If you have southern roots or a southern appetite, Monteen's brings it home with soul.
Owners Robert and Monteen Taylor opened Monteen's in October of 2011 to not only bring "southern cuisine, but southern hospitality to the Valley" and you get that the minute you see the smile on Monteen's face and taste the barbecue on her menu.
The menu has items you would expect to find in southern cuisine and items you'll be quite delighted to see and possibly try for the first time. In all my reviews, Monteen's has presented me with a couple firsts.
Starting with appetizers, I tried two southern favorites; Fried Green Tomatoes and Fried Okra. Thick, green tomato slices are cornmeal breaded and fried to a golden brown. Crispy on the outside, meaty on the inside, this is a definite knife and fork appetizer. It was the first time I tried Fried Okra and I loved it. It's not chopped pieces of okra, but the whole pod dredged in seasoned cornmeal, fried to a golden crisp and served up with a yummy horseradish dipping sauce. The inside has an almost velvety creamy texture and when dipped in that spicy cool sauce, it is so good. Hands down my new favorite appetizer.
There are some great seafood choices at Monteen's. The Shrimp and Grits may be the prettiest dish when served. Sauteed shrimp resting on a bowl of cheesy grits sprinkled with bacon bits and parsley. Just a beautiful bowl of the South. If you like fish then you will absolutely love the catfish. I had it 3 ways. Blackened, fried and topped with cole slaw in a bun. Loved it all. Delicious fish, perfectly cooked with a lot of flavor. Add a side or two and you have a meal that will put a smile on your face. Speaking of sides, I had a side sampler that allowed me a few bites of everything. Most restaurants have side dishes, as, well, side dishes. At Monteen's, the side dishes could be the main show. Really good, different sides you won't find anywhere else. Monteen, herself, is the taste tester with all the fixings. She "checks every batch to make sure it has that Monteen flare". The Collard Greens and Black Eyed Peas have a delicious smokiness to them, Red Beans and Rice, sweet Baked Beans, Mac and Cheese, perfectly seasoned Cornbread Stuffing, everything you would expect as southern sides with phenomenal flavors.
Another first for me was Oxtail. If you, like me, never tried it and you're craving a tender piece of meat with tons of flavor, this is a must try. The meat is served with a rich brown gravy on a bed of rice and it just falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. May be a bit unusual to some, but very delicious.
Southern cuisine just wouldn't be southern without good barbecue. I love the sauce at Monteen's. It's thick, rich, smokey, sweet and has a good kick of heat. I tried the ribs, the brisket and an awesome pulled pork sandwich.
So next time you're looking for some good comfort food or something a little different, head to Monteen's. When I go back I may have a hard time deciding between the catfish and the barbecue. If they could just find a way to barbecue that catfish I'd be in heaven.