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Thought I’d give a trip report since the Chowhound forum for restaurants seem to be kind of dead these days. (So did Yelp and Tripadvisor kill it?)
It was a five-week trip, so I won’t discuss every single restaurant. I will focus on Colorado, as well as any other notable restaurants we discovered along the way.
So, starting with Colorado:
First of all, never made it to a place I wanted to try (north of town), maybe next time:
Here are the restaurants we did get to try:
Steamworks Brewing Co
Not what I was hoping for
Picked this place because looked like it had lots of good dinner options
and because it was a brewpub - usually people that care about their beer care about food too -- they tend to be good places.
Sadly, in hindsight, was a mistake, will not go back.
Big, warehouse space -- very crowded, long wait list to get in.
I would say good for families with kids -- that maybe should have been a clue that it wasn't for us.
Big menu, but also a big variety -- Mexican, Greek, Asian, Cajun, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, diner food. Another clue -- too much variety to do anything well. I would say industrial food, not craft food. I guess they are aiming at a different kind of clientele.
The Sausage & curds appetizer was decent. Chorizo & Beef meatloaf was a mistake. First of all, obviously sat in the warmer all day. Dried out and tough. 2nd, bad cuts of meat with a grind that was too coarse to hide it. The meatloaf was gristly!!
My wife ordered the Gyro -- again, meat was dried out -- sat in the warmer too long.
(If you go here, make sure you order something that will be made fresh, that can't be made ahead of time, can't possibly be sitting in a warmer until ordered.)
Service was spotty -- again, big place, lots of people -- server kept disappearing
Food delivery times was also not uniform. Some tables got food quickly, other tables got food much more slowly.
On the positive, was relatively inexpensive. Also, the web based waitlist worked really well, and kudos to the hostess for encouraging us to use it. The wait can be as much as two hours on a busy night. What a shame it would be to wait that long for totally average food.
Carver Brewing Co
Casual western feel/look to the space. Lots of help, attentive and friendly. Good food, we tried the: Broccoli beer cheese soup - nice. Good steak and cheese sandwich. Decent cherry crisp too. Overall a decent lunch spot.
Chimayo Stone Fired Kitchen
Nice dinner, first night in town
Large, high ceiling, attractive space, elegant western style, not too noisy.
Lots of help, attentive and friendly.
Creative food, well executed.
We had the wedge salad with steak -- nice rub on the steak and
Plank Salmon with Mustard & dill rub.
Very good, lots of other things I'd like to try.
Nice dinner, especially if you get the view
Sadly, for us it was rainy/cloudy during dinner, but we got the view earlier in the day.
Nice, big, elegant restaurant, upscale feel with kinda rustic furniture.
Since you go for the view the food needs to be good enough to make you forget the clouds when they happen, right. It was!
Started with nuts and peppadew poppers -- very nice -- but shouldn't have, had too much food in the end.
We did the 3-course menu.
Started with the wagyu carpaccio and the mussels (5+).
Both were good, I would have also liked to try berry salad though.
The Bison ribeye (18 +) was very good and the Iberico Pork was outstanding. Really liked the stone ground grits too.
For dessert, the sticky toffee pudding was great.
The chocolate espresso pot de creme was a little bland in comparison.
Very good staff.
Many other things I'd like to try on the menu.
Great Chef, Great Food
First of all, know that this has a pre fixe menu, there are no options.
But it is very well done, this is a great chef, creative and tasty food.
Also you should know that the main room is a communal table; but it is possible to ask for private tables in the side room, or on the patio.
Service between courses might be a tad slow.
It's in a strange location, in an office building. Because of this, they decided to play up the prohibition speakeasy theme, with camouflaged doors, secret passwords, a peep door etc. Makes for good theater.
The food was quite innovative, really enjoyed the meal.
Stronghouse Brew Pub
Good addition to the area
Very nice staff, great building -- very new, well done, seems to have a decent capital investment.
Had a nice but small menu.
We had a couple of brats and split the green chile pork soup (which was spicy)
We sat outside -- very pleasant.
All was good.
It's a few blocks off of main, hope they get enough biz to survive!
Taco Del Gnar
Crazy good lunch
Stopped for lunch on the way to Telluride from Durango (scenic route).
Creative, tasty tacos -- Asian/fusion style
Tried the elk, lamb, chorizo, pork belly and Korean BBQ tacos
The chorizo a little bland, the Korean a little dry - the sauce was not evenly distributed, but over all very tasty
Has a Fast-Food vibe and grunge/goth/punk atmosphere
I think there is a Telluride location too
Amazing meal, Amazing value
This is a great chef with creative, innovative food.
This is a must stop if you are in town.
And, it is very, very affordable! Cheaper than comparable restaurants.
You can choose, 2 or 3 course meal.
Quail stuffed with foie gras
All came with amazing accoutrements to give them additional life and flavor:
sauces, herbs, spices, veggies
Located in a nice house, a block or so off the main drag.
Rib City Grill
OK BBQ, just OK
Good location, right off the freeway.
Good onion rings, nice coleslaw.
Good service, music was a tad too loud.
As for the main attraction, the BBQ was dry, all of it.
Brisket smokey and tender, but dry.
Sliced Pork loin (not shoulder) tough and dry.
And the rib tips were dry too
Also, neither pork was that smokey tasting.
Ok, so that does it for Colorado. A few other restaurants of note from this trip.
From the great state of Montana:
West Yellowstone, MT
Madison Crossing Lounge
Nice upscale kind of place in a rough-it kind of town
Wife tried the charcuterie plate- it was quite large -- had a good mix of meat (includes smoked duck), cheese was fine, though not great selection.
