Wheat Montana Farms Bakery & Deli
405 W. Neider Ave,
Wheat Montana site
“Would you like one our fresh-baked pastries with that?” offered the man at the counter after taking my order. I gazed longingly into the glass display case at the giant bear claws and frosted cinni-buns. “Uhhhh…no, thanks.” It took every bit of willpower I had to reject his fierce upsell. I’ve been successfully trying to avoid such intensely caloric pleasures, and I was already breaking the law by indulging in a full-size deli sandwich and a large soda. It was more populated than I’d expected when I wandered into Coeur d’Alene’s new Wheat Montana Farms Bakery & Deli, and seating was scarce. Thankfully, a spot near the door opened up just as I was about to reluctantly join a harried dad and his yowling toddlers at the opposite end of a long table.
The Wheat Montana brand was conceptualized by company founder Dean Folkvord, a businessman with deep homesteading roots near Three Forks, Montana. Evolving over time from a family wheat farm to a bakery (they offer breads, flours, and grains you can purchase and take home with you) and deli, there are now over a dozen franchises open in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. They use chemical-free grains for their breads and include organic ingredients whenever possible.
The menu is exceedingly basic and the simple approach is nice, but it nearly crosses the line into just plain boring and uninspired. The overall atmosphere is bright and open but full of overused design elements like the faux-unfinished cement floor, high ceilings with exposed ductwork and corrugated steel meets blonde-wood fixtures. However, what Wheat Montana lacks in originality and flair, it more than makes up for with its welcoming staff and farm-fresh approach to lunchtime classics
As I sat waiting for my lunch to be brought out, I observed both a burly mechanic and a grey-haired grandma sitting at separate tables unaware of each other, each with a giant caramel roll as big around as an old 45 rpm record. If I couldn’t actually eat such fattening treats myself, at least I could live vicariously through others who can. The mechanic slammed his fork right in with wild abandon, chomping on huge bites of sticky bun, while the woman picked at hers, birdlike. I flipped through a newspaper, looking up occasionally to gauge the status of the two sweet roll eaters, who were now, in my mind at least, competing to see who could finish first. I was rooting for granny, but the odds weren’t much in her favor as Mr. Macho Mechanic continued to plow right through his.
I was distracted by the arrival of my own food. I’d ordered the “Combine,” a sandwich that includes roast beef, cheddar slices, lettuce, tomato and Dijon horseradish mayo, served on Wheat Montana bread slices and grilled to a perfect crispy meltiness. The richness of the roast beef and the zing of the horseradish made for a classic combo amidst the layers of flavor. The tomatoes were so fresh they practically screamed in pain when I took my first bite. The accompanying dill pickle spear played the role of Ethel Mertz to the sandwich’s Lucy, not the main star but just as important to the storyline in her own way.
As an alternative to the snoozy tortilla chips, I’d like to have seen some potato salad or a slaw or something even more creative. Without a doubt it was a very good sandwich, but I kept getting the feeling it wasn’t really anything Mom couldn’t whip up at home. Well, that is if Mom actually had an organic garden and a boulangerie.
After a few healthy bites I looked up and saw that the grandma was licking her fork in satisfaction behind an empty plate, while the mechanic had slowed down to a crawl with over a quarter of his roll to go and a slightly bloated look on his face. Victory! Resisting the urge to congratulate her, I began studying the Wheat Montana menu a little more in depth. The Homestead will be my next order, with the ever-popular combo of turkey, bacon, guacamole and Swiss cheese.
Other sandwich possibilities include the Reuben on Big Sky Rye, the French Dip, the classic Philly, and the grilled chicken on a soft foccacia bun. Of course you can create full or half sandwiches according to your own style, enjoy a healthful salad (which is what I probably should have done), or pop in early for a “day break specialty”, like a breakfast wrap or biscuits & gravy.
I’d been trying my best to ignore the handwritten card on my table which teased “Chocolate chip cookies oven fresh at noon every day”. I finished my last bite of sandwich and looked up at the clock. 12:04. “Well, I’ll just get one to go and I’ll just nibble on it now and then a little bit,” I thought. The thick, six-inch wide cookie weighed down the spatula as the counter guy came around the corner with the steaming treasure and slid it gingerly into a wax paper bag. Rain was coming down in sheets so I ran to my car and as soon as I climbed in the irresistible scent of the enticingly warm goodie filled the cab. I was useless against such strong cookie-fu. My health kick came to a sudden end as I sat in my automobile surrounded cocoon-like by the roar and downpour of the thunderstorm and enjoyed every last crumb.