Monday was a teaching planning day in Leon County, and after entering grades and getting her things in order I met Becky for lunch at Ted’s Montana Grill. We arrived at the restaurant a little after noon and were met with a 20 minute wait. We sidestepped the line by deciding to belly up to the bar. The idea to sit there popped into my head based upon the recommendation of my friend and fellow food blogger Jen.
Ted’s is a modern take on a American saloon. From the outside the building looks like it would be at home somewhere in Montana with the Rocky Mountains rising up behind it. Inside patrons are initially greeted by an intricately hexagonal patterned floor. The walls are covered in wood while tin tiles cover the ceiling. A large buffalo head dominated the back of the restaurant with other large pieces of art depicting the American West circled the dining area. Secluded high back booths with deep green upholstered seats formed the spine of the restaurant. On the right individual tables filled the space while on the left was the bar area.
We chose a pair of stools towards the end of the bar with a clear view of the kitchen. We were immediately greeted by the bartender who set a white cotton napkins in front of us as a place mat and took our drink order. Becky opted for a Coke that arrived in a sleek aluminum bottle while I went for a glass of their fresh lemonade. It came in a tall glass with a slice of lemon and crushed ice. Instead of plastic straws, Ted’s uses paper ones that are plucked from an old fashioned dispenser. A bowl of their dill pickles appeared a few moments later, and by the time we decided what to order we were on our second bowl.
Ted’s offers appetizers, burgers, lunch plates, and steaks. Beef and bison are both on the menu with the latter being grass fed and raised on Ted Turner’s ranches. For a moment I considered the Bison Nachos before settling on a bison burger. The options were dizzying, and I eventually settled on the Canyon Creek ordered rare. It consisted of cheddar cheese, smoky bacon, fresh jalapeños, blackberry jam and a fried egg “over-easy.” Becky ordered the cranberry glazed roasted chicken with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and green beans.
While we waited for our meals I watched the action in the kitchen as they handled the lunch rush. The hand cut French fries were fresh and I witnessed one of the cooks cutting spuds into perfect cut fries with the wall mounted slicer. Further to the right another cook kept tabs on ten to fifteen burgers on the well seasoned grilled. The large patties were placed on the flat top and the covered with a small metal bowl to help the cooking process. Another cook plated the meals and got them out of the kitchen to the wait staff. I was in food nerd paradise.
Before I knew it our plates were set in front of us. My burger was a monster that took up half of the plate. The other side was occupied by a pile of perfectly golden fries. I was unsure if the combination of bacon, egg, jalapeños, blackberry jam, and cheese would work, but this was quickly erased by the first bite. The burger was a great blend of textures and flavors. The bacon was crisp and the egg yolk was creamy. The jalapeños supplied a punch of heat that was muted with the sweetness of the blackberry jam. the bison was cooked as ordered and had a nice flavor. The fries were also very good. They were well seasoned, hot and crispy on the outside. Becky’s chicken was moist and the cranberry glaze was fantastic. The cook nearest to use asked us how we liked our meals and we both told him they were wonderful. Becky tried to get the recipe for the glaze out of him, but he told her with a smile he could not “remember” all of the ingredients.
Lunch at Ted’s was great. The burger was outstanding and the quality of the ingredients was top notch. Service at the bar was great and I really enjoyed watching our lunches cook less than ten feet away from where we were standing. While Ted’s is not inexpensive, I think it is a very good value for the price, and would not hesitate to go back for a burger, or to tackle one of their steaks.
Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating: