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  1. 10 likes
    As I mentioned in a separate thread, I managed a short notice reservation at Komi to celebrate my birthday with my wife and two friends. I was particularly excited, since this would be the first visit for my wife and I. Komi has been a favorite of our friends, and they had been there twice already. In a word, the experience was spectacular. I really can't do Komi justice with this post, but it's now on my Top 5 of all time list. From start to finish, the staff was warm, engaging, funny and incredibly hospitable. Before and during the meal, they adjusted courses based upon likes and dislikes, and did so seamlessly. My friend and I opted for the $75 wine pairing, which was a great decision. Without fail, the wines complemented the food. Our significant others opted for wines by the glass, since someone had to drive home, and it was a school night. Here's a brief summary of the menu. My wife doesn't care for much fish or seafood, so the substitutions are noted. Every substitute dish was just as delicious as the one it replaced. As most probably know, the meal begins with a succession of very small, but very delicious bites. The pasta dishes may seem small, but the portions are perfect. The meat courses are very generous. I ended up taking goat and lamb home, and enjoyed them the next evening as I reminisced about the prior night's meal. TROUT ROE (Avocado mousse) LAVRAKI SCALLOP (with the most amazing lobster butter) TART - Taramasalata SQUID (Brussels Dolma) DUCK HEART (Beets) TOAST (w/Foie Gras) DATES RAVIOLI (Celery root ravioli with lamb's tongue). This was the lightest, most delicious pasta I may have ever eaten. ORECCHIETTE (w/beef heart ragu). KATSIKAKI (Baby Goat shoulder) and LAMB NECK Served with Pita, tzatziki, hot sauce, and a house made (turmeric?) mustard. LEMON CREAMSICLE MILK & HONEY DATES (Yes, again--my friends raved about these all evening, so brought more for dessert. ROLOS (packed in a box with a birthday greeting) Wine: Pairing wines: Seyssel Brut, "Royal Seyssel," Lambert de Seyssel, HAUTE-SAVOIE, FRANCE, 2009 Pinot Gris, Omero Cellars, WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OREGON, 2015 Riesling, “Belzbrunnen,” Dirler-Cadé, ALSACE, FRANCE, 2010 Madeira, “Rainwater,” Broadbent, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL, NV Chablis, Costal Premier Cru – Vaillons, BURGUNDY, FRANCE, 2014 Xinomavro, “Naoussea,” Foundi, NAOUSSA, GREECE, 2006 Rosso del Veronese, L’Arco, VENETO, ITALY, 2012 Jurançon, "Costat Darrèr," Camin Larredya, JURANÇON, FRANCE, 2015 They also poured these glasses: Vouvray Pétillant Brut, Huet, LOIRE, FRANCE, 2012 Spätburgunder, “Rosé de Diel,” Diel, NAHE, GERMANY, 2015 Cinsault Blend, “Hochar Père & Fils,” Musar, BEKAA VALLEY, LEBANON, 2011 Rioja, "Viña Cubillo," Lopez de Heredia, RIOJA, SPAIN, 2008 We all left smiling and extremely satisfied. If anyone from Komi reads this, let me thank you again for a wonderful evening!
  2. 10 likes
    I’ve been to Rasika many times in my life, perhaps a dozen or so. Although the restaurant has gone from being “just another good restaurant” to “one of the toughest reservations in Washington, DC,” stylistically, it doesn’t seem like it has changed much at all, except for a small amplification in flavor intensity many years ago, when it was still close to its birth year of 2005. The one exception is that I had a fine meal at Rasika on my previous visit, which is mentioned on the restaurant’s web page itself. I wonder how many people remember that the talented Sebastian Zutant left Komi to become sommelier at Rasika when it first opened: Although award-winning Chef Vikram Sunderam has remained with Knightsbridge Restaurant Group throughout its lifetime, Rasika’s drinks program – which can easily account for half of the diner’s final bill – has changed over the years, and on my most recent visit, the services of Zutant have never been missed more, as Rasika batted 0-for-3 in the beverage department. Getting a prime-time table at Rasika now requires making a reservation several weeks in advance – unless you’re fortunate enough to find a cancellation – but even at an off-time, you’re not guaranteed to find a table, as I found out when I walked in recently. Hoping to sit in the dining room, my choices were either to wait a couple of hours, or snag the only remaining seat at the bar, so the bar it was. Wanting to unwind and begin my meal with a cocktail, I raised an eyebrow when I saw the Champagne Cocktail ($12) which is exactly what I was in the mood for. Unfortunately, the Champagne Cocktail at Rasika is made, not with Champagne, but with Prosecco, which is akin to advertising Kobe beef and selling Angus in its place. Still, I knew what I was getting into, as the menu clearly said the Prosecco was served with Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger, and I knew the sweet ginger would mask any deficiencies in the Prosecco – I asked my *wonderful* bartender (and I’ll be referring to him again) if the drink was on the sweet or dry side, and he told me it was sweet, so I asked for a reduced dose of ginger syrup, and the cocktail he made me was in perfect balance – I’d suggest that, unless you’re in the mood for a sugary drink, you ask your server to go light on the ginger syrup. The only thing wrong with this cocktail was the name of it, which can be permanently fixed by the restaurant in a matter of seconds; until that happens, just be aware that you can buy entire bottles of Prosecco – at the retail level – for $12. I wanted a snack to have with my cocktail, so I also ordered a piece of Mint Paratha ($3), and it was of average quality, with good texture and cooking; the only ding was that was a bit bland, but this isn’t supposed to be the center of attention. For my appetizer, I ordered a curious item: Dover Sole Chutneywala ($15) – curious, because it was the only Dover Sole they had on the menu, and it was extremely thin. Wrapped in a banana leaf, it was dressed in a mild curry (or, more accurately, chutney) of coconut, mint, and cilantro, and accompanied by a little Kachumber on the side. I don’t quite understand how Rasika is able to serve such a small portion of Dover Sole, because this is expensive fish and there must be some minimum amount that a restaurant has to order – but Knightsbridge Restaurant Group may order larger portions of Dover Sole for its eight restaurants (economies of scale and all that). This was somewhat skimpy, and the Kachumber was of average quality, but the dish as a whole was novel. I had finished my cocktail and wanted some wine before the appetizer, and having read the description of the dish, I went straight for a glass of Elena Walsh Gewürztraminer ($14), also something of a surprise because it was the only glass of Gewürztraminer on the list, and it was from Italy (Alto Adige to be exact) – it definitely piqued my curiosity. Unfortunately, the second I took my first whiff, I must have unintentionally scrunched up my face, and my bartender must have seen me, because he said, “Your appetizer will be right out, sir.” But that’s not why I scrunched up my face (and I didn’t know he was looking!); I knew from the very first smell that this wine had undergone malolactic fermentation – this is a secondary fermentation which turns malic acid (think: tart, green apples) into lactic acid (think: yogurt) – lactic acid is *not* something you want in your Gewürztraminer, and I was more than a little disappointed that out of all the Gewürztraminers in the world, this is the one Rasika selected to serve by the glass – it had a distinct bouquet of milky acids, and I was terribly disappointed. It wasn’t a “bad” wine, but the nature of the acidity was amoral – here, of all places, with their heralded “Modern Indian” cuisine, I wanted a white wine with a bit of grip to it, and I got a glass of flab – possibly a distributor close-out. It had been awhile since I’d been to Rasika, and I over-ordered on purpose, thinking I’d enjoy it for lunch tomorrow as well. I’ve been criticized before for ordering “too traditional” at Rasika, so I wanted to be sure not to do that this trip. For my main course, I got Ananas Gosht ($20) – Ananas means pineapple, and Gosht means lamb, and this came with lamb, cashew nuts, pineapple, mace, and cardamom. Thinking this would be a red wine course, I ordered a glass of 2013 Jean Yves Perraud “Domaine de Foretal” Julienas ($12), Julienas being one of the more floral villages in Beaujolais, and the wine being 100% Gamay. There was only one thing wrong with this wine, and it was a deal-breaker: My bartender pulled a bottle off the shelf, and poured my glass, and it was about 75 degrees in the restaurant – the wine was about 20 degrees too hot. (And people are angry because Rasika didn’t get a Michelin star?) Refer back to the fourth paragraph where I mentioned my wonderful bartender. He asked me how the wine was, and I said it was good, but would he mind putting the glass in the freezer for about ten minutes? He didn’t bat an eye – he immediately said, “There’s absolutely no need for that – I’ll just open another bottle,” and he opened the (temperature-controlled) bottle storage underneath the back of the bar, pulled out a brand new