After a long trip on our way to Vacation Village, a full parking lot at the Dakota Restaurant late on a Sunday evening was incentive enough for us to agree that it was time to stop. A rustic log cabin on the outside - appropriate for a steakhouse - the decor continues inside. This large restaurant is so well designed that it makes you feel welcomed, cozy, and relaxed.
The Dakota is divided into many smaller areas with half walls, branches, large timber logs, and showcases of Indian artifacts. Large moose, elk, and deer heads hang on the walls, along with wooden skis and snowshoes. It is a large restaurant with a small feel.
A pleasant hostess offered us a choice of comfy sofas in the entrance or a seat at the adjacent bar for our short wait. The two bartenders worked efficiently and quietly to take care of the crowd. Drinks were chilled and made to our liking - and a small leaflet with the printed menu and an explanation of the taste and tenderness of the different cuts of beef gave us a preview of what was to come. The pamphlet also described the aging process and explained the favorites.
The open kitchen was very interesting, with chefs cooking over open flames and plating dishes for the waitstaff to deliver. You can preview your meal here. A refrigerated case with meats and fish displayed and labeled was also helpful in deciding what to feast on. After being seated we were directed to the salad bar, a selection of four types of lettuce, six dressings, three types of homemade croutons, and an array of great veggies, the best being the organic heirloom tomatoes and wasabi peas. I could have made a meal of this alone (and I don't like salad), but more was to come - fresh-baked grain bread served warm and a choice of red skin mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, or polenta.
Prime rib was cooked to perfection and the teriyaki sirloin (one of the favorites) was really flavorful. Vegetables are available as an extra side for a charge. As your meat is served, the wait staff waits until you cut into it to make sure that it was cooked to your liking. Children's portions are served immediately if you prefer so that parents can enjoy a cocktail while the kids get started. Their meat is served in chunks on three skewers, a very nice idea so parents don't even have to help them cut!!
It is definitely worth a stop, and we certainly will drop in again whenever we see this "chain" restaurant during our travels.