Images of the West: A Daily Reminder

Cowboy artist Elling William Gollings painted the vanishing West


Western Design: The Idaho Club

Reinventing the idea of luxury living

Built in 1879, The Old Hotel was originally the Twin Bridges Hotel; the classic three-story building is a timeless landmark in the western Montana town.

Dining Out: The Old Hotel

Twin Bridges, Montana, has a culinary treasure that every savvy angler should know about

Written by Seabring Davis  

Seabring Davis

Other Contributions

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 Good Country Authentically Western A Home for the Ages 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: 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: Staying Power
Photography by Audrey Hall  
March 2010

On the kitchen shelf of The Old Hotel are cookbooks from around the world. There are several books on chocolate, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese and Mediterranean cuisines and, the most apt for the cooking style of owners Paula and Bill Kinoshita, the tome How to Cook Everything. Both chefs, Paula and Bill, use the cookbooks as inspiration for the eclectic bill of fare served at their restaurant in Twin Bridges, Mont.

The Old Hotel, built in 1879, remains a cornerstone of this tiny farming town with a population just under 500, notable to fly anglers as the juncture where the Ruby and Big Hole rivers join with the Beaverhead to form the Jefferson River. The three-story brick building was restored by the previous owner, Jane Waldie, in 1996 and was converted to a bed and breakfast; although even then it made its mark with a restaurant that drew visitors and locals from the surrounding country.

Paula and Bill like to say that The Old Hotel found them. After vacationing in Montana several times, the newly married couple was ready for an adventure away from Hawaii. Six years ago, they placed ads in local papers looking for job opportunities. Jane Waldie answered the ad and Paula soon began cooking at The Old Hotel. As a trained mechanic, Bill worked at an adventure motor sport shop in Dillon, and postponed school once they bought The Old Hotel.

After a few years, the Kinoshitas took a chance and bought the place from Waldie. They continued her tradition of preparing fresh, homemade cuisine, while adding a little Pacific Rim and world flavor to it. They brought their aloha spirit with them, which translates to love in every dish.

The menu changes weekly — at any given time there can be offerings that range from Le Cordon Bleu classics, including prosciutto and chicken Wellington; grilled rib eye steak with Hollandaise or black coffee BBQ sauce; Korean pork wontons; Italian style crepes. They use local ingredients whenever possible, make every sauce from scratch and don’t hesitate when it comes to combining flavors or cultures.

“It’s a little bit of us, it’s a little bit of Montana — it’s The Old Hotel,” says chef Paula as she describes the food at this off-the-beaten-path eatery.

Like a breath of fresh air, the Kinoshitas bring their own brand of cooking to tiny Twin Bridges. In Hawaii Paula trained in the culinary arts at Kapiolani Community College. Bill had a lifelong dream of being a chef, and worked his way through every facet of a real-world kitchen in a variety of restaurants. Together they share a vision of exotic flavors that are approachable and hearty.

“Our menu is an opportunity to experiment and expose people to new flavors,” Paula explains. Energetic and friendly, Paula is markedly hip wearing a black chef’s coat, Doc Martens and wearing her dark hair in a smart short cut. Her smile is disarming and her love of food is contagious. She and Bill share the duties when it comes to recipe development, kitchen prep and overall cooking. They share every aspect of the business and quite simply love what they do.A perfect example of The Old Hotel’s experimental approach shines with a signature dish (regulars ask for it when they call for reservations): Cowboy Sushi. It’s a fusion of West-meets-East, a classic nigiri roll filled with rice, thinly sliced vegetables and Bill’s own barbecue beef in place of raw fish; then the roll is dipped in a light tempura batter, fried and served with a red chili aioli instead of wasabi and soy sauce. The result is a delectable explosion of sweet, savory, crunchy and soft; it’s the solution to the sad fact that sushi-grade fish is hard to come by in Montana.

Paula cautions that the exotic spices and sauces may sound intimidating to the uninitiated, but there are plenty of dishes for folks with a simpler palate, too. A classic Sunday brunch is popular and the main dinner menu offers a rotation of filet mignon, braised buffalo, chicken, lamb and seasonal fish with broad appeal. The carefully selected wine list features vintages from around the world and also close by, from California, Oregon and Washington. Paula has a working knowledge of wine and food pairing for customers who may wonder how to choose a wine that matches some of the more unusual dishes on the menu.

Walking into the restaurant feels comfortable and homey. The warm colored walls, old hardwood floors, double-hung windows and smattering of antiques offer a blend of folksy, country charm that is ultimately welcoming. With not more than 10 tables, the space is cozy and the service is always personable. Upstairs, two guest rooms are available for overnight stays. Though the accommodations are plain, the best amenities are the breakfast that’s included and the company of the gracious hosts and their sidekick pup, Tommy.

To dine at The Old Hotel is to become a friend of the Kinoshitas. The affable couple’s passion for their industry and exuberance for Montana is intoxicating. Regular customers often enter through the kitchen door and chat before taking a seat in the dining room. Paula and Bill live on the third floor, so more than one visit here quickly feels like dropping in on old friends.

“I enjoy preparing and serving good food as well as having that food be an extension and reflection about me, and the creative aspect that food lets me express,” says Bill. “There is a certain personal satisfaction I get when people enjoy our food, not only with taste but visually. I love it when people say that something we have prepared is the best they have ever eaten, or that a particular plating design is visually beautiful. I guess I just enjoy making people happy through food.”

Open year-round, The Old Hotel is a favorite for fisherman who cast out on the Big Hole, the Ruby or the Jefferson. But whether or not the fishing is on, any given night folks from Bozeman, Missoula, Big Sky, Dillon and Livingston come to eat. It’s worth the drive. The guarantee is that you won’t leave hungry and you just might talk Bill into giving you the recipe for his Cowboy Sushi.

Moroccan Grilled Rack of Lamb

Serves 4

Marinade Ingredients:
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

4 - 8 to 10 ounce racks of lamb, cleaned

Pulse onion in food processor until coarsely ground. Add spices and olive oil and pulse to combine. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. Rub mixture on lamb racks and marinate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.

Sauce Ingredients:
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, small diced
1 tsp. fresh garlic, finely minced
4 medium Roma tomatoes, peeled, deseeded,
and small diced
1 T. Moroccan Harissa paste
(More or less to taste — it can be spicy!)
½ tsp. granulated sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-sized sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until slightly translucent but not browned — approximately 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, tomatoes, Harissa, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer for approximately 20 minutes. When sauce is reduced, season with salt and pepper and reserve for meat.

The Old Hotel restaurant and rooms are synonymous to seasoned anglers who make Twin Bridges a base camp for fishing trips.

The Old Hotel restaurant and rooms are synonymous to seasoned anglers who make Twin Bridges a base camp for fishing trips.

The dining room at The Old Hotel is warm, inviting and the kitchen is open to guests that want to look in on their favorite chefs.

Cowboy Sushi is a signature dish in the restaurant at The Old Hotel.

Moroccan Grilled Rack of Lamboccan Grilled