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  1. Garrison has been open for just over a week now. It's a handsome restaurant with a pleasant patio space in front. The menu is vegetable-centric and apparently emphasizes seasonal produce. Mr. P and I nibbled our way through a number of vegetable side dishes/appetizers and a pasta course. Poppy seed gougères were excellent: very small and took awhile to come out, suggesting they were made to order. Gougères are as much about texture as flavor, and these were spot-on. Heirloom tomato salad was nicely composed, with a piece of burrata and mint rather than basil (a nice change of pace), and slivers of almond. Fennel gratin was straightforward but intense, the flavor punched up with a splash of Pernod. Squash blossoms with smoked provolone and Romesco sauce were outstanding, perfectly fried and not too much cheese, so the flavor of the blossoms wasn't overwhelmed. Mr. P also had the roasted cauliflower; he liked it but said it was his least-favorite dish. As I don't care for cauliflower I can't usefully describe the dish. Sweet corn tortellini was a nice summery pasta dish, buttery but not overwhelmingly so. The pasta was a tad overcooked but I'm so accustomed to that now it doesn't bother me. We also ordered two of the three desserts, a chocolate terrine and buttermilk panna cotta, which were pleasant but unremarkable. A nice way to end a meal, not too sweet, not too large, and blessedly not precious, either. Coffee was adequate. Would have liked to have half-and-half or cream with it rather than cold milk, but nope, not an option. Service was genuinely friendly and polite but somewhat lacking in a few ways that aren't worth going into, because for a place open just over a week it was impressively good.
  2. My sister-in-law, a denizen of Cleveland Park, asked me if I had heard anything about a new place called Ripple in the old Aroma space in Cleveland Park. She said the posted menu looks interesting. Metrocurean has the scoop. A bit surprised that this seems to have gone unnoticed on dr.com given the pedigrees of the team behind it. Anybody go on a scouting trip this past weekend? [ETA: oops--looks like the tag line got cut off in the title of the thread; should be "from our back yard." I assume Don will change the title of the thread anyway. ]
  3. I will be taking the Executive Chef role at Barrel and Crow in Bethesda. We plan to offer regional American food mostly in the the $18 to $24 range for dinner, along with a couple items in the $30 range. We are looking to be a great neighborhood restaurant for people to come to and enjoy some great comforting food and drink, at a decent price point. We are hoping to open in about 4 weeks with a little luck. I have attached a sample of the opening dinner menu, still haven't tested everything yet so there could be some small changes. Barrel and Crow Opening Dinner Menu.pdf
  4. Anyone been yet? I know they are only open for lunch so far, but the initial buzz seems quite good. I was never in doubt of course, but I think this could be something really special. We have ressies for the middle of next month for dinner, so I will be sure to report back but just curious to see if anyone has been there yet. Also....thoughts on parking? Mirabelle
  5. Here goes nothing.. Bear with me & my excitement in stirring a new following toward South Central Pennsylvania Dining Stay tuned for my first review!!!
  6. After reading some rave reviews, I went by for brunch (they say it's lunch, but it's only offered on weekends, starting at 11). The website doesn't actually have a lunch menu, so I wasn't sure what I was getting into. Unfortunately the lunch menu does not have the uni carbonara. But they do have most of the classics. I had the seafood charcuterie, consisting of smoked artic char, potted lobster, whitefish salad, shrimp linguica, and swordfish mortadella. The first 3 were traditional, and pretty good. The latter 2 were freaks of nature and not my cup of tea. I thought both were a bit too fishy, and the firm jello-like texture was weird. I also had grilled rockfish (or was it monkfish?) with braised kale, some kimchi cucumbers, and scallion pancake. I thought the scallion pancakes were so so. It's not Chinese nor Korean, more like American pancakes with scallions. The fish was cooked nicely. Altogether the flavor was pretty good. It's good to have another interesting seafood joint in the city.
  7. I'm surprised there's not a post yet about Hummingbird. As far as I know, it's not quite open, but should be soon. It's the latest from Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong, Todd Thrasher, and the Eat Good Food Group: the restaurant/bar at the new Hotel Indigo on the Old Town Alexandria waterfront. The bright and airy interior space looks really nice and there is a great patio area, as well. The menus are still in progress, but it sounds like there may be a seafood slant, with the occasional Irish touch, too. Some additional info at Zagat.
