{Ted’s Montana Grill} A dining experience that gets better each time

What’s better than getting a media invite to dine? An invite to a restaurant that you already trust and love!  I frequent this Bolingbrook, IL location as it is fairly close to my day job and in the past year, I’ve dine here more than a handful of times.  I’m never disappointed.

Last week while my mom was in town, I took her to a media invitation to check out the burgers on the menu. I know what you’re thinking “great, another burger”. But No, You’re Wrong. Because I was able to bring my family to this dining experience, I can tell you about it from the perspective of a senior citizen AND two very active toddlers with picky eating habits, and of course, my very own humble opinion.

Ted’s is the ALL AMERICAN restaurant that features ‘merican food. I’m talking hamburgers, crab cakes, meat loaf, turkey dinner…BUT WAIT, There’s More! The restaurant features BISON!

Why Bison? Bison is an extremely lean protein and because the industry isn’t commercialized, the chances of getting bison meat with antibiotics and GMO corn fed, etc. are LOW. At Ted’s Montana Grill, the bison is source directly through media mogul, Ted Turner’s ranch! Ted’s Montana Grill features the largest bison menu in the world.

Let’s talk food, shall we?
I started my meal with a cocktail. It was, after all, past noon on a Sunday – and I was dining with two toddlers. I kinda needed it!
MOUNTAIN BREEZE
Finlandia Grapefruit vodka, freshly squeezed lime and orange juice with a splash of cranberry.

In all honesty, I’m not sure I would order it again.  I am not sure if it was because I had brushed my teeth about 30 minutes prior but it had a little bit of a bitter taste to it.  I’m not a “sweet” cocktail kind of person either but I didn’t LOVE this drink.  But being the food whore that I am, I drank the whole thing.

Next, I introduced the CRAB CAKES to my mom – who said “wow, this is a real crab cake!”  Look at those juicy chunks of crab.  This is the real deal with barely any fillers.  Large lumpy pieces of crab.  One of the best crab cakes I have ever had.  This is a sampler that the proprietor arranged for us to try.    I’ve had it before and it is delicious, every time.

Oh, let me tell you about the free munchies when you dine here.  HALF SOUR PICKLES are as addictive as crack.  I LOVE these crunchy, salty cucumbers.  Ask for seconds!  My 2 year old daughter loved them and my 4 year old son actually tried one (when told him I would give him a small sampler pack of jelly belly’s to try it) and he said it was tasty! (and on your way out, free cookies!!! not pictured)

Then our meal came.  As a Chinese Canadian/American, I am by NO MEANS any expert on traditional America cuisine.  I classify Meatloaf as such.  I tried meatloaf for the first time about 5 years ago and have only had it maybe, 4 times in my life.  HOWEVER, my corn-bred, Southern Illinois husband was able to identify with this dish and said it was really, really good.  It provided notions of nostalgia… enough said?  I certainly thought the flavors were well balanced, the meat was not tough at all, neither too sweet or too salty.   The side of beans were crisp and fresh and the smashed potatoes are how you expect they should taste at home.

OMG. It’s past midnight as I write this post and looking at these pictures is making me HUNGRY!!!!


What did the toddler’s eat, you ask?  My son is 4 and my daughter is 2.  Every day, my son declares that steak is is favorite food, while my daughter, less vocal, normally says “Mmmm, that’s good” after eating steak for dinner.   However, I was a bit worried when I saw the steak was sprinkled with pepper but this didn’t phase either one of them.  Because they are just little kids, we ordered one for them to share and they wolfed it down.  No steak was left unharmed.   The meal also comes with lemonade (or some other choices like soft drinks) but we ordered the lemonade not knowing that they FRESH SQUEEZE the juice daily.  My kids LOVED it.  (My secret to getting my kids to eat is to have the servers bring out the drinks AFTER their meal).

On to the burgers…. pictured below is the Ted’s burger.  The all american classic BISON burger (yes, guilt free) topped with bacon and cheese.  Delicious.  My mom, the senior citizen, commented that this was WAY better than Kuma’s Corner (we went a few days prior) and that the atmosphere is WAAAAY nicer.  Please don’t forget that mom is always right.  I think I agree with that, the meat has more texture than Kuma’s.  I almost felt that Kuma’s was too soft, with more of a meatball texture.

