Where: Rapid City, South Dakota
What: New Heartland cuisine
Karma Points: Supports local farmers and detailed in fine dining experience
If you’re a foodie looking for a New York-style bistro here in South Dakota, look no further than the Corn Exchange Restaurant & Bistro. Owner and chef MJ Adams calls her food “New Heartland Cuisine” combining French techniques with seasonal foods from local farms.
Adams is a trained chef who studied at the French Culinary Institute in New York and has worked at New York culinary establishments such as Dean and Deluca. She has been featured in Better Home and Gardens and her recipes have appeared in Bon Appetit and the Corn Exchange was in Food & Wine magazine as one of “America’s 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences.”
It’s been 14 years since she moved back to South Dakota, bringing her culinary expertise back from New York.
“I moved back from New York because I didn’t feel like there was anything like a small intimate place where people are using local ingredients,” she said. For the third time, she was recently a semi-finalist for Best Chef: Midwest by the James Beard Foundation.
“What’s exciting now, we own the building and we opened the wall and the Potted Rabbit and it’s a specialty food store, you can order cheese, we have an espresso machine and all the ingredients I use at Corn Exchange, I sell over there.”
If you’re looking for a nice dining experience and thoughtfully made food, here at the Corn Exchange one of her specialties is the house smoked Black Hills trout. “I get Black Hills trout and I smoke it here,” Adams says. The buttermilk white corn scallion pancake is topped by the smoked trout and horseradish crème fraiche raita, sprouts and a farm fresh egg slices. The trout is from a former forest ranger who raises trout now locally.
If you were a fan of the old Food Network show “$40 a Day” with Rachael Ray, you might have seen that she visited Adams’ bistro in 2005. “Rachel Ray came out and I wanted the local trout to be highlighted,” she said. “It must’ve aired 100 times.”
Other specialties include the Buffalo Bolognese and an oxtail ragu with homemade saffron fettuccini. The bistro’s small size makes it easier to serve food from local farmers, rather than getting produce from large produce trucks. “There are so many chain restaurants here. My restaurant only seats 28 to 32 people, so I would rather reach out to the local farmers so if they only have seven or eight of this, that’s ok and we can just run out.”
“What’s important here is it’s all about the details and that’s what we bring to the dining experience,” Adam said. “We decrumb your table and we have nice Spiegelau wine glasses and we have bread plates. I try to bring a nice dining experience so people can enjoy it. People come in here and they go, “Wow you need to be in San Francisco, we don’t have a restaurant like this,” but yeah you do. People don’t feel like they’re in Rapid City after eating here, they fell like they’re in San Francisco or New York. It’s a passion and I just like to bring things that people don’t have here.”
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