bottle, opened it, poured it, and … it made all the difference in the world. He went above the call of duty opening that bottle – I would have been perfectly content just having mine cooled down for ten minutes (by now, I’m so used to asking for this, that it no longer bothers me that people don’t know how to serve red wine). I thanked him heartily, and made sure to leave him a good tip at the end of the night – his name was Dwight, by the way, and I wouldn’t mention his name if he wasn’t excellent. As for the Ananas Gosht, I wish I could compliment it as much as Dwight – aside from having a single, paper-thin pineapple slice on top of the dish, the pellets of lamb were tough and tasteless. Precisely one week after I went to Rasika, I went to Raaga, an Indian restaurant you’ve never heard of before, because it’s an unknown dive in Falls Church. There, I ordered a Chicken Kolhapuri ($14.95). I urge fans of Rasika to go to both restaurants, get one dish of each to go, and compare them side-by-side – the results will either delight or depress you, depending on what your motivations are, and it won’t be a close call. Darn it I wanted to like this lamb dish, but it wasn’t in the stars, so to speak. Well, of *course* I got three side dishes: a distressingly charred Eggplant Chili Garlic ($8) – the only inedible dish of the night because it wasn’t only burned, but it was scorching hot, and eggplant with skin-on retains heat for a long time; Zucchini Tamatar Kofta ($8), which was probably my favorite dish of the night, the zucchini dumplings made with mustard seeds and onion seeds, and an outsized portion of Cucumber Raita ($4), best-suited for a party of two, but I knew exactly what I was getting when I ordered it – it was slightly above-average Raita, but nothing memorable. The next day, for lunch, the Raita tamed the Eggplant – I was genuinely hungry again for lunch, and rather than choking down the eggplant when I was full, I was able to enjoy it the next day when I was hungry. In summary, a typical visit at Rasika for me – why people are outraged that Rasika didn’t get a Michelin star is beyond my comprehension – it isn’t even close to being a one-star restaurant. It’s a good Modern Indian venue that’s one of the best choices in Penn Quarter. I even have it ranked ahead of Masala Art and Woodlands in the Multiple Locations Dining Guide, although I’m not entirely convinced it should be ranked higher than Woodlands. I guess if you want some wine with your Indian cuisine, it’s one of the best Indian restaurants in the area, but this visit made me miss Passage To India and Indique, both of which I’ve neglected now for far too long. Ashok Bajaj is a brilliant restaurateur, and I hope he finally gets the recognition he deserves at the national level – taken as a whole, his set of restaurants is nothing short of spectacular. Nothing would be more fitting than if he won the James Beard Award this year for Outstanding Restaurateur in the United States.
  3. 9 likes
    I can't believe that as many times as I've visited Napa, I haven't been to Ad Hoc. This is Thomas Keller's "take what we serve," family-style restaurant in Yountville, just down the Street from The French Laundry (pssst, that link will magically work in the next couple of months). At first glance, Ad Hoc seems frightfully expensive for what you get, but it isn't at all, and in fact, I can't wait to go back. There's a different, family-style, set menu served each night of the week, and since we went on a Monday, here was ours (there's no difference going on a Monday than any other night, in terms of price, quantity, or quality - at least, none that I know of): <--- This is $52 per person, which may seem expensive, but I'm going to try and explain why it's a very good value. People were grumbling about Eric Ziebold's "Whole Chicken" for $56, even though that was for *two people* - well, ad hoc's menu for two people is $104, and you're getting "Fried Chicken," so how am I possibly going to explain this? Very easily. It's been well-established by now that Ziebold's chicken at $56 is a ridiculous bargain, considering what you get with it, and this set menu, at $52 per person, is also a very good deal (I won't go so far as to call it a "ridiculous bargain") - considering that it's 100% of the food that you'll be eating on this evening - and every single thing is fantastic! Or at least it was for us. Wine, of course, is extra, but ad hoc's wine prices are fair, and their wine list is expertly chosen - with this set meal, you have to go (or "you're best-off going") with a Rosé, since a Rosé is sort-of half-way between a red and a white, and will overlap both white courses and red courses - remember your Venn Diagrams from Geometry? <--- Except that the overlap is much greater than this picture shows. So, they naturally had a couple of Rosés to choose from, and our request for our server was simple: Bring us the palest, driest Rosé from France, preferably from the Southeast of France, that you have. He knew instantly which wine to pick, and that brings up another point: Our server knew every ingredient in every dish that we had on this evening, and also knew the wine list back-and-forth. Thomas Keller trains his staff very well, and you just don't see this kind of knowledge in a lot of restaurants - this is worth a lot to the diner, even though it may be something that gets overlooked. Our Grenache Gris: a 2015 Domaine de Figueirasse ($40) from the Languedoc region of France. "Do you know if this wine was bled off the top of the vat?" I asked, and he said, "No, its gently pressed.." How many servers are even going to know what "vin saignée" is? Bled Rosé can be fine, but pressed Rosé is just a better wine making method - I could write a 5,000-word thesis on why this is so, but it just is. Oenophiles are reading this right now, nodding their heads, and admiring our server - every single one of them. This is an all-organic winery that was founded in 1905, and this is the wine you should be getting here with anything that isn't a dark meat, such as beef or lamb - you'll be happy, I promise! Our meal began with a bread course (house-made bread (don't forget, Keller's bakery is essentially right next door) with the same, wonderfully creamy, salted butter you get at Bouchon. With it, came a perfectly dressed County Line Chicory Salad with eggs mimosa, pickled red onions, French Laundry garden radishes, and creamy garlic dressing - and when I say "perfectly dressed," I mean that this salad could not have been dressed any better, and contained exactly the correct amount of dressing. We took our time noshing on our salad, and even though the restaurant was completely full, we didn't feel rushed in any way. Only when we were finished, and not a moment before, were the plates cleared, and within moments the main course and two sides arrived, and oh did they look good - and they were every bit as good as they looked. This is some of the best Buttermilk Fried Chicken I've ever eaten, and ironically, about the only better fried chicken I've had was in the next county over, but we'll get to that shortly. The batter is dredged in buttermilk, and the chicken is served with Cauliflower Gratin and Mushroom & Carrot Ragout. I strongly suspect my dining companion will have more to say about these two side orders. Don't let the picture of the chicken fool you - this was a huge amount of fried chicken, and we had some to take home for lunch the next day - you'll have leftovers from this meal unless you play Offensive Tackle for the 49ers. And there's still more to come. One of the only truly generous cheese courses I've encountered in quite awhile (aren't you sick of getting little slivers of cheese?) By the way, here's a dirty little secret: Many retailers mark up their cheeses by (be sitting down when you read this) 100%. Cheese is not that expensive at the wholesale level - when you see cheese that's $20 and $30 a pound, don't blame the cheesemakers, and don't blame the wholesalers; blame the retailers. Why do you think you see so many Groupon offers from cheese retailers, advertising 50% off their cheese? Do you think it's because they want to lose money? Let that one sink in for awhile, and store it in your long-term memory. Back to the meal: *Look* at this amazing Andante Dairy's Tomme Dolce, served with the most *amazing* Corn Pone and House-Made Mixed Berry Jam! You're *still* not finished, because there's a dessert course - in our case, two jars of Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crumble and Whipped Chantilly, one of which is pictured here, turned over after being half-eaten - we thought coffee would hit the spot, so we got a French Press of Decaf Coffee with our dessert ($5 total, and worth it). Well, I don't know if I've convinced you that this dinner is worth $104 for two people (not including extras), but for my palate and budget, it was worth it and then some. Ad Hoc is a wonderful restaurant, that has many of the niceties that a Thomas Keller institution can provide - and don't forget, he spends an *awful* lot of time in Yountville, which is essentially a one-street town. Ad Hoc is wonderful, and worth a trip from San Francisco - *absolutely* worth a trip if you're in Napa or Sonoma counties to begin with.