Below is a cross section of

NO. 11  Burger

Horseradish cheddar, slow-braised bison, grilled mushrooms and horseradish sauce

Wow, lots of flavor.  My husband and I LOVE horseradish and this definitely hit the spot.  It’s also one of their best selling burgers, in case you were wondering.

 

Ted’s features 17 burger varieties to suit every need.  You can opt out of the bison experience and choose beef instead.  But bison is a delicious and healthy alternative.

If you’re looking for a no-fail dining experience, check out Ted’s Montana Grill.  It’s a great spot for a date night, family lunch and even business function. Servers are knowledgeable and friendly.

 

~Vivian

  • 623 E Boughton Rd
    Ste 890

{Barbakoa} Latin Flavors Ignite!

I couldn’t help but say “yes!” when I was invited to dine at Barbakoa a couple of weeks ago. I had passed by this new restaurant situated in the old Buona Beef establishment but never had a chance to make it in. There are so many exciting things about this restaurant that I am certain that I will make this a regular destination.

The lively vibe and bright spacious patio makes you feel like you’re in the city, almost. The vivid decor reminds me much of Carnivale in the West Loop, probably because one of the partners belongs to the restaurant Klein restaurant group. If you’re familiar with the high ceilings, colorful splashes of red, purple and orange, you’ll know what I mean.

On a Thursday night, the place wasn’t packed but there was quite a crowd. The room was a bit cool but the patio was perfect for a summer night. Unfortunately, there was a wait for the patio so we sat inside. Ladies, bring a pashmina!

The restaurant menu is designed for tasting, but if you’re not into multiple courses, you can order a la carte.  But check this out!

The most economical tasting menu will leaving bursting at the seams and satisfied.  I can’t wait to go back and try their upgraded menus!

Let’s have a look at the $22 per person menu which is what we enjoyed.  We asked our server to bring out his favorites (actually, he offered!) and we gladly obliged!  Highly recommend doing this…

Guacamoles, not your average guac!

A simple but pretty presentation.  The first guacamole at the top is finished with chicharron also known as fried pork rind.  The avocados had a nice balance of flavor, mild (some guac has too much onions or garlic) and a crispy top.

Second item, mango guacamole  had just a touch of sweetness. Again, nicely balanced and flavorful, the mangoes were like a celebration of summer!

Salsas…..

…if you can’t take the heat…let your server know!  We love spicy food so not an issue.  the first was a serrano pepper green salsa (mild) and the second was a habanero salsa.  Both excellent and not the knock your socks off kinda spicy. I was still able to taste my food after eating this.

The main event…TACO’s – wow. my favorite part to tell you about!  LOOK AT THIS FEAST!

We were given four taco to try – EACH!  Short ribs, halibut, shrimp and carne asada.  the carne asada was so amazing I almost ran to the kitchen to beg for more.  But I had some more serious work ahead of me, that is, to taste the rest of the tacos.  I loved that the taco are the tiny tortillas, the size of your palm but the chef stuffs it as full as a burrito.  Tasty stuff my friends.  I loved all the textures of soft, crispy, crunchy, sweet, salty – all of the above (except bitter).


Wait, I just lied. I think my favorite part is dessert.  A five course dessert!  Amazing.  Small bites of 5 different desserts was a heavenly way to polish off a meal.

Need I remind you that it was only $22 per person?

Add a couple of giant mojitos and dinner was $75 including drinks, taxes and tips.  WHOA!  Date night is going to happen more often.

{Q-BBQ} Not Your Average Smokehouse

Downtown Naperville has always been an attractive place to dine – bustling with independent boutiques and often pricey restaurants -however the town is now complete with it’s very own fast-casual smokehouse,  Q-BBQ.  Q-BBQ earned it’s following at their flagship location in LaGrange several years ago and has now found a comfy spot on Main St. in downtown Naperville.  Their location is a huge stomach tease on the nearby population as you can smell the delicious smoked meat from MILES away!

