Monty’s A Taste Of The West

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UPDATE: Monty’s A Taste Of The West closed in June 2008.

Montys A Taste of the West restaurant Monty’s A Taste Of The West, which occupies the building that used to be Elmer’s, has been open for about two weeks.

Monty’s A Taste of The West
1600 Fox Farm Road
Great Falls, Montana
Phone: (406) 761-2400

We were excited heading in there – I envisioned steaks on a par with the Highwood Bar, or Cattleman’s Cut. The first thing we noticed when we walked in was smoke – it smelled pretty good, like steaks on a grill, but it almost seemed like there was a fire in the kitchen. We could see the smoke hovering in the air, and it even began to burn our eyes a bit. We waded through it to our table, which is when things went from bad to worse.

I’ll present the review in terms of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:

The Good: the atmosphere is pretty relaxing – similar to the old Elmer’s, but a bit more “westerny.” A few partitions have been put up between some of the tables, so that it doesn’t feel so much like just a large serving room. The menu offers plenty of choices – steaks, seafood, appetizers, desserts. Prices seemed fair, albeit more pricey than the old Elmer’s.

The Bad: unfortunately, our waitress was pretty young and inexperienced. She didn’t clear our appetizer plates, neglected to refill our beverages until we flagged her down, and wasn’t familiar with the menu. Not entirely her fault, I know – she needs more training.

And as noted above, the air in Monty’s was pretty thick with smoke – literally – from the new grill they had installed. My eyes began to sting after about ten minutes, and I asked the manager about the smoke. She said that the recent break-ins had left the back door somewhat broken, and that air was being sucked in to the restaurant and thereby drawing smoke from the kitchen into the dining area. I guess that situation will be fixed soon, but it sure was uncomfortable that evening.

As far as the food: The cheese sticks were bland – clearly frozen, not made fresh. The salad was paltry. Baked potatoes were puny and a bit dry. And as for my steak…well, that falls under the “Ugly” category…

The Ugly: I ordered a large ribeye steak – basic carnivorous goodness. When it was served, I was pretty excited – it was about 24 ounces, and looked delicious. I sawed off a piece and began chewing – and nearly spit it out. Something wasn’t right. Tried one more bite, but it was no better. Some sort of marinate or sauce – teriyaki or honey-flavored sauce – yuck!

I flagged down our waitress, who couldn’t explain what was wrong, so she called the manager over. The manager pondered for a moment and then explained that they layered some sort of sauce over the ribeye steaks. I asked her if that was mentioned on the menu, and she wasn’t sure, so she asked the waitress to grab a menu. Sure enough, there is no mention of sauce anywhere on the menu. I protested, telling her that it was bad idea to advertise a plain ribeye steak and deliver something else. She agreed, apologized, and rushed off to have the kitchen grill up a “plain” ribeye for me. Once it was served, I was happy – it was a delicious steak.

The verdict: sadly, not good, based on this initial visit. Monty’s has some kinks to work out. As Rob noted in his review of Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza, most new places don’t hit all of the high notes from day one. I’m sure we’ll be back to Monty’s A Taste Of The West – but not anytime real soon.

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10 Comments

  1. David,

    Sadly, our experience at Monty’s the other week (I want to say it was last Friday) was very similar to yours.

    We also noticed the smoke and smell when we walked in. Honestly, it was starting to make me a little sick just smelling it. Our clothes reeked of that smell even after we left the restaurant. It was pretty gross.

    We also noticed the *interesting* marinade or whatever they used on their steak. Also, their salad left something to be desired.

    The service was the worst part for us. We waited for 10 minutes before our waitress brought us our water. That was when we had the opportunity to ask for the dinner menu instead of the breakfast (it was evening when we were there). It took FOREVER to get our food and we were one of maybe four couples in the entire restaurant.

    I honestly doubt we’ll be back for dinner anytime soon. Maybe we’ll try breakfast. My wife and I were greatly disappointed.

  2. Also – if you haven’t been to the Highwood Bar in a while, be prepared to be disappointed there as well. Since Susie sold it, it just hasn’t been the same. I miss her perfectly grilled steaks and her hot slaw. We quit going out there.