I had the rainbow trout dinner. Tasty trout, green beans were fine, could have been better trimmed of the stems. Nice potatoes au gratin. Nice staff, nice venue.
Delightful little place
Very nice mango salad.
Brie soup w/ mushrooms and apples was quite tasty.
Elk meat loaf was good, as was the duck breast (nice fried rice there too).
Great rhubarb crisp for dessert.
Situated in a lovely old home. Outdoor patio was pleasant.
Great food, may be "the place" to eat in Billings.
Next on the list is Idaho:
Nice ambiance on the water
Came here because there isn’t a lot to choose from in the way of fine dining in the area.
Good service, nice facility, great outdoor dining on the water.
Huckleberry pie was very good, salted caramel chocolate tart was good as well, but very rich. Food is upscale in presentation and style (steak, fish, chops) but quality is average; but for the area, it's a keeper purely for the location.
Clark Fork, ID
Great dinner in a small town
Once again, not a lot of options in this part of the state.
Family run, small restaurant, upscale food in the middle of nowhere. A delightful surprise for us and my sister’s family.
Had Huckleberry pork chop, bacon wrapped duck breast, gnocchi with zucchini and red sauce, scallops with bacon and brie. All were terrific.
Soup was tomato water & garlic soup. Good but unusual.
Green salad w/ vinaigrette -- both soup and salad were served family style.
Nice place, good food, very sociable staff and owner.
Overall a very nice experience, gourmet food in a back country environment
Idaho Falls, ID
Very nice dinner.
Really nice dinner. Very good food
We had Opa topped with capers and pistachios with lemon sauce,
and duck breast, followed by carrot cake.
Started with French onion soup and pear & cashew salad.
Nice, upscale food. Service was very attentive and friendly, though delivery was slow (staffing issue?). A little hard to figure out which door was theirs. Building looks like it was designed for professional offices, not a restaurant.
Decor was classy, but not cozy, needs a few finishing touches.
Minor complaint: butter in foil wrappers, cheap feeling utensils
A couple of places in Indiana:
This is very good, refined food, artfully presented.
They offer a 4 course meal with an ala cart option.
We had foie gras, asparagus, halibut and duck, followed by homemade donuts.
All very good, with great service by friendly people.
Lovely establishment, a wonderful fine dining option.
Good, not amazing
I'll admit it, picked this place for the chef's fame.
Found standard bistro ambiance, not stuffy, good service, nice staff.
However, while everything with the food was good/creative, nothing really wowed us.
Even the famous shrimp corn dogs were just " good" to us.
(Made me wonder what Flay put up against them that lost the contest?)
We also tried the deviled eggs (coulda used more 'kick')
The Kungpao Brussel's sprouts were fine.
The duck & duck was roast breast and confit, the latter was mixed into a rice ball which had more rice than duck confit.
The trout -- this was more like a salmon chunk than a trout, certainly didn't come from a river. Not trout of the size you think of when someone says trout, where you get a whole filet, or even a whole fish. Much bigger. (Maybe it was Steelhead?)
Finished it off with chocolate whiskey cake.
As I said, all good, but nothing out of this world.
And now Michigan:
Best in Town!
This is the hotel restaurant, not much to look at, but probably the best place in town.
Tapas style dishes, very nice, inventive food, pretty tasty really.
Good staff, not too busy, only drawback is that the music from bar does filter into the dining room.
Wild Dog Grille
Nice dinner with friends
Enjoyed this restaurant when visiting friends that live in town. We sat outside on the patio, which was a nice experience as well. The enchiladas, Ceasar salad, wasabi Salmon, steak, calamari were all tasty. The mushroom cakes, on the other hand, no need to order them again, didn't go over well with us. Very popular, it was crowded.
A few more from miscellaneous states:
Nice dinner in North Dakota
First of all, expect the butterhorn rolls to be a big order -- even the small, just three, was too much for a couple. To be honest, didn't really like them, not my favorite dinner roll.
Anyway, the Walleye fish cakes were good. The beet & pumpernickel salad was weird. We expected a slice or maybe croutons, but what we got was pumpernickel crumbs, a lot of them, spread on the salad.
The shrimp cocktail was great. The trout with barley "fried rice" also very good.
Olive oil chocolate cake good, especially the goat cheese & cherry ice cream.
Good service, high ceilings, but hard surfaces, so still noisy.
There is a parking garage nearby.
Lake Ave Restauraunt
Nice dinner on a popular night
This place is kind of hidden in the DeWitt Seitz marketplace. There are lots of places to eat around here, but on the night we were there, everyplace was very busy. Had a 1 hour wait, essentially everywhere. Only thing available was seats at the bar. Went shopping and looking around at the other places, waiting for the phone call that our seats were ready. The smoked pork chop very good, Shishito peppers also good too. Wife enjoyed the Cajun mussels, but they were a little spicy for her.
Sitting at the bar was fine, but bartender was busy so expected it to be a little slower to get drinks, which it was, but that was fine.
This is a wine bar with tapas style food, meaning small plates meant to share.
The pizza dish took very long time to get, unfortunately, but otherwise service was good.
The hanger steak was good, the short ribs too, but very, very fatty.
My wife enjoyed the escargot. The tacos were quite tasty.
They had a very good, unique bread pudding, very dense. Overall, a good stop.
801 E 2nd Ave
1022 Main Ave
862 Main Ave
700 W Colorado Ave
283 S Fir St
630 Sherman St
121 Madison Ave
West Yellowstone, MT
2912 7th Ave N
415 River Pkwy
Idaho Falls, ID
1464 W 86th St
815 W Munising Ave
24 Center St
394 S Lake Ave
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