Re:High Plains Drifters
Wed, 06/29/11 9:29 AM
Sunday June 12, 2011 cont. We tried hard not to overdo the eating on this day, because we knew the plan were for a two dinner night. Our first destination was The Rex, right in downtown Billings. The sign outside says Rex Hotel and doing some research, this was a hotel at one time, but I don't think they have rooms to stay in anymore. This place goes back to 1919, started by a cook from Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, with money borrowed from Bill himself. I gotta tell ya, I HATE eating outside. Bugs, wind, heat, sun, they are all potential hazards while trying to eat. Luckily, Johnny feels the same way. But The Rex had such a nice looking outdoor eating area, if ever I was going to do it, it would be here. Still, we sat inside and thank goodness we did. Halfway through our meal, everyone outside came running in because of an unexpected rain shower. With all the dark wood and glass, the inside of The Rex is equally attractive. Our seats faced the popular bar area. The menu calls the onion rings Billing's best, so we started off with a half order. These rings were extra-thick cut, with a very thin crunchy coating. On the side was ranch dressing, that had been doctored up with something, but the waiter told us it was just straight ranch. But both of us tasted something else in it to give it an extra zing. Even at a half portion, this was almost more than we could handle. The Rex has one of my favorite kinds of salads, which is simply an entire wedge of iceberg lettuce, with lots of salad dressing dumped on top. Johnny went for the 1000 islands dressing while I ate the blue cheese. This is so big, it is almost a whole meal unto itself! Johnny got the Montana Avenue steak, which was a 12 oz. New York strip steak. It came with a lone grilled shrimp on top, along with mushrooms and covered in a shiitake mushroom sauce. He was very happy with his meal, including the fact that it came out to him a true medium rare, just the way he likes it. Rice pilaf and steamed broccoli were the sides. My plan was to get a steak at the second dinner, so I went seafood instead. The wild king salmon was mostly very good, but the outside on the one end was very hard. And then, about 3/4 of the way through with it, I found a bone and that's it, I was done. After all the sweets we had been eating, the broccoli was especially welcome. No desserts here, we had to save some room for dinner # 2. The Rex 2401 Montana Avenue Billings, MT 406-245-7477 Needing to kill some time, we drove around Billings checking out the sights, stopping in a few stores, even calling ChiTownDiner to see how his day in Chicago with wanderingjew was going. We eventually found our way to the top of the Rimrocks, a series of high hills overlooking Billings. We did get some views up here and it was well worth the easy drive. Even though we hadn't fully recovered our appetites yet, it was getting late, so we showed up at dinner #2, The Granary. Located in a nice neighborhood, directly across the street from Rocky Mountain College, The Granary would be one of the more upscale Roadfood restaurants. The attractive building used to be the milling department of Billing Polytechnic Institute, which explains the name. The outside sign was simple, but really caught my eye. I was slightly concerned whether we were dressed appropriately once I saw the white linen tablecloths, but we were greeted warmly. The inside is darkly lit and well decorated. Note the mural in the back of the room, showing General Custer off to meet his fate at Little Big Horn. The meal started with excellent, thick, homemade bread. Johnny had the French Onion soup, which was loaded with lots of cheese. It was a little too salty for my taste, but Johnny didn't think so and really enjoyed it. My butternut squash soup was absolutely wonderful. Rich, sweet, creamy, with a hint of nutmeg, this was the best thing I ate on the entire trip. After eating a steak just a few hours before, it was Johnny's turn for seafood. He ordered the shrimp and scallops and was rewarded with this beautiful plate of food. The portion was a little on the small side, but at this point, that was a good thing. The grilled shrimp were wrapped around the scallop and it sat on a bed of cheddar grits, along with corn and pepper salsa. Everything was fresh and he liked the way it all worked so well together. Although this was far from a typical meal for Johnny, he really enjoyed it. My main course was far from typical for me, either. I went for something called the crispy caeser salad. This is romaine hearts standing vertically in a crispy parmesan cheese shell and is a striking dish to see. When I saw the waitress come out of the kitchen, towards us with the food, it looked like she was carrying a pineapple! This got ooohs and aaahs from the tables around us and one of the ladies at the closest table even took a photo of it. Not only did it look good, it tasted even better. The shrimp were particularly plump, fresh and delicious. Johhny wanted dessert and went for one of his favorites, creme brulee. Only here, you get a three creme brulee sampler. From right to left, that is cinnamon, apple and vanilla bean. The vanilla bean was his favorite, with the apple being his least favorite, despite the cut up pieces of apple in it. As if that wasn't enough, they brought us some cold chocolate truffles to end our meal. The service here was excellent, the atmosphere upscale but friendly, we both loved The Granary! The Granary 1500 Poly Drive Billings, MT 406-259-3488
It was straight back to the hotel for the night.
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Wed, 06/29/11 9:42 AM>