Feast and forest

Cuisine Travel

May 30, 2023

Foodies and wilderness lovers: Plan a visit to the green o for an unforgettable Montana getaway.

by Cathy Martin | photographs courtesy the green o by Stuart Thurlkill and Dan Goldberg

More often than not, my vacations revolve around food: After locking in accommodations, the search begins — polling friends and family, then a deep internet dive to discover the best local fare, from grab-and-go markets to quaint cafes to fancier date-night spots. 

So when I had the opportunity to visit the green o in Montana — a 2-year-old luxury resort nestled among towering Ponderosa pines that’s quickly developed a reputation as a foodie hot spot — it was an offer I couldn’t resist. 

On the 45-minute ride from the Missoula airport, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep that graze along the hillsides and a glimpse of the famed Blackfoot River before arriving at the gated woodland sanctuary. If you’re expecting the Yellowstone version of Montana, you’ll find that at the green o’s family-friendly sibling, The Resort at Paws Up, which is best-known for its summertime “glamping” (think: fully furnished multi-room tents with luxe linens, full bathrooms, riverside decks and private dining pavilions). But behind the gates of the adults-only green o, which Town & Country dubbed “a modern remake of the western fantasy” in its 2023 list of the world’s best new hotels, the aesthetic is sleek, sophisticated and serene.

Minutes after arriving at the Social Haus, the green o’s hub for meals and transportation, my host makes sure I’m seated comfortably with a soothing view of the forest and offers a lunch menu. I’ve got a dinner reservation here in less than four hours but, eager to jumpstart this culinary journey, I don’t refuse. A light salad — crisp greens, thin-sliced avocado and crunchy watermelon radish with a tahini green goddess dressing — hits the spot, and I’m off to get settled into my home away from home for the next few days.


Guests at the green o can choose from among four distinct home designs: A Tree Haus, above, sits 23 feet above the ground and has a central spiral staircase.

Each of the green o’s 12 homes were designed to blend into the surrounding woodland — in fact, fewer than a dozen mature trees were taken down during the property’s construction. Floor-to-ceiling windows make you feel immersed in the forest: Spring is on the cusp when I visit, but I can envision the splendor of winter’s snow-covered pines from my Green Haus, one of four distinct home designs at the green o. 

Modern details like concrete countertops and an oversized skylight above the sunken sleeping area blend with cozy elements like the linear fireplace with its soft, flickering glow, wraparound deck with cocoon swing chairs, and private hot tub for soaking after a day on the river or tromping around the adjacent Lubrecht Forest.

There are little luxuries, like Dyson blow dryers and homemade ice cream sandwiches. Morning coffee arrives via a YETI cooler just outside your door, along with scratch-made pastries for a sweet or savory indulgence before breakfast.  


The Social Haus, food photographs by Dan Goldberg

Like the homes at the green o, the Social Haus is warm but modern, with vibrant artwork, Japanese charred-wood paneling and large folding glass doors that let the outside in. The 24-seat dining room never feels crowded — with a few exceptions, only overnight guests of the green o are allowed to dine here. 

Breakfast ranges from a hearty breakfast sando (sausage, cheese and egg frittata on a toasted crumpet) to a delicate, fluffy souffle omelet with roasted wild mushrooms and broccoli sprouts. There’s an extensive tea list — sachets are made in house, just one example of the attention to detail that goes into nearly everything on the menu. Breakfast and lunch offerings change seasonally, and the chefs here are happy to accommodate specific dietary needs. 

But dinner at the Social Haus is the main event. Pull up a stool at the chef’s counter or settle into a cozy booth by the fire, sit back and enjoy. Each night, a team led by Executive Chef Brandon Cunningham and Pastry Chef Vincent Donatelli prepare an 8-course tasting menu filled with sweet and savory surprises. The menu teases with simple two-ingredient descriptions (sunchoke & cherry, prawn & tomato, matcha & pear). But there’s nothing basic about the dishes to come. Some presentations are more straightforward — salmon with potato atop a delicate sauce — while others are playful, like the pork & xo, a spicy, sweet and savory noodle dish served in a mini Chinese takeout box.

Service is professional but unfussy. The chefs present each course tableside, sharing ingredients, techniques and inspiration for the dish. Pastries are elevated to the same status as the savories; a palate-cleansing “interlude” was followed by two knock-your-socks-off dessert courses each night of my stay. 

The green o is all-inclusive of all meals and house beer, wine and cocktails. If you want to mix it up, in-home (gourmet, wood-fired) pizza delivery is available, or reserve a table at Pomp, the fine-dining restaurant at neighboring Paws Up — green o guests can dine at either property — for a more traditional dinner experience that’s equally delightful.  


While privacy, seclusion and amazing farm-to-table fare are fundamental to the green o experience, guests also have access to Paw Up’s 37,000 acres and full slate of outdoor activities. 

The resort is so intimate, green o staff members are always familiar with your itinerary and will have a car waiting (or arriving in minutes) to drive you to your next activity. If you prefer, you’ll have your own personal Lexus SUV to drive around the property during your stay. 

Take a guided ATV tour — cross rolling fields of sagebrush while looking for bison and white-tailed deer on the way to Lookout Rock, with panoramic views of the storied Blackfoot. Spend an afternoon fly-fishing, where swallows, ducks and geese are about the only living creatures you’ll encounter besides the whitefish and trout gliding beneath the surface. Or go on a trail ride — Paws Up boasts the largest equestrian center in the state. 

If you’re craving tranquility, outdoor adventure and culinary delights, the green o is an experience you won’t want to miss.  SP

GETTING THERE: The closest direct flight to Missoula is Atlanta, but there are a number of connecting flights from Charlotte. Upon arrival, the green o provides complimentary round-trip ground transportation to the resort in Greenough. thegreeno.com

Tar Heel takeover: Montana master chefs

The green o and its sister resort, The Resort at Paws Up, host a slew of musical and food-focused events each year. This September, a handful of the Tar Heel state’s finest chefs will join the resort’s culinary team for Montana Master Chefs: North Carolina, which takes place Sept. 21-24. 

Guests can expect special dinners, outdoor events and plenty of wood-fired cooking, says William Dissen, chef/owner of Charlotte’s Haymaker and Asheville’s The Market Place and a participating guest chef. Others include Dean Neff, chef/owner of Wilmington’s Seabird, Asheville chef Annie Pettry, and Raleigh chef Scott Crawford, a five-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast. 

“I think we’re pretty blessed with amazing food culture and restaurants across the state of North Carolina,” says Dissen, who splits his time between Charlotte, Asheville and the Triad, where he operates three Billy D’s fast-casual restaurants. “We’ll all bring that local flair from the Carolinas and be able to combine it with the best of the Big Sky cowboy country out there.” 

Several members of the culinary team at Paws Up have Carolina connections. Brett Edlund, a South Carolina native and the chef at Pomp, Paws Up’s fine-dining restaurant, and Krystle Swenson, Pomp’s pastry chef, both previously worked with Crawford in Raleigh. California’s Hundred Acre Winery will also be on hand for the three-day event, which includes performances by Montana musicians.

“The weather [in Montana] in September is superb,” Dissen says. “Cooking outside over an open fire, with the mountains and prairies behind you, and then getting out there to play on the ranch … It’s a wonderful place, and I can’t wait to get back.”

Rates start at $2,395 per night for two adults. pawsup.com

William Dissen

Dean Neff

Annie Pettry

Scott Crawford

Chef photos by Lindy Schoenberg (Dissen) and Sarah Babcock (Pettry)

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