The Montage Big Sky opened in Big Sky this past December, just in time for the Christmas holiday and offers casual elegance to both those looking to stay as well as to dine. Their signature restaurant at the property is Cortina, which showcases the cuisine of Northern Italy. From the view point of a (seasonal) local, this was big news. Big Sky offers world-class skiing, but up until now there has not been an option for a world-class hotel. I was anxious to see if the Montage fit the bill. The first positive sign was the abundance of exceedingly friendly people working at the resort, everyone from the valets to the bartenders and waitstaff went above and beyond to ensure we felt welcome and cared for.
Over the course of the last six weeks we have visited the Montage four times for both drinks and meals, and the short answer is…it is very good. The Bar area has been buzzing each time we have been, both with guests at the hotel as well as locals enjoying the atmosphere. It is a perfect blend of Mountain/Modern, with no shortage of cozy spaces. At a time where it has been a challenge to find staff, the Montage seems to have found a great group committed to a high level of service. One aspect you can’t help but notice is the lofty prices for both food and drink. At this time it doesn’t seem to be deterring anyone, but they certainly make you stop and think. There is a small menu of bar snacks, including a tasty charcuterie board that can be enjoyed while sipping your expertly crafted favorite cocktail.
The Cortina dining room is expansive and definitely “fancy”. While most of the guests stick to casual dress, the white-coated waitstaff give off a sophisticated vibe. I keep coming back to the impressive staff, and this is indeed the highlight of Cortina. I am not sure whether this is a special team of Montage-staff who were flown in the for first few months of operation, or whether they will be here for the long- haul, but either way they are an exception to the usual laid-back Montana rule.
The menu at Cortina is very short and concise. As a GF Vegetarian my choices are limited (there is currently no GF pasta available, though there is Risotto). Over the course of my several visits we had a chance to taste a good portion of the menu amongst us, and some of the dishes are below. On my last dish they combined the buttery polenta with the roasted wild mushrooms for me, and that was very tasty. The salads were bright and fresh, and the pastas received unanimously positive reviews. Not pictured, but a big favorite was the Strozapretti with Short Rib Sugo- it was decadent and satisfying. The food overall is fresh and well-executed, but there is something missing for me. I definitely do not feel as though I have been transported to Northern Italy, but rather in a upscale hotel dining room giving it a good go of it- which I suppose is exactly the case! Following our meals, none of us ever had room for dessert, so while the dishes are not oversized, they are very rich. There is an extensive wine list, but they do allow you to bring your own wine for a corkage fee.
After dinner you may find you want to head downstairs to the adorable bowling alley. It is first come, first served and appears to be a popular attraction. We have not timed our visit right to be able to bowl, but we will keep trying.
All in all, Cortina (and the Montage) are a welcome addition to the Big Sky area. I have no doubt they will continue to be popular with both visitors and locals alike. If you go, be prepared to reserve dinner far in advance, they are currently completely booked for the next several weeks, but the bar is always a great place to stop by on the spur of the moment for an elevated drink experience. When you go, be sure to brace yourself for some sticker shock; while Cortina may not become your weekly dinner date, it is certainly worth a try. One of the few short-comings Montana has is the dearth of really good Italian restaurants, so the arrival of Cortina, while not amazing, is certainly welcome.