  8. The parade of mediocrity continues that consists of restaurants that exist in the Castro. B and I have date night once a week. We usually alternate between a cheap/moderate place and an expensive place. Last night, we went to Starbelly and I was reminded why we hadn't gone there since 2015. Grilled fig and cress salad with blue cheese, panna cotta, honey and balsamic. The panna cotta was tasteless and added nothing. And there were literally three figs on that plate; technically, one and a half figs since the fruit was halved. For this, we were charged $9. It could have been dessert. Also, horrible plating. Try (!) to have some effort. Bavette steak, salt-crusted potatoes, grilled cebollita, mojo verde. Steak was slightly chewy and the potatoes served as "filler". Note the amount of potatoes in B's dish. I thought to myself: 'The farmers' markets in this city have amazing produce that makes the rest of the country weep for joy when they first taste what's on offer, and THIS is the best you can do for this plate? That's insulting. Really and truly.' I object to potatoes used as filler. At least they were prepared well. Halibut, grilled Little Gem lettuce, butter bean purée, chermoula and olive salsa. The halibut was overcooked and dry, and the purée an afterthought. Bill came out to $95 (with tax and 20% tip) for barely average food. We went there so you don't have to. Starbelly 3583 16th Street (Market Street) The Castro Afterwards, we went to the Castro Street branch of The Ice Cream Bar for some dessert. Brownie sundae with buttermilk ice cream and mint chip ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce
  9. Le Marais has a few branches in San Francisco. We had brunch at the Castro location today given that we live in the neighborhood. Croissant. On par with the ones at Tartine. A bonus is that the staff at Le Marais has ZERO attitude which practically ensures that we'll be back. Butter and jam. The jam was nothing to write home about however. Their hot chocolate was basically a cup of steamed cream with a shot of cocoa. Oh well, can't get everything right all the time I suppose. Croque monsieur with ham and gruyère, small salad. Unlike at other places we've been to so far, Le Marais uses brioche instead of croissants for their croques. Vinaigrette had a touch too much mustard and acid. Duck confit with roasted potatoes, mushrooms and small salad. Same issue with the vinaigrette here as above. Plate was otherwise perfect. Le Marais 498 Sanchez (18th Street) The Castro
  10. Website. The chefs here work on using locally sourced produce, meats, poultry, and other proteins. They are creative with their dishes as well as cocktails and do an excellent job with wine parings. I have been there 3 or 4 times now and will definitely go again mostly because they are trying to do the right thing by staying away from factory meats and produce. I think they are a bit pricey compared to other restaurants in the region doing the same thing, but they are one of a very few in Fredericksburg going this route. Because their finished product consistantly well balanced, flavorful, and worth the visit (we are 45+ min away & we meet friends there; this is the one place we can agree on) we will continue to patronize Bistro Bethem.
  11. Recently, I needed to make a quick jaunt to New York. I decided to make the trip have purpose, so I themed it, "2015 New Jersey James Beard Award Semifinalists," making it a point to go to every single restaurant in New Jersey that was nominated for some type of James Beard Award in 2015. There was only one exception, and it was a Hoboken restaurant that would have been too much trouble to fit in. My first stop was in Princeton, NJ, which, I realized, I had never before set foot in. I knew absolutely nothing about Elements before having arrived at the restaurant, and had no preconceived expectations. When I left the restaurant, I realized that I'd had my first Michelin 2-star-quality dining experience in (I'm embarrassed to say) a couple of years. I have been to many, many 1-star, 2-star, and 3-star Michelin restaurants both here and abroad, and there are very obvious differences - both qualitative and quantitative - between the levels (which, by the way, are often wrong, but that's besides the point - I know what they're *supposed* to be). Elements is a *nine-table* (yes, 9 table) jewel box which sits atop another restaurant - Mistral - having the same ownership. This is a *perfect* set-up to maximize the quality of two separate and distinct restaurants. If you visit Mistral's website, you might say to yourself, 'This place looks *fantastic*,' and you'd almost surely be correct. The Elements diner actually walks into Mistral and arrives at the host stand - in fact, my first overall impression was the only lesser experience of the evening, because I waited at an empty host stand - a very nice-looking bar looming behind it - not really knowing what to do, for about a minute (which, under the circumstances, can seem like the seconds are ticking in slow motion), and when the cordial hostess arrived and greeted me, I told her I had a reservation at Elements. At that precise moment, it was as if a Four-Star General had appeared in an officer's dining hall: She immediately took on a different countenance - not in a way