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