11948 Market Street
Reston, VA 20190
Reston, VA 20190
703-956-9510 (Ted's takes call-ahead reservations)
Take your basic diner, add Mom’s unique and special ingredients, add nostalgia, add charm and comfort, and you get Ted’s Bulletin. Movies from the 30’s, a menu spread on newsprint, daily specials (Thursdays—TV Dinners!), homemade pop tarts, and charming décor are just the tip of the iceberg here.
Ted’s has grown from a quaint storefront restaurant in DC’s Barracks Row neighborhood to an area chain with two DC locations (Capitol Hill and U St) and two in Northern Virginia (Reston and Merrifield). We’ve only been to two, but the atmosphere, menu (and unfortunately service) is similar in each. The first time it was breakfast. The Big Mark was more than sufficient with 3 eggs, 4 meats, and a homemade pop tart—yes, you read right—a homemade pop tart. Fresh out of the oven, and what sets the downtown DC location apart from our most recent lunch visit in Reston was the welcoming site of a fully staffed bakery in the front of the dining room. Other than the bakery, this “Reston-raunt” is no different from the others: same décor, same old fashioned movies playing on the big screen (we saw the 1933 version of King Kong and what looked to be shorts from the Our Gang/Little Rascals series), same menu, same (could be better) service. It is tucked into the stores, restaurants, movie theaters and corporate offices in Reston Town Center.
We started with the baked pretzels with cheese/beer sauce. Hot, fresh, delicious, but small (four finger-length pretzels). The server’s suggestion to hold on to the rest of the cheese sauce to dip with the lunch sandwich was key as I ordered the Reuben with fries and the sauce did go very nicely with the fries. The Reuben was very large conglomeration of lean corned beef, crunchy and tangy sauerkraut with 1,000 Island dressing. We also had the Chicken Parmesan—a heaping monstrosity of battered chicken with tomato sauce and cheese over a bed of spaghetti served with two triangles of grilled texas toast and the Smoked Alabama Chicken—a full half chicken 1/2 chicken, white BBQ sauce that came with a sides choice. In this case we had the creamed corn (delish) and the homemade mac and cheese. Everything was plentiful and tasty. If only it came out within a reasonable amount of time.
It was not that the place was crowded (it usually is, but they do have a call-ahead reservation service). We ate around 2pm and the house was about ¼ full. Perhaps the staff was reeling from a larger lunchtime crowd that affected the service, but we can’t give them the benefit of the doubt on that. A salad that accompanied the Chicken Parm came out after the Chicken Parm. Not good.
Will we go back to Ted’s? Sure. It’s comfortable and the food is top-notch which kind of takes the edge off the bad service. This is akin to waiting in a line for an hour just to ride the roller coaster at a theme park. You shrug off the wait because you know what’s on the other end of the line. And you don’t have to be “this tall” to ride this one.