High Plains Drifters

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buffetbuster
Porterhouse
2011/06/23 11:29:15
Last week, Cousin Johnny (The Man With No ScreenName) and I, spent some time driving through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas and Nebraska.
 
A quick note:  I bought a new camera just two days before this vacation started.  While some of the scenery photos turned out well, my food photos are far from my best.  If I had it to do over again, I would have bought it earlier and practiced.  Sorry!
 
Friday June 10, 2011
 
We met during our connections at Chicago's Midway Airport and flew together to Denver.  Landing around 10:00pm, by the time we grabbed the luggage, picked up our car and drove to the hotel near the airport, it was already 11:30.  This left us very few options for a late dinner.  Next to our hotel, was an interesting looking restaurant called Moonlight Diner, but it closed at 10:00pm.  Don't you think with a name like that, it would be open late?  Oh well, hungry, with few choices, we ended up at one of those soulless chains.  Truthfully, I couldn't even tell you which one it was or even what we ate, since I didn't bother taking my camera inside.  But, the people were nice and it was open, so it served it's purpose.
 
I promise much better food coming soon.
 
So has anyone been to Moonlight Diner?
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/23 11:31:35
leethebard
Sirloin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/23 11:35:29
No, but I've actually been in one called the Sunrise Diner, and it was open early!!
billyboy
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/23 11:45:37
Any trip report that references Clint is one I look forward to reading...!
 
Bill B.
Cheeseburger
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/23 11:57:01
Buffetbuster asks:
 
"So has anyone been to Moonlight Diner?"
 
Are they as honest as the day is long? That might explain why they open at sundown.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/23 12:00:13
Saturday June 11, 2011

Despite being up late the night before, we were still anxious to get going in the morning and left our hotel by 7:30AM.  First stop was a place reviewed here on Roadfood called Red Rooster.  Located just a short distance off of I-25, in an unattractive building,
 
we weren't feeling very inspired.  The inside is much better and with a name like Red Rooster, no surprise it is decorated with all kinds of chicken figurines and references.


Despite the name and decor, the menu itself did not seem to emphasize chicken dishes.  Maybe the lunch and dinner menu do, because we only saw the breakfast menu.
 
The most interesting items were called Stackable Platters

and I went for the Chicken Fried Steak Version.

The meat was fairly lean, with a pleasant outside crustiness to the breading.  You get your choice of either sausage gravy or green chile and I took the gravy.  Very thick and creamy, this was the best part of the meal.  The hash browns were nice and crispy, but the fried egg on top seemed weird.  I should have gone with eggs over easy.
 
Johnny ordered the Huevos Rancheros.  I know this is a dish that can come in an unlimited amount of varietes, but neither of us had seen it like this before.

This was heavy on the meat and diced tomatoes, with chips on the edges of the plate.  The salsa had some heat to it, but nothing overpowering.  On the side, a lone tortilla,

which was ordinary.  The sour dough bread

used for toast was very tasty.
 
The service was good, the food above average and cheap, breakfast at Red Rooster was a good experience.
 
Red Rooster
4330 State Highway 66
Longmont, CO
970-535-0889

We got back on I-25 North, headed for breakfast #2!
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/23 12:10:19
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/23 13:37:28
Saturday June 11, 2011 cont.

Johnson's Corner

is a huge truckstop/restaurant, that sits right next to I-25.  It has been open 24 hours a day, seven days a week since the place first opened in 1952.  The parking lot was full of 18 wheelers and lots of motorcycles, so we had to park in the back lot.  Which meant we had pulled in next to a van with a giant cinnamon roll painted on it. 

This was already our kind of place.
 
We walked through the convenience store to get to the restaurant, where it was obvious there would be a short wait for a table.  I walked up to the hostess, who asked for my name.  My reply was, "It's for Cliff".  Then it occurred to me that she was writing down a lot more than five letters, so I looked and she had "SuperCliff" written down on the list.  Now, typically, if a hostess misspells my name or mispronounces it, I would normally see no reason to correct them.  But since I had already observed her yelling out loudly for a previous party, the last thing I wanted to hear was "SuperCliff, party of two!" shouted, with us too embarrassed to claim our table.  The good news, the young hostess just giggled when I corrected her.  The bad news, I had to listen to Cousin Johnny call me SuperCliff for the rest of the trip. Weird things do seem to follow us around like a lost puppy dog, sometimes.
 
We got seated in a booth, where we immediately noticed a phone there. 

Johnny suggested it was for the convenience of truck drivers, which the waitress confirmed.  We also appreciated that we could see the Rockies Mountains,

in the distance, from our booth. 
 
