Upon entering the Last Chance Cider Mill and Pub, my senses immediately took over.
The smell of crisp apples tickled my nose the moment I walked through the doors, but was quickly overcome by the tantalizing scent of whatever artisanal delicacies were being prepared for other guests.
The fully renovated ‘rustic modern meets vintage’ vibe tugged my eyes in all directions, taking in the 12 foot ceilings, the restored German style floor-to-ceiling fireplace, the original pained glass windows, the hard wood floors, and the dynamic seating offered throughout the dining room. Individual private dining spaces sit opposite a bar stretching across much of the space, while cozy couches and tables speckle the remaining area.
The proprietors themselves, Tanner and Jason, note their goal to create shared experiences while juxtaposing the modern with century old architecture. And, they bring the operation to life by putting it on display for their guests.
An open kitchen operates on the west side of the building while the Cider Mill is on display to the north. To the east a door separates the finished space from the rest of the warehouse, planned for a major expansion of the facility in the coming year. Finally, the incredible windows face south along historic Montana Avenue.
Our staff arrived for a holiday gathering and was treated to a personal tour from the General Manager, Tanner. Walking back to the cider preparation area, the thick smell of apples returned. Tanner showed us the way the cider is made and talked through the careful sourcing of apples from both local orchards (out of Red Lodge) as well as regional orchards (out of Michigan). My favorite stop of the tour was in the refrigeration unit where thousands and thousands of apples waited to be turned to cider. Their smell enveloped me and made me eager to try the final product.
We settled in to our table and did just that. Though I love apples, I don’t normally care for cider – it’s generally too sweet for me. However, I ordered a flight sampler including two ciders and two porter beers and was pleasantly surprised to find I loved the two ciders! Their careful milling results in a tart, almost wine-like taste with a gentle sweetness that left we wanting more. Paired with the incredible tapas – sweet potato jo-jo’s with a blackstrap molasses and vanilla crème fraiche, an apple juice braised pork belly, and a fantastic preservation showcasing artisan meats and accoutrements – and I was tempted to spend the entire evening at the Last Chance Cider Mill and Pub.
The food, the drink and the atmosphere were perfectly balanced and well-priced. I look forward to returning soon. www.lastchancecider.com