Ted’s Montana Grill is a chain restaurant. There’s like 46 of them. I’m going to go on record and say that this is a good thing. Ted’s does so many things right when it comes to burgers, and my complaints are few. Come, readers (all 6 of you): let’s dive into the world of burgs once again and be satisfied.
Ted’s is, by the manager’s own admission, focused more heavily on their bison than on their beef. As a result, the bison tastes great and the beef is really nothing to write home about in the sense that it is just your basic chuck beef. No special blends of meat here. However, the greatest part about Ted’s beef is that it arrives at the restaurant basically still on the cow. They cut it up, cube it, and grind it all fresh daily. Would that more restaurants take their cues from Ted’s in this regard. It simply makes for the juiciest, freshest, more flavorful patties. (More on that in a bit.)
My comrades decided to branch out with their burgers, ordering the Avalon (bleu, arugala, garlic aioli, bacon crumbles, and grilled onions), and the Peppercorn (peppercorn encrusted, gruyere, herbed dijon mustard, arugala). These burgers are serious from a culinary standpoint, not your average diner burger, and are general explosions in flavor. If you like a LOT going on with your burgs, Ted’s can deliver in the flavor department. Oddly (for me), I was most impressed with the flavor of the arugala. I know, weird. Their bacon is smoky and totally kick-butt, too.
Alright. A few thoughts on my burger. First off, it was unfortunately overcooked. I asked for mid rare, and only saw traces of pink. A travesty (sorry about the low quality image, my iPhone 4S is junk):
However, the meat was saved simply by merit of their proprietary seasoning (more involved than salt and pepper), the sheer freshness of their beef, and the fact that they pack it so loosely. It was still really juicy and flavorful. At this point, I want to highlight Ted’s cooking method, because it impacts their burgers dramatically. It’s griddle-cooked, but they put a stainless steel cup OVER the patty as it cooks. They don’t smash it, and only flip it once. In short, it’s as if the meat is cooking in a little mini-oven, and the juices have nowhere to escape so they stay in the meat. The positives of this method: juicy burgers, loosely packed patties. The negatives: harder to get a mid-rare burger, and less salty crust from the griddle. I am conflicted as to my thoughts regarding this method of cooking.
Let me put it this way. If it wasn’t for their seasoning blend, I’d consider their cooking method a deterrent. I’d rather have a slight press onto the griddle with a spatula, more crust, and a truly pink burger on the interior. However, I also find that there is not a whole lot to complain about when it comes to their beef’s overall flavor. It sure as heck beats out a lot of local patties I’ve eaten.
In other news, the caramelized onions were gloriously sweet, the tomato on the side was super fresh, and the mustard remoulade was an awesome spread for my simple burger. The bun: meh. Not offensive, but not special. I really enjoyed my simple burger, and on a special occasion would be really happy to gorge myself on one of their more involved specialty burgers.
All in all, I greatly appreciate Ted’s attention to detail regarding their food. They really care about the little things, take great pride in their offerings, and churn out a very respectable burger. With a better white bun, a truly mid-rare patty, and a little more crust from the griddle, it’d be outstanding. As it is, I give Ted’s a solid, I’ll-come-again-and-be-excited-about-it 7.5 out of 10. Tough to go wrong here.