This is Ted. A few weeks ago when there was a whirl of chatter about some Ted thing. As in "Hey, do you know Ted?" "Moscerina, sei stata da Ted?" The only Ted I knew was an old friend who broke another friend's heart, so just as quickly as it was on my radar, Ted fell off. And then I peeked around on the internet. Ted is a London-inspired, lobster and hamburger joint with a Lobster Roll specialty. The Professor reminded me that whereas his most formulative years included New England winters and lobster rolls, I have had only one bite of experience, at the Plaza Food Hall in a January 2015 snowstorm. True story. It was about time to change that.
Ted is charming. Its location, on one of those quiet Prati side streets leading up to the Vatican and just next to via Cola di Rienzo, is perfect for a Sunday afternoon snack, which is exactly what we did. The windowed facade only subtly stands out from the muted pastel Liberty era buildings that surround it. When inside, it's a cave of wood-panels, soft lights, great floors and a large bar as center piece. Knowing me, I'll probably pass by at night to catch the glow from the Ted sign, its name in Hollywood lights above the bar. The blue, white and red colors give it a slightly French vibe, or that could be because I loved the stripe sailor tees the staff was wearing and the cute guys in rolled Capri pants- yep, I was definitely hoping for a culinary Jean Paul Gautier.
Our order was simple: One Bloody Mary, one Martini, one Lobster Roll and one Shrimp Soft Taco pair. To quote Peggy Lee, "Is that all there is?"
Everything was slightly less than what was expected. According to my Lobster roll expert, the bun was toasted but not hot nor buttered enough. The shrimp tacos-- I should mentioned I lived in LA's East Side for years and ate every taco in the area every day-- were good, but could have been more crispy and the tortilla should have been flipped over twice on a hot griddle. The Martini was a bit weak and the Bloody Mary was just a Mary. Ted could have been a contender, and you know, I am not tossing it out of the ring. I hoping it is just ironing out some kinks.
The arrival of Ted is in no way big news. And yet, it is big news. Over the past five years, Rome has seen food tourism fall-out- a never-ending story of food spots and trends that began with gelaterie and followed with a deluge of panini shops, hamburger spots, designer pizza joints, beer bars, mixology masters, street food and 2015's Amsterdam potato chips craze. Restaurants haven't shied away from evolution, whether redressing no frills mom-and-pop spots to an increased investment in Michelin star-gazers or the more affordable, and Instagram-ready trattorie. Some have been pretty damn good, others just pretty, no good. Recently, I've noticed that the pursuit of food quality concurrent with gorgeous design is finally a main focus. Where Ted falls on this food chain is a gorgeous looking hang out, with an impressive investment in interior design-- the floors! the lights! the striped tees! -- and the hope that the buns are usually toasted and hot, and I was just there on an off day.