How badass is this? Very. Where does it lead? You'll have to visit Dubois and find out.
Fact 1: There are very few restaurants in Dubois, Wyoming. Roughly 15. 

Fact 2: They are all very good. 

As a food writer, there's a definite futility that comes with having an almost unlimited array of food options. Denver food scene, I love you, but it's an unrequited love, because I'll never be able to try each and everyone of your restaurants. 

There's a certain security in small town eateries. If you wanted to spend the time, you could try and retry every dish at every restaurant. You could finally exit the hectic restaurant dating scene, no longer chasing after each new fad and fancy, each hot new piece of sea bass, and settle down with Mr. Right Restaurant. 

As it happens, I've found a strong contender for Mr. Right Restaurant. And he's a cowboy. 

Cowboy Cafe to be exact. 
That's right. Seafood, chicken, steaks and "ETC." That "ETC" includes, among other things, elk and bison in burger form and also stuffed into sausage casings and grilled to juicy, fatty, scrumptious perfection. 

And also moose droppings. 
No, not real ones, silly. I admit I've eaten some weird things: sea urchin (Fishy, orange mayonnaise. Not my favorite.), bull's balls (Sorry, that wasn't polite. "Rocky Mountain Oysters."), alligator, frog's legs, eel, seitan, tongue (Who hasn't, right?). But I draw the line at droppings. Good thing these "droppings" are actually hefty chunks of cheddar cheese covered with a thick, substantial breading, and deep fried until crisp and golden. 

You'd think that a dish like this would be dripping with oil – my sidekick ordered it because it sounded "fried and fatty" – but the actual dish is lighter than you'd expect, satisfying and chewy. An old West take on mozzarella sticks. 
Notice the obligatory lettuce leaf peeking coyly up between fried goodness. It's a token. This restaurant is all about the meat: beef, bison, elk, chicken. The menu featured a few common salad specimens, but when you can order elk meat, why would you get a salad?

I used to be that person. The one who ordered salad at a steak place. But no longer. Life is short, I'm ordering the meat. And with entrees, like the Wyoming Wild Platter, you should too. 
Enter smoked bison sausage in a stunning duet with spicy elk sausage, nestled in a bed of caramelized onions. 

A few things to point out here. This is a dish that any Southerner would heartily approve of (myself and my sidekick included). Why? Corn is a vegetable; bread is a must. And most of all, the meat is the star. 

For years, I've been referring to any kind of exotic meat that I order in a restaurant (bison, elk, yak, emu, etc.) as "wild game." We found out today from a protein-savvy butcher at Wind River Meats that any meat you get in a restaurant, exotic or not, is farmed like cattle, inspected and USDA-approved. Come to think of it, the idea of any health inspector being okay with a restaurant serving meat shot in the woods that morning doesn't seem realistic. 

Whatever the methods, I still find game meats a welcome change from beef, pork and chicken. 
Mmmm... come to me, you gorgeous meat logs. The smoked bison definitely delivered with a smooth, seductive smoke flavor and low heat level. The elk, leaner and much spicier, matched the bison in taste and texture. There's no saying what's better; you might just have to go with whichever one you're eating at the moment. 

Cowboy Cafe? You've made a cowgirl out of me. 

Cowboy Cafe on Urbanspoon

Leave a Reply.