"Where do you want to eat?"

"Where do you want to eat?" generally followed by a responding "I don't know" is an exchange that is a little too familiar for a lot of today's diners. With an abundance of restaurants to choose from, deciding on one common restaurant to satisfy the desire for a good meal can seem daunting. Now enter the motivation behind this blog. The city of Great Falls has a multitude of restaurants to choose from, offering a wide variety of options depending on the dining experience you seek. A good number of these restaurants are "chains", corporate giants offering the same menus in a variety of locations throughout the country. Nothing personal against these chain restaurants, but especially in today's economy, it is incredibly important to support local businesses. When the public invests in locally-owned buisnesses, the money is recycled back into the local community. Therefore, this blog will only feature the locally-owned restaurants of Great Falls. Each week, one local restaurant will be featured and reviewed, with the intent that the next time "where do you want to eat?" is proposed, a locally-owned business will be supported.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cattleman's Cut and Supper Club

Just off the Vaughn Frontage Road and across the way from the cattle stockyards and auction grounds, the Cattleman’s Cut and Supper Club provides a western dining experience you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

Western prints and bison bronzes decorate the walls that separate the two large and open dining rooms, while faux foliage borders the ceiling.

Deep cranberry walls contrast the otherwise neutral interior of the restaurant, dimly lit by the small lights embedded in the ceiling.

The menu at Cattleman’s Cut offers an array of options to satisfy nearly any type of diner.

Seafood, chicken, lamb, pasta, buffalo and duck headline the different options, but the pride of Cattleman’s Cut are the USDA Montana sized steaks and nightly featured prime rib.

The namesake of the restaurant, “The Cattleman’s Cut”, is a 36 oz. rib eye steak sliced from a choice rib eye loin and butterflied, served proudly for $45.95.

Health conscious diners, or those with smaller appetites, can select option from the portion of the menu titled “On the Light Side”, where entrees are offered in smaller portions for prices ranging from $13 to $15.

For experimentation, I ordered the Rocky Mountain Oysters for an appetizer, an item I have never tried and didn’t know existed until I moved to Montana.

According to the menu, these sliced and seasoned “calf nuts” are breaded and deep fried, served with cocktail sauce on the side.

Without thinking about what it was I was about to consume, I closed my eyes and tasted the Rocky Mountain Oysters, which resembled a flavor similar to that of chicken fried steak.

The cocktail sauce added a distinct contrast, enhancing the surprisingly pleasant flavor of the Rocky Mountain Oysters.

Smoken Joe’s BBQ Baby Back Ribs are the Thursday night special at Cattleman’s Cut, and the featured meal of this review.

The ribs are slowly smoked over a smoldering sweet hickory fire, and rubbed with “Joe’s Dry Rub Seasoning”.

Joe’s Baby Back Ribs are available for order three ways: mini slab (four bones) for $10.95, half slab (six bones) for $16.95, or a full slab (12 bones) for $24.95.

These tender, moist ribs have a smoky, juicy taste that makes your mouth water.

The modest amount of BBQ sauce that coats the ribs enhances the flavor of the meat, plentiful on the bone.

The ribs are served with a side of BBQ sauce, but the sauce is not needed to enjoy the sweet taste of these juicy ribs which sold out in the amount of time it took me to eat my meal.

Rosemary roasted potato quarters are served on the side are pair nicely with the ribs.

A crisp potato skin contains the fluffy potatoes, dusted in herb flavor.

Homemade sweet, crumbly cornbread is also served on the side, and is paired with a honey butter spread that adds the perfect amount of flavor to the side.

To end this exquisite meal, just in time for the holidays, I ordered the Eggnog Custard Pie.

Served on a chilled plate sprinkled with powdered sugar and a dollop of cool whip, this hearty slice of pie was delicious to say the least.

The subtle eggnog taste of the cool, smooth custard was highlighted by the sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg on the top of the slice.

The Cattleman’s Cut and Supper Club maintains a welcoming environment for any type of diner, offering a casual friendly atmosphere with which to enjoy your meal.

Diners came dressed in attire ranging anywhere from t-shirts and blue jeans, country western shirts and cowboy boots, to sports coats and button down shirts.

The Cattleman’s Cut provides a unique location for business meetings, club events, special parties and banquets, however there are no private banquet rooms available.

In addition to the on-site offerings, Cattleman’s Cut can also offer off the premises catering, and is equipped to handle groups of anywhere from 100 to 2,000 people in size.

Among other benefits, the Cattleman’s Cut provides you an enjoyable meal away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bar-S Supper Club

Located just off the scenic River Dr. N., the Bar-S Supper Club is a tribute to Montana in more ways then one.

The beauty of Montana is depicted just inside the heavy double doors, where a floor-to-ceiling waterfall trickles down the wall.

