After a night in Anchorage, we travelled by increasingly annoying combinations of luxury motorcoach bus and train to, first, the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, and second, the Denali Princess Lodge, each of which had several restaurants on the property that were all pretty much the same. The lodge restaurant food was generally fine but unexciting, most notable for the prevalence of salmon that was invariably dry from overcooking. My original notion to eat fresh Alaskan salmon every day of the trip was quickly disabused.
Salmon chowder, on the other hand, was rich, savory, and delicious, deeply paprika-colored, rife with smoked salmon chunks and veggies and a slight spicy kick. Great value (relative to other options at least) at $5.50 for a big bowl. The (Coho) salmon salad was also pretty good, despite the overdone salmon, and the fish and chips weren’t bad either. Even the Princess lodges were in on the Alaska microbrew game; the Twister Creek IPA was fresh and pine-y but unexciting. Yes, Mrs. Me and I pretty much stick to an IPA-only beer regimen these days. We may be hopeless, but never hop-less, haha…sorry.
The McKinley Princess is about 45 minutes away from the bustling town of Talkeetna, which consists of about 2.5 linear blocks, with one brewpub and three coffee houses per block, I think. But we were there only in the morning, too early for brewpubs; Mrs. Me did acquire a high-quality coffee from a source whose name I neglected to record.
The Denali Princess is near the bustling non-town of I don’t know what: right across the street is essentially a strip mall, an uneven boardwalk fronting a six-block stretch mix of souvenir stores and cafes (plus, incongruously, a Subway). We hit Prospector’s Pizzeria and Alehouse for dinner one night and it was superb, with great service in both the bar and the restaurant, huge beer selection, and excellent food. Their address is Milepost 238.9 in Denali, which correctly suggests that this location is the opposite of feral urbanism. Well, not exactly opposite, since it certainly is feral. Feral bucolity? Will have to think about that.
Prospector’s all-draught beer list runs to around fifty options, mostly Alaskan or Belgian; we had more IPAs but I forgot again to write down which ones. The pizza was what you might call “regular” crust, neither thin nor pan or deep-dish; it was crisp and not at all soggy in the middle, but also appropriately chewy and flavorful. Fresh toppings and plenty of them, with a good sauce-cheese-topping ratio. Mrs. Me also loved the spinach salad, with its unusual strawberry dressing. I am too unhealthy to bother with spinach salad. Overall, huge winner, highly recommend. Who knew pizza would outshine salmon in Alaska?
The next morning we retrieved coffee (latte and iced americano, both unobjectionable) and a large oat-and-raspberry square (surprisingly good and unsurprisingly filling, although it caused me for the next few hours to want to roll in patchouli and listen to Phish) from the Black Bear Coffee House (milepost 238.5!!). And then it was back on the bus that would whisk us to Whittier to board the
boat ship (less alliterative but more correct, oh well).