that downplays the importance of Mistral's diners, but in a way that signaled to me that I had just been vaulted into VIP status - in a way that told me she instantly recognized that I had come to dine, and to dine well. Recall that, at this time, I still had no idea what the restaurant was, or what it was about - and yet, it was very clear to me what had just happened. She escorted me over to a private elevator, summoned it, pushed the button for the second floor, and told me I'd see another host stand when I arrived, wishing me a pleasant meal just before the doors closed. A few seconds later, the doors opened onto an entirely new atmosphere - one of a much more serious nature than the convivial Mistral down below. This was not unlike being escorted into a high-stakes baccarat den that is cordoned off from the everyday guests playing mere hundred-dollar games. Make no mistake about it: those hundred-dollar games down below are what's going to keep this restaurant in business, and they are deeply and genuinely appreciated by the staff (as I was to later find out). Downstairs is Jean-Georges' Nougatine, without which Jean-Georges might no longer exist. I was struck by the sheer emptiness of the room, after having witnessed the joyous vibrancy down below - the two spaces must be similar in size, given the shape of the building itself, and yet, here was an almost completely deserted room, with a total of *nine tables* (actually, eight, since two had been joined together for a larger party), a tiny welcoming area, and a state-of-the-art, open kitchen off to the back-right which had more cooks than the room had diners. I was led to a back table which afforded me magnificent views of the entire dining room, as well as the open kitchen, now on my left. I felt like a king. One thing I found out is that Elements had been open before, in another location, and had only been open in this new space - on top of Mistral - for a couple of weeks. The previous iteration was a few blocks away, and I have no idea of what it was like; all that matters now is that - whatever they did to change things - this new location is set up in a way that seems to approach perfection (and I'm just talking about the actual set-up) - everything is within a twenty-second walk of everything else. My guess is that if you have not been to the "new" Elements, then you have not been to Elements. This restaurant is not a "James Beard Semifinalist"; assuming they don't change things, this restaurant is a future regional winner, with probable future consideration for a national award. It became readily obvious that diner service is paramount at Elements. I was presented with my choice of still or sparkling water, and was immediately asked if I'd care for a cocktail before dinner. I had been presented with three different dining menus and a wine list. The first menu was available only on weeknights, and was a four-course prix-fixe for $79. If you only remember one thing from this write-up, please make it this: don't get this menu. Even if you go on a Wednesday night (which I did), you will be cheating only yourself if you don't get one of the other two menus: either the Chef's Tasting Menu for $125, or the Grand Tasting for $185. The reason is simple: the dishes on the weeknight four-course are much-less complex and less labor-intensive than they are in the two tasting menus. You'd be getting, for example, Tomato Soup with sourdough, basil, and pecorino - I'm sure it's very nice, but there's nothing even remotely resembling that on either of the two tasting menus - if you're taking the trouble to come all the way up here, and drop fairly large money anyway, do yourself a favor and spend the extra fifty dollars - it's the only way to give this restaurant a fair chance to match my rather bold statements here. I opted for the smaller Chef's Tasting Menu ($125), thirteen courses in addition to amuses-gueules and mignardises, and rather than purchase a bottle of wine - which I almost always do - I turned myself over to the *very* capable sommelier, Carl Harrison Rohrbach, for a Tier 1 Wine Pairing ($65) which provided me with a different wine for nearly every course, and as different as these courses were, one from another, the pairings were of prime importance - even more importantly, the pairings were absolutely brilliant. This meal, which was over $200 before tax and tip (don't forget I got a cocktail), could have been much more costly, had I gone now - two months later - and gotten the Grand Tasting Menu ($185), which now requires a one-week advance notice, with its Reserve Wine Pairing ($185). However, when I went, I noticed some overlap between the two grand menus, and since I was there for the food more than the wine, I felt the Reserve Pairing would have been more than I needed (and was nearly double the price at $125), and I think I made a correct decision - the important thing is to stay away from the more simplistic menus, and I even wrote the chef afterwards, and told him he should completely do away with them. We got into a fairly extensive conversation, and I can assure you that he really, really wants to serve *only* the two upper-level tasting menus, and is currently offering the weeknight four-course so locals will frequent Elements during the week - it has yet to receive