It seems like the natural Albertan thing to do: head out for a good, wholesome meal of steak and ribs. My fiancé and I recently visited the Montana’s in Sherwood Park. Being on a Thursday, it was fairly quiet despite arriving at peak dinner time. It made for some decently rapid service.
Montana’s keeps to the western décor, from the log cabin dividers between the wooden booths to the animal heads mounted on the walls, right down to the canning jars for glasses. We started out with a smoked pork poutine, one of the specialty appetizers. It was super good, probably the best part of the meal. The pulled pork tasted like it had been bathed in BBQ sauce. While the smoke was noticeable in the pork, it still allowed the fries, topped with good chunks of cheese curds and a nice, thick, full-bodied gravy to remain present. With a sprinkle of green onion and a zesty chipotle sauce to add some zing to the top, the spice level wasn’t overwhelming but it certainly let you know it was there. We probably could have made a meal out of the poutine alone, it was so good. It didn’t seem too filling either, which was nice.
In another mark of truly Canadian cuisine, we also ordered a specialty drink: the smoky Caesar. It was much like a regular Caesar but with a piece of smoked bacon in it. It tasted really good, with just the right amount of tang and an added amount of savory flavour which really rounded it out and made it worth the splurge. The bacon itself, which was covered in spices and draped as a garnish, was a bit floppy and wet though, so I may suggest eating it when you first get it before it soaks for too long.
It wasn’t long before our main course arrived. There was hardly even time to practise our drawings on the brown paper tablecloth with the provided crayons they had at every table. I went with the portabella mushroom fire-grilled top sirloin. Having ordered it to be cooked medium rare, I was a bit saddened when the first bite revealed fairly darkened meat. But as I got closer to the centre, it got thicker and juicier. The mushrooms and onions on top complement the steak, blending in with both colour and taste. My fiancée ordered the smokehouse pork back ribs with mashed potatoes. The gravy was awesomely thick again and the whipped potatoes were good and creamy with bits of potato skin included to add contrast and texture.
The ribs themselves were moist and savory. They were fall-off-the-bone tender. It was a bit lacking in sauce but the meat was delicious. There was a nicely consistent theme to the restaurant. It truly felt like Canadian cuisine, if anything could. But the price can get up there pretty easily. A full meal with drink will easily net into the $30s, so the expectations were equally high.
If I could give two ratings, I would say 5 for 5 for the starters and 4 for 5 for the meal.