February 17, 2011

Seitan BBQ at Starky’s Authentic Americana


Reviewed by Craig Dugas.

■■■ 5/5 “Impressive!”

Seitan, pronounced say-tan, is a combination of high protein wheat gluten, liquid and seasonings… it’s not something that is easily found in Montana. In fact, I can’t name a single location in Bozeman, Montana that I’ve ever seen serving a seitan-based meal. Regardless, when Starky’s posted Seitan BBQ as their special on Vegetarian Night (a night where the special is dedicated to a vegetarian dish created by their in-house chef talent), my interest was captured.

I’ve had seitan quite a few times, but this was hands-down one of the (if not the) best prepared I’ve ever had. It was perfectly tender, well-seasoned and slightly charred. Served with a side of collard greens and a side of mashed potatoes, the meal was rounded out well.

Presention was nice, but in the end, taste is king, and this dish had it. I hope to see this and similar items available at Starky’s Authentic Americana in the future.

November 9, 2010

Bozeman Community Food Co-op – Re-visited


Reviewed by Craig Dugas.

■■■■ 4.5/5 “Best tofu in town.”

Eighteen months ago the Taste of Bozeman posted a review of a made-to-order sandwich from the Bozeman Community Food Co-op. As promised, we re-visited our local co-op 18 months later. And, well, here’s what we found out.

It turns out that ordering from the co-op takes a bit of practice, or at least a bit of instruction. When ordering the previously reviewed roast beef and Havarti on Ezekiel bread, I expected a hearty sandwich, packed with veggies. The sandwich I received had an average amount of meat and was very, very light on the veggies. To say the least, it was not satisfactory. Fast forward 18 months.

To truly appreciate the co-op, the last thing you want to do is order a sandwich you can get at any old deli. Leave the roast beefs to the New York delis, and order something a bit more adventurous. Try ordering the baked, seasoned tofu on Ciabatta, topped with carrots on a hummus spread. Although the chincy leaf of lettuce I received a year and a half ago still seems underwhelming, this time they did it right. Fresh veggies piled up and pressed back down when they firmly applied the top slice of bread. Whew!

But wait… there’s more! Their daily-made soups, self-serve salad bar, and behind-the-counter salad bar are not only fantastic, but are also accommodating to anyone’s simple or complex dietary desires.

Plus, most of the people that work there are really friendly!

I’m glad to have given the Bozeman Food Co-op another try, and suggest you stop by and try it out for yourself. Or maybe you already have. Share your experiences at the Bozeman Community Food Co-op in the comments below.
October 4, 2010

Chicken Man-Du-Guk at I-Ho’s


Rating: ■■■■□ 4.5 / 5 “Don’t wear white while eating this soup :)

The Chicken Man-Du-Guk at I-Ho’s Korean Grill could be called the Kitchen Sink Soup—it has it all! 

It is served in a huge steaming bowl, loaded with vegetables: bean sprouts, zucchini, carrots, onion, cabbage, scallions and sweet potato noodles. The broth is made of oxtail with the addition of red pepper powder to give it spiciness. The best part of the soup is the “man-du”. These large, Asian-style dumplings are, according to the menu, handmade with a chicken-based filling. Coated with the red soup, they are delicious.

All of this comes with a side of steamed white rice. Unfortunately this soup is expensive: $13, but it’s certainly makes a healthy and hearty meal. 

정말 맛있어요! ;)
September 12, 2010

BBQ at the Horny Moose

Update: The Horny Moose has since gone out of business.

Rating: □ 4.0 / 5 ”This is a review of pulled meat at the Horny Moose. Let’s keep it professional :)

Aside from the giant wooden moose that greets you at the door and friendly atmosphere at this Downtown Bozeman establishment, what makes a meal at the Horny Moose so special? Well, Horny Moose smokehouse master Tom Geer would claim that smoking the meat for wicked long hours over Minnesota apple wood and hickory makes all the difference in the world. Apparently, local BBQ competition (Bar 3, Famous Dave’s) primarily use propane and propane accessories to put the heat to the meat.

As far as the food goes, it was enjoyable. BBQ is prepared with your choice of house-made sauce, the original sauce having a very bourbon-y hint to it. The pulled pork was satisfying, but the pulled chicken was fantastic – quite moist and full of smoky aroma. 

The side of fries was great, although I found the dispersement of seasoning a bit rushed. Some areas were dense with salt, and others were unseasoned, requiring the eater to carefully choose bites. Although they weren’t bad, the onion rings were pretty stock-standard (if you want the best onion rings in town – go a few blocks west to Ted’s Montana Grill). This reviewer still prefer’s Bar 3 for pulled pork, but give the Horny Moose a try, it’s a nice addition to the Bozeman eatery options.


August 26, 2010

Szechuan Beef at The Wok

Rating: □□ 3.0 / 5 ”Is this really beef?”

