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Posts tagged ‘Montana’s’

Restaurant Review: Montana’s Cookhouse

Location: 11654 Sarcee Trail NW

Tonight, in celebration of my father and sister’s birthdays, we went out for dinner. Not really sure if this was actually their birthday dinner, but we can call it that. Like Boston Pizza, this is another restaurant that our family frequents. It is relatively cheap and offers a wide selection of items. I don’t know how we got into the habit, but every meal we have at a Western restaurant, we now always start with an appetizer. Maybe that was my fault?

Usually we get a starter platter which is like a combination of the cookhouse platter and the bbq starters platter, which consists of deep fried pickles, loaded baked potato skins, ribs, and four cheese spinach dip or something like that. There’s usually so much food I can’t really remember what’s there. And also the menu changes so I can’t always refer back to it. We’ve also ordered the calamari from here, but it’s really not that memorable, so I don’t remember if it was any good. Today’s appetizer was the Kapow! Shrimp. We had this a long time ago and I really like it, but it’s funny how memories are hardly accurate. Kapow! Shrimp are Jalapeno popcorn shrimp deep fried and tossed in Kapow! sauce served on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce in a skillet. The breading to shrimp ratio was way off. In other words, I cut the breaded shrimp in half and couldn’t find the shrimp. The batter was rather heavy and in my opinion over fried. It was so crunchy that at one point I thought I was going to break a tooth. The Kapow! sauce which is what gives the dish it’s name is a combination of creamy garlic and tangy Thai chili mixed garnished with fresh chopped cilantro and a splash of lemon/lime juice. The sauce itself was not evenly distributed on the shrimp leaving some very bland and others over coated. The chili was very slight and the jalapeno negligible; the sauce tasted like a cheap salad dressing and it certainly wasn’t worth the $12 it was priced at.

For our mains, I had the chicken tacos, my sister had the beef brisket sandwich, my mom had the fish and chips, and my dad had the sirloin. I have an affinity for tacos, so along with my obsession to try every restaurant’s take on calamari, I also want to try every restaurant’s take on the taco. Some of the best tacos I’ve had are from Joey’s Seafood. Now usually ordering tacos is not the best decision since portion sizes are small and they can be quite pricey. However, tonight I thought I’d just give it a chance. I was not disappointed.  I thought that two soft shell tacos would never fill me up. I have never been more wrong in my life. When they said “jam packed” I thought, “Yeah right,” but they were pretty packed. It had all the same things tacos come with: lettuce, cheese, red onions, diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and lime juice. So what did they bring to the table that made these tacos different? There were a couple pieces of tortilla chips, but that wasn’t what made it “special.” No, it was their Kapow! sauce of course! Unlike in the appetizer, their addition to the taco made them all the more flavourful. Though the taste of the cilantro and lime didn’t come through in the tacos either, I hardly noticed. The chicken, the star of the dish, really was the star. Though a bit dry, I enjoyed that slight charred taste that was light and gave the feeling of the chicken coming fresh off the BBQ. As I side, I ordered fries and in the years of coming here, I can say that the fries are improving. They are a bit on the salty side, but at least they are crunchy now. My sister had ordered the Brisket Burger the last time we were here and that was ridiculously huge, so this time we decided to downsize and go with the beef brisket sandwich. The Brisket Burger was essentially a burger topped with a brisket. In other words, a lot of meat. The Brisket sandwich is exactly the same, minus the beef patty, but the menu gives the option of having half a pound or one pound of brisket for people who have a larger or smaller appetites. It was very tender as advertised, but not really my cup of tea (or hunk of meat? I don’t think there’s an appropriate expression for this :/). She chose to have the house salad as a side and they forgot to bring or add balsamic vinegar into the salad…My mom had the fish and chips, something I was originally considering ordering, but decided against it and I’m glad because the first thing I tasted when I put a piece of fish in my mouth was a puddle of oil pooling in my mouth. It goes without saying, that it was the most disgusting and unpleasant thing ever. The tartar sauce was more creamy than tangy, which didn’t help cut down on the greasiness of the fish and fries and it only came with one lemon wedge. This is the time I wish I had had a bottle of malt vinegar to douse the fish in. Finally, my dad had the steak. I could have told you that ordering a steak from anywhere that wasn’t a steakhouse was going to be a big mistake and I am right. I’ve had steak from this place before and the first thing that comes to mind is dry. Despite what the menu says, the sirloins are not grilled to perfection; they are far from it. Even the sides taste better than the meat. My dad chose the kicked up corn and garlic mash as sides. The kicked up corn isn’t bad. I personally like it because it’s really different from any other place I’ve been that offers corn as a side. It has bell peppers (red and green) and some kind of light seasoning that gives it a nice salty-sweet taste. The garlic mash…not so garlicky and not really that good. There was a strange taste to it, but at least it was smooth with the random potato skin to add texture.

