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Kibbee Nayee

Monty's Steakhouse, Owner Mandana Montazami and Chef Marco Camacho at Old Keene Mill Center in Springfield - Closed Jan 12, 2019

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Finally tried Montys Wednesday night after 26 hours with no power.  I was starving, husband had an upset stomach due to the heat.  I feel a bit nervous writing this post knowing that the owner will read it.

Positives: clean, spacious, courteous hostess, attentive wait staff.  Husband really liked his tuna tartare, with a ceviche like flavor from cilantro, diced peppers, and citrus.  We both really liked the asparagus and crab soup, a special, creamy, with quite a lot of crab.

Negatives: none, really.

Meh: I expected the shrimpcargot to be served in several smallish Portabellos, with tender flesh, that you could practically pop in your mouth.  Instead, one big Portobello, not all that tender, that had to be cut up with a knife and fork, and would not stay on the fork.  Dry aged ribeye cooked as requested (medium rare), with sauce which I did not request or want, and meat had no discernable marbling.  If you are trying to avoid dietary fat, as is probably the norm in Springfield, you'd probably appreciate that.  Asparagus nicely peeled and cooked, with nothing discernable as a sauce, not even butter.  Again, if you are trying to avoid dietary fat, you'd probably appreciate that.  Bread came with hummus, rather than butter.  Again, if you are trying to avoid dietary fat, etc.

Decent wine selection but $45 or so for a Catena Malbec.  I have no idea what a typical corkage fee is, though.

We took most of the steak and asparagus home, and I split the portions up for lunch yesterday and today, so had several days to contemplate the lack of fat in the steak and the lack of sauce on the asparagus.  Nothing wrong with it.  Nothing to make me want to go back, either.  We make steak and asparagus regularly, my husband is an excellent cook, so I am probably a tough sell and maybe should have tried something we don't make a lot at home.

It really is one of the best places in Springfield, but . . . .

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Hi Ilaine.
Thank you for trying Monty's. We appreciate all feedback--blogs, reviews, word-of-mouth or in person. Your's is among the best reviews I've read and we sincerely appreciate the honesty.

Meh, is perhaps the most difficult characterization of a review we can reply. I say this because it seems as though we may have fallen short in the quality control process of final plates.

You should expect from the Shrimp Cargot, for instance, a large Portabello mushroom with tender flesh, home to shrimp, sauteed in garlic butter & shallots and blanketed with Havarti horseradish cheese. From part of your description, the mushroom may have been overdone and should never have made it out of the kitchen. We will be sure to let the Chef & the servers know to avoid a repeat.

As for the Rib-eye, you should expect a high degree of marbleing on our steaks as they are all Upper Choice grade. The only thing that comes to mind of your description is that you may have been served one of the end-cuts which is known to have less marbling. We age, cut & trim our own steaks to ensure complete control on the final product. These end-cuts, along those from our NY Strips, are used to ground our own burger beef from which we hand craft patties. Again, it appears that the cut you were served should have been more carefully inspected before hand. 
All that said, we may never equal, or come close, to your husband's cooking, but we sure would be honored to hold a distant second spot. We would welcome the opportunity to serve the two of you again so that you get a better experience of your selections. Send us an email to guest@montyssteakhouse.com to arrange and I will make a point of being there to say hello.
Lastly, thank you again for the post. Insight such as yours allows us to prevent mistakes from recurring. 
Khash, Donna & Chef Marco

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Is it common for non-franchise steak houses to serve Choice grade cuts? This is not a topic I'm entirely familiar with as my experience with restaurants devoted to steak extend to Ray's and that's about it. I just kinda assumed a place like Monty's would be serving Prime grade. Sorry if I'm sounding at all negative, khashmon, as that isn't my intention at all. I'm merely curious as to what's SOP at places like Monty's or Ray's.

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What do you mean by "real prime"? I assume that's different from the prime cuts I buy from Costco.

