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  1. 9 likes
    Is there a better looking restaurant to walk into when the weather is turning to Autumn and the hearth is blazing and the air is tinged with smoke? It's tough to come up with one that tops The Dabney. After settling in with a cocktail we ordered a round of white stone oysters ($16/half dozen), a little pricey, but man these are good oysters. Maybe the best oysters I've ever had, plump, juicy, lightly briny, perfectly shucked. Damn good. The squid puppies ($8), pieces of chopped up squid mixed with hush puppy batter made for tasty fried bites. I couldn't resist ordering the 18 Month Broadbent's Country Ham biscuit ($12), this is some beautiful cured ham, not the greatest biscuit I've had but solidly good, light and fluffy...but that ham, delicious. In between these courses, a plate of grilled ciabatta was served with a little pot of honey butter. I'm assuming it was made in house and this was some really good bread. We hoarded the last crumbs and nubs, our server (who was excellent by the way, in fact the whole staff was very good) even joked with us about the bread hoarding and the loss of limbs he might have faced if he took away the plate. We then had a round of salad courses: Maryland Crab Salad, apple, brown butter vinaigrette, and walnuts ($16) makes the case for Maryland crab, beautiful lumps perfectly cooked. It's clear chef is working with some really high quality products. The Hearth Roasted Vegetables farro, ricotta, and herbs ($15) made the case for why small plates that are served "when they are ready" is such a folly. This was a nicely composed plate of roasted vegetables, including beets, broccoli, cauliflower, but as a stand-alone dish it didn't really work...it needed a partner. It also needed to be seasoned better, a little more salt, a hit of acid. The Seared Scallops butternut squash, chestnut, sorrel, maple ($17) was probably the miss of the night. It featured two scallops, which looked like they had been sliced in half and seared. The butternut squash was almost a liquid and it was topped with a white foam (I'm guessing the chestnuts). The maple made everything much too sweet. And the paltry little scallops did not add up to the price of the dish. I would put this on the avoid list. The Fried Catfish, hot honey, buttermilk dressing, greens, and radish ($16) was delicious with a crunchy batter. Its main flaw: again too sweet. The honey and buttermilk dressing pooled at the bottom of the bowl, not really dressing the fried fish, nor serving as a dipping sauce, just a pool of sweetness. The greens and radish were fine but didn't really add anything. We loved the catfish, but the rest needs to be re-worked. The Ember-Roasted Sweet Potatoes benne, lime, chili ($8) was the least expensive item we ordered, and it was the largest food portion. The sweet potatoes were served as chunks, the skins blackened, tasting of smoke and hearth. Yet again, a dish that was way too sweet (yeah I know, sweet potatoes). But served with the scallops and catfish we had three dishes that were sweet on sweet on sweet. My overall impression is that Chef should trust the excellent products he is cooking. The more simple preparations were by far the best dishes. The more complex dishes try to pull together disparate flavors and they don't always work, with a tendency to be overpowered by the sweet elements. The maple, the honey, it's too much. This is certainly not a cheap place to dine, with most dishes in the mid-teens, the bill quickly adds up. The food is good, but little nits and picks keep it from being great. The Dabney is a lovely space, clearly a labor of love. I look forward to seeing Chef Langhorne grow in to it.
  2. 8 likes
    I nearly missed the ticket dispenser when I first stepped into Russ & Daughters. Packed from end to end with me just barely fitting inside the door, and suddenly engulfed by all sorts of food curiosities I wanted to pursue, it took a moment before I realized to snag my number in line. Ticket 590. I looked down to the end of the store, where the sign flashed 557. It was 11 a.m. on a rainy Friday and I hunkered down for a wait, surrounded by like-minded tourists, locals, chefs, and an angry woman “who drove 45 minutes” and had “never waited an hour in all her years coming here.” One employee smiled and told her to come during the holidays, where she’ll wait for two hours instead of just one. After a few walkout casualties and little regard for the distracted (your number is called once, then promptly skipped after a beat or two), I finally made it to the counter with my order recited: everything bagel, toasted, with cream cheese and Scottish salmon loin. Nothing more. A few minutes later, on a street bench away from all the cellphone picture-taking, elbows and clatter of the 103-year-old institution, I unwrapped perfection. The ideal ratio of bagel, cream cheese and smoked fish. Hot, cold, crisp, tender, fatty, salty. I am not an expert on bagels or salmon or the heritage behind their combination, but for me this was a new personal benchmark. The best of its kind I’ve ever had. What’s the Michelin tagline for three stars? Worth a special journey. Over 1,500 miles from home, finishing my last bite of a Russ and Daughters Classic, and all I could think was -- absolutely.
  3. 8 likes
    The Thursday evening pot of mussels cooked in a white wine and garlic broth with tremendous bread remains one of the great dining deals in DC. Very large pot, supposedly a kilo (might be--it is YUGE) --The PRICE? Knock my socks off and call me silly!!!! $10. I do enjoy mussels. I order them around town and usually find them enjoyable. I don't need to have some of the more inventive, creative and tasty broths. I enjoy mussels. Dino's is a classic broth. They provide a toasted bread but can also provide their far better high grade bread used for dipping. Beers,wines, and quite a few cocktails reflect HH prices. $10 for a large pot of quality mussels. I've recently seen food and deal love for Granville Moore's $12 pot on Monday's here and here I have a difficult time getting to H Street on Monday's. I have not been to G/M's in years and Granville Moore's is a mussel centric restaurant/bar. These at Dino's hit the spot and are light on the wallet. I was there last Thursday at the bar...sort of quiet. A TV with the make up Nats Orioles game on at that hour. First inning the Nats were quickly up 1-0. But those mussels were so scrumptious. My head went down. Next time I glanced at the TV the Nats were up 5-0 with all the runs in the first inning. Compelling inning vs the mussels. The mussels won!!!!! That mussel deal has to be one of the best HH deals in town.
  4. 8 likes
    After a Kennedy Center lunchtime concert on Friday, I stopped by Campono. I used to be a big fan of Willow and now the owners run Campono. The food is still Willow-quality thank goodness. The place is more casual but comfortable. All tables are communal so you don't have to sweat it worrying if you will have a place to sit down to eat your food. You order, pay, get a number, and they bring the food to you (just like at La Madeleine or Corner Bakery or Plaka Grill). I had the Willow pizza which is not the same as the old Willow flatbread back in the day, but still yummy. The crust was really good as were the toppings. Good selection of beer, wine, sodas. Looking forward to trying their other pizzas and sandwiches. This will definitely be my go-to Kennedy Center pre- or post-event eatery.
  5. 7 likes
    I think different places have different policies on happy hour, and establishments that identify more for the food than for the drinks tend to be stricter with happy hour conditions. Of course, the most baffling bar special HAS to be at Oyamel, where I once arrived specifically for the late-night 2 tacos for $4 special at the bar. The bar is a horse-shoe, and the left side was two deep whereas the right side had a couple open seats. I sat on the right side of the bar. After enjoying my late night snack, imagine my surprise when I was hit for the full total. "Oh no, sir, that special only applies on the LEFT side of the bar." No way, Jose! So that's why that side was so crowded. Talk about watching the other side getting the same thing for less than half price!
  6. 7 likes
    Thought it's about time to introduce myself here too. I'm the current chef/owner (together with Ricardo - he just doesn't like to admit it) of Maple. It's been more than two years since the change in ownership (although we both were working at Maple for years prior). We have a completely new menu, stop by, check it out, say hi. Occasionally I'll be posting about some cool stuff we're doing (like seasonal 30 seat 5 course tastings with beverage pairings), or some promos (like $35 3-course dinner Sunday Monday). Anyways, wanted to say hi and it would be great to hear positive/negative feedback (especially constructive negative...) or any thoughts in general. Cheers! Justė
  7. 7 likes
    13 friends and I decided to visit Philadelphia for New Year's because, why not? We had no hard dining plans except dim sum and cheesesteaks when one of my friends had the audacious idea of calling Zahav. Reservation for 14 three days before New Year's? Fat chance, I thought. Little did I know: they had a (huge) private dining room available for the night, all we had to do was hit a minimum which worked out to about $140 per person (including drinks, tax and tip). In exchange, we would get a huge chef's tasting menu and two dedicated waiters. Expensive, but very reasonable all things considered. So we did it...and wow. That place is incredible. We arrived at 9 and started with some great hummus and fresh pitas, before turning to a slew of about 8 fantastic veggie dishes (carrots, fennel, twice-cooked eggplant, flash-fried cauliflower that reminded me of Rasika's palak chaat, beets, others I'm forgetting). At this point, I was pretty full already, and that was before they brought out the lamb shoulder (extremely flavorful but actually a bit dry) and some of the best chicken I've ever had (smokey). Dessert was good but nothing to write home about. Too stuffed to finish it all, the wait staff boxed everything up for us as soon as we told them we could eat no more, which made for some great leftovers the next few days. We left at 12:30 drunk and stuffed. Considering the rackets that most places try to pull off on New Year's, $140 for a private room with seemingly endless great food and lots of booze at one of the city's best restaurants was worth it, and then some.
