A Jewel in the Rough: Three Perfect Days at The Bentwood Inn in Jackson Hole

Affordable Luxury and Sumptuous Dining

Autumn is a great time to visit Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Parkin Wyoming.  Most of the summer tourists have gone home, things move at a slower pace, and the National Elk Refuge begins to stir with wildlife descending from the mountains into the vast 25,000 acre meadow.Last week, my husband, Mark, and I hopped in the car in pursuit of a little R & R, good food, and a little adventure. We found all that and more during our three-day visit to Jackson Hole.Nestled in the shadows of the Grand Tetons, just a few miles from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is The Bentwood Inn. Offering a combination of rustic charm, luxurious – but affordable – accommodations, and gastronomical delights, the Bentwood delivers a perfect balance to the rugged beauty of Jackson Hole.

The Bentwood offers five deluxe guest rooms with private baths, decks, and fireplaces as well as cable and wireless internet. Plush, king-sized beds sit ready to embrace weary travelers after a full-day of Jackson Hole exploration.

Trio, An American Bistro
Innkeepers, Peter and Jennifer Tignor, greeted us upon arrival and after showing us around, provided us with directions to Trio, An American Bistro just off the Town Square in downtown Jackson (45 S. Glenwood; 307-734-8038).  Named one of Jackson Hole’s hottest restaurants in 2008 by Food and Wine magazine, Trio’s kitchen is manned by three chefs – Will Bradof, Chef/Owner; Paul Wireman, Chef/Owner; and Mike Christie, Executive Sous Chef.

We ordered seared elk sirloin served on a bed of watercress, shaved red onion, tomatoes and granny smith apples lightly bathed in Point Reyes blue cheese dressing to accompany the robust Pinot Noir we selected (Elk Cove, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2006). Mark ordered a buffalo burger with Cabot cheddar, Nueske’s bacon, and sweet potato fries, while I ordered the truffled short rib pasta – a savory combination of pappardelle pasta, truffled ricotta, oyster mushrooms, and red wine-braised short ribs. Everything was perfectly prepared and the service friendly and fast. It was no surprise that the jam-packed dining room was lively and buzzing with approving patrons.

Back at The Inn
During our visit, we were lured to breakfast each morning by the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, homemade blueberry muffins and coffee cake as well as sumptuous entrees to get our day started. Our first course included such delights as honey and balsamic glazed, roasted pears served with a dollop of yogurt, and artfully presented fresh fruit. Breakfast selections included fresh corned beef hash and fluffy scrambled eggs served atop dense, grilled bread and cheese omelets with hash browns.

Wine and cheese are served every afternoon in the Great Room around the three-story river rock fireplace. Guests are invited to linger near the baby grand piano, or enjoy the well-stocked library of local books and guides.

The Hole Hiking Experience
Peter and Jennifer arranged an afternoon guided hike for us with naturalist Bev Charette of The Hole Hiking Experience. Bev picked us up and we set out toward Munger Mountain with other guests of the Inn. Four hours and a few miles later, we had explored the silent beauty of the woods and received a lesson in geology, flora, and fauna as well as some local history. The Hole Hiking Experience offers a variety of hiking tours for all ages and abilities. Click here for more information, or call 866-733-4453.

Il Villaggio Osteria
Following our hike, we returned to the Bentwood for a shower and a nap before heading to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for dinner at the Il Villagio Osteria, which opened this year inside the eco-chic Hotel Terra.

Featuring a sleek, contemporary feel, Osteria’s twelve seat wine bar and eight seat salumi bar, where imported meats and cheese are hand-sliced to order while guests watch, is both a local and tourist hot spot. We enjoyed a glass of Spanish Tempranillo red while perusing the menu.  Moments later, our baked, fresh mozzarella and marinara appetizer arrived, followed by a flavorful salad of escarole, “blistered” cherry tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds in an apricot – sherry vinaigrette.

Mark decided on the baked garganelli – a decadent blend of pasta, crumbled meatballs, esposito hot and sweet sausage, house-made ricotta, and mozzarella. I ordered Osteria’s house-made gnocchi, prepared with caramelized onions, brown butter, sun-dried tomatoes, and mascarpone – heaven in a bowl.

Teton Science Schools Wildlife Expedition
Saturday morning, we met wildlife biologist, Mark Byall of Teton Science Schools Wildlife Expeditions, to participate in a sunrise wildlife watching tour through the Jackson Hole Valley.  Less than a half hour into our tour, we pulled up along the National Elk Refuge to watch a herd of elk. As we peered through scopes and binoculars, the herd began to run at a pretty good pace one direction, then back the other way, when we realized that they were being harassed by first one, then two grey wolves. The elk finally created a comfortable distance for themselves and the wolves disappeared into the brush.

