photo credit: Jakob Layman
Scratch Bar & Kitchen
When you find out a meal costs nearly $200 per person, you want to know what you’re in for. First and foremost, do you even need to go to a place that requires shelling out the cost of a car payment to get in the door? Scratch Bar is a restaurant inside of a three-story shopping mall in the valley that has a functioning carousel out front. That’s not exactly the setting you’d expect for a place that serves a 20-course prix fixe dinner, but it’s one of many reasons that makes Scratch Bar special.
If you’re in the market for a completely unique dining experience that not every person in your office has been gloating about for two years, you need to consider Scratch Bar. The food is fantastic and interesting, but unlike other fancy prix fixe restaurants in this town, you don’t feel like you’re trapped in a government sterilization center all night. This is a place where you want to hang out with friends, cozy up with a date, and also feel like you’re doing something completely different.
A meal at Scratch is broken into two different parts. The first one takes place at the front bar you might mistake for a 19th-century apothecary. Here you’ll eat a few small, one-bite courses of things like chicharron and mushroom meringue paired with excellent cocktails made from contraptions used by frontier doctors. It’s theatrical, but you’re in a mall next to a dance studio and a CPK, so just roll with it. Besides, this whole portion is only meant to be a warm-up for the main event that awaits around the corner.
Inside the dining room, the atmosphere completely changes. With a giant open kitchen, stacks of chopped wood, and fires flickering in every direction, suddenly you’re at the cool basement restaurant inside a five-star hotel in Jackson Hole where everyone is trying to get a table. Unless you’re with a big group, you’ll most likely be seated at the long bar facing the kitchen where you’ll watch all 20 courses of food being prepared in front of you.
Scratch’s tasting menu changes seasonally, but regardless, you’re going to eat things like ocean trout in an umami broth and perfectly-marbled wagyu beef. It’s comfort food, but portioned and paced so well that you can eat two dozen courses and still walk out standing upright. Not every single dish out of the 20 is a home run, but considering just how many plates hit the table, there’s no shortage of incredible food. Plus, the very best stuff comes at the back half of the meal, so by the time you’re spreading cheese-infused ice cream over a piece of toast like it’s butter, that good-but-forgettable foie gras you had 16 plates ago is a distant memory. And so is that carousel out front.
Scratch Bar’s menu changes frequently. Here are some highlights from our most recent meal.
This is the first big dish you get in the main dining room and it’s one of the most memorable of the night. The raw trout itself basically dissolves in your mouth, and the umami broth provides some needed richness.
One of the more visually striking plates of the night, this kohlrabi is a highlight because of the Vietnamese fish dipping sauce, leche de tigre, and bruleed sweet potato that come with it.
We didn’t know that squash filled with other kinds of other squash could taste this incredible, but Scratch Bar has proved it’s possible. Your move, turducken.
Japanese Wagyu Beef
They actually bring this perfect piece of beef over to you for inspection before they start cooking it - a fantastic opportunity to pretend like you know how to inspect an uncooked piece of cow.
Alert: This is the best dish at Scratch Bar and one of the most memorable desserts we’ve eaten in a long time. The cheese ice cream is rich and caramel-y, and when spread over the piece of buttered toast it comes with, you’ll wonder why other desserts even try.