Observer Critic Rips Montana’s Trail House A New One

Photo: Austin McAllister

On November 13, 2012, New York Times food critic Pete Wells made some semblance of history when he utterly destroyed Guy Fieri’s American Bar & Kitchen in the pages of The Gray Lady. Ever since, we’ve been waiting for something equally vitriolic to come along and it appears that that day has finally come: Today, the New York Observer’s Joshua David Stein tore apart Bushwick’s own Montana’s Trail House and we can promise that this review is one for the ages. Here are some highlights:

On the servers:

The waitstaff had that new antiquated look adopted by so-many seventh-stoppers—the restaurant is off the Jefferson Street stop on the L train—which combines a youthful complexion with old mountain beards for the gentlemen and Walker Evans frocks with tattooed arms and septum piercings for the waitresses.

On the restaurant as a whole:

Montana’s Trail House is a very bad place. Its rottenness is both inherent and cosmetic; it is culinarily insipid and morally insidious.

On what makes it “morally insidious:”

One need not be from Appalachia to object to the fetishization of that impoverished region for the blithe consumption of faux Brooklyn frontiersmen and women.

On why one should never fetishize Appalachia:

The miserable condition of Appalachia, a region that runs from New York to Mississippi, is as raw a wound and as deep a shame as a decapitated strip-mined peak. Poor, poor and damned poor are the mountain people who still live there…I’m not cynical enough to believe [owner Montana Masback] knows the sorrowful history or despairing present of the mountains.

On what he was expecting to be served:

I’m not talking about squirrel or opossum, or the foodie version of the SNAP diet. Rather, a hopeful fellow might look forward to burgoo, a meaty Kentucky stew; chicken and dumplings, with either the traditional fluffy dumplings or sophisticated flat ones; shuck beans; spiced apple stack cake; pawpaw or even cornbread. Fucking cornbread, man.

Presented (again) without comment:

Fucking cornbread, man.

On the fried chicken:

A totally underwhelming fried chicken, leg and thigh both as greasy as a teenage boy’s T-zone, offered for $18.

On the rabbit terrine:

The gelatinous terrine was so poorly executed that it fell apart like a dysfunctional family of Thumpers, leaving chewy chunks of rabbit to wilt next to pickled white currants.

On why even though he liked some menu items, he’ll never touch them again:

…they are morally hazardous. You can’t be an innocent patron at this blank parody.

In conclusion:

Simply put, mere presence at Montana’s Trail House means you’re on the wrong path.

And there you have it.

Follow Nikita Richardson on Twitter @nikitarbk


  1. It bears saying and emphasizing that if Stein’s review is actually vitriolic then your coverage of similar venues is pornographic and your commentary is dissonant.


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