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  11 December 2017  |  Vol: 4 facebooktwitterrss  
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Spotlight
 
Beverly Ridge: Opening up about Open Range
 

Central valley residents and Bozeman locals who mourned the shuttering of the historic and inviting Mint in Belgrade have long been anticipating its reincarnation in downtown Bozeman as the locavore's dream of fine Western dining. Situated in the lovingly remodeled Artcraft Printers building on East Main Street, Open Range is steeped in the modern-West mixture of rustic textures and colors wrought clean and minimalist. With elegant lighting over dark hardwoods and a handful of ranch accoutrements, the atmosphere is broad enough that, in a trait handed down from the Mint, a diner could feel comfortable dressed up or down as suits the occasion. The full bar has an even more informal vibe, inviting enough that I would consider stopping in for a cocktail and appetizer regardless of dinner ambitions. Imagine Plonk with quieter music and less dramatic lighting.

Choosing a starter for our meal took some consideration with multiple "snacks" and appetizers available (the snacks consist of fare priced for those at the bar, I assume, though still available to seated patrons). Sweetie and I settled on the buttterbean goat cheese dip, and were forewarned by the waitress that the amount of crostini provided would likely not be enough to finish the dip—it struck me as the sort of conundrum quickly solved with a larger dish, rather than making the server return for a refill.

When she brought it out, we nibbled away and tried not to get too many crumbs on ourselves and the table while perusing the list of locally sourced and tantalizing entrees. Carnivores rejoice: much like owner Jay Bentley's 2012 cookbook of the same name, “Open Range,” the selection of entrees heavily favor cuisine from the hoof, with enough options to placate a vegetarian dining with a devoted group of meat-eaters, but not enough for him or her to dine there alone—a problem, as vegetarian numbers rise nationally and locally.

Always inclined to share a few bites, sweetie and I engineered an impromptu surf-and-turf by ordering wild sockeye salmon and the 8-ounce bison hanger steak. The medium-rare steak tilted toward rare and bluish (a leaning which is to my preference, if the chef is going to stray). The flavor and tenderness were fulfilling, but the crust tasted as though it had acquired burnt bits from an unclean cooking surface as opposed to the smoky char of the grill or the sweet-savory brown of the pan-seared. No such unpleasantness was found elsewhere on our table—I could have downed an entire plate of the garlicky mashed potatoes that accompanied the steak, and the salmon was sweet, fresh, flaky, and prepared to perfection.

Call it a weakness, but when I spotted "huckleberry" on the dessert menu, I knew we would be staying a bit longer, stomach-vacancy be damned. The huckleberry clafoutis was delightful, sprinkled with brown sugar rather than the traditional powdered decoration, and served with a dollop of cardamom ice cream (from Big Dipper, I’m guessing).

As a bit of a coffee fanatic, I was pleased as punch to see my mug brought to me empty alongside a full, piping hot, single-serving French press. Considering the top-notch coffee roasters here in our valley, however, I was a bit surprised to learn that the beans had been sourced from Stumptown Coffee of Portland. Local or not, it was rich and smooth and finished off the meal perfectly between bites of sweet huckleberry.

All in all, I consider Open Range as a fine addition to the suddenly competitive restaurant scene on Main Street. It is pricey by Bozeman standards, as several entrees push and even exceed $30, marking it among the most expensive in town. Still, the friendliness of the bar area dispelled any notions of the establishment’s exclusivity (and in this town, I think, exclusivity remains a turn-off). The service was professional and efficient, and once their cocktail list is finalized, the bar at Open Range could provide unexpected competition downtown as a place to converse, sip, and unwind.

-TBM

For a complete listing of Beverly Ridge's area restaurant reviews, link here.

 
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