  8. 6 likes
    I thought this was Gus and his World Famous Fried Chicken:
  9. 6 likes
    Annual kibbeh nayyeh birthday treat, from Mediterranean Gourmet Market on Franconia Road, with the added surprise of "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" in green peppers! Digging in as these words are being written....
  10. 6 likes
    I've gone back and forth on this place a bunch, but my one opinion that hasn't changed is how highly I think of the bar here. They make some of the best drinks in the city, in a great space, with friendly bartenders, at below-market prices considering the quality of ingredients and craftsmanship. Their on-menu drinks are fantastic, but they're also more than happy to make you something off-menu. Their take on the Penicillin is one of the best i've had.
  11. 6 likes
    when the bf suggests ripple for dinner, i often demur in favor of 2 amys/tail up goat/the dabney/little serow/whatever favorite i am craving at the moment. (although there's something to be said for a place where you can get a last-minute reservation rather than risking an hour+ wait when you show up.) and yet, whenever we do go, i am always reminded "oh yeah, i actually really like this place!" last night was just one of those dinners. (the bf would say that i should just remember this reaction when debating when to return, but the point of cravings isn't to rationally consider past experiences!) while we were waiting for our cocktails, gm/wine director jose, with whom we'd had a very nice chat on our last dinner a few months ago (and who remembered our wine order!) stopped by with a complementary glass of a lovely rose cremant that had a surprisingly interesting finish. a great service interaction like that at the beginning of a meal always sets a good mood. and our cocktails were excellent: the farmersonly.com -- a name that made me giggle thanks to the dating website's ridiculous commercials -- was a frothy gin-based drink with a springy balance of yuzu and beet. the spanish eyes was a sort of bamboo variant, with hazelnut syrup softening the sharpness of sherry and dry vermouth. (the bf would have preferred less sweetness, but i think he'd really just have preferred a traditional bamboo; i thought it was well balanced and less sweet than i'd worried it might be.) a two-bite mushroom tartlet from the snacks category had mushroom "flour" in the crust, was topped with grapes, and was surprisingly sweet (in an interesting, kind of good way). i'm not sure i'd order it again (a bit expensive at $9 or thereabouts), but the bf's comment, with which i agreed, was that we would have been suitably pleased had it appeared as an early course in a tasting menu. (and if it were reworked to tilt slightly more sweet and then presented as a dessert, i think i might find it ingenious. i'm a sucker for using vegetables in desserts.) the ocean trout crudo (black lime, salsa verde, radish, chile sofrito) was the only repeat from our prior meal; as previously mentioned, it's expensive for its small portion, but quite tasty. the dutch asparagus (quail egg, green olive, egg vinaigrette, farm greens) was the standout of a strong dinner; the egg was hard boiled, the asparagus suitably firm, the entire dish was springy and salty and acidic in the best way. (no suggested edits or critiques from either of us, which is pretty hard to manage given how analytical -- and judgy -- we tend to be about food.) the hen egg (potato espuma, burnt onion, cured yolk, herb oil), which we ordered without the sweetbreads as the menu offers as a possibility, was decadent without being too heavy. you can't go wrong with the classic combination of potato puree, sweet onion, and poached egg; it won't surprise you, but it will be eminently satisfying and delicious. spring nettle agnolotti (snap peas, turnip, green garlic, baby kale) was almost outstanding -- pillowly pasta, crisp slices of snap pea, etc. -- but slices of pickled ramp (or possibly green garlic, now that i've looked back at the menu) added distracting sweetness rather than pops of acidity. (a tweak in the brine could correct this easily.) nicely seared but undersalted halibut (green asparagus, black garlic, mussel emulsion, wild ramps) sat on a bed of craving-a-spoon-worthy sauce. i often don't agree with sietsema's taste -- we have very different biases/preferences in dining -- but ripple's complimentary write-up in his spring dining guide is well-deserved. now i just have to remind myself to go back more frequently.
  12. 4 likes
    surely i wasn't the only person who read this and thought "Amen! thank goodness someone is starting a discussion on this issue"? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/going-out-guide/wp/2017/06/21/why-its-so-hard-to-spend-less-than-100-for-two-at-dinner-in-washington/?utm_term=.dfe5a05c4fad I'm not delighted by the high prices in and of themselves, but what bothers me most is the lack of value. i've had way too many mediocre or worse $14 cocktails or $20+ entrees that left me both hungry and nonplussed. It's one of the reasons i value this website--you all have helped me avoid some costly mistakes, and made sure that in the increasingly rare times i do get to go out i actually enjoy it.
  13. 4 likes
    Had the chance to eat at The Bird recently. What a cool space -- the entire restaurant is decorated by local artists. There are four distinct parts of the restaurant themed after each of the seasons, complete with a "summer" patio outdoor space on the second floor. We both started with the Charlie Parker cocktail ($13) (rye, apple brandy, madeira, peach, pomegranate, bitters). It was fantastic and a boozy sipper. My wife and I elected to try some small plates to share, so we didn't order any of the main courses, despite being very tempted by the spicy fried chicken ($17). The triple fried Korean-style wings ($10) were topped with a soy-garlic style glaze and were fantastic. My only complaint about them is that there was so much sauce that the dish was a bit overwhelming and intense. The duck meatballs in spicy tomato curry ($9) were fantastic, and the spicy tomato curry made for a bit of a break from all the heavy fried-style food. The curry was spiced well and in a very balanced way. These came with a creamy yogurt to cool the dish down. The Hudson Valley foie gras torchon ($14) was spectacular, especially for the price. It came with walnuts, berries, and toasted bread. It's hard to go wrong with foie and fruit on toasted bread for me, and this is no exception. The flight of the egg ($9) consisted of three eggs: an organic chicken egg-pickled in tamari with gold rice, a deviled duck egg with duck fat mayo, duck pastrami, and toasted caraway, and finally a quail “scotch” egg soft poached, encased in sausage, breaded & fried. My wife's favorite was the chicken egg with gold rice - simple with a tang from the pickling; mine was the duck egg - decadent deviled eggs with some truly flavorful duck pastrami. The quail "scotch" egg was very good as well, though it's more of "fried sausage" than an egg, given the sizes of both components. We also had a side of Brussels sprouts ($7), which were a good diversion from the heaviness of the poultry dishes. Like at The Pig, their Brussels sprouts are cooked perfectly in a way I never seem to be able to at home. We finished sharing a miso caramel gelato ($3). This was just sublime. Imagine the best salted caramel ice cream or gelato you've ever had and make it a little bit more umami. The quality-to-price ratio is out of this world here. We expected this would be just enough food for us due to the plates being small, given the prices. This was not the case - this was SO MUCH FOOD. You get at least 50% more foie than you expect for $14. You wouldn't expect 6 large duck meatballs for $9. You certainly wouldn't expect a huge scoop of gelato for $3. The customer service here is truly impeccable. We arrived not terribly long before they closed, and asked if the kitchen was still open, fully expecting to leave and get some pizza or something. Our waitress checked with the manager and ushered us to a seat. We ordered quickly out of courtesy to the kitchen staff, but were told we could take as long as we like. We were so concentrated on the food that we had neglected our cocktails a bit, and our waitress asked if we didn't like them, offering to take them off the bill or have something else made. I'll definitely be returning -- very very impressed.
