Bison burger and strawberry shortcake at Ted Turner’s restaurant
I ate my first bison burger last night, and it was the best burger I’ve had at a chain restaurant.
My first taste of bison meat was in 2005, when I volunteered at a Native American reservation in South Dakota as part of Central Michigan University’s Alternative Spring Break program. One night, a feast was held for us, and bison was prepared like roast beef. I remember it tasting just like the roast beef I grew up eating in my mother’s kitchen.
Last night, I had a similar thought: A bison burger tastes just like a beef burger — but it’s a leaner meat with less fat, more protein and without the growth hormones or antibiotics often found in beef.
At Ted’s Montana Grill, the American bison is celebrated as an iconic figure in our country’s history. The menu features bison steaks, meatloaf, pot roast, braised short ribs and, of course, burgers.
The menu lists 19 burger selections that range from a plain and simple Naked burger to such creative concoctions as the Canyon Creek topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, fresh jalapeños, blackberry jam and an over-easy fried egg. All burgers can be made with bison, beef or chicken and are served on a Kaiser roll, ciabatta bread or a wheat bun.
I ordered the Avalon, which was topped with melted Gruyère and a bit of Bleu cheeses, crumbled bacon, sweet caramelized onions, a roasted garlic aioli and baby arugula. It was absolutely delectable and so rich I could only finish half the burger. Because bison meat has less fat than beef, it will get tougher if it is cooked beyond “medium.” I ordered my burger medium, but it turned out medium well. I noticed the toughness, but it didn’t bother me much because of the delicious combination of flavors atop the bison patty. The cheeses combined into a rich, creamy blend offset by the smoky bacon, sweet onions and bitter arugula.
Burgers come with fries, unless otherwise noted, but you can swap out fries for another, perhaps healthier, side dish such as asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes or country-style green beans. The garlic mashed potatoes were thick with just a hint of garlic.
After such a filling plate of bison and mashed potatoes, I thought I was too full for dessert. Then, our waiter, Grady, explained the strawberry shortcake. It’s a Southern-style dessert with a sweet and crispy biscuit cut in half and stacked with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and topped with strawberries and house-made whipped cream. There was nothing short about this dessert.
Started by media mogul Ted Turner, Ted’s Montana Grill lives up to its promise of “authentic American dining” providing flavorful and inventive menu options, healthy and gluten-free meal selections and friendly and efficient service. Not only was our waiter attentive and informative, but other staff members we encountered were friendly, wishing us a “good evening” and thanking us for stopping by as we left the restaurant. Ted’s also practices sustainability — you’ll notice the paper, rather than plastic, straws and the dim, low-energy-consuming lighting.
Menu: Burgers available in bison, beef or chicken; steaks, bison dishes, seafood, salads, sandwiches, gluten-free options
Drink list: Wines, beers, soft drinks and milkshakes
Prices: Moderate with $15 burgers to pricier for entrees
Locations: 2451 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22314 and other locations
Wish you were here,