Whenever I have Chinese food, I always find myself wondering how authentic it is. How does the Szechuan Beef made in America, for example, compare to how they make it in China’s Szechuan province? I suspect ours is fairly Americanized, but even so, the version I had today (for around $7) at The Wok was pretty tasty.

First of all, I have to give them props for their willingness to customize an order. I asked if they could make it more spicy, and the waitress informed me that they can make it as mild or as hot as you like. A few minutes later, I heard the waitress calling out to the cook in the back, “one Szechuan Beef; extra, extra spicy!” They lived up to their word: the dish came out spicy and steaming hot with generous portions of beef and vegetables served on top of steamed white rice. The presentation was top-notch and the vegetables were stir-fried excellence, but it’s really the beef I want to focus on here. 

The beef was cut into wide strips, that tended to curl upon itself, which is not all that bad, since it serves as a good way of scooping up more sauce. However, the cuts were almost too big for one bite. The meat was exceptionally chewy and difficult to break-down. Either it was cut along the grain giving it a tougher texture, or it wasn’t 100% beef. It almost felt like some questionable beef hybrid that you would expect from fast food, not a dine-in restaurant. And certainly not from the apparently oxen-rich Szechuan province! 

Ignoring those complaints, I left The Wok feeling full and satisfied (and with a pleasantly burning mouth). As far as what the story is with that beef (and the other question regarding authenticity), perhaps ignorance is bliss.


June 30, 2010

Hot Dog and Fries at Papulo Dogs

Update: Papulo Dogs has since gone out of business.

Rating: □ 3.7 / 5 ”Good hot dog, great fries, amazing service”

Head’s up, Paulie’s Hot Dogs, there’s another hot dog shop in town. Papulo Dogs is serving up Hawaiian influenced dogs topped with some fresh new ingredients. All dogs (beef $, veggie $$, buffalo $$$) are served with homemade chips or for a bit extra, sweet potato fries. We’ll talk more about the fries later.

The Santa Cruz dog is topped with a 3-cheese blend, chopped cucumber, sliced tomato, spinach, chipotle red pepper cream sauce, caramelized onions, sliced avocado and a julienned fried egg.

Modern gourmet hot dog joints are known for combining odd foods together on one bun, but the fried egg strip was very out of place with the otherwise nutritious ingredients on the Santa Cruz. Similarly, the caramelized onion was a good thought, but I’d wager that raw onions would have fit in better with this fresh topping medley. I also found no signs of the “3-cheese blend.”  The dog was decent, but it will make you wonder “why” quite often.

They also chose to toast the prepared dog in an oven just before serving (and from the looks of it, they  toast every dog). The slightly crunchy bread wasn’t as enjoyable as the soft, fresh, bready pillow of a standard hot dog bun.

Now on to what really made this $7.75 lunch worthwhile – sweet potato fries, possibly the best in town with an array of spicy dipping sauces. Crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside, just the way you like ‘em. Pair this with the sauce of your choice on tap and they’re tough to beat.

Chipotle red pepper cream sauce: decent on the dog, not so much on the fries.
Curry Ketchup: decent on the fries, decent on the dog.
Passion Fruit Wasabi Mustard: great on the fries, not so great on the dog.

The fries were more enjoyable than the hot dog, but it was an overall good meal. The service was outstanding (kind, friendly, prompt) and that’s not always easy to find in Downtown Bozeman these days.

Reviewed by Craig Dugas

Afterthoughts: I could be wrong, but I believe Paulie’s stopped carrying vegetarian hot dogs, making Papulo Dogs the place to go if you’re in search of a vegetarian-friendly establishment. Paulie’s still has the edge price-wise as they toss in a fountain drink for about the same price.


May 28, 2010

Traditional Gyros at Athenas

Rating: □□□ 2.4 / 5 ”What a mess!”

On my way to get a sandwich from the Manhattan Sandwich Company in the mall, I noticed a (presumably new) gyros counter across the food court called Athenas. A warm gyros sounded nice on a cold, rainy day like today, so I ventured over and ordered a traditional gyros, with feta cheese (for an additional 75 cents). The kind gentleman behind the counter proceeded to grill a pita along with some thick slices of gryo meat taken directly from a skewer, which he then wrapped up in exchange for $7.50.

This was the messiest gyros I have ever eaten in my life. Holy cow! (I mean—holy lamb!) Even before taking it out of the bag, I regretted not getting a Manhattan sandwich. The sight was not appetizing at all (see the photo). I knew it was going to be an eat-in-the-wrapper kind of sandwich. My hands were instantly soaked with a runny tzatziki sauce. The pita bread was too small to contain all the ingredients. I lost count of how many napkins I used.

