An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
May 15, 2014
10:11 AMThe Connecticut Table
Ted Turner's Montana Grill Opens in Hartford to Great Reception
Another thing that media entrepreneur, environmentalist and philanthropist Ted Turner wants to see is folks in Connecticut’s capital region enjoying the rich flavors of “Authentic American Dining” inspired by Big Sky Country at affordable prices.
A new location of Ted’s Montana Grill, the classic American grill co-founded by Turner and award-winning restaurateur George McKerrow Jr., opened this week in the new Front Street District in Hartford. Connecticut’s first Ted’s is located at The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor. (Above, a bison filet.)
“Inspired by the pioneer spirit of the American West, Ted’s Montana Grill is committed to serving honest food served with genuine hospitality,” says the press material on the opening. “The menu is known for its modern interpretation of hand-prepared, 100 percent fresh classic comfort food. The chef-inspired menu features the finest cuts and best selection of bison, including high quality, flavorful steaks and award-winning burgers amongst a variety of other unique menu items. All meals are made from scratch fresh daily—nothing frozen or microwaved.” (Above right, the Red Rock Burger.)
As the photos show, those burgers—with an extensive section of choices on the menu—look delicious, as do the steaks, the crab cakes (left), onion rings and everything else.
“Popular appetizers include Salt-N’Pepper Onion Rings, fresh-cut potato chips with creamy ranch onion dip and St. Phillip’s Island Crab Cakes with fresh guacamole and coleslaw,” a release explains. “Classic dishes include steaks, meatloaf, pot roast, pecan crusted trout, cedar plank salmon and beef and bison burgers. Meals are served with sides ranging from fresh-cut fries to Aunt Fannie’s squash casserole. But no meal is complete until you try some of Ted’s homemade cookies or fudge brownies.” (Ted’s uses Certified Angus Beef, National Bison Association-certified bison, all-natural chicken and premium seafood, and “also believes in fresh, sustainable, organic and locally grown ingredients.”)
The newest Ted’s Montana Grill is located at 35 Front Street in downtown Hartford and officially opened Monday. The floor plan of the 4,600-square-foot restaurant features an open kitchen and a dining room that seats 120 in booths and at round tables. The bar seats 25 and serves handcrafted cocktails, beer and wine. (Right, steak salad.)
Connecticut apparently already loves the cuisine and lore of Ted’s, as McKerrow, who serves as the company’s CEO, noted that the sneak preview weekend before the opening was one of the biggest ever for a new Ted’s Montana Grill.
“Downtown Hartford is experiencing a renaissance, and we want to be a part of this close-knit community,” McKerrow says. “Hartford has an interesting dynamic of strong businesses, convention goers, students and a new generation of young entrepreneurs and their families.” (Left, the fudge brownie.)
The sneak preview weekend was launched by an invitation-only ribbon-cutting event last Friday, May 9, featuring Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, McKerrow, John Halpin, proprietor of the Hartford Ted’s Montana Grill, and Joe Marfuggi, President and CEO of Riverfront Recapture, among others.
In welcoming Ted’s to the Front Street district, Segarra confessed how much he enjoys the Salt-N’Pepper Onion Rings, which reportedly drew a “roaring round of applause.”
“The energy here is contagious; we’re going to do very well in this location,” says Halpin, who has a staff of 50 employees and three managers.
As part of arriving in Hartford, Ted’s Montana Grill donated more than $4,000 to Riverfront Recapture over the sneak peek weekend in lieu of guests’ meals. Riverfront Recapture is a non-profit organization that is leading the effort to reconnect metropolitan Hartford with the Connecticut River by providing access to four riverfront parks in Hartford and East Hartford.
“Ted’s Montana Grill serves time-honored favorites in a relaxed setting reminiscent of the 19thcentury American frontier,” the press materials explain. “The design of the Hartford location is inspired by old western saloons, with all the romance and classic touches that make it feel luxurious, but in a casual, warm way.” The décor features mahogany paneling, pressed tin ceilings, brass fixtures and beautiful crown molding.
As part of its philosophy, Ted’s Montana Grill incorporates many eco-friendly technologies and practices—from low-voltage, compact fluorescent light bulbs to menus printed on recycled paper, along with paper straws, wooden drink stirrers, cornstarch to-go cups, recycled coasters and biodegradable to-go cutlery and cardboard containers.
“Sustainability and recycling is ingrained in nearly every aspect of our restaurant,” says Halpin. “Our guests are just as environmentally committed as we are, so they really appreciate the dedication it takes to be responsible. It takes time, research and effort and to be good stewards of the Earth. But it’s worth it.”
According to the Ted’s website, here’s how it all started:
Ted's Montana Grill began with two American entrepreneurs and a dream. As a business leader, philanthropist, environmentalist and avid outdoorsman, Ted Turner decided to share his love of Big Sky Country and its tradition of hearty food. He also wanted to celebrate an American icon: The bison who once thundered across the Great Plains. Ted joined forces with famed restaurateur George McKerrow Jr., a pioneer and leader in casual dining, and together they created Ted's Montana Grill.
The first Ted's Montana Grill opened in Columbus, Ohio, in January of 2002. Ten years later, every Ted's is a proud tribute to the ingredients, meals and hospitality that define the Great American West while preserving and building the bison herds in America. By featuring the biggest bison menu in the world, Ted’s Montana Grill has made bison a popular menu choice today in dining, providing incentive for ranchers to actively grow their herds.
Like bison at home on the range, our guests know they will always feel welcome at Ted's Montana Grill. Our commitment to showing guests the genuine hospitality that keeps them coming back is what we call, “Big Sky Spirit.” This is a place where they know they'll always find a greeting and a meal that makes them glad they visited.
Ted Turner's Montana Grill Opens in Hartford to Great Reception