There are some places you go to because the food is good and others that you tolerate because you like the atmosphere of the place. At Ted's Bulletin, I'm happy to report that you can get good food in an irresistibly adorable olde timey atmosphere.
Ted's is the comfort food purveying cousin to Matchbox and DC-3, and everything about the place screams old fashioned comfort, including the baker making fresh "pop tarts" in the front window...
and the fixtures reclaimed from the old Philadelphia Civic Center. It's undeniably adorable and unlike any place we've been in DC.
With this much atmosphere, it wouldn't be a surprise if the food didn't measure up. However, we found Ted's menu of comfort food classics (and a few original twists) to be worthy of a return visit.
I could drink an unsafe amount of their "adult" milkshakes spiked with alcohol. Indulge in a boozy grasshopper (mint) shake or a creamy white russian. If you don't wish to imbibe, Ted's serves non-alcoholic classic shakes too, complete with the metal cup and fun swirly spoon.
If there's one thing I love more than olde timey places, it is peanut butter. When I locked eyes with Ted's peanut butter bacon burger, I couldn't look away. Fearing a heart attack, I got B to agree to share this innovative serving of burger bliss with me. Look carefully my friends, that is peanut butter (not mustard or mayo) smeared on the bun. To offset the creamy thickness of the peanut butter, the burger is served with a side of spicy roma tomato jam. It was a winning sweet and salty combination, but I would have made it with chunky peanut butter to give it a more interesting texture. Definitely a must try for any die hard peanut butter fan.
Since we didn't know how we'd like the peanut butter burger, we opted for the safe grilled cheese and tomato soup combo as our second entree. It was a good execution of a classic but nothing to do the Dougie over.
After the shake, burger, and grilled cheese, we definitely had no business ordering dessert but we couldn't go to Ted's without testing one of their signature pop tarts. It was served piping hot and tasted like a less processed version of the kid favorite. Maybe the fact that this item is on the dessert menu says something about what we feed kids for "breakfast" in this country. That's a rant I'll leave to Jamie Oliver.
Second Thoughts From B
I guess I'll be the bad guy here. Ted's food was just ok for me and if I were to return, it would be for the atmosphere and location. I'll give them credit for tasty twists on the traditional milkshakes and hamburgers but the grilled cheese, tomato soup, and pop tart were all pretty average... and could be made at home.
I fully subscribe to the idea that you "eat with your eyes" and by extension, the atmosphere of a restaurant and its overall cool factor certainly comes into play. I remember watching my mother cook and being confused by her frustration that an otherwise delicious dish didn't have enough color. But we also eat with our mouths and for me, that is where Ted's came up a bit short.