  4. 8 likes
    I didn't succeed in memorizing any one dish from our meal last night, but the science project/"playing with fire" dish this time was a creative cheese toast--"Warm Grayson and Purple Sweet Potato Brioche." The person presenting this melted the Grayson cheese on a thin rectangular hot plate over a bed of coals that had been ignited with Everclear. (I think there might have been another ingredient or two mixed in with the fiery coals, but I don't recall what.) He then scraped the toasty melty cheese onto small rectangles of purple sweet potato brioche. I could definitely have eaten more than one of these. This course was one of the highlights of the evening for me. This was probably my favorite of the bread-type products offered, with the airy cloud of a popover with mushroom sauce that came with the DC Steakhouse course a close second. Bread is one of the things Aaron Silverman and his crew(s) do superbly and I always look forward to seeing what they're experimenting with at any given time. They also did a Perigord Black Truffle Hoecake as one of the initial three snacks that I felt like I should like more than I did. The hoecake was a nice bite, but maybe there was just too much going on in this. Ironically, I found the official "bread course" the least exciting of the breads ("Oaxacan White Mole with Fresh Tortillas"), The mole gave off a slow burn and was flavorful in and of itself, and the corn tortillas were well made, but I found this somewhat disappointing. Maybe I would have evaluated it differently if it hadn't been presented as the bread course. Another oddity: the only part of the DC Steakhouse course I was underwhelmed by was the actual steak. The sauces (béarnaise and peppercorn) that came with it were delightful. I loved the creamed parsley as a take on creamed spinach. And the 50 layer potato cube was inventive and a perfect whimsical (and workmanlike) little package. The two slices of steak (from different cuts, I believe a server told people next to us) was presented as from a "retired dairy cow." Given the toughness of the steak, I won't dispute that description. My husband disliked it more than I did, but this was hard to cut with a knife. My favorite of the sweet courses was the Tangerine and Hibiscus Soda. I think this may have been presented as a palate cleanser but I'd love this straight up as a dessert on its own merit. The frozen tangerine had been halved, and the bottom half was filled with tangerine granita and a little scoop of lemon yogurt sorbet. For serving, hibiscus soda was poured over the frozen confections. My least favorite of all the courses was the Smoked Sturgeon, Alliums, and Beets. I found this way too salty and my husband finished my portion. I suppose I could have noted a preference beforehand of not wanting extremely salty foods, but that can be a subjective judgment, and I don't want to miss out on a great dish by being too cautious in advance. Honorable (or dis-) mention in this category: the Long Life Udon with Jonah Crab. I had a hard time managing the long doughy strand of Udon and found this awkward to eat. That issue kind of overpowered any other reaction to the components of the dish. My husband had a similar reaction. I believe the only course that was the same as the last time we ate here 6 months previously was the Fennel Absinthe Bonbon, which offers a distinctive welcome to the meal, a precursor of the creativity to come. Perhaps this is the sausage lychee salad of P + P? For the welcome drink, there was a choice of a manhattan and a tequila drink (which may have been the same tequila cocktail on the pairings menu). I'm not much of a cocktail drinker, but that manhattan knocked my socks off. Bourbon and two kinds of amaro is all I remember. Perhaps I should have asked for a full-size one to drink with the meal. Having done the a la carte beverage option at the bar, I ordered one glass of wine. It was a sparkling wine that I have no record of. I had a taste of it before ordering it and found it had an intriguing sourness to it. After about half a glass I was less enamored of it. I loved that manhattan, though. Other people around us were getting the drink pairings and some of the glassware used was wild, including rocks glasses that seem to defy some law of gravity. The experience seemed a little more informal than the last time. We were the most dressed up people I saw and we weren't super dressed up. People got a little more dolled up the last time we were here and that was in the middle of the summer. One other thing that struck me was that there was an upsell starting out. We were asked if we wanted a fourth "snack" course. After a description of an interesting sounding potato ice cream sandwich, we were told it would be $40. We declined.
  5. 7 likes
    To target a restaurant for a raid because of participation in this "day" would be an outrageous abuse of government power. Participation is not a suggestion, much less an admission, that the restaurant hires anyone who is not legally eligible for employment. It is an action in support of immigrants, at a time when immigration itself is under attack. Therefore a pure "First Amendment" activity, without constituting evidence of unlawful employment conduct. So yes, there is a chance that our government would retaliate in the almost-certainly-unconstitutional and certainly-reprehensible way that you posit. But it is not a "game" in any sense. There are times when it is appropriate to stand up even at the risk of reprehensible government retaliation.
  6. 7 likes
    Thought I'd bring this thread current. Had a very nice Restaurant Week lunch yesterday at Siroc. Three good-sized courses for $22, plus nice focaccia and olive oil. I had: Burrata with eggplant and tomato confit, pesto tagliatelle with scallops, and ginger panna cotta with strawberries. All very good. As always, the pasta was a home run. Finished with a nice french press coffee. Siroc is still a valuable cog in the downtown lunch wheel.
