While the “Wild West” and Wild Bill Hikock tend to go hand-in-hand with Deadwood, Deadwood Mountain Grand (DMG) took a different approach with its branding.
“We focus on the music. It’s what we’re known for best with our event center,” said chef and food and beverage director Aaron Richards.
When visitors buy tickets to see acts like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (July 10) and Larry The Cable Guy (September 4), they can make a stop at the entertainment-inspired Six String Casual Fun Dining. As it states in the name, Richards says it’s meant to be a casual experience, but don’t think that doesn’t come with quality food.
“You find out what your clientele likes, because they tell you. You get better by your mistakes, not your compliments.” – Aaron Richards
“Because we have the casino and don’t have to worry about real estate, I have that option to make things more affordable,” said Richards. “You should be able to come in here and get a great meal for around $28.”
That includes the Seafood Tagliatelle with black rope mussels, sea scallops, tiger shrimp, and lump crab with vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh garlic, white wine butter sauce, basil, and egg noodle tagliatelle with a garlic breadstick.
“It has excellent, high quality seafood,” said Richards. “I buy real saffron, and details like that really matters.”
Details also include the dish’s presentation, like the Apple Pork Chop (Iberico bellota pork with caramelized apples, rosemary apple reduction, fingerling potatoes, sautéed kale, carrots, and marcona almonds), which he torches before sending out to the dining room, and the Sizzling Shrimp (grilled and seared tiger shrimp with vegetable lo mein, served with fresh lemon and ginger garlic dipping sauce), which cooks and is served at the table on lava rock.
“Rosemary gives a very calming scent, so I torch it before [the pork] comes out, so there will be this trail of smoke when it comes out and people can smell it and see it,” said Richards. “I want to do that with more menu items and be more interactive and ask, ‘What’s this about?’”
Richard says these examples not only create special moments, but they help boost sales.
“[The lava rock] came about years ago, and I used to do it with kobe beef,” he recalled. “I would slice it raw and cook it at the table. I wanted to know how I could make it accessible enough where anyone could afford [something like this.] Once I sell one, you know I’ll sell another one when everyone sees it.”
In a town that also sells a lot of steak and meat, Richards says he tries to stand apart with unique options, like the Elk T-Bone, which is imported from New Zealand.
“Elk from New Zealand is really clean and incredibly tender,” he said. “I wanted game meats that no one else has seen.”
More On The Menu
BUFFALO RAVIOLI // Dakota bison, marinara, fresh basil, white truffle oil, and shaved parmesan.
ROCK SHRIMP TEMPURA // Tempura fried shrimp, chokecherry, fresh lemon, and ginger shoyu sauce.
SANTANA’S SPORTS BAR & GRILL
CHICKEN POTSTICKERS // Gyoza-wrapped chicken and vegetables, served with yuzu sweet and sour sauce.
MANCHEGO CAESAR SALAD // Hearts of romaine, grilled natural chicken, garlic croutons, red onions, parmesan cheese, with classic Caesar egg dressing.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER // Queso cheese sauce, taco beef, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, black olives, red onions, sour cream, and cheddar cheese, served with a side of tomatillo salsa.
Burgers and Sandwiches
WALLEYE SLIDERS // Two sliders with green leaf lettuce, fresh tomato, and cayenne pepper tartar sauce, served with fresh lemon and french fries.
FISH AND CHIPS // Guinness-battered hand-breaded Alaskan cod, coleslaw, and french fries, served with tartar sauce and lemon.
For those who want something quick, small bites are available, like the Bacon Wrapped Shrimp (with Redneck Riviera Whiskey barbecue sauce and fried zucchini) and the Seared Yellowfin Tuna (sesame-pickled ginger, and wasabi, and soy ginger dipping sauce).
“[For the tuna] we cook it in toasted sesame oil,” said Richards. “For people who want a sushi taste, but not totally ‘nigiri raw,’ it’s seared just enough that you get the best of both worlds.”
DMG also has Santana’s Sports Bar & Grill, and Richards highlighted the Santana’s Pub Burger. This is eight ounce angus beef with imported irish porter cheddar, bacon, battered jalapeño, bistro sauce, and fresh arugula on a toasted pretzel roll, served with waffle fries.
“I’m obviously good at [Cosmopolitans] because that’s my name,” said beverage manager Cosmo Varriano. He also specializes in cocktails like his rendition of an Old Fashioned and the Perfect Margarita.
“We wanted something you couldn’t buy down the street,” said Richards. “We started with a large pretzel bun, and that’s where it began. It’s a burger, but it has a lot of textures, and you’re nothing without a good sauce.”
But Richards stresses that though ingredients and quality are important, don’t feel weird coming to either restaurant in your jeans.
“When people come in, I want them to focus on casual, fun dining,” he said. “Make a reservation on the weekend, but we want it to be a really comfortable atmosphere.”