  14. 4 likes
    Our meal didn't change much from Peasoup's photos above, except we didn't get any uni (presumably because they're out of season). My thought - it's pretty freaking expensive for what we got. Without the extras that we ordered, it's $160 pp (tax and tip included, breaks down to $120 for food, $12 for tax, and $24 for 20% tip). I'm sure the booze and extras added at least another $50 pp. For a Friday 6 p.m. seating (we arrived a little earlier), there were only two of us at Kobo. We left shortly after 7. The obvious comparison is with Sushi Taro, but they're not really comparable. Sushi Taro has a much wider selection of seafood and they don't gussy up the seafood with other things. Still, if you have money to blow, it's a tasty enough experience that one shouldn't shy away from. First dish - oyster - smoked with a smoke gun (served under a dome, and you can see wisps of smoke just above the oyster). The white rectangle is the oyster, trimmed down to look like tofu. I thought it was ankimo (monkfish liver) at first because that's what the oyster tasted like, but it still had the slippery texture of oyster. The menu describes it as cherry smoked hama oyster, shiso air foam, sea grape, ikura, and some edible flower (viola flier) ETA: Like at a kid's b-day party, we each went home with a goodie bag of sesame dressing, a piece of candy, a pen that says Kobo on its side, and a printed menu. Second dish - poached egg with gold flakes, sturgeon caviar, asparagus, spring onion blossom, and delicious dashi. Third dish - "signature otsukuri" Really tuna tartare with goat cheese, candied onion. This tasted like and has the texture of tofu that's served with 1,000 year old egg that one might get at Chinese brunch (i.e., mixed with lots of sesame seed oil and a bit of soy sauce). 4th - blow-torched Wagyu with shaved black truffle 5th - shrooms dashi Then comes the fancy nigiri Butterfish scallop with lime zest (very noticeable flavor) saba (mackerel) with truffle and basil, tomato (all I could taste was the saba, which kind of overwhelmed everything else) Spot prawn caviar chu-toro, spring onion blossom sake (salmon) otoro, foie gras leeks seared foie, shiso We ordered 3 additional pieces of nigiri (chef's choice) Blue fin tuna with bottarga Medai with salsa wagyu tartare with some egg yolk
  15. 4 likes
    My girlfriend took me here for my birthday last night and I'm so glad she did. One of the better meals I've had in DC. We had a 9 pm reservation at the Chef's Counter, but we ended up being seated at 9:15 because the previous party lingered. NBD. I liked the Chef's Counter, where we got to watch the chefs do their thing and watch the expediter review each dish, sending some back for improvement. Once seated, I ordered a delicious and inventive tequila-lime-cilantro-olive oil cocktail ($14) that I really enjoyed. For food, we each opted for the $98 five-course menu, as opposed to the $125 six-course menu because the six-course menu is a chef's tasting menu and I preferred to order the items I wanted. Plus, six courses sounded like too much. We ended up splitting ten dishes, nearly all of which were great. The bread service consisted of a relatively boring breadstick (it was dipped in squid ink supposedly but I couldn't take much of it), a foccacia, and a great cheese-filled puffy, along with some great tomato spread and delicious pickled artichokes. I liked it all. As for the food, the pastas really shined: I loved the linguine with XO sauce that reminded me of the spaghetti and canned white clam sauce dish that I grew up eating (this was of course much better) as well as the cheese-filled "purses" that were downright decadent. We had a third pasta in red sauce with ample portions of snakehead fish, which was just good but not great. Each pasta came with bread to sop up the sauces. We also enjoyed fantastic beets (four ways, all great), a perfectly cooked octopus tentacle and a juicy soft shell crab. The steak and goat were both good, but not as special as the others. Before the meat, I ordered the following glass of wine: 2014 Aglianico, Salvatore Magnoni (Campania, Italy) ($16). I was wondering if anyone knew much about this wine ( @Don Rockell?); I loved it, but, being a wine ignoramus, can't describe what I liked so much about it. I think I liked its acidity and its earthiness? Anything else I should look for in the future for something similar? For dessert, we split a beautiful summer berry dish and a rich chocolate tart with pop rocks. We also had three cheeses ($18): a Gorgonzola, a goat-sheep-cow milk soft cheese, and a peccorino. They came with some candied walnuts, bread, and a cranberry sauce. Loved them all. The house also gave us a glass of champagne and mini ricotta-filled canollis as a closer. Needless to say, although each dish was small, we left perfectly sated. As for the service, the pacing was great, on the leisurely side. We never felt rushed, but also didn't feel that things were taking too long. The waiter was exceptionally friendly, eager to wish me a happy birthday multiple times and quite knowledgeable, noting that he's worked with the chef since his days at Bibiana. I do have two complaints though: first, the waiter was too attentive, checking up on us about twice during each of the five courses. It was a bit much. I tried to be a bit curt with him to send a hint, but he didn't seem to receive it. Not the end of the world but not ideal. The other complaint is that after ALL FIVE courses he made the same joke: "Wow, it looks like you didn't like that". It was cute at first, then wore thin quickly. All in all, a pricey but exceptional meal. I've actually never been to any of the other high-end pasta houses in DC (Tosca, Fiola, etc.), so I don't have much to compare it to though.
  16. 4 likes
    had brunch here yesterday. i'm not sure i see what the fuss over the avocado golguppa is about--it tasted like standard dahipuri to me, i thought the avocado would add more but i didn't taste it much at all, only the yogurt and date chutney. that being said the puri themselves were absolutely perfect--a great size, delicately thin, no unpuffed hard edges--i would love to have these filled with the traditional stuffing and water. The pao bhaji was quite good. though the spices were good i think what distinguished this version was the texture- i think they use cauliflower instead of the more usual potato or something because this version seems lighter than the other versions i've had. the best dish we had, hands down, was the egg uttapam. it was two thin uttapam each with a layer of egg/tomato masala stacked on each other like a napoleon, with a bit of potato curry on the side. first, that potato curry was amazing. I've had a lot of it in my life--it's one of my favorite dishes--and both my husband and I thought it was among the best we've ever had, the texture was somehow lighter than usual (the potato seemed fluffy!) but the flavors of the spices were so strong and clear. they really should offer that as a separate dish. and the egg/tomato masala was really good too. it was mild and almost sweet, but that contrasted beautifully with the uttapam's sour flavor and its toasty bottom. really good. The service was nice and very attentive as well.
  17. 4 likes
    Being a techno math monkey geek, I looked at the demographic report (undated) for Cleveland Park Sam's Shopping Center and then compared it to some other demographic reports for some other retail properties in the city. Its simply not that great. The Cleveland Park analysis uses a 1 mile radius for residential and walk around day traffic. The others I looked at used half mile radii. A 1 mile radius is 4 times as large. Relative to other sites its simply not that great. And then.... As Mark Furstenberg noted: 1. Realistically the East Side of Cleveland Park has no residential population. It backs into Rock Creek Park. That cuts the potential residential population by a lot. (hence the close by demographics are thinner than other locations) 2. For people on the West Side of Connecticut Avenue and Cleveland Park the new retail project at Wisconsin Avenue is a draw. (Cathedral Commons). Its competition for a retail draw, that doesn't have the largest closest population to start with. 3. I'd also add that there are virtually no hotel rooms in the immediate vicinity. That makes a significant difference. The larger the hotel and the more connected to conventions and meetings the likelier those visitors will go to fancier, name, more expensive restaurants; often close by. Anecdotally I leased the first DC Ruth's Chris at Connecticut and S in the early 1980's. After the deal was done I asked why they chose the location. I mean REALLY--why that location?? Among a variety of reasons it was near the Washington Hilton. (there were other reasons also). I guess that still works. The Ruths Chris is still there and its been over 30 years. Also that property sold to a heavy weight real estate company for big bucks a long time ago. Plenty of opportunity for that rent to be increased by big beaucoup bucks. Its still there though. Meanwhile there are a lot of restaurants near the Marriott at Wardman Park. Not necessarily all great...but a lot more restaurant space then the nearby residential community might support on its own. And then there are many other reasons. Interesting that more moderately priced restaurants survive and thrive and the one's that are a cut or two or three above have had difficulties. That is telling. Aside from the demographics it is simply difficult to compete all the time. It always is. Meanwhile I liked the comment about the beef hue at Nam Viet. I think I'll go over to Nam Viet in Clarendon and give it a shot.
