5 Superb Steaks
Whether you want steak from elk, bison, or a cow, Jackson Hole restaurants have you covered.
// By Lila Edythe
aged italian beef
While you could easily fill yourself on the funghi fritti—crispy fried portobello mushrooms served with “gnar” sauce, aka aioli—at Corsa inside Caldera House at the base of the tram in Teton Village, don’t. Or maybe do. Then it will be easier to share the Italian restaurant’s 16-ounce dry-aged Piedmontese ribeye with the rest of your table. “It is so rich, it is enjoyed best when shared,” says Corsa executive chef Ken Carter about the ribeye, which is dry aged for 30 days.
Piedmontese cattle are unique for carrying a gene mutation that causes hypertrophic muscle growth; the breed doesn’t produce the protein that tells muscles to stop growing. (Hypertrophic muscle growth is also known as “double muscling.”) “They look like cows on steroids,” Carter says. Because Piedmontese beef is so muscled, it is less marbled than other species; marbling usually means more flavor, but, according to Carter, “The lean meat of Piedmontese cattle is more tender than other meats.” Because of the unique flavor of Piedmontese beef, which is intensified by 30 days of dry aging, Carter keeps this steak’s preparation simple; it is served with a drizzle of a sauce that changes with the season and fresh veggies. The ribeye starts at $75; 3275 W. Village Dr., Teton Village; 307/201-5350, corsajh.com
“There’s something about coming to Jackson Hole and trying game meat,” says Jeremy Horn, executive chef at the Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse, which opened last June. “It’s just a thing to do.” The Cowboy’s elk tenderloin is so, well, tender, you don’t need a knife to cut it. I write this from personal experience.
Elk on restaurant menus, including this one, is almost always New Zealand red deer. “This isn’t the elk we see here, but it’s closer to that species than to what we think of as deer,” Horn says. New Zealand red deer can weigh more than 500 pounds. Because New Zealand red deer are farm-raised, this tenderloin isn’t gamey. “Gaminess comes from the diet of the animal,” Horn says. “If an animal is farm-raised, it has a controlled diet.” While you have to order a sauce to go with each of the other steaks on the Cowboy’s menu, the elk tenderloin comes with a huckleberry scallion relish. “A huckleberry demi is traditional, but our relish highlights the huckleberry more. A huckleberry demi is a meat sauce with huckleberries. Our relish has a little rice wine vinegar, orange juice, charred scallions, and huckleberries. The berry really stands out,” Horn says. Pair it with sides of grilled asparagus and Yukon gold mashed potatoes topped with roasted garlic and parmesan cheese. From $61; 25 N. Cache St.; 307/733-1270, milliondollarcowboysteakhouse.com
Steak as a Small Plate
Tapas restaurant Bin22 isn’t an obvious choice to go for a steak, but, “Offering a steak on Bin22’s menu allows versatility of experience,” says Bin22 founder and sommelier Gavin Fine. “Some guests are looking for a lighter meal, while others are famished after a big hike in the park, so including heartier options like a seasonal New York steak presentation provides both lighter and more filling options.” When I want steak and friends want a salad, or even just a glass or two of wine—the restaurant is in the back of a bottle shop that has an inventory of several hundred wines; you can select a bottle of wine to enjoy directly at the table with no corkage fee—or when I want a few bites of steak and tastes of several other dishes, Bin22 is the obvious choice. All of Bin22’s dishes are designed to be easily shared; the steak, which, this summer, chef Luis Hernandez prepares with mojo verde and romesco and serves with confit potatoes, is sliced to easily share. What plates pair well with the steak? “It goes well with dishes like our Spanish salad,” Fine says. “The tart apples, crunchy fennel, salty parmesan, and vinaigrette cut through the richness of the steak really well.” Any of the seasonal house-pulled mozzarellas pair well with it, too. From $28; 200 W. Broadway Ave.; 307/739-9463, bin22jacksonhole.com
At the Westbank Grill inside Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole in Teton Village, executive chef Michael Goralski says he’d order the New York strip steak or the dry-aged cowboy bison ribeye. “The New York steak comes from Snake River Farms, and it just melts in your mouth,” he says. “But, for flavor, the cowboy bison ribeye—that has the most flavor.” The “cowboy” in this steak’s description alludes to it being served bone-in.
Bison has a distinctly different flavor from beef, and the flavor in this ribeye is intensified by 28 days of dry aging. “There’s really no other steak that has this much flavor,” Goralski says. He’d pair it with the house-made huckleberry steak sauce. “This sauce has a sweet, tangy, almost sour—huckleberries are a little sour—flavor that helps cut through the flavor of the meat itself.” From $100; 7680 Granite Loop Rd.; 307/732-5000, fourseasons.com/jacksonhole
The friend I met for dinner at Local, a steakhouse on the Town Square with a hopping bar at which you can order the entire restaurant menu, thought the 4-ounce petite filet that came with her seasonal salad was delicious … until she tried the 20-ounce, aged, topped-with-butter bone-in ribeye I got. Ordering, I had been torn between the American Wagyu (from Snake River Farms) steak and this one, the evening’s butcher’s cut. The butcher’s cut won because it was locally raised beef, from the Lockhart Ranch, one of only a handful of working cattle ranches that remain in Jackson Hole. (The standard ribeye on Local’s menu is a 14-ounce cut from the northwest’s Double R Ranch.) Founded in 1938 by Bruce Porter, and still run by his descendants, Lockhart Ranch raises grass-fed Hereford cattle, that, in ribeye form cooked by Local, was every bit as flavorful as any Wagyu I’ve had, especially when eaten with the restaurant’s housemade roasted mushroom demi glace sauce. (Although the butcher’s cut changes, it is often from Lockhart Ranch.) Market price; 55 N. Cache St.; 307-201-1717, localjh.com JH