my reviews and I note I will be back sometime on my own.

On Monday, we started out lunch at a place a local we were meeting suggested: Sanford's Grub & Pub. There was nothing on the menu that wasn't fried including the salads, which had more fat and calories than a Hardee's Monster Thickburger. My two colleagues had huge salads, which were topped with an inch of grated cheese, plus lots of dressing. I ended up trying the open-faced cordon bleu chicken, in which the chicken was perfectly cooked. But they poured on 2 cups of cheese sauce, which wasn't Swiss and they deep-fried the bread as well. Our local host had what seemed to be the healthiest thing on the menu, a cheeseburger and fries. With his meal there was no extra-ordinary frying or toppings going on. It looked straightforward. One of the few healthy things about the place was the menu allowed one to have a side of cottage cheese instead of fries etc. Plus the service was good. After lunch, I heard the sound of my arteries slapping shut. But if I go back after loosing 30 more pounds I want to try the fried pickles.

Around 7 PM for a cool treat we got soft serve from Armadillo's I had a small vanilla with blueberries an top and the colleagues had malted turtle shakes which hit the spot.

Dinner the first night was at Botticelli Restaurante Italiano. It was 15 minutes before the kitchen closed @ 10 P.M. when we arrived. Service was helpful and attentive. My colleagues had salads along with pasta carbonara and stuffed cannelloni, which were good. I had a penne with sausage and vodka tomato cream sauce. The pasta and sausage were great but the sauce did not have enough spiciness or vodka in it and the sauce had a gritty taste I've never experienced before. The bread was incredibly dense and served with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar that stayed separated in its plate

B & L Bagels served us breakfast both Tuesday and Wednesday. Their bagels made excellent sandwiches. Not too big or dense and perfect for an egg or turkey sandwich. But compared to NYC Bagels? Not even close.

Our lunch on Tuesday consisted of hot dogs and bottled water served by the local Cub Scout troops at a community meeting being held.

Our final dinner was @ the Corn Exchange, which is I think the only slow food restaurant in South Dakota. It was some of the best and freshest food I've ever had, which is saying something having lived in SF and now LA and been to Chez Panisse and Spago. The prep though, had something to be desired. We went on Tuesday. It was packed by 6:45. The hostess and server began explaining the menu like we had never experienced fresh or slow food before which felt quaint but I was glad they were doing it since I know many people who have never experienced such cooking. The busboy began our meal by serving us half a slice of incredible bread, what seemed to be a wheat/rye combo. I wanted more but I needed to save space for the rest of the meal. We shared an amuse busche of a savory buttermilk, white corn and scallion pancake topped with house-smoked SD trout and a cucumber-crËme fraiche and horseradish compote. I thought it would be incredible but the ingredients did not come together well even though each thing was superb by itself. Next colleague 1 had the Asparagus and light cream soup, which was excellent, and colleague 2 had a salad of roasted walnuts, belgian endive, maytag blue cheese & fuji apple slices and I had fresh thin asparagus with a cheese similar to asiago and chunks of crumbled bacon. The chef lightly blanched the asparagus then stuck in ice water to stop cooking but never brought them back to room temperature before serving. When I got it, they were cold, but the dish improved over time as it warmed up. Plus he saltiness of the cheese and bacon added up to too much saltiness in the dish.

Now on to large plates: Colleague 2 had the pan-roasted rib eye, which he had cooked medium and I can't deal with anything over medium rare or the meat is toast. But he loved it and the meat was good. Colleague 1 had a rack of lamb and I had the 8 oz buffalo fillet more rare than medium [OMG]. All of the meat was superb and colleague 2's and mine came with a small amount [just right] of their excellent mushroom cream sauce and Colleague 1 asked us it was polite to gnaw on her lamb bones in a restaurant. Unfortunately colleague 2's and my veggies, julienned red potatoes and sliced zucchini, were sautÈed to crispness and let to sit until soggy before serving which was disappointing. With this we had a Pinot Noir, which was a house fav. I am not a fan of reds and this one didn't do anything for me. After the bottle was done, colleague 2 had an additional glass of a Chilean heavy red that was on special and he liked it a lot.

On to dessert: Colleague 2 had a mascapone cheesecake, colleague 1 had a pot du crËme au chocolate, thicker and richer than pudding and oh so good and I had the rhubarb spice cake topped with strawberries and lightly sweetened whip cream. It was tremendous. Both my colleagues had a South African ort which was great and I made the mistake of thinking a raspberry cordial might go with my stuff and found it too cloyingly sweet. So the total damage for the night was $220 w/tax tip and alcohol.

Sanford's Grub and Pub
306 7th St
Rapid City, SD 57701

Armadillo's Ice Cream Shoppe
202 Main St
Rapid City, SD 57701

Botticelli's Restorante Italiano
523 Main Street,
Rapid City, SD 57701,

B & L Bagels
512 Main St
Rapid City, SD 57701

Boy Scouts of America
144 North Street
Rapid City, SD 57701

The Corn Exchange
727 Main Street
Rapid City, SD 57701

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