Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ted's Montana Grill (30 of 50)

Cuisine: American/burgers (eco-emphasis)
Price: Average
Score: 30
Would I eat there again? Not likely

As a general rule, I do not review restaurants that fall into the corporate/chain category. Not that you can't get a good meal at a chain (in fact many chains have innovative customer service initiatives, and often offer a very consistent dining experience), but my goal is to introduce diners to local, independent gems that might not be getting the attention they deserve. Most chains make sure they get plenty of advertising exposure already.

Ted's Montana Grill caught my attention due to the eco-friendly stance they are taking. It is nice to see that the market signals that localvores and organic producers have been sending for years now are starting to reach corporate america. I wanted to check out how Ted's (named after Ted Turner) lived up to its claims of eco-friendliness and most importantly, if the food was any good.

First the food: Not very good. Service was polite and waters were attended to, and the atmosphere is clean and comfortable, but the food was mediocre at best. They offer bison as an alternative to beef for most of their meat cuts, which was refreshing, but the taste was lacking. The Montana burger (ham, grilled onions, and cheddar) was cooked as requested, but the toppings were soggy, salty, and oily. The signature salad was far and away the low point of the meal. Yes there was some avocado, corn, tomato and a couple other potentially interesting items scattered in the salad, but the base was iceberg lettuce. Any restaurant that bases their signature salad on iceberg is sending a message, and it's normally not a good one. The salad came with pulled chicken, which also sounded promising. Imagine a slim jim shredded and coasted in a corn syrup based BBQ sauce, and you have a pretty good idea of the pulled chicken.

Ted's green efforts are more impressive, but still could stand for improvement.
The good:
-Offering bison as a meat alternative (offering a vegetarian/vegan alternative as well would be even cooler)
-Using straws made from paper
-recycled paper menus
-installing solar panels at one location
-recyclable/biodegradable to-go products for drinks and left-overs

the lame:
-serving drinks in reusable/recyclable glass containers (i.e. glasses)
-non-smoking restaurants (would have been a big deal 10 years ago, maybe)
-an excess of lights (and incandescent no less)

Conclusion:
Ted's Montana Grill is trying to ride the eco-wave that is sweeping the country, and gets points for making an effort. Unfortunately they forgot about the quality of food along the way. Extremely mediocre food drags down what is on the surface a good idea, resulting in a completely unmemorable dining experience.

Ted's Montana Grill on Urbanspoon

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