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  11 December 2017  |  Vol: 4 facebooktwitterrss  
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Beverly Ridge: At The Bay, Wastin' Time

Beverly Ridge Poster Image.As Christmas draws shoppers to the Gallatin Valley Mall, one question will likely be aired in chorus: where to grab a bite to eat? For those who eschew the humbug offerings of the mall food court for The Bay Bar & Grille, I extend my regrets. As one who values her wages, I feel obligated to inform diners, in true Tom Brokaw style, of the fleecing that inevitably occurs when dining at The Bay.

My dining companion and I visited The Bay's convenient location one foggy recent eve for a celebratory dinner. Upon entering, we both noted the interior renovations, a curious concoction of English Pub hardwoods and the lingering trimmings of the previous Polynesian motif. We were also promptly informed that service in the dining room had ceased (it was only 7:45), and we were ushered into a bar booth. Mind you, it’s a fairly nice bar, but one has to admit the irony of six wide-screen tv’s illuminating a $27 steak like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

Once seated, we met our lovely waitress, Casey (who would stand as one of the lone redeeming elements of the evening). She was bubbly and incredibly polite, professional and courteous. She was also a server who clearly took pride in her work in a town teeming with waitresses and bartenders vying for the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Casey, on the other hand, was clearly conscious of what her job entailed and proved a fabulous server. She made suggestions as to what was popular on the revamped menu and showed perfect timing when it came to serving drinks and clearing plates.

Since the night was in celebration, we splurged and ordered an appetizer. Three crispy and nearly perfect looking crab cakes arrived just minutes later. These were indisputably the best part of our meal. Served with a cajun aioli atop asian-style slaw, the crab cakes had strong, but balanced flavor, flakey texture, and were nicely complimented by the aioli. The only gripe I had with the dish was the contradiction of the cajun spices with the citrusy slaw, an untraditional pairing for good reason.

With Casey’s suggestions in mind, my dining companion and I ordered the Pad Thai with tandoori chicken and the “London on the Greens” salad as our entrees.

The Pad Thai (shown below) arrived looking rather impressive, a heaping portion of noodles topped with five fingers of grilled chicken. But, bite after bite left me more blue. First, the noodles were completely burnt on the bottom. Second, the chicken was dry and devoid of flavor despite a slathering of colorful spices. Third, one look at the egg in the dish revealed these ingredients had been sitting around longer than cookies on a mantle. Fourth, this dish was served sans lime (naughty, naughty). Lastly and perhaps most telling, my 17 year-old son could have whipped this up at home with a Rachel Ray recipe – yielding far better taste at a fraction of the cost.

Photo of the Pad Thai with tampoori chicken at The Bay in Bozeman, Montana.

The salad was equally short on good tidings. Though it too arrived in a heap, the lettuce was lost in a blizzard of lackluster “hacienda ranch” dressing that froze out all the other ingredients. Of which, there were many: un-ripened avocado, grape tomatoes, stale croutons, slivered almonds, bacon bits, hard-boiled egg, cucumbers, sprouts, and heavily seasoned steak. Decked out Tannenbaums offer less color, and for all the festivity there should have been something to get Otis Redding about. Sadly, the overpowering juxtaposition of so many flavors made for a very confused salad. Decent steak would have been enough to carry the entire dish, but alas, it was tough and, like the egg in my Pad Thai, appeared to have spent a fair spell under Rudolph’s nose in the kitchen.

Marginal food aside, there were other issues blitzing our dining experience. I enjoy a glass of wine with my dinner, but it’s a stretch when a majority of the list’s offerings run $7 or $8 a pop. I’m also fairly keyed in to atmosphere and the monstrous televisions simply demolish any ambiance at The Bay, where Polynesia meets England meets Las Vegas. The new, overstated entrance to the casino is not attractive. Rounding out our unpleasant evening was a vulgar employee, clearly on her night off, eating and carousing the bar, generally behaving like a grinch among the elves. I have to wonder if it was the manager’s night off as well.

The conclusion of our evening was the $50 check that plopped on the table like Santa after a bender. It was at this point that I absorbed the full gravity of the fleecing. Fifty bucks is a lot of coin to drop on a meal so awful I felt obliged to eat only a quarter of the dish. The Bay is a prime example of a restaurant charging legs-and-antlers for marginal food, poorly prepared, and served in a spruced-up sports bar.

If you and yours should be strolling the Gallatin Valley Mall this holiday season, do your pocketbook a favor, avoid The Bay, and put that wasted money toward a nicer gift for your sweetie. Unless, of course, you are assured a seat in Casey’s section and don’t venture past the crab cakes. -BM

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