My recommendation when visiting Montana’s is to go for the sandwiches or burgers. If your appetite is anything like mine, you’ll find they are always so large that you end up packing up half of it away. I always like having a bit to bring home as a treat for lunch the next day or something to nibble at as a midnight snack. If you’re looking for a relatively cheap and casual place to have a filling lunch or dinner with friends, this is the place to go. I would rate it a 3.75/5 because it’s not a high class restaurant I’d prefer to have dinner with after a long day to relax and enjoy, but this is definitely a family friendly place. Maybe one day, when I have kids of my own, I will be able to say that this is the restaurant I’d want to go to with my kids after a long day.


KAPOW! Shrimp

Chicken Taco

Chicken Taco

Beef Brisket Sandwich

Beef Brisket Sandwich

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

Sirloin Steak with crispy onions, mashed potatoes and kicked up corn

Sirloin Steak with crispy onions, mashed potatoes and kicked up corn

Restaurant Review: Boston Pizza

Location: 232 – 6455 Macleod Trail SW, Calgary, AB T2H 0K8

Boston Pizza has been one of the staple restaurants I find myself returning to again and again. Like Milestones, the food and service has been consistently good. Unlike Milestones, it has more of family friendly atmosphere. Milestones would be a restaurant I’d recommend for a girl’s night out or dinner with friends, while Boston Pizza could be for the same purpose, I find it better as a place to go with family or very close friends. Having said that, i’m about to contradict myself by saying that the Chinook location is a little different. Perhaps due to its location in a mall, its lighting is a little darker providing a less family friendly environment and making it seem a little more “grown up.”

Over the past few years I’ve had almost everything off their menu with the exception of soups. When I used to go in junior high, one of my biggest complaints was the sodium content in the food. That hasn’t changed and is till one of my biggest complaints. I find the sodium problem to be more prominent in their sandwiches and burgers, but some of their pastas on occasion are also too salty.

Today I went with my sister and surprised myself and the waitress with how much I could really eat. We ordered two appetizers: calamari and a spinach and artichoke dip and two entrees: a Jalapeno and Crispy Onion Prime Rib Burger and a Double Bacon BBQ Burger. Past dishes we have ordered are (or at least what I think we have ordered): BP’s Pizza Spring Rolls, the Boston Brute, the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, Jambalaya Fettuccine, Seafood Fettuccine, Pesto Chicken Penne, Bacon Wrapped Steak Skewers, and Chicken Parmesan.

Unlike most calamari dishes, the one was served with breaded and fried banana peppers and a chili lime mayo. It was nice for once not to have it served with tzatziki sauce. The banana peppers provided a bit of heat, which I always love. However, the chili lime mayo was pretty flavourless. I couldn’t taste any chili or lime in it. Though the breading on the fried banana peppers was light and delicious, the same could not be said about the actual calamari. The breading was constantly falling off and the calamari was so tough that I couldn’t get my fork through it and kept losing it in the dip. Thank goodness for the two wedges of lemon that were included. Without those I think the oiliness of the calamari would have been too much for me. The second appetizer, a spinach and artichoke dip was different from most dips I’ve had. First, it was served with pizza bread rather than pita, but they both had about the same consistency. This dip was topped with BP’s own bruschetta mix. As my sister pointed out, it wasn’t really a bruschetta, more of canned or stewed tomatoes that had been seasoned and added as a garnish on top of the dip. Regardless of that, I like it on top, especially with the pizza mozzarella because seriously, pizza mozzarella is the best cheese out there when it comes to melting because it is so stringy!

I’ve been craving a burger for a week and oftentimes when i go out to a restaurant, my go to protein has always been chicken. Today I refused to do that and ordered the jalapeno and crispy onion prime rib burger. The patty was thick and juicy and the pickle, red onions and pickled jalapenos cut through the richness of the burger. However, the “crispy onions” were not crispy at all. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if there were onions there. It felt and tasted like a mushed up patty of breading on top of the patty. As a side I had their caesar salad. I was first off disappointed by the portion size. It was probably the size of my fist…which isn’t very big. And secondly, the salad was so over dressed that I could feel myself gaining at least five pounds just eating it. The salad wasn’t about the salad; it was about the dressing. Of the Double Bacon BBQ Burger, I had one bite. I’m not a huge fan of bacon, so I don’t think I would have ever been able to finish the burger. It wasn’t bad at all. What I could discern from one bite was that it was very balanced. The smoked flavour of the bacon and BBQ sauce didn’t over power the burger. The yam fries that the Bacon BBQ Burger was served with was like many other restaurants, though a bit lanky and limp looking.