  7. 6 likes
    So probably by age 8, I start remembering the food itself that we had and how good it was. Before 8, it was all about the experience. I remember getting my bananas foster lit on fire at Commander's Palace, all the powdered sugar getting all over us eating beignets. I remember the mariachi bands in Mexico while we were eating. I remember taking the funicular up to eat in Pittsburgh at a restaurant with a great view (they brought one of the same restaurant to Tysons). I remember going to fancy places all dressed up and getting bites of my dad's food because he normally ordered more adventurous things than me. I distinctly remember eating at Old Ebbitt's Grill with my Aunt in DC. I don't remember all the food per se, but I do remember some of it. The bigger thing I remember is just that I got to go out a lot, to nice places and eat a lot of different things, and it was always fun for me to get to be fancy because none of the restaurants in my small town were fancy. I always liked places with views, or piano music or something like that, it just added an extra element of fun.
  8. 6 likes
    Went to Chez Billy Sud for the first time last weekend for date night dinner. It was a really great experience. The ambiance is nice, a bit romantic, but not too formal. We had excellent service. We started with really good cocktails - I particularly liked the gin Bees Knees. My wife started with a delicious acorn squash soup with pieces of Asian pear (aka nashi) and I had a rather large Caesar salad that was perfect including very good quality boquerones/anchovies. For mains, my wife got the steak frite which was cooked to a perfect medium rare with a great peppery crust. It was also very hefty at 12 oz with a big mess of pretty good fries and a nice but not much needed bernaise sauce in a dish to serve yourself. I had a tasty seared duck breast with sour cherry, hazelnut and celery root? puree. It is on a bed of wild rice, which I'm not a fan of, but when all of the components were mixed together it was scrumptious. My wife thought her chardonnay was so so, but I really enjoyed the waiter's rec of the pinot noir to go with the duck. Dessert was the weakest part of the meal. I got the chocolate mousse bomb - thin layer of chocolate cake, top with good moouse, and covered in dark chocolate with a bit of raspberry sauce on the side. This was fine, but nothing really special. I also lost this dessert to my wife who had ordered the profiteroles but didn't like them so we traded. The puff pastry was pretty bland and a bit too salty. The three different fillings were ok - salted caramel became a salt overkill, strawberry one had no fruit flavor, and the other one which I can't recall was fine. Surprisingly the chocolate sauce you pour over didn't help revive this dessert much. Maybe we picked bad - and don't get me wrong the desserts hit the right sweet notes to end the meal but were a letdown from the rest of the excellent meal. Overall still a nice meal. Also, had a bit of DC celeb spotting when Madeline Albright was sitting at the table next to us.
  9. 6 likes
    Got a cold New Year's appetizer platter, some pickled mushrooms, cold chicken, beef, etc ($26). Nothing to write home about (what a dated expression!). Duck was great, skin was great ($43). I don't remember the chilis before, but added just a little bit of heat and I liked that. Got the garlic sprouts with shrimp and that was good, too ($25). And, we got the New Year's whole Rockfish ($56). Very good, crispy skin, sweetish-spicy sauce. About $41 a person with a drink or two each. Not unreasonable. Nothing was "too gloppy" but we didn't order things that lend to that. I like this place and the pomp and circumstance of an old school Chinese restaurant. I liked the fact that Psy was on the wall of celebrities and that local NOVA folks have been going for years and years, like a place near where I grew up - Kim's. Anyone else from Michigan/Northern Ohio grow up eating ABC? Would love to find that around here...
  10. 5 likes
    So, how big is Little Sheep Hot Pot? Big. In fact, *really* big. It was really big five years ago. Based in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, China, Little Sheep Group posted 2 percent of all Chinese dining-out expenses in 2010. Think about that for a second. And then, it got *REALLY* big. In 2011, Little Sheep Group was sold to the massive, $10+ billion Yum! Brands, Inc. (the owners of Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc.) for $587 million, and it's now a wholly-owned subsidiary - they recently opened their first Little Sheep Hot Pot in Eden Center. Ironically, you'd *never* know it was a giga-chain. This restaurant is somethng like Mala Tang, except it has big, *big* money behind it. It's well-organized, family-friendly, and is designed for groups (definitely not the solo diner; unless you want a lot of leftovers). Ordering involves a simple, 5-step checklist, where you check off your broth, your meat, your seafood, your vegetables, and your starch - whichever ones you want. The broth is $2.95, and the extras are what cost the money. I *strongly* advise going with the "original" or the "Yin and Yang"; not the "Spicy" - it's too much. I got the Yin and Yang ($2.95), and for my meat, ordered the Dry-Aged Spring Lamb ($8.95). Tong Ho (a massive pot of Chrysanthemum Blossoms, $4), and Fresh, Thick Noodle ($4). Since it's their soft opening, they threw in a generous little plate of Fatty Steak (Gratis). Considering I made a quick decision, I was very happy with everything I ordered, but you can do even better if you look at the menu before you go, and add even more vegetables - maybe some large mushrooms, taro root, and the like. It's the meats and seafood which will really set you back; not the vegetables. My hot pot, including tax (but not tip) was $23.05, and it could have *easily* fed two people, with leftover broth - one person gets the same amount of broth as four people. That amount also included a Diet Coke with unlimited refills. All the meats seem to be frozen, and the non-seafood in particular are those thin, Steak-Umm-like things - the real treasure here lies in the vegetables. You definitely want some starch (noodles, potatoes, etc.) to thicken the broth as it reduces. The base broth seems to contain every kind of pod, twig, root, spice, nut, and berry known to mankind (the picture below is of the broth before I put a single thing in it - you can *easily* see that unless you're a bonafide chili-head, you don't want the entire thing to be spicy). Here are some pictures to give you a better idea of what to expect. Do not let the "chain" aspect of this throw you off - it's perfectly fine hot pot, and it was packed this afternoon for a late lunch on President's Day.
  11. 5 likes
    Have been to Afghan Bistro twice now (and wish I had made it more). Love this place. It is virtually everything I look for to my personal tastes in a restaurant - fantastic, unique food and amazingly nice people. The aushak I have had both times and it might be one of my favorite dishes in the area. This somehow manages to feel almost light and delicate despite the ground beef and yogurt topping. Fantastic leak dumplings. Have also had both times an excellent special consisting of a lamb shank in a red curry with eggplant over rice. Perfectly cooked and great flavor. The eggplant is almost better than the lamb (and the lamb is great). And then the flatbread with chutneys as described above is a perfect way to kick off the meal. Could eat a lot of this by itself. Cannot recommend this place heavily enough and wish it was closer to me.
  12. 5 likes
    Went to Sfoglina back in December for a bday lunch. Here are some of my pics from that meal.
  13. 5 likes
    The carrot and pineapple cake that is currently on the dessert menu is one of the best desserts -- nay, the best dishes -- in this town in recent memory. Run, don't walk.
