Come May 30, an awesomely rustic bungalow will be purveying “Appalachian east coast country food, and some black-magic inspired dishes” to the woodsmen (and -women) of Bushwick.
It took a year for Montana Masback (who’s done bartending stints at The Second Chance Saloon and The Anchored Inn) to turn a former auto repair shop into Montana’s Trail House.
The buildout was very much a labor of love. Montana (who got his name after his parents blindly pointed at a map) bought a barn in Kentucky and had its timber shipped to New York, then decorated the space with effects foraged from his home, as well as friends’ houses and garages and restaurants. A Budweiser light fixture came from a friend’s dad’s bar. The “murder-weapon” taps, which look kind of like Clue pieces, were welded together by Denis Bramley, another founder.
Various rooms tucked into unlikely places give the compact space a cozy yet expansive feel. The main bar area is known as The Tack Room (as in, where you leave your horse’s gear), while a smaller side room is The Roost. An office and a storage area are ingeniously built into the rafters, accessible by inbuilt ladders, and the toilets are like stalls in a saloon. There’s also an expansive outdoor patio area, lined with edible native plants, like a blueberry bush.
Montana and his dad worked together to build bookcases. “When you’re in a trail house you’ve got nothing else to distract you, so you just read a lot,” says Montana, who looks like he spends most of his time in the mountains. “There’s always a bookcase where you shed your weight, and pick up something else to read. It’s like a library in the middle of nowhere.”
One of the bookcases is actually a hidden door that leads out to another outdoor area — this one with a shed where the guys will be growing their own veggies.
Employing a from-scratch, nose-to-tail approach to food that he says is very Appalachian, partner Nate Courtland (who’s spent time in the kitchens of Fort Green’s iCi, Al Di La, Tia Pol and Union Square Café) will ferment his own apple cider vinegar in bourbon barrels, using a “mother” he originally got from the folks at Brooklyn Kombucha. This’ll be used in the bar’s switchels — a “traditional mountain soda” combining vinegar, ginger syrup and maple that was consumed by farmers in need of an energy boost.
All the cocktails— designed by partner Austin Hartman, was behind the bar at cocktail joint Hotel Delmano —are tailored to match the menu. The food itself, as described by Nate, is rustic, focused on preservation techniques and well-sourced ingredients. The small “Sweets” menu also looks tempting. And within a week of opening, the Trail House will be serving weekend brunch and offering late night nibbles until 3 a.m.
Check out the menus below.
Montana’s Trail House, 455 Troutman St., at St. Nicholas, Bushwick