Normally, I wouldn’t order pasta from Boston Pizza except for on Pasta Tuesdays. My dad usually brings home a box, so I’ve tried a lot of pastas without ever having gone on Tuesdays. My favourite are the pennes because they are easier to eat than the fettuccines. I’m not saying that the pennes are any better than the fettuccines, but when you’re getting sauce all over your face, it’s going to affect how you perceive the “taste” of the dish. Convenience for me is number one. I would never order long noodle style pastas if I ever had to eat out with my boss or date because there will be sauce every where and if I have a tomato sauce…well dinner might just turn out looking like a crime scene. The most cost effect pasta I can think of (maybe because my dad has said it like three dozen times) is the seafood fettuccine because of the amount of seafood that is put into the pasta. The jambalaya is a close second. I enjoy this one much more because I love spicy and putting in slices of spicy Italian sausage in there is the best thing ever! The only concern with this one is the amount of oil that is left in a puddle at the bottom of the dish once you’re done.

Normally I like pulled pork sandwiches, the one at Montana’s is a great example of a delicious pulled pork sandwiches (wait…I haven’t done a review for Montana’s…that’s coming or will be coming eventually). However, what BP does to them, I do not like. Balsamic vinegar reductions are usually delicious because they bring out the inherent sweetness of the vinegar itself…BP decides it doesn’t want to do that. So I got nicely smoked pulled pork doused in “raw” vinegar. That is the grossest taste I have ever had the misfortune of putting in my mouth. It isn’t as sour as white vinegar, but it just doesn’t sit will with the pulled pork.

The only other times I had an appetizer was when I went with my cousin for lunch and with my mom and sister for dinner. Whe I went with my cousin, we had the bacon wrapped steak. The bacon was cooked so crispily that I had a hard time trying to bite through it and get it in the same mouthful as the steak. Not only that, it was next to impossible to get the steak off the skewer and I swore that I almost sent one flying across the restaurant and I had no idea that I had that kind of strength in me. The second appetizer, the pizza spring rolls, I ordered in hopes of fulfilling my craving for Beer Revolution’s pizza spring rolls. I was sorely disappointed. BP’s pizza spring rolls are no comparison to Beer Revolution’s. Beer Revolution uses the spring roll wraps that we are used to seeing on Vietnamese Spring Rolls making them crisp, light and delicious. BP used the old style Chinese egg roll wraps making them heavy and incredibly oily. I will not be eating those ever again.

My experience with the service has mostly been good. However, this is the only restaurant in which I’ve ever had anything spilled on me. The only unfortunate incidents I have had the misfortune of experiencing is getting a drink spilled on me or watching the waitress spill the drink on someone else at my table and finding a large piece of plastic wrap on my chicken parmesan. The first one is understandable because the serving tray is honest not the best thing to be carrying drinks on, especially once you start removing drinks because the balance has been thrown off and if you don’t work fast, well…you get a nice cold alcoholic slush shrewn across your lap or a glass of ice cold water sitting on your lap. The waitress was nice enough to take the drink off our bill for her mistake and offered to move us to another, less wet table. I didn’t think it was too big of a deal and definitely felt that we didn’t have to be moved to another table. And the incident with the plastic wrap? Well I didn’t care so much about finding plastic wrap in my food. I never have been one to get fussy over finding things in my food…well ok, if I found a bug in it, I would freak out, so thank goodness I’ve never had to deal with that. Besides if I did that would be a clear indicator of the condition of the kitchen: not clean enough to been health and safety standards.

Despite a couple mishaps, Boston Pizza is a place I would return to time and time again especially with my family. It is a place I can go to kick back and relax with those who are closest to me. The prices aren’t ridiculous and is one of the more affordable restaurants. However, if compared to Milestones, I would prefer Milestones over Boston Pizza solely because of the atmosphere. In part, I don’t think the family friendly environment will be one that will be applicable to me any time soon, not unless I find a boyfriend in the next few weeks, get engaged and married in the next few months and have a child in the next year. Because of some of the above mentioned issues I’ve had with the restaurant, I would rate this place a 4/5.


Background: Spinach and Artichoke Dip Foreground: Calamari


Background: Double Bacon BBQ Burger with Yam Fries Foreground: Jalapeno and Crispy Onion Prime Rib Burger and Caesar Salad

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