  14. 5 likes
    Some friends and I had a wonderful lunch at Joselita today, in the old Sona Creamery and Wine Bar spot around the corner from Eastern Market. The space is beautiful aesthetically, with a wall full of black and white family photographs in the main room, another covered with posters, a very long sleek bar, and cafe tables and chairs. It has a European feel, as though one had stepped off Capitol Hill and right across the ocean. As has been noted in reviews, the menu offers three sizes of portions: tapas size, half size, and full size. We ordered five tapas portions, two from the "cold" side of the menu and three from the "hot" selections. Our server helpfully pointed out that the hot portions tend to be a little larger than the cold ones of the same size category, which we found generally to be true. I tried all but the Jamon Iberico de Bellota “Capanegra” - $12/23/45; Jabugo hand cut black foot Iberian ham, country bread. My friends loved this. The "country bread" were very small croutons shaped like itty-bitty baguettes. My favorite dish was probably Almejas a la sarten - $10/19/39; Manila clams, garlic, oloroso sherry. This was a more generous portion than I expected for a tapas serving, filling a decent-sized bowl, and I was glad for every last one of them. The clam broth was exquisite soaked up with the chunks of wonderful soft and crusty rustic bread that was brought for the table. (I also ate quite a bit of the bread with the plate of excellent salt-, pepper-, and rosemary-accented olive oil that accompanied the bread basket.) We ordered two types of pork with very different flavor profiles. One was Solomillo de cerdo al whisky con papas fritas - $10/19/39 Iberian pork tenderloin, garlic, cumin, fries. This boasted a winning combination of flavors enhanced by a slightly boozy sauce. Once all was gone, I further cleaned the plate of the sauced bits of onion and garlic remaining. One friend said that the fries topping the plate tasted like french fries filled with mashed potatoes, which is a creative description that hits the mark. Speaking of mashed potatoes, the other pork tapas dish was Presa Iberica a la plancha - $16/31/na; Grilled Iberian pork shoulder, mashed potato. The mashed potatoes were a perfect grilled or griddled mashed potato cake. There was a flavor to this pork we couldn't pinpoint, almost like maybe a mildly sour flavor. The tenderloin had a more assertive peppery flavor to it, which I think I liked little more, but both cuts of pork were good. It seemed odd that shoulder was significantly more expensive than tenderloin for about the same amount of meat, but it reads from the menu that the shoulder might actually be Iberico and the tenderloin something else. Not sure and I didn't ask. The other cold tapas that one friend ordered and I had a bit of was Crudo de atún y aguacate con cebolletas y almendras - $9/17/33; Tuna carpaccio, avocado mousse, spring onions, almonds. This was perhaps the smallest portion of all. It was very clean-tasting and fresh, though the avocado mousse didn't seem to have much flavor. Perhaps it was meant to be a blank canvas against (well, below) the tuna. Service was just great. Our server was very attentive and went above and beyond while we fussed over splitting the check. We agreed that we would order any of the things we tried again. If I were ordering only one kind of pork, I think I would go with the tenderloin, but I would certainly eat the pork shoulder again. Joselito is a great addition to the Capitol Hill/Eastern Market dining scene. There's nothing else like it around there, and I hope they thrive.
  15. 5 likes
    By a happy coincidence, my birthday fell during RW. I decided to treat myself to a solo birthday lunch. Although I have been here several times for dinner and always came away not super-impressed, the menu and the location was what I was looking for this time. Well, I'm here to report that lunch was great! I had salmon rillettes as a starter. I'd never had this dish before and it was delicious. Great salmon and lemon flavor. Also had the steak frites and that was really good as well - maybe sitting under the heating lamp a little too long because my arugula was warm and the meat had cooled a bit. Probably because I'm a slow eater and it took me a while to finish the rillettes. Dessert was this big ball of chocolate mousse which came with a scoop of sorbet, an almond wafer cookie, and a sauce I thought was made of sour cherries, but the menu said cranberries. Really good! Why did I love this lunch yet was so lukewarm to my 4 dinners here in the past? I think it had to do with ambiance. On Saturday nights, this place is jammed with people; it's noisy, crowded, and very dark. So dark you cannot read the menu nor can you see your food properly. Nor can you relax. In contrast, lunch was a sedate affair. I sat on a banquette by the window so it was easy to read my newspaper. The place was medium busy but people spoke in normal voices - they did not need to shout to hear each other like they do in the evenings. And finally, I could see my food. I could see the rillettes came with pretty pickled veggies and a nice presentation. Same with the dessert. Seeing the food made me enjoy the food more. This place also turns out be comfortable for the solo diner. I saw several single diners being seated as I was next to the reception stand. There was this one old coot carrying a yellowed paperback who seemed to be a regular as the waitstaff addressed him by name and asked him if he wanted his usual martini. He later made a bit of a fuss because his egg was not cooked properly on his croque madame. Waitstaff was really nice and accommodating with him. When he left and said goodby, I was expecting them to roll their eyes, but they didn't which I thought was sweet.
  16. 5 likes
    Leave it alone. The guy was there as a member of small business association. Again I agree with the above, its not like Casey walked in with a Trump shirt on, but yet was trying to bring to light the regulations that often drag the little guy down.
  17. 4 likes
    Happy Mardi Gras y'all!!!
  18. 4 likes
    Story from Washingtonian. "Most of all, though, the restaurant will be devoted to foods that Karoum loves to eat—from pastas to shrimp banh mi. Crispy cauliflower with lemon, tahini, toasted pine nuts, and mint will be reminiscent of a dish that his father used to always make for potlucks. Meanwhile, roast chicken is one of his favorite meals, period. The menu will mostly consist of “medium-sized plates,” along with a few larger family-style platters like whole fried fish with chilies, lime, and herbs. “I’m a pisces, so I’m like a fish fanatic,” Karoum says." Opening "this Fall" but you know how that goes.
  19. 4 likes
    Rubbed my 38 hour sous vide brisket with some rendezvous rub and put it in the skillet to caramelize the outside. Served it with flatbread, hummus, sautéed onion, pepper and mushrooms, some lettuce and quick pickled carrots. The brisket turned out very nicely, juicy, but firm texture with really good flavor, which is nice since I have another one in the freezer.
  20. 4 likes
    I used up a bunch of things that were past their time* yesterday to make a cream of kale soup with potato and roasted garlic. It came out really well. I meant to serve it with some of the rye croutons I made earlier in the week but forgot them... *The kale that was salvageable was left from a 3-bunches-for-$5 special in mid-January. I used one bunch at the time (which was all I really needed to begin with ) and the other two were left in the vegetable crisper to age. The kale was too old to be palatable raw, so I knew it had to be cooked. Hence the idea of soup. The potato had sprouted and the garlic was on the verge of sprouting. The container of cream had been opened in early January. The chicken broth had a best by date of last October. I really hate wasting food. Now I've got to make sure I eat all of the soup.
  21. 4 likes
    It is reasonable to consider whether the markups support healthy employee wages (cheers) and/or cushion revolting commercial landlord greed (jeers). Roger Marmet is known to be an exceptionally fair and even generous employer. And better ingredients cost more money than marginal ones.
  22. 4 likes
    One thing I've learned about the top tier Texas BBQ joints is that they have pitmasters who have dedicated years not only to the craft, but to a particular smoker setup and particular space. The interaction of equipment and environment have a huge effect on the final product in central Texas-style barbecue. I imagine that DC can't hope to have a "great" barbecue place until someone makes that kind of long term commitment.
  23. 4 likes
    I don't post on this thread much but recent unemployment has given me the opportunity to cook much more frequently during the week. And given the time to go to the grocery store daily, I have beena lot more fish. Recently @MichaelBDC and I have made: Braised Fish, Pot-Roast Style, salmon and lentils, and orzo risotto with artichoke hearts and sausage. For last night's Valentine's Day dinner I made veal osso buco with polenta and sauteed swiss chard.
  24. 4 likes
    Not many details on their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/WaterWallRestaurant/ Hope that this community can help the displaced staff -- as I am sure Tim and Joey are also working to do. As a writer and resident of the area, it's so disheartening that the few higher-end restaurants in Arlington continue to struggle. I am begging for a new Willow to step up. I want to give you my business.
  25. 4 likes
    Been on a pastry bender recently. Some creations need a bit more work, but one that came out well I call "cacio e pepe" rolls: croissant dough with plenty of black pepper and pecorino romano, rolled, sliced, baked in muffin tins.
  26. 4 likes
    This has been bothering me for a few days now, and I feel the urge to weigh in here. I will admit to tagging Eric's post for moderation, as I felt like it was a spiteful comment that did nothing to address Beachgirl's question or further discussion on Breaking Bread. I still feel that way. Political partisanship is only one way to be disrespectful toward the community. Re: Breaking Bread. I looked around here in Houston, but didn't come up with anything. I love the idea, though (if only to get a list of new restaurants to try), and reached out to the Houston Chronicle food editor Alison Cook to see if she knew of anything similar down here. I'll update if I hear anything back.
  27. 4 likes
    It truly was a great time with @eatruneat. @CanY and his staff are at the top of their game and there wasn't a moment that we wanted for anything. As always, the fish was fresh and amazing. Especially the amberjack. I would have eaten the entire fish if I had any room after the wonderful variety of sushi that came before and after it. I know there are other, more expensive sushi restaurants in town, but I can't imagine what they could possibly do better than the team at Sushi Ogawa. We'll be back soon
  28. 4 likes
    Sat at the counter this past Friday and went for the $100 omakase option to celebrate my birthday. @MichaelBDC and I had an amazing time thanks to Chef Ogawa, Can, and the team. Really enjoyed everything that was presented to us. Highlights included the sea bream, amberjack, uni, and toro. I have never had to turn away sushi before, but had to stop with two pieces remaining because I was too full. Three days later, my mind still wanders back to the variety of sushi we had. Can brought out a delicious sparkling sake for us to enjoy with desert. I would definitely order the sparkling sake at the beginning of the meal the next time we are there. It was a delicious and fun night, a perfect way to celebrate turning a year older.
  29. 4 likes
    I spent all day feeling terrible and craving soup, so when N came home we wandered over to 18th to try out Ben Tre, which apparently opened in August. I've been craving canh chua for weeks now, and I already knew that Pho 14's version doesn't really do it for me. But, man, did I score tonight! The soup hit all the high notes- sweet, sour, spicy- with yummy bits of pineapple and lots of tomato. There were little puffy bits of pork belly in there, too, and okra and pepper flakes. It was amazing and perfect. The shrimp toast appears to be shrimp paste, on toast, and then the whole thing appears to be battered and then deep fried. 3 pieces to an order. It is both good, and a little horrifying. N had a spicy beef soup which was also really tasty, but not what I wanted. Which was fine, because I was blissfully happy with my own soup. Now that I have found this place, I may be here at least once a week, it's a 5 minute walk from home.
  30. 4 likes
    Really unnerving how divisive it is, that dude got crushed just for meeting the incoming president. Sort of nervous to leave the country any time soon, having a green card and brown skin... mom on my case about not traveling for a while.
  31. 4 likes
    This is one of those posts that bugs me, but I give it a few hours before I comment in case I'll regret it. It's been a few hours... This wasn't a campaign rally, it was an opportunity to meet with the President in his capacity to set policy, where it sounds like the gentleman advocated for the very positions that most of the people now boycotting him would have supported. The unfortunate part is that any blow back will hurt those 300 'family members' just as much as the owner. As a person who opposes Trump as much as the next guy, this seemed more policy than politics.
  32. 4 likes
    My 22-year-old daugther lives in the Mission area of San Francisco and adores macaroni and cheese. So, when the SF Chronicle did an article last week about The City's best spots for mac and cheese, I immediately thought of her. I asked her if she wanted to try one of the restaurants listed (she enthusiastically said yes) so we ventured last night to Mac Daddy in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. The restaurant's website refers to their "petite digs," and they aren't kidding. There is one counter, a couple of small outdoor tables and one table for four indoors. They do not take reservations. My daugther brought a friend, and we were told there would be a 20-minute wait for a party of three. We wrote our name and phone number on a dry-erase board hanging outside the front door. Fortunately, there is a quaint wine shop next door, where we enjoyed a glass of wine while we waited for our table. And by table, I mean THE table! We were seated at the table for four, where the girls had a great view of the goings-on in the kitchen (we felt like we were sitting in the kitchen) and I got to watch the endless parade of people pass by the window. Score! The menu arrived, and we were overwhelmed with macaroni and cheese choices: smoked bacon and smoked cheese; south of the border mac with avocados, cilantro, chorizo and fritos; a pesto mac; braised short ribs mac with mushrooms, crispy onions and mt. tam blue cheese; and truffle brie mac with shitake mushrooms were just some of our options. Of course, there was plain old mac 'n' cheese, but the waiter said if we ordered that, we should add an extra on top, like an egg or fried chicken. As good as fried chicken atop macaroni and cheese sounded to me, I just couldn't do it (primarily because I was feeling guilty about eating donuts for lunch the day before) so, I ordered the goat mac, with scallions, olive oil, fresh goat cheese and jack cheese. It was creamy and delicious, with a delightful crumble on top. The girls both had the truffle mac, which they enjoyed, but I preferred mine. The portions are generous, and can be shared by two, but then there are no leftovers, and what's the fun in that?
  33. 4 likes
    Nothing new to report, just thought no comments in 2016 was not befitting this great DC institution. One day, it shall be missed.
  34. 3 likes
    My Mom wanted to take her gentleman friend out to birthday dinner, so we had a really fun meal at Honey Pig. We were going to go to Kogiya, but they had a big tour bus pull in and were packed. Mom's friend had never had Korean BBQ before, but has been trying a lot of new asian foods lately because he does security systems, atm and fire alarm systems and got hired by a company that has a bunch of different asian restaurants. Very proud of him, and of my Mother, for being cool adventurous eaters. He loved the K-pop videos and the corrugated metal. We got shrimp, bulgogi, beef rib and spicy pork belly. The shrimp was much better than I expected, they were big juicy shrimp. I thought they would get too overcooked, but we pulled them off the grill at just the right time. They really enjoyed the bulgogi (who doesn't) and the rib was a good safe option for them. My Mom doesn't like spicy, so she was less inclined to the pork belly, but ate some. We also got a seafood pancake. I think the banchan other than the kimchi is a bit strange here, for instance the raisin, apple, pasta salad? But I like the bean sprouts and kimchi on the grill. The shrimp came with onions and peppers, and man those peppers tasted good once they had gotten all charred and sweet. Everything was good and we all had a really nice time. It was also nice because we had a political discussion and we are all normally of very different political views, but were all very much on the same page. It was kind of nice to be united as a family about something in a positive way, although the reasons it's coming about are not great. It makes me think the future will be more positive, hopefully.