  18. 4 likes
    My wife and I had been to Requin 4-5 times and we headed there again on Saturday night after grabbing a late reservation on Open Table. The last couple of trips it was cold outside and the comfort food inside was really good, especially the cauliflower gratin. I was hoping for a lighter meal of late spring early summer but was disappointed. The menu had not changed much and even the special (braised shortrib) was on the winter/heavier side. Still, the meal was good and I found some dishes that were excellent. The burrata and tomato salad was a gooey mound of cheese with tomatoes that popped with flavor and sharp pickled onions. The roasted mushrooms with pickled ramps were also noteworthy. Unfortunately, the chicken liver mousse with soppressata jam was unappealingly slimy. The room and bar were full and they were turning away people at the door.
  19. 4 likes
    I dined at Zahav for the first time Saturday night with three friends. We couldn't do the lamb tasting menu (mesibah) because they were out of the lamb. We were quite disappointed. Our waiter (whom I really liked -- competent, patient, and friendly -- I believe his name was Chris) was very sympathetic and explained that the lamb takes 3 days to prepare and they'd had a couple of large parties order it. Oh, well. I'm kind of surprised they'd run out of the lamb on a Saturday night, but obviously it can happen. The good news is that all of the non-lamb food we ate was delicious. We ended up getting the other tasting menu (tayim): salatim & hummus with laffa, two mezze, one al ha’esh, dessert. I loved all the salads (some more than others, but they were all good). I particularly remember a fennel salad that for me was marred by cilantro, but I think I would have liked it if not for the cilantro. I think my favorite salad was a beet salad -- nice and earthy and no goat cheese in sight. The hummus was as delicious as advertised. I think because they'd run out of the lamb they gave us a special hummus topped with a small mound of short rib (or maybe not since I now see the daily topping hummus on the menu -- not sure what usually comes with the tasting menu). Anyway, it was delicious. Among the four of us we ordered most of the mezze. The only one we skipped was the duck hearts. The menu currently online is slightly different than our menu since we didn't have grilled asparagus, and I can't remember what we had in its place. I wasn't particularly impressed with the fried cauliflower, which I understand is one of their more popular dishes. It was fine but just not that exciting. I took this opportunity to try kibbe naya for the first time. I found it to be quite salty (not sure if that's how it always is), but I'd definitely try it again. I enjoyed the interplay of the lamb and the bulgur. I love cheese, so the pastilla and haloumi were mezze highlights for me. I also really enjoyed the crispy grape leaves. I'd never had grapes leaves prepared that way before. The meats were probably the least exciting part of the meal for me (so sad we couldn't have the lamb!). We ordered two orders of the brisket kofte (my favorite by far) and one order each of the sirloin shishlik (fine and very steak-y but not that exciting) and the branzino (I'm not a huge fish fan; one of my friends wanted to order this). Also possibly because the lamb was sold out the waiter brought an extra dish of a delicious smoky eggplant during the meat course. I wish I could describe the eggplant better. It wasn't baba ganouj, but it tasted like the base of it. I'm not going to be able to do the desserts justice in terms of descriptions, but they were all delicious. One was a chocolate and coffee concoction (I think coffee custard covered in chocolate). This one didn't excite me too much since it seemed like something one could get anywhere. It was also too rich for me, especially after a big meal. One of the other desserts we tried was a lemon poppy seed (?) cake with a dollop of some kind of frozen labneh (I can't remember the flavor, but it wasn't plain), and the third dessert I think was phyllo dough wrapped around labneh with lots of delicious accompaniments. I particularly enjoyed the two non-chocolate desserts. Throughout most of our meal Michael Solomonov was in and out of the kitchen and chatting with tables (though not with us). Eric Ripert was also dining near our table with three other people, none of whom we recognized. We noted he was eating the lamb.
  20. 4 likes
    Visit was tainted a bit because they claimed they couldn't process my Groupon since it was printed (as opposed to displayed via the app). I try to put the food above all else, but that was very frustrating. Waitress was extremely nice, but the tight basement space made the few loud patrons at the bar absolutely overpower the room. I had the egusi with goat and a side of jollof rice. The entree (menu: "Ground melon seeds cooked with spinach and palm oil") was very good, but I was especially impressed with the rice ("cooked in mild tomato sauce and savory seasonings") - very flavorful and pretty spicy. My wife ordered vegetarian combo #1 - essentially an assortment of sides. Waakye ("Brown rice slowly cooked with black eye peas and our homemade shitto sauce"), Nkontombre ("savory spinach sauteed in tomato stew with red peppers, onions and garlic"), and Yor Ke Gari ("Stewed black eye peas in palm oil"). All were exceptional. $40 + tip. We left extremely full, but we'll probably try another Ghanaian place before we come back - that Groupon bust bummed us out and the loud space just wasn't ideal for conversation. If you can, I would recommend carryout.
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    Went this weekend, and had a really nice time, as usual. City keeps changing, and it's not the place that I lived in before the storm. Some things are better, some things are worse, but both the potholes and cockroaches remain large. Before dinner, we went to Cure on Freret, was kicking there. Had a refreshing Rainwater Madeira and Tonic; they had happy hour for all their classic cocktails. Nice crowd. Oh, Freret St. is totally different. So many places to eat and drink, shops. Pretty cool. Then we went to dinner at Gautreau's, which I have never been to, even after living there for years, and visiting many times afterwards. It's uptown, in a cute unlabeled house. You wouldn't even know there was a restaurant there. It's old school New Orleans in there, well dressed servers, old couples, people on dates, and larger groups, too. We had cocktails and wine before starting the meal. I wasn't picking the wines, so I have no idea, I just know our host got one bottle of Malbec and one bottle of a BIG Cab Sav. Most of us got the special appetizer - half a soft shell crab in a spicy crab bique. Mmmm... Lady got marinated Hamachi. She liked it a lot. I got red snapper and it was done well, with some crispy skin that I loved. She got the chicken, and it was a HUGE portion. A few people got the duck and appeared to like it. We got Vanilla Creme Brulee and devoured it. They just do the caramelization better down here. Brunch was at Atchafalaya, a pretty hoppin' spot. We didn't have reservations - just got there at opening (already a line) and got seated at the bar. Would have waited about 20 minutes to get a table. This is place is great - heavy, heavy - but great. Bloody Mary's are awesome, they have a make your own bar, but the house mix is pretty perfect - I didn't add a thing. We got alligator sausage to start, and that just tasted kind of porky to me, but she thought it had a unique taste to it. She got the Eggs Treme. When she ordered it, couldn't help but chuckle, because she said "I'll get the 'extreme'" ... being somewhat local, I knew it as Egg "Truh-meh", but when I looked it on the menu, I bet 90% of out of towners would say "extreme". Anyway, it was poached eggs, boudin, hollandaise, and french bread. RICH. Boudin in NOLA can be softer than other places you may have had it, and I think the texture was unexpected for her. I got the crawfish etoufee omelette. Pretty awesome. Walked it off, and got coffee at HiVolt in the Lower Garden District by my old Magazine St apartment (one of the most glorious shit holes I've ever lived in). They did all the fancy stuff, I got an Oji brewed ice coffee. It was really tasty until I put cream in it. Then the taste got bitter. We walked all over, and then went to the best place of the weekend, but going there led to us missing a great meal... We went to Mid City to Bayou Beer Garden. That place is amazing. Huge patio, 3 patios basically that are interconnected. The other end of the beer garden is Bayou Wine Garden, with many wines on tap, and a Frose' coming out of a Daquiri machine. It was so hot, but the fans and the cover made it pretty comfortable and we just had a ball. There was a gal in the parking lot boiling up crawfish, and you could buy some from her and eat at the beer garden. $12 for 3 pounds, including corn, sausage, and potatoes. SO GOOD. We were there long enough to get hungry again, so we went to Parkway Bakery and Tavern, another legendary place I'd never gone to. I got the fried shrimp, and she got the "surf and turf" with roast beef and gravy topped with fried shrimp. Amazing. Just amazing. So, we had a res for Shaya... but after the afternoon we had, needed to take a nap. Ended up turning off the alarm and not getting up til almost 10. Missed our meal! Ended up at Cooter Brown's. Not as good as I remembered... but nice to reminisce.