Stuffed wildlife is displayed throughout the bar and restaurant in a manner customary of a hunting lodge.

The barn wood paneling and window framing as well as the bare log rails that line the ceiling add to the rustic, authentic feel of the establishment.

The large, open dining room invites a feeling of community and friendship amongst the diners.

The menu features locally grown, grass fed beef in the form of steaks and, according to the waiter Ian, the “best prime rib in Montana”.

Seafood options are also offered at Bar-S and prices range from $20 to $40.  The Steamed Shrimp Lobster Style provides a healthy alternative for the health conscious diner and is available for $21.95.

For the appetizer, Ian recommended the Shrimp Wraps.  Minced shrimp encased within a crispy wonton shell, was served with a side of sweet chili sauce.  The Shrimp Wraps had a mild seafood flavor that when dipped in the sweet chili sauce, created a slightly spicy edge.

Complimentary bread was brought to the table at the same time as the appetizer.  The warm wheat bread melted the sweet honey butter immediately, as it was spread on every slice. 

Because it was proclaimed to be the “best prime rib in Montana”, I ordered the Queen cut Prime Rib cooked medium for $19.95.  The size of the queen cut prime rib was quite generous and consumed much of the dinner plate.  The tender, juicy steak had a smoky grilled edge and when paired with the zesty horseradish, created a mouthwatering effect worthy of its proclamation as the best in Montana.  The prime rib was served alongside crinkle-cut Bar-S chips.  These potato slices were deep fried, although not oily.  Homemade, thick, creamy ranch was provided for dipping.

A local baker prepares the desserts offered at the Bar-S Supper Club.  To culminate the dinner, the lemon cheesecake was recommended.  The smooth, creamy cheesecake had a fresh, citrus zing, and was the perfect size to wrap up this dinner.

The Bar-S Supper Club is a great place for family dinners, dinner with friends, or any other type of outing.  Reservations are recommended each night in order to ensure seating in a timely manner.  The staff is friendly, the environment is lively, and your experience is sure to be enjoyable at the Bar-S Supper Club.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Prospector Saloon and Gaming Parlor

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007, may hold little significance for many, but for those associated with the Prospector Saloon and Gaming Parlor, this date will not soon be forgotten.
On this particular day, The Prospector Saloon on Smelter Avenue and 9th Street was engulfed in a fiery blaze, reduced to a pile of rubble by the time the flames were extinguished.
A little more than a year following this eventful day, The Prospector Saloon and Gaming Parlor was rebuilt from the ashes and sits once again at the busy intersection of Smelter Avenue and 9th Street North.
The newly constructed building is rustic in appearance, wood being the dominant aspect of the interior with a river rock gas fireplace centered in the dining room.
Sitting in the high backed wooden booths, you can’t help but notice the exposed beam structure of the ceiling, giving the restaurant an authentic, lodge-type appearance.
Each table has an individual amber light suspended from the ceiling, creating a soft glow over the table.
The diverse menu holds no restrictions for the diner, allowing breakfast to be ordered at any time of day.  Options on the menu vary from salads, sandwiches and burgers, to steak, ribs, seafood and pasta, and prices range from about $10 to $20.
If you happen to visit the Prospector between Thursday and Sunday, the Prime Rib is featured, and is a specialty of the Prospector.  Prices range from $16.95 for a 10 ounce cut to $29.95 for a 20 ounce. 
Selected to showcase for an appetizer was the Prospector Nachos.  Presented to the table in a tin pan, the Prospector Nachos consist of tortilla chips topped with ground beef, nacho cheese, onions, tomatoes, black olives and jalapenos, served with salsa and sour cream on the side.
The nacho toppings were proportionate to the amount of salty, crisp tortilla chips that lined the bottom of the pan, and the flavors of the entire pan blended well.
Unfortunately, on this particular night, the Prospector was short on supply, which consequently limited the dining options and portion size of the appetizer.
Based on the description, the Saloon Burger was chosen for an entrĂ©e.  Described as a “burger to die for”, the Saloon Burger is a 1/3 pound patty seasoned to perfection and stuffed with Roquefort cheese.
Served alongside a pile of golden, fluffy French fries, the juicy Saloon Burger was enough to satisfy any hunger.  The seasonings added a perfect touch to the burger, giving it a distinct, garlic and onion flavor.  The flavor of the cheese was infused throughout the stuffed burger, allowing for a smoky taste in each bite.
The only option for dessert this night at the Prospector was a slice of Blueberry Pie.  Brought to the table on a glass plate, the slice of pie, much to my disappointment, did not reflect the quality one would expect from the Prospector.  Lacking a fresh taste, the crust tasted stale and the blueberries lacked much of a taste at all.  Leaving much to be desired, this slice of blueberry pie tasted like it had spent too much time in the display case.
The Prospector Saloon and Gaming Parlor is a beautiful establishment and the atmosphere is enjoyable.  The friendly staff greets you upon entry, and they have the ability to work as a team for their patrons.  Regardless of who is waiting on you, any staff member is willing to help you if you have a need. 
Although this was not a night of exemplary food quality, compensations were made on behalf of the Prospector in an effort to make the night an enjoyable one. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Goode's Q and Bayou Grill

The comfort foods of the South come together at Goode's Q and Bayou Grill, bringing you one of the most unique dining experiences Great Falls has to offer.

