The Montana Club Restaurant, Missoula, MT

Canadians want to know:  What is ‘chicken-fried steak’?  Is it chicken?  or is it steak?

Chicken fried steak is a unique culinary piece of Americana that miraculously pops up on menus the instant you roll across the 49th parallel .  It’s a thin-ish piece of beef that’s battered (like deep fried chicken), then deep fried.  And when it’s good, it’s very, very good.  There’s nothing like it.  Think of chicken fried steak as being a version of a steak schnitzel and you get the idea.

We first encountered  The Montana Club during a recent tour through the Big Sky Country state in July.  Serendipitously,  it was located just across the street from the motel we were staying at.

For Canadians, The Montana Club is similar to the Earl’s Restaurant chain that most of us are familiar with, but a touch more upscale.  Yes, The Montana Club has a number of outlets (I religiously bypass chain restaurants when I travel.)  But this is a regional chain that we don’t have in Canada, so I was keen to try it.  Besides that, my traveling companions, after a long day on the motorcycles in 100-degree Fahrenheit heat, my group was knackered.  Any suggestion from our tour’s ‘Director of Food Services’ (me) to saddle up to ride to dinner would have caused a riot of epic proportions.   Moseying across the street to the air-conditioned restaurant was the option accepted with open arms.

The Montana Club’s extensive  menu is a massive affair that arrives at the table like a thin binder.  Decor is impressive – rustic, ‘high end cabin’ with large open beams, floor to ceiling windows and it looks like something from the pages of Architectural Digest.  It’s not shabby.  But neither is it snooty and formal.  Call it ‘comfortable chic’ and customers were seen to be dining in jeans, shorts and the typical casual, comfy summer wear.

I was compelled to order the chicken fried steak which has a ‘southern style breading’ and served with bacon flavored gravy ($17.49 USD), and I wasn’t disappointed.  The serving is large (in typical U.S. style) and the meat was virtually tender enough to cut with a fork.

Service was exemplary.  Emily, our young server, took our 9 orders without writing them down; she said she can remember twenty-five customer orders ‘easily’ and up to thirty orders ‘usually without making a mistake’!  She was quick, efficient, and our entire table of diners remarked she was likely the best server any of us had ever encountered.

The Montana Club is on the pricier side, but the food and service were outstanding.

Upscale, chic but still comfy and casual, this is a destination restaurant for me.  I’ll be back for the chicken fried steak.

Highly recommended.

The Montana Club Restaurant

4561 North Reserve Street, Missoula, MT,

406-541-8141 ‎

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