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Restaurant Happenings - June 2005

Sundance Grill
at the Outlaw Saloon

44 West 200 North
Moab UT 84532

435- 259-2654

New Plans for an Old Landmark
by Ann Stewart

One would not guess by looking at the outside, that the Outlaw Saloon, a long-time Moab landmark, is changing. Under new ownership since last November, the small store front with a large parking lot and hand carved sign is evolving into a special place for Moabites and tourists.

Frank Dudenhofer, the new owner, and Mary Wright, his business partner, have taken on the job of transforming a local bar into a unique western eatery -- the Sundance Grill. Frank is from Las Vegas where he managed restaurants; Mary owns La Sal Manufactured Homes. They have hired a very experienced chef, Gil “Gonzo” Gonzales Gil was a Navy cook who worked his way up from being on the mess decks of the USS Enterprise, to becoming the admiral’s private chef. The GI Bill helped Gil attend the California School for Culinary Arts in San Francisco where he graduated as a certified chef. These three people are an enthusiastic team who plan to make the Outlaw Saloon into a popular establishment that offers “good food, good prices, and good service.”

The Outlaw Saloon is housed in a large WWII style Quonset hut which has undergone many interior changes. In the 1950’s the original building was used as an auto body shop. By the early 1990’s it had become the Outlaw Saloon. Today the long bar, which seats 25 customers, is still intact, an outdoor patio is being remodeled, and smoking and non-smoking dining area are available. Though it may not seem so from the outside, the Outlaw Saloon can handle up to 100 customers. Three large pool tables, a small stage and room for dancing attract a western style crowd. On the weekends, D.J.’s play a variety of music depending on the tastes of the dancers. On Tuesdays there is free pool, and on Thursdays a pool tournament is held. In addition, a “Midnight Menu” offers $2.00 breakfasts and a $5.00 selection of burgers, brats and or wings. Gil hopes the tired travelers and weary tourist industry workers will find this 10 pm to 12:30 am service attractive.

Chef Gil provides food to suit the mood of the various clientele. For example, on pool nights he offers “Dime Wings” – buffalo wings at ten cents each (ten for a dollar). When the Red Hat ladies met there, they requested their own menu. During the May Arts Festival, to go along with the Blue Grass and folk music, the food was Gil’s prized bar-b-que. One wonders what he will serve when the SXOR Rock Crawler Fox Reality Show comes there in August.

Because he became familiar with shopping for food all over the world during his ten years in the Navy, Gil knows how to assess value. He goes only for lean free-range beef from local ranches; his bratwurst comes from Saaggs Sausage Co. in San Francisco. As much as possible he orders organic produce. Currently, from the new kitchen of the Sundance Grill come foods with western names such as a Butch Cassidy Jalepeño BBQ Burger, a Doc Holiday’s Green Chili Burger, and a Fring Basket ( “our soon to be famous combo of both beer battered onion rings and wagon wheel fries.”) A variety of beers are available to wash this all down. British tourists tell Gil that his fish and chips are the best they’ve had outside of England. A “special of the day” weekly menu is published in the AdVertiser each week. More vegetarian meals and buffalo recipes will be coming to the menu soon.

“We can see unlimited potential for a place like this,” says Frank. “We are not a private club, and we hope to obtain an on-premise license.” At the moment children are only allowed on the patio. “But we’re evolving,” Mary smiles as she gestures around the large space. “I can see jam sessions, dancing and good food. We can cater to businesses, family affairs, and civic groups.” Presently, one can call in for take-out orders. “I can prepare foods as simple or as fancy as you require,” Gil says.

This dynamic team who are transforming the Outlaw Saloon/Sundance Grill is also eager to participate in the Moab community. The Outlaw Saloon is sponsoring Lacy Sherman for Rodeo Queen. Frank won second prize in the Cowboy Poetry Weekend Chili Cook off. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce; Mary is a Rotarian, and Gil is involved in Castle Valley events. It will be fun to watch this new restaurant grow into a successful establishment, meeting the needs of the local community.



Sundance Grill at the Outlaw Saloon

Grilled Skirt Steak
with Chef Gonzo's Chimayo BBQ Salsa

(Serves six)
2 lbs. skirt steak, trimmed
2 T kosher salt
Chef Gonzo’s chimayo BBQ Salsa (recipe follows)

(Makes two cups – Can be a compliment to soups and stews and also a marinade for chicken, pork, or grilled vegetables)
1 med. red onion, coarsely chopped
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
4 med. Plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 T of powder chimayo red chili ( you can sub with any New Mexico red chili powder)
½ T kosher salt
½ T granulated garlic

In a food processor, pulse the onion with the cilantro until finely chopped. Add the tomatoes and pulse until finely chopped. Add the oil, vinegar, chili powder, garlic and salt then pulse just until blended.

Light a grill or preheat broiler. Season the steak with salt and brush with half the BBQ salsa. Grill or broil the steak 4 to 5 minutes each side or until med. Rare. Let stand for 5 minutes then thinly slice the steak across the grain and serve with the remaining salsa.

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