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    That's not all true. The faux rib eye, which is real beef, is availalabe 99% of the nights we are open.
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    I had it tonight, and enjoyed it. Of note: Their yogurt is the texture of whipped, garlic pudding (that's a compliment - it's *extremely* thick); the tomato pieces on the Doner Kabob were so pale-pink that, despite how ridiculous it seemed, I bit into a piece to make sure it wasn't smoked salmon (!) I'd love to see their method of making this, because even though it was made fresh, it still tasted like it was "formed," and I'm not sure how these things are done. An ample, satisfying portion for $23 - I'd only been to Kazan once in almost twenty years. It's a lovely restaurant inside, and you can tell they take pride in what they do.
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    I also read the article. I imagine Tweaked is well versed in this issue as the article describes the interaction of the listserve for the area, which has been running since 1999. From my perspective these folks have a significant awareness of the issues. The demographics of the city have changed. Neighborhoods, that weren't restaurant attractive years ago are now densely populated with consumers that could have dined at CP years ago and now have ample or more than ample alternatives. The competition is fierce and expansive and at a level now that wasn't in existence 20 years ago let alone 7 or 8 years ago. Demographics have changed. On that note one of the issues referenced in the area is that local citizens have debated whether to increase density in CP or not. Density being both residential and commercial. The group is evidently split, with age being a determinant. Not surprising. More on that note: The Washington DC Economic Partnership http://wdcep.com has an email they can send out with the type of demographic reports for each of the distinctive 54 neighborhoods in DC wherein they are trying to attract businesses. They are the types of demographic reports that tenants receive all the time when surveying and analyzing potential locations. The nice thing about the report is that they are all consistent in their preparation. They have similarly prepared reports for each commercial neighborhood; descriptions of populations in 1/2 mile, 1 mile, and 3 mile radii. Behind that is an enormous amount of data. I happened to glance at 4; Cleveland Park, Van Ness (because its a wee bit up the street), Columbia Hgts, because it was the neighborhood alphabetically after Cleveland Park, and H Street...(well just because). Cleveland Park (CP) and Van Ness (VN) have far thinner demographics than C Hgts, and H Street. Pretty dramatic. Lots more potential diners, lots more $$ spent on dining, etc. Somewhat striking. I didn't go beyond those 4 neighborhoods because this is an overwhelming amount of data even for a geeky data kind of person. The folks in CP know this. They've evidently known this for a while. The discussion about density has been going on for a good period of time. It could be the core of the issue, or at least one of the key points. In any case the letter published by the Nam Viet folks was poignant and touching. They thanked regular customers. That is sweet and about as neighborhoodly as it gets. It is also represented in the Post article. But changing demographics, changing habits, and competition are difficult for all businesses, let alone restaurants. That never changes. Tough tough tough nut. For a different neighborhood I noticed something and had a conversation with some restaurant owners I know. In the Courthouse Arlington neighborhood this week I was working late and around prime time happy hour passed Courthouse Social and Fireworks Arlington. Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Tuesday was a delightful evening, Thursday slightly less comfortable but not bad. Both places have outdoor patio's and were busy, one very dramatically crowded. I went back and did quick counts of folks eating and dining. Roughly about 200 diners and drinkers both nights, roughly about evenly distributed between the two places. Pretty good crowds to my uneducated eye. Both places had more capacity, maybe up to twice as much, but these were weekdays not weekend nights. Also I have no idea how many diners and drinkers populated those two places earlier or later in the evenings. Looked very active though. These are restaurant/bars. They aren't region wide foodie destination places or dramatically known for any particular element. I'd primarily call them neighborhood places. For the time being and the season they are doing the right things. Courthouse Social particularly is a restaurant taking over a space that was cursed for over a decade with different operations trying and ultimately failing. Meanwhile during the week I ran into two restaurant partners meeting with a friend of theirs. I know all of them. This last restaurant has upped its competitive game. Its "known" in the foodie world and has a good region wide reputation for food quality. But it may have grown stale and unchanged. Over the last several months they have modernized their website, expanded their social web reach and efforts, and done some things to attract more business. I'd noticed the changes. I asked one of the partners if it was working. He didn't give me a hard yes or no. I don't know. I hope it is working on their behalf. They know. They also hopefully realize that sometimes these efforts take time to bear fruit. Just to keep a place going in an ever changing environment is difficult. It requires different skill sets than being the best chef or the most engaging FOH person in the region. All that being said, if I were a long term resident of CP, I'd be crushed at the loss of all those restaurants in the last few years. In the Courthouse Arlington area I still mourn the closing of Minh's; mostly reasonably good food, some excellent dishes, a great place for lunch takeout and very very nice people.
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    I want to say "thank you" to Tweaked for single-handedly running our Art Forum. Although it doesn't get a lot of visitors (yet), this is an extremely important forum to me, as art is an extremely important part of my life. When (or, "If") I get through my injury, I will be taking a much more active role in this, and hopefully getting Tweaked some help as well. Until then, please buy him a drink when you see him - he is solely responsible for everything you see there.
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    I went to a get-together with a large group at Homestead last night (my first time eating in Petworth). We were on the top floor of 3, where there was a bar and some tables, and they handled us well (large group of various people showing up anywhere between 6 and 9 p.m.). I like the space and the host was friendly and welcoming. I only had a small taste of the menu, but it was excellent. The things I ordered aren't on the online menu at http://homesteaddc.com/starters/ because their menu changes daily, although a number of items on the online menu were on the menu last night (quail, raclette, catfish, buttermilk hot chicken, half roasted chicken, Homestead burger). A salad of berries (blueberries and strawberries), goat cheese, hazelnuts and greens was great - very fresh, interesting greens that weren't the typical "mixed greens," though I can't tell you what they were. Good goat cheese and fresh, tasty berries. Large serving, too. Grilled squid was tiny tiny whole squid (baby squid, but much smaller than baby squid I've had before, about the size of a thumbnail), with drizzles of a delicious yellow sauce that tasted of Spain (I don't recall what was in it, maybe saffron?), and bits of diced fruit (pineapple? don't recall), on top of salad greens. Not what I expected, but very good. There was a saffron soup on the menu and I was very curious but didn't end up getting it. My husband got the half roasted chicken with vegetables and he was happy with it; someone else got the burger, and I snagged a few fries, which were good. Someone else was very happy with her tuna tartare over avocado, which looked appealing. There were many interesting cocktails on the menu (drinks menu isn't online). No mocktails, but I got a nonalcoholic version of a drink that had blackberries (or maybe blueberries, can't recall), cardamom syrup, and lemon. Very nice. Followed it with a ginger beer. There's outdoor seating on the second level (maybe 8 tables) and lots of space throughout the building. I'd definitely go back.
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    The system would be a menu, but they must offer over 100 distinct items every day. Also, has no one negotiated a drink at a busy bar before? Can you imagine being three deep at the Passenger and, when finally getting your turn, asking the equivalent of "what filling is in the rugelach?" As a regular customer like the OP claims to be, I haven't seen any variance in that pastry there. also, Rose's is a highly pedicured and professional, and I imagine, well-tipped service crew. BF has well-documented high employee turnover and much lower expectations for tips. Different expectations are in order, perhaps? ( your account is very funny, made me laugh, but I can't see BF going to a table-service model)
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    Based on Saint Katherine's website calendar, the fall festival should be held October 6-8. The other one I usually go to, St. Sophia's in DC, only has a spring festival.
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    With a title of Ocean Prime, this thread has gotten a little off topic. Let me try to bring it back. I had lunch here today with my sister. (Yes, that is my story and I am sticking with it!). I had the crab wedge salad which was 1/4 of a head of iceberg lettuce, a very generous portion of humongous lump crab meat, a little diced red onion, blue cheese and dressing. Phenomenal! I could not finish it. My "sister" had the seafood salad. Not having tried it, it is a little harder for me to describe, but it had greens, shrimp and shellfish. Based upon how much of it she ate, it was really good. With 3 glasses of wine, the bill was $88 before tip. That does not seem that outrageous to me in this day and age! Extra points to whomever can figure out who had the two glasses of wine! by the way, anyone complaining about the dining atmosphere in DC clearly has not been here as long as me!