  3. I posted this on one of your other posts – maybe it would be better here: “About Monty’s: I heard the rumor the other nite that John Toenyes, who owned Elmer’s, owns Monty’s – it is still a lot like Elmer’s was, just a new name. This was so he did not have to upgrade the building/decor/kitchen/etc to continue to meet the Elmer’s franchise continuing requirements. Since he could not sell the building he decided to take it off of the market & change it to a Monty’s.”
    Any input on this rumor?
    From the sounds of it all around, think I will stay with my favorite Cattleman’s Cut – Julie does a great job & always has one of the best blue-rare sirloin steaks to be found!!

  4. Blue rare…blue rare? I’d never heard the term “blue rare” until I moved to Montana, now I hear it everywhere! I guess I don’t eat enough steak. LOL…What does it mean? Between raw and rare, I presume?

    Speaking of delish cuisine, I received a shipment of tamales from TX today…gotta keep up the TX Christmas traditions, even in Big Sky Country.

    Merry Christmas to everyone in my home away from home!

  5. Blue-Rare the way I like it is grilled on an extremely hot, hot, grill so that the outside is well done & the inside, while hot, is bloody-rare. Has to be then served up & eaten immediately while the juices are still flowing. (Smiling & licking lips)
    My hubby has finally gotten used to me, Leo that I am, being such a rare meat eater – at first the poor man could hardly stand it.
    When the boss, Julie, is cooking at Cattlemen’s Cut out here on Vaughn Road, it is the best that I have found.

  6. Not to knock the Cattlemen’s Cut, but we went there for my kid’s birthday a month or so ago, and it was very, very subpar. I won’t go back. The steaks were marginal at best, and not cooked properly. The rest of the food tasted processed. In my opinion, one can find much better $100.00 meals in this town.

  7. The Trib had this article. It appeared Dec. 8 in th print edition and the Web site:

    Monty’s offers steaks, Montana food and drink
    By JO DEE BLACK
    Tribune Business Editor

    Looking for a good, Montana-raised beef steak? Or maybe a fluffy pancake made from flour containing Montana grown wheat.

    John Toenyes says Monty’s, a Taste of the West has both.

    The restaurant was known as Elmer’s for 23 years, but Toenyes ended his franchise agreement recently.

    “We were the only Elmer’s left on this side of the Continental Divide,” he said. “It created logistics problems.”

    Monty’s will feature as much locally grown and produced menu items as possible. A new char broiler has been installed to make chuck wagon steaks.

    “We are increasing our dinner menu, adding great steaks and seafood,” Toenyes said.

    “We want to become a dinner house that serves breakfast instead of a breakfast house that serves dinner. But we still serve our good quality breakfasts.”

    Monty’s has a cabaret license and increased its wine selection and Montana-made micro brewed beer.

    “Our house wines are Mission Mountain Winery” at Dayton, Toenyes said.

    The restaurant has been remodeled inside to give it cozier, Montana atmosphere, he said.

    “We thought ‘Why not be what we really are,'” Toenyes said.

    “The first thing tourists want when they come through the door is to find out where they can get a big Montana steak. Now that’s what we offer.”

    The name, Monty’s, doesn’t have anything to do with the University of Montana-Missoula mascot.

    “I’m actually a Bobcat,” Toenyes said. “Monty was also the name of Charlie Russell’s horse.”

    Monty’s a Taste of the West is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

  8. POSITIVE comments!! I actually read some of the comments and was hesitant about picking MONTY’s for our family gathering tonight…….. I am SOOOO glad I left things as they were. IT WAS WONDERFUL!! I wish I would have the waitresses name though, blonde– Sun. 1/27 5 PM… she was AWESOME, very patient with my families many requests for water….. even the lady that geeted us knew “are you the family reunion?”….nice. She seated us in our private area which was so nice for us to visit and laugh. I kept waiting for the “negative” and never had it! Our salads arrived GREAT, then the meals………. everyone had something different, from Salmon, ribs, steak…….. turkey….. they all LOVED it!! Seriously…….. it was a very wonderful experience and we had a great memorable time. I will HIGHLY recommend MONTY’s to everyone, you are all awesome!! We only do this once a year so it was nice to have it such a pleasant experience…. we usually change places each year, but this was so nice…….. we might have to make Monty’s our regular! 🙂 Thank you!

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