Friday, February 17, 2012

Road Kill Saloon

I love Montana. People are just plain original here. I don't know any other place where you can find South Jersey hoagies served in a rustic diner called the Road Kill Saloon.

The Road Kill has been around for a while. The story I heard is that it was originally located in McLeod (current population: 6), but in 1947 it was moved (and I do mean the entire building) to its present location after the owner fell out with the folks in town. It now sits a few hundred yards from McLeod, just out of sight.

Holly Glaze bought the business, brightened it up, and then opened it in September 2011. She grew up in New Jersey but came to the McLeod area with her father when he was an outfitter. When she was 16, she looked around the Road Kill and promised herself she'd buy the place someday.

The new Road Kill still looks like a saloon, with its well-stocked bar, water buffalo head, and keno machines. But the fireplace makes it warm and cozy, and the corrugated iron seats of the booths, while slightly chilly when you first sit down, are stylish.

Holly was determined to do it right and so her remodeling is still in progress. The current menu of hoagies, soup, elk chili, and nachos is limited by the kitchen currently being worked on, but the goal is to add heartier fare such as steak and crab salad by summer.

For authentic hoagies, Holly imports traditional Philly rolls from back East. I'm not sure if this makes the hoagies taste better than if the bread was made in Montana (my vote would be to give it a try), but it does give the food a certain mystique, and the sandwiches are quite tasty. I ordered a bowl of tomato basil soup as a side dish and was pleased with the taste.

I've heard people saying the prices are a bit high, with a whole hoagie being $12 and a bowl of soup $3. But my thought is that (1) half a hoagie is $6 and it is the size of a regular sandwich, which typically costs about that in Big Timber and more in Billings or Bozeman; (2) you always pay for atmosphere, which you get a lot of here; and (3) listen, people, you are supporting a woman-owned local business -- would you prefer an out-of-state corporation owned the place (cheaper food for sure, in every sense of the word) or, worse, the building was sitting vacant?

The locals, I hear, are happy the Road Kill is back in business. To get here, you have to drive 16 miles south from Big Timber, which is the nearest place to eat out. And nothing in Big Timber has the ambience of the Road Kill. It's unique.

The surrounding area, called "the Boulder" by locals because the Boulder River runs through it, is uniquely Montana, too, with sweeping vistas framed with snow-dusted mountains. The drive alone is worth your money.

Holly's Road Kill Saloon
16 miles south of Big Timber
look for it on the left just before you get to McLeod

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Soup, Beautiful Soup

The annual soup fundraiser by Friends of the Carnegie Library in Big Timber looks like it was a big success. At least by my standards.

There was a choice of 14 soups.

For $5 you got two bowls of soup, fresh bread, and dessert. I tried the Broccoli Cheddar and the Chicken Noodle soups. Those are homemade noodles, folks. If you weren't there, you missed out.

As live piano music by a Big Timber pianist filled the air of the downstairs meeting room, I enjoyed chatting with the gals at my table. At first I was just listening and got confused. I heard snippets of bridge scores, book titles, and references to a museum newsletter. I tried putting these together in my mind and came up with an interesting group to join: one that met in the museum to discuss books as they played bridge.

But then it was explained to me that I was in fact hearing three distinct conversations. Oh well. Maybe I'll start a group of my own. Only instead of playing bridge, we'll eat cookies.

My mind was on cookies because even after two bowls of soup and a couple of pieces of bread, I was eyeing those homemade cookies in the corner.

If your library doesn't have a soup fundraiser, perhaps you should suggest one.