Johnson's Corner is best known for their large cinnamon rolls. 

And besides the regular version, they also have a cinnamon roll of the month, which is currently

Not knowing which one to get, we asked the waitress just how big these were.  She explained the dimensions with her hands.  Not impressed, we decided to get one of each. 
 
Wanting to try at least some of the regular food, we also ordered JC's Old Style Sausage and Eggs.

The sausage is called a German sausage on the menu and I'm not really sure why this qualifies as a German sausage.  But it was good, a little fatty in a flavorful way.  The hashbrowns and eggs were average.  A single biscuit covered in gravy was also shared. 

The biscuit was warm and very soft, but neither one of us cared for the gravy.
 
Then the cinnamon rolls arrived and it was obvious the waitress was a liar, liar, pants on fire.  Because these things were huge.  The original

is covered in super sweet white icing.  For $2.89, this was a real bargain.  Despite everything we had already eaten, we were determined to finish it.  I quit early, but Johnny kept going, until we finally had an empty plate.

We did manage a few bites of the blueberry cinnamon roll,

too.  Surprisingly, this roll was much softer than the other one and we both really enjoyed all the light cream cheese frosting piled on top.  Even though we preferred this one, we had to get most of it boxed up to go, as we did with a couple slices of their homemade pies.
 
Before we left, I walked around to check out the different rooms of the restaurant.  Next time, I will be sitting at the cool looking counter seats,

which just seem appropriate at a place like this.  Also seen here, was an apparent class reunion. 

Now, I missed my recent 30 year high school reunion, but if it was held in a Roadfood restaurant, I think I would show up.
 
Also unusual about this place, how many Roadfood restaurants have their own chapel?

 
Johnson's Corner
2842 SE Frontage Road
Loveland, CO
970-667-2069

We got back in the car heading north, crossing into Wyoming.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/23 13:45:33
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/23 13:46:28
billyboy

Any trip report that references Clint is one I look forward to reading...!


And I do have plans to work some Clint references into the report!
Mosca
Filet Mignon
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/23 15:07:41
Those look like they were shot with a Canon SX30.
billyboy
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/23 15:41:04
buffetbuster

billyboy

Any trip report that references Clint is one I look forward to reading...!


And I do have plans to work some Clint references into the report!

You managed to squeeze in two by the end of the first sentence so it's looking good!  But if you tell me that you and Cousin Johnny stopped at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Cafe where you tried the "Dirty Harry" burger and For A Few Dollars More, A Fistful of Fries, I'm gonna be very upset!   ;)
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/23 15:51:54
BB:  as usual a very good report.  The truck stop looked outstanding.  The place before where you got the chicken fried steak would have been my choic also from the menu.  The cinnamon rolls looked fantastic.  I doubt if I could have ate one.  Great view.
 
Paul E.  Smith
Knoxville, TN
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/24 08:36:05
Saturday June 11, 2011 cont.

Our first stop in Wyoming was the state capitol building in Cheyenne. 


I had taken a tour here on my previous visit, but still wanted to get some photos.  One of the smaller state capitol buildings, it is worth seeing nonetheless.  The grounds included statues of famous people from Wyoming, a statue of a buffalo, a copy of the Liberty Bell and our favorite, this

impressive piece.
 
While walking the capitol grounds, there was a man there passing out welcome to Cheyenne bumper stickers (slogan: Live the Legend!) and making suggestions to tourists.  He informed us there was a chili cook off in Cheyenne Depot Plaza, starting at 11:30.  We both wanted to check it out, but it wasn't even 11:00, yet.  Knowing there was a Culver's in town and Johnny had never been to one, we made a quick stop.  For me, it was two scoops of cookie dough explosion. 

Johnny got a scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with Culver's frozen custard, but we've been to Kopp's too many times, so we are just plain spoiled.
 
What I was most looking forward to doing in Cheyenne was checking out all the big boots.  There are eight foot tall cowboy boots, painted by local artists, all over town.  I thought this was a really cool idea and wanted to see as many as I could.  Here are some of the ones I was able to photograph:






I know a lot of cities have done similar things to make their city more interesting and to bring in tourists.  In Pittsburgh, about a decade ago, we did something similar with dinosaurs.  But these boots were so unique and so attractive, I thought this was a great idea and I thoroughly enjoyed our time looking for them.
 
Several of them were in the plaza,

so that brought us to the chili cook off.  There was a band playing and women spinning around

with hula hoops like a whirling dervish.  A pretty local tv reporter was interviewing the cook-off contestants. 