On the plus side, the taste was surprisingly good and the vegetables (lettuce, tomato, onions with a peperoncini on the side) were fresh. If you can stomach the unpleasant and unsightly mess, or if you just happen to be in the mall, then this is a good option for you. If not, there are plenty other restaurants in Bozeman to eat Greek food.


May 15, 2010

Green Curry at Lemongrass Thai

Rating: □ 4 / 5 ”Great curry at a high price”

The green curry at Lemongrass Thai has a great balance of sweetness, spiciness and curry flavor. Served with a large bowl of hot rice, the curry surrounds a mixture of carrots, zucchini, bamboo shoots and baby corn. It was a great combination of flavors, but the carrots were not cut small enough (which I only mention because you’ll be stuck trying to cut carrot with your fork, not a simple task).

Given the location, I expected Lemongrass Thai to be a casual atmosphere, but it sits somewhere between casual and fine dining. I asked the waiter if they had any specials that day and he scoffed “we don’t do that here.” That was odd, because Lemongrass Thai raves on their Facebook page about specials all the time. To be fair, he was an otherwise friendly host. 

Honestly, after eating there it seems like a place that would be a much better fit as a take-out style restaurant with more reasonable pricing. The curry was $14, which is too high to justify returning here often, but if they offered a $7 curry-to-go, I’d probably fit this meal in quite often.

Reviewed by Craig Dugas


May 14, 2010

Pizza and Sandwiches at Audrey’s Pizza Oven

Rating:  4 / 5 ”Recommended”

A few days ago I filled out a Best of Bozeman survey and I entered an old favorite restaurant for the Best Pizza entry without first having tried the new Audrey’s Pizza Oven. After visiting Audrey’s yesterday, I almost wish I could change my vote.

A co-worker and I ordered the special pizza of the day: the Rouse Street, which is their version of a meat lover’s prepared on a thin braided crust. The meats included pepperoni, bacon, Canadian bacon and sausage. The sausage and bacon were seasoned with freshly-ground pepper, which gave the pizza a nice extra flavor.

Despite the plentiful portions of meat and stringy cheese, the pizza wasn’t overly greasy or heavy. That was mostly thanks to the non-greasy crust, which was about as thin as you can make it and still hold all the toppings. That, and the tomato sauce was applied sparingly (which I personally like–too much sauce can be overpowering and messy).

It was a tasty pizza, but at a price: $15.50 just for the twelve-inch, which may be a concern if you have a lot of mouths to feed. For two people though, the twelve-inch was just about right.

Check out their menu.

Reviewed by Eric Barnes


Rating: □ 3.7 / 5 ”Good sandwich, but where was the adventure I was promised?”

The Italian Over The Top sandwich wasn’t really over the top of anything, but it was a good sandwich. A few layers of choice Italian meats with provolone and veggies were tucked into a roll of fresh bread that had been baked with a bit of cheese on it. The fillings were sitting on a light layer of mayo and were partially soaked with seasoned oil and vinegar.

The meats used in this sandwich were great, but the quantity of meat was less than I had expected. If I get another sandwich, I’ll probably go with the standard Italian sandwich, which is $2 less and has more intense meats and peppers. I should mention that the tag line for this item is “When you really crave a unique, amazing, satisfying, sensational, truly one-of-a-kind adventure, this is it!“, but mine was just satisfying.

We were served in a timely manner and our waitress was really quite nice. All-in-all, lunch at Audrey’s Pizza was pretty good! When I go back for dinner, I’ll definitely try the calzone (which I saw from a short distance and it looked great!).

Reviewed by Craig Dugas


April 20, 2010

Roast Beef at Starky’s Authentic Americana

Rating: □□□ 1.7 / 5 ”That will teach me for pre-tipping”

Starky’s Authentic Americana (formerly Starky’s Delicatessen) makes a decent corned beef or pastrami sandwich, no question. But as I glanced up and down the new menu, the thing that jumped out was the “medium-rare house roasted beef [...] on challah.” also known as Grenier’s Way. A half one of these paired with a cup of our previously reviewed chicken pot pie soup seemed like a nice lunch plan.

I should preface by saying I would not have ordered this sandwich if the roast beef description had not said “medium-rare.”

Unfortunately, the roast beef was thick-cut and very tough – too much to be enjoyable.  It was cooked to the point of being gray, I swear they roasted the flavor right out of it.  It was not served on challah bread but some variety of grain or wheat. Half-way through the meal, a hair was discovered under my sandwich. Things were looking pretty grim in this diner’s mind.

The dish was also delivered a good 5 minutes after the other to people in my lunch party received their food. Five extra minutes for a cold-cut and cup of soup was excessive considering we ordered back-to-back and other people were receiving food after them but before I did.

When I venture out for a great deli sandwich, it might not be to Starky’s for a while. If you go there, maybe stick with the corned beef, pastrami, or even lamb gyros. If you have a favorite meal there, feel free to comment below.

Reviewed by Craig Dugas