June 19, 2009

Lunch at Opus Deli

Update: Opus Deli has once again gone out of business.

Reviewed by Craig Dugas

■■■□□ 3.2 / 5 “Good food, good people”

Heads up, Bozeman, there’s a new deli in town! Which is good, because Starky’s is still unavailable, and aside from Wheat Montana (hmm) and Gandolfo’s (mmmm!), it’s slim pickins.

Once I set foot inside this family-run establishment I had an overall welcoming experience. Glancing at the menu, many of the choices sounded really good, but when it came down to it, I had to order the sandwich by which the deli was named – The Opus.

Even-sized layers of Dave’s Old World Pastrami, provolone, Opus sauce, coleslaw, tomato and red onion made quite the flavor experience – and yes, it was pretty good (albeit quite messy). I’m not sure what is in Opus sauce, and I’m not sure they’d ever tell me, but it was uniquely good. The sandwich came with a miniature presentation piece of a sliced pickle speared with a sliced grape tomato, a small curd of fresh mozzarella and a tiny basil leaf – I would’ve loved a few of these instead of chips (hint, hint)! Matthew calls it a “Caprese-salad on a stick.” The option to order a half-sandwich would be a nice way to accommodate the lighter fare.

Look for the Opus Deli just west of 7th on Oak Street. They offer indoor and patio seating and are currently open 7am to 9pm serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and gourmet coffee & soda drinks. Also, they have a Fresh Squeezed Basil Lemonade – sounds neat!  Oh, one last thing I’d like to include is that the service was rather pleasant – greeting us, taking our orders, bringing us our food (and refills), and saying “goodbye” – all great!

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Reviewed by Matthew Johnson

■■■□□ 3/5 – “it’s good to have another option in Bozeman”
 
Just as I was starting to think about how hungry I was (and how nice it was outside) Eric and Craig came in to my office to tell me they were going to the Opus Deli. It had been a while since I wrote a review for Taste of Bozeman so I thought I’d tag along. The Opus Deli is new to Bozeman, replacing La Creme at 1001 Oak St. When I say “replacing”, I mean it looks like the guys at Le Creme just walked out one day the Opus crew walked in – very little inside has been changed. As someone who values establishments with a unique character I was a little disappointed. I think the last three businesses to occupy the space Opus now resides in all used the same furniture. 
 
I choose the Montana Panini ($8.50) from among the various sandwiches, soups, and salads on the menu. As a special offer I was able to add chips and a fountain drink for $1 more. All together the service was good, but perhaps a little too ”t-shirt” casual. My Panini arrived quickly and was loaded with natural roast beef, caramelized onions, horseradish cheddar, and horseradish mayo. Grilled slices of wheat bread made the Panini official. The sandwich was good, but I wouldn’t say it stood out. Craig made a reasonable observation, he pointed out that my Panini was more of a “core” sandwich – a classic that you can order anywhere. Given that I’d say it’s not a surprise the Panini didn’t stand out, the flavor wasn’t new to me. On the other hand, the sandwich Craig ordered looked much more unique.
 
Although the Montana Panini wont be short listed among my favorite sandwiches, I would like to go back and try something more unique to Opus and sample a hot beverage from their drink menu.

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Reviewed by Eric Barnes

■■□□□ 2 / 5 “Great cafe; so-so sandwich”

Before I get into the review, I have to mention that Opus Deli & Coffee has some of the friendliest employees I’ve seen in a restaurant in a long time. Not only did they provide excellent service, but they gave us a boat load of coupons.

The first sandwich listed on the menu is the Cajun turkey: premium cajun turkey breast with pesto, Jarlsburg swiss and sliced tomato. A vision of a nice spicy sandwich flashed into my mind. It sounded like just the thing for a Friday afternoon. And when the lady at the counter informed me that it is their most popular sandwich, I thought, “wow! This is going to be great!” And for a pricey $8.50, it had to be good.

That was chapter one of Great Expectations. Chapter two involved the inevitable disappointment. The sandwich was not spicy at all, without much Cajun taste worth mentioning. I described it to Matthew as not having a “hint of Cajun”, but a “ghost of Cajun”: you can almost detect that it exists, but as soon as you try to pin-point it, it’s gone. In addition, the turkey was thickly cut, resulting in a slightly disagreeable rough texture. The sandwich was already tough because of the pressed, Panini style, which didn’t help matters.

In summary, I was disappointed. But then again, maybe I shouldn’t have set my expectations so high. Charles Dickens says it best: “Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.” 

I’ll be back Opus Deli… just for something different.

