A new Chef’s Tasting Menu launches today in Eleven, the restaurant at Crystal Bridges. Chef Bill Lyle has put together a delightful three-course meal to correspond with our current temporary exhibition, The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip. Here’s your preview!
Travel writer William Least Heat-Moon claimed, in his bestselling book Blue Highways, that you could determine the quality of a roadside café by the number of wall calendars you found there:
No calendar: Same as an interstate pit stop. One calendar: Preprocessed food assembled in New Jersey. Two calendars: Only if fish trophies present. Three calendars: Can’t miss on the farm-boy breakfasts. Four calendars: Try the ho-made pie, too. Five calendars: Keep it under your hat, or they will franchise. One time I found a six calendar café in the Ozarks, which served fired chicken, peach pie, and chocolate malts, that left me searching for another ever since. I’ve never seen a seven-calendar place.
Roadside café dining is as much a part of the American road trip as the road itself; and this month’s Tasting Menu plays homage to some of America’s finest.
1st Wild boar sausage and jalapeño cornbread baked in a fresh, herb-infused custard, tarragon, and white wine-mustard-sauce, served with arugula salad and quick pickles Inspired by the Cozy Dog Drive-In, Springfield, Illinois.
Ed Waldmire, inventor of the corn dog, was inspired by a roadside diner that sold hot dogs baked in cornbread. He contacted a friend whose father was a baker and, working together in a USO kitchen in Amarillo, they developed a quick, fried version they dubbed the “crusty cur,” which debuted in 1946. Later, they were served in Waldmire’s Springfield, Illinois, restaurant as “cozy dogs.” This course is based on the original dish that inspired the corn dog we know today.
2nd Bacon-wrapped Black Angus filet stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, fire-roasted Hatch-chile compound butter, and duck-fat roasted potatoes Inspired by the Bobcat Bite restaurant, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Eggleston’s collection features many Midwest American images that have helped shaped our perception of Route 66 and the American road trip. The Bobcat Bite was an iconic restaurant along this route that served up its famous green-chile-cheeseburger from 1953 to 2013.* This dish showcases all of the components of the Bobcat Bite’s award-winning burger, with emphasis on the renowned New Mexico Hatch chile.
3rd Chocolate pie with coffee-bean streusel, Airship espresso whipped cream, and Kyya dark-chocolate lattice Inspired by Pine Country Restaurant in Williams, Arizona. The last town on Route 66 to be bypassed by I-44, Williams continues to thrive due to the return of the railroad and the town’s nostalgic, old-timey feel. Located in a building straight out of an old Western movie, the Pine Country Restaurant boasts 46 flavors of homemade pie prepared daily. *The Bobcat’s green-chile-cheeseburger is now available at the Santa Fe Bite, Santa Fe, New Mexico.