Mmmm… bison

We had a kid-free night recently, so the handsome husband and I went out to dinner. And, thanks to a combination of “How I Met Your Mother” and my co-worker Nicole’s blog entry about the burger quest that was central to the episode, I really, really needed a burger.

So we slipped just outside the Grafton borders and headed into Westborough, where we paid a visit to Ted’s Montana Grill. Yes, it’s a chain restaurant — but everything is fresh and made from scratch, plus they have some interesting eco-friendly touches that really made us feel so much better about dining on the flesh of cattle.

Ted’s Montana Grill was co-founded by media magnate Ted Turner — you do realize it’s actually against the law to NOT write “media magnate Ted Turner” on first reference, don’t you? — and it’s in a lovely space in Baystate Commons, with high ceilings, dark wood and really cool private booths all down one wall. They manage to shoehorn a lot of people into this room and still not make it too clamorous — this isn’t Applebee’s, not by a long stretch.

Let’s talk about bison, because you’re going to see a lot of it on the menu. Bison meat is leaner than beef and it tastes a lot like beef but a little gamier. They’re not going to force you to eat bison — there’s lots of beef on the menu, along with chicken and a few fish dishes — but why not go for it?

You can have bison chili, bison pot roast, bison steak, bison meatloaf, bison burger — heck, you can even slap a bison burger on a pile of vegetables and call it a “grilled salad.” Have I made my point yet? There are a few vegetarian options on the menu, but this place is, frankly, carnivorous.

It was a Friday, so we each had a cup of clam chowder (soup rotates from day-to-day). The waitress warned us that the chowder was bacon-based — apparently she’s had some run-ins from people who prefer to go with straight fish on Fridays. She had us at “bacon,” however. As chowders go, it wasn’t gummy wallpaper paste and it was full of clams and potatoes — but it did taste a bit more bacon-ey than clammy.

We each ordered a bison burger ($11.29 vs. $9.39 for beef) and a side of salt-and-pepper onion rings. The onion rings can also be ordered on their own as an appetizer with a side of horseradish dipping sauce, and the menu specifies that is a “full stack of 10.” We ordered before we saw the giant towers of rings coming out of the kitchen and we were happy then that we went with a half-order — the rings are cut at least an inch thick and are large enough to use as a headband on a small child if need be. They’re also amazing.

The bison burgers were giant, so thick that taking a bite was a challenge. The burgers were exceptionally juicy — bear in mind that you’re going to only have your cloth napkin to work with here, since the restaurant limits its use of disposable products. I had a “Spikebox,” with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon and jalapenos; the husband went for a “Montana,” with cheddar cheese, grilled ham, onions and barbeque sauce. They came with French fries on the side, which were decent, but I was kind of busy coping with the burger and plotting to swipe the last onion ring.

We skipped dessert and rolled ourselves out of the restaurant to drive back home to Grafton.

Final thoughts: not only is it law to not say “media magnate Ted Turner” on first reference, but it’s also apparently required that when writing about his restaurant, you mention the straws. Fun fact: because no plastic is used in the restaurant (even the take-home containers are eco-friendly), the straws are made of paper. The tables are also covered with sheets of recycled paper and, should you need to use the facilities, I should probably warn you that the toilets are kind of bossy.

Sorry. Needed to be said. But if throwing that in didn’t kill your appetite, I definitely recommend the restaurant!

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One thought on “Mmmm… bison

  1. I’ve shied away from Ted’s because it was a chain, but I might just have to give it a try. I watched that “How I Met Your Mother” episode (and read Nicole’s post), and now I’ve got a serious burger itch to scratch.

    I have to admit, though, that what I really want is a dive-y burger joint, like the kind in the Mother episode. Any of those around these parts?

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