Category Archives: Wyoming

Cheyenne Cupcake Bakery on Top 50 List

The capital of the Cowboy State’s nationally recognized cupcake bakery

There’s a lot I like about Wyoming: rugged history, grandiose scenery, big skies, Cheyenne Frontier Days. But the ultra-upscale and very touristy community of Jackson aside, Wyoming’s image has been much more Brokeback Mountain than culinary creativity. When I was driving up to Thermopolis a few years ago, I was able to find only ond espresso shop to fuel my next couple of hundred miles.

Therefore, I cheered to find out that Cutie Cakes was #29 on The Daily Meal’s list of the 50 best upcakes in America, describing its choice thus:

Chocolate cupcake filled with caramel, topped with whipped caramel frosting, drizzled with more caramel and sprinkled with crumbled Snickers bars.

CutieCakes is Cheyenne, Wyoming’s first cupcake bakery, and they’re off to a great start — despite the challenges of high-altitude baking. Mindy and Michelle Bortz  are the sisters behind the cupcakery, running a fully successful bakery despite  having other professions by day. Their favorites are the Cookies & Cream and  Carrot, but The Daily Meal’s pick would have to be Snickers where a chocolate  cupcake is filled with caramel and topped with whipped caramel frosting,  drizzled with more caramel and topped with crumbled Snickers bars.”

Since some say that baking skills are in the blood, I wonder whether Mindy and Michelle might be related to either of Denver’s revered bread bakers, Michael Bortz (City Bakery) or Greg Bortz  (Denver Bread Company), who share a last name and a creaft but are not related to each other. Well, maybe not. CutieCakes’ website’s “About the Bakers” page indicates that the sisters came from California’s Central Valley.

Although both are fly-over states, culinary recognition is less rare for Colorado than for Wyoming. Still, it is a coup for Denver’s Happy Cakes to land in The Daily Meal’s #8 spot. The site wrote:

Happy Cakes  Bakeshop co-owner Sara Bencomo’s two year old son Alden is a huge  fan of cake. He’s so in love with the confection that, instead of ‘Happy  Birthday!,’ Alden wishes people “‘Happy Cakes!’ And who wouldn’t be happy trying  one of Happy Cakes’ delightful desserts? Each cupcake adds something new to the  same old, same old, whether its a mini Oreo cookie garnish or a maple buttermilk  cake base (for French Toast, of course). Want to be happy while eating cake too?  Check out the Pumpkin Pie, a pumpkin streusel cake with bourbon buttercream.”

And what was #1 on The Daily Meal’s top 50 list? The Atlanta Cupcake Factory.

Guest Post: Picking High Desert Raspberries in Wyoming

I’m honored to have this guest post from Vicki Lindner, an essayist, fiction writer and journalist who divides her time between Denver and Dubois, Wyoming. Her credentials are sterling, and her experience makes my raspberry-loving mouth water and also makes me nostalgic for the pick-your-own farms that abound in the Northeast. Vicki, who also has the East Coast in her background, was the “Four-Wheeling Gourmet” for The Casper Star-Tribune, reviewed restaurants for Town and Village in New York City, and has written about food for Gastronomica and other publications.

Picking High Desert Raspberries in Wyoming

Vicki in the raspberrry field.

When peaches and strawberries are ready for plucking in Colorado, there’s no pick-your-own in cold, dry Wyoming, where the growing season ends in a wink. So imagine my delight when I turned down a dirt road, 6.8 miles from the tiny town of Shoshoni, and kicking up dust devils, discovered Raspberry deLight Farms.

In this high stony desert mirage, enroute to Yellowstone, I saw shiny green bushes dripping heavy red globes. This extra hot year the raspberries fruited early; but even when chilly fall nights threaten a freeze, the Autumn Bliss variety will thrive in the driest climate in the Mountain Time Zone.

Collecting my plastic bucket in the corrugated shed, I headed for one of 12 U-pick rows where I could see the shimmering Boysen Reservoir reflecting crusty limestone Buttes and the smoky pink Owl Creek Mountains.

Raspberry deLight Farms’ raspberry shed and “guard dog”.

“Are you just a pickin’ or pickin’ and eatin’?” asked another bounty hunter who’d driven 100 miles to stock up—the same distance the farm’s irrigation water flows from the Pilot Butte Reservoir in the northwest. The first three dozen raspberries, I  admit, landed in my mouth: These irresistible treats were sweeter, with an underlying tart zing, than  pale, sour supermarket brands that quickly go moldy.