national attention, but when it does, the more simplistic menus may indeed disappear, and I hope they do. Rather than go through the litany of courses, I'm just going to show you the menu (which I emphasize is the more modest of the two): Elements Chef Tasting Menu.pdf And to give you but one example of a particularly dramatic presentation, I'm going to include one picture of the "Woodear Mushroom" course: Look at the menu I had, envision a best-case scenario, and trust me that the woodear-mushroom presentation was the most flamboyant thing by far (too many presentations such as this would be, well, too many, but for this one course? It was about the coolest thing I've ever been presented with (for a solo diner, there was one, single mushroom in this presentation, and it wasn't easy to find)). In order to create a more intimate link between kitchen and diner, each course was presented and explained by a different member of the kitchen staff (including the Executive Chef, Scott Anderson, and the outstanding Sous Chef, Mike Ryan, who created and served the amazing Kasuzuke Ocean Trout tableside - this Michelin 3-star dish, along with the Patranque, are two courses I'll remember for the rest of my life. The last actual Michelin 2-star meal I've had in Europe was at ABaC, and based mainly on their relatively poor wine cellar, I have trouble justifying their 2-star rating (although the hotel it's in is absolutely spectacular - perhaps the most impressive hotel in all of Barcelona) - despite the luxury of the glorious ABaC Hotel, coupled with the incredible architecture incorporated into the restaurant, I believe that Elements was a better dining experience. It was also the first time in probably a couple of years that I've spent over $200 on a meal just for myself before tax and tip, and when I walked out, I was marveling at how good of a *value* it was. Really. This was the greatest meal I've had in a long, long time, and it was worth every penny. For those of you familiar with my work, ask yourself this: How many restaurants do I rave *this much* about?
  12. One Block West - A wonderful dining experience. While the service had some hiccups and the wine pairing pours were barely enough to scrape through the course, I would absolutely return and do the tasting menu again. It was $65 plus $45 for the pairings. First: salmon three ways - tartar, smoked and roe. A little over olive oily. I do not eat sushi but ate the tartar and smoked pieces nonetheless. Quite tasty. Second: drum over crisp razor thin bean slices with a sweet potato puree. OMG this was phenomenal. The whole combo just worked wonderfully. Third: Rabbit wrapped in prosciutto with feta and spinach over squash puree. Not a big feta fan, thought it was a bit overwhelming, but this was also very good. Fourth: Sausage with a sauerkraut eggroll. It really wasn't an eggroll, but it was wrapped in cabbage. (My wonderful german mother who fed us pork and saurkraut every new years day as what I thought was punishment for coming home drunk the night before would flip if she heard me say this) The saurkraut was amazing! It was not vinegary, which is how I grew up hating, I mean eating, it, but very sweet. Went tremendously well with the sausage. (edited to add this correct description of the dish) Fifth: Bourbon sorbet. Yum, yum, yum. Sixth: Lamb. Tender, flavorful, delicious. Seventh: Dessert. I didn't write it down, so I don't remember. I do remember eating the whole thing and being pissed b/c it was so good but I was full but I couldn't stop eating it. (edited again - clearly should have looked at the website before I wrote this. This was f-ing awesome. This place is absolutely worth the trip from DC. We stayed at the Wyndham right there in town. 2 blocks from the walking district, very convenient and only about 120 bucks. (although based on the aforementioned pairing pour sizes, I certainly would not have been nervous about driving back if it was required). I read great things about One Block West and am happy to report that the food was incredibly good. Oh, they had a person playing accoustic guitar in the dining room during dinner, which was quite nice. I wish this place was closer to home. We also walked around and stopped into the pub (Union something I think). Friendly people and staff, excellent beer selection and wines by the glass.
  13. Same chef and bar manager though. But for the fact that the last guy forgot to renew the liquor license the place might have stayed open continuously, but they had to re-apply and used the time waiting for the new liquor license to spruce the place up a bit. I believe Mr. Moliere always owned the building and was heavily invested as a backer of the former "owner", to the extent that he controlled the situation and had the power to boot the guy.
  14. You may also want to check out IronBridge Wine Company in Warrenton. The building itself is awesome, go downstairs and see what they have done with the basement! The food has been consistant each time I have visited. The menu seems to change weekly so that is a good sign! (Hey we welcome any kind of change in these here parts!) The wine selection and prices can't be beat. The main floor can get busy on Saturday nights though, so upstairs, the windows, or the basement is where I would sit! Good luck!
