Thursday, December 3, 2015

Ted's Montana Grill Food Review II

Bison Pot Roast

'Tis the season to be jolly... and busy. In my case, busy usually trumps the former (by a wide margin.) So goes the life of a semi-professional critic. Unfortunately, my schedule doesn't always allow for a restaurant revisit... even one with a recent glowing review such as Ted's Montana Grill. Time to call an audible, AKA a rainy afternoon road trip to Crystal City for bison, crab and soup. In my world, tasty trios trump busy (by an even wider margin.)

Ted's Arlington location is a lot different than the one in Alexandria (across from the AMC Hoffman Center 22.) For starters, it's cozier & darker (perhaps due to the weather outside) and was filled with a majority of jacket & tie customers. Makes sense, given the impressive bison (and beef) menu options. I purposely ordered something different than last time (alas, no sliders) but lucked out with the Soup of the Day (Chicken Noodle, $4 per cup) and a clever crab cake/guacamole combo appetizer (a wee bit pricy at $14.) My main course (Bison Pot Roast, $19) lived up to its Classics moniker, and combined with Ted's delectable (and complimentary) pickles left no room for dessert... the lone negative, against an otherwise terrific lunch.

Complimentary Pickles

When the worst thing you can say about lunch is "no room for dessert," you're doing pretty well fantastic. The aforementioned pickles rank a close second to Thunder Burger for quality, and you get twice as many (score!) The good times kept rolling with Ted's Chicken Noodle soup, which arrived (piping hot) less than two minutes after ordering. Fast and delicious is a lethal combination, as are tender carrots, celery, potatoes, long noodles and thick chunks of chicken, swimming in a refreshingly salt-free broth. The lack of salt secures this cup of soup as one of the top three I've enjoyed all year. Fresh Westminster Bakers Oyster Crackers make a great dish even better.

Soup of the Day - Chicken Noodle

Server Jacoby dazzled throughout, checking in frequently (despite an almost full house) removing plates promptly, and announcing each upcoming item with enthusiastic anticipation. This included my St. Phillip's Island Crab Cake, which arrived courtesy of an equally friendly & professional runner. The crab was a tiny bit dry, but once married with the creamy guac... absolutely delicious. Ditto for the well-seasoned kale side salad. Plenty of crab meat too.

St. Phillip's Island Crab Cake

I asked for (and received) a few extra minutes between courses, enough time to "take in" the full atmosphere of Ted's. With big crowds, comes higher noise levels; and I must admit, it was a little noisy at times, especially whilst running my Shazam app. So much for telling you what music they had playing in the background. As for comfort, you can't ask for more than Ted's roomy (and clean) booths. There's plenty of spacing between tables too. In terms of design, it looked almost identical to Alexandria (right down to the mounted buffalo head, and paper maps atop the plastic tablecloths.) Not quite Idaho (or Montana) but plenty authentic for a city slicker like myself.

Regardless of where you're from, odds are you're gonna love Ted's Bison Pot Roast, a heaping plate of simple comfort food with superb flavorings. It's a lot (of food) for lunch; but the bison roast tasted divine, and arrived piping hot (visible steam, etc.) The gravy thankfully didn't overwhelm, but added an extra layer of piquancy... especially when paired with Ted's incredible garlic mashed potatoes. Not that they needed it (this mash is delicious with or without gravy) but I couldn't get enough of either. The carrots were buttery and plentiful, although I prefer mine a little more tender (I'll ask, next time.) Generic roll? Ho-hum. Otherwise, you couldn't ask for better... even at Grandma's.

There's still lots to try (Gaithersburg, here I come) including Bison Short Ribs (Saturdays only) and “Aunt Fannie’s” squash casserole , which comes with the Bison Meatloaf and more of those to-die-for garlic mashed potatoes. If Gaithersburg's half as good as Northern Virginia, I'm in for another treat: I can hardly wait.