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dining out in billings, montana

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 12 April 2010 at 17:09

dining out in billings, montana

recently, we took a trip to billings, the largest "city" in montana, so that my youngest son could participate in the montana open wrestling tournament. despite his very impressive showing at the state AAU tournament  earlier in march (he won the state championship in his weight class), he didn't do so well at this tournament. he was disappointed at his performance, but still had a good time and eating out was a part of this experience. along with him and myself, we were also travelling with mrs. tas, #3 son and my mother.

the first night, friday, happened to also be my birthday, so it was a celebration of sorts. we decided to eat somewhere that couldn't be found in other towns we go to (such as havre or great falls) and i decided we should have barbecue, since we were just coming out of winter and it had been several months since i'd had any! mrs.tas and mom wanted a steak....

we decided to go to the texas roadhouse (http://www.texasroadhouse.com), which i'd never been to, and i must say i was very pelased with it.

 
for those of you not familiar with this chan restaurant, it's pretty cool. we had to wait about 45 minutes for a table, but it was worth it.
 
 
while we waited, we sat with a dozen or two other folks who were drinking beer and waiting for a table - everyone was enjoying the free peanuts provided by the place.
 

good time roadhouse music was playing and the smells coming from the kitchen were amazing, a combination of barbecue, sizzling steak and this magnificent, yeasty bread-baking aroma for the buns served tableside with a wonderful kind of cinnamon/honey whipped butter.

service was great and the portions were huge. we ended up taking a lot of it back to the hotel. we started with a "blooming onio" that was very well-seasoned and larger than a dinner plate. I ordered a combination plate with pulled pork with grilled shrimp. i don't remember everything everyone ordered, but i know that some of the irtems were country-fried steak, ribs and sirloin tips as well as all the sides. everything was prepared very wel and i was suitably impressed. everyone else seemed to enjoy it as well:

 
when we left, i asked our server how much it would cost to take home a bottle of their house sauce, and he gave me one at no charge. can't beat that! all-in-all, it was quite an experience for a few small-town people. youngest son liked the peanuts and being able to just toss the shells on the floor, while #3 son liked the line-dancing waitresses shaking it all to "boot-scoot boogie."

the next night, i lobbied hard and won the opportinuty to eat at famous dave's (http://www.famousdaves.com/), which is another chain restaurant specializing in barbecue.

 
in fact, famous daves has a line of rubs and sauces available for sale. i had tried thesteak/burger seasoning and the rib rub, as well as a couple of the sauces, so i was eager to try the food prepared in their kitchen. youngest son's wrestling coach was telling me how an entire meal could be ordered on a garbage can lid, and we decided to give that a try, along with a couple of other diners ordering off the menu. we were served a great assortment of all the barbecue favourites, including pulled pork, brisket, ribs, chicken, corn muffins, corn-on-the-cob, steak fries, cole slaw and baked beans. i didn't get a picture at the beginning of the feast (i should have!) but you can see it by clicking on the link. here's a shot of how it looked near the end of the meal:
 

just like the texas roadhouse, they served a lot of great food. we ended up taking this and some other food home.

the next morning, we ate at IHOP (http://www.ihop.com/), which was OK but not terribly special.

 
one thing i will say is that they served a pile of food:
 
 
and, hungry travelers that we were, we ate it all....!
 

on the way home, we stopped in a little town called roundup and bought sandwich fixin's for a picnic at the fred robinson bridge over the missouri river. we decided to stop at the local A&W drive-up and get a gallon of root beer to drink at the picnic.

 
this place has been a sentimental favourite of mine since i was a kid and we would stop here on trips to visit family in colorado. the building and atmospehere take you right back to the days when these roadside drive-ups were the norm rather than quaint novelties, and the service and food is always outstanding.
 

in conclusion, i will say that although we don't get out too much, we had a great time at these places. if you get the chance to give them a try, or have already been to any of tehm, write about it here!