Plus, braving the bees and scratchy thorns was the most back-to-the-land fun I’d enjoyed since I helped Mom pick blackberries on New Jersey hillsides when I was a child.

Raspberries are not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about high desert plants, but raspberries thrive at this farm near Shoshoni, Wyoming.

The farm is owned by Greg Jarvis, who saw raspberries as a cash crop that could successfully compete with foreign imports. Raspberry deLight also produces sweet corn, alfalfa, pinto beans and seed barley.

Back in the shed, Jane Ferris, Greg’s sister, weighed my bucket, then tempted me with an array of gourmet products: raspberry infused honey, raspberry-pear, apple, peach, and rhubarb jams,  syrup, and a unique raspberry-chipotle sauce that’s great with cream cheese. The farm also offers clamshells of ready-picked berries.

How to get there: From Shoshoni in central Wyoming drive 6.8 miles S.W. on Route 26 to Hidden Valley Road. A large sign on the left marks the turn-off. The farm is .3 miles down the dirt road. When to go: Raspberry deLite is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, August 10 until the first hard freeze, which can occur in September or October. Call 307-856-2939 or email for information. Corn available at end of August. Prices: $3.75/ pound for U-Pick. Pre-picked berries are $6 one pound, $13 for 21/2 pound, and $19 for 4 pounds. Jams and other products range from $5-$8. Gift boxes are available. Freezing Tip: Spread berries on cookie sheets and freeze, then pop frozen fruit into zip-lock bags.

2nd Annual Colorado Urban Winefest Moves into Town

Winery Row’s Bonacquisiti hosted preview of Colorado Wine Week highlight

The Colorado Winefest debuted last June as a three-day offspring of the long-running Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade. It’s back for 2012 with a new name and a new venue. Click here for my report on last year’s inaugural.

This fine festival moving. Last year, it was infused personality into the sterility of Stapleton-Northfield, whose main positive attribute is abundant free parking (it is, after all, an outdoor shopping mall). This year, it is going to Denver’s sculpture park between Speer Boulevard and the Denver Performing Arts Center. To reflect its new location, it also has a new name: Colorado Urban Winefest. A preview tasting yesterday evening at Winery Row on Pecos just south of I-70 provided the trade and media a small glimpse of the makeover. I’m glad I was able to attend, because I will be out of the country during Colorado Wine Week itself.

Colorado Winery Row's logo. .

Bonacquisti Winery hosted the tasting, which featured 42 Front Range and Western Slope wineries. Like the winefest itself, the preview featured a palate-training component. The preview version was pretty simple — half-a-dozen glasses in which such materials as citrus fruits and cedar chips were placed for sniffing, and two wines to practice on. A real “wine wheel” will be at the festival. For the preview, the organizers also brought in a food truck, because food trucks will assemble at the winefest too.

The "training table" held aromatics that can be detected in wines and a couple of wines to train people how to identify them without looking at the label.

Colorado Wine Week (May 30 to June 9), which is well over a week, features wine-oriented events including free in-store tastings ( May 30 to June 9) and a glass of Colorado wine paired with special dishes at participating restaurants scattered throughout the metro area  (June 3 to 9). The festival includes a number of new events, including athe Colorado Wine Cocktail Celebration (June 4), East Meets West (pairing of Front Range wineries and Grand Valley vineyards), Colorado Wine Farmers Market (June 6), Colorado Governor’s Cup (wine tasting of the American Wine Society regional competition winners at the Governor’s Residence, June 7) and a Cruiser Ride through downtown Denver from a starting point to be announced to the Winefest.

Click here for ticket information or to purchase online.

Upcoming Colorado Food, Wine & Beer Events

The spring calendar is filled with food and wine festivals, culminating in the extraordinary Food & Wine Classic in Aspen
Today is Dining Out for Life, a restaurant industry fundraiser for Project Angel Heart, an organization that provides free nutritious meals for individuals living with AIDS/HIV or other life-threatening diseases. If you haven’t made a reservation yet, you can still make one or drop in at one of the many participating restaurants that are donating 25 percent of today’s sales for this fine cause. But here are some food and wine events for a bit of advance planning. Big thanks to the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board for the heads-up about some of these events. They compiled a list of events (mainly wine or food and wine) with which it is involved, including ones later in summer  that I did not include here. Be aware that many, maybe most, of these events are for 21 years and older.

Kitchens Are Cooking Kitchens Are Cooking is an annual self-guided tour through some of Boulder’s most fabulous kitchens comes with an energy-saving twist and also cooking demonstrations this year. The tour is Saturday, April 30, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 1, 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. This great tour enables you to great cooking/eating/entertaining spaces and also help the I Have A Dream Foundation, beneficiary of the event. Tickets are $18 or $35 for two. Click here to purchase online through TicketsWest or at King Soopers. and if you are ready to buy no later than May 1, you can get half-price tickets through BoCo Deals. Click here for details.
Taste of Pearl Amble up and down Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall on Sunday, May 1, 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. and enjoy the second annual Taste of Pearl. You can sample food from some of the top local  restaurants paired with Colorado wines  in many of the shops and galleries along the way. Click here to buy tickets at $52.80 each, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Emergency Family Assistance Agency. FoMoInfo: 303.449.3774.
Culinary School of the Rockies Open House Because the real Cinco de Mayo falls on a Thursday this year, many celebrations are taking place on the weekend. Therefore, the Culinary School of the Rockies‘ free fiesta-themed open house on May 5, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. is a timely and welcome addition to the home cook’s calendar. Enjoy the appetizers, drinks, a chance to tour the school and meet the chef/instructors, discounts on upcoming cooking classes and giveaways. Click here or call 303-494-7988 to sign up.  637 South Broadway, Suite H, Table Mesa Shopping Center (west side), Boulder.
Durango Wine Experience – The fifth Annual Durango Wine Experience comprises one evening and three days of educational seminars, wine dinners and tastings of hundreds of wines, artisanal spirits and craft beers. The festival kicks off with a VIP reception on Thursday, May 5 and wraps up with a brunch on Sunday, May 8. In between are seven informative seminars and tastings, and the two signature events, the “Walk-About Durango” is the signature, multi-location tasting event downtown on Friday, May 6. Top local chefs and wineries from around the world are featured at Grand Tasting on Saturday, May 7. Click here for an event schedule and here for packages. The top-priced package for all events is $285, a $165 savings over single event tickets.
Blues, Brews and BBQ – Beaver Creek, one of Colorado’s most exclusive mountain resorts, relaxes with the 18th annual Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival on May 28-29.  Culinary demonstration, kids’ activities and entertainment are free.  The the only ticketed event is the largest exclusively Colorado microbrew beer tasting in the state Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Saturday, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance by calling 970-949-1234 or $40 at the door.
The Big Eat Denver – More than 50 Denver independent restaurants set up at Union Station on Sunday, May 22 from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. for the Big Eat,  an opportunity to sample, mingle and savor the joys of the local restaurant scene. Some of the marguee nsmaes at The Big Eat are 1515, Avenue Grill, Black Pearl, Duo, El Camino, Encore, Euclid Hall, Green Russell, H burger, Hideaway Steakhouse, Happy Cakes, Jonesy’s, The Lobby, Lou’s Food Bar, Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza, Olivéa, Rialto, Root Down, Snooze, Steubens. Steve’s Snappin Dogs, Vesta and Wednesday’s Pie. Admission and food tastes are just $20. Games and beverages from by the  Great Divide, Wynkoop, CapRock,Downslope, Leopold Brothers and Peachstreet Distillers are additional. .Click here for tickets.
Colorado WinefestThe Colorado Winefest at the Shops at Northfield (the old Stapleton Airport location) on June 10-11 is preesnted by the folks who produce the fabuloous Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade. It features many of Colorado’s 100+ wineries and is a fundraiser for the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE), which in the long run means more vineyards and wineries in the state’s future. The Colorado Wine Dinner ($100)  on Friday, June 10 is a five-course dinner by five local chefs paired with seven Colorado wines.  The Grand Tasting (only $35) on Saturday June 11, 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. includes a wine glass, wine tote, wine tasting at all participating Colorado wineries, five food samples and free seminars. It’s quite a deal! The concurrent VIP Experience ($100) in an exclusive tented area includes a specialty wine glass, wine tote, name chef demonstrations, fine cuisine and award-winning wines from the judging at an earlier evening celebrating premier Colorado Wines at the Governor’s Residence. A Riedel seminar ($95), is a guided tasting  you through a flight of wines tasting to demonstrate that the glass really does make a difference. The ticket price includes a four-glass set of Riedel Vinum glasses, valued at over $100. You can buy tickets online, but to avoid this multi-step process, call 800-704-3667.
Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival The picturesque town of Manitou Springs at the base of Pikes Peak is a pleasant venue for a small wine festival. With 20 or so Colorado wineries represented, it is a good starter wine event — manageable, not overwhelming and inexpensive. Wineries set up their tables in Soda Springs Park for the event on Saturday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, with live entertainment from 12:00 noon to 5:45 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance (buy at the Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau) and $30 at the gate ($25 for military).
Taste of Elegance Food & Beer Competition – Last year, I was honored to be judge at the first annual Taste of Elegance Chefs Food & Beer Competition, and I’ve been invited back again on Tuesday, June 7, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.. The list of competing chefs has been revealed and it includes some of the metro area’s best (Michael Long,  Aria, Denver; Leo Harvey,  Big Game Restaurant and Lounge, Denver; Geoffrey Groditski, The Fort, Morrison; Jean-Luc Voegele,, The Westin Downtown Denver; David Harker and Mario Clapes, Chef De Cuisine The Meritage & Tap Room @ The Omni  Interlocken Resort, Broomfield; David Oliveri, Farradday’s Steakhouse, Isle Casino, Blackhawk ; Jeff Bolton, Second Home Kitchen & Bar, JW Marriott, Denver; Ian Kleinman, The Inventing Room Catering; Robert Corey,  12 Seasons Personal Chef Services; Daniel Asher, TasRoot Down and Linger Denver; Chris Blackwood,  The West End Tavern, Boulder). Earlybird admission is $60 through April 30 or or $75 at the door. Click here to order tickets. It takes place at The Omni  Interlocken Resort, 500 Interlocken Boulevard, Broomfield.
Taste of the Nation Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation Denver is the largest and finest culinary benefit supporting the effort to end childhood hunger in Colorado, part of a nationwide effort to support the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. The tasting event featuring more than 30 of Colorado’s great restaurants, food trucks and carts, cocktail artists, local wineries, and microbreweries takes place on Thursday, June 9, 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. Click here for gemeral admission ($75) or VIP tickets. It takes place at Mile High Station, 2027 W. Lower Colfax Ave., Denver.