  15. We hadn’t been to L’Auberge Provencal in a few years, but headed out last weekend with a couple friends for a German Wine dinner, hosted by Elite Imports. We had a five course meal with accompanying wines. Each course paired very well, and we wouldn’t hesitate to return to La Table Provencal for a “regular” meal. Fluke Sashimi, preserved lemon, green apple, mango vinegar - Graacher Himmelreich Reisling Kabinett, Joh. Jos. Prum 2015 Excellent first dish – the preserved lemon and green apple matched particularly well with the Kabinett. We also received a peach gazpacho as an amuse, but this was rather unceremoniously plunked in front of us and as a result didn’t know what it was (apart from obviously being a gazpacho of some type) until later. Service was a bit choppy – we were often left to review the printed menus to understand what we were eating. The waitstaff didn’t describe the dishes at all. Scallop, spaetzle, heirloom tomato, chili flake - Graacher Himmelreich Reisling Spatlese, Joh. Jos Prum 2015 Maybe my favorite course of the afternoon – I taste any chili flake, but the acidity in the Spatlese and the tomato cut the richness of the scallop and spaetzli nicely. A small portion though - as the scallop was definitely singular. Maultaschen, bratwurst, Asian pear, dates, caramelized onion - Zeltinger Sonnenhur Reisling Spatlese, Joh. Jos Prum 2015 Another good example of how an off-dry or even sweet wine with enough acidity can pair with heartier foods. This dish included three silver dollar sized pieces of bratwurst – the maultaschen was in a ravioli-like format and the pear and onion were carmelized in a sort of rustic jam. At this point we began to notice two things – that the portions were pretty small, and that wine glasses were not topped up during courses (and were relatively small pours to begin with). Baker Farm pork roulade, potato, cabbage, fig, juniper - Weingut Bernhard Huber, Baden Pinot Noir Spatburgunder Trocken, 2014 Excellent dish – and a great pairing with the Spatburgunder, however I think that the wine suffered by comparison as it was such a departure from the gradually building sugar profiles in the wines until this point. The majority of the group ranked this wine as their least favorite of the afternoon, but I wonder if that would have been the case were it served earlier. The roulade was good, but two slices – cabbage manifested itself in the form of two cabbage leaves, and the potato salad was two spheres of potato with the traditional accompaniments. Peaches, Olive oil cake, vanilla yogurt, pine nut brittle - Wehlener Sonnenhur Reisling Auslese, Joh. Jos Prum, 2015 I was fully prepared to hate this course, but boy was I wrong. As delightful as a box of birds. Enjoyed the olive oil cake and yogurt as they were on the savory side and provided a very nice contrast to the sweetest wine of the evening. A great time was had by all - with two caveats. Portions were on the small side, as were the pours. I understand that there is a fine line in tasting menu portion control and wine dinner/ lunch pours, but the pours were considerably less than a half glass. The other caveat was the service – I’d describe it as perfunctory – bring plate, drop plate, clear plate. The service may have been compromised by the fact that the reps from Elite were often talking to the group between courses. Given the 2015 vintage’s reputation in Germany it was a nice opportunity to taste through some Rieslings and bring back a few cases.
  16. I have a kind offer from my future mother-in-law for dinner anywhere in DC for my birthday. She keeps pushing for Nora, but I haven't heard much buzz about it recently. I was hoping to finally get to Kaz or Sushi-Ko, but perhaps I'd be missing out by not trying one of her favorites. I may also be missing out on the political points I'd score by letting her have her way. Has anyone been recently? How was it?
