Boise Fry Company, Boise 08-2021

We were making the long drive from Yellowstowe to Portland and decided it was best to breakup the journey with a stopover. It was our final night during our several week journey starting from Nashville, south to New Orleans, across to San Diego, then up through the national parks. Finally 10000km would take us to Portland.

We weren't craving any particular food that night, and surely Boise wasn't known for anything particular either. Something that was unique (and walking distance from our Airbnb room) was a burger place that specialises in fries. Or should I say a fries place that also has burgers?

I don't know anywhere that lets you pick your spud (yam, sweet, purple, red, gold, russet) and also lets you choose your cut (regular, curly, homestyle, shoestring). There's also a huge sauce and seasoning station for self-service too.

Burgers-wise we ordered one The Classic (crisp lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, smoked special sauce) and The Heat (crisp lettuce, blueberry compote, habaneros, spicy ketchup). I can't remember if we got both beef, or if I tried my hand at bison again. Either way the burgers were nice, The Heat had a heaty sweet creativity to it, and the fries were great.

Would definitely go back (although it's hard to know when I'd be in Boise again...)

Old Town Cafe, West Yellowstone 08-2021

It might sound morbid but after seeing all these bison around Yellowstone, including a relatively angry one that was probably way too close to the walking circuit on the way to Hayden Valley, I wanted to try a bison steak. It isn't everyday you come across that opportunity, and could be the last in my foreseeable lifetime.

There were a few places in West Yellowstone with this on the menu, and for no real reason I settled on Old Town Cafe.

Although there were people waiting outside, we only did for a short time. Maybe it's one of the benefits of being tourists and only having 2 of us.

- Bison top sirloin 8oz USD29 - ordered it rare but was served medium rare. Identical to beef with no additional flavour. Not very tender. It came with mash with gravy, beans in sweet tomato, a biscuit.
- Rainbow Trout USD23.95 - a bit overcooked but ok. Potato was chalky and plain. Green beans soft beyond texture. Bread with butter. 
- Salad with garlic croutons. Nice beef vegetable barley soup. Alcoholic 5% Montana huckleberry lemonade was nice also.

Overall a bit disappointing, maybe because the cooking wasn't that good, but also because I had recently had an excellent steak enroute to Zion (

Jared's Wild Rose Ranch Resort, Idaho 07-2021

When all of Yellowstone was booked up and there were limited options nearby, Jared's was still there. The reviews are mixed and the available mini did look tiny. And it was. A single room with a double bed, kettle and little wall TV squished in a way you had to arrange your bags tactically or keep some in the car. But it was comfortable and functional enough for a few days. They also have a shop and this excellent 80s-90s retro games room to keep yourself well entertained.

The restaurant is convenient, but let's be honest. It's not a restaurant. I think the teenager who took our order and the one (same one?) who cooked our food probably hadn't done it before. It was very basic. Food is food sometimes.

I would actually stay here again. I mean, ideally somewhere closer to Yellowstone is better but this is fine and not too far away and much cheaper (and available). But make sure to get food in West Yellowstone instead.

Signal Mountain Lodge, Grand Teton 07-2021

After the bare bunk bed shack accommodation at Colter Bay the night before, the splurge of Signal Mountain Lodge was a huge contrast/improvement. The afternoon was spent basking on the beach of Jackson Lake with some refreshing swims in between.

There wasn't a huge desire to eat at the restaurant, and so takeaway on our porch was the better option.

- Fish and Chips (line-caught Alaskan ale-battered Pacific cod fillets, sweet potato fries, coleslaw) USD18;
- Signal blackberry pie (Marion blackberries in our tender crust) USD7.95.

Cucumber and lettuce salad was our own addition. Everything was tasty. The pastry had a nice thickness to it. Flavoursome all around.

Cafe Court Pizzeria, Colter Bay 07-2021

Upon arriving at Grand Teton NP, we went to our accommodation. Given the late booking, I could only muster up the bones of a shed with bunk beds. Additional fees were required for a bedsheet and sleeping bag. It was a bare bones type affair.

After "checking in" (ie. thinking about how dire it looked but accepting this was it), we went to the Colter Bay main village area to the pay showers (actually a lot better than I anticipated) and then the limited food options which was pizza down the end of the road.

After a short wait for the 18" monster pizza, we drove a short distance to watch the sunset over Jackson Lake, finding a table on the stone beach area. The pizza - average but acceptable. The overall experience - not too bad at all.

Springdale Candy Company, Springdale 07-2021

After a remarkable morning of hiking the Angel's Landing and The Narrows gorge at Zion NP, a return stopover for icecream on the way back was necessary.

There's 3 icecream places all next to/opposite each other. I can't say which is best, but this seemed the most specialty and "gourmet" of them. Although now I realise it isn't their own - they are stocking/selling Farr Better icecream from Utah.

Huckleberry was a first for me - sweet and a bit tart. And look at the backdrop with which to enjoy it.

Stone Hearth Grille, Bryce Canyon 07-2021

For our anniversary we spent the day wandering around some of the lower paths of Bryce Canyon. A few of the major ones were closed due to heavy rain and collapsed areas. There were stories of a few walkers who got stuck down there. Luckily the weather had improved somewhat in the ensuing days for us, and so after wandering through the pillars in amazement, the toughest part was the long slow uphill slog back.

All in a days walking though to prepare for the night meal. For an anniversary, there aren't many occasion restaurants and this highly rated one required a 25min drive all the way around Bryce Canyon, through the tiny town of Tropic, and to what is probably the back end of the canyon.

The restaurant is in a lovely stone house with beautiful photos inside showing the canyon in the best light.

- Grilled Halibut (burnt onion puree, calamari, brown butter fish sauce vinaigrette) USD36;
- Dungeness Crab Mac & Cheese (dungeness crab, cavatappi, chives, old bay bread crumbs) USD26 - this was an exciting dish on the menu however there just wasn't enough crab and was standard in the end.

For reasons that I don't understand, the waitress was pretty sullen. Just to us of course, to other people she would ask how the meal was etc., but she seemed happy to avoid any unnecessities with us.

Overall a disappointing experience.

Balcony One, Virgin 07-2021

It was a long drive from Death Valley and hedging bets on not running out of fuel between Dante's View and the nearest station out of the east side of the NP. Upon the final stretch (but still long) road toward Springdale (our base for Zion NP) we were looking for something to eat.

Google found a place called Cactus Room that supposedly open and well rated, but upon driving onto the gravel carparking area it was clearly closed and perhaps had been for a while. Back to Google and the place directly across the road would have to do. It was busy with the carpark quite full and a short 10min queue for tables inside.

Soon we were seated at a nice spot next to the window.

- Fresh onion soup (slow cooked, from scratch, beef stock with fresh onions, topped with toasted puffy bread  and melted provolone and parmesan cheese) USD9 - or was it French onion soup? Nonetheless a mild flavoured soup topped with pastry which was a nice change;
- South Western Salad (assorted lettuce topped with our house made shrimp ceviche, black beans, roasted corn, tomato, red onion, avocado and cilantro, served with chipotle ranch dressing, garnished with a corn tortilla) USD15;
- 16 oz cut of Prime Creekstone Farms Ribeye served with our famous Brussels sprouts, our flash fried baked potato and a fresh house salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, jicama and carrot served with sage vinaigrette) USD48 - probably more expensive than I had planned for, but we can't always live under a budget and many days of supermarket sandwich lunches balanced it out. Requested rare and served pretty close, this large piece of meat was tender and delicious. The sprouts and potato were good accompaniments and at least cooked in their own slightly more unique way.

An excellent bit of meat probably like the cowboys enjoy.