Roadtrippin’ 2022: Salmon and Bear Restaurant offers surprising dining experience in McCarthy

Roadtrippin’ 2022: Salmon and Bear Restaurant offers surprising dining experience in McCarthy
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 6:46 PM AKDT
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MCCARTHY, Alaska (KTUU) - If you stroll down the main street of McCarthy, you’ll notice its many charms that include historic buildings, interesting people, and lots and lots of dogs. It’s what you might expect of a former mining town that had its heyday in the 1920s and 30s. What may surprise you is that the town also includes an option for fine dining.

The Salmon and Bear Restaurant is located in one of the oldest buildings in town, a former cannery that was shipped up from Seattle and finished its journey to McCarthy via dog sled in the early 1900′s. The location has housed a restaurant since 1973, according to owner Neil Darish, but only began offering finer fare in 2001.

Chef Josh Slaughter said Salmon and Bear often takes guests by surprise.

“It’s fun because they’re not expecting to come in from the wilderness and find..not hamburgers.,” Slaughter said.

There are no hamburgers on the menu. Slaughter keeps it fresh and local whenever possible.

“Of course, our salmon is from Copper River,” Slaughter said. “Our chickens are actually raised across the river on the way in.”

“We go foraging for a lot of ingredients, anything we can locally source — and by local I mean Alaska — we do.”

Slaughter pairs unique Alaskan ingredients with fine wines. Another surprise is that the restaurant carries nearly 300 different labels and has earned a Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for two years in a row.

“We take a lot of pride in it, to be this remote and have that extensive a wine list is unheard of,” Slaughter said.

A typical offering on a weekday evening included fresh king salmon, adorned with wildflowers and served with deep-fried dandelion greens with a dandelion pistou. A meat course of local beef was served braised accompanied by sourdough noodles, preserved lemons and spruce tips in a special sauce.

Slaughter said he enjoys experimenting with food and letting guests judge the results.

“Literally, there’s nothing we won’t try at least once,” Slaughter said.

The Salmon and Bear may be located in a remote area but many would agree, the restaurant is a gem in the wilderness.

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