Opinion and Dining Reviews

DINING: Cynic satisfied at Ted's Montana Grill

November 3, 2008

Before we get to the food, let's take a look at the name.

Ted is Ted Turner, the media mogul behind CNN. And Montana is, well, in this case, an atmosphere but not a birthplace. The first Ted's Montana Grill actually opened in 2002 in the big-sky land known as ... Columbus, Ohio.

Do I sound cynical? I was, when Ted's Montana Grill first moved into our neck of the woods. But what I found when Ted's opened at Clay Terrace surpassed expectations. I don't know that I've ever had a better bison burger (not that I've had that many), and the atmosphere was comfortable and classic — the dining equivalent of a Ralph Lauren flannel work shirt.

On a more recent visit, this time to the newer location at Trader's Point (5910 W. 86th St., 875-8337), I dug even deeper into the menu and found satisfaction nearly across the board.

Highlights included a dense, winning Bison Meatloaf ($11.99) guilded with both garlic mashed potatoes and "Aunt Fannie's" squash casserole. Alas, both sides arrived at room temperature on a less-than-crowded evening. No excuse for that.

The Beef Cheese Burger ($9.29) was juicy enough for flavor but not so much that it got squishy — even with a slice of avocado on board. And a Salmon Kid's Meal — let me repeat that: a Salmon Kid's Meal ($6.49) -- featured a small but flavorful piece of fish, potatoes and a roasted asparagus side. If you are bypassing the bar, the drink of choice here is the fresh-squeezed cherry lemonade ($2.59 — including one refill).

For dessert, we opted for an across-the-board sampling of Ted's Fresh-baked "Scratch" Cookies ($2 each). The choices vary, but on our visit, the chocolate chip and the peanut butter both outclassed the Snickerdoodle.

Ted's wears its environmental consciousness on its rolled-up sleeve, boasting boldly on the menu of its low-voltage lighting, water-efficient toilets, recycled butcher paper tabletops, cornstarch to-go cups, biodegradable take-out containers and even paper drinking straws (the only element that hurts the dining experience).

While this is all very good, the truth is, if the food didn't satisfy, I wouldn't go back. As it stands, I can applaud my choice of an environmentally conscious restaurant while also enjoying a hearty meal.

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