I just returned from a glorious week-long holiday at my college roommate’s family vacation home in Big Sky, Montana, a place I would have never even been able to locate on a map before her amazing wedding last September. Before her nuptials, I would have said my dream vacation was on a Caribbean island with miles of sand beaches and unlimited frozen pina coladas. I now long for the wonders of Yellowstone, the mesmerizing drives past rivers, peaks, canyons and plains, the encounters with bison and moose, the crisp mountain air and the great overall quality of life.
Which is why, when Kate and her husband Will invited me and Paul to Big Sky for a week of winter fun, we both jumped at the opportunity to experience a new season in this incredible place with our dear friends and their family. It’s hard to believe we found time to brunch amidst snowshoeing, tobogganing, dog sledding, skiing, sleigh-riding to dinner, binge watching True Detective..the list goes on. Like any fabulous vacation, it was over before we could catch our breath (literally, the altitude had me heaving the entire trip) and the only way to pull me out of my Sunday depression and put me in a pre-flight coma was a brunch in Bozeman.
After driving 45 minutes along scenery you only find in movies, we made our descent into Bozeman, passing ranches, Ted Turner’s sprawling empire of property, barren grasslands, and, all of a sudden, recognizable chains like Pizza Hut. I was relieved when we entered main street, chain-free and full of stores and restaurants with character. Kate had chosen one of her favorite breakfast spots in town, Café Nova, as our send-off meal.
I was immediately struck by both the adorable Montana kiddies clad in Patagonia waiting in front of us, and the clever skull and crossbones logo made of a sunny side egg and bacon; it made me want to buy a t-shirt! There was a 15 minute wait, despite the numerous open tables visible to us, and I immediately felt my inner New Yorker stir before I reminded myself to play the part. We were, after all, in Montana, where everyone takes the time to appreciate what is around them.
The décor was bright and welcoming, the musical selection was a great conversation starter, and I noticed how kid-friendly the restaurant was, with crayons scattered on many of the tables. We were seated in a half-moon booth, which I loved because it was situated perfectly for both our bigger group and for people-watching.
Following her pattern for the rest of the week, Kate ordered a hot chocolate with whipped cream and I ordered a chai latte. Both were delicious, and I loved the fun mugs they were served in.
The menu was as expansive as a diner and it was difficult to decide between so many options, but I ultimately chose the Myli’s Mess Frittata, an open-faced omelette with MT Best Meats bacon, mushrooms and seasoned Bausch Potato home fries topped with white cheddar cheese, sour cream and tomatoes, served with local wheat toast. It was a very hearty dish thanks to all of the potatoes, but I would have liked to taste more of the mushrooms and egg, as all of the starch was a bit dense. Otherwise, it was satisfying and I cleaned my plate.
Paul and Will both went with the breakfast sandwich with two scrambled local eggs, white cheddar cheese, MT Best Meats bacon and Nova-made tomato jam on grilled ciabatta bread. The grilled ciabatta bread made the breakfast sandwich totally delicious and special and I kept stealing bites before Paul scarfed the rest of it down!
Kate chose the Morning After, which was advertised as a cheesy Belgian waffle topped with two local eggs and Bacon. We were perplexed by the cheesy description for the usually-sweet Belgian waffle, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed that it was not, in fact, cheesy. However, the dish was still great.
Kate’s mom ordered the french toast special, which was made with challah, stuffed with lime curd, topped with meringue cookies and vanilla bean syrup. The lime curd deterred me from ordering, but I gladly sampled a bite and was surprised by how much the understated tartness of the lime added to the dish. It was delicious, and I appreciated the sweet meringues on the side.
Our waitress initially seemed to be slow-moving for our early reservation, which in New York would be a death nail for a good rating, but I think it’s important to consider both the location and my high expectations when it comes to speedy service. She eventually got the hang of things and was perfectly friendly during her entire time with us.
The Bitches say A-. The Nova Cafe offers a quality breakfast in the heart of Bozeman, showcasing local specialties and leaving you satisfied for the rest of your day.
The Nova Cafe
312 E. Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715.
406 587 3973
The Nova Cafe serves brunch daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.