August 16, 2011
Big Wood Grill

When my BFF Jody said she’d come up from Boise to see Rickie Lee Jones with me, we immediately began dialoguing about dinner. (Priorities, right?) New restaurant names were thrown about like celebrities and old staples made the mix as well. We happily settled on the Big Wood Grill (located on the Big Wood Golf Course off of Saddle Road). I love the Big Wood Grill’s location for two reasons. No. 1 is a no brainer: the phenomenal deck and its views of Baldy, the Boulders and Galena Peak—there isn’t bad table in the place — an all-al fresco dining experience with plenty of shade for those warmer afternoons. No. 2: When Peter and I decided to live together oh so long ago, our first apartment was at the Alpenrose, where the Big Wood Grill stands today. The Alpenrose Hotel was 85 percent complete and the proprietors rented out a few suites to lucky folks like us. It was like living on the set of "The Shining," with long, spooky hallways all to ourselves (thankfully absent Jack Nicholson). It’s always a wonderful stroll down memory lane when I make that turn to the Big Wood Grill.

We arrived about 6pm and several people were already having dinner. We were seated at a table overlooking the golf course—a beautiful night ahead of us. Our attentive server, Nicole, who was doting but never intrusive, took our drink orders; Tecate ($4), Coors Light ($3) and Iced Tea ($2). We drooled over the specials and menu items: Summer pastas and inspired seafood dishes, burgers, salads and sandwiches. Big Wood has an enticing menu, with more variety than any of us anticipated. We made our choices with help from Nicole. Summer pasta ($16.95), an Ahi Tuna sandwich ($14.95) and Alaskan Halibut ($28.95).

 Clockwise: Summer pasta with tomatoes, basil and Parmesan; Ahi Tuna sandwich (also available in salad-form); Big Wood Grill's deck; The Sweet Crumb sample dessert plate; Views of the Big Wood Golf Course; Pan-seared Halibut with pineapple-mango salsa.

 

The Summer pasta was light, yet flavorful—angel hair pasta with a white wine butter sauce, cherry tomatoes (of varying colors), fresh basil and shaved Parmesan cheese to top it off. Peter sopped up every morsel with French bread. Jody had the pan-seared Alaskan halibut special with roasted red pepper mashed potatoes and a pineapple mango salsa. You would have thought we were dining on the Alaskan coast the fish was so fresh. I chose the Ahi Tuna sandwich. Encrusted with sesame seeds, the flip side gorgeously pink, luxuriating on a Kaiser roll. (Maybe a bit too much bread for this beautiful piece of tuna.) But, Holy Crap! Slathered in Wasabi aioli, I was a Geisha girl in my own Japanese heaven. Shoestring French fries kept my sandwich company (but not for long).

The young, shy chef Gabe Ganoza from Lima, Peru was coaxed out of the kitchen to greet us and brought a sample plate of spinach mashed potatoes. I could have made a meal out of the potatoes alone—talk about divine. Gabe was charming, funny and his love for cooking and attention to detail was apparent.

Because we were such enthusiastic diners, Nicole treated us to a sample plate from The Sweet Crumb bakery. It included a chocolate cupcake with vanilla butter cream, a macaroon that was to die for, and a New York cheesecake with berry sauce. It was a perfectly-sized dessert for the three of us to share guilt-free.

We spent the rest of the evening with Rickie Lee at River Run, serenading us in her sad and bluesy fashion reminding us of wilder days—yet another epic Ketchum night, especially lovely because I was with my BFF.