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“The bowl may have been 16 ounces but the soup was 8.”
Review of Ponds Lodge

Ponds Lodge
Ranked #4 of 26 Restaurants in Island Park
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed 9 July 2011

In our many trips to Island Park and West Yellowstone, we've only stopped at Pond's Lodge for a quick pitstop, having never been inspired to actually eat at the restaurant. Today, my husband and I decided to try the newly remodeled lodge after an afternoon of fishing on Henry's Lake. Maybe we should have kept going north to West Yellowstone or further south to Trouthunter Bar & Grill in Last Chance.

At first glance, we were impressed with the remodel. Though still sparse in decorative elements, the restaurant was nice in the typical lodge style with new hair-on-hide booth seats which I thought was cool. It smelled new instead of smoke-filled as it had when the bar was on that side. Unfortunately, our first impression seemed to end there. We were seated in the back next to the kitchen door. It wasn't the kind of view I would have wanted for a restaurant experience and I suppose I should have requested another table but I felt that I could deal with it so we ordered our meal and waited.

Unfortunately, the rather long wait allowed me too much time to linger on the oddities. I was seated on the chair facing that swinging door and watching it constantly open to a view of the dish washer and the dirty dishes from bussed tables was unappetizing. The waitresses were dressed a little too casually and off-par with the upscale feel, I assume the owners are trying to project with the restaurant. Our server was wearing a layered tank top (her bra straps were red–'nuf said), jeans and sneakers. Other servers pretty much looked like they grabbed the first thing out of their closet. We ordered a large bowl of clam chowder soup for a starter to share since she said that it is a 16oz portion (small was 8oz). We waited about 10 minutes and had to ask where it was. When it arrived, it was in this huge pasta bowl but there was this laughably small puddle of chowder at the bottom. At this point, I was ready to leave (for the second time) but my husband calmed me down and encouraged me to try it because it looked good. He agreed to talk to the server about adjusting the bill when we ask for our check since it obviously was not a 16 oz portion so I settled in.

We also ordered a chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and broccolini ($15) and a spicy chicken penne pasta dish ($13). Alright, the flavor was great but, like the chowder, the portions...not so much. I don't mind paying well for a a great meal so I let that issue go and tried to see the food quality as a redeeming aspect.

The bizarre-ness continued, however, when we requested our check and an adjustment to the bill. The manager (?) approached us, inquired about the problem and went back to the kitchen with no apologies or other comments. When he came back, he had the same bowl with a heaping-full serving of soup. We hadn't ask for a replacement but I thought he was going to give us another bowl. Instead, he holds it in front of our faces and asked, "Is this how much you got?" loudly enough for everyone to hear. I couldn't decide if I should be appalled or laugh at the rather lack of discretion. It didn't help that he was equally casual in his t-shirt, long shorts and flip-flops. After my husband told him that what we got was not as he had presented to us, he again left without a word and the waitress came back later with our check, with a comp for half the price of the soup. Granted, the price was a negligible amount but would you pay for something you didn't order? Our request seemed reasonable enough.

And if a manager was going to put the effort to address a customer complaint, wouldn't you also expect some sort of apology? Apparently not in his "best practice" manual.

So, yeah...it was a strange experience, the price we paid too high for both the portion and the ambiance, and the service leaves much to be desired. Jon Good is the head chef there and a former sous chef to Mario Batali. I thank his team for the tasty dishes. But though Batali favors crocs as part of his uniform, I would think that he would "turn over" at the casual flip-flop, jeans and t-shirt dress of his kitchen/dining staff.

I'm putting a 3-star "average" stamp to this instead of "poor" at a 2-star rating but only because we liked the food enough to give the restaurant another shot to see if they've cleaned up their act a little.

In the housing business, the mantra is "location, location, location!"
In the restaurant business, it is "service, service, service!"

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2  Thank jptolman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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83 - 87 of 92 reviews

Reviewed 7 March 2011

The service was excellent. Much better than many other surrounding establishments. The place has some weird hours though but if you happen to catch them when they're open..go. It's a great experience.

My only negative was the cost. I have no issue paying quite a bit for food...if the food is good. The food here is actually excellent, but th portion sizes (and the menu in general) are extremely small. The average $15 a plate you would pay here just seems like it should be about $7 anywhere else and since you're still a little ways from the tourist area of Yellowstone and West Yellowstone, i didn't expect to pay tourist prices.

But all in all, Ponds Lodge was great. We will definitely stop here on our next Yellowstone trip.

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2  Thank ChelseaUT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 February 2010

Awesome personal that will treat you like home. Get gas for the sleds in the morning and make you want to come back for the night life. Great cook with food you cant get from your mother. Bartenders that will excite your night life with with great cabins to rest yourself when you have had your full. Great place in general!!!!

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Thank hey83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 August 2009

I'm surprised this restaurant was so favorable with the other reviewrs, it was no better than a Denny's. The food was bland and boring. I guess that is why this is why you probably could consider this a safe place to go with kids. If you're an adult with more refined tastes, you won't find anything satisfying here. When I asked for a glass of wine, I was told all they had by the glass was "generic" wine, no vintage or or maker was offered when I inquired. Even when I into the bar to discuss it with the bartendar, she had no idea and didn't seem to really care either. The service in this place was slow at best, but not from lack of effort by the single employee. There was only one young lady doing everything, while two other female employees sat behind the bar smoking cigarettes talking to the bar flys, while the poor girl in the restaurant was swamped. There are so many other cute lodges and restaurants in this area, I would really encourage you to make a drive and go off property dinning.

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1  Thank MrsLoveshark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2009

Really liked this place. The prime rib was excellent and priced great. Old Lodge that makes you feel at home.

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1  Thank travelhound_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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