Living as I do in Alaska, I have to have places I can steer tourists to in the Fairbanks area. One of these is the Salmon Bake, at Pioneer Park (which is a pretty good tourist destination itself.) I’m reviewing it partly because (1) they’re having their season opener this week and (2) OLLI is having a meal there tomorrow, and I’m salivating in anticipation.

At one time they served lunch, and it was a regular Friday hangout for the library group. Alas, those days are over. But I still try to get out there at least once a year.

Apparently they’ve changed the menu this year, replacing the deep fried halibut with Bering Sea cod though the salmon, prime rib, salad bar and desserts remain. The normal menu is all you can eat, which is far too much. The OLLI meal will be only one entrée plus the sides, which I suspect will be more than enough for me!

Part of the mining display. Water cannons were used to wash the thawing muck off of the gold-bearing gravel underneath.

For me it will be the salmon. Salmon up here is almost always good, but the Salmon Bake has a brown-sugar and lime marinade they keep swabbing on the fish over the open alder wood grill. Scrumptious! I have to confess I am so enamored of the salmon I’ve never even tried the other choices, but others are just as passionate about the prime rib and the deep-fried fish.

The salad and dessert bars? Pretty standard. The salad bar normally offers coleslaw, lettuce salad, bean salad, pasta salad, baked beans and of course tartar sauce, while the dessert bar has white or chocolate cake, with wild blueberry sauce.

Everything’s outdoors, though they do have a large (but unheated) indoor seating area in case it rains. Entry can be though Pioneer Park, but they also have an entry though a very dark tunnel that mimics a mine. I can’t recommend that entrance to anyone with poor night vision, though — I have to feel my way.

I remember when Pioneer Park was A67, once taught dog obedience classes in the steamship Nenana, remember an Alaska Science Conference held in the buildings in the Gold Rush Town (historic houses moved from downtown Fairbanks) and regularly attend writers’ group meetings in the Alaskaland Civic Center. (They have an art gallery there, upstairs, where we have our meetings.)