Saturday, September 3, 2016

Red Lodge eatery, Old Piney Dell, delivers delightful meal in decades-old tradition

Old Piney Dell grew from a mountain cabin to a world class restaurant with old world European service and offerings.



Rock Creek Resort grew up around  Old Piney Dell restaurant. 

The rustic charm of Old Piney Dell remains through the decades.
WHEN OLD PINEY DELL was becoming the legendary Carbon County eatery it is today, I was a youngster growing up in nearby Stillwater County -- just a pleasant drive through the hills, farmland and aspen groves to this rustic Red Lodge, Montana, area restaurant.
My family enjoyed the company of Piney Dell owner and Rock Creek Resort founder Pepi Gramshammer, who recently turned 84. They loved hearing him describe how the Beartooth Mountains recalled the mountain scenery of his childhood and how he designed the menu to feature satisfying fare of his native Austria.
Pepi and my Norwegian grandfather Gustav swapped tales of Alpine woods, fondue dinners and mountain hikes.
Pepi was an internationally known athlete -- and my dad and brothers were athletic, so daddy loved coming to the rustic restaurant to enjoy the bounty of the Alpine-style menu offerings and to chat with Pepi about their mutual love of nature, travel and sports.
Pepi Gramshammer drew from his European
roots and memories at Rock Creek Resort.
DECADES LATER, I wondered if Old Piney Dell could live up to my glorious childhood memories.  
We'd stayed several times through the years at Rock Creek Resort, but always on a Sunday or Monday, the two "dark" days when the restaurant is closed.
The resort still has allure, even if you can't make a dinner at Old Piney Dell.  Our favorite rooms on the creek are restful and nicely appointed, there are lovely grounds to stroll and a bounty of flowers to photograph. And there are many restaurants in nearby Red Lodge.
Recently, though, we timed our visit on Saturday, so we could dine at Old Piney Dell.  It was a trip down proverbial memory lane, with a delicious meal -- beautifully cooked and presented with the friendly flair I remembered.
An abundance of flowers awaits the photographer; bees and birds abound.
THE RESORT grew up around the restaurant after Pepi purchased the property in the 1960s, the time my memories of the place begin.
Cookie and Keller pay a visit to Piney Dell.
The small, welcoming restaurant evolved from a homesteader’s cabin built in the 1920s. Pepi put his touch on that as he was beginning development of the resort. He built the Grizzly Condos first, to house fellow ski racers. The resort grew, with Rock Creek Town Homes, Stoney Cabin, the Beartooth Lodge and the handsome log building Twin Elk. Pepi added a fishing pond, soccer field, playground, volleyball court, indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and gym. The night we were there, a wedding party was whooping it up. It's a popular place for private fetes. The place had a magical feeling to me as a child.  I remembered a woodsy setting, Rock Creek running by the window, mature trees, delicious aromas, pleasant conversation and a small, intimate restaurant which drew me in like the lure of a sorcerer.
THE MENU includes standards popular through a half-century. There's still an old-world sense of charm to the place, and our meal was leisurely and well served. We were happy with pretty salads and perfectly cooked steak, while Pepi's signature weiner schnitzel was enjoyed at the next table. A lovely smoked trout appetizer is our recommendation, and the fondue is popular especially in winter. The menu also features shrimp, ribs, scampi, crab, bratwurst with spaetzle (those delectable German dumplings), homemade soups and desserts and a nice children's menu.
Old Piney Dell recommends reservations, at 406 446-1196, open Tuesday through Saturdays, 5-9 p.m. Call 1 800 667-1119 or go to 
A wonderful exhibition on the whale at San Diego's Natural History
Museum was the beginning of our two-week whale odyssey.

UP NEXT: What is it about whales that sweeps us off our feet?  We just saw a magnificent exhibition on the whale in San Diego at the Natural History Museum. That was our preview for a two-week whale-watching odyssey we'll share in the next month.  There is something magical and inspiring about seeing a humpback frolick in his natural environment, watching an Orca breach, or a minke play. We're on the whale trail and will be out of range for a few days, but we hope by this time next week to have wondrous photos to share, from Edmonds, Washington, and Puget Sound on up to Juneau, Alaska. So stay tuned, and  catch us on weekends -- as we all explore, learn and live.


  1. Sheridan Road TrippersSeptember 6, 2016 at 7:21 AM

    We love Old Piney Dell and enjoyed our return visit through you.

  2. Great piece in Piney Dell, favorite haunt for us. And the whale-watching sounds like a winner, too.

  3. We eagerly await where is Cookie's whale-watching story.....and photos. Wonderful blog. So glad to discover it while looking for educated environmentally informed pointers. Many thanks and keep up the good work.