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3montes View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 3montes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2010 at 20:20
Nice write up Ron. Looks like you all had a great time and had some great food as well. A Texas Roadhouse just opened here about 2 months ago. It is crazy busy everytime I drive by so I am going to wait for things to settle down a bit before giving it a go.
All reports I have heard are like yours. Very good!
 
We also have a Famous Daves here and I do like that place. It is very near the Red Lobster and for some reason I can't seem to walk by that place without going in so it's been sometime since we have been to Famous Daves. My wife always seals the deal at Red Lobster by saying "you make better ribs than Daves so lets go to the Red Lobster" LOL
 
Now a IHOP we do not have. Their commercals always make me wish we did though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote got14u Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2010 at 23:09
Awesome post...and we need to communicate more....I was also there as well...my boy took second in 119lbers I do believe. I have never eaten at those places I always get stuck on Buffalo Wild Wings (i miss that place from Arizona). I will try those others you mentioned next time up there which should be sooner then later since Billings is only a 1.5 away. And the nearest Sam's Club....Nice write up, and tell your son that is nothing to hang his head on...3rd place in wrestling is VERY respectfully.
Jerod

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 April 2010 at 02:36
Nice job Ron! nothing like a road trip to put a little jump start into your day Smile
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 March 2012 at 19:44
well, two years later -
 
here i am back in billings, this time for some continuing education/licensing for insurance (yay) - anwyay, we ate at the olive gardent tonight ~ this was my first time ever to one of these, and i was impressed with the hospitality. the atmosphere was good, and the waitress recommended a good entree (seafood portofino). the price wasn't terribly-expensive and the drinks i had (their "house" rose wine and their "limonata bella") were both very good. all-in-all, i was quite satisfied ~
 
but, to be honest, i made almost the exsact thing the night before, except it didn't have mussles and was capellini rather than linguine - and mine was a lot better ~
 
so, either i am doing something right - or olive garden is!LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 March 2012 at 21:16
If I had to make a choice as to which is right, Ron, it would be yours.
 
In my admittedly limited experience, Olive Garden serves a good meal at a reasonable price. But if anyone thinks it's authentic Italian they're kidding themselves.
 
On a more general level: I don't believe that anyone on this list, making a similar dish, can't do a better job than any chain restaurant. But that's hardly the point. We eat at chains because they are convenient to the time & place, and we pretty much know what to expect with both the style and quality of the food.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marissa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 March 2012 at 10:31
There are so many excellent restaurants in Austin that I rarely find myself eating at the chains...unless my in-laws are in town and they seem to gravitate towards McDonald's and IHOP...yuck.

Olive Garden does at least have a good menu and their ingredients seem fresher than most. But I bet yours was so much better Ron!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 March 2012 at 22:29

hey, guys - still here in billings, for a couple of days ~ i''ve looked at the new posts and there are some wondeerful new things! i will get to them as soon as i can!

today was pretty good, at least where dining out was concerned. for lunch i went to a local pub called fiddler's green and had fish-n-chips. they were great, and i really enjoyed them. got a picture - will post when i can.
 
for supper, we went to famous dave's (referenced above) and had a great meal. i had a "combination plate" that included a small rack of spares and a bit of smoked sausage, plus their "famous" cinnamon apples and macaroni & cheese for the two sides. it was all good - no complaints at all. ~ now when it comes to barbecue, home-cooked is best, but famous dave's is really good, in my book - and the service/atmosphere is top-shelf!
 
more later ~ i'll keep you guys updated as i can......
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 July 2012 at 11:23
sorry to take so long to update this - it's been an interesting 4 months! here are some photo updates from my two trips to billings this spring; one in early march for my insurance licensing exam, referenced above, and the other for my youngest son's wrestling tournament, a link to some details from that trip can be found here:
 
 
anyway, here are some of the eateries we visited, and some of the food we enjoyed. i thought i had a few more pictures than this, but i seem to have misplaced them. if i find them, i'll post, because some of the missing photos were pretty good.
 
