Back 40: A Stone For You

With love, from the Kootenai River, Montana


Arts 2013 Round Up

Events, reviews and news from around the Northern Rockies

Clyde Park's Double T River Ranch restored an 1880's barn to be a clubhouse for entertaining.

Dining Out: Barn Dance

Gathering with family and friends at Montana’s Double T River Ranch is an indoor-outdoor affair

Written by Seabring Davis  

Seabring Davis

Other Contributions

Good Country Authentically Western A Home for the Ages Where the Living is Easy Music in the Mountains The Flight of the Hummingbird Living the Dream Integrating Nature Mountain Exposure Eclectic Parkitecture Uniting Color Historic Symmetry The Year Of The Horse A Yellowstone Club Retreat Hearth and Soul Building a Timeless Legacy An Uncommon Cabin in the Woods Timeless Fusion Mountain Tradition A Modern Vision Summer Camp Perfect Harmony Winter Getaway: Red Lodge, Montana Beyond the Cabin A Fine Balance Letter from the Editor: What is art? Dining Out: Holland Lake Lodge, Rustic Wonderful Letter from the Editor: The Secret Weapon Letter from the Editor: Fly Fishing for the Greater Good Western Design: Mountain Zen Western Design: Creekside Contemporary Living Big Sky on HGTV The Spirit of the West in Jackson, Wyoming Letter from the Editor: First Snow Dining Out: The Old Hotel Letter from the Editor: Signs of Summer Letter from the Editor: The Angler’s Sojourn Dining Out: Simply Good Food From the Editor: Hit the Road Making a Statement: Miller Architects Letter from the Editor: Winter’s Toll Letter from the Editor: Evolving Home Dining Out: Comfort Food Western Design: Cowboy Modern Western Design: The Idaho Club Letter from the Editor: Talking Art Dining Out: Conserving Montana One Table at a Time Dining Out: Cosmopolitan Cuisine at TEN Dining Out: Ranch to Restaurant Letter from the Editor: Waiting for Summer Letter from the Editor: Arts Economy Letter from the Editor: First Frost Letter from the Editor: Why Art? Letter from the Editor: Up Close and Personal Letter from the Editor: A Tradition of Talent Letter from the Editor: Winter Reflection Dining Out: The Taste of Whitefish Letter from the Editor: How Big is Your Bucket Letter from the Editor: Falling Short Western Design: Rustic Allure Dining Out: Fish Food Western Design: In the Studio with Painter Hugh Wilson Western Design: Home Base From the Editor Dining Out: Tradition, with a Twist Letter from the Editor: I Know Where the Fish Are Letter from the Editor: Big Sky Country Letter from the Editor: Forging Ahead Dining Out: Barn Dance Letter from the Editor: Like an Open Road Letter from the Editor: The Language of Fishing Letter from the Editor: Cast Again Editor’s Letter: The Passing Season Dining Out: Saffron Table Dining Out: Lone Mountain Ranch Serves Up a Sense of Place Western Design: Uniquely Rustic Western Design: JLF & Associates Letter from the Editor: Season of Possibility Dining Out: A Montana Tradition, Chico Hot Springs Letter from the Editor: Design Trends Dining Out: The Ranch at Rock Creek Redefines Montana Cuisine Dining Out: Seasonal Bliss Western Design: Refined Rustic Letter from the Editor: Winter Wave Letter from the Editor: Blending Seasons Western Design: A New Mountain Lodge Western Design: Historic Haven Western Design: In the Studio with the Viers Western Focus: Classic Connection: Miller Architects Western Design: Reviving the Barn From the Editor: Seasons of Simplicity Dining Out: Innovation Meets Tradition at Bisl Letter from the Editor: Staying Power
Photography by Audrey Hall  
August 2009

Entertaining at the Double T River Ranch does not include a cattle drive or rodeo. It’s not about the cowboy way or roughing it. It’s about being a good neighbor and relaxing in the quiet country along the banks of the Shields River.

For owner Addie Foster that means casual comfort.

“This is the kind of place that you have to take time to experience,” muses Foster. “Sit in the hammock, bring the kids, bring the dogs, walk by the river.”

When Foster hosts a get-together, it centers around good food, good company and the “party barn.”

This is a New West ranch party. The 1880s barn no longer houses dairy cows and hay, but a respectfully renovated modern rendition of a clubhouse with a sizable dining room, commercial kitchen where the stalls once were and a gathering place for games and movies in the old loft. The music isn’t a group of old time fiddlers, but a rockin’ trio that rolls out folksy tunes alternated with throaty blues songs. The guests don’t play horseshoes, but Bacci ball and the only mule on this homestead is the Montana Mule cocktail served on the rocks in Optical crystalware with ginger beer, whiskey, lime and crushed mint.

What is the same, however, is the simplicity of gathering with friends on a fine summer’s evening when the sun hovers high, the grass is long and green, the drinks are cold and dinner is hot.

To pull it off, Addie, husband Mitch Miller and their business partner Deborah Neuman, call on professional chef Sarah Knecht to whip up the grub. Yet the barn dance menu doesn’t include the usual BBQ ribs or burgers and corn of the cob, but adventuresome gourmet fare instead. Themes of ranch, barn and outdoors didn’t hinder the sophistication of Knecht’s food. Reinventing hearty classics, she served a wonderfully varied assortment that ranged from lamb chops to shrimp shooters, handmade ravioli to crab “cigars.”

Although Knecht is a private chef in Montana, her food is influenced by worldly flavors and her grandma’s good old fashioned cooking. That sounds contradictory, but what it translates to is a fearless approach to anything from Asian to Tuscan recipes prepared with heightened attention to quality ingredients and a lot of love.

“I love elaborate cuisine,” says Knecht, who works with small to medium-sized groups for single-day events or weeklong gigs from her home base in Livingston. “Every menu is customized to the tastes of the individual client.”

Knecht’s eclectic style works well in the easy-going setting at the Double T, where guests flow from the barn dining room to the patio overlooking the river to the west.

When Foster and her partners found this 115-acre farmstead on the edge of Clyde Park, they saw an opportunity to restore the barn and salvage the nostalgic mood of this property’s bucolic charm. The idea was to create a getaway that was family friendly, unusually private, yet accessible for fishing, skiing, hiking, hunting and adventuring into Yellowstone.

Building on their investment, Mitch worked as the general contractor to convert the traditional barn into a gathering place for guests who now rent the small farmhouse, studio and cabins for an uncommon experience in Montana. The end result is a unique property that seems like your place. The partners have worked to anticipate every guest’s needs, from concierge service to plush towels to canoes for the pond. When guests come to stay at the Double T River Ranch, they recommend Knecht and other local chefs to help with food preparation and events in this venue.

When the property isn’t rented, however, Foster, Mitchell and Neuman seize the opportunity to share it with friends. Come on over, they say. Drive down the old country lane, across the railroad tracks, past the towering grain elevators until you see the picket fence next to the house. Look for the barn; that’s where the party is happening.

The dining room of the party barn is a combination of rustic and contemporary style.

Bottom: Chef Sarah Knecht reinvents hearty classics for the dance.

Entertaining at the Double T is about being a good neighbor and relaxing in the country, from Wagon rides to bocci ball, it's a New West kind of party.