Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dining critic candidate No. 28


A restaurant as big as a “Montana” moniker would imply certainly seems out of place in its setting at The Shops at Briargate. Yet somehow upon entering Ted’s Montana Grill, the feeling of Big Sky Country doesn’t feel that out of place. Maybe it’s the enormous buffalo head mounted above the bar, or even still the tastefully Spartan rustic décor. Probably, the prospect of sampling bison (buffalo) is what really evoked a sense of something wild for me. The menu is, however, nothing too difficult to tame – a selection of made-from-scratch comfort foods, generous portions and attentive service.

The first thing that impresses even before arrival to the restaurant is the informative web site which details the menu, cooking procedures, and a series of healthy ways to order (gluten-free, carb-friendly and so forth). Having a firmer grip on the menu and what to expect makes the ordering process far less daunting and allows the diner to more fully appreciate the ambience and experience. Upon arrival to the table, we were presented with what appeared to be a small dish of very green pickles. These “half-sours” as they are called are cucumbers that didn’t quite make it all the way to the pickle stage. I was hesitant, but pleasantly rewarded with a crunchy, refreshing appetizer that wasn’t as powerful as a pickle can be, but with many of the good aspects present.

There are some delicious choices for appetizers for all tastes, most reasonably priced (around the $7.00 area). We opted for the chili cheese fries. The fries are prepared fresh, and the chili features, you guessed it, bison, layered generously with cheese. Though the offering was a bit salty, it was satisfying and easily fed the table. For those looking for a lighter beginning, there are a handful of salads and made-from-scratch soups of the day.

As noted before, Ted’s specializes in comfort foods such as a bison meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and a squash casserole. Also featured on the menu is a bison pot roast. For those not as adventurous, there is more traditional fare such as salmon, chicken and a wide variety of burgers (in beef or bison). The Springer Mountain “Beer Can” Chicken seemed interesting, prepared with rosemary, garlic and Anchor Steam beer. While the chicken was moist, the primary flavors advertised were somewhat muted and not as obvious would have been desired. The broccoli in butter was not overdone and did not disappoint. The green beans, on the other hand seemed almost bitter and bland.

The cedar plank salmon was delightful. The generous portion was flaky and moist and the smoky essence of the dish was not so overpowering as to ruin the flavor of the salmon. The accompanying garlic mashed potatoes (again, made from scratch) were, although lumpy, tasty and flavorful.

A great highlight was the Beef Cadillac Burger which included cheese and bacon. The beef was very fresh and tasted wonderful. The burger is absolutely huge and not for the faint of heart. Make no mistake, at Ted’s, you get a lot of food, and if you leave hungry, it would be your own fault. The fries accompanying the burger were, again freshly prepared, which can be hit or miss. In this case, the fries were a hit and proved to be a great accompaniment to the burger. There is a good size kids menu which features burgers, macaroni-n-cheese, and meatloaf.

The dessert offering are a bit on the meager side. There is a dessert of the day, so ask your server for the day’s selection (we went with the apple crisp). There are also cookies, ice cream, shakes and malts. Nothing too fancy, but fancy isn’t always what comfort foods are about. The wine menu is sufficient for the fare with a strong emphasis on California and Columbia Valley reds. Ted’s features a full bar and the wine menu does offer some specialty drinks in addition to more traditional libations.

Ted’s takes most credit cards but does not accept reservations. They are open each day for lunch and dinner and located at 1685 Briargate Parkway, Colorado Springs and can be reached at (719) 598-6195.


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