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Ted's

1046 Broad St., Meriden, CT - (203) 237-6660
Posted By Michael Stern on 3/20/2008 9:34:00 AM
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 perhaps a dozen different restaurants make and serve it. Fifty miles away in Connecticut, or anywhere else on earth, no one has heard of it.

A steamed cheeseburger is very different from a regular cheeseburger. It 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, you can eat a steamed cheeseburger made to perfection. Paul Duberek, Ted's son and proprietor of the little burger joint, assembles his masterpiece 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 – a short slice of Roadfood heaven. Generally occupied by regulars who palaver with Paul as he attends the twin steam boxes, counter seats provide a view of the bin of chopped meat from which Paul grabs fistfuls for the burger boxes as well as a pile of hard rolls and big blocks of cheese ready to be melted.

26 out of 26 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
steamed cheeseburger
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What a delicious mess! I was able to eat about half of this hefty steamed cheeseburger before it completely disintegrated onto its paper plate. I ate the rest by picking and plucking at the pile of meat, bun, cheese, tomato, onion and lettuce.
"What a delicious mess! I was able to eat about half of this hefty steamed cheeseburger before it completely disintegrated onto its paper plate. I ate the rest by picking and plucking at the pile of meat, bun, cheese, tomato, onion and lettuce."
Michael Stern





These big sticks of cheddar cheese are cut and cooked until jelly-soft in the steamer.
"These big sticks of cheddar cheese are cut and cooked until jelly-soft in the steamer."
Michael Stern


A monument of vapor-cooked meat and cheese ... impossible to pick up and eat without serious drippage.
"A monument of vapor-cooked meat and cheese ... impossible to pick up and eat without serious drippage."
Michael Stern


Standard home fries, but the preparation and seasoned grill make them fantastic.
"Standard home fries, but the preparation and seasoned grill make them fantastic."
Mike Iacoucci


The little rectangular metal trays are loaded with beef for the steamer box.  They look like mini-meat loaves.
"The little rectangular metal trays are loaded with beef for the steamer box. They look like mini-meat loaves."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Blocks of cheese are melted in the same trays as the beef.  It's a lot more cheese than you'd normally get on a burger.
"Blocks of cheese are melted in the same trays as the beef. It's a lot more cheese than you'd normally get on a burger."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Paul Duberek tends little pans of molten cheese and sizzling meat amidst clouds of aromatic steam from his vintage cooker.
"Paul Duberek tends little pans of molten cheese and sizzling meat amidst clouds of aromatic steam from his vintage cooker."
Michael Stern


World Famous? We'd bet most people have never even heard of a steamed cheeseburger, much less eaten one.
"World Famous? We'd bet most people have never even heard of a steamed cheeseburger, much less eaten one."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


An opportunity to taste hambuger history ... although to most patrons, Ted's is just a friendly place to eat lunch.
"An opportunity to taste hambuger history ... although to most patrons, Ted's is just a friendly place to eat lunch."
Michael Stern


The juicy beef is loosely packed, and the cheddar is quite good.
"The juicy beef is loosely packed, and the cheddar is quite good."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


The only thing that’s changed in many years on the exterior of Ted’s is the addition of this banner, touting their inclusion on the Travel Channel.
"The only thing that’s changed in many years on the exterior of Ted’s is the addition of this banner, touting their inclusion on the Travel Channel."
Chris & Amy Ayers


Cut in half, the perfection of Ted’s steamed cheeseburger can be easily seen, from the thick patty to the ideal kaiser roll.
"Cut in half, the perfection of Ted’s steamed cheeseburger can be easily seen, from the thick patty to the ideal kaiser roll."
Chris & Amy Ayers


This is Paul’s burger (note the cheese block clinging to the bun) with ketchup, a condiment that’s encouraged here.
"This is Paul’s burger (note the cheese block clinging to the bun) with ketchup, a condiment that’s encouraged here."
Chris & Amy Ayers



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