Very Tasty Times Part 3

Food for thought as Red Lodge soars
Alastair Baker
News Editor
Thursday, November 8, 2018
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Photos by Carmen Levick
The Carbon County Steakhouse served a Cowboy Coffee Rib Eye, a 14oz. cut seasoned with a touch of coffee rub then finished with a coffee and rum demi glace.

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Wild Table served up its in-house smoked trout ("Montana lox") and roasted baby squash with blossoms, feta cheese, zataar vinaigrette. The restaurant’s suppliers include Shoshone River Farm, Jacqueline at the old flower farm, and Montana suppliers.

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‘Taste our Place’ is a new program under the Made in Montana brand and seeks to connect ag producers with restaurants and promote establishments serving food made from locally sourced ingredients. Just recently the Department of Commerce came through Red Lodge to promote the program and to sample and experience the Foodie Revolution taking place. Here are the final two restaurants they visited, The Wild Table and Carbon County Steakhouse. 

As the food tour of Red Lodge wound down Jan Stoddard, Bureau Chief, Industry Services & Outreach, with the Dept. of Commerce, commented on how “Wonderful it is to see people talk about their passions.”

Stoddard was referring to the restaurant owners visited and “the stories from them and managers, and even chefs, of how they leveraged their vision for incorporating healthy Montana ingredients into a successful business.”

“Their determination is so admirable,” said Stoddard.

At Carbon County Steakhouse Stoddard was impressed by “an incredible coffee rubbed steak” that is the restaurant’s signature dish since its inception nearly 20 years ago. 

Bonnie Ples, General Manager of Carbon County Steakhouse, said, “That’s our Cowboy Coffee Rib Eye, a 14oz. cut seasoned with a touch of coffee rub then finished with a coffee and rum demi glace.”  

Ples talked of the owner Tom Kuntz being aware of local produce almost 20 years  before the present interest when he’d get his steaks from the Lazy EL Ranch.

Now the restaurant carries beef and pork from Gallagher Natural Beef of Clark, Wyoming and Shoshone River Farm in Cody, Wyoming.  The business also gets a lot of herbs from Sysco via a farm in Laurel.

“Even as larger distribution goes, we are able to get produce locally and fresh,” said Ples who thought the visit was “excellent.”

“Sherry Weamer (Exec Dir. of the Red Lodge Chamber of Commerce) did a great job getting us to be a part of this,” said Ples. 

Sheena Ernst, owner of Wild Table, was equally buoyed up by the visit.  

“This was an excellent visit planned by the Chamber. I think it is good for my business, for the local producers and for Montana by bringing awareness to what individuals are trying to do by sourcing locally, keeping business within the state and taking advantage of the wonderful products we have here,” said Ernst.

“I hope it continues to grow and blossom,” said Ples of the foodie wave. “I’m excited about the enthusiasm, and excited to see the community on board and it does take more than one restaurant to push that out there, you need a unified force pushing for Red Lodge's economy.”

“I hope it draws people from Billings and Cody and from elsewhere to experience our food scene,” said Weamer. “Bringing in the ag component and making their lives easier by creating these hubs they are talking about will produce some action from it. It’ll keep Red Lodge out there. We have a lot of talent in town.” 

Red Lodge Mayor Bill Larson added it is “a great tribute to our Chamber and CVB to get those people here.” 

“When you see our restaurant owners shopping at the farmer’s market it is a real tribute to our restaurants,” said. 

“From our experience, we felt that community members were embracing new restaurants and new food offerings. During our tour of local restaurants, we would always find a mix of locals and visitors,” said Stoddard.  “In talking with Red Lodge residents, we found an overwhelming support for these new restaurants.”

“Red Lodge sounds like a place you can come home to,” said Stoddard. 

The group visited eight venues over a two-day period: Regis Café, Carbon Fork, Carbon County Steakhouse, Red Lodge Ales, The Wild Table, Honeys Café, Prerogative Kitchen and Pom Italian Eatery.



Upcoming Events

  • Friday, September 20, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Saturday, September 21, 2019 - 11:30am
    Ross Orchards, located at 111 North Street in Fromberg, is proud to announce the opening of a farm stand this Fall. The orchard will be open Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sundays noon - 5 p.m. starting Sept. 21 and closing Oct. 13. The orchard is working in conjunction with the Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill and Red Lodge Ales to offer fun, family-friendly events.   Every weekend apples, fresh apple cider pressed with apples from the orchard, apple pastries, local honey, food, hard cider, and beer will be available.  There will also be pumpkins and a variety of local produce for sale. Additionally, each weekend will have a different event. Sept. 21 - 22 – Cider and Salutations yoga 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Sept. 28 – A farm to table dinner at 5 p.m. catered by the Last Chance Pub’s chef Kevin McNourlin. The dinner will feature local foods paired with cider. Contact to reserve seats (limit 40) Oct. 5 - 6 - Kidz Dayz. Bounce house, pumpkin carving, face painting and tractor rides through the orchard. Oct. 12- Orchard run 5k. A family-friendly run/walk through Ross Orchards. Visit to sign up. Sam Hoffmann, President of Red Lodge Ales, remarked, “it has been fun to get to know John, Laura, Hilary, and Elizabeth Ross over the last ten plus years. Together we have pruned, picked apples, and made cider on a home brew level and now commercially. We are proud to share our work with the public.” John Ross, owner of Ross Orchards, adds, “The orchard has always been a source of pride and happiness for me.  Our family has enjoyed working with Sam and Lindsey Hoffmann and their employees. We look forward to the success of Orchard days.” Contact for more info: John Ross 406-671-9614,; Sam Hoffmann 406-425-4607,; Lindsey Hoffmann 406-425-3734,  
  • Monday, September 23, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 26, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, September 26, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.