These people were from a chili stand with the excellent name Great Bowls of Fire!
 
Unfortunately, it was hours before any of the serious chili contender's product would be ready and we couldn't wait.  The local Lions Club were selling chili, so we grabbed a bowl. 

This was real watery thin, lacked flavor or heat and we ditched it after only a few bites.  Too bad!
 
I had noticed that the historic Plains Hotel

was right across the street from the plaza, so I wanted to go check it out.  Having read about the place before, we had to at least go see the lobby. 

It was small, but tastefully done with the Western decor.  This table and chairs

caught my eye.  Next time I am in Cheyenne, this will be my hotel.
 
We got back in the car, continuing our way up I-25 North.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/24 08:53:41
Buffetbuster
 
This is one part of the country that I can keep on returning to over and over again.

First of all, I would have sooner starved than go to a chain restaurant !  
 
I saw a pre-packaged Johnson's Corner Cinnamon Roll when I stopped at a rest stop in the middle of Kansas last year. I was tempted to buy one and bring it home with me since it was at the tail end of the trip, but decided not to since I figured it wouldn't be anything like having one served fresh.
 
I haven't been to Cheyenne since 1998. I went to a great breakfast place called Lexi's Cafe and even remember ordering a fantastic chili cheese omelet. Unfortunately Lexi's is long gone.
 
By the way I stayed at the Plains Hotel- twice- In 1989 for Twenty Bucks- and once again in 1998 for Thirty Five bucks- yes those figures are correct.
 
Great report so far!
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/24 09:18:54
WJ-
Those prices for the Plains Hotel are unbelievable!  Guessing it would be at least $80.00 a night now, if not more.  I think you made the right call on the Johnson's Corner cinnamon roll.

billyboy-
Funny you mention that, because The Good, The Bad and the Ugly was the original working title for this report, but I liked this one better.  besides, Cousin Johnny and I couldn't agree on which one of us was which!
 
Paul-
Thanks, as always, for the kind comments.  They are much appreciated coming from you.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/24 10:03:54
Boy, and here I was thinking a short drive out to Arizona and back was a trip, and then you go and make another one of your food forays to some serious hinterlands.
 
Great report -- as always.
 
But I had better looking company.
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/24 10:30:55
Agree with MH on all points !  We have chased trains thru the Powder River Coal fields from Devils Tower down to and along the Platte, and followed the Oregon Trail route across the area also. No one can understand the concept of "Wide Open Spaces" until they see this beautiful (and delicious) part of the country.
 
BB, Did you visit the "Heartbreak Ridge" overlook? It is a real 'peek' into recent history!
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/24 13:35:20
Saturday June 11, 2011 cont.

After traveling just a short distance, both of us needed a visit to the rest stop.  But, instead of just getting back on the highway afterwards, we decided to go into the town of Chugwater, which was no more than a mile away.  We had seen billboards on the road about Chugwater Chili and it said we could stop in for a free sample. 
 
Well, the Chugwater Chili building was closed, but we found something much more interesting.  The Chugwater Soda Fountain

declares itself the oldest operating soda fountain in Wyoming.  Didn't Yellowstone Drug in Shoshoni used to say they were the oldest before they closed down?  Anway, it is a great looking building

and we later found out it is one of the oldest buildings in town, dating back to 1914.  Besides the soda fountain, it has also been the home to a doctor's office, a pharmacy, diner, grocery store, liquor store and a veterinarian supply.
 
The inside is especially nice. 


The soda fountain bar was made in England and was owned by another soda fountain elsewhere in Wyoming, before being brought here.  Almost all of it is original.  The elk head is named Wendall and by town petition, he must stay here, no matter who is the current owner of the business.  Not seen in the photo is a small liquor store, plus t-shirts, small groceries and other things for sale.  In a town this small (244 people in the 2000 census), they are a one stop destination for the locals.
 
The do serve full meals here, with sandwiches and homemade soups, but we just didn't have the appetite to eat full meals.  They do serve the Chugwater Chili here, so I ordered a bowl.  They also offer a made here green chile, so Johnny went for that.  We watched the very nice lady

who waited on us, dip the chili into bowls and serve it to us.  She asked if we wanted cheese and onions and, of course, the answer was yes.  My bowl of red chili

was full of meat and beans, with no discernable heat.  Very good chili.   Johnny's bowl of green chili

was simply superb.  Johnny described it as being almost creamy, it had long pieces of shredded chicken and was incredibly flavorful.  The woman warned us that it was very hot.  While there was indeed some heat, the average person could handle it easily.  
 
