“What are you in the mood for?”
Tom and Nancy, proprietors of the delightful Gibson Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Missoula, Montana, and dressed in Grizzlies athletic wear for that day’s football game on the University of Montana campus just down the road, were trying to gauge my appetite for dinner.
I shrugged indecisively. “Something in town would be nice.”
“Any particular type of food? Ethnic preference?”
“Not really. I’m open to anything.”
“Easy choice, then,” they said. “The Silk Road. It has everything.”
And, indeed, it does. Just a block from the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula, The Silk Road has been a unique experience in international cuisine that has been attracting big crowds since it opened in 2009. I was lucky enough to grab the last available table, jammed in the back corner next to the kitchen door — a minor nuisance that quickly dissipated in light of the restaurant’s convivial atmosphere, attentive staff, and tantalizing menu.
The Silk Road serves up a surprisingly sophisticated selection of tapas from around the world — Hong Kong, Egypt, Mexico, and everywhere in between. It’s a fine opportunity to sample flavorful food from every continent all in one meal, and by the time I left (eternally grateful for my hosts’ recommendation), I was wishing that the famous trade route for which this restaurant is named still existed, just so I could traverse it and partake of many other fantastic meals along the way.
Try This: Before you go global, go local with a glass of cabernet sauvignon produced in Montana as you mull over the menu. Without exception, every single option sounds fantastic, and making your choice becomes a pleasant difficulty. After a substantial mental debate I ended up with five tapas, but I had the distinct feeling that any other five would have been just as rewarding: pork schnitzel with lemon in a cognac-cream sauce (Austria), fried ravioli stuffed with lemon ricotta drizzled with an arugula-pepper sauce (Italy), lamb in a coconut-curry sauce with basmati rice and cashews (Nepal), tilapia with a cornmeal salsa (Spain), and chicken marinated with harissa and braised in a tomato-lemon-mint sauce with ground lamb and pine nuts, served over Mediterranean rice (Syria). Not full yet? Round off your sumptuous meal with a poached pear glazed in a caramelized honey-pomegranate syrup, with a gingersnap cookie and orchid root crème anglaise.