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but Naperville seems to only have two smoke houses:  Gemato’s and now, Q-BBQ.  I went to Gemato’s over the summer and found it extremely mediocre. But of course, I’m comparing it to the lip smacking quality of Smoque BBQ or Honky Tonk’s in the city.  I ordered the smoked chicken and the ribs and remember clearly that the chicken was so dry enough that my toddler refused to eat any. The high chairs really needed a severe cleaning – who wants to put their kid in a sticky high chair??  I love that Q-BBQ is a modern restaurant – like the feeling you get when you walk into a Chipotle. It’s clean, bright and inviting.   The staff is good looking and friendly.

Now, I mentioned Honky Tonk – it’s hands down, my favorite BBQ in the city. We used to live about 5 mins from there and ordered as often as our waistlines could afford.  I can easily say that the calibre of Q-BBQ may EXCEED that of Honky Tonk. Let’s compare apples to apples.

1) Q-BBQ offers FOUR sauces where Honky Tonk only offers 3 – My favorite is definitely the South Carolina Mustard. They also have a Texas spicy, North Carolina Vinegar and Sweet Sauce.

2) Q-BBQ offers both SLICED and CHOPPED beef brisket (Honky Tonk only has chopped it seems)

3) Q-BBQ’s memphis style chicken wings might make you orgasm upon first bite. Not offered at Honky Tonk

4) Q-BBQ may just win this comparison with their BURNT ENDS. (More on that later)

What Q-BBQ doesn’t have are the fun additions that Honky Tonk has, like fried green tomatoes or bacon candy.

Not know what to order, we opted for the Q-COMBO where you can choose 4 meats and add sides.  As the platter of BBQ deliciousness was passed under my nose, I felt a mouth boner erect inside me.  My salivary glands began to express themselves and I found my throat beginner to swell. My heart palpitated just a litte as the tray slid in front of me.

::Pulled chicken, chicken wings, chopped beef brisket, pulled pork.  Hush puppies, mac n cheese (whisper “smoked…….. meat………”)

Without blinking an eye or letting another second pass without having BBQ in my mouth, we quickly divided up our share and each of us attacked the food in our own way.  Uniquely different right off the bat was the chicken wings.  They are so covered in brown sugar & spices then smoked – the flavor was finger licking good!   Everything else was very good but we weren’t able to stop at just tasting this 4 meat combo. (btw, Hush Puppies are are the BOMB – sweet kernerls of corn pop nestled in the soft potato sing glorious songs in your mouth).

One thing I was able to do on this visit was solidify the fact that I have to make my way to South Carolina very soon.  I’ve found the style of sauce that I keep going back to.  Not shown here (it’s around the backside) is this yellowy, mustard bbq sauce.  Who can recommend a place to go in South Carolina??

::Round Two

Not satisfied yet, at the recommendation of the manager, Abbey (who’s adorable by the way), we ordered the Burnt Ends.  I am not sure I have been burnt ends any where else, or maybe just never took notice.  At Q-BBQ, they smoke the brisket, then cut off the burnt ends, re-rub and smoke another two hours for a total of 24 hours.  Intense meaty smokiness unless any other meat I’ve had before.  I was afraid they might be uber dry but actually very tender!

::Round Three, Food Whores don’t quit easily

You just can’t leave a BBQ joint without trying out the ribs, right? I am a bit of a pork rib snob – Because we make ribs at home often enough – I have a preference in the cut of meat a buy.  We never buy ribs from the conventional grocery store anymore because all the big name brands have super fatty, super thick meat on the bones. Sounds like I would like it, but I don’t!  My idea of a perfect cut of ribs is uniform meatiness across the bone and at Q-BBQ, you get exactly that.  Look at the smoke ring around the meat? Yum. Perfect.

::Last round – salad for digestion.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer my salad post entree.


Hardly a healthy salad with REAL bacon, chunks of bleu but definitely fresh.  You can add meat onto the salad for just a few bucks more.

So there you have it, another invite to dine complete with pictures to show off the deliciousness.  Of all the items we ate, I highly recommend the burnt ends, the ribs and defintely the BBQ wings!  Since our visit, Q-BBQ added a few items to the menu including mashed potatoes, stuffing, chili, and a side salad to their ever-expansive menu.

~Vivian

Category:Restaurants Barbeque

103 S Main St Naperville, IL 60540
http://www.q-bbq.com/