In a log cabin just off 15th Street North, the menu at Goode's combines bar-be-que, gumbo, Cajun and Creole creations from cultures such as French, Italian, German, English, Spanish, African and Native American, providing you quite the multicultural experience.

Salads, pasta, burgers, po-boys, bbq and gumbo headline the menu at Goode's, offering a little something for everyone for right around $10.  Fried alligator chunks for $8.25 were advertised on special Thursday night for the bold diner.

A special section of the menu is dedicated to vegetarian meal options such as Habib's Po-Boy (grilled red onions, mushrooms, green and red peppers, and olives served on a toasted hoagie with tomatoes, spinach, and "the Q" remoulade), and The Hema (marinated portabello mushrooms grilled and topped with smoked Fontina cheese and served on a toasted hoagie with tomatoes, leaf lettuce, and topped with "the Q's" raspberry chipotle vinaigrette).

In an effort to highlight the more unique dishes Goode's has to offer, the Bayou Lobster was selected as an appetizer.  Contrary to its name, the Bayou Lobster is actually seasoned and breaded crawfish served with a spicy cherry glaze.

Similar in taste to calamari (although not as chewy), the crawfish had a distinct, salty seafood taste.  The cherry sauce, more sweet then spicy, counteracted the seafood taste and tamed the overall flavor of the dish.  The taste is delicious and the texture of the crawfish is one that easily becomes addictive, you'll empty the plate in a matter of minutes.

Next, the waitress highly recommended the Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee for the main course.  This southern style stew is made up of shrimp and crawfish sauteed with vegetables, wine, herbs, and tomatoes in a rich seafood stock, served over rice with a slice of jalapeno cornbread on the side.

Feeling adventurous, I ordered the etouffee not knowing really what to expect.  When the meal was brought to the table, the smell alone was enough to make your mouth water.  Smelling strongly of oregano and basil, the distinct aroma of the herbs overwhelmed the other senses, inviting you to just breathe the smell in.  The creamy stew had a delayed, slightly spicy bite to it, a residual effect of the seafood stock the dish was stewed in, and it was controlled nicely by the grains of rice within.  The subtle spice gave the stew a perfect edge, encouraging you to come back for each spoonful.  Riddled with plump shrimp so large it took more then one bite to consume them, and crawfish soft like crab meat, you are sure to get a spoonful each time you come back for more.

The cornbread, although made with jalapeno peppers embedded within, was not the least bit spicy.  Coupled with the stew, the pair created a sweet and spicy effect, a perfect balance for the palate.

Two options were available for dessert, both homemade in-house creations.  After receiving high recommendations for both the Bread Pudding and the Peach Crisp, the latter was chosen to end what had been an adventurous and delicious meal.

Served in a porcelain boat-like dish, the warm peach crisp was brought to the table with a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream running down the sides.  If seasons have a smell, this dessert illustrates the scent of Fall perfectly.  The cinnamon and nutmeg paired with the sweet smell of peaches creates an image of the colorful autumn leaves falling to the ground on a sunny, crisp day.  The tangy sweet peach flavor, combined with the cinnamon and nutmeg spices, results in the down-home comfort food taste Goode's strives to achieve.

True to their motto, "Goode's Q and Bayou Grill isn't fancy, just Goode".  Upon entry to this restaurant, one of the more noticeable traits is the small dining area.  Tables are grouped somewhat closely together, strengthening the feeling of family Goode's offers its guests.

Sitting amongst the lights, beads and garlands, you can almost picture a busy New Orleans street just beyond the windows.  The laughter and conversations amongst the other diners creates a comfortable, small-town atmosphere and the friendly staff make everyone feel at home and welcome.

Goode's Q and Bayou Grill has so much more to offer then just a night eating out.  The food choices alone invite you to venture out of your normal eating habits and enjoy creations of other cultures.  Families and friends are provided a warm and relaxing environment to catch up and reconnect.

If a night of "Goode" food, "Goode" friends and "Goode" times is what you're after, Goode's Q and Bayou Grill is definitely a stop worth making.