  17. Copperwood Tavern Website I didn't see a thread... Hubby and I wanted to go to Texas Jack's for July 4th, but they were out of bbq. So we kept going to Shirlington, which I was a bit hesitant about, but at that point I knew so little was open in VA and Hubby wasn't crossing the border into DC and wouldn't agree to go to Old Town. He had a decent brunch at Copperwood Tavern the other weekend, and wanted to go there. I didn't love the menu, I felt it was very heavy for the summertime, and really struggled on what to order. I settled on a Caesar salad and mussels. We were brought small corn muffins, on a plate that lacked any character and just made them look like they came from a carton from Giant, the taste wasn't anything special. My Caesar salad came to the table and was soggy and obviously either made earlier OR the lettuce was not in a condition I would use, it was supposed to have kale in it, but it seemed to have baby greens, which didn't appear to be any type of kale I am familiar with, which added no texture. It didn't have anything to make it interesting- no capers, no anchovies, no texture. I ate some of it only because I was starving at that point, and Hubby had a long day working and I just didn't want to make a fuss, he saw that it wasn't great so he gave me a bunch of his brussel sprouts to eat instead, those were better, although I think they needed to be roasted at a slightly higher heat. My mussels were an appetizer portion, but were good. The menu didn't note that there was cream in the dish, but it appeared there was and I normally can tolerate a small amount of blue cheese with a pill, but definitely had a reaction to lactose that appeared to be more than just that, I wish that would have been noted, I wouldn't have ordered it. The bread served with the mussels was burnt and hard even where it wasn't burnt. Hubby got a venison steak which was really good, but for $34 I would have expected some side on the plate, I mean, no offense, but it is deer meat. Anyway, I am sure some people think this place was fine, and July 4 certainly isn't a prime night for a restaurant to be on, but I really would be hard pressed to go back. I wish we had gone to Carlyle instead.
  18. Since moving to Houston, I've been on a mission to find my new place. I'm the kind of creature of habit that needs a local, a home base. In New York, the dearly departed Redhead, and (also dearly departed) Northern Spy filled that role, and in DC, Boundary Road did the heavy lifting. While it may be a tad premature to say after only one visit, Nobie's is looking the part here in Clutch City. Nobie's is named for the chef's grandmother, and radiates a warm, familiar feel from the very beginning. I think the comforting confines of the former Au Petit Paris help, as do the beautiful vintage speakers displayed throughout, playing an eclectic mix of music off of a stash of vinyl records. It also helped that we immediately ran into an acquaintance at the bar as we walked in...a welcome occurrence when you're new to a city. The bar itself is relatively small, with a few stools, and from the looks of it, the full menu is available there. Cristina and I have a long-documented love of dining at the bar wherever we are, so I imagine we'll end up parked on those stools fairly often. We started with 2 of the 3 cocktail specials of the moment, the lightly effervescent gin-based Snow on the Pines, and the rye-based Baby it's Cold Outside (served warm, which would've been even better if it weren't 70 degrees in Houston right now). Both were excellent, and I imagine it would be tough to go wrong ordering whatever the daily cocktails happen to be. The rest of the drink list is equally well-edited and curated, with 3 interesting draft beer options, and a number of bottles and cans (big ups for Lone Pint Yellow Rose on tap). I took note of the Schlitz tallboy for $3 and $5 shot of Four Roses Yellow Label for another time/context. I miss my occasional late nights at Boundary Road with a friend or 2, winding down with a slightly superfluous Natty Boh and shot of Old Overholt. We started with a couple small plates. The Texas Tartare is a finely chopped steak tartare adapted to our lovely State's tastes with smoked jalapeño and topped with a layer of deviled egg yolk. Served with nicely toasted bread, this was a hit. The "Texas" bits were noticeable but played with a measured hand such that they didn't overtake the basic flavor profile of my beloved steak tartare. This is the kind of thing that can get super gimmicky real fast, and the skill shown with this dish is a real "tell" as to what you can expect from the kitchen here. The beer battered sweet potato tots came hot from the fryer in a bowl ringed with a whipped goat cheese. Crispy, soft, salty, cheesy. So get those. It was tough to pass up some of the other snacks on offer...the dukkah Chex mix and cool ranch chickpeas sounded great. Next time. Our salad of local citrus and fennel was the perfect foil for the richness of the tartare. Segments of grapefruit and orange mingled with paper-thin slices of fennel, bits of mint, red chili, and black sesame seeds. This is a simple salad whose execution elevated it beyond my expectations. There are a few salads on the menu, and if they all receive the care this one did, they shouldn't be missed. Moving along, we shared the Ricotta-stuffed raviolo with crispy duck confit, and the Aleppo prawns with burnt orange. The pasta is a rather robust single raviolo filled with house-made herbed ricotta and an egg yolk that covers everything beautifully once you cut into the shell. This was surrounded with irregularly sized pieces of crisped duck confit. This was a hearty dish whose richness would have been better appreciated in colder weather, but was still greedily devoured. The ricotta was light and lemony, and a nice counterpoint to the richness surrounding it. The prawns were served head-on and simply, seasoned with citrus and Aleppo pepper. These were well-cooked and delicious, though without any accompaniment on the plate, they felt a bit spare. We unfortunately skipped dessert to make it to a movie, but there will be plenty of time for that later. Nobie's hit all the right notes, from the unfussy, comfortable decor, to the friendly, unpretentious staff (none of that "Are you familiar with chef's concept crap), to the soulful, straightforward, ingredient-driven cooking. There's something for everyone here, from bar snacks and well-chosen wines by the glass, to large-format dishes like a grilled octopus and "Fred Flintstone" ribeye. My favorite joints always have that flexibility. Nobie's is a welcome and important addition to the Houston scene. Keep my seat warm guys, I'll be back soon.
