Prix fixe. Amuse bouche. Roulade and ragout. Confit and consomme. Even the occasional "Auld Lang Syne." New Year's Eve menus sure can be complicated, if not downright foreign for casual diners.
Don't let fancy terms intimidate you -- that's just local chefs having fun. For more than 100 nights a year, most slave to reinvent chicken, shrimp and burgers without losing their minds and kitchen cred. Typically, the only French cuisine they get to work with are toast and fries. On New Year's Eve, chefs have a free pass to let their flavor flags fly, and if you're confused by their menus, there's a simple, one-word translation: Yum!
A kiss at midnight? Anyone can score one of those. You should take advantage of dozens of forkfuls of culinary kisses that start at your lips, dance past your tongue and snuggle into your tummy. Here's how some of Anchorage's best local chefs and restaurants plan to wine and dine you this New Year's Eve.
It's another year and another decadent New Year's Eve menu at Jens' Restaurant, where chef/owner Jens Hansen and staff will happily pop a cork, cut a rug and romance your palate. Foie gras, duck soup, king crab, red deer and even some black-eyed peas for good luck are on the loaded $85 menu. Want fireworks? One of three entree choices is the roast beef tenderloin topped with shallot butter over cabernet-braised wild mushrooms and horseradish mashed potatoes. Seatings are available for early and late crowds.
On a night famous for overindulgence, Kinley's Restaurant &Bar offers a fantastic five-course prix fixe menu ($60) and an inspired wine pairing ($30) for under $100. There is one quandary, however-- choosing between the two entree options: seared scallops, mussels and shrimp swimming with potatoes, leeks and root vegetables in a creamy brandy broth, or a strip loin steak wrapped around Roquefort cheese, spinach and mushrooms with a port demi-glace. The wine lineup includes a Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc from Sonoma, Calif. -- start your engines! A limited a la carte menu is also available; flexible seating schedule starts at 5 p.m.
From ahi sashimi to quail sausage, poached pheasant breast to grilled elk rack, Marx Bros. Cafe is wild about magnificent meats and New Year's spoils. This year's prix fixe menu is a big night delight with an entree choice between the aforementioned grilled elk rack served over a green chili, cream cheese crepe with red wine sauce and red onion gremolata or a pan-seared Alaska sablefish served with lavender spaetzle, Swiss chard, chanterelle mushrooms and wild boar bacon. Wow. Dining is $95 for early seatings and $125 for late; add $40 for wine pairings. Be sure to ask about the complimentary limousine service to take you home.
Kincaid Grill's chef Drew Johnson and team have constructed a New Year's Eve menu that aims for the heavens: lobster bisque and duck confit salad, seared Kodiak scallops and Hudson Valley foie gras, roast prime beef filet and a few other dreamy components. The menu is $85; add wine pairings for an additional $40. There are multiple seatings, but make reservations early.
Why aim for the heavens when you can dine there? Seven Glaciers is set 2,300 feet up Mount Alyeska in Girdwood. The Alyeska Aerial Tram will drop you off, and Seven Glaciers executive chef Jason Porter will drive from there with his five-course tasting menu. It features a two-way oyster opener, continues with seared foie gras and a pear salad, adds a roasted escolar fish with bacon-braised black-eyed peas and mustard greens, peaks at a filet with lobster hollandaise, and closes with a dessert sampler. Romance bonus: bubbles in your glass, the lights of Girdwood sparkling below. The menu is only $79; add wine complements and champagne for $45.
Looking for adventure? Dine at Sacks Cafe, which is offering a four-course menu with multiple choices at step. You'll probably want all four entree options: seared Alaska sea scallops with toasted walnut lemon chevre risotto; duck breast roulade surrounding apples, figs, confit and root vegetable hash; grilled beef tenderloin with Alaska potatoes and carrots; and a Matanuska Valley root veggie plate with a butter-poached egg. Decisions, decisions! $75 gets you four courses, a parmesan cannoli opener and a glass of champagne.
Take your time with chef Travis Haugen's Southside Bistro offerings -- they will make you pause for a moment of pleasure at each bite of figs and scallops, pear-vanilla relish and pork belly, fresh salmon and rich beef short ribs. You'll certainly wish dessert won't end, whether you pick the devil's food cupcake or the exotic fruit sorbet sampler. It's $70 for dinner; $35 for wine pairings. Seating takes place from 5:30-9:30 p.m.
The always festive Villa Nova takes its party to new heights on New Year's Eve. This year the menu includes 24 specials that range from $20-$50 and are headlined by chef Georgio Chrimat's beloved classic Beef Wellington. Standards like fish, veal, chicken and steak are available, as are vegetarian specials and wine and champagne pairings.
King crab and caviar pasta is a pretty spectacular main course on most nights, but that's a starter on the five-course New Year's Eve prix fixe menu at Muse at the Anchorage Museum. Seriously. The two entree choices are grilled Hawaiian fish served with fruity complements or seared lamb chops with a pinot noir reduction and tawny port demi-glace. Dinner is $75; add wine pairings for $40. Seatings are open from 6- 9:30 p.m.
In Eagle River, Haute Quarter Grill is taking reservations from 5-10 p.m. and is going big with all-star lineup of menu options: filet mignon, lobster tail, prime rib and roasted duck, as well as seafood stuffed crepes, oysters and more. The staff also promises special wine pairings.
One New Year's Eve mainstay is taking a year off. Downtown's Corsair Restaurant recently suffered a flooding accident and its management team apologizes for not being able to party with you.
Location: 11221 Old Glenn Highway, Eagle River
Location: 701 W. 36th Avenue
Location: 6700 Jewel Lake Road
Location: 3230 Seward Highway
Location: 627 W. Third Ave.
Location: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C St.
Location: 328 G St.
Location: Alyeska Resort, Girdwood
Location: 1320 Huffman Park Drive, No. 130
Location: 5121 Arctic Blvd., No. I
Restaurants get creative for New Year's Eve