Local Kitchen: Good Food, Better Business

Local Kitchen - Billings, Montana

Billings’ executive chef Travis Stimpson is redefining local at his new gastropub, Local Kitchen and Bar. Situated just east of the Shiloh Road and Grand Avenue roundabout, and inside the Country Manor Plaza, is an intimate gathering space creating its own brand. The eatery serves up locally sourced food, and benefits the community by subsidizing employees for ten hours of local charity work each year, as well as making a monthly donation from a day’s proceeds.

Local Kitchen - Billings, Montana

Photography by Lynn Donaldson

Decorated in a “modern wrangler” motif, the restaurant’s name is burned into a rough-sawn reclaimed paneled façade. The interior, with black concrete topped tables flanked by heavy metal chairs on polished concrete floors, recalls the hardy pioneers of Montana’s Trailhead. Rustic glass-filament chandeliers dangle from the ceiling. A high top bar with a handful of seats provides for front row seating into the open kitchen. Light floods the room, seating 36, through the tall east and south facing windows, while providing a view of the diners sitting on the patio outside. The walls are covered with the Fleur collection of painted poppies by local artist Chance Robertson, bringing an red-orange glow to the room, reminiscent of campfires and the rise and set of the sun.

Local Kitchen - Billings, Montana

“Delicious cuisine, exotic flavors, and ingredients specific to Montana, but under utilized,” as described by their website, are found here at Local. Lamb shank, strip loin, and a burger may sound ordinary, but the shank is served with onion rings, the New York strip loin with blue cheese mashed potatoes, and the burger adorned with whipped cheese. According to Chef Stimpson, this creamy delight is freshly prepared with whipped cream and melted cheese, gently folded together – not your typical cheez whiz in a can.

Local Kitchen - Billings, Montana

On the menu, “SWEETBREADS” with baked hen of the woods mushrooms, and “BISON HASH” with bison sausage with a confetti of candied red peppers are juxtaposed with “VEGETARIAN SALISBURY” made with mushrooms and accompanied with fried cheese ravioli, and “HAM AND EGGS PIE” – a wood-fired pizza with broccolini, prosciutto, Tallegio cheese and baked eggs. Stimpson says there are specific menus for those with special diets.

Owner John Heenan is a “pesca vegetarian,” according to Stimpson. “I wanted to make our menu approachable.” When he was designing his food offerings he says, “I did not want him (Heenan) to feel like he was missing out.” He continues, “A lot of people try to copycat what is already out there. Local, being a community restaurant, should be somewhere you can come in your golf clothes or jeans. But, if you are out on a date, I have stepped up my pub style food.”

This is not Chef Stimpson’s first cooking rodeo – he’s worked at Walkers American Grill and Tapas Bar under Daniel Roberts, later at Cafe Italia, and most recently served as Lilac’s Sous Chef under Jeremy Engebretson. Stimpson’s take on the opening: “Everything flowed beautifully. I am used to openings, and expected stumbling blocks, hiccups and bumps.” Everything went well, and now, almost three weeks out from the opening, things continue to run smoothly. For the diner, perhaps the only hitch is securing a seat on a Friday or Saturday night. Reservations are suggested.

Local Kitchen - Billings, Montana

For years now, Stimpson has been talking about heading up a restaurant. He finally has a chance to make a lasting impression at Local Kitchen and Bar.

Local Kitchen and Bar
1430 Country Manor Blvd
Billings, Montana 59102
406-534-8601

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