Sipping cocoa to warm up, we got back in the car and continued on our tour. A little further down the road, we encountered several pronghorns and a few smaller groups of bison. Wildlife Expeditions leads wildlife watching tours in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, as well as throughout the Jackson Hole valley.  They remain dedicated to educating people about wildlife in order to foster awareness and appreciation of wild places and the wildlife that inhabits them. According to their web site, Teton Science Schools’ Sunrise and Sunset tours provide a four-hour introduction to the wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Geo-ecosystem, taking advantage of those times when animals are most active. Expedition leaders are familiar with the best wildlife viewing areas and teach guests how to find and observe wildlife without disturbing them. Their customized, safari-style vehicles are equipped with retractable roof hatches and sliding windows to maximize observation opportunities.

The Bunnery – A Local Hot Spot
When the sunrise tour was finished, we were hungry for lunch. The Bunnery looked intriguing; the line was long, but we didn’t mind waiting. We ordered The Gros Ventre Slide – eggs nestled in a bed of hash browns and green chiles, topped with melted cheddar cheese. Well worth the wait!

Along with a full breakfast menu, this local hot spot offers daily selections of freshly baked goodies: cinnamon crisps, plate-sized almond and raspberry turnovers, coffee cake, croissants, assorted muffins, and much more.  Hearty luncheons include their homemade chili and vegetable soup and sandwiches served on The Bunnery’s famous O.S.M. (Oats, Sunflower and Millet) bread.  (130 North Cache, 1/2 Block North of the Town Square tucked in the Hole In The Wall Mall, 307-734-0075)

Unique Shopping in Town Square
Our weekend in Jackson wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Town Square for a sampling of the local shopping and a photo of its famous antler arches.  A sunny, crisp afternoon was perfect for a leisurely stroll. Visit Earth and Vine (260 W Pearl St.; 307-734-5033) to find a unique gourmet gift or have lunch at the Wine Bistro located inside the shop.

As collectors of Christmas ornaments and cookbooks that capture the places we travel, we made our way to Moose Be Christmas on the Town Square and the Valley Bookstore (125 N. Cache Dr.; 307-733-4353) to shop for both.

The Bentwood’s 4250 Bistro
With two full days of activities behind us, we were looking forward to relaxing back at the Inn and experiencing their latest culinary venture – The Bentwood “4250” Bistro. Peter, also the Bentwood’s Chef-in-Residence, and culinary partner Jennifer, feature fresh, organic and locally raised ingredients. Every Tuesday and Saturday, guests of the Inn are invited to enjoy fresh, seasonal dinners comprised of three to four courses.

We were served a smooth red wine from the Republic of Georgia (Telliano Valley, Saperavi, 2006) to whet our appetites. The Saperavi grape variety is only grown in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia and the wine was a perfect complement to the menu selections that followed. Peter indulged us with velvety parsnip soup, followed by classic Caesar salad, and wild boar (yes, wild boar!) prepared two ways: wild board spare ribs were slow braised, then finished using the traditional French rillette method, and wild boar tenderloin was pan-seared with fresh thyme and cracked pepper. Cabbage braised in apple cider vinegar and applewood smoked bacon rounded out our main course in tandem with mashed sweet potatoes, laced with pure maple syrup. Completing our autumn feast was Jennifer’s vanilla crème brulee – the perfect end to a warm, satisfying day.

A Sustainable Vision
The Inn was recently purchased by a group of international travel veterans with deep connections to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and a mix of ecotourism, adventure sport, and corporate finance in their backgrounds. The Bentwood vision is to craft a conscious balance between luxury and adventure, healthy food and sumptuous celebration, and outstanding hospitality in a valley that offers world-class recreation – a vision they have clearly realized.

The Bentwood Inn is also a member of One Percent for the Tetons, an organization that recognizes that the region’s extraordinary natural resources are the foundation of all its essential qualities. Business members of One Percent for the Tetons donate one percent of their sales to the organization, which in turn funds projects that support the long-term sustainability of the Teton region.

If you’re planning a trip to Jackson Hole, be sure to include the Bentwood Inn in your lodging plans – the only Jackson, Wyoming lodging facility with the distinguished Select Registry affiliation for outstanding quality, friendly staff, and gourmet meals. They are offering a special Thanksgiving package as well as a variety of ski season packages.

For more information, contact Peter or Jennifer Tignor at 307-739-1411 or via info@bentwoodinn.com.  To book a reservation, call or go to The Bentwood Inn.

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