We had to take advantage of the soda fountain, so we each ordered a milkshake.  There is a long list of available flavors. 

Johnny decided to try the toasted marshmallow, while I, being a sucker for anything mint, went for the peppermint. 

Both of the shakes were ultra-thick, with strong flavor.  Delivered in silver beakers, there was almost an entire extra glass worth in there.  Excellent shakes!  We also approved the sign

attached to the mirror. 
 
We stayed and chatted with the nice lady for a while, who was very happy to answer our questions about the history of the place.  I really liked the story she told about when she once was a judge in the local chili cook-off and told us she would never do it again.  I guessed it was because people who didn't win got mad at her, but she shook her head and said no, it was that so much of the chili was just bad.  There is some of the Chugwater Chili ingredients for sale,

but we passed.
 
The Chugwater Soda Fountain was a real delight to find.  Although we were disappointed we couldn't try more of the menu (can you believe that Johnny and I passed up homemade pie!), we ate enough to give this place a very high recommendation.  I do plan on writing up a Roadfood review for it.
 
Chugwater Soda Fountain
314 1st Street
Chugwater, WY
307-422-3222 
 
Back to the highway and we continued our way north.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/24 13:41:24
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/24 13:50:35
BB: who could resist the milkshake.  Great shots and write up.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/24 13:54:57
I am, thus far, speechless. Excellent!
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/25 16:22:50
buffetbuster & Cousin Johnny -
 
Great start to this report...some mighty fine choices on the shake list...you guys were on your best behavior only getting one a piece!
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 09:08:14
Saturday June 11, 2011 cont.

Our dinner destination was the Wagon Box, located in the tiny town of Story, Wyoming.  Known as a steakhouse, it has appeared in the last few Roadfood books.   During my previous visit to the area in 2007, I stopped in around lunchtime, but they are only open for dinner, so a revisit was a top priority on this vacation.
 
The GPS directed us to nowhere near where the restaurant is located, but we asked directions and knew we were at the right place when we spotted the unique sign with the raised wagon.

The restaurant is a testament to wood, on both the inside

and out. 

Not many places have a stuffed bear

behind glass.  We were the first customers of the night and unfortunately, for a good portion of the meal, the only customers.  Johnny did overhear one regular telling someone in management that he hopes business picks up soon.  Not a good sign.  The bar in the room next door seemed to be hopping, at least.
 
The first thing I noticed on the menu was their signature soup is prime rib mushroom, which sounds fantastic!  The bad news, it is only available on Fridays and Sundays and this was a Saturday.  What's the deal with that?  I expressed my disappointment to the teenage waitress and she went back to the kitchen to see if any was leftover from the night before.  She quickly brought out two cups full. 

The soup was extremely thick, just loaded with lean beef and mushrooms.  Johnny said it reminded him of beef stroganoff in a bowl.  This was one of the best things we ate on the trip.
 
Our meals came with dinner salads, which are usually uninteresting.  But here, they offer huckleberry vinaigrette as a dressing. 

Certainly on the sweet side, it wasn't too sweet and I found it nice and refreshing. 
 
There was no doubt we were both going to get steaks, but which one?  They do have quite a few

to choose from.  I was initially leaning towards the stuffed sirloin, but when I wavered, Johnny jumped all over it.  (In the interest of trying as many things as possible, we almost never order the same dish, especially entrees.)  He was rewarded with this.

This unusual steak was wrapped in pepperjack and mozzarella cheeses and then stuffed

with grilled onions and mushrooms.  I have never seen anything quite like it and Johnny was very happy with it.  His potato on the side was called baby reds, which was a spud cut in half, seasoned and covered in butter.  This was another highlight for him, especially the crispy outside skin of the potato.
 
My steak was a more mundane 14oz. ribeye.

This was also covered in mushrooms (they really like mushrooms here) and sauteed garlic and this was a fine steak.  The baked potato was a little small, but the cauliflower was good.
 
Before we left, I walked down to the road to photograph the wagon sign, when I spotted a truck in the lot, with an elk head in it's back. 

This is another thing you really wouldn't see back home!
 
Wagon Box
103 North Piney
Story, WY
1-800-301-3120
 
Before we left Story, I had to go see what became of the late great Waldorf A'Story, which had been an excellent Roadfood restaurant/general store, until it closed down in December of 2009. 

Looks like it is now home to the Story Real Estate Co.  Too bad it closed because this was a great place.
 
