The Corn Exchange Restaurant & Bistro (727 Main St., 605/343-5070, www.cornexchange.com, daily from 5 p.m., last dinner reservation at 9 p.m., $18–25) is one of the finest restaurants in Rapid City. It’s also one of the smallest, with just 12 tables (seating for 32) and five bar seats; reservations are highly recommended. Inside the historic 1886 building, walls of exposed brick, tin/copper ceilings, white tablecloths, and carefully designed lighting create a warm and cozy dining environment.
Using organic and local ingredients, this is one location where the menu is not limited to beef and walleye. Dishes here include the likes of buttermilk, white corn, and scallion pancake topped with house-smoked South Dakota trout from Clarke Trout Farm and a cucumber crème fraiche and horseradish compote. After receiving French Culinary Institute training, chef M. J. Adams learned her trade in several New York City eateries before packing up and moving back to the Midwest.
Look for the Potted Rabbit (725 Main St., www.pottedrabbit.com, Tues.–Sat., closed Sun.–Mon.), also owned by Chef M. J., next door to the Corn Exchange. As of the time of writing, the deli-style shop planned to open in spring 2010. The Potted Rabbit will offer gourmet foods, including cheeses and breads, and an espresso bar.
At the Wine Cellar (513 Sixth St., 605/718-2675, www.winecellarrestaurant.com, Tues.–Wed. 3:30–9 p.m., Thurs.–Fri. 3:30–10 p.m., Sat. 5–10 p.m., closed Sun.–Mon., wine service continues 1 hour after dinner service ends, $17), dinner is complete only if served with the perfect wine. Located in a historic building near Hotel Alex Johnson right in the center of downtown Rapid City, the Wine Cellar sports white tablecloths, hardwood floors, and tin ceilings. In the summer, wire tables are set outside for sidewalk café dining. Owner and executive chef Pamela Light features seasonal menu offerings every week, in addition to a creative menu of California and European choices (such as gourmet pizzas, calzones, pasta, and traditional pork, chicken, and salmon dishes). There are over 50 wines available by the glass and 70 wines available by the bottle. This delightful restaurant is cozy, casual, and elegant all at the same time.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition