Though only a few tables remained on the Mediterranean style raised terrace at JC Montana’s in early November, it was obvious that this would be a great place to sit and relax on a summer day. Located in the center of Lake George on Canada Street, just across from Shepard Park, JC Montana’s affords an opportunity to enjoy food and drinks with friends, watch passersby or listen to music either on site or from the nearby park.
The sandwich board outside boasted a plentiful array of seafood specials and the smells from the kitchen as we entered the restaurant and bar made it difficult to pass up. Instantly greeted by the bartender, Chris, we were immediately introduced to every person in the place. We met Katie the waitress and spoke at length with local patrons (and bar “enthusiasts”) Bear and Suzanne who shared their opinions of some of their favorite bars in the Adirondacks, past and present. The warmth from the gas fireplace was outdone by the welcome we received. If that type of atmosphere carries throughout the busiest days of summer, JC Montana’s would be a welcome rarity in Lake George.
Colors are warm and soft, as is the lighting, with an overall sparse and well-kept appeal. A chandelier of pumpkin-like glass orbs hangs over the bar, complemented with frosted pendant lights gently illuminating the blonde bar top. A large fish tank between the bar and dining area is a calm and pleasant distraction. Though the bar, rather standard in size, seats 12 to 14 in the cozy confines of the small bar area, three nearby tables offer bar-side dining with a view of Canada Street. Three additional dining rooms occupy further recesses of the restaurant.
Chris Montana (not to be confused with Chris the bartender or Chris the chef) has owned JC Montana’s for the past eight years. The building formerly housed the Trattoria Siciliana Restaurant and, before that, a sidewalk café converted from a classic summer home in Lake George Village. JC Montana’s is renowned for its seafood, particularly the steamers. The appetizers and lighter fare menu has a few “land-based” items in a modest price range.
JC Montana’s is open year-round, daily for lunch and dinner in the summer. During the fall they are open Thursday through Sunday for lunch and dinner and scale back to weekends, dinner only, during the winter. Happy Hour is offered daily from 4 to 7 p.m. A basic variety of liquors, a few flavored vodkas and more than a dozen mostly domestic bottled beers comprise the modest but adequate drink options. They feature a variety of drink specials including chocolate raspberry martinis, various flavored margaritas, huckleberry lemonade and frozen mojitos made from their own home grown mint. Chris seems to be a bartender willing and able to make whatever drink comes his way. Quite entertaining himself, he’s garrulous, outgoing, and full of little quips and quotable quotes as well. He’s entertainment enough off-season. Musical entertainment is featured outside during the summer and four televisions are more than sufficient for sports enthusiasts.
For the true appeal of Montana’s as a bar, visit them a little off the summer season so you can meet some locals (especially on Sundays) and take the time to enjoy the atmosphere in the quiet respite from the summer crowds. As Chris (the bartender) puts it, “The quality of the drink is only outdone by the quality of your company.”