It doesn’t take long after entering Second Set Bistro to realize the owners love music as much as they love food.
The name itself unites their passions.
“In music, the first set is good. It’s seasoned,” said Josh Snider. “But the second set is better, more creative, more interesting, more fun. It’s where the improvisation occurs. That’s what we hope to offer at the Second Set Bistro.”
The Bistro is located inside downtown Missoula’s iconic Florence Building, just off the lobby, where the Red Bird long resided.
“Music and food are huge parts of our lives. We like all kinds of music and we like all kinds of flavors,” said Maddie Schneider.
Among the creative improvisations by Chef Standridge (who studied under renowned celebrity chef Chris Cosentino of San Francisco): fried street corn with aioli, cotija, lime, cilantro and chicharrones ($9); smoked trout tacos with avocado crema, pickled onions, jalapeno and salsa ($12); chicories with avocado, corn nuts, cotija, orange and tomatillo dressing ($14.00); spagatini al olio with garlic, chili, herbs, lemon, egg yolk and padano ($15), and an 18-ounce ribeye with chimichurri, radish, butter snap peas, mind and horseradish ($49).
The menu includes a variety of salads, shared plates, pasta and entrees, as well as desserts, coffee and tea, soda, wine, and draft and bottle beers.
All meals are finished off with complimentary churros.
“We have daily specials, and the menu will change with the seasons,” Maddie said. “When corn and tomatoes are in season, we’ll have dishes with fresh corn and tomatoes. We think the best way and right way to eat is to eat what’s in season, which allows us to offer a variety of exciting and ever-changing options.”
“We want to expand people’s horizons of what the palate is able to do,” added Snider. “There are so many good, unique flavors out there. We’ve been in the restaurant business forever, and we’re still learning.”
“Dining is fun. It’s a social event,” he said. “It allows you to be in the present moment and enjoy.”
“Food is a foundation of the human experience,” Maddie said. “There are so many flavors out there to try and experiment with. We want to use food and flavors – a lot of creativity and a lot of energy – to bring people together and strengthen community. That’s what we hope to bring to Missoula.”
Or, as Snider succinctly put it, “We want to be a kick in the pants!”
Although Second Set has played a few “soft openings” to “ease into things,” as Maddie said, they are holding a grand opening on Thursday, August 8, at 5 p.m. featuring live jazz in the recently remodeled Florence lobby.
The décor of the restaurant matches the 1940s feel of the lobby. Trumpets, trombones, French horns and other brass instruments adorn the walls, as do original expressionistic oil paintings of pianist Thelonious Monk, saxophonist John Coltrane and trumpeter Miles Davis by famed “Jazz artist” Bruni Sablan of San Jose, California.
“I used to live across the street from Bruni,” Snider said. “And I named my son ‘Coltrane.’ ”
Part of building community relationships is working with local purveyors to buy and use local meat, produce and vegetables as much as possible.
Maggie and Raz recently moved to Missoula from Cooke City, just outside the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park, where they own the Miners Saloon. (Raz was once elected mayor of Cooke City in an unofficial, impromptu, late-night election by six bar patrons.
“We’re so excited to be in the Florence, and in Missoula,” said Maddie. “We hope everyone comes to see us.”