Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ted's Montana Grill - Denver

While in Colorado recently I wanted to try some buffalo meat. There are a number of restaurants there that serve it and it is one of my favorite meats. I've previously been to The Fort several times, one of the best restaurants I've ever been to, and the Buckhorn Exchange, a restaurant that oozes history and the old west. Both serve many different kinds of courses of buffalo. The Fort was not open for lunch, the time we had available, so I Yelped buffalo meat and found a reference to Ted's Montana Grill.

Ted's Montana Grill was founded by Ted Turner. The first one opened in 2002 in Columbus, Ohio and there are now about 44 of them in 16 states, although I'd not heard of it before.  I read about Ted Turner and buffalo a number of years ago. He is now the largest private landowner in the U.S., owning more than a dozen properties and totaling more than 2 million acres, larger than the size of Delaware. He owns large land holdings in Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota and New Mexico (the New Mexico holdings totaling more than 1 million acres). He now has about 55,000 buffalo roaming on this land, so it makes sense that he would open a chain of restaurants to market the buffalo that he's raising.
There are a number of his restaurants in the Denver area. We went to the one located downtown, at 1401 Larimer Street (303-893-0654). The prices for the buffalo cuts appeared cheaper than those we've had at The Fort and the Buckhorn Exchange, but the atmosphere is not as fun. The Fort is located in a re-created fort and has lots of memorabilia to take you back to the 19th century. The Buckhorn Exchange has walls covered with animal heads and hides and oozes the old west. Ted's Montana Grill on Larimer Street has one mounted buffalo head on a wall and is filled with people in dark suits, white shirts and ties - much more formal, not as folksy. But ultimately, I was looking for good buffalo meat, and was excited to try this out.  
We started with an appetizer of bison nachos, with pepper jack cheese, bison chili, raw jalapeno slices, scallions, a little bit of diced tomato and sour cream. The bison taste did not really stand out in the chili and the condiment to chip ratio was rather skimpy. They were different than any nachos I've had before, but did not really stand out. Good, but not great. 
bison nachos
I got an appetizer, Ted's chopped salad, with iceberg lettuce, artichoke hearts, roasted corn, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, green peppers, red onion, cucumbers and salami with basil vinaigrette. It sounded so good, but was extraordinarily ordinary. The only ingredient that really stood out was the salami and there were only a few chunks of it.  The most disappointing item we got. 
Ted's chopped salad
Andrew got bison meatloaf covered in gravy, with garlic mashed potatoes and squash casserole. I got a taste of the meat loaf and it, too, was very ordinary. It tasted much like regular meatloaf and was kind of soggy and whimpy, like it was packed with bread crumbs. By contrast, I had buffalo meatloaf at Whoa Nellie Deli, connected to a gas station in Lee Vining, and it was fabulous. I found it thicker than regular meatloaf with the signature buffalo taste. 
bison meatloaf
Judy got the braised bison short ribs which were basted in bbq sauce, along with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. The texture of the short ribs was wonderful, very soft and tender. But the taste was mostly bbq sauce. 
bison short ribs
The 14 ounce Delmonico bison ribeye was what got me there. I ordered it medium rare. It was cooked nicely and it was good, better than a normal steak, but it it just wasn't outstanding. I keep thinking back to a buffalo ribeye Judy had at The Fort which is one of the best pieces of meat I've ever tasted. This ribeye, the short ribs, the meatloaf, the chili, it just doesn't seem buffaloey enough. I read that Turners does grain feed the bison at the end, and perhaps the grain fed buffalo don't have as strong a taste as the grass fed buffalo. I don't know what the difference is, but I'll take The Fort and the Buckhorn Exchange and their buffalo over Mr. Turner and his bison.  
14 oz. bison Delmonico ribeye

1 comment:

  1. Fun place on a great street full of interesting decorations and shops. Yeah, the food wasn't spectacular (with the excpetion of my divine garlic mashed potatoes), but it was still worth the effort.