Even though it’s nestled at the base of one of the most recognizable buttes in Montana, not many people know about the Square Butte Country Club. Its tattered exterior feels a little more than rustic; many will pass it by without taking the steps into its charming little story.
I, too, was skeptical. My friend from Las Vegas actually found the place during a visit to Montana and took me there for my birthday dinner. I remember saying, “Fine. I’ll go. Twist my arm.” For just under $15.00 (including beverage) we got a meal that was transcendent simply because it was served in this “space.” We were treated to a delightful smoked salmon, risotto, and a salad made with fruits I could not name and had never tasted — and, there were OVER 14 other items on the buffet that were considered the “side salads.”
I don’t exaggerate when I say the food is as good as the culinary masterpieces with high end ingredients one might find in a Country Club on the east coast; that’s where it got its start. Owner Amy Wentz and son, natives of Pennsylvania, purchased the bar and restaurant in 2008. It was purchased with the original name of “Coyote Nowhere,” but they changed the name to “Square Butte Country Club.” Their move to Montana was precipitated by a desire to slow down and concentrate on what they loved – cooking for people, showing people new foods and tastes, and living a simpler life. Amy’s family had taken her to eat at Coyote Nowhere as a child while visiting Montana and the “place” just stayed with her. Wentz’s training as a chef has made the menu more than most people bargain for in the middle of frontier Montana.
Square Butte Country Club juts poetically out of the base of the Highwood Mountains (and Square Butte) nearby. The population of the tiny town is just around 20, and nearly every local has a personalized portrait hanging on the wall of the bar. The portraits are created by Phyllis Dickson who grew up on the nearby Four Sisters Ranch. An artist in her 80’s with no formal art training, Phyllis spends half of her year in Arizona and half at home in Square Butte. The octogenarian supplies the bar with her work free of charge. Otherwise, she says, it would feel too much like work.
This enchanting little country club provides an authentic backdrop of cowboy country in rural Montana. Black, well-worn bar stools line the bar. Your knees press against a sign underneath the bar that’s made completely of barn wood and reads “Butte.” The seating area is a conglomeration of small, mismatched tables and chairs, and the buffet waits modestly in a corner of the room up a little slope (which I imagine is unintentional, a symptom of the aged and tilted building). Pure in its authenticity, this “take us as we are” environment somehow feels eclectic. The Square Butte Country Club is delightful, and the whimsy of the place is worth going back for time and time again.
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