It’s been a while since there was this much anticipation for a restaurant opening on the Hill. I volunteered at Taste of 8th on Saturday and was posted outside of the yet-to-open Ted’s Bulletin directing Tasters to Matchbox to sample one of Ted’s shakes. I never want to utter the words, “You can get your milkshake at Matchbox,” ever, ever again. People were clamoring just to get a peek inside of the space. Well, the wait is almost over – Ted’s is opening this week. I was lucky enough to be invited to check them out at their private soft opening last night and let me tell you: you’re going to be impressed.
My first thought walking in was how unique this place is. There is no place in DC that looks anything like Ted’s. The front area does double duty as the bar and the dessert counter. As I mentioned back in October, much of the interior was salvaged from the Philadelphia Convention Center and while Ted’s certainly takes it style cues from the art deco light fixtures, antique marble and tin ceilings – it’s not overdone and it’s got just the right amount of kitsch.
As this was a private soft opening, I didn’t know what to expect from the food or the service. The whole point of the exercise is to work out the kinks and celebrate the beginning of something great with friends and family. I asked Claudia, fellow THIHer and Ms. Brunch and the City to be my +1, especially knowing that Ted’s is serving breakfast all day. When we arrived we ordered two of the specialty cocktails; mine featured fig jam and hers featured chamomile and scotch. When you go, I encourage you to order a drink that features an ice ball and watch as a large cube of ice is made spherical before your eyes. The drinks were made with care and although mine was fruity, the alcohol was not obscured and other than Wisdom, there’s no where else on the Hill doing cocktails like this right now. At $10.29 a piece, the prices are still well below many comparable drinks around town.
I had a hard time choosing what to order, but in the end settled on the Herb-Roasted Chicken and chose the Bacon and Blue Cheese Brussels Sprouts and the Mac and Four Cheese with Andouille as my sides. Roasted chicken is the dish by which I judge all restaurants who serve it. A perfectly roasted chicken is the fastest way to convert me into a regular, and in my experience is a good measure of the kitchen’s potential. If a restaurant is serving dry, flavorless roasted chicken, they’re probably not paying enough attention to the basics to master the more complicated dishes. I hesitated to order it last night because it would be unfair to judge a restaurant on a soft-opening, but I went ahead. I wasn’t disappointed. The chicken was moist and not at all overdone. And the brussels sprouts were out of this world. Definitely a home run. Granted, I’m totally biased, as they’re one of my absolute favorite foods and the addition of bleu cheese and bacon has never made anything worse, but they were awesome. I only had a couple bites of mac and cheese – it was tasty, but sadly was relegated to the shadow of greatness cast by the brussels sprouts.
I ended my meal with a 21+ White Russian milkshake. I don’t generally like to ruin perfectly good booze with milk and ice cream, and ordering the White Russian made me feel like an Achiever at Lebowskifest, but I’m not going to lie – it was great. I also enjoyed a tablemate’s Nutty Professor largely due to an embarrassing fondness for Amaretto that I don’t often indulge.
So while the food was excellent and the service was friendly and enthusiastic, what I liked the best was that the Matchbox/Ted’s team is serious about making their restaurants community gathering places. Last night’s dinner was full of familiar faces from around the neighborhood (the “Last Supper” -esque gathering of ANC6 commissioners at a large table in the front of the room was especially entertaining). And while last night’s dinner was only open to “friends and family” I suspect that soon enough, every night will feel like friends and family night at Ted’s.
Ted’s Bulletin opens to the public later this week and is located at 505 8th Street, SE. They’ll be open for breakfast at 7am every day starting this weekend.