While restaurants are known to come and go, there's something about Ted’s that keeps people coming back. Perhaps in a land full of fish and tropical themes, the "Big Sky Country" atmosphere is a welcome change. It could also be the welcome you get from staff – anything but corporate.
You'll find limited locations of this restaurant, the brainchild of media mogul Ted Turner, in 15 states, mostly in Georgia and Colorado. The spot at Coconut Point is the most Southern location of all. And even though it has a corporate backing, everything about this restaurant is local.
Well, except the bison.
It takes Ted's Montana Grill an hour to make the bacon caramelized onions and roasted garlic aioli found on the Avalon Burger — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
The produce comes from nearby farms, and manager Juan Rangel has a keen eye for what's fresh: he used to be the one in the fields picking it.
Rangel is another reason people come to eat at Ted’s Montana Grill. He knows the regulars and does his best to greet diners even when the kitchen is busy.
Rangel started as what he calls a “fry guy,” and in six years, he worked his way up to culinary manager – a true success story.
He's passionate about the food he serves and takes pride in the fact that none of it is prepackaged. Microwaves don't exist here either.
The dressings and desserts are made fresh every day, and even the fruit juices in your cocktails are hand squeezed. Rangel says the bar can go through 200 lemons in a day for the lemonade alone!
The steaks are hand-cut to order, and the meat for the burgers and chili is ground fresh daily.
Bison Ridge wine is exclusive to Ted's Montana Grill — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
The meat is certainly the other big draw for diners here, especially the bison. Rangel serves 100 pounds of grass-fed, hormone-free bison a week.
At Ted’s, you'll find bison on nachos and in chili. Plus, any burger can be ordered with it, rather than the more traditional, certified Angus beef.
It’s not something you commonly see on menus so locals and tourists alike are intrigued. They also like the fact that bison has less fat and more protein than most beef.
One of the best ways to try the bison is by ordering the Delicious Duo: two three-ounce burgers perfect for tasting.
The Avalon is the most popular burger, with gruyere and blue cheese, bacon caramelized onions, arugula and roasted garlic aioli; it's rich and delicious. The burgers are cooked on a flattop, under a dome, and there's no pressing or squeezing, a waste of savory juices according to Rangel.
Even the veggie burger is good here. You may be picturing a flavorless hockey puck, but this vegetarian delight is moist and delicious, served with a garlic aioli on an oaty wheat bun.
The menu does have a lighter side, with chicken and fish, daily soups and healthful salads.
Bison Ridge is the signature wine, bottled exclusively for the restaurant. The chardonnay is citrusy with a creamy finish; the merlot has juicy plums with an herbal finish; and the cabernet sauvignon has lots of nice cherry flavors.
Not only is Ted’s Montana Grill committed to food quality but also to protecting the environment through sustainable practices, using recycled paper and initiating water conservation methods, among other things.
Taking care of your belly and the planet at the same time – that's good stuff.