  19. Great night at Riel a few days ago. I went in with very few expectations, other than remembering that I read somewhere that the chef was Canadian, and at some point served borscht. We didn't opt for the borscht on our first visit, though we will certainly get into it (and the plate of Montreal smoked meat) next time. Cocktails are interesting, well-crafted, and well-priced at $10. I started with "Oslo in the Summertime," a nice riff on a Negroni, with Aquavit subbed in for the gin. Cristina is a sucker for gose, and started with a refreshing beer cocktail (Ready Set Gose) of Real Ale Gose (which has dominant lime notes), Cocchi Americano, and cucumber. It was feeling like that kind of night, so we opted to roll hard and start with the caviar service. Beautifully presented on a cut log platter, were were served 3 varieties - American, Russian, and Iranian along with house made butter (fantastic), freshly made rye blinis, and traditional accompaniments. Just as I was about order a couple glasses of champagne, the manager came over with an ice cold bottle of house infused vodka. All the better. (Click the arrows on the photos to see the crab and hangar steak.) Tempura cauliflower was served with a slightly too-salty kimchi sauce. The cauliflower were nicely breaded and fried, drizzled with the smoothly pureed sauce. There was some spice, but I would have liked a little more kimchi funk. Seemed like a popular dish, as we saw several plates heading out from the open kitchen. Having spent the last few years in DC, it's almost impossible for me to pass up a seasonal soft-shell crab special. Riel's comes lightly breaded and fried, served with greens and a tamarind sauce. Great dish that balances the salty fried crab with the sour tamarind. Bright and aggressively spiced. We wrapped it up with the 44 Farms hangar steak, cooked to a perfect medium rare, served over a horseradish cream sauce alongside pan-crisped potato-cheddar pierogi. Another winner of a dish. Simple, unfussy, but cleanly presented. Riel generated a lot of early press, but still somehow feels a little under the radar. Such is life in a sprawling city with so many choices. That said, I'm confident we'll be back, and would be happy to recommend a meal there to anyone visiting.
  20. 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.
  21. Chef Spike Gjerde has opened his long awaited farm-to-table restaurant in Clipper Mill. The wife and I went there last night and were shocked at the full dining room, given the restaurant's out-of-the-way location. No matter though, we had made reservations and were seated promptly in the loft overlooking the dining room. The renovation to the building is stunning. The exposed brick walls and recycled old-growth lumber that were used are dramatically illuminated, looking both elegant and cozy at the same time. A wood burning oven is the center piece of the open kitchen, and most of the food on the menu seems to be cooked in it. We ordered: Oysters (raw and roasted) Chicken liver parfait Hamburger Autumn vegetables Everything was very good: the food, the service, and the space. We'll be back soon. Woodberry Kitchen
  22. I first saw this soon-to-be open announcement courtesy of Penn Quarter Living and only really saw how >close< it was to the PQ Farmer's Market, after my trip there today. According to the two gentleman right outside the restaurant and assuming they are employees, I asked when they are opening. Their response was Monday, May 11. Keep your eyes open, I guess!
  23. With its nice long bar and large sunny windows, The Vanderbilt is the kind of place you want to go to for an afternoon drink. We enjoyed a glass of the Forstreiter Gruner Veltliner 2013 ($9) and the Aizipurua Getariako Txakolina 2015 ($12). They were serving a limited prix fixe menu because of Mother's Day but we did enjoy our plate of cottage fries ($6). The vibe of The Vanderbilt is more upscale neighborhood restaurant with prices to match. But not a bad place to spend an hour or so on a late Sunday afternoon after wandering around the Brooklyn Museum.
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