We were also impressed by the large mural-like Ralston painting on the far-end wall of the dining room depicting Custer and Native Americans traveling in procession on horseback. Another Ralston painting, appropriately titled, “Sobering Up,” graces the wall in the stylish bar area and portrays a cowboy sitting on the ground, holding his head in a gesture of disbelief. According to Sparboe family history, Ralston stayed in the Grand Hotel, which was owned by the Sparboe brothers’ father, during the 1940s and 50s, and he painted in exchange for room and board at the Grand Hotel.
Also within the dining area is an above-ground wine cellar which has controlled humidity and temperature set at 54 degrees with the capacity to hold 2500 bottles of wine ranging from $16-$800/bottle. The wine list alone is an unbelievable and tempting 16 pages long consisting of wine from all over the Northwest, California, Australia, Italy, and France. The various menus are extensive and could be considered overwhelming if not for the amiable and knowledgeable advice of the experienced wait staff, who are more than happy to share with their eager and hungry customers. I knew that I wanted to try a glass of wine with my meal but had no clue what I would be eating for dinner yet, so I asked our server, Sedley, what she would recommend that would go with any of my potential choices. She advised me to try a sweeter white wine called “The Innocent”, which is a house wine available by the glass, and I soon discovered this to be an excellent recommendation. My dinner companion approached the cocktail menu with a similar sense of adventure and ordered first the Pomegranate Martini, followed by the Key Lime Pie Martini. After sampling these innovative and delicious cocktails, Robyn and I could fully understand why the Granary’s bartender was awarded the Billings Gazette’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Bartender this past year.
To start off our meal, we went with the choice of crispy spring rolls from the Appetizer portion of the dinner menu. Upon the first bite, the response from both Robyn and me was a mutual in-chorus and not so subtle: “These are awesome!” The sauce that accompanied the delicious and crispy spring rolls was a teriyaki that Sedley called “Dragon Sauce,” the perfect compliment for the blending of vegetables that offered just the right amount of sweet and spice to the appetizer. Following the completion of the spring rolls, we continued to savor the wine and share the scrumptious cocktails while we waited for the arrival of our main entrées, the evening’s Steak Special – a 16 oz. sirloin steak covered in bacon and blue cheese crumbles accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes and a side salad served with a strawberry vinaigrette – and the Thai Prawns – Thai glazed and grilled jumbo prawns leaning on sweet coconut sticky rice and a cucumber, roasted red pepper, and pickled ginger slaw.