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    I heard a rumor (emphasis: rumor) from a friend who overheard two employees of L'Hommage Bistro talking at a bar, and they were saying that the restaurant was closing, and then switching over from French to Mexican under the same ownership. This was the very first I'd heard about this, and I haven't seen it published anywhere else. This person heard it with his own ears, and he is extremely trustworthy; whether or not the two employees knew anything factual, that's a different story entirely. However, I did a little probing, and on L'Hommage's Facebook page, it now says that it's a "Mexican Restaurant." So, even though it must be considered "unsubstantiated" (I haven't confirmed it with ownership, and it's not mentioned on their website), I've now heard/seen this in two independent places. It should also be noted that OpenTable shows absolutely no signs of closure, and usually when a restaurant is going to close, they prohibit reservations after a certain date.
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    I went to Kapnos Taverna in Ballston today for lunch with 3 companions. In a sentence, it was good, not outstanding, but good, and pretty damn expensive. Everything on the lunch menu is mezze, which forces orders of multiple items and lots of sharing, but the prices for the items are closer to full portion prices. I ordered the dolmades (grape leaves) and the charred octopus. The dolmades were the so-so vegetarian version, but they were passable. The magic was how they turned less than $1 of ingredients into a $9 menu item. The octopus was a spare tentacle, priced at $16, so about $4 a bite. Around the table were meatballs, spiced salmon, chicken and beef kabobs, pikilia (combination of 3 spreads), spanokopita, and plenty of fresh pita-like bread. This is not light eating, by far. Prepare for a heavy stomach and much belching throughout the rest of the day. Nothing was bad, and nothing was great, so I can't complain about the quality of the meal. But at just under $60 each for 4 people at lunch -- tax and tip included -- we're not talking about value.
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    Other restaurants that have closed in CP in the past few years have indicated that lack of parking, lack of foot traffic, and significant increases in rent have chased them out.
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    About a month ago, I had an opportunity that not many people have. A beer that me and my team pitched to the brewery was created, and I was invited to help brew it on Flying Dog's 15 barrel system. It was a long day, a bit more than 8 hours, which started with feeding the grain into the mill, and capped off with pitching the yeast into the fermentation vessel. During down time we were given a behind the scenes tour, got to watch the bottling and kegging line, tour the hop fridge, etc. Yesterday the fruits of my labor were unveiled at the brewery at their pre Savor BBQ. The beer is amazing. The style is the current go to rage style. Hazy New England IPA. Best ultra fresh, which it was. The grain bill was mostly 2-row malt, with some white wheat, flaked oats, acidulated wheat, and honey malt. This beer is intensely dry hopped with the "holy trinity" for the style of galaxy, citra, and mosaic. The result was juicy and fruity, hazy and lazy. If you want to try it, you will have to head to the brew house, but go fast, do not stop at go, and make sure you get there while it's fresh.
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    Portland Mercury causes a burrito cart to shut down because white women "stole" recipes while vacationing in Mexico. I hereby demand that the Source, Gaijin Ramen, and Tiger Fork be shut down immediately. In addition, I demand that Maketto close half of the restaurant since Bruner-Yang is at best half Taiwanese, and it needs to stop selling Cambodian food. Jose Andres needs to close China Chilcano, Oyamel, and Zaytina. That guy should be limited to slinging tapas and molecular gastronomic shit. [eta: as far as I can tell, this story is legit.] P.S. better go to Pok Pok now before it gets accused of cultural appropriation.
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    Trip Report from Bali: Ubud- we flew into Bali and went to Ubud first. We had a really nice driver for the whole trip, who was a friend of a friend's his name is Ida Bagus Adi (Adi is what we called him). He is ridiculously inexpensive compared to some of the taxis and hotel tours, and despite apologizing for his poor English, his English is actually very good. He is on What'sApp and Facebook, and WhatsApp is the easiest way to hook up with him. I would message him the day before with what we might need, then I would message him 30 minutes before we needed picked up. We stayed at the Puri Sunia Resort which is about 3 miles outside Ubud. I wouldn't choose this hotel if you want to walk into Ubud, but it was a phenomenal hotel which was really peaceful. The hotel room itself was beautiful, very clean, nicely appointed. The staff at the hotel were amazing and incredibly nice. The spa was very nice and incredibly affordable. They have a nice selection of tours if you want to go through the hotel, a bit more expensive than a private driver, but not too bad, we did this for one day Adi was booked. Our included breakfast was huge, delicious and had lots of variety (Indonesian, Indian, Continental, American, etc available) it was three courses with a fruit course, bread or starter sweet course and then meal. Sample menus we had were fruit platter, fried banana with honey and mie goreng or fruit with yogurt, breads, poached eggs with bacon, sausage, mushroom, grilled tomato and potato, etc, etc. The pools were small, but nice, and they had a lot of free amenities such as morning yoga, bike rides, tea, making offerings, etc. We got the hotel for under $100 a night, and thought it was an amazing bargain. They have a frequent shuttle into and out of Ubud, as well. We had dinner there a couple nights just due to tours ending and being too jet lagged to go anywhere, there was no additional charge for room service. Dinners were good, I had chicken curry, Mom had roasted duck with Indonesian spices, spring rolls were good. The only thing about our hotel we didn't like was: the wifi wasn't incredibly strong, I used my own device a lot, the light switches were in very weird places, we had to finally have staff show us where they were, we never could get the TV to play tv channels, although they had a list of them, the shower was hard to get the temperature not to be too hot or too cold or both too hot and too cold in the same shower. In Ubud itself, Mom and I had a great time shopping. We got a little overwhelmed with the market, we don't love to haggle, but you do get the best deals here for things that you will see in other shops. We got snakeskin purses, sarongs, scarfs and other presents for people for Christmas and lots of clothes in Ubud. They have pretty wood carvings and artwork, but we just couldn't commit to any of that. I wish I would have bought some Balinese puppets for Mom, she really liked them. Other than shopping there are a couple art museums- we toured the historic one right in town and the Blanco museum, which if you like eclectic things you definitely need to check out. We really enjoyed drinks and dinner at Bridges by the Blanco museum. Dinner wasn't special per se in terms of flavor, the food was good though and more reasonably priced than I thought it would be. The drinks were very good though and the restaurant is pretty with a very nice view. Our favorite restaurant was Arang Sate Bar which is right by the market in Ubud. Most items here are sate items. We had incredible butterfish and mushroom skewers, as well as pork belly and other items. We did two tasting menus, the seafood and meat and shared them. We also had two spritzer's here that were just incredibly refreshing. Lastly, we had a desert called Es Teler, which was just incredible- coconut sorbet, coconut cream, and tropical fruit. Mom and I have said this might be the best dessert we have ever eaten, it was amazing, I hope to find someone making this somewhere here. We ate at a couple other restaurants, I just don't have their names, there are lots of decent restaurants in Ubud. We also ate at Spices, which had very good food too, kind of fusion food. It was on the main drag right near the Starbucks and Market, definitely a modern, tourist oriented place, but with good food. We really enjoyed a trip to see the water palaces- Tirta Ganga and Ujung. We didn't know you can swim and should swim at Tirta Ganga, especially as the time of day we got there was hot! But we fit a lot in that day (we also did a traditional village that we could have skipped as it was very commercial for a traditional village, and the bat cave temple, which unless you really like bats, isn't a must see) but three things I enjoyed were Ujung, Tirta Ganga and Kertha Gosa. Lunch at Tirta Ganga provided a nice selection of good restaurants. I wish I would have known to say to skip the other places we could have also added in a pool or beach stop if we did that. When you go for a tour in the morning I would recommend taking a bag with bathing suit and sarong just in case, we would stop at a convenience store in the morning and get drinks and some snacks that we added to the bag because sometimes you just need a snack in between stops. We also went to Lake Bretan and saw the two crater lakes, the botanical garden there was very pretty, but it wasn't really the season for orchids, so a lot of things weren't blooming, but it was very pretty. The temple at Lake Bretan was just jam packed with tourists, we just took our pictures and went to get back in the van. On the way we saw some beautiful, huge rice terraces which I really