After checking into our hotel in Sheridan, we drove downtown to the famous Mint Bar.  Even though this is a Roadfood place, this is a problem for us, because neither one of us drinks.  And they don't serve any food here.  But, it is still very much worthwhile just to see the great neon sign and the amazing decor inside.  Unfortunately, even though it was after 9:00pm, they still didn't have the sign lit, yet. 

We did go inside and check out the very cool interior, but I didn't feel comfortable taking in my camera, so there are no photos.  Sorry!  This one you will have to see for yourself, but it is definitely worth it.  We spent less than ten minutes here and it was back to the hotel.  As a late night snack, it was our pies from Johnson's Corner, mine chocolate cream

and Johnny's coconut.

 
Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/27 09:20:04
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 09:22:17
Mosca

Those look like they were shot with a Canon SX30.

You are 100% correct!  You know your cameras!

buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 09:24:31
mayor al

Agree with MH on all points !  We have chased trains thru the Powder River Coal fields from Devils Tower down to and along the Platte, and followed the Oregon Trail route across the area also. No one can understand the concept of "Wide Open Spaces" until they see this beautiful (and delicious) part of the country.

BB, Did you visit the "Heartbreak Ridge" overlook? It is a real 'peek' into recent history!
There will be some mention of the Oregon Trail later in the trip, but I am unfamiliar with Heartbreak Ridge.  What did we miss?

Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 10:24:55
I am also unfamilar with heartbreak ridge.  I recall the movie and there is one on the Blue Ridge Parkway??
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heartbreak_Ridge
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 11:44:37
Sunday June 12, 2011

The first thing I wanted to do this morning was to head on back to downtown Sheridan to see if they the neon sign at Mint Bar was lit up.  No such luck, but at least here

is a clearer photo of what it looks like.  She is a real beauty, even unlit.
 
Breakfast was at a little diner right on Main Street called Silver Spur Cafe, which hasn't appeared in a JMS book since 1999's Eat Your Way Across the USA.  I did eat here in 2007 and wasn't particularly impressed.  The problem we faced was that Main Street was all torn up for construction, so we had to drive down a series of alleys to get to it.  Here

is what the front looks like, with the orange fence in the way.  Luckily, it ended up being well worth the trouble.
 
The inside is small, with maybe a dozen seats around the J shaped counter, just inside the front door. 

There is a bigger dining room in the back, but nobody was using it during our visit.  Even though we got there less than 10 mintes after they opened at 6:00AM, most of the seats were already taken by regulars.  We grabbed the last two at the end, by the window.  This place doesn't give off a very welcoming vibe.  Not unfriendly, but not friendly, either.  The front of the menu

features a namesake silver spur.
 
The menu is big with an emphasis on egg dishes.  Johnny went for the two egg Rancher Omelet, which piles onions, green peppers, cheese and hash browns inside the omelet. 

He was generally happy with his dish, especially the cooked perfectly bacon, though did grumble that the hash browns were too soft instead of crispy. I went for the breakfast burrito, which was outstanding! 

Inside the tortilla was scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese, all smothered in a very flavorful, but very little heat, green chile.  No particular item was a standout, I just really liked the way everything seemed to melt together.  This was one of the few occasions on the trip where my food was better than Johnny's food.  On the side, was some sausage,

which was nothing special.   
 
Since the locals weren't talking to us, we had to entertain ourselves.  Johnny showed me his toast,

which he told me now looked like the state of Louisiana.  I asked him if he always ate his toast into shapes of different states.  He replied, "Sure, how do you think Texas toast got it's name!"
 
Silver Spur Cafe
832 N. Main Street
Sheridan, WY
307-673-7330

Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/27 12:56:35
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 12:32:24
BB I have bewen in Sheridan several times but the last time I was there with my brother.  He did a elk hun down in Buffalo.  I went him the first day and the guide took us up a mountain in a four wheel truck that was rock covered.  I was in the middle and it was a total miserable ride.  I did not have a gun as I was just there for the trip.  The truck shook me to death and I declined the second day hunt.  Brother got no elk and I got slightly intoxicated after I made the drive over the mountain, turned left and into Ten Sleep.  I got back to the hotel around 5:00PM after seeing all the sugar beets trucks taking the mountains of beets that were made into syrup.  The mountains of beets were huge and appeared about 500 feet tall..  I saw lotsa deer and pronghorn antelope which are guessed at goats???.  No mountain goats.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 14:08:14
Sunday June 12, 2011 cont.
 
After a short distance back on I-25 North, we got off of Rte. 14 and headed west into the mountains.  The altitude quickly rose and we soon found ourselves driving past open fields covered with snow.  Since this was mid-June, the novelty of it made us get out and snap a few photos. 

