Early Bird Gets the Bison: Ted’s Montana Grill

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Ted’s Montana grill is a longtime friend to TheBachelorBasics and has quickly become the go-to spot for a nice meal out with my girlfriend. (Read the last review here)

Ted’s occupies a unique dining niche. It’s a step above fast casual, but not a full-on steak house. Teetering between these two worlds ultimately benefits the dinner with a tab that won’t slaughter you. When you order a steak you know they know how to cook it well–or medium rare in my case–and the meat is steps above something you’d get at an inexpensive chain.

One year my team insisted on taking me out for Manager’s Day.

“We’re going to get you steak!” a woman on my team exclaimed. I replied that they could get me steak tacos instead, but off we went to a steakhouse in the city. This steakhouse promises a steak lunch for $7.99. Hungry Chicago carnivores know this spot. When I got to the counter, they asked how I wanted my steak. No sooner did I finish saying “medium rare” before I was handed a plate with a thin, gray slab of meat with grill marks.

On the other end of the steak-spectrum, you have the uber fancy establishments where you expect someone to burp you after your meal or provide resuscitation when you see the bill.

Ted’s lives comfortably in between those two extremes.

My girlfriend and I rolled into Ted’s five minutes before 5 o’clock. Yet another sign of my spot with geriatrics. We joked our waitress that we wanted to get ahead of the dinner rush. She looked around at the four occupied tables and quipped, “this is the dinner rush.” On a wintery Monday night in the Chicago suburbs, no one is going out if they don’t have to. We have dined at Ted’s enough that when we say we’ve eaten bison, it’s fair to say we have eaten an entire bison.

If you’re new to bison, the waitstaff will quickly drop factoids about the health benefits. Fear not, there is no quiz at the end of your meal (or this post).

pickles

After our winter trip to Europe, I grew accustomed to a good loaf of bread on the table. At Ted’s, they skip the carbs and have a bowl of homemade pickles. If I’ve eaten an entire bison, I fear to know how many acres of cucumber patches I have cleared out. The cukes are quick brined in vinegar, garlic, mustard seed and some salt. New Years resolution: start pickling.

 

Since we got there so early, we decided to eat like Europeans and embarked on a three-hour feast starting with cocktails to wash down the pickles. Leann has worked her way through their margaritas and I have motored through their bourbon/whiskey drinks. Their drinks are balanced and just boozy enough to wet your farmhand whistle.

Ted's Smoked trout

On one of our first visits our waitress raved about the smoked trout dip. That dip was one of last items to try of their apps. If I said it’s a cold fish dip, would you be enthused? It’s more like a tuna or chicken salad with a dusting of cajun spices, served with tortilla chips. It’s a meaty fish, but you don’t feel like you are licking the bottom of a summer lake. Their bison nachos may be their best app offering we have tried.

Now to the main event. BISON!

“The chef’s featured vegetable tonight is spinach,” our waitress informed us when selecting sides. “You can order it steamed or creamed.”

“What do you have? Popeye working the grill back there?” I really don’t know why more servers haven’t poisoned my food.

While I debated between the Malbec or red blend to wash down the bison, my food poisoner returned.

“Soooo, were out of creamed spinach.”

I asked if they could add some garlic to sauteed spinach and I secured my spot as worst dinner for the snowy evening.

Leann got bison pot roast with garlic mashed and buttered carrots. I opted for the Delmonico rib eye with garlic mashed and the poisoned spinach. New Years resolution #2: find a butcher and learn the differences of beef cuts.

BachelorBasic: Sitting on the same side of the booth is only OK in Europe.

We ate about half our plates before calling it quits. Ted’s has solid portions. It may seem weird on a date, but if you’re there in your relationship, there is no shame in splitting a burger. They are huge. If you get steak, you’ll have leftovers for another dinner or steak and eggs breakfast.

“Dessert?” our waitress asked in an excited tone typically reserved for when you try to get the kids you’re babysitting into their pajamas.

“How often does that work?” I asked. “You’d be surprised. It works 40% of the time.”

Leann had homemade brownies at home, so we were sadly the 60% that night.

Check Ted’s out and let me know your thoughts. Also, let me know what else should be on my resolution list this year.

  • I think I know the 7.99 place you’re talking about. I read a review once that said, “It fills an empty stomach.” Ted’s sounds fantastic!

    • You can’t knock the $7.99 spot. You get “steak,” salad and a potato for 8 bucks.