Food & Wine Classic in AspenI’ve saved the biggest and best for last. “Food & Wine,” as this huge event is called, is the big kahuna of Colorado culinary events. Food & Wine magazine annually introduces its yearly 10 Best New Chefs there, and the celebrity chefs who offer demonstration classes and workshops there seem to have emerged from our television screens. For many star-struck foodies, it is enough to breathe the same air as these celebs. The wine seminars further educate the palates of people who already know a lot about wine. And the trade seminars are run by some of the best restaurateurs and consultants in the land and are attended by others. Food & Wine takes place from Friday, June 17 through Sunday, June 19. The schedule is a compelling mix of cooking demonstrations, reserve tastings, private events and trade-only seminars. Most wine festivals have one Grand Tasting. Food & Wine in Aspen has four under the biggest of the big tents — and it’s still a challenge to do justice to the hundreds of wines poured by scores of wineries from around the world.They enhance the meaning of the word “grand” in the wine world. Food & Wine is pricey ($1,185 plus $250 for the Best New Chefs dinner), but it is also incomparable and worthwhile for any food lover or wine conoisseur can afford it. Some people attend year after year, while for others, it’s an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Wyoming Brewer’s Festival – If your tastes and/or budget run more to craft beer than fine wines, head to “North Coloado” for the 17th Wyoming Brewer’s Festival. It’s casual and fun, with has been serving the region great fun, quality beer and tasty food, live entertainment and flowing beer. It raises money for community projects. The festival is downtown in the gorgeous Cheyenne Depot Plaza, Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18, 5 p.m. to 12 midnight.The $20 cover includes five tokens to purchase brews. Each additional token is $5 for four brews, or $1.50 each. This is a different event format than previous years. FoMoInfo: 307-432-5395.

Little Bear Inn Has Rustic Steakhouse But Serves Broad Menu

Surprising varied menu at steakhouse-style restaurant

I wonder how many people glance at the Little Bear Inn as they speed by on Intestate 25 north of Cheyenne and think, “That place doesn’t look like much.” Frankly, I don’t even remember seeing the boxy off-white building trimmed in brown just west of the Interstate. Maybe I didn’t see it because it’s partially obscured by trees. Maybe I simply didn’t notice it.

