Ted’s Bulletin

505 8th Street Southeast
Washington D.C., DC 20003-2835
(202) 544-8337

Open Daily 7am-10:30pm

Some of you may or may not know, but I’ve been living in Washington, D.C. these past few years.  Recently this town has becoming quite the go-to place because of the recent presidential election, various reality television shows (e.g. The Real World, Housewives, Top Chef, and much to the annoyance of the 33rd St. residents in Georgetown, that cupcake shop show on TLC), and of course the food.  D.C. has become quite the foodie town with high end restaurants popping up all over the place, along with competing burger joints left and right.  And I think it’s safe to say that most everyone in this city is a foodie.  My theory is it’s because of the size of Washington.  It’s not huge like NYC or L.A. where because there are thousands of places to eat, you don’t have to be picky because you’re overwhelmed by the choices around.  You’ll probably find a place within a block that will have what you’re in the mood for.  But it’s also not so small that there are only a few good restaurants worth trying.  Cities like D.C. and Boston are that right city size where the people tend to be more foodish because it’s still a growing restaurant environment, but the standard local places are still around.   So you’ll hear a lot of “I like this burger place more than that, I think the seafood here at this new place is better than there.”   And believe me, the folks in Washington have their opinions.

So as a resident D.C. foodie, I’ve banded together with a group of friends and we’ve been affectionately calling ourselves Team Dinner Out (TDO).  For the past year, every week or so the seven of us try out a new place to eat in the D.C. Metro area.  Choices have ranged from the swankiest of French bistros to literally hole in the wall, no table service BBQ joints (which “the hole in the wall” part was unbeknown to the member of the group who chose that particular venue for that week and tried to call for reservations).

This past week, to celebrate the one year anniversary of our group we had dinner at Ted’s Bulletin.  The restaurant is located south of the U.S. Capitol in an area called Barrack’s Row (named as such because at the end of the street is a Marine Corps barracks).  Ted’s just opened up recently and is the product of the owners of another popular restaurant chain called Matchbox.  Unlike Matchbox, which is quite good, but almost a little too fancy and shi-shi for the simple American food that they serve (think of a yuppie T.G.I.Friday’s), Ted’s has more of the home style feel.  The restaurant itself looks like something out of the 1930’s, with several wooden booths and tables, and a giant chalkboard with the day’s deserts and children’s menu written on the wall.

When we sit we’re greeted by our waiter who pours us water out of old milk bottles and we’re given what looks like newspapers that you would find in your grandma’s basement.  When you open the newspapers, on the inside are the actual food choices.  The menu itself isn’t anything remarkable (burgers, pastas, breakfast food, diner food essentially), but don’t let the simplicity of the choices fool you.  All the food we had was excellent.  Ted’s Bulletin hits that comfort food bulls-eye.

For starters, we ordered french fries covered in gravy (the white kind since there are two vegetarians in the group, and the staff was kind enough to bring us our special request) and it pretty much foreshadowed how good our meals would be.  Several of us, including myself, ordered the breakfast food (served all day) for dinner.  The hash browns were that perfectly brown shredded potato kind and the homemade pop tarts were delectable.  The bacon was crispy and wasn’t fatty, just the way I like it.  The eggs were just okay, I would have liked to have them a tad bit less dry.  However, to go along with my eggs and bacon, I had to try the Mac and Cheese, and I’m glad I did.  The side order I got came in a little iron cast dish, and the Mac and Cheese was savory, warm, and had a nice little bread crumb crunch on top.  Other members of our group ordered regular dinner type food.  The herb roasted 1/2 chicken probably could have been a little bit juicier, but it was still bursting with flavor. And of course, I can’t forget the milkshakes that two members of the group ordered.  These milkshakes were meals themselves, coming out in a full, large pint glass along with the still half-full shaker it was mixed in.  We tried the Cherry Vanilla and S’more shakes; both were heaven.  They also offer “Adult” milkshakes such as Bailey’s Caramel Macchiato and Spiked Thai Coffee that I need to go back and try sometime. If there was one flaw in an otherwise excellent meal, it would be the Peanut Chocolate cake.  To be fair, I was already pretty damn full when we started eating it, but it really wasn’t that impressive.  The cake itself was chocolate, but dry.  And the peanut part was literally peanuts on the back of the cake, with peanut butter acting as the frosting.  For how much it cost ($7.00) it wasn’t worth the extra calories.  I did hear however that the Blueberry Pie a la mode was quite good, so maybe I’ll give that a shot next time around.

All in all though, I would highly recommend this joint.  The price is right, the atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the food will leave you satisfied.  But be warned; the restaurant is extremely popular for brunch on the weekends, so don’t try to stop in at 11 on a Saturday and expected to be seated without a 30-45 minute wait.  Grade: B+

Conde Duque Hotel

Since we were on the topic of losing luggage, I wanted to talk about this hotel we stayed at in Madrid.  Like I said, losing your luggage is always a pain, especially when you have to deal with calling the airport and the one person in your party who speaks any Spanish has the proficiency of a 10 year old.

But if you happen to stay at a place like Conde Duque Hotel, your ordeal can be a whole lot less stressful.  If you want a good place to stay if you’re visiting Madrid, Conde Duque Hotel is a great choice.  The price is right, it’s right near the Madrid subway (or T, Metro, Underground, whatever you want to call it), and there’s a big supermarket conveniently down the street.  It’s not in the central part of Madrid, but if you want to stay at a hotel without all of the noise at night, this location is for you.  The subway, like I said, is only 100 meters away anyways.  And the breakfast that they provide each morning is pretty decent.  But the service is what made the experience memorable.

The bellman’s name was Victor and when we first walked in, he was so quiet that we weren’t sure if he was in a bad mood, or if he was just a dour person.  Not exactly uplifting to my luggage-less party.  But once we told him our situation, the curtain rose and he was tremendously helpful in getting our bags back. He gave us some great tips about food (I wish to god I could remember the paella place he sent us too – phenomenal) and getting around.  To this day, my sister still emails with Victor (every time I hear that name, I have an urge to growl/yell it out like Hugh Jackman) and although he’s probably still not working there, the hotel is one that I’d recommend to anyone.

UPDATE: Speak of the devil.  So my sister emailed Victor and he replied with the name of that great paella restaurant I mentioned above.  If you don’t know what paella is, click here.

The place is called La Paella de la Reina.  The restaurant is on a little side street, and yes, it looks a little shady from the outside, but trust me it’s fine.  When we asked the folks at Conde Duque for a quintessential place in Madrid to get paella, they didn’t hesitate to recommend this place.  You have to order the paella in advance, so be sure to plan ahead and call in the morning.  Since Madrid is known for their seafood (yes, I thought it was weird too since Madrid is right smack in the middle of Spain) I ordered the seafood paella.  Let’s just say I’ll never be able to eat any seafood dish (seriously, any seafood dish) again without comparing it to the paella I ate at this restaurant.