Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ted's Bulletin

505 8th St. SE
Washington, DC  20003
202.544.8337
www.tedsbulletin.com
Ted's Bulletin on Urbanspoon


I was reading a story in the Washington Post about their 19 year-old All-Star phenom, Bryce Harper and it talked about how he liked to eat at a place called Ted's Bulletin on Capitol Hill since it served breakfast all day.  Now, I'm not a sports groupie so I wasn't thinking that I'd see Harper there and I don't necessarily subscribe to having a 19 year-old baseball player as a culinary guide but in this particular case, I used a 19 year-old baseball player to be a culinary guide.  Besides, they serve breakfast all day!  I went there for an early dinner and when I sat down, I realized that I didn't necessarily want breakfast at any time of the day so I decided that I'd make this a two day visit and just go back the next day for breakfast when you're supposed to eat breakfast.  Yeah, I know, conforming to society's norms, I should be ashamed.


So, another reason was that I've been looking to try out a place to eat on Capitol Hill but short of a Spike Mendelsohn production, I wasn't sure where I should go first.  This was a good choice as any.  Despite the fact that it was hovering around 100 degrees with a ton of humidity, I really liked the row of shops and restaurants near the Navy Barracks where Ted's was located.  In a way, it reminded me of the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn with a bunch of bars and hip little shops stretching down a couple of streets.  Ted's can be found just a couple doors down from one of the Matchbox Pizza locations who, not coincidentally, own Ted's also.

The decor, the wait staff, the everything in the restaurant is straight out of the 1950's art deco.  The TVs at the bar are still (or at least look like) old CRT TVs playing re-runs of classic shows from 70s.  I think the Waltons were playing on a loop in the main dining room when I was there.  Or Bonanza.  Christ, was it Little House on the Prairie?  All I know is that they were wearing Western outfits and Mr. Roper from Three's Company was in the show.  Umm...where was I?  The 1950ish theme, complete with dressed up waiters, made the vibe of the place much more hip and enjoyable.

The food on the menu is simple, straightforward and not really avant garde culinary magic.  It is, however, well done, comforting and more times than not, that's all we're really craving.  For my first meal, I really wanted to try the fried chicken but at the top of the menu, there was a country fried steak entree calling my name.  I've already professed my love for this guilty pleasure when I went to Black Jack so I couldn't really resist when I saw it.  I picked the cream corn and bacon & blue cheese brussel sprouts as my side.  To start the meal I got the soup of day (black bean and andouille sausage) and I finished it off with a black & white milkshake.

When the soup first came out, I expected a much thicker broth and at first glance it seemed really runny.  I broke up some saltines into the soup before I even break into it with hope that the crackers add some extra texture.  When I mixed it up, the some was thicker than I anticipated and it was pretty full of the beans but could have used a bit more andouille.  The flavors were like a simplified gumbo and I liked the heat the soup brought, both in temperature and spice, even though it was so god damn hot outside (excuse the language but if you experienced this heat wave, you'd know.  oh, you would know).  The unfortunate part of the experience is that my country fried steak came out and I wasn't even half way done the soup so I did feel a tad rushed trying to finish it off.  I got a bowl instead of a cup.  Lesson learned.

I dove into the entree next.  Well, the sides first.  The creamed corn is what you expect, silky, sweet, rich and something you could probably eat about a gallon of.  The brussel sprouts were a nice surprise to me.  I've made something similar in the past for my nieces by sprinkling olive oil, salt, and pepper on them and then roasting them in the oven.  I've always liked the bitterness of the brussel sprouts combined with the crispiness.  The addition of blue cheese and bacon (well, duh?) gave them a whole new tangle of flavors from the salty of the bacon to the tangy of the goat cheese.  They stay pretty faithful to the tradition of country fried steak with a nice black pepper gravy on top and a pounded thin cheap cut of beef cooked in a crispy batter.  I enjoyed it but I'm now not sure that I wouldn't rather have a bastardized version of country fried steak using a better cut of beef and a less heavy batter.  To it's credit, it wasn't overly greasy and the gravy was beyond creamy and complementary.

The next day I woke up early to get there for breakfast at 7 AM.  Yeah.  On a Sunday.  Don't judge.  I also wanted to see the new Spider-Man movie and it was opening weekend.  However, they have this great 9 AM show at the local IMAX 3D theater that isn't quite as crowded so I planned to see that after breakfast.  For the record, I'm not sure why they re-started the franchise but it turned out to be a damn good movie.

I ordered coffee and OJ and while I was craving some pancackes, I figured I should try their signature Big Mark breakfast.  The Big Mark is, well, big.  It comes with 2 strip of bacon, 2 maple sausage patties, hash browns, 2 sides of toast and 3 eggs (sunny side up for me, please).  Oh, and a homemade pop tart.  The breakfast is about as good as breakfast fare gets, nothing more, nothing less.  The big differentiating factor was the homemade pop tart.  They make them in the front window of the restaurant for all to see and the waiter from the night before recommended them but I didn't buy into that.  Boy, did I not see that coming.  I got a brown sugar and cinnamon pop tart with sprinkles.  It's what a pop tart should be if it was on crack.  It wasn't overly sweet and the brown sugar or cinnamon weren't overwhelming.  The fresh dough was just doughy enough with a hint of crispiness on the edge.

You may be wondering about the black & white shake I seem to have forgotten from above.  Well, I didn't. In fact, I ordered one after breakfast too.  Black & white milkshakes (vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup) are another one of my weaknesses and while Ted's had a ton of other kinds along with "adult" milkshakes (alcoholized milkshakes!), black & white ones have always been my favorite.  The ones they make here are first rate, finely balancing having just enough ice cream without having too much that you can't drink it with a straw.  The best part is that they bring out the metal cup where the shake was made so that you can finish off the extras too.  Props on a really nice yet simple touch.

At first glance, I thought Ted's Bulletin was just a glorified diner dressed up like an extra on Boardwalk Empire.   After all, what do 19 year-old baseball players know about places to eat since, well, they're just 19 and all they've been doing is playing baseball.  It turns out they know a lot or at least they know that everyone should find a go to place to find a reliable, comforting meal.  Ted's Bulletin is such a place.  From the well done comfort food to the eternal breakfast, everything that comes out (sometimes too quickly though) will always leave you satisfied.  Personally, I could probably just stick to the milkshakes and pop tarts.

P.S.  Congratulations on the 2012 All-Star game, Bryce.  I hope there are about 20 more in your future.
 

2 comments:

  1. That much heat and humidity screams of an uncomfortable place to me - no matter how good the food is. The restaurant might want to invest in better ventilation and some dehumidifyers. Otherwise, I doubt the customers will keep coming back much longer.

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  2. The food in Ted's Bulletin tastes great, the ambiance is perfect for chilling, and the staff are all friendly. But I do agree with Damian on the heat and humidity. The smoke might ruin the cozy atmosphere. Perhaps a strong commercial exhaust fan may do the trick too? Just an idea. - Skye

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