I'm not sure that the Cattle Baron Supper Club--which is close to being Babb, Montana, rather than being in Babb--is the best steakhouse in the West, as ralph27's epinion claimed. I've only been in four western states this millennium and there are many steakhouses even in these states that I have not checked out. The Cattle Baron steaks are excellent and gargantuan, and anyone on the east side of Glacier National Park with a hearty appetite for beef (or interested in steak sandwiches with leftover steak) would be well-advised to head for the Cattle Baron.
The restaurant is on a second-floor gallery above the bar. The waiters put in many miles trekking back and forth to the kitchen, but ours (Gil) said he hiked ten miles a day plus the 5 miles a night from kitchen to tables. The restaurant is both amply and well staffed and the food arrives hot. I didn't detect any smoke drifting up from the bar.
The smallest table seats 6. Probably during the summer, smaller parties share tables, but many of the tables had only two customers last Sunday night when I was there.
Montana restaurants seem to me particularly interested in communicating their histories, especially if they have been in the family since their beginning. The great grandfather of co-owner Bob Burns peddled whiskey across the Canadian border during the late 1800s. His children were bootleggers (the daughter, Mae, famous for her dandelion wine, the son for moonshine).
Mae married Bill Burns, who "drew the first paycheck ever given to a park ranger in Glacier National Park." He was a friend of James J. Hill, the robber baron most venerated in Minnesota (his mansion in St. Paul is a tourist attraction down the street from several of F. Scott Fitzgerald's considerably less grandiose residences). Hill's Great Northern Railroad pioneered tourism to the remote national park.
The Great Northern Railroad built the hotel at Many Glaciers, eleven miles west of the Cattle Baron, and Hill "told Bill and Mae to take her allotment" of the Blackfeet Reservation. They built a store, which in 1954 became the Babb Bar. By the time Bob acquired the bar in 1974 it had been rated "the second rowdiest bar in the nation according to several magazines" (inquiring minds were thwarted in ascertaining which magazines or which bar was rowdier then--it seems a fairly sedate watering hole for some non-Indian alcoholics now...)
Charlene Burns is descended from one of the few survivors of the 1870 Baker massacre (which is the horrifying conclusion to A. B. Guthrie's Fair Land, Fair Land, which I would review if it were in the epinions databaseit is the third volume in his western epic that began with The Big Sky).
There may be people able to continue to dessert after 16-18 ounces of beef, but even my dessert stomach was filled.
I think there was one vegetarian entrée, but the raison d'être of going to the Cattle Baron is to gorge on beef.
There was a long list of teas with strange combinations of ingredients. They were out of the one I wanted, and I asked for another mellow one. Gil confessed that he knew nothing about tea, and that his idea of "mellow" would be a white Russian. I guess that could be taken as evidence of incomplete training, but I was amused and appreciated his candor.
There are two numbers for making reservations at the Cattle Baron:
before 3 p.m. (406) 732-4532
after 4 p.m. (406) 732-4033
Other places for visitors to the east side of Glacier to eat
Ralph27's epinion recommended the Park Cafe and Two Sisters for less epic meals and recommended staying from the restaurants of the lodges. We had breakfast at the lodge of the St. Mary's Lodge. That made me more grateful that Ralph27's epinion aimed us at the Cattle Baron for dinner. I take a very dim view of rehydrated hash browns, particularly with a menu boasting about using fresh ingredients. They are more palatable when browned. I have had far too much experience with undercooked rehydrated pseudo-hashbrowns, but never before have I had any that were cold, undercooked, and wet. That is, they passed across the grill semi-hydrated and not even drained! The thought of what a restaurant that served this would do with dinner made me shudder.
The restaurant at Many Glaciers Lodge, on the other hand, was OK (though the rooms are not). The food and the staff was adequately prepared, though waits to be seated are extravagantly long (even for buffet breakfast). (There is an Italian restaurant in the Swift Current Lake Motor Lodge, but the lodge and restaurant closed the Labor Day weekend.)
The Glacier Lodge was overrun with some special event last weekend. We had excellent dinners at Serrano's, a Mexican(-American) restaurant with genuinely piquant food (it is in a log building with another detailed history) and at the Glacier Village Restaurant (which has also been in one family forever) at the junction of highways 2 and 89. The latter has an impressive array of desserts. Service was excellent at both (though not as intensive as at the Cattle Baron) and both had local clientele. They were full after Labor Day, so I imagine that there are waits during the summer high-tourist season.
The "Epinions Works" Write-Off
Vormancian organized a write-off on recommendations from epinions that we used. I thought that I would write about one of the movies I had never heard of that mangiotto or george_chabot convinced me I have to see--probably the DVD of John Frankenheimer's "The Train" that mangiotto convinced me to buy and that is everything he said it was.
Before going to Glacier National Park (for the first time since childhood), I read most of the epinions about it. All recommend it. Indeed, Glacier is the most highly recommended destination in epinions travel. I find this surprising in that not everyone likes depopulated mountainous scenery with ubiquitous warnings about grizzly bears and little to do except hike up and down trails through mosquito-infested woods or windswept trails with brutal sun. Moreover, I think that the Grand Tetons are more beautiful and Yellowstone has more points of interest as well as more visible wildlife. Other epinions on Glacier spell out the glories and limitations of the place, including the generally overpriced and substandard facilities for housing non-campers.
(Accommodations seem better on the west side of the park. Restaurants seem better on the east side. The trails on the east side are better (for someone who likes to get out of the trees and see the mountains and lakes) and had fewer other hikers. (See http://www.epinions.com/content_136766787204 on hiking in Glacier National Park without big elevation changes.)
Unfortunately, I cannot see anything of ralph27's only other epinion. The one on dining east of Glacier is at
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