Not being content, I had to go walk past the fence to get in one of the photos.

You can probably see what's coming.....  Not being as petite as I once was, my right foot sank into the snow until it was well past my knee.  Johnny had to come and help pull me out.  While this was happening, I heard a click.  Back in the car (and with several cuts and scrapes on my right leg), I looked and, yup, I accidentally snapped a photo of me stuck in the snow.

 
The scenery on this road to Greybull is really something special.  Unfortunately, I didn't snap as many photos as I would have liked, but here are a few:



Sorry those aren't better.  But, I promise I have much more great scenery coming up later in the report.
 
Once in Greybull, we stopped in at Lisa's


for breakfast number two.  Lisa's is an attractive, friendly place, decorated with Western art and Native American blankets. 

Still feeling the effects of our first breakfast, we both ordered rather light.  As a big strawberry lover, Johnny couldn't pass up the Fruity French Toast. 

Made with their homemade bread, it was spongy in a good way and covered with strawberries.  He gave it a thumbs up.  I went for the Indian Fry Bread,

which also came with plenty of strawberries.  The fry bread was pillowy soft and easy to eat, but the strawberry topping (along with the whipped cream) was too sweet for me.  If I had it to do over again, I would have gotten the fry bread as a side item and ordered a different entree.
 
The food here at Lisa's is definitely a step up from typical diner food

and I wish we would have had more appetite.
 
Lisa's
200 Greybull Avenue
Greybull, WY
307-765-4765 
 
We jumped on Rte. 310 and drove north to Billings.  The first stop was at Stella's for a slice of pie.   Despite the fact that it was now 12:30PM and Stella's closes at 1:00PM, they were jam packed.  Makes you wonder why they don't stay open a little later to accomodate the crowd.  Johnny, obviously not getting his fill of strawberries, went for the strawberry cream. 

He thought there was too much whipped cream, the strawberry portion was too sweet and he didn't care for it at all.  My blueberry pie

wasn't much better.  The whole pie seemed like it was wet and the crust was limp and lifeless.  At least the sour cream raisin coffee cake,

warm and full of nuts, was good.  About this time, while eating this poor food, we noticed that they had some huckleberry desserts listed on the specials menu, which we didn't see before.  Since we had plans to eat breakfast here in the morning, they had an opportunity to make this up to us!
 
I asked Johnny if he wanted to drive down to Little Bighorn National Battlefield, but he didn't show much interest.  I was here before, so there was no need for me to press the issue.  Instead, we visited the Moss Mansion

This place is a strikingly handsome red stone building, built by one of Billings' leading citizens, P.B. Moss, in the early 20th century.  The interior is ornately decorated, mostly in French and Moorish styles.  No interior photos, but my favorite room was the conservatory, which you can see from this photo

of the rear of the house.  The only other people on the tour with us was a delighful couple from Adelaide, Australia.
 
From there, we checked into our hotel and relaxed until it was time for dinner. 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/28 18:56:28
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 15:24:32
Great shot and the Pics was great.  I have been there before.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 15:33:01
Two breakfasts in one day...never heard of that!
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 15:37:52
CTD-
That's actually four breakfasts in two days.  We called that a ChiTownDiner-like pace!
 
Paul-
From what I have seen, there are very few places you haven't been!  Thanks for the nice comments.
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 15:44:41
BB:  You are correct as I have done all 50 states. all of Canada. All of central America and most of south American plus all of Europe but I have never done the roadfood experience that you have done.  Your Hobby is ourstanding and I only wish that I could have experienced it with you.  My best wishes.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 17:11:22
buffetbuster

 

This should serve as a lesson to all of the other reindeer, who USED to laugh and call Rudolph names.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 17:21:09
TTM-
One down, seven more to go!
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 17:21:47
Looks pretty dead to me.  Screw Rudolph, I want some filet Elk!!!
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 18:16:42
Hey, I used to see lots of dead deer when I lived  in Pittsburgh-  I think I hit one or two in my life time.
 
I was really bummed when Waldorf A'Story closed. I really wanted to check the place out on my "Rocky Mountain Highs and Big Sky's trip" but they closed right before my visit.
 
So why were you uncomfortable taking photos inside the Mint Bar?
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/27 18:22:23
WJ-
Because I wasn't spending any money there.
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/28 16:31:12
Cousin Johnny had your back...
agnesrob
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 09:27:12
Great report Buffetbuster! You're so good at combining the pictures with the backround story for each area you visit. Really enjoyable!
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 09:29:00
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.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/29 09:42:56
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 09:52:55
Buffetbuster
 
At The Rex are you sure, the menu simply didn't say "dressing, with choice of salad"? I have never seen so much dressing dumped on a wedge of lettuce!
 
