The Corn Exchange, Rapid City

Not every meal can be a celebration, of course, but if you’re in Rapid City, and you have something to celebrate (or even if you want to celebrate for no reason), The Corn Exchange is the place.

Last July, I was in Rapid to speak at the Local Food Summit, but I missed making a reservation, and the place was full.  I got a small taste of Chef MJ Adams’ skills during the wine-and-tapas social with keynote speaker Deborah Madison after the conference, and MJ made me promise I’d come in to the restaurant for a full meal when I next visited “West Dakota.”

I’m so glad I made a point of it this time.  Seven of the presenters and organizers from our Farmers Market Workshop met downtown tonight and descended on the unassuming little bistro–practically hidden on the downtown strip.

MJ set us up with an assortment of appetizers–stuffed and marinated olives (which I could’ve eaten all night long), prosciutto, fine cheese, and other nibbles–we ordered a recommended wine and some microbrews.

Our gracious chef talked to us about the night’s choices and apologized that the winter menu isn’t entirely full of local food ingredients–and I don’t know why–because I haven’t seen a restaurant in South Dakota (even in full-on summertime) with nearly the selection of locally-grown and raised options. That’s just how committed she is.

I had the quail with sun-dried tomato and heart of palm cream sauce and roasted root veggies along with a pear tart tatin for dessert.  I saw another quail dish at the table–and a few of the guys had local steaks or a bison pasta special.  MJ honored us by treating the table to a bottle of Valiant Vineyards’ Wild Grape Port (my fave SD sweet wine) with our desserts.

We were there for two and a half hours.  For dwellers in lands of good restaurants, this may not seem unusual, but in the land of get ’em in, fill ’em up, get ’em out–it was really something.

The Corn Exchange was truly lovely–truly a celebration of good food and a successful workshop day.


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