first up, on my first trip, we went to the olive garden. i ordered the seafood portofino, as mentioned above, and it was pretty good - i could have sworn i took a picture of it but i seem to have lost it. i also enjoyed a very refreshing drink that they call a bella limonata:
 
 
the next day, as mentioned above, i went to a charming little pub called fiddler's green:
 
 
and enjoyed a refreshing iced tea:
 
 
as well as some very good fish and chips:
 
 
they looked so nice, i took two pictures - lol:
 
 
they tasted pretty good, too ~
 
that evening, we ate at famous dave's barbecue, where i enjoyed a good combination plate:
 
 
it was delicious, but, like olive garden, i just KNOW i could have made better at my own house, for less than half the cost.
 
the next evening we ate at a place where i was truly impressed. it's called "old chicago," and i ordered one of their pizzas:
 
 
not a true "chicago-style" pizza, but it was very dang tasty and i really enjoyed it. the atmosphere was great, the service was good, and i got to try a new favourite beer:
 
 
like i said, those are from my first trip this spring for work, mentioned above. i have other pictures, and if i find them, i will post them.
 
the second trip for my son's wrestling tournament (link above), my wife and mother came along, and we had a great time. here are some of the places we ate.
 
first, which is a big deal for rural, small-town folk in a land-locked state a thousand miles from salt water, was a trip to red lobster:
 
 
i know that it's nothing special, and in actuality is just another "chain" restaurant, but it was for some food we never really get to enjoy or, if we get to try it at home, it just isn't done well due to lack of familiarity with the ingredients.
 
 
anyway, it was a pretty busy night, due to the prom, and also the wrestling tournament, which filled montana's largest city. there were probably a few other events going on, also. while we waited in the lobby for a table, we looked at the lobster tank:
 
 
enjoyed a refreshing cocktail from the bar (a very, very rare luxury for us). i had a malibu hurricane, and mrs. tas enjoyed (if i remember correctly) a mango berry daiquiri:
 
 
my youngest son really enjoyed the decor:
 
 
 
but when it came time to order, there were so many choices that he was overwhelmed:
 
 
he finally settled on a nice little lobster platter:
 
 
my mother goes to a seafood restaurant, and then orders chicken:
 
 
she let me try a bite, and it was actually really good, with a nice cherry-maple glaze.
 
the beautiful mrs. tas tried a combination platter, with shrimp two ways, a small lobster tail and crab legs, which she always loves:
 
 
i went into complete over-load trying to decide what to get, but finally settled on this:
 
 
it's a wood-fired grilled lobster tail and skewered shrimp, with a very delicious and savory lobster mac and cheese that was filled with smoky bacon, as well. very good stuff ~
 
 
it was a great dinner and a rare treat.
 
the next day, we ate lunch at a place i've never seen before, called hu hot, which advertises itself as a mongolian grill:
 
 
i had eaten at a mongolian grill before, so i knew what to expect. my son, however, went nuts and had a great time. for those of you who are unfamiliar, it is a pretty easy concept. your meal is prepared on a large, circular grill , shown here:
 
 
you go through the line and choose your ingredients from a large selection, putting them in a large bowl: meats firsst, then vegetables and then oils and sauces on top. naturally, you can create many, many different flavour combinations and customised dishes. then the cook dumps the bowl onto the grill:
 
 
and grills it until it's done - as you can see, they can prepare several meals at a time this way:
 
 
then you add any garnishes you desire and enjoy ~ the food was really good, and it was nice to try something different.
 
anyway, that's a sampling of the experiences we had. some were better than others ~ but having said that, all were good, none were bad! Tongue
 
if i can find my other pictures, i will post them ~ otherwise, enjoy what i have here, and next time we go to billings, i'll be sure to post more on this thread ~
 
ron
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 July 2012 at 12:59
THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR PHOTOS TAS ...
 
The live lobster looked quite delicious!
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 July 2012 at 20:43
Hey Ron, that picture of your son at Red Lobster reminds me of me after a few too many brown bottles!!!
No wonder he had a hard time deciding what to order
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