Memorable | One of the Best
Review by: Michael Stern
Ted’s in Meridian, CT |What to expect
The steamed cheeseburger is one of the most geographically focused of all Roadfood specialties. It is available within a twenty-five mile radius of Middletown in central Connecticut, where a handful of restaurants make and serve it. Fifty miles away in Connecticut, or anywhere else on earth, it is almost unknown.
A Steamed Cheeseburger at its best at Ted’s
A steamed cheeseburger is cooked not on a grill or grate, but in a steam cabinet, the meat held inside a squarish stainless steel tin as it browns but does not sizzle. Adjacent to the cooking beef patties in the steam cabinet are tins into which are placed small blocks of cheddar cheese. The effect of the steam on the cheese is to make it molten. The concept of steaming meat and cheese was supposedly devised in the 1920s, when steaming food was considered more healthy than frying it. Local historians credit Jack’s Diner as source of the first steamed cheeseburgers. They say Jack’s began as a horse-drawn eats-cart out of which Jack served steamed cheese sandwiches to local construction works. When the men wanted a more substantial, he added beef to the steam box and the steamed cheeseburger was born.
Jack’s is long gone, but at Ted’s in Meriden, CT you can eat a steamed cheeseburger made to perfection. A steamer is assembled by putting a steamed rectangular patty onto the bottom of a hard roll, then using a spoon or spatula to slide a big gob of partially melted cheese out of the steel tin onto the top of the burger. Into the bun go lettuce and tomato and, preferably, mustard; and you’ve got one heck of a messy but delicious cheeseburger.
Ted’s is a tiny place with four booths, but the best place to sit is at the counter. Here you have a view of the bin of chopped meat from which fistfuls are retrieved for the burger boxes as well as a pile of hard rolls and big blocks of cheese ready to be melted.
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|
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What To Eat
What do you think of Ted’s?
8 Responses to “Ted’s”
July 8th, 2011
This burger did nothing for me or anyone who had accompanied me that day. Bland and overall yucky.
June 27th, 2011
After years of hearing about Ted’s by word-of-mouth as well as through various TV specials praising the place, it was time to check it out. Luckily, I just happened to be taking a trip that brought me right past Meriden, so I was determined to stop.
I started off very simple: cheeseburger with ketchup, and a side of home fries. The burger, as expected, was like no other burger I’d had before. It was steaming as it came out of the pan, and molten cheddar poured down over the burger and out of the roll.
The biggest weakness I can see is the kaiser roll used as a bun, a far cry from a NY hard roll. They use store-packaged kaiser rolls, which are very dense, and twice the size of the rectangular meat patty. Took two bites before I hit meat. After about half of the burger is eaten, the bun begins to disintegrate and the burger becomes a mess. Your best bet is to finish it with a knife and fork.
The meat itself definitely tastes much better than you would expect from a steamed burger. Being a medium-rare fan, I do not like the fact that they cook all burgers to well, but they are still very juicy. Just be sure not to let them cool too much, as the meat will become tough and chewy, as will the cheese.
The cheddar used is extremely mild, and does not possess much flavor, but seems to complement the meat very well (again, as long as both are hot). Between the steamed meat, the molten cheese, and the soggy roll, this burger needs some crispiness. A second was ordered, this time with bacon added, and the bacon makes all the difference.
The home fries were excellent! They’re nothing special, typical home fries with typical home fries seasoning, but instead of cooking them to order, they are left to cook on the flat-top grill, which is seasoned to perfection from 50 years of use. The potatoes are occasionally turned to cook on all sides, and the fantastic results are well-seasoned and very nicely browned. No burger from Ted’s is complete without a side of these potatoes.
Overall, Ted’s steamed cheeseburger may not be the best burger I’ve ever eaten, but it definitely ranks among the most unique. If you happen to be in the Meriden area and can afford to take a detour to Ted’s (less than half a mile off of exit 8 of I-691), be sure to do so.
March 14th, 2011
The burgers are always dead on, perfectly steamed with a mound of melty cheese on top, all with your chosen toppings. This place has been the same for the 20 or so years I have been going there. You always get a great burger with excellent home fries. Well worth the drive from anywhere.
June 1st, 2010
Ted’s is great- but as far as the origin of the steamed cheeseburger, I don’t know. I do remember however , in the late 60’s to early 70’s a wonderful drive-in called the Frosty Mug in Monticello Indiana- they had the world’s best steamed burgers, served crumbled, held together with cheeze-whiz. Add ketchup, mustard and pickle…..OMG!!!! and topped off with a cold glass of root beer- in a frosted glass- NO ICE!!!
June 22nd, 2009
The home fries (as they call them) are the real winners here. There is no special seasoning that you’ll notice but I suspect their magic comes from the seasoned grill (since 1959) they’re cooked on. The burger, as well, only carries a basic salt-and-pepper seasoning but is most satisfying in its simplicity. The grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato bring it all together. You won’t find any pink in this meat but the steam keeps it juicy. You’ll have trouble keeping it all from falling onto the small paper plate they give you.
This is clearly a local favorite and the cooks greet you with a friendly hello the moment you walk in the door. Can’t beat the price: cheeseburger, fries, and a soda for $7. You will walk out stuffed. I imagine that the burgers are steamed in a straight water mixture, hence the lack of additional flavor. I can only imagine how they would taste if they added beer, onions, and hot sauce into the water to enhance the steam cooking. You can also buy your own steam chest there for $350 dollars in case you want to try this at home.
April 9th, 2007
I usually pass this way very early or very late, so I was happy to find myself in Meriden at lunch time. I know there are mixed reviews of Ted’s, but I love it.
The burger is flavorful and juicy. The cheese also has a lot of flavor, unlike the wax-like cheese in some places, and the toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, and onion, are fresh and of good quality. Even the roll is a beefier variety to help withstand the rigors of holding a juicy steamed burger. This, in my mind, is one of the best burgers around. I also had some home fries, which were a bit bland… but hey… I didn’t come to Ted’s for potatoes!
December 29th, 2005
I tried Ted’s for the first time a couple weeks ago. I wasn’t impressed. Maybe steamed cheeseburgers are an acquired taste that I haven’t developed. To me, the burgers taste like what you would expect – steamed meat. And there’s nothing special about the cheese. It’s melted cheddar that doesn’t get anything extra from the steaming process.
I went simple – a steamed cheeseburger with only a little ketchup. I didn’t want to hide the flavor (or lack thereof) with lettuce, tomato, onion, etc. I wanted to taste the beef itself. I think a good burger can stand alone and doesn’t need a lot of condiments. I’m not saying it was bad, but it wasn’t great either.
I can see how Ted’s would have great appeal to those who grew up with it. Maybe it’s the fond memories from childhood, of a special time to eat out, that keep people coming back. Nostalgia can often add flavor to a restaurant. I know that’s true of a few of my favorites. The best on my list is Yankee Doodle in New Haven, a place I started going to as a child.
I’m glad that I tried Ted’s, just to say I’ve been there and that I’ve experienced a steamed cheeseburger. But I don’t think I’ll be going out of my way to get back.
March 15th, 2004
I recently moved down here to Florida and the one thing I miss is being able to stop over at Ted’s Restaurant for a couple of steamed cheeseburgers. I ate there many times over the years and they serve the absolute best. I would definitely give them a five star rating on their cheeseburgers. There is no comparison here in Florida and when I fly back to Connecticut for a visit, I will surely make Ted’s Restaurant one of my first stops.