A Progressive Downtown Dinner

Restaurant hoping is a fun way to shake up the traditional dining experience

Everything old is new again, yes? 

Following a popular trend in the United Kingdom, the idea of “safari supper” or the more western phrase, “progressive dinner,” is a dinner party with successive courses prepared and consumed at the residences of different hosts. Typically, the traveling dinner party will enjoy one course at each location.

It was an ideal evening to pursue this plan by way of restaurants so the team at Missoula Valley Lifestyle set out on foot in downtown Missoula for a full dining experience at a few locations. 

The menus were hemmed and hawed over, each of us pointing a finger at clever drink names and surprising appetizer pairings. The meals themselves were works of art—decadent and deliciously divine. And dessert, oh how the stomach expands with sugary words and waffle cones to boot. 

Walking between meals brought back memories of school field trips, crossing the street with anticipation and energy, and each full glass was another reason to cheers. In the end we found that maybe life’s big moments are hardly moments at all but rather similar to that of the dining experience—a consistent conversation of warmth, flavor, and emotion. 

Go on, dig in. 

The First Sip & Bite

The Top Hat Restaurant and Bar is not bar food. In fact, its menu is quite distinguished and it just might have the secret to dressing up chicken and waffles. The setting is classy, sophisticated, and dramatic. If you’re planning on a greasy bite before catching a great band on the venue's in-house stage, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise with its locally sourced comfort food and healthy dishes. The kitchen creates scratch made pasta dishes and it partner with local businesses for fresh ingredients. All the better? You can have drinks, appetizers, or dinner and a show!

What we ordered: Smoked Kimchi Fries, Chicken & Waffles (with maple rosemary butter? Come on!), and Sautéd Brussels Sprouts.

Top Hat Restaurant & Bar

134 W Front Street


Visit to snatch tickets to an upcoming show!

The Main Attraction

1889 is the main attraction within the new Mercantile Building on Higgins, perfectly situated on a busy corner with walls of windows to let the streets of Missoula serve as the atmosphere. The interior is modern and industrial with nods to Missoula’s yesteryear. The cuisine? Classic American steakhouse with French influence.

We took a seat at the corner table nearest to the street and salivated over the menu items, all of which were simple yet bold, pairing ingredients that would be an absolute risk in the domestic kitchen. But executive chef Mark LeFebvre is confident about this tailored list of options. 

"It's exciting to run a kitchen in a place where you can work so closely with the seasons. And if Montanans get excited about anything, it's things that are grown in this amazing state," said Mark. 

1889's doors were newly open to the public at our time of dining and we were lucky to have Mark visit our table several times throughout our meal, taking pride in his position within our city, considering his long, impressive list of previous ventures. One could tell he was right at home in the Garden City with its bountiful resources. 

"When your focus is high quality ingredients and exceptional service, it frees the guests to enjoy what we are presenting and, more importantly, each other," said Mark. And that sentiment was the theme of our evening as an editorial family—being together, filling ourselves with food and conversation. 

Just as we entertained the thought about setting our napkins down and retreating to the streets in search of our dessert destination, a well-dressed dessert for another table floated by in a waiter's hands. Our jaws hung open and we looked to one another for approval in breaking what we assumed to be a progressive dinner rule. Lucky for us, there are no rules in dining. So dessert it is. Explosive flavor, decadent dessert, and a lick-the-plate finish. Have yourself a try. 

What we ordered:

Drinks: Dark & Stormy on Draft, Kootenai Collins, Crank Start, Old Fashioned. 

Dinner: Prime Ribeye with whipped potatoes and 1889 steak sauce, Prime New York Strip, Flat Iron Steak Frites, Grilled Halibut, Half Chicken, Steakhouse Salad, Chilled Jumbo Shrimp. 

Dessert: Crème Fraiche Panna Cotta, Espresso Chocolate Torte, Cherry Cheesecake. 


125 N Pattee Street


But There's Always Room...

The Big Dipper is such a staple in our riverside city. There's a sweet smell that greets all your senses at once when it's your turn at the window, enough to make you want to climb over the counter and live in there. What's best about our progressive dinner is having to walk between meals, or in our case, between desserts. There's time to stop and enjoy the surfers catching some fun on Brennan's Wave while perched on the Higgins Avenue Bridge and room to digest before contemplating another sweet indulgence, such as a cone or a cup. 

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