Feast Raw Bar & Bistro
Feast Raw Bar & Bistro on West Kagy in Bozeman is serving up seafood dishes, unique entrees, and delicious appetizers in an aesthetically pleasing environment. Seafood is hard to come by in Bozeman, but Feast is here to fill the need with dishes like ceviche, shellfish feast, blue crab claw salad, catch of the day, raw oysters, crabcakes, scallops, lobster and grits, and steamed mussels. The bistro has menu items for those looking for tasty eats outside of the seafood realm, like oxtail broth, steak frites, black sesame udon noodles, and bison tenderloin. Delicious desserts like vanilla panna cotta, chocolate torte, chocolate mousse, and carrot-parsnip cake round out the menu for a perfect finish to your night out.
The bistro is decorated with a plethora of bookshelves, housing books on a wide range of topics, old typewriters, and other eclectic items, adding to its distinctive style.
I sat down with Feast Raw Bar & Bistro’s owner, Steve Kuntz, to talk about the inception of the restaurant, his favorite menu items, and why he enjoys being a part of the Bozeman community.
Taylor Owens: How was Feast conceptualized?
Steve Kuntz: My business partners and I had been working in this industry in the valley for years, and had really seen a need for this. We wanted to open our own place, and we had lots of ideas and just kind of surveyed the area and called out seafood as being one of the main items you just couldn’t find many places — certainly not a restaurant focused on it. I had been working with the Montana Fish Company with wholesale fish sales for a few years and had really gotten to know what happened in the valley in terms of access to Hawaiian fish or Alaskan fish or, you know, just all the varieties of really fresh fish that we were getting into this tiny little town. I said, “Let’s do this. We can make it happen.” And it’s interesting how, when we started, we had probably two seafood dishes. We were calling ourselves a seafood restaurant and, now, eight years later, our menu has probably ten seafood dishes; we still have other types of meats and entrees that people expect. We’ve really grown the seafood portion and it’s awesome to see that original thought moving into acceptance in the community, and really being a demanded product.
TO: What would you like people to experience when they walk through your doors?
SK: One of the things we love about the restaurant is that we’ve worked with a designer, Abby Hetherington Interiors, with the idea of setting ourselves apart just by the design. Just by the initial glimpse inside the door. Does it transport you? I felt like there was a kind of standard Montanan restaurant decor. We just wanted something that had a little different twist with that. One of the things I love is when people will comment right away when they walk in. “Oh, this is different,” or “this is unique.” I likened it to that aspect of when you see someone cares for design or has intention in what they’re doing; you trust the rest of their business. We always felt like there’s an implicit kind of connection we make with our customers by just the first two steps inside the door and kind of getting this, “Oh, what else is here?” It’s inviting and it was really well done. So I love that. That aspect of our hospitality, it starts right away with the, “Oh, where are we?” and “Are we in a city?” It’s kind of this different feel.
TO: What do regulars keep coming back for?
SK: We have a few menu items that have been on for years. We would never be able to change it without an uproar. The catch of the day, which is a variety of different fish. Usually, it’s a white flaky fish, like snapper from Hawaii or the Pacific Ocean, paired with a sticky rice, jasmine rice, a coconut curry, and a mango salsa. We started that dish as a special and it quickly became a menu item and has been one of the top sellers for probably four years now. We also have an oxtail broth, a pho-style dish that’s been on the menu from the very beginning. You just feel really good when you eat it, and you know how long winters are around here. It’s nice to have something you can eat that’s sustaining in that way. I talk to people all the time who are kind of embarrassed to admit that they got the oxtail again. They’re like, “I’ll branch out.” But not many times. And this lady I’m referencing, basically the only thing she’ll ever branch out for is the catch of the day.
TO: What is your personal favorite menu item?
SK: My favorite menu item rotates. It’s usually only on the weekends. It’s our sashimi day. I love that menu item because it has so much room for creativity. We get to play with it every week. We try and do different things, from really traditional Japanese-style preparations to anything we can come up with Indian, Southeast Asian, or Mediterranean styles. It’s fun to just play with flavors. My favorite item on the menu right now is one we just introduced. It’s a mushroom crab cake, but it’s made with Lion’s Mane mushrooms. So we have a completely vegan dish that incorporates local quinoa, chickpeas, and lentils. The Lion’s Mane mushroom cakes have a few delicious sauces. It’s like this really fun, flavorful dish. I love supporting local producers of anything. And the guys at SporAttic, if you know that company, are doing amazing things with just growing mushrooms in their barns; the product quality is pretty impressive. We just really enjoy working with them. So that’s my favorite new menu item.
TO: Do you have a favorite drink or cocktail?
SK: So it’s gotta be, honestly, one of the classics. One of our cocktails was developed early on. Because we’re only beer and wine, it’s a little bit different to play with. So we developed this really fresh, citrus-forward cocktail called The Cutthroat that is lemon, lime, and orange juice. We have infused sake that we put into it, as well as a little bit of an infused wine. That is one of my favorite drinks on the menu.
TO: What would you say makes you unique in the local food scene?
SK: One of the things I think is really important for us is, again, utilizing local products. So you can dance all over our menu and find different people we work with from the area, such as Gallatin Valley Botanical, and Strike Farms. We buy from a lot of different small producers. Chance Farm is reopening this year, so we’ll get some stuff from them. Dairy, goat cheese. I don’t wanna say all of our meats because it’s not, you know, across the board that way. We definitely work with different proteins from New Zealand, different proteins from other parts of the U.S. and Canada. We have burger that is ground beef from Montana and locally sourced New York steaks for our steak frites dish. We really like to have that as a main part of our program, because we’re driving that dollar back into our own community. The studies are super powerful in terms of what businesses that support their friends and neighbors can generate in terms of the community. And one of the things I love about Bozeman is we do that so well. So many different little businesses work together and cross pollinate and support each other. I feel like that just makes us a vibrant community.
TO: What do you personally enjoy about being part of the greater Bozeman community?
SK: I love the access to the outdoors here. We’re big hikers and bikers in the summer, and skiers in the winter. It’s such a joy to me that we are lucky, I think, to work in an industry where alternative lifestyles are accepted. People understand when you say, “You know what, yeah, actually I work so that I can ski,” or whatever it is. We appreciate that there are people out there just living their life, and that’s the most important thing. I love that when my employees ask, “Actually, can I go down to four days a week? I need to be doing big hikes all summer long.” I’m like, “Yeah, absolutely.” That’s just because it leads to a happy, healthy employee, and that’s always a benefit to us. It’s what I’ve envisioned for myself, too. I think a big part of this town has that ‘seize the day’ kind of idea behind what their lifestyle looks like. I appreciate it.
TO: Do you have anything coming up that you would like readers to know about?
SK: Absolutely. We’ve been working to get an outdoor seating area for a while now, and we are gonna be opening our patio to big fanfare this spring when the weather permits, probably mid-May. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been talking about it for a long time; getting the approvals and the plan, and getting the money together to move forward with it was like, “Yeah, we’re ready.” It’s been pretty exciting. Every year our summers are so gorgeous and I answer the phone all day long: ‘Do you have any outside seating?’ “Sorry, no.” We’ll be doing first come, first serve, no reservations on the deck. So I love that, too, because I anticipated to just drive early evening business, which is always a benefit to the restaurants.
Check out Feast Raw Bar & Bistro for your next night out in Bozeman this summer.