Olivia Dish

Sacks in Anchorage

In Alaska, Restaurant on March 14, 2010 at 11:12 am
Sacks in Anchorage

Venture down G Street and stop here.

When I was getting ready for my first trip to Anchorage, my friend Virginia Snap said, “Eat at Sacks.” I trust her: she’s been to Alaska several times; we worked on a miserable food TV show, so share that been-in-the-trenches-together bond; and most important, we like the same food.

Okay, Sacks.  Odd name. Not sure what to expect. But Sacks it would be.

My first night in town, a strapping oil man insisted on shepherding me to a brewpub for an after-work beer. As we walked the block to get there, he cautioned that Alaska was treacherous. The implication: My coat and heels were insufficient. Better stick close to strapping oil men. Or call a cab.

“Where you eating dinner?” he shouted over beers at the rustic wooden bar.

“Sacks,” I said, feeling in the know.

“Oh,” he said. “The vegetarian place.” He looked me up and down. “You’ll probably like it.”

Now I really didn’t know what to think. Was Sacks for weenies?  Make that tofu weenies? I was going anyway.  To prove I was tough, I walked the two blocks to Sacks from my hotel.

Salmon at Sacks

Alaskan salmon with deconstructed spring roll

I have since been to Anchorage three times. Every time, I’ve eaten at Sacks, and it’s one of the highlights of every trip.  Everything about the restaurant appeals to me: the clean, understated decor,  the lively but not too loud crowd, the great service, the wine selection—and above all, the food.

Sacks uses great local ingredients you expect to find in Alaska—salmon, halibut, king crab, for example—and prepares them in ways that are interesting, dressed up, but not too fussy.  I never read a menu description and think, “That would tempt me if it had one less ingredient.”  In fact, the worst part of dining at Sacks is having to choose one entrée.  There are usually five or six I’d love to have.

Pork at Sacks

Roasted pork, clams and a hint of saffron

On my most recent trip, just last week, I went for a flavor combination that sounded a little odd—pork tenderloin and clams.  I put my faith in Sacks, and I’m glad I did.  The dish was beautiful, thin slices of tender roasted pork piled on a mound of perfectly cooked risotto, with a few clams and a fascinating wine and saffron sauce (which struck me as more of a gravy and I mean that as a compliment).

The menu at Sacks changes frequently, so you may not find pork tenderloin with clams when you visit.

Cod at Sacks

Fresh-caught Alaskan Cod

At this dinner, I was with three friends.  Two ordered the fresh-caught cod, which was good—fresh and simple—but it didn’t blow them (or me) away.  My other friend had a menu staple—Alaskan salmon served with a deconstructed spring roll.  That dish was nearly as impressive as mine.

Sacks is in downtown Anchorage on G Street. If you’re ever in town, I recommend you go for lunch or dinner.  And though it’s clearly not a vegetarian restaurant for weenies from the lower 48, it does serve vegetarian dishes, just so you know.


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