A taste of the wide open spaces of western America has arrived on the banks of the Ouse in York.
The Missoula – Montana Bar & Grill opened on Bridge Street on Thursday (February 13) in the space previously occupied by The Living Room.
The latest venture of the Stonegate Pub Company, the Missoula could not be more different from a traditional York inn.
Chairman of the company Ian Payne was inspired by regular visits to the state of Montana – home to the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone Park.
Fourteen Missoula bars followed, but York is only the second Bar & Grill to open, after the first launched in Milton Keynes in December.
More than £240,000 has been spent creating the new look in York. The wooden floor and furniture has the feel of a US restaurant, with an open bar area, smaller snugs and a more formal dining area.
Food and drink has been imported from the USA and Montana-born Molly Smith has been brought to York to train front of house staff to ensure they offer American-style hospitality.
To ensure authentic Montana flavours, steaks graded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are imported from America.
“They’re the best steaks in the world,” said Missoula’s manager Chris Smith. “They’re from grain-fed cattle which creates better marbling.
“It’s the best steak I have ever tasted.”
The food offer changes through the day. Stacked American waffles and scramblers are served for breakfast until noon.
Club sandwiches and burgers are among the choices for lunch, while the evening menu revolves around those steaks, plus ribs, fish and salads.
Cocktails and spirits
Signature cocktails include new recipes like the Huckleberry Lemon Drop (£7.45), including vodka, Cointreau and huckleberries, which only grow in Montana.
“They’re similar to blueberries but more sweet,” said Rodolfo Abrantes, the Portuguese-born bar manager of the Milton Keynes’ Missoula, who was in York for the launch.
The Apple Pie Martini (£5.95) includes vodka shaken with apple liqueur, with a dash of cinammon.
Some of the spirits on offer are unique to the bar too. “We have Cold River Vodka, made in the States. You can ski in the middle of the distillery,” Rodolfo said.
The bar also stocks High West Whiskey, from a relatively small distillery based in Utah. A bottle of the Rendezvous Rye, which blends a 16-year-old and a six-year-old rye, will set you back £125.
On hand for the launch to create Gentleman’s Club cocktails – a blend of Gentleman’s Jack whiskey, ginger beer, a squeeze of fresh orange and angostura bitters – was Brighton based spirit consultant Cam Dawson.
Beer and wine
The Missoula offers seven world beers including Shipyard Pale Ale (£4.05), Anchor Steam Beer (£5.05) and Flying Dog Atlantic Lager (£5.05).
Most of the wines are from the US. Whites include Whispering Hills Chardonnay (£5.50 large glass, £14.95 a bottle) and September Hill Pinot Grigio (£6.95 / £18.95).
Reds include a Rugged Ridge Merlot (£5.50 / £14.95) and a September Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (£7.30 / £19.95). These four are all from California.
Champagnes range from a Piper-Heidsieck Brut for £35.95 up to Louis Roederer Cristal Brut for £249.95.
The extensive drinks menu also includes shots and shakes.
Manager Chris Smith, who moved to York two weeks ago after running another Stonegate pub, the Slug And Lettuce in Nottingham, said the early feedback on the Missoula was positive.
“I have never known a concept like it,” he said. “Other American bars tend to be a bit corny, with stetsons. This has got the balance right.”
He said they planned to put on live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, focusing on local, acoustic musicians.
The Stonegate Pub Company now owns eight licensed premises in York. Thirty jobs have been created at the Missoula, meaning the group employs more than 240 people in the city.
The company acquired the Living Room brand of 13 sites from Premium Bars & Restaurants in August last year.