Stephen Travels

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Sage Creek Grille, Custer, South Dakota

Sage Creek Grille (Custer, South Dakota)

As I walked down Mt. Rushmore Road, the main strip that cuts through Custer, South Dakota, the eye-catching Purple Pie Place — a cute two-story building with flower boxes and a front porch, painted, of course, various shades of purple — tempted me into perhaps having dessert before dinner. I narrowly resisted, at least temporarily: I returned later for a postprandial snack — a slice of delicious peanut butter pie and a fantastic chocolate milkshake.

But, for dinner, I was headed to Sage Creek Grille, a pleasant, unassuming local restaurant with a brick face and a covered walkway. The interior feels bright and fresh, and the walls sport then-and-now photos of the surrounding area as well as paintings by local artists that are available for sale. Under the same owner since 1999, Sage Greek offers an American-based menu that is not excessively long and features dishes that one might expect in western South Dakota (buffalo burgers, for instance, or walleye), but a few surprises that don’t fall under traditional “American” fare make things more interesting.

Fork and KnifeTry This: The watermelon iced tea is so good, you may just have to order a second glass after you guzzle down the first. Start with a fantastic appetizer of roasted poblano hummus of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, cilantro, spices, and honey, served with raw broccoli and bread. For the main course, try the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon with lemon gremolata, or, better yet, the sliced medallions of pork tenderloin rolled in a peppercorn and rosemary roulade, served over a parmesan risotto cake and accompanied by sautéed zucchini and carrots topped with a whiskey cream sauce.