- - Thursday, January 12, 2017

Local eatery chain Ted’s Bulletin delivers a satisfying culinary experience where legacy recipes are faithfully recreated from scratch and served within a family diner setting.

The upscale casual restaurant, with multiple metro area locations, is named for Ted Neal, a former World War II Navy sailor who returned home to Huntington, West Virginia, where he planted a garden to ensure plenty of fresh food to use in his recipes.

Lore says Neal saw food as a way to bring people — from the family, to the neighbor, to the mail carrier — together.  This philosophy is obvious at the Downtown Crown location in Gaithersburg where, when walking in from winter’s arctic blast, the greetings are warm and the smells are a combination of freshly made pastries and simmering soup.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Ted Neal’s sons, Mark and Ty, as on of the  Matchbox Food Group eateries that include Ted’s Bulletin, Matchbox and DC-3 restaurants.  Images from old “I Love Lucy” TV episodes are displayed in the main room. Distressed wood stools line the front upholstered soda-and-shake bar. Art deco-inspired fixtures, a tin ceiling and wood wainscoting welcome guests to a previous era.

At Ted’s Bulletin, the tomato soup and grilled cheese banish the winter chill. The soup is thick, almost meaty, without a hint of acidity, just good warm, comforting flavor served alongside a crisply made grilled cheese sandwich that encourages multiple trips to the restaurant.

The large heavy dinner plates are completely covered in classic diner food created by executive chef Frederik Talvera. Mr. Talvera loves to cook, and his stern demeanor lights up when he speaks of the joy he feels when he recognizes return guests.

He says that his favorite thing about cooking at Ted’s Bulletin is “when the plates come back clean.”  

For those diners who adopt Ted’s as their go to diner, the favorite thing about Mr. Talvera is the skillful manner in which he uses the freshest ingredients to create homemade dishes.

The Buttermilk Country Fried Steak, for example, is a representation of a classic Southern dish attributed to immigrants who brought Wiener Schnitzel, very tenderized meat cutlets that are dredged in buttermilk and flour and fried before being smothered in white salt and pepper gravy, from their homes in Germany to the hills of Texas.  

At Ted’s, a thick piece of round steak is pounded until very tender (an important manual step that keeps many a home cook from bothering), dredged in buttermilk and flour then fried in a skillet before being covered with white gravy that retains its consistency and flavor to the end.

The buttermilk is an important step in creating country-fried steak as the tanginess balances out the savory of the gravy and meat.  The buttermilk also helps to further tenderize the meat and the gluten in the flour, keeping it crisp but tender enough to absorb the gravy and stick to the cutlet in the frying process.  

The steak is complemented by a side of mashed potatoes made from a combination of Yukon gold and Russet varieties. While mashed potatoes are often little more than a conduit for gravy, butter and salt, these spuds needed none of those things.  

The secret is heavy cream simmered with black pepper, the dark granules then sieved out, allowing the flavor-enhancing spice to not overpower, or mar, the gravy’s creamy whiteness.

Whipping potatoes smooth with plenty of high-grade butter ensures nothing else is needed.

Where opening a can of corn might make the grade in other eateries, not here. Mr. Talvera combines fresh corn from the cob that is crisp and sweet, even in cold January; chopped red and green pepper; red onion; and then finished with a hint of poblano chili, cilantro and fresh lime that balances the mild heat of the capsicum, a nod to the chef’s Mexican heritage.

Chef Kevin Burgh delivers the restaurant’s signature breakfast plate (served all day), “The Big Mark,” named for Ted’s son. “The Big Mark” is a challenge for the heartiest of appetites, but diners will appreciate all of it.

Three eggs are served any way (but choose the perfection of sunny-side up for plenty of yolk gravy to mop up with the fresh bread and hash browns), served alongside crisp bacon, pork sausage and one of Ted’s homemade pop tarts.

The tarts, made daily in the store with strawberry, salted caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon or blueberry cheesecake fillings, are pastries worthy of taking home for a later snack.

Mention you are going to Ted’s Bulletin and fans of the restaurant will quickly tell you to try the crab eggs Benedict . Lump crabmeat is piled over toast topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce made daily in the kitchen using fresh egg yolk, lemon juice, cream and butter. Once again whipped to the perfect consistency, the tangy sauce, savory egg and sweet crab, as Mr. Talvera says, is a combination of Maryland and good food.

No diner meal is complete without a sweet, and the chocolate pie, made from scratch. The pie is made using heavy cream and melted chocolate topped with freshly whipped cream supported by a flaky crust.  It is literally a throwback to those hard-to-find 1940s-style cream pies.

Accompany that pie with Bananas Foster shake, made with or without banana rum and garnished with caramel, and you have a sweet treat to finish your meal.

Jacquie Kubin is an award-winning travel and food writer and travel editor at Communities Digital News.

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Ted’s Bulletin
Downtown Crown, 220 Ellington Blvd. , Gaithersburg, MD 20878
(301) 990-0600

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