  35. 3 likes
    This is the world of Michelin 2-star dining - real caviar is *very* expensive, and I just don't see the harm in having an option to order it (or not) - I'm quite certain they don't care. I see caviar and truffles as supplements all the time, and never order them, but they're generally in the $30-100 range as well, regardless of the price of the restaurant - same with wine pairings, which can run $100 or more. I generally agree with mtureck, but after the meal I had at Pineapple & Pearls for $150, there's no way I would expect a portion of caviar like that included. Upscale restaurants have $1,000+ bottles of wine listed all the time, but they don't expect you to order them - if someone walks in worth $50 million? They'd do it without batting an eye, so why not offer it to them? BTW, Pat, your review *was* fantastic. PS - I do think that perhaps their *approach* towards the caviar dish might have been a bit of a tease, and maybe they should rethink that. It's fine to have it offered, but I think they should mention the price as the very first thing. "Tonight we're also offering, for a $40 supplement, a decadent ...." and then close by saying something like "It's fine to split, and you'll also have the full experience without it - it's meant for a splurge" or something like that. Or maybe have a little postcard-thing on each table describing it, to be picked up if people don't mention it - that's a more passive approach. I have to stress, I really think we're in a bubble right now (even though Pineapple & Pearls is a *very good* value), and restaurants are going to keep pushing the envelope until we aren't.
  36. 3 likes
    So I feeling pretty happy that I got to try Smoked & Stacked for a late breakfast this morning, but now I'm pissed I didn't read the forum here first and ask for a pickle. I guess they don't give them with the breakfast sandwiches, but as a pickler I always want to enjoy a good one. Oh well, next time. I had the New Yorker sandwich which was rather good - the pastrami was good, but not spectacular, also hidden somewhat under the runny egg and pepper jelly - a good combo nonetheless. I think the milk bread was a decent bread option to make this sandwich less messy, but it was not really my thing for pastrami or even an egg sandwich. Toasted rye or even an English muffin would probably be better for breakfast and I don't think I'd like milk bread for a pastrami with mustard. My verdict is that it is pretty good but only if you are nearby. The staff was super friendly to me and the few other customers. Also, I will say as I lingered in the restaurant that the pastrami smells were great.
  37. 3 likes
    Stopped by Shouk today for lunch and I was wowed once again. This is great fast casual food. Today I went with my favorites the Shouk salad and a cardamom chocolate chip cookie. I've had both before and they are great. I especially like the salad as it is vegetarian, filling, and a really well thought out combination of different textures and flavors. The salad has diced fresh tomatos, cucumbers, thin strips of peppadew peppers?, olives, kale? and baby lettuce along with roasted chopped cauliflower and eggplant and is topped with pita croutons and pistachios for crunch. As you can see, there is a lot going on in this salad. I still need to try the other two salads but imagine they are also very good. The cookie - oh the cookie - it is divine if you like cardamom. It is a simple, rich fresh baked chocolate cookie but with the added kick of cardamom. Too make sure it was really good, I did a taste test against a Buttercream Bakeshop chocolate chunk cookie just because :-) The Bakeshop cookie was very good, but the Shouk cookie won hands down. The salad also came with a very nice whole wheat half pita. In the past, I've enjoyed the polenta fries (a bit odd but good) and some of the pita sandwiches.
  38. 3 likes
    some more Fed Pig food porn for everyone. Was there this past weekend and the brisket was singing to me. Also do not sleep on the music city chicken sandwich.
  39. 3 likes
    [I promise this will be the last time I say this, unless I'm forced to ... sometimes, all you need to do is hand someone a rope, sit back, and watch them hang themselves. You'll notice that Oliver did not say one insulting thing to that man or call him any names - he didn't need to. By extension, nobody here needs to resort to name-calling, about anyone or anything - we have an intelligent readership, and merely pointing out the facts about obvious things is more than enough - in fact, it can be downright hilarious, like it was in "Gun Control Woop-Dee-Doo."]
  40. 3 likes
    Ah, so delicious. We had dinner at the bar tonight for the husband's birthday. We didn't know the bartender, and failed to get her name, but she was lovely. The food was delicious (I had the bar menu, while he ordered off the regular menu.) I had a kir royale, he had a sazerac, then we had a bottle of delicious wine, of a variety we had never heard of - Marsanne - on the chef's recommendation. We always say it's been too long since we ate there, and it's true - we should eat there more often. Everyone should!
  41. 3 likes
    Well, no one planned for Afghanistan and Irag to last ten years. The plan was a quick mobilization, then out. We had "Mission Accomplished", and when that did not work, it was followed by numerous surges and repeats of "the next six months are crucial." With less than three percent of Americans serving, most of the public is removed from the question of war. I would argue we've gone a little too overboard with the admiration (adoration?) of the military, as that has become a substitute for asking the hard questions. And let's face it, we have fewer casualties than with Vietnam, never mind Korea or WWII. So out of sight, out of mind is a factor. My concern is the long term. We are the best military in the world at tactics. We lacked (and still lack) any coherent strategy. "Hope is not a plan." Many vets have raised concerns, and have entered government and elected offices of both parties. The trend traditionally was for military personnel to be neutral. Some of the older officers I knew did not even vote, as that would be partisan. I don't believe that's the case now. Anyway, there's certainly lots to consider going forward....
  42. 3 likes
    I've eaten here four times now, which is not an intentional act but when friends say, "Lets grab some barbecue," I say "great" and now... here we are. A few thoughts upon multiple visits... Get the dry wings. They fry them perfectly and they allow you to try all the different sauces. I love the sweet "Hog" sauce on the wings and the vinegar sauce on the pork. I don't care for their mustard sauce, but two companions have told me it's their favorite so I guess that's a sign I need better companions. 😀 The pulled pork remains the best thing going and that has been confirmed by multiple dinner partners. They pull it to just the right texture and manage to impart enough smoke without masking the pork flavors. The ribs keep changing. My first visit, they were cut individually and super sweet. My next visit they were uncut (mini-rack of 4) with very little sauce and had great texture (clean bite but not fall-off-the-bone). And my third visit they were an uncut rack of 4 ribs that were over-sauced and over-cooked. The meat all fell off the bones when I tried to cut them apart. Similarly, the brisket has been hit or miss -- thin and dry my first visit, then moist and delicious my second visit. Then 'good but not great' on my third try -- the flavor was smoky and beefy but they trimmed the fat off and that left it a little dry. Twice, they've had burnt ends as a special They were good but... they weren't burnt ends. They were cubed pieces of the point end of a brisket and very juicy, but they hadn't been applied with more rub and smoked again. Tonight I tried the pork belly for the first time. Long strips of fatty (obviously), juicy pork. It was good, but I'll stick with the pulled pork in the future, which is the same flavors but less fatty. The sides and desserts are more consistent and very good. The potato salad is the best, and I like the baked beans. The beans are sweet and have chunks of peaches in them so the may not be for everyone. I think it takes some time for a BBQ restaurant (and any restaurant really...) to develop consistency. I hope Myron's does, because we need it. Especially with the recent news about Texas Jack's 😩.
  43. 3 likes
    I have a pigs feet recipe for pozole by Rick Bayless going in the crockpot, although I only have a small crockpot so I had to half it. Will have to figure out what to do with the other pigs foot, probably sous-vide it and then de-bone and grill it off. I have a brisket that is going sous-vide for about 32 hours. So we will see how it all goes.