You can follow Opus Deli and get daily specials on Twitter: http://twitter.com/OpusDeli

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June 16, 2009

Chicken & Potato Burrito at La Tinga

Reviewed by Craig Dugas

■■■■□ 4 / 5 “Deceivingly good / This ain’t Taco Bell”

 

I wonder if the ancient Aztec founders of the early “tortilla wrapped delight” known to us simply as taco or burrito ever experienced something so hot (picante, not caliente) in their creations as what you can order at La Tinga. After trying their foodstuffs occasionally over a few years, I’ve decided that La Tinga has good food and good prices, but nothing I’ve ever eaten has been like the chicken and potato burrito. It sounds harmless, but each and every time you order it, the kind Hispanic woman behind the counter pauses before writing it on the ticket and warns you that it is very, very spicy.  Bring it on!

Yes, I enjoy tasty spicy food – jalapeños & habañeros, woO! More Scoville! But what you have here at La Tinga, is something that is extremely hot (damaging to one’s digestive system, a friend says) and tastes good too! Now that’s a rarity.

Everything is available a-la-carte, so I ordered this accompanied by a side of beans & rice, which made the meal exactly 5 bucks – swish. It gave me something to eat in-between burrito bites. Plus, you get to scoop your own spicy red sauce (which pales in comparison to the green sauce) on to your plate and as much cilantro+onion mixture as you’d like. If you like traditional Mexican food, it’s definitely worth a taste.

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June 11, 2009

Pizza at On the Rise Bakery

Update: On the Rise Bakery has moved to Four Corners, and we’re not sure if they’re still serving pizza.

Reviewed by Eric Barnes

■■■■□ 4 / 5 “Home-baked goodness”

 

Here is the only pizza in town (that I am aware of) that has a genuinely home-made feel to it. Where it’s at: On the Rise Bakery. 

Today they were offering two kinds: pepperoni and cheese. I order a slice of both. Each were not overly greasy and had just the right balance of sauce and cheese. My favorite part was the crust, which was surprisingly light and fluffy. It was like eating a slice of home-baked bread in the shape (and taste) of a pizza.

The cost was $3.25 per slice or $4.75 for the combo, which includes a “mini cookie” and a drink. The pizza is apparently only served between 11:15 and 2:30. See the photos below for other menu options.

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June 10, 2009

Elle’s Belles Chocolate Chip Cookie

Reviewed by Eric Barnes

■■■■□ 4 / 5 “Next best thing to a Starky’s cookie!”

 

It all started on a harmless trip to Naked Noodle yesterday. There was this basket sitting on the counter filled with cookies from Elle’s Belles Bakery & Cafe. I haphazardly glanced at the cookies. An automatic impulse was instantly triggered in my brain, causing a swift, mechanical motion of my hand. I reached into the basket and, in seconds, found myself standing in front of the clerk, holding up a big chocolate chip cookie. There had been no resistance. I didn’t even flinch when the clerk asked me to pay $2.50.

Appearances are sometimes deceiving though. While the chocolate chip cookie was soft and delicious, it didn’t quite have the home-baked taste I had been expecting. Perhaps I need to head on down to their cafe in the morning for a fresher tasting experience. In any case, it was a worth-while treat, even though it was a bit pricey. I miss Starky’s cookies, but Elle’s Belles is the next best thing.

 

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June 3, 2009

Breakfast Bagel at Charlie’s Deli

Update: This location is now occupied by The “M” Cafe.

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Reviewed by Eric Barnes

■■■ 3.5 / 5 “Good enough”

There’s nothing like a cup of coffee and a breakfast bagel to get your morning started. At Charlie’s Deli, located inside the Rocky Mountain Roasting coffee shop in downtown Bozeman, you can get just that. The best part is, the breakfast bagel is completely customizable. They offer several kinds of cheeses and meats, as well as fresh bagels provided by Bagel Works. My co-workers swear by the sausage, but I usually go with bacon, topped with melted cheddar or pepper jack, served on a “works” bagel. The preparation takes about five minutes. If you are getting it to go, they package it in a convenient plastic container. If you are staying, they sometimes provide a small side of grapes. All this for a mere $3.95. 

Looking back at the photo, my mouth starts to water. However, I must be honest here, the taste is nothing to write home about. It’s not that it is bland by any means, but I always feel slightly disappointed in the taste, as if something were missing. Not enough sodium? Cheddar not sharp enough? Whatever it is, the good news is it’s not over filling. There’s nothing worse than feeling stuffed before lunch. This breakfast bagel is just enough.

As an aside: what does everyone think of Taste of Bozeman‘s block rating system? Do you like it? Or would you rather just see the reviews? Let us know.