Celtic Cowboy

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We ate at the Celtic Cowboy in downtown Great Falls just a few days after it opened nearly a year ago, and it was…weird.

The overall atmosphere was pretty awesome — it’s a beautiful restaurant and pub, plenty of space, very nice furnishings, lots of Irish-themed posters and decorations and wall-hangings. The Irish-themed menu was a little difficult for me to understand, full of things that didn’t sound too appealing to my very limited tastes, so of course I went with my default: a burger. The beef was pretty good, but it was served on “soda bread” — something I had never heard of, and which was absolutely horrible. It ruined the burger, seriously. The fries were decent, and the service was nice, if not exceptional.

But the really weird part? The plates – and I use the term loosely. They don’t use ACTUAL plates — just flat pieces of something that appear to be made of the same stuff as the little “book” that restaurants present the bill to you in. It might sound like a very small detail, but it was very…disorienting. Stuff on the “plate” is prone to roll around or move, and if you shake a little bit of salt (etc) on your food, the salt (etc) winds up all over the table. And stuffing the side orders such as the French fries into little metal “cups” was similarly odd.

So. We hadn’t dared to venture back to the Celtic Cowboy since then — until today. We had heard rumors that things had been “shaken up” in the kitchen for a while, and that some changes had been made, etc., so we tried it for lunch today, and it was definitely a more pleasant experience.

Our waitress — Brianna — was outstanding. She knew the menu inside and out, made some recommendations, and was very nice. I mentioned the “soda bread burger” incident, and she assured me that such an abomination is no longer served — instead, burgers are now served on a Great Harvest “dense” bun. So I ordered up a double-cheeseburger with fries, and my wife tried one of her favorites, a Reuben, which Brianna proudly proclaimed to be the “soon to be world-famous Celtic Cowboy Reuben.”

While we waited, my wife enjoyed a Guinness, which was served perfectly — an important thing in an Irish pub.

When our meals came, I was very, very pleasantly surprised: the burger was outstanding. The “new” bun was perfect for the burger, and it seriously was one of the best burgers I’ve had in quite a while. Fries were OK — not as good as Missouri River Diner or Good Time Charlie’s, of course, but good.

Celtic Cowboy in Great Falls

My wife was not as impressed with her Reuben, unfortunately. She said it was good, but didn’t compare to City Bar or JJ’s. She was, however, very impressed with the whole-grain Guinness mustard that was served with it.

Celtic Cowboy in Great Falls

And sadly — the “flat” plates are still a thing. Brianna was a good sport when we brought it up, joking that it’s fine for salt and ketchup to be spilled on the table, they didn’t mind at all. But seriously — why flat plates?

Also: lots of sports TV in the place — in the room we were in, there was a baseball game on the big TV, but the volume was off; instead, we heard the narration of the Griz game from the main section, which apparently was being piped into the smaller room. Not sports fans, so not a big draw for us. Would have preferred to hear the Irish music that was heard OUTSIDE by folks walking by.

A nice touch: the “countdown clock” in the front window showing how many days, hours, minutes until St. Patrick’s Day.

Celtic Cowboy in Great Falls

And of course the overall decor is still quite charming and inviting.

Despite the shortcomings, the deliciousness of the burger and the excellent service was enough to sway me into becoming at least a mild fan of the Celtic Cowboy.

Based on this better burger experience, I don’t think we’ll wait nearly a year before we go again.


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