Jen and I started the travel guide section of this site, Gulch Guides, as a way to let readers find our travel recommendations without having to read through all of our, well, mental wanderings on this blog. Lately, though, we've been sticking close to home and have been happy to find a lot of the good life right here. We are constantly adding to the Guides and I thought I'd cross-post some of the newest entries on what we consider the good life to be:
Detour Dessert Lounge (in Victoria)
Sometimes, only a late night slice of chocolate cake will do. Detour Dessert Lounge (14 Centennial Square / 250-298-8308) is an intimate place that serves not only delicious and moist cake but also a whole variety of other decadent treats. Combining a slice of cake (such as "the Lola", a chocolate cake layered with Bavarian icing and raspberry and topped with vanilla bean fudge) with a glass of wine or a beer while a live jazz band plays is a perfect way to slow down and really enjoy life. Detour has a large selection of vegan/vegetarian desserts and they have nicely balanced their menu to include sugar and gluten free items so that no one can use dietary restrictions as an excuse not to indulge.
In addition to desserts, they also have a small menu of regular food such as salads and nachos and they also serve good coffee. Most items are under $10. Detour is located in Victoria's Centennial Square and, despite the strip mall exterior, it has a sophisticated and hip feel on the inside and often features live music.
The Parrot Confectionery (in Helena)
The Parrot Confectionery (42 North Last Chance Gulch / 406-442-1470) first opened its doors in 1922 and has since reached near legendary status in Helena, across the state, and beyond for its handmade chocolates. The Parrot has been owned and operated by the same family since it opened and it feels like little has changed in this candy store/soda fountain/lunch café. There’s a jukebox, cozy booths, and a long counter behind which they serve up real soda fountain drinks like cherry phosphates and ice cream milkshakes.
The Parrot is most famous for their candy. They make over 120 different types of fine sweets and hand dipped chocolates, which they also ship worldwide. However, many locals go there for a different reason: they serve some of - if not the - best chili in town (it’s no sense asking, they keep the recipe secret). The Parrot is one of those types of special places that give a sense of permanence and stability that just doesn't normally exist in the modern world. So the next time it’s really cold and you’re feeling down, head to the Parrot and get a milkshake and bowl of chili, and the world will start to look pretty good again.
Sabri Naanwich (in Victoria)
Sometimes fusion food doesn’t have to be highbrow. Sabri Naanwich (1310 Douglas / 250-382-9668) combines the concepts of Indian food and sub sandwich shops in a way that works so well that one is left wondering why it isn’t more common. Sabri Naanwich is set up like many fast food style sandwich or wrap joints, only with an Indian flair: instead of bread, the whole thing starts with a warm piece of naan. Then, rather than deli meat as the main part of your sandwich, you get to pick from a number of different Indian-style dishes such as butter chicken, lamb and ginger, or garbanzo bean curry (at various spice levels). You then get to choose from an assortment of traditional sandwich pickings such as lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, and less traditional Indian condiments such as mango chutney or raita. The whole thing gets built before you and is served like a wrap. It is also delicious and cheap – most naandwiches range from $5 to $7 dollars.
Ordering a naanwich with butter chicken with jalapeños and mango chutney is a perfect combination of spicy and sweet and thus just might be in the running for the most perfect sandwich ever. Sabri’s advertises that naanwiches are fairly healthy - none of the meats are processed and there are many options for vegetarians and vegans. Be warned that the shop closes early - around 6pm - most nights.