New Montez Brothers restaurant has potential

<strong>NORTH LOGAN—</strong> It’s been less than a month since Hamilton’s Steak and Seafood officially tossed in the towel and was purchased by the Villapudua brothers – Carlos and Mundo. The brothers, who own restaurants in Tyler, Texas closed Hamilton’s for less than a week and reopened it with a Latin theme and name.

Montez Brothers is supposed to be the new improved Hamilton’s. The Villapudua brothers have restaurant experience, and they were originally involved with Justin Hamilton in starting Hamilton’s, so they know the area.

With that in mind, I decided to pay Montez Brothers a visit earlier this week and see how it stacked up. After spending an evening there with the family, my initial grade would be a B-.

First off, with the switch to a name like Montez Brothers and a Latin themed menu, I was expecting more of a Latin vibe to the restaurant. There was plenty of Latin music playing in the background, but that was the only noticeable change inside the restaurant. The décor looked pretty much the same, and the interior itself still reminded me of a large hunting lodge.

We were seated quickly, however, after that, things quickly went downhill. Our waiter seemed disinterested, spoke in a monotone voice, and had to be asked multiple times for water to accompany our drink orders. It may have been an off day for him, and other waiters and waitresses seemed much livelier when visiting other tables, but our interaction left us wanting more.

Eventually bread was brought out to our table – the same jalapeño and cranberry infused bread used by Hamilton’s – but it took about 10 minutes for that to arrive as well. However, all of these minor things were overlooked as we perused the menu.

The menu at Montez Brothers is relatively small, there is only one page of entrees to choose from, but there is a decent variety and some very interesting (and delicious) sounding options. I always judge a restaurant by its steak, so I ordered the Filet Mignon a la Frances ($24). My wife, meanwhile, opted for the Shrimp Primavera Pasta ($16).

I’ll start off with the shrimp pasta, which was a delightful dish and was very well done. One of my (and my wife’s) biggest pet peeves with bacon wrapped food is that the bacon is often undercooked and rubbery, but the bacon around the shrimp was well cooked, as was the shrimp itself. Overall, we both enjoyed this meal – as did our 15-month-old daughter – as we polished off the bowl.

Now on to the Filet Mignon.

In my opinion, there is nothing better than a great filet mignon. I always order mine medium rare, and that cut simply melts in your mouth. However, this filet mignon did not. The steak was well undercooked and pretty much cold throughout by the time it arrived at my table. Along with being undercooked, the steak itself wasn’t great as it was very chewy.

Accompanying the steak was a mixture of grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes, as well as a salad that covered nearly half the plate. I use the term salad loosely, as it was simply a mixture of lettuce with no dressing. The best part of the plate was the cognac cream reduction which was drizzled over the steak and also served as the gravy for the mashed potatoes.

Meanwhile, as we were eating our meals, our waiter was nowhere to be found. Our drinks eventually ran out, and sat empty for some time. I usually operate by this rule of thumb when out to eat. I start out with a $20 tip, and take off a dollar for every minute my drink sits empty on that table. Had I instituted that rule on this outing, there would have been no tip for our server.

He did eventually return, and inquired about our satisfaction with our meals. At this point I notified him of my displeasure with the steak. To make a long story short, he had the manager come visit with me and she quickly had another steak sent out. This time around, the steak was much, much better. I did ultimately leave satisfied with my steak, and since it was hot and properly cooked this time around, the cognac reduction sauce was even better. I’m generally one who enjoys his steak straight with no sauces – if it’s a good steak, it will speak for itself – but this sauce was definitely worth breaking that rule.

Finally, to finish things off, we ordered dessert. The desserts range in price from $4-$8, and we settled on the Crème Brulee ($8). I split it with my wife and daughter, so the portion size was a little small for the three of us, but the fact that it left me wanting more is probably a good sign. It was very good, and left a positive spin on the evening.

Overall, though my personal experience had some hiccups, I would recommend giving Montez Brothers a try. The manager on hand worked very hard to make sure our experience ended positively, and she even waived the dessert on our final bill, saving us some money. The restaurant has a ways to go if it wants to be a draw for more than special occasions and avoid the fate of Hamilton’s, but there are enough positives that it deserves a chance to meet its potential.

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