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The good stuff at Last Chair Kitchen & Bar in Whitefish

The good stuff at Last Chair Kitchen & Bar in Whitefish

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Tim Good’s story on how he came to be a Whitefish transplant is a familiar one. Folks come to Montana to fish, ski, hike, etc., and fall in love with this place and eventually move here. For Good, it was a ski trip in 1998 to Whitefish Mountain Resort, then moving to this mountain town the following year, when he was 26. Whitefish has to count its blessings, as it gained an exceptional fellow, who has become a big proponent of the community, its values, and best of all, a creator of remarkable cuisine for the area.

Good, a Wisconsin native, started his journey into gastronomy in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he was attending college. He took a job at Barbary Fig, a restaurant owned by chef Brahim Hadj-Moussa. “Hadj was so glad I knew nothing about cooking, as he was going to teach me everything,” Good said. Given Good’s success in the foodie world, I would say Hadj was a great teacher, and Good must have been an A+ student.

When Good settled into Whitefish, he took a job as sous chef at Moguls (now Ed and Mully’s), located at the ski resort. He proudly declared he snowboarded and telemark-skied for 100 days each of the following seven winters. Good’s winter passion leans towards telemarking these days. With Good’s wife Ali on the ski patrol, and son Liam keen on skiing, the family logs in considerable time up on the mountain.

His chef experience in the area included The Tupelo Grill and four years at Northern Lights Saloon in Polebridge, where he met Ali. They started The Cuisine Machine in 2007, a gourmet catering business that they operated out of a trailer parked in their driveway. The catering truck was a mainstay at the Whitefish Farmer’s Market, with folks clamoring for his walleye sandwich and his version of Pad Thai.

The challenges of dishwashing in the trailer finally wore them down, so the move was on for a more permanent setup. When the Haskill Station located at the edge of town came up for sale in 2016, Tim and Ali felt this was spot-on for their vision and made the purchase.

The eatery was renamed Last Chair Kitchen & Bar, in honor of their passion for skiing/snowboarding and the proximity to the resort. It’s easy to spot the restaurant with its antique ski lift chair sitting at the entrance. The interior has a pub-like feel, welcoming and cozy, with walls adorned with historic ski photos and other ski paraphernalia. During the summer, there is seating at an outdoor patio. An interior fireplace helps stave off the winter chill during the Goods' favorite season.

Good calls his menu “eclectic world cuisine.” Soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers are standard fare, along with nightly specials. Enticing entrees, such as steelhead trout from the waters of Idaho and local bison ragu are featured. Two of the food truck favorites, Pad Thai and the walleye sandwich, are on the menu.

Good delves into soul food with his chicken and waffles, featuring buttermilk fried chicken, a savory waffle, huckleberry Gorgonzola cream, maple balsamic, and a side of collard greens. The Goody Bowl is a shout out to healthy eating with farro, French green lentils, local seasonal vegetables and cilantro, all topped with walnut pesto, creamy Tamari sauce. The Indian Platter features butter chicken, red lentil dal, cilantro, peanut chutney, basmati rice and naan.

The Flathead Valley’s fertile landscape lends itself to many local producers with whom Good works, including Terrapin Farms, Genesis Kitchen, Two Bear Farms, Purple Frog Gardens, Great Northern Honey, Wicked Good Farms, Lower Valley Processing and Flathead Farms. Good also utilizes the products from Timeless Seeds, Sweet Peaks, Red Poppy Gluten Free Bakery, Hidden Valley Hutterite Colony, Kalispell Kreamery, Flathead Fish & Seafood, Earthstar Farms, Ceres Bakery, Hansen Farms, Spring Brook Ranch and Montana Coffee Traders. There is no shortage of Montana microbreweries to feature, along with a robust selection of wines.

I caught up with my longtime Whitefish friend, Lisa Jones, over dinner at Last Chair Kitchen & Bar. We were seated at 5:30 p.m., and within the hour, both the patio and inside seating quickly filled up, along with a steady stream of customers picking up call-in orders. Last Chair Kitchen & Bar is popular for a good reason. It’s a testament to exceptional food served by great folks at very reasonable prices. We started with the yummy oyster mushroom "Rockefeller" appetizer. In honor of my favorite overseas destination, India, I opted for the Indian Platter. Lisa had a huckleberry burger. We ended with a scrumptious dessert of beignets served with a lemon huckleberry curd.

The locals of Whitefish are a tight-knit community, fiercely protective, and appreciative of their fantastic location in the heart of outdoor recreation. Taking care of each other runs in the DNA of this mountain town. Last Chair Kitchen & Bar joined a handful of other eateries to partner with the Whitefish Community Foundation and the North Valley Food Bank to provide more than 7,600 meals to local families in need in the pandemic months.

Good made a wise choice years ago when he relocated to Whitefish — it has served him and his family very well. It has been the perfect fit for their lifestyle, and in turn, they have given the community an eatery with outstanding cuisine.

Donnie Sexton, who retired in 2016 after a long career with the Montana Office of Tourism, currently freelances as a travel writer and photographer, covering destinations around the world.

TheLastBestPlates.com is a digital destination that serves up Montana's tasty food, travel and culture stories … one bite at a time.

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