 
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 09:57:49
WJ-
You say that like it is a bad thing!  Here is my blue cheese version.

Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 11:38:38
buffetbuster

WJ-
You say that like it is a bad thing!  Here is my blue cheese version.



WJ and BB:  That is beyound a full meal to me but it certainly looks outstanding to me.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
kland01s
Filet Mignon
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 12:57:48
Love that crispy Caesar salad! What a unique presentation! Did you skip the steak? Dumb question... I would have, you already had a lot of good quality food for one night, why take a chance on a steak?
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 13:07:08
kland01s-
That caeser salad really was something else.  I have never seen anything quite like it.  This had to be the first time I used a knife to cut my salad befor eating it.
 
Yes, I did skip the steak.  It was either a steak or the salad and I was happy with my choice.
 
Sundancer & agnesrob-
Thanks for the kind comments! 
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 14:17:01
BB
A Big wedge of lettuce with some 1000 Island has always been my favorite "Simple SAlad" I VOTE WITH jOHNNIE ON THE CHOICE !  Your Caesar Looks absolutely wonderful as well. I gues the Montana Shrimp deserve the reputation they are garnering as a result of your eating pleasure !
mar52
Sirloin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 14:41:06
Dang!  I passed up on those olive dishes at The 99 cent only store.  Little did I know that I'd one day want to use them for creme brulee.
 
Your trip is very inspiring.  Maybe next year I'll leave family out of the trip plans and head towards Montana.
 
I also have to start practicing the making of those vertical cheese towers.  What is in the serving bowl besides the shrimp, tomatoes and onions?  How impressive!  I'm thinking that they can be shaped right out of the oven.  Now to get my proportions down.
 
I'm loving your trip.  Thanks for all of the effort you put in to them.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 14:49:06
Salad? Salad? I never eat what my food eats.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 14:52:17
Al-
As someone who doesn't like a lot of junk in their salad, the wedge covered in dressing is just about perfect.  Truthfully, as much as I love blue cheese dressing, Johnnie's with the 1000 islands was better.
 
mar52-
Thanks for the nice comments.  I have been enjoying your trip report, too, although I haven't had the chance to post in the thread, yet.  I just looked at the menu for the caeser salad and says it is just bacon, tomato, red onions and parmesan cheese. 
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 14:58:29
BB:  I am going to prepare that salad for my July 4th cook out that my daughter, her two sons and her husband Mark and Mamaw Smith and of course ROZ will attend.  I will run the grill while they enjoy the boat right in front of my house.  I can watch them whiIe I run the grill with burgers, dogs, chicken and some very good pork butt along with grat baked beans with onions, garlic, pork butt and othe spices, Mac and cheese, mixed greens with garlic, onion and pork butt, sweet corn on the grill covered in butter, brownies and some home made peach ice cream.
 
I may just do the salad alone and let the family do the rest.
 
Thanks
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN  
Rusty246
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 15:02:38
Sundancer7

BB:  I am going to prepare that salad for my July 4th cook out that my daughter, her two sons and her husband Mark and Mamaw Smith and of course ROZ will attend.  I will run the grill while they enjoy the boat right in front of my house.  I can watch them whiIe I run the grill with burgers, dogs, chicken and some very good pork butt along with grat baked beans with onions, garlic, pork butt and othe spices, Mac and cheese, mixed greens with garlic, onion and pork butt, sweet corn on the grill covered in butter, brownies and some home made peach ice cream.

I may just do the salad alone and let the family do the rest.

Thanks
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN  

 
That sounds great!  I hope you share with your ugly dog.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 15:13:24
Paul-
That sounds like an outstanding idea!  I can't imagine they won't be pleased with it.  Have a great holiday with your family!
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 15:19:18
Rusty246

Sundancer7

BB:  I am going to prepare that salad for my July 4th cook out that my daughter, her two sons and her husband Mark and Mamaw Smith and of course ROZ will attend.  I will run the grill while they enjoy the boat right in front of my house.  I can watch them whiIe I run the grill with burgers, dogs, chicken and some very good pork butt along with grat baked beans with onions, garlic, pork butt and othe spices, Mac and cheese, mixed greens with garlic, onion and pork butt, sweet corn on the grill covered in butter, brownies and some home made peach ice cream.

I may just do the salad alone and let the family do the rest.