enjoyed. I would eat at Lake Bretan when you stop, we went up to the top overlooking the lake and we ate outside at this little restaurant, the food was fine, but the flies were intense. We also stopped at the coffee plantation this day and tried Luwak coffee and some teas. Word to the wise, check the bags your purchase to make sure they are sealed well and no holes, we ended up throwing out a bag of tea along the journey as there was a hole in the bag. We visited Tanah Lot on the way to Jimbaran, and that was definitely worth the journey, it was beautiful. We went during the day at low tide, there were a bit less tourists than at sunset, and I appreciated that. I would definitely have that on my must see list. Jimbaran- We stayed at the Intercontinental in Jimbaran and also loved our hotel. We got a very good deal on it, as well going off season, although if you ask me, May is the perfect time to go to Bali, it was hot, but not too hot, and we were just past the rainy season so things were incredibly green and lush, but very little rain. It is a very big hotel, but as it wasn't high season, it wasn't packed. We got an upgrade to our room, and it was one of the nicest hotel rooms we have ever stayed in. The pools at this hotel are just amazing- they have a bunch of different pools, all with water features. They are right on the beach, although it isn't a private beach so they have their beach chairs up on the brim of the beach. It is a great, clean beach though, you can see the planes take off from the airport, but it wasn't as close or noisy as I had been worried about. It is a fun place to do a long beach stroll. They came around at noonish with very cold fruit skewers, they would bring out balls and other pool toys for the kids there- all in all just very nice staff and hotel. You can walk down the beach to the seafood market and get a grilled dinner on the beach, but note your clothes will all smell like smoke afterwards (I forget which place we choose, but they are all extremely similar). I wanted to go to a place near the hotel, but just never managed to get there that looked really cute on the inside for dinner. The breakfast buffet there was included in our stay, and it was just great, they had miso soup and vegetable sushi, noodles in broth with your choice of accompaniments, fried noodles with different toppings, all sorts of fruit, meats, cheeses, breads, cereals, porridge, egg station, waffle station, pancakes, you name it, they had it. We would essentially do brunch and dinner. We did eat dinner at the hotel two nights, one night when we were leaving for the airport at the beach grill, I forget the name, but it was very good. The other night at their Japanese Restaurant Ko, which was highly rated, but I really don't know why, plenty of just as good sushi places here in DC, but I had been scuba diving all day, and by the time I got cleaned up it was late and I was exhausted. The spa here was still way cheaper than in the US for the same services, but when we were leaving, there looked to be a nice spa across the street that I would check ratings on if I were staying there. The spa was good though, we got scrubs and massages. A note on the scuba diving- I went to Nusa Penida to do Manta Point, and we did two drift dives there. Manta point has incredible surge, everyone on our boat was sick by the end of that dive, although we did see Manta Rays, huge, amazing manta rays, so it was worth it. If I dove here and didn't see Mantas due to the amount of surge, I would be pissed off. So I would only recommend it if you REALLY have to see Manta Rays (I am spoiled and have seen an incredible amount of amazing fish in my diving, so it takes a lot to wow me now, and mantas were on my list). After that we did a really nice drift dive where we saw a lot of great fish (angels, clown, triggers, huge moa, etc) in a much calmer section and I recovered from being super sick. But we had wanted to do three dives that day, so they took us to another drift dive just a hop away, and there the current was so strong, I thought it was scary, we had to grab on to certain things to keep us from going to fast and I ripped up my hands. I would never want to do that dive again. I really thought I was going to get swept away from the group (I told them to weight me with more weights, but they didn't believe me, so when I drift, I tend to also get pulled up and this dive took a lot out of me to try to get where I needed to be.) It was like flying through the water. I think they just took us because it was close and it was a quick and easy was to get us our third dive. I will find the name of the dive company and sites, because I am going to put it on TripAdvisor, but I don't recommend using them. They should have told us either only two dives, or gone to a different site further away. My dive buddy was staying longer than me and did the USS Liberty, which I wanted to do, but couldn't find a company that would take just me (and my Mom doesn't dive) and he said that was a good dive too. I think they gave him a discount on it based on that dive being terrible, but I was leaving the next day. They were nice people when I talked to them, but they just didn't seem to be as nice or professional as other places I have gone that really give you good advice on where you can see, what the dives will be like, and if the conditions aren't good- not going. But it was REALLY hard to find a place that would take single divers. We went one evening to see the dance at Uluwatu and that was worth it despite the amazing number of people they packed into the show. It was close to our hotel and we were taken by hotel staff and they were wonderful and guided us to all the right places, and it was reasonably priced given how great they were. I think it was worth seeing the temple and show. We saw another dance show that was filled with some different shows with different characters and that was fun to see, as well. I wish we had like three more days on our trip, I would have liked to see the Gili Islands, but we needed to break up the flight back with a stop in Dubai, it really helped my Mom manage those long flights. I loved Bali, I found it very affordable. The people really wanted you to have a great time, despite being asked for a taxi a million times- that was the only annoying thing that I really disliked. I thought it was kind of a cross between St John and India in a way. I would go back in a heartbeat though. The amount of care for the presentation of items to make everything look lovely was just astounding, every meal, every temple, every hotel room had details to make it lovely. It was easier to be in than some developing areas, you felt like people had more of an ability to control their own destiny and that people generally were happy about being there. I would recommend the bug repellent lotion (Picardin) that lasts 8-14 hours, that really worked well for us, we would put it on in the morning, and after showers in the afternoon if we took them, and we didn't get ANY bug bites, despite lots of sweat and etc. I wish I had this when I went to Japan last year. I don't recommend thinking you can drive yourself, or renting a scooter unless you are very adventurous, and make sure you get the license from Bali you need, as we heard and saw tourists being shook down by the po-po for not having it. If you can find a good driver at the start to use for most of your trip it really will save you a lot of money. We thought a couple of times that the guides were required to visit a few temples as they were dressed in official looking garb, there is only one temple where the guide is required (forget the name, biggest temple in Bali) and you really don't need them. We didn't run into aggressive monkeys, but we also didn't go looking for them. It was very easy to change money and they liked cash, especially in Ubud. It was also super easy to find ATMs. That is all I can think of for now, will come back and add things in as I remember.
  37. 3 likes
    $38 for a half-chicken with no starch? Thanks for the low-carb diet, Mr. Barnum. Still, I'd much rather see this, coupled with a fairly priced wine list, than seeing $22 for the chicken, and triple-retail for the wines. Sell me a good Coteaux d'Aix Rosé, Beaujolais Village, or Chinon, at retail - or charge $20 per bottle, PER PERSON <lightbulb goes on in people's heads> corkage (*) - and I'll be the first one to buy that chicken. (*) Yes, a table of three, nursing one bottle of wine will pay $60 to drink during that meal; a solo diner at the bar - who will probably take half the bottle home - will pay $20 (the money being 100% profit for the restaurant, as there's no inventory cost). It's a workable idea, and one that you'll be seeing in restaurants within 1-2 years, all because someone put a psychedelic in my couscous tonight.
  38. 3 likes
    If you go in the evening, or stay less than an hour during the day, validation will no longer be necessary.
  39. 3 likes
    Yes, but when will you close off the restaurant for an off-menui, dr.com Lithuanian dinner? With your fantastic wine prices (and cooking) it shouldn't matter, but allowing BYOB will be wildly popular, provide for a festive, communal atmosphere, and sell it out quickly. I'll make sure you're paid a fair amount for the evening, and I'm hoping it will be some good PR for you. The honey-cheese cake ... a lot like a multi-layer carrot cake in so many ways. Lithuanian is in your blood: Vilnius, I assume? Would anyone be interested in an early-week restaurant buyout of Lithuanian specialties from this talented cook? Thank you for a lovely meal, Justé, and wonderful service, Ricardo. My young dining companion loved the meal. (I was supposed to be anonymous, FWIW - Matt was floored that you remembered us, since it had been several years ... or was it the phone number?)
  40. 3 likes
    And that bread...