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Is it common for non-franchise steak houses to serve Choice grade cuts? This is not a topic I'm entirely familiar with as my experience with restaurants devoted to steak extend to Ray's and that's about it. I just kinda assumed a place like Monty's would be serving Prime grade. Sorry if I'm sounding at all negative, khashmon, as that isn't my intention at all. I'm merely curious as to what's SOP at places like Monty's or Ray's.

High Choice is the norm. Real Prime is available to relatively few restaurants nationally.

What do you mean by "real prime"? I assume that's different from the prime cuts I buy from Costco.

Hi JSnake & Mark Slater,

JSnake, there are 4 categories of beef. Three are rated USDA: Prime, Choice or Select, while the lowest grade is not rated.

Starting with the lowest grade (or non-grade), they are found mostly in pre-pared "warm & serve" type boxed goods at the grocery stores and many inexpensive (i.e. Chinese or Indian) restaurants.

Moving up the chain, Select is the most common beef you might see at grocery stores' meat counter. Safeway Select, for instance, has changed its name & packaging to Rancher's Reserve to further disguise their USDA rating. They still may offer Choice, but with a substantial premium in price compared to their Select grades. These cuts hold true for most grocery stores.

Costco offers some nice Choice grade cuts, and may offer Prime as well.

Mark Slater: But, USDA grade alone does not provide adequate information as to which cut is better than another. Of course, marbling, fat trimming and other factors are important to the tenderness and appeal of steaks. But perhaps more important than Prime vs. Choice, however, is the age of the beef. Monty's serves free range beef between 9 to 16 months old.

Indeed, the age of the cow is often more important than its USDA grade. As a point of reference, the non-graded beef I outlined earlier in this post are typically from cows that have been artificially impregnated repeatedly for milk for many years, typically 5. They are then sold as beef once they are no longer useful for their dairy use.

As for the age old question of PRIME vs. CHOICE, we made a conscious decision early on to offer Upper Choice. Consider that each grade continues to have a sliding scale within its description. Prime at age 9 months, for instance, is likely far better tasting than Prime at the age of 3 years.

So, Monty's decision to use Choice with the other parameters set such as age, we believe, make Monty's a unique independent restaurant not only for the greater 22152 neighborhood, but for the entire DMV as well.

Of course, I'm a little biased. But in an honest way.

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By real prime, I was trying to explain that the kind of prime that Peter Lugar in Brooklyn gets is not available to most restaurants.

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Khashmon, re: shrimpcargot, here is the description of the dish cut and pasted from the menu:

Shrimpcargot

This mouth watering creation includes loads of shrimp sauteed in garlic butter and served on baby Portobello mushroom caps and melted Havarti & horseradish cheese.
 
Ok, one five inch mushroom cap is not baby mushroom caps.  Not just a quibble, it's a completely different thing than what was described.  May I suggest you either change the menu or change the dish?
 
Re: high choice meat.  I was enthralled by this discussion.  Who knew that there is such a thing as high choice?  Or "real" prime?
 
Truth be told, we really don't go to restaurants much, but when we do, we're looking for something we don't make at home, be it as mundane as kebabs or tamales, or as challenging as Szechuan or Izakaya.  Going out for steak is just not something we're likely to do.  We probably have steak every other week or so but at home. Other than last week, we haven't been out for steak in years.  But I appreciate the offer.  I have recommended you to several fellow dwellers in Burke and Springfield.
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By real prime, I was trying to explain that the kind of prime that Peter Lugar in Brooklyn gets is not available to most restaurants.

I'll move this into the Peter Luger thread, but I first wanted people active in this thread to see this interesting video. I don't know how much of it is Showmanship, and how much of it is Absolute Truth, but it's fun to watch regardless.

"How New York's Peter Luger" Chooses Its Steak" by Nick Solares on eater.com

(Khash, you might not realize Mark Slater has been working in the restaurant industry for decades - both of you know your steaks.)

