Sunday, July 18, 2010

Where’s the Beef – Part One

In the midst of our drive through the stunning Montana countryside, Mike parked the car in beautiful downtown Roscoe, a town that gives new meaning to “the middle of nowhere.”

In front of us is a wood and stone building whose sign reads “Grizzly Bar.” We know that we are in the heart of the West.

The Grizzly Bar is described online as having a very genuine Montanan bar/steak-house experience in a friendly town with a western atmosphere. Inside, and behind a half wall, is a long bar.

To one side is a knotty pine-paneled dining room dominated by a giant stone walk-in fireplace and numerous pairs of antlers. And outside is a good-sized dining patio.

The day was warmish, and so we chose to eat inside. We were seated next to the unlit (thank goodness) fireplace. We were greeted by our server, Shauna, who quickly proved that she had enough good-natured-but-take-no-prisoners attitude to deal with our driver. Of course, he gave it right back.

As you might expect at a steakhouse in Montana, the menu emphasized beef – burgers, steaks, and prime rib – although there were about a half dozen seafood entrees along with fried chicken. Mike and I, the two mushroom lovers in the party, began our meal by sharing an order of the battered and fried mushrooms that came with a cup of ranch dressing as a dipping sauce. Since I love fried foods and love mushrooms, I was a very happy person at that point.

Both Mike and Joan decided to order the half pound burger. Joan’s burger was sans bun, but came with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles with chips on the side.

Mike pushed the envelope with the addition of cheddar cheese and sautéed mushrooms with onion rings on the side.

I wanted steak, but didn’t think that I could eat a whole steak. But the order of marinated steak strips with fries and a roll seemed just right. And they were. They came medium rare as ordered and the residual marinade on the meat, when cooked over the hot grill, formed a tasty crust for the ultra tender and juicy meat. I don’t know if the cup of ranch dressing was intended for the steak strips or the fries. I used it with the battered and seasoned fries.

Chuck decided to order the fried chicken. At this point, Mike gives him an incredulous look and tells him: “Chuck, you’re in Montana and when you’re in Montana you order beef.” That’s all it took. Chuck looks at Shauna and says “I’ll have the prime rib, medium rare.”

And what a prime rib. An on-line reviewer wrote: “My buddy took me here promising the best steak I'd ever had. On the way, I stopped to take a picture with a cow beside the road. I just thought the irony was too good to pass up. How would I rate the steak? Ummm, I would rate it as the best steak I've ever had in my whole life.”

Well, this was the best prime rib either of us has ever had in our whole lives. I have now discarded my preference for Midwest corn-fed beef. Give me Montana grass fed beef. I cannot begin to describe how tender, how juicy, how flavorful this prime rib was. You will just need to come to Montana and experience this for yourself.

With the prime rib came an order of the same seasoned fries and a small cup of combustible horseradish. Some of Chuck’s horseradish went well with my steak strips and Mike’s half pound burger.

After all of this, Mike, Chuck, and I still had room for dessert and decided to share the Grizzly Delight—a ball of vanilla ice cream (somewhere between the size of a baseball and a softball) that was rolled in mini chocolate chips, drizzled with raspberry syrup, and surrounded by whipped cream. Delicious.

"Where in the hell is Roscoe, MT?" is the most common response when locals say they are from Roscoe. And, of course, I couldn’t leave without buying a Grizzly Bar t-shirt with that question printed on the back.

But we now know where the hell Roscoe is, and I can assure you that we will go back to this wonderful steakhouse. I give Chuck’s prime rib 5.0 Addies and my steak strips 4.5 Addies—the half point reduction is for not being the prime rib.

After leaving the Grizzly Bar, we took a short drive around the Roscoe area. Paved roads led to gravel roads leading to points unknown, but undoubtedly, to other beautiful scenes.

We learned that the town of Roscoe had originally been named Morris. Due to confusion with a nearby town of Norris, in 1905 the town was renamed Roscoe--the name of the postmaster's favorite horse.

While walking around the Grizzly Bar, we heard the sounds of a rushing river. As we left town, we saw that the East Rosebud River was very close to overflowing its banks.

The relatively short drive from Roscoe to Red Lodge featured views of big skies, open spaces, and a ribbon of Highway 78 wrapped around a series of rolling hills.

After several "This is just beautiful," "Look at the sky," and "Magnifi-cent" comments, we just rode in silence, admiring the view over each hill and around each curve of the highway.

The Beartooth Mountains provided the perfect accompani-ment to the prairie.


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