Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fancy Pants

Yesterday my family embarked on an epic journey. We seemingly left our little town of Kotzebue and entered into another world. A world with marble tables, and real cloth napkins. A world of elevators bringing you to your destination, water served in glass goblets and a kids menu with an Alaskan Crossword Puzzle to keep busy.

We waited a bit to be seated in nice comfortable chairs. A Real marble tabletop awaited one of my kids to break their glass on it. But thankfully, they didn't. I mentioned quietly, "oohhhhHHh fancy..." to which my (mini-me) daughter guffawed, "This isn't THAT FANCY, they ain't gonna serve you WINE!" Touche` girl, touche`!

As I sat down, the view from my seat astounded me. Dark Blue seas gave way to a bright orange sky. The sun in full view on the horizon. Because of where we were located, you could look straight at the sun and not be blinded. It's so cold though, that the sun, I guess, is just for looks and a few hours of brightness during the day. There is no heat to it. As a matter of fact, it's colder during the day than at night when the waxing crescent arrives.

View from seat

Caribou herds walked in front of us, taunting the inner hunter of my husband. Saying to him, "ha ha ha, you can't catch us..." He was beside himself in visible pain to be sitting 200 yards from them. Close enough for my 8 year old to take a shot. "We are EATING DINNER!" I calmly reminded him.

The menu was skimmed through and though the prices seemed high (to me), we went ahead and ordered whatever we wanted. A basket of rolls arrived at the table and my daughter exclaimed, "Man...real aanatuk!" (Ah-nah-took: means very sad, homely looking) while we all laughed. She's used to fresh rolls plucked out of the oven after a double rise, smelling of yeasty goodness. The taste was good though, so we enjoyed the rolls while we waited.

Our food arrived a bit later (and I apologize for not taking photos, next time!) and we all sort of gasped at how wonderful it looked. Eye Candy, for certain.

My meal consisted of a Country Fried Steak, perfectly buttered and smooth mashed potatoes. Just enough bacon and sausage gravy was spooned atop a hand dipped pan fried steak the size of my husbands hands. (And they are HUGE) Steak so tender you could cut it with a fork, even if you had wimpy arms! The marriage of butter mashed potatoes and the pan fried steak (not deep fried!) was enough to make my tastebuds do an Eskimo Dance of Quvaisunga (HAPPY DANCE) in my mouth. My perfectly steamed vegetables also were seasoned to perfection. Cauliflower still firm, yet soft, carrots glazed in pan drippings. Seriously folks, that Steak was so good, I hate to admit, but it was probably better than mine. And mine are made with Caribou and are REALLY REALLY GOOD!

My 8 year old decided she wanted "Pasta and Meatballs" for her meal. A choice of Fries, Fruit, or Veggies, yielded some Fresh Fruit on the side. When her meal came in a nice deep bowl, two of the largest meatballs I've ever seen were there for the taking. Corkscrew pasta was cooked al dente and bathing in a tomato based sauce perfectly seasoned for a child. Now, my children are not picky eaters by any means, (her favorite food? Tuna and Salmon Sashimi and Edamame) but this meal will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Especially if you tell them the meatballs are two HUGE eyeballs of a pasta monster that needs to be eaten up!

Kaisa exclaimed, "THIS IS AMAZING....I wanna work here. Too bad they have like laws and stuff that won't let me." All based on the fact that her meal was so good.

Dean went out on a limb and ordered the Creole Chicken with Italian Sausage and tomato sauce. I was surprised because he is SUCH a meat and potatoes kinda guy, I was thinking he would order what I did, or the New York Strip. But he didn't. And was very very pleased with his choice. It too came in an oversized hot bowl. Moist grilled spice rubbed chicken sat atop a bed of al dente pasta swimming in the sausage tomato sauce. Not too spicy for my wimpy taste buds, but spiced enough to satisfy my husbands. The Italian sausage was cut into coins and married well with the sauce. The serving was large enough to make Dean happy as he almost licked his bowl clean.

Halfway through the meal Kaisa said she had to use the restroom, so we ventured off to find it. Passing a Jade Counter, and several display cases showcasing local art we found it next to yet another elevator. When we walked in, the black and white tiled walls reminded me of Mukluk Trim made of Calfskin. While Kaisa did her business, she yelled, "MAN, These bathrooms are pretty nice and it's HARD TO IMPRESS ME with bathrooms...." To which I had no words to rebut! They were pretty nice though.

Koy ended up being safe and ordering Fish and Chips. They were battered well but the real showstopper was the tartar sauce, a creamy tangy dip served in a side bowl that made you want to stick your finger in it and slurp. Red Cabbage coleslaw also had a tangy bite served on the side. It's pretty hard to screw up fries, but to make them awesome is a gift. A gift Koy gladly accepted while eating the crunchy seasoned fries.


(un)Fortunately, my kids heard the servers ask another patron if they were interested in dessert, so (begged) asked nicely if they could get something from the dessert menu. To which we obliged because, well, I wanted dessert too! An order of Berry Cobbler came for me steaming with a scoop of vanilla ice cream sitting perfectly on top. The peanut butter pie was decadent in it's cute little round servings, but the real star was the HUMONGOUS Chocolate Cake that the kids shared. Not even able to get through 1/3rd of it, the remainder sits in my fridge for the rest of the week while they whittle away at it. Dessert? Passed my test!

Even though they didn't serve me WINE, I was happy to drink my pepsi in an ADULT CUP. I was happy to put my cloth napkin on my lap and I was happy not to clean up. The servers were great, taking turns busing each others tables, checking on us often, and quietly sweeping up messes when needed. My hats off to the chef last night as well. The food was AMAZING, and you can't beat the view.

The check, if you're wondering, was $97.85, and I have to say for a FULL MEAL with dessert, it was WELL WORTH IT for my family and I to eat out at a place like that right here in our own hometown of Kotzebue, Alaska. I highly recommend checking it out at the Nullagvik Hotel Restaurant if you're in town.


Janice Bendixen said...

Wow! So different than it used to be. Great that you have a nice place to go. Wish l had one in my neighborhood...

Susan Stevenson said...

What a wonderful review. I could taste the food just by reading your words.

I live in Fairbanks and we have many restaurants here. Sadly, not many of them are worth raving about. :(

Anonymous said...

That sounds delightful compared to a night out at the bayside...
Where is the new hotel located? is it across the street from where it used to be or did they raze the old one before building the new one?
Been a few years since I've made the trek to Kotz...

Anonymous said...

Hi, Maija!

The picture of the sun on the horizon is beautiful.

Have a blessed time of Advent!

I hope You'll like this link:

Best regards from Finland,


Sabrina said...

Awesome! My favorite restaurant is near my parents, nearly 1 hour away, but it doesn't have a kids menu. :-( I wish they did though! Next time, take pictures of the tables :-)

Mary said...

Love your blog and the picture of you on the header is great. I've been missing your unique view of life, I hope you and your family are okay. From the OTZ website I see Kotzebue is having another snowstorm...stay warm and safe. I live in Maryland and we have been having unseasonably warm weather, up to 72 today. It's Christmas time we need some of your snow, without the 30 mph wind!

Anonymous said...

Are you busy making presents? I love your blog and can't wait to see what's next

Anonymous said...

Very nice review. The Chef Manager (Matt something or another) is a great find for Kotz; he's from the midwest but has cooked all over the country and is very good about putting out food that the customers like rather than cooking what HE likes and trying to convert everyone. I've had a dinner he and his brother donated few years ago in Anchorage. I had the same experience with his super fancy cuisine .