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I'll move this into the Peter Luger thread, but I first wanted people active in this thread to see this interesting video. I don't know how much of it is Showmanship, and how much of it is Absolute Truth, but it's fun to watch regardless.

"How New York's Peter Luger" Chooses Its Steak" by Nick Solares on eater.com

(Khash, you might not realize Mark Slater has been working in the restaurant industry for decades - both of you know your steaks.)

By real prime, I was trying to explain that the kind of prime that Peter Lugar in Brooklyn gets is not available to most restaurants.

Thanks Mark. I understand and appreciate your comment. I didn't realize you are restaurant veteran. Would like to have the opportunity to meet you sometime. Thank you as well Don.

DON:  Please keep this video on this thread. It is an excellent piece.

The video speaks directly to the "sliding scale" reference I made in an earlier post. As Jody inspects the hind quarter, she goes on to reject one of the Short Loins"”although marked "USDA PRIME""”and points out that when the hind is split, it was done so unevenly and would cause a problem during dry-aging. Also, toward the end of the video, Jody points to the difference in two Filet Mignon cuts and the exceptional marbling in one, and the ho-hum, mediocre marbling in the other"”both USDA PRIME.

Although our process is not as elaborate as Peter Luger's, we face similar challenges at times.

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Khashmon, re: shrimpcargot, here is the description of the dish cut and pasted from the menu:

Shrimpcargot

This mouth watering creation includes loads of shrimp sauteed in garlic butter and served on baby Portobello mushroom caps and melted Havarti & horseradish cheese.
 
Ok, one five inch mushroom cap is not baby mushroom caps.  Not just a quibble, it's a completely different thing than what was described.  May I suggest you either change the menu or change the dish?
 
Re: high choice meat.  I was enthralled by this discussion.  Who knew that there is such a thing as high choice?  Or "real" prime?
 
Truth be told, we really don't go to restaurants much, but when we do, we're looking for something we don't make at home, be it as mundane as kebabs or tamales, or as challenging as Szechuan or Izakaya.  Going out for steak is just not something we're likely to do.  We probably have steak every other week or so but at home. Other than last week, we haven't been out for steak in years.  But I appreciate the offer.  I have recommended you to several fellow dwellers in Burke and Springfield.

You are absolutely correct. We started with "Baby" and converted to large Cap. The description is an oversight. I will speak to Chef Marco and go back to the original description.

Also, you are most kind, both, in your honest review & for referring people to Monty's. Our offer stands and we welcome you & your husband anytime to try one of Chef Marco's off-menu specials. In fact, next time you decide to dine out and have a craving for a specific dish, please let me know and we will make an effort to include it on our specials menu for the evening.

If you think this unusual, consider our philosophy; We exist because of our community AND some of the best ideas come from our supporters, not us.

Happy 4th!!

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I had lunch today at Monty's with a companion. The place was empty except for the two of us -- it's not really a lunch place after all. I asked the waiter, and he said they expect to do about 30 covers for the dinner service.

I had the fish sandwich for lunch, with sea bass. It was very good, but the sandwich construction doesn't work. It's impossible to pick up and eat as a sandwich, so it has to be disassembled and tackled with a fork and knife. So why bother offering it as a sandwich?

Companion had the burger and declared it quite good. I'm not sure there is a better burger in Springfield right now.

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Hi Kibbee Nayee.

We turned off our lights at West Springfield on Jan. 12, 2019. Thank you and everyone who helped Monty's serve our wonderful community for the past seven years. Our decision to close was not taken lightly but the business was no longer sustainable (for personal as well as professional reasons). We are working on Phase II and will keep you posted with our progress.

Once again, thank you, Don Rockwell, and the greater Springfield/Burke community and friends who supported us even before we officially opened in 2012.We will miss you greatly.

Khash, Donna, Chef Marco, and the Monty's Ambassadors.  

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