But a few weeks ago, I noticed it from the outside and from the inside. Walk in and you see an ode to the Wild West: dark wood walls, trophy heads and framed certificates that the restaurant has won. In one corner of the Little Bear Inn stands a great big bear — a stuffed grizzly with its imposing claws and teeth showing. Just ahead is a bar, mostly populated by men in Western attire, cowboy hats or at least ball caps included.
The windowless dining room features sturdy come-in-and-set-awhile chairs and big tables, light walls above dark wainscoting, dark ceiling beams and Western-theme light fixtures. Everything about the place says  “steakhouse” — everything but the menu. Sure there are beef and buffalo dishes aplenty, but I was surprised at the variety. Here, in the middle of cowboy country, the Little Bear Inn even brags about its seafood. One of their specialties, according to the menu, is “world famous lobster — served broiled or fancy fried our world famous way). It’s a 7- or 140 to 14-ounced warm-water lobster from Brazil. I was curious but didn’t want that much food.

As expected in a steakhouse, there was a lot of fried food, but there options as well. Below are some of the dishes a group of us ordered. I wasn’t quick enough to get them all or even to take photos of all the dishes.

The large appetizer sampler platter is a actually a platter with a couple of outliers. Shown below are the onion rings and the celery sticks with four dipping sauces. Other items on the platter are wings, jalapeño poppers, Rocky Mountain oysters, jalapeño bottle caps and mozzarella sticks. 
I didn’t order the soup, but it was a bean soup of some sort.
Small dinner salad with choice of dressings on the side was fresh but otherwise pretty run of the mill.
Fried (or was it “fancy fried”?) walleye (or was the catfish?) with rice pilaf.
I think this was the ribeye, but with two sauces perched on top, it’s hard for me to tell.
Platter of fried fish (maybe this was the walleye?) with French fries and enough lemon wedges to assure that the diner does not contract scurvy.

One of the beef dishes is hiding under this mound of Tumbleweed Onions.

Price check: Appetizers, $7.95-$9.95 plus $16.95 for a sampler platter; “On the Lighter Side,” $7-$17.95; Seafood, $17.95-$36.95; “Center of the Plate,” $15.95-$28.95; “Accents” (sauces), $2.95; “Chef Specialties,” $14.95-$26.95; “Surf and Turf,” $21.95 to market price; “Little Bear Menu” (kids, $4.95-$9.95.All adult dinners come with a choice of a cup of soup or house salad, and are served with a choice of baked potato, homemade French fries, rice pilaf or sauteed seasonal vegetables.

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Luxury Diner Dishes Up Comfort Food

Nostalgia reigns in Cheyenne institution known for big breakfasts

The Luxury Diner is luxurious in name only. It serves classic American comfort food, Western-style, in a cute, kitschy eatery tacked onto the Wyoming Motel between Lincolnway, Cheyenne’s main east-west drag and the railroad tracks. It’s a place where the waitresses call you Sweetie or Honey or Dear, where the portions are large and comfort food spot-on in terms of quantity and quality. Some chain or another uses a phrase something like, “Come in. Go away happy.” And that’s the truth at the Luxury Diner, where there’s often a wait for a table but the fare is certainly worth waiting for. The diner has been around since 1926, when automotive travel along the Lincoln Highway (Lincolnway in Cheyenne and US 30 across the country) was beginning to compete with trains.

The bet part diner, to the left of the entrance annex, is a long, skinny room that was once a trolley car (below), evident when you look up at the ceiling. A counter stretches along one wall with tables along the other wall and the back. (Larger tables are in the room where we entered.) Red and white check tablecloths, black and white tile floors and  red curtains add to the retro-look. The walls are hung with memorabilia, including great old photographs that show Cheyenne in its heyday as a train town in the golden age of rail travel. The Union Pacific’s main line is just south of the diner, and you still hear freight trains rumbling past. To those who remember when trains served large cities and small towns alike, it is a comforting, familiar sound. To those too young, it reflects the way things once were when rails of steel rather than Interstates and airplanes linked the nation. In addition to the sound of the trains, the throwback decor, the waitresses’ style and the look of the place, the prices are also a blast from the past.

