Monday, 26 January 2009

MONTANA'S COOKHOUSE SALOON ~ Ottawa

There's not much of a story here. It's Saturday night, and no one is in the mood to cook. Let's go out for a dinner and a movie. But where to eat? Let's go someplace we haven't been to yet. List off restaurants, narrow it down, and somehow we ended up with Montana's Cookhouse Saloon.



You know Montana's. They are a chain everywhere in Ontario.They look like a ski lodge (actually they looked like they ripped off Moose Winooski's) or a country cabin place, with crazy crap on the walls. I'm sure you've seen the commercials with the Deer and Moose, who talk about how delicious the food is. Now, I like these guys, but there is something wrong about a 'hunted' moose and deer heads, talking about how delicious the ribs look. I mean, talk about morbid! The only other beef with that is that they don't even serve venison or moose meat.





Montana's is almost always found in box store malls, and I can't get over how exact a formula they follow for their restaurants. We walked into this one, and it was almost identical to the ones I've been into the past. I forgot to take some photos of the inside of the restaurant, but found the one below on the internet from Edmonton, and its an almost exact clone of the one here in Ottawa that I went to (and there are like 3 more in town, I'm sure they are all the same). I guess that's what you expect from a chain, consistency.



It's not a place I've been to for several years, and they weren't memorable events. I couldn't even remember what I had eaten the last time I was here. And to be honest, I've heard from some family and friends and read quite a few negative reviews that all followed the same theme: slow service, cold restaurant, cold food. Well, I like to experience things for myself, and LJ was in the mood, so we tried it out.


It was very busy inside, but we didn't wait more than 10 minutes being seated. Our server Andrew, who was tired, abrupt, but down to Earth, warned us off the top that some dinners might be slow tonight - none of his tables had this problem, but that it may take a while. Good to know. We ordered, and surprisingly we didn't wait long.





On the table was an advertisement for an appetizer not in the menu. "Hand cut potato wedges tossed in medium Buffalo sauce, served with ranch dip". How could I resist trying this?



What we have here was pretty clear - giant wedge potato that is dusted, fried, then tossed in whatever sauce you want them in. I got the same sauce as my wings, so I'll come back to that, but these suckers were swimming in sauce but they became soggy. They were served in an iron skillet, with a giant lettuce leaf. Not a fan of the lettuce let me tell you. And quite frankly it was barely warm when they came out.




They were the thickest cut potatoes I've ever had served. The dusting made for a nice crunch, but because they were sooooo thick, several of them were not fully cooked through. I couldn't finish them off and took them home for lunch the next day, and they were pretty tasty both the night of and the next day.



LJ was feeling the need for red meat, and went with a steak. Montana's has a special on right now, "Deal a Winning Meal" where you choose a special entree and dessert, get a free pack of cards, and a scratch card where 'everyone is a winner', and you could win your meal for free. LJ did not, her card was a free Signature Honey Apple Cobbler.


She went with the 8 oz Sirloin steak. She ordered it 'well done' (which wouldn't be my choice of 'cooked-ness', but to each their own). However, it was more than well done on the outside but still pink in the middle. And it was tasteless. LJ told me so, and I thought maybe it just was mild. Nope, it was mighty tasteless. And cold. Not ice cold, but it didn't seem like it came right off the grill. I also don't know how big 8 oz is, but both of her sides dwarfed the main event, and they weren't big.




The mashed potato's were ok - plain, and slightly cold. The coleslaw was really nice though. Very creamy, just the way I like it. There wasn't much to it, but it didn't need anything else. So the wedges were good, the steak bad, potato's ho hum, nice coleslaw . . . how would the wings hold up?




I wasn't angry right away, that only came later, once at home, when I really realized what I had recieved. Why am I angry? Because these wings cost $9.78 for 8 wings. That's more than $1 a wing. For that price, I better have a special wing. Instead, I got a tiny little wing. Look at the picture below. Look at it!!! That's supposed to be worth $1??? And keep in mind that is double dusted, so it's inflated in size.



Forgetting the size, how were they? They too, like the rest of the food, were almost cooled completely down when they arrived. Next, the double dusting and final deep frying made these wings hard. Rock hard. I'm pretty sure what happened is they were cooked well in advance, and are just tossed in the deep fryer to heat up. This might be why they were so not hot when I got them. Plus the chicken inside was quite dried out. There was no flavour or seasonings detectable in the chicken.




The sauce on the wings was a little different story. I ordered the wings with hot sauce with a side of suicide. Andrew warned that hot was hot, but I ignored his warning, having NOT been burned by places making such a claim before. Well, surprisingly, it was hot. It had a good kick to it and I would definitely classify it as a hot. And my wings were just about swimming in it. But it was plain 'Buffalo' Butter sauce, and when I say plain, I mean no taste to it really.

I also got the side of suicide (see above). This was similar to what I call a 'suicide salsa,' a blend of chopped peppers and hot sauce. While it too had a good kick, the overwhelming taste of nutmeg ruined this sauce for me. Seriously, nutmeg. Why don't we just throw in some cinnamon and some apples and make it an apple pie. What were you thinking Montana's?




FINAL SCORE: So the criticism I had heard about the chain in general were true. While Andrew was a decent server, the food was cold, and there were tables around us that ordered before we sat down, and got their food after we were finished our meal. I don't understand why so many people come back. I've learned my lesson - dry boring wings that are MEGA over priced, even if the sauce had a nice kick. No flavour, but a kick. So we will not be returning for our free dessert, cuz it wasn't worth it. 2.5/10



Montana's Cookhouse Saloon
1100 Baxter Road, Ottawa (and many other locations)
Nutmeg? Really?

7 comments:

RandyinChina said...

My friend and I used to go sometimes before or after a movie to the Montana's on Ogilive. Now mind you we just had a beer or so...but it wasn't anything special. I thought it was a bit boring and ya, I agree it was cold inside.

I'm not a fan of Montana's..its just nothing "special".

Teena in Toronto said...

I usually have chicken parm when I go there.

MindGrinder said...

I ended up in a Montana's in Timmins of all places (in the winter). Looks just like the ones in Toronto but I think their stuffed animal heads were shot locally. Mmmmmm moose steaks.

We avoid it here even as a last resort. I must say you should try Jack Astor's Buffalo Strips.

Lord of the Wing said...

Funny, I just had Jack Astor's Buffalo Strips a few weeks ago and they were great - I like them better than the wings . . .

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have chosen Montana's suicide wings as our number 1 choice for several years now. I have been to the Ottawa Baxter rd location and the wings were sauceless and dry. I agree the double dusted can be overbearing but if done properly, make a decent crunch. The suicide sauce is our favourite and I am going to try to replicate this weekend. South Keys doesn't use nutmeg but cinnamon and sometimes its stronger than than others. They do have a specs book but I am sure they stray.

Lord of the Wings said...

@Anonymous - Thanks for coming by. I'm glad your Montana's wing experience has been better than mine.

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