  44. 3 likes
    This is a pretty impressive list of DC restaurants that are closed or operating at reduced capacity today in support of immigrants' rights. "A Day without Immigrants" Promises a National Strike Thursday" by Bill Chappell on npr.org
  45. 3 likes
    Barley Swine Four years ago I had one of the best meals of my life in a little 35-seat restaurant off South Lamar. Since then, Barley Swine has only gotten bigger and better. In January 2016 they moved into a brand new space at Burnet Road, which is on the other side of Austin, and were able to upgrade everything. Seating has doubled. There is a bar program now (no liquor was served at the original). The open kitchen is three times the size, with dedicated grill and pastry sections that barely existed before. Chef Bryce Gilmore remains front and center, however. I make a point to visit yearly, and each dinner has left me with a deeper appreciation for what he does. Despite running another successful restaurant at full steam (Odd Duck), Gilmore bucks most trends by relentlessly improving his flagship. Barley Swine 2.0 now has two-tops (the original was communal tables and bar seating only), a private patio, a la carte as well as a full tasting menu (previous versions were either or). Yet the place to be is still the chef's counter, a long row that looks directly into the open kitchen. You’re right in front of the garde manger, flanked by the busy grill and with a great view of the center island that constitutes the pass. That’s where Gilmore will be, and I’ve never seen him without a mechanical focus on every single process going on in his kitchen. Kooper Family Rye ($10) Austin-made rye. Very light, and smooth. Chef’s tasting ($90) There are several fantastic options a la carte, including a shiitake pasta and pig skin noodles (both are not as simple as they seem) that have remained on the menu since the restaurant’s relocation. Also make sure to order any fish entrees if they’re available; a filet of red snapper with koji butter eaten here remains one of the best dishes I’ve had in lifetime memory. The tasting menu is my preferred option, though. Sweet potato, goat cheese, smoked trout roe After a complimentary glass of sparkling, this amuse was more of a technique-exhibit than anything. A puffed sweet potato bite filled with goat cheese and topped with roe. Basically a loaded potato chip. Beet-cured mackerel, sugar snap pea Not sure how much beet flavor is imparted, but a beautiful slice of red-stained fish in a pea broth. I guess winter peas in Texas is a thing, due to the extremely hot temperatures in early spring and late fall combined with a lack of frosts. Delicate and delicious. Sunchoke custard, fried skins Anyone else tired of sunchokes yet? Gilmore uses them even more than most chefs, but I always find his versions enjoyable. This was a super-concentrated custard, served with fried sunchoke skins dabbed with devil egg topping. Starchy fried skins are something I've seen at other places, and I get why they’re popular. Here was a great example of every component being perfectly seasoned and delicious on its own, but even better and not overwrought when you put them in a single bite. Ember roasted squash, mesquite, toasted seeds A single slice of squash with its charred skin left on. The assertive roasted flavors were unabashed here, but what set this off were the bits of chocolate miso sauce on top. Sweet, smoky and bitter all in play and harmonious. Barley Swine pays attention to vegetables, and it shows. Red shrimp, cauliflower, tangerine Wow. A single exemplary shrimp, surrounded by a pool of cauliflower sauce that had been previously roasted and aerated just a bit at service. Gilmore has long used these slightly foamed sauces, giving them a lightness without verging on the abstract. The tangerine sauce was incredibly vivid, dotting the white cauliflower for a beautiful contrast in visuals and taste. Dry aged beef, broth, seeded loaf The best part of this dish was a separate cube of flax seed loaf. The outside was baked to an addicting golden brown crunch, with a moist crumb dotted with nuts. On top was a slab of extra cheesy arugula pesto. Combined it ate like an abstract steakhouse side; the heartiness of bread and butter mixed with a pesto mimicking a spinach gratin. Oh yeah, the steak was nice as well. Served in a bowl with oyster mushrooms and bone broth poured tableside. Pork belly, cabbage, gulf XO sauce Sous-vide then finished on the grill. Sausage filled with shrimp mousse -- or rather, shrimp mousse wrapped within a sausage. More technique exhibition, but tasty. Duck, broccoli, fried duck egg A stunning final savory course. Duck breast lacquered and rosy rare to the best anyone can do it. A single piece of grilled broccoli. Another foamed sauce, blank white but tasting exactly of fried egg. Perfect bites that’ll be remembered. Apple, lemongrass, koji rice pudding Approachable but still creative. Rice pudding was served cold, topped with a quenelle of ice cream and crunchy bits. Koji has been splattered over every tasting menu the last year, but I haven't found a reason to complain yet. Pastry chef Susana Querejazu has been with Gilmore since 2014, running desserts both here and at Odd Duck, and is extremely talented. Dark chocolate, winter nuts, milk jam Traditional dark chocolate tart done extremely well. A little sea salt, caramel corn, candied orange peel. I favor lots of cacao and small portions when it comes to chocolate, so this was speaking to me. Mignardises Macaron and a pate de fruit. Gilmore uses preparations and flavors seen at other trendsetting restaurants world-wide, but there’s a sincerity to every dish that you can’t get from copying technique. Each bite is perfectly seasoned on its own, but even better together and never overreaching. I have yet to taste anything here that's less than fabulous. Gilmore is long overdue for a James Beard award (this year will be his fifth straight nomination for Best Chef Southwest), and is still running Barley Swine with the utmost command and precision. If you visit Austin, you must go. This is the best restaurant in Texas.
  46. 3 likes
    Any good ideas? I'm going to be in Columbia Heights area... thinking Thip Khao might have a special running.
  47. 3 likes
    My cousin and his wife took @MichaelBDC and I to Batard during our recent trip to NYC. We chose to have four courses ($82) and ended up drinking two bottles of wine. I don't remember many details from that evening, but the lasting impression of just how wonderful the evening was, from the ambience of the restaurant, to the service, and especially the food. The highlight was @MichaelBDC's celeriac tortellini with black truffles. I also enjoyed the duck breast for my main course. Have to agree with Keithstg's assessment from over two years ago that this restaurant give you a lot of bang for your buck. $82 for four courses at a highly rated fine dining restaurant (if Michelin guide and New York Times stars mean anything to you) is a great deal for NYC and even compared to DC prices.
  48. 3 likes
    My son, now 20, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of two, so I was counting carbs long before low-carb diets became popular. I like to make lasagna, substituting sliced zuchinni (althernating green and yellow) for the noodles. For low carb, I keep one layer of noodles on the bottom, for no carb, I eliminate the noodles entirely. I also add a layers of fresh spinach, and add diced fresh mushrooms to my meat sauce. My daughter and I actually prefer this version to the one with noodles.
  49. 3 likes
    Thomas Harvey as reported in this Arlington Magazine article last month?
  50. 3 likes
    What Bethesda and Arlington have in common is unprecedented competition from restaurants in easily accessible DC. To me, that's why so many independent white tablecloth places struggle in Arlington and Bethesda, if you're going to spend $$$ at a nice place like that why not make a night of it and Uber/Metro to way more fashionable spots in the city? Mid-priced sit-down chains still do OK in Bethesda because families who live nearby want something that doesn't require much thought or effort. I think restaurant growth to the north of Bethesda has hurt downtown and west Bethesda too. So many more choices at Pike & Rose and even up in Gaithersburg, Rockville and Potomac keep people from Bethesda. Just like Georgetown and Cleveland Park used to be destinations for diners from further afield, Bethesda was too. Bringing in people from up-county, Potomac, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, etc. Not as much need for that now.