But what of the food? Good, hot, hearty and as nostalgic as the trackside and roadside location. They don’t know how to do small portions. I tried to get a single Egg Benedict, but the waitress said, “We can’t do that, Honey.” No “Sorry.” No “I’ll ask.” Just a simple statement of fact, and I liked that. One of my companions suggested getting the full portion and eating what I wanted, but I try hard not to waste food, so I passed on that suggestion and ordered a fruit cup (orange slides, cantaloupe and honeydew melon cubes and a maraschino cherry) and oatmeal (“You want raisins, Dear.”) My friends were less modest with their breakfast orders. One selected a pork chop smothered in green chili with fried potatoes, a folded flour tortilla and sour cream.
Just as you can get breakfast all day, you can order lunch in the morning, and one of my companions
launched her day with a grilled cheese sandwich and thick fried potatoes.
Price check: Breakfast items, $1.45 for a single pancake to $6.25 for some of the omelets. Lunch and dinner, sandwiches $3.65 for grilled cheese to $8.98 for a steak sandwich; platters, $6.25 for chicken fingers to $9.95 for a steak sandwich; desserts, 75 cents for a scoop of ice cream to $2.75 for a sundae or house-baked baked desserts. Also, kid’s lunch and dinner items, $2;15-$4.50 for ages 12 and under. 
Luxury Diner on Urbanspoon

The Capitol Grille: Capital Dining in Cheyenne

Plains Hotel’s restaurant a perennial Cheyenne favorite

When the Plains Hotel opened in 1911, it boasted a premier location across from Cheyenne’s busy Union Pacific Depot. Among the well-known guests were politicians on the campaign trail from the whistlestop era and later, including Tom Dewey, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy, and celebrities in Wyoming to make or promote movies including Carroll Baker, Karl Malden, Pat Wayne, Gilbert Roland, Sal Mineo, Ricardo Montalban Jimmy Stewart, Barbara Eden and Debbie Reynolds. Surely, they also dined in the hotel restaurant.

The hotel fell into disrepair, although blocks of rooms continued to be blocked off for Union Pacific crews, long after passenger service was discontinued. The beautiful depot has been restored, and the hotel received a massive makeover in 2002 that included The Capitol Grille, a restaurant whose decor evokes the Craftsman style and whose cuisine, piloted by chef Gary Trehy, is a favorite by government officials, business travelers, legislators during the legislative session and visitors who appreciate the ambiance and the ample portions. Nine of us — eight out-of-towners and three locals — certainly did, forking into portions that would fuel a working cowboy.

The Wyoming Quesadilla (below) is not billed as an appetizer to share, but it certainly should be. Large flour tortillas (note plural) are stuffed with onion, jalapenos, black olives, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses and topped with additional cheese and sided with the Tex-Mex condiment trinity of sour cream, guacamole and salsa. And oh yes, add chicken or steak to the filling.

The soup of the day was a takeoff on minestrone, with white beans and mixed vegetables, herbs and cheese. “Hearty” is an appropriate adjective.
The Plains House Salad combines mixed greens, tomatoes, red onions, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, sprouts, sweet peppers and blue cheese crumbles. There’s a choice of thick dressings and two slices of herbed crostini come on the plate. The large salad (top image, below) is huge, and even the small version (bottom image) is sizable.

A raft of crostini come with a spread-your-own topping of finely chopped feta, Greek olive, tomato, red onions and artichoke hearts, and a small ramekin of sun-dried tomato pesto. 
Ricotta-stuffed shells are lurking somewhere under this thick blanket of Alfredo sauce, topped with cheese (and maybe crumbs) and quickly browned. This rich-looking dish was ordered at the other end of the table, and I snapped a quick photo but didn’t inspect it or remember to ask.
Red meat rules in Wyoming, and the images below show variations on the theme of beef or lamb that is served with a choice of garlic whipped potatoes, baked potato, fried Yukon golds (the kitchen had run out earlier) or cranberry wild rice, plus sauteed mixed vegetables and a sprinkle of chopped parsley on the plate rims. The top photo shows the Rocky Mountain Lamb chops with Bearnaise and marion berry sauces, and the lower one the 14-ounce grilled ribeye. 
A steak-size portion of grilled fish is available with the same choice of sides as the meat dishes.
Apple-walnut cheesecake garnished with fresh fruit, whipped cream, mint and caramel sauce.
A mountainous slice of chocolate cherry mousse cake with decorative loops of whipped cream.
Price check: At dinner, appetizers, $7.95-$12.95; soups and salads, $3.50-$6.96; entrees, $9.95-$29.95; desserts, $6.95. The $20 range between the least expensive entree (stuffed shells) and the most expensive (the lamb chops) is worth noting.

Capitol Grille on Urbanspoon