  41. 3 likes
    I had brunch there yesterday. The Egg Uttpam described above was pretty good, the Chicken Khati was delicious, the Avocado Golgappa was fantastic, and the Bhel Puri was also very good. I would have liked the option to order some naan to sop up some of the sauces, etc. but it is not on the brunch menu. The bloody mary was weak as sin and not worth even the low price it cost - it also had zero innovative qualities, nothing Indian about it. I will say also that the service was generally atrocious. I arrived first (before my friend) and checked in with the host, who started to talk to me, went to clear a table, and then came back and answered the phone, leaving me standing there waiting for him to take me to a table - there were multiple open tables. A nice staffer (a woman (manager?) with dreadlocks who seemed to be the only real professional working) saw me standing there awkwardly for several minutes and then took me to our table. The servers all seemed young, overwhelmed, and lacking in confidence and personality. Dirty dishes sat, there was little to no engagement, we waited too long for things -- all these little things added up. I loved the food, but really was bothered by the front of the house. I will go back, because it was delicious, but I hope that the A team works dinner and I was just unlucky to get the brunch B team. That said, the possible manager I mentioned above was hustling, and clearly noticed the failings of the rest of the staff as she mopped up after them.
  42. 3 likes
    "Das Boot" is perhaps the finest war film I have ever seen. It is certainly in my top three films about war. I recently watched the Director's Cut of this German film, released in 1997 (the original was first shown in German theaters in 1981 and then as a TV miniseries). "Das Boot" is an adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim's 1973 German novel of the same name, and it tells the fictional story of a German U-96 crew during World War II. The director's cut is 3 hours and 29 minutes long, combining action sequences from the 2.5 hour original theatrical release (which garnered six Academy Award nominations) and character development from the miniseries. Improvements in the picture and sound were also made. Yes, 209 minutes is a substantial amount of time to devote to watching a film, but I can tell you, the Director's Cut is worth it. I have watched much shorter films that seem twice as long. I found this film riveting from the bawdy opening scene to the closing segment, one of the most poignant and moving moments I have witnessed on film. The tension in this film is palpable. The tedium and the fear of fighting a battle deep beneath the surface of the sea is made incredibly real for the viewer. I felt great empathy for the characters, and forgot they were Germans, fighting for the other side. They were men, some really boys, struggling to do their best under the most difficult conditions. This is one of the best films I have seen - an epic, classic, World War II tale - and I highly recommend it.
  43. 3 likes
    Trying to get some perspective on this. In the earlier 1980's I leased the first Ruth's Chris in DC on Connecticut Ave. and the first Morton's in Georgetown. Several of the DC institutional steakhouses have closed,but overall there are more steakhouses now in downtown than there were in 80's,and 90's (at which point I lost track). There are also substantially more people working downtown, including more lawyers and lobbyists. OTOH there appear to be fewer established steakhouses in Tysons than were there say in the mid to late 90's stretching into the mid 2000's. During those decades I also dined/took clients out at quite a bit at those type restaurants (more lunches than dinners) and try as I did, I couldn't seriously distinguish the quality of one over the other. In fact that they are still around at the same locations for over 30 years and those corporations have opened more of the same in the city and area since then says something about their popularity as a food type...and there are customers then and now who will continue to visit them Anyway its a big "steak city" but so are many other cities, and they are all part of a corporate dining phenomena that is and always has been simply different than fine dining or cutting edge dining, etc. It is what it is. But yeah, to quote Tweaked from the Opening Post...."I'd yawn but I can't work up the energy" I don't believe these places detract from the rest of the dining scene. They simply fill a need that really isn't addressed in this forum. At least that is my $0.02 on the matter.
  44. 2 likes
    Ingredient sourcing is WAY down the list of reasons it is expensive to eat in DC. I would wager "high rent" and "what the market will bear" to be much more likely.
  45. 2 likes
    I'd love to go, but I've sworn off Jiffy Lubed. I went last year and the police and security presence was ridiculous. I guess they thought that a bunch of stoners were going to go on murderous rampages. Assholes.
  46. 2 likes
    Heritage was the mothership for accomplished Indian cooking at outposts in Bethesda, Rockville and up the street in Tenleytown. Unfortunately, its business dwindled steadily over the past several years, and I'm surprised it survived as long as it did considering the size of the place. I don't think they used the sumptuous back dining room for years. Fit for a raj, it used to fill up on weekends. We watched the food drift downhill. Sometimes it was still worthy of the reputation the kitchen set in its golden era, but often it was not -- down to nan gone to flab. The Southern inspired Malgudi downstairs failed to turn the tide, and it too turned inconsistent, although it usually provided the best parts of the meal when it was sent upstairs to mingle with the Heritage menu. Blame it also on the service? Maybe. This place had a reputation for being mean, and you didn't dare cross the medical student whose family had forced him into servitude for his summer vacation. But that had mostly been ironed out, although I did occasionally overhear heated conversations. I suppose you have it coming when you make a simple request for white chicken meat only and try to send the dish back because you received a thigh. You may end up arguing half the night over what is considered dark. Heritage did, however, accomplish something new when they sent in the clowns to tend the tables at the new Malgudi. I wonder if the servers told Tom Sietsema that they only had beer and wine in order to avoid having to ascend a flight of steep stairs to avoid the bar where mixed drinks were being concocted. Or laughed scoffingly behind his back when he had to leave the table to find a clean plate. Heritage is now at the corner of Wisconsin and Macomb in the old Zebra Room, where it seems to be better suited to the snugger space. Week after week, I have been meaning to drop in and find out if it has managed to rekindle its flair for cooking -- in a market where Indian cuisine is a decidedly harder sell than burgers just about everywhere and the exhausted Tex-Mex at the Cactus C. My problem is it's just too hard to pass up 2 Amy's only steps away. I try to make it there almost every week. And believe me, last week among the little things was a crab salad that stood taller than anything I encountered the night before at Woodberry Kitchen, one of the many reasons for traveling the 50 miles to Baltimore, and for a much lower tab. (The competition continues to heat up near the National Cathedral -- at least if you are counting the number of openings and fairly new spots, and my guess is that the days of Cafe Deluxe may be numbered unless it starts to take stock of what it is doing.) Tonight, unfortunately, I will miss another opportunity to revisit Heritage. I am finding it difficult to break from my habitual dinners at Masala Art, where the cooking continues to hold merit.
  47. 2 likes
    I think it's because that neighborhood is mostly families and older people. Families don't go to Ripple. If the young people who live in CP are out on a date they go to U St or H St. The neighborhood has continually failed to support great higher-end restaurants like Palena, Dino, Ripple, etc. The family-friendly restaurants, from Dolan Uyghur to Bread Furst to Alero, are doing great, as noted above. I think a family-friendly pub-style restaurant like Meridian Pint would do great and there isn't really one right now in CP, Van Ness, or Tenleytown.
  48. 2 likes
    Top Ten lists, Will It Float?, Is This Anything?, Hello Deli, Stupid Pet Tricks, Larry "Bud" Melman, Letterman's mother, etc. The absurdist comedy of Letterman was fucking genius. Here's an insightful interview with a Letterman biographer on NPR. http://www.npr.org/2017/04/17/524393134/-the-epitome-of-new-york-cool-letterman-biographer-on-late-night-icon
  49. 2 likes
    You're not alone in praising their bar set up City Paper Best of D.C. Best Bartender Tyler Hudgens We really enjoyed her cocktails and company during our 10th anniversary dinner there earlier this year. Wonderful bar.
  50. 2 likes
    To sumarize the (my) current Gaithersburg highlights: Non-chain favorites: - Le Palais: Country French, formal, $$$$, very good - Batik: Fusion Asian/dumplings, casual, $ - Roy's Place: Funky old-school sandwiches, very casual, $$ - Growler's Pub: Brew Pub, changing menu, casual, $$ - Vasilis: Greek, nice casual, $$$ - Pasha: Moroccan, nice casual, $$$ Local chain favorites: - Cava Mezze, Greek tapas, nice casual, $$$ (north potomac?) - Moby Dick, Persian, casual counter service, $$ - Coal Fire Pizza, casual, $$ As mentioned above, there are other places serving various 'exotic' cuisines but I don't really know enough about them to say what's good or not. I *think* I'll also take Italian Pines over Il Porto - but have to do a head-to-head comparison one of these days.