Thanks
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN  


That sounds great!  I hope you share with your ugly dog.

 
I am glad you remembered my ugly dog.  She is 15 now and still just as lively as she was when she was a pup.  We got her from the pound.  She was due to be killed the next day.  She has maintained the same weight she was when she was young at about 29 pounds.
 
Believe me, we have no choice but to feed her some table food.  She would kill for a dog, burger, butt and when mixed in, she even eats salad.
 
Thanks for remembering my ugly dog.  Actually she is sorta pretty.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 15:21:08
BB:  thanks for the thought.  Perhaps you and the TM can visit my home and Knoxville, TN someday.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
rumaki
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 16:28:27
Everything looked great at The Granary (although I'm not so sure about "tall" food), but I thought the bread looked especially appealing.  I love good bread, and it is getting rarer and rarer.  Was it sourdough?
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 17:05:38
Sundancer-
You know I would love to, and I'm sure TTM would also.
 
rumaki-
It definitely was not sourdough.  I looked back at my notes and nothing is written down for the bread.  I vaguely remember it being cheesy, but can't say for 100% sure.  Sorry!
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 17:11:27
That Fry Bread Pocket at Lisa's looks like a Winner. They all look good !
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 18:13:09
It all looks good to me!! And those wedge salads!!! Fantastic!!
mar52
Sirloin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 18:27:05
BB,  thanks for the other ingredients.  I shall perfect the making of that cone of cheese and serve it for my next Mother's Day dinner.
 
Maybe.
 
 
Ralph Melton
Double Cheeseburger
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/29 22:09:09
buffetbuster, I love your trip reports.
 
It's so exciting that we have great trip reports going on right now from buffetbuster, wanderingjew, and mar52.
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/30 04:25:36
I agree, Ralph. These trip reports are why I love Roadfood.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:High Plains Drifters 2011/06/30 07:50:10
Monday June 13, 2011
 
Because we anticipated this being the longest day of the trip, we were up and 'atem early.  Stella's


was our breakfast destination and we walked in just a few minutes after they opened at 5:30AM.  Stella's used to be just around the corner, but moved about five years ago.  It is now part of, but in a seperate building, of a Best Western Hotel.  The atmosphere here is non-existent and the inside

feels like it could be a chain in anytown, USA.
 
What Stella's does best is their bakery items, especially the cinnamon rolls.  I don't know why this

makes me laugh, but on the menu they show three babies working over cinnamon rolls bigger than their heads.  After what happened at Johnson's Corner, we decided to just split one of the Great White Cinnamon Rolls. 
 
Johnny got things rolling by ordering one of the monster cakes, which is a huge pancake. 

For it's size, he said it was still very light and fluffy and he didn't have too much difficulty eating the whole thing. 

According to the menu, if you manage to eat four of these, you get a reward.  The reward? 

One of their huge cinnamon rolls!  This reward had to come from the same person who thought giving babies a cinnamon roll was a great idea!  Johnny also ate a couple of over easy eggs

and a couple of slices of thick cut and crispy bacon.
 
I usually don't mention the beverages too much, because both of us usually order boring items, like water or iced tea.  Now, in the morning, Johnny likes one cup of coffee and that's it.  They are constantly trying to refill his cup and he has to tell them over and over again, no more.  I have seen him turn his cup upside down at times.  Me, I don't don't drink coffee at all.  We both like orange juice and always get water, too.  Halfway through our meal here, I remembered from the afternoon before that they have huckleberry milkshakes.  Our beautiful Bulgarian waitress Yoanna said she would be happy to make us shakes at 6:00AM.  So, that's how Johnny ended up with a four beverage breakfast. 

By the way, the milkshake was outstanding!  Brought in a silver beaker,

it was very thick, strong huckleberry flavor and even had plenty of whole huckleberries in it.  Another nice thing here is that when you order orange juice, you get your choice between fresh squeezed or from concentrate and, of course, we took the fresh squeezed.
 
My food, a ham and cheese omelet and hashbrowns

was nothing special, although I do think they were better than they look in the photo.
 
We had finished up with everything else, when I pointed out to Yoanna that we hadn't received our Great White Cinnamon Roll, yet.  Maybe this was a good thing, because we were quite full by then and asked her to wrap it up to go.  On the way out the door, they do have a case full of great looking pastries

and a wooden stand of nothing but cinnamon rolls,

but we passed.
 
Stella's
2525 1st Avenue North
Billings, MT
406-248-3060
 
We got on I-94 East and started for North Dakota.
 
Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/30 07:55:11
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