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Where's the beef? It's at Montana's



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Montana’s Rib & Chop House is now open for business at 700 N. Lapeer Rd. (click for larger version)
December 12, 2012 - Carnivores rejoice for there's a new place in Oxford to satisfy your natural craving for protein in all its juicy, tender and succulent glory.

On Monday, Montana's Rib & Chop House officially opened for business at 700 N. Lapeer Rd. with its staff of 50 full and part-time employees eager to serve.

"It feels like (Oxford's) welcomed us with open arms," said owner Charlie Bish. "Everyone's super friendly."

Steak lovers will enjoy Certified Angus Beef in the form of New York strips, hand-cut ribeyes and baseball cut top sirloin, all seasoned and cooked to meaty perfection.

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"I'm a top sirloin guy," Bish said. "That's my favorite steak. My wife's, too. It looks like a baseball, but it's actually a filet cut."

But beef isn't the only thing on the menu.

There's the award-winning babyback ribs, the buffalo ribeye steak, lamb chops, pot roast and chicken fried steak.

In the mood to enjoy something from the sea? Montana's has you covered with a variety of shrimp dishes, beer battered fish and chips, seared ahi tuna and grilled fish.

The Cedar Plank Salmon is a popular dish among diners. It consists of fresh filet of salmon broiled on a smoldering cedar plank with Jamaican brown sugar glaze or traditional lemon.

"There's such a variety on the menu," Bish said. "I know it's cliche, but there's something for everyone, every occasion, every budget and every mood. That's what's special about the menu to us."

Entree prices range from $11.99 to $32.99.

Founded in May 2001, Montana's has three locations in Montana, two in Pennsylvania and two in Wyoming.

Bish owns the two locations in Pennsylvania – Meadville and Hermitage. The other five are owned by founders Burke and Melissa Moran, who moved from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Montana.

"(The Morans) are our mentors," Bish said. "So, there's this whole Southern/Cajun undertone to the menu."

Despite its multiple locations in multiple states, Montana's is definitely not a chain. It's more of a "loose association" under which each restaurant stays true to the Morans' vision, but has enough autonomy to meet local tastes and try different things.

"We're committed to being part of the community," Bish said.

Bish described the atmosphere as "casual."

"We don't consider ourselves a formal restaurant," he said. "We have great food in a variety of price ranges. Somebody today said we're a little upscale, yet we still have barbecue sauce bottles on the table."

There's even a kids menu with six fun dishes all for $3.99 each. "We like to think we're very kid-friendly," Bish said.

Montana's offers a diverse and tantalizing appetizer menu that goes well beyond the usual stuffed potato skins and mundane mozzarella sticks.

A great example is the fried green tomatoes. The dish takes a southern classic and gives it an original twist by topping them with blue cheese dressing, lump crab meat and a balsamic reduction.

"It's our number one selling appetizer," Bish said. "It's a unique combination that's been well-received. That's the favorite."

Appetizer prices range from $7.99 to $10.99.

Although Montana's is certainly the place to enjoy a fantastic dinner, it's also a great place for the midday meal. "We want to establish ourselves as a great lunch opportunity," Bish said. "In our other locations, we've acknowledged that when folks come for lunch, by and large, they're on a time frame. It's a different animal than dinner."

Montana's goal is get its lunch crowd in and out in an hour with plenty of time in between to actually enjoy the food, instead of having to wolf it down in order to get back to the work. "That will take some time with our new crew," Bish said. "But that's the crux of our lunch business at our other locations."

Montana's will be open seven days a week beginning at 11 a.m. The general manager is Daren Proper and the kitchen manager is Brad Bittner, who is Bish's son.

For more information about Montana's Rib & Chop House, please visit www.oxfordribandchophouse.com or call (248) 969-2200. Reservations are accepted.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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