Friday, August 30, 2013

Montana Jack's offers fine fare, superb service and gorgeous views

Ann and Jack Mowell are proud of their rescue and renaming of
Montana Jack's, a popular eatery in the little town of Dean, Montana.

Rural restaurant boasts ambiance, music, tasty fare, fine service in a scenic Montana setting


YEARS AGO, when I first bought a country home in the rugged Beartooth Mountains of Montana, an upscale restaurant was the last luxury I expected within a reasonable drive.
Entrepreneur Jack Mowell has made me one happy girl.
The setting for Mt. Jack's is the beautiful Beartooth Range.
The savvy world traveler, inventor and international businessman came to my neck of the woods, building a lovely country home in Stillwater County.
It's one of several places Mowell and his photographer wife Ann call home. They also spend time in Switzerland, Costa Rica and Tallahassee, Florida.
SO HOW did he come to invest in Jack's?
"Well, we wanted a decent place to have a nice dinner, within a reasonable driving distance," Mowell says.
So he bought a struggling restaurant in the tiny town of Dean, Montana, and set out to make it an appealing place for lunch, dinner or cocktails,
 Montana Jack's offers games and spectacular scenery, above,
and below, the writer entertains for a Jack's gathering.
First, he hired an astute general manager.  The amiable and efficient Gena Burghoff runs the place, which Mowell renamed after himself:  "Montana Jack's Bar and Grill."
The attractive Burghoff and her husband, Chrisopher Lockhart, a talented chef, have turned the place into a popular eatery, with a wine list equaling any in the state, and a menu designed to please both town and country palates.
THE GENIUS of the well thought out menu at Jack's is that it is not huge.  But it is varied and tasty and features an enticing array of the best available produce, herbs and meats.
Diners can tuck into a series of pretty salads and appetizers, or go straight for the meat and potatoes, with many enticing variations in between for small, large and medium appetites.
Fourth of July fun includes 
The waitresses and bar tenders have been well trained to be attentive, friendly and professional, on a par with any "big city" operation.
What a treat to find them -- and what they serve -- in this scenic rural get-away.
JACK'S ARTISTIC wife, Ann, helped decorate the place, with attractive curtains and flowers and some eye-catching pieces of art.  She also had the piano tuned (she is   a gifted musician), cleaned the beautiful stone fireplace, and redesigned the interior of the pretty wooden building so that the bar is opposite the kitchen, and the restaurant space flows nicely from the kitchen.
Gena Burghoff and Christopher Lockart at Mt. Jack's.
She is general manager and he is chief chef.
The homemade soups are always luscious, including squash seasoned with fennel and other herbs, and the house and Caesar salads are beautifully presented. Tempura fried green beans are an interesting and flavorful starter, along with my favorite Korean short ribs -- spicy with scallions and a sweet-sour marinade. Scallops, prawns and other salads are also available, and Jack's is proud of its gluten-free and vegetarian options for every course, so just ask.
MAIN COURSE options include Rocky Mountain trout, for $24, with glazed vegetables, capers and a basil oil.  The chicken, at $23, is served with a tangy cucumber, feta and kalamata olive and pesto salad.  The surf and turf, at $34, is a flavorful New York steak with scallops and shrimp, and there's always a vegetarian pasta, very popular, to which one may  add shrimp. Jack's is, as befitting a Montana bistro, a meat-eater's paradise, with
Well behaved dogs, including this proud lab, are welcome at Jack's.
a ribeye, buffalo t-bone, pork chop and steak frites offered.
The meats are lean, beautifully coked and served with various vegetables and starch offerings, including oven-roasted tomato, corn puree, glazed carrots, crisp green beans, and a wonderful creamy blue cheese potato dish cooked in cast iron.
JACK'S POLENTA is flavored with that same rich and tasty blue cheese.
 Teri Udey makes the fabulous pastries, including flavorful cakes and a delightful creme brule. The desserts change daily!
A kids' menu offers trout, cheeseburgers, chicken or shrimp with fries or green beans, for a reasonable $7.  (Plus color crayons and a
Fireworks bring out the crowds on July Fourth.
little menu to decorate.)

Locals and summer people gather for supper and drinks at Jack's.
At right, a children's menu and young Olivia's color crayon efforts.
The wines and beers number several dozen, with micro brews from throughout the region and wines from both American vineyards, Europe and New Zealand.
Live music options at Jack's are fun, too.  In the interest of full disclosure, the writer (yes, Cookie!) plays piano at Jack's from time to time.  She's booked a couple times in September and October, including Saturday night, Sept. 26, so check out Jack's website for more on that. Sunday brunch at Jack's is a popular tradition, often with live music. Other Jack's regulars include guitarist and ballad singer, Norrine the Outlaw Queen, who always brings out a crowd with her mix of country, swing and old-time western tunes.
 Jack's also has a wonderful patio, where diners spill over on pleasant summer evenings and special events such as the Fourth of July fireworks. You'll find doggies are welcome, and you might learn a rope trick or two. Fundraising endeavors such as Stillwater Protective Association use Jack's.
Don't miss an opportunity to enjoy Jack's pleasures.  You won't be sorry. Call 406 328-4110 or go to for updates and live music listings.  And you may check the place out on Facebook.

                                                                COMING SOON:  Flower power, Montana style.
Montana's apple harvest
and sunflowers. Coming soon.
And the Alberta Bair Theater in Billings has a proud history, dating back 80-plus years as a performing arts center, the largest in the northern Rockies. Read how it was saved from destruction and went on to flourish!

WE'RE also "north to Alaska" with glaciers, whales and trains.
Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at:

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