Thursday, September 15, 2016

229 Parks - Denali NP

I have a hard time forgiving Denali Salmon Bake for what they did to my beautiful king salmon filet (see my last post). By comparison, I was ready to nominate the chef at 229 Parks for a James Beard Award. 

229 Parks gets its name from its address - it is located at 229 Parks Highway, or more formally, George Parks Highway (George Parks was the governor of Alaska Territory from 1925 to 1933). It was just across the highway and up the street from where we stayed at Denali Backcountry Cabins. I can thank our bus driver, who took us the entire 92 miles into and back out of Denali NP, earlier that day. She recommended it to us as the best place to eat in the area. 

Salmon was my food focus for Alaska, so I ordered it again. King salmon, again, pan seared, basil aioli, snap peas, herbed potatoes, poached egg, and kalamata olive tapenade. I asked, almost afraid, if they would under-cook the salmon. "Of course, no problem." I about fell out of my chair. It was such a nice contrast to the night before. The snap peas were fresh and still a little crisp, the poached egg was deliciously runny, the salmon was very pink in the middle, soft, moist and conducive to the other wonderful flavors on the plate, including the olive tapenade on top. Another thing I learned about salmon on the trip is that what it is served with it really matters. It is best served with other ingredients. If I'm ordering a steak, I'm considering it by itself. With salmon, I want it to have some complementary ingredients. These worked well. 
Look at this beautiful presentation. Those snap peas are just begging to be eaten. The poached egg is such a great idea. 
One picture does not do it justice. 
Look inside. Pink, smooth, moist. No dryness here.
Judy got black cod in a horseradish sauce with a huge chunk of cooked broccoli. Although it looked a little burnt on the outside, it was just seared, still moist. I liked the horseradish, but thought it was a tad bit strong. What made this dish was a crispy length of skin that was salty and delicious - a fish skin cracker. I've never had anything like it. 
Black cod
I have to share another photo to show the crispy skin.
We shared a yellow beet salad. Thin slices of crispy beet, I loved the presentation, so another two pictures. 

I wasn't really hungry, but the desserts in their dessert case looked so good and what we'd had so far was so outstanding, I had to go for it. One of their specialties is a berry pastry. This had blueberry, nectarine, raspberry in a pastry shell with vanilla ice cream. Good, but not outstanding. I was secretly wishing to eat those berries fresh and cold, just picked from a bush. Salmon and berries works for grizzly bears, why not me?
I was blown away to find a restaurant of this quality in the tundra of Alaska. Put this place in Los Angeles and it would compete with the best of them. This was my favorite restaurant of our trip. I just looked at a recent Trip Advisor review. I quote from a comment: "This is the best place to dine in Denali...I reserved a table weeks in advance because this place fills up really quickly. Actually, I reserved a table here before I even reserved a hotel room. My family has been to Denali before, so the purpose of our second trip was to eat at 229 Parks...well...and bike in the park." Those would be my sentiments if we were to return to Denali again. DON'T EAT AT DENALI SALMON BAKE. THEY SERVE TWICE-KILLED SALMON: ONCE WHEN CAUGHT AND THE SECOND TIME WHEN COOKED. 


  1. I agree about the salmon accoutrements. Not only is it tasty, but it's always nice to eat beautiful food. The way the salmon was served raised it from an A to an A+. Great restaurant.

  2. I love the idea of trying the same food (salmon) over and over again in an area that specializes in it. Kind of like trying every gelato possible in Europe.