Jackson Hole restaurants have a lot to offer but dining at Couloir is like dinner and a show.
The whole experience starts in Teton Village at the bottom of the Bridger Gondola when you walk up to the loading station and they greet you as if it’s a hostess stand. The scenic eight-minute ride to the top of the gondola seemed exceptionally peaceful and romantic while wrapped in a silk scarf instead of Gore-Tex®. After a warm greeting from the hostess, an ever-present Dave Eliason -the manager of Couloir, recruited from the Four Seasons and widely respect amongst the Bridger staff- admitted that our tardiness was forgiven because he might not have been able to seat us any sooner. It is impossible to eat and run here; it is an all-encompassing experience combining one of the purest gourmet meals that I have had in Teton County with an awe-inspiring view.
Remembering that this bar is a 5 o’clock destination for many local and semi-local die-hards, we decided to ditch the same old vodka soda and sample one of the flamboyantly titled cocktails. Before we had even ordered our peacockish cocktails, we were presented with a lovely plated taster of duck confit with mango chutney. When the highly anticipated Couloir Margarita and French Kiss cocktails arrived, we giggled to ourselves about the “fruity” drinks that we had ordered. The laugh was on us. We were pleasantly surprised by the natural, real fruit taste of both traditionally sugary drinks.
After a recent summer wine tour through Provence, I dubbed myself qualified to be a duck and/or liver snob. I would like to thank Chef Wes for proving that fine, French-rivaling Pan Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras atop cinnamon toast, garnished with petit pearl onion confit, and licked with anise syrup, can be found at 9,095 feet at the top of a jagged mountain in a charming Jackson Hole restaurant.
Everything else in that phase of my experience that night was perfectly seasonal and scrumptious – with an added kick. The House-Made Lobster ravioli was warm and comforting, but it was the sweet corn with the Yukon Gold potatoes in the tarragon buerre blanc that reminded us of the superior gastronomic creativity that we were getting ourselves into. Just as the unexpected pica in the squash soup that alerted even my own hot spice craving buds did.
Chef John “Wes” Hamilton’s “less is more” approach to fine dining was apparent through the entire meal, but was summed up with the entrees. Both the Grilled Snake River Farm Waygu N.Y. strip and the Sundried Tomato Crusted Halibut were clean and minimally seasoned so that the flavors of the juicy beef, the sweet, flakey fish, and the perfectly vine-ripened vegetables remained unadulterated.
The dining at Couloir is an excellent new addition to the valley and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming winter menu holds.