Located on the edge of highway 191 sits Buck’s T-4, Big Sky’s first lodging and dining destination. While most pass by without thinking twice, through the front doors is a restaurant rich in history and Montana cuisine.
When entering my skepticism quickly vanished with a warm Montana welcome. On a busy winter evening reservations are strongly recommended. Arrive early and take in the original chinked log décor at the bar while you sip on a signature cocktail, local brew or a glass of wine from their expansive list.
At the Bar, the bartenders told me all about the history of this roadside hunting lodge, local intel about the mountain, Yellowstone National Park, or one of the many other activities offered in the area.
I tried a Bacon Bourbon Old Fashioned (which may be a new favorite for me). The mixture of apple wood smoked bacon-infused Buck Bourbon, crushed oranges and cherries, pure maple syrup, bitters, and soda cured my bacon craving for the day and with fewer calories. They also serve up a Moscow Mule. A combination of Smirnoff vodka, Cock ‘N Bull ginger beer, fresh lime juice, and served in a chilled Buck’s copper pint mug. The copper mug being the key ingredient, provides (for lack of better words) a smooth copper finish mildly taming the tart lime juice.
In the dining room I noticed the paper place mat; this is however not a telling sign of the food to come. Chef Chuck Schommer, a James Beard award winning chef has carefully designed a menu of culinary flair and local ingredients. Beginning with their Calamari, tossed in a sweet chili sauce and served with a side of lemon aioli that combinded fried crunchy, tangy with a smooth and creamy finish. This was delicious and I couldn’t wait to dive into the rest of the menu.
Being in the flanks of Yellowstone Country, Buck’s is renowned for its wild game entrees. I decided to go with the Bison Tenderloin. A Ranch raised char-grilled 8 oz. tenderloin with onion straws, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and fresh seasonal vegetables. Recommended at medium-rare, each bite was one juicy, savory morsel after the next.
Still a wild game option but a less expensive route, there is the Bison Meatloaf Grilled Cheese. Smoked cheddar and Swiss cheese, slabs of hearty meatloaf, homemade smoked tomato catsup, onion straws, thick sliced sourdough, served with hand cut Montana fries. Not for the faint of heart (or appetite), it’s any local’s well-earned go to after a long day on the mountain.
To finish off the meal, the homemade Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie topped with a scoop of locally made Huckleberry Ice Cream was a tasty treat. Made fresh after ordering and served in a hot cast iron skillet, the warm ooey-gooey cookie barely holds its form as it melts in your mouth alongside the cold huckleberry ice cream.
Buck’s is a local and visitors favorite plating more than a great meal from an impressive menu selection it serves up a side of Big Sky history and rustic décor making this stop quintessential Montana.