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Cafe Atlantico, Modern Latino Cooking at 8th and D Street in Penn Quarter - Closed

Penn Quarter Modern Latino Think Food Group Closed

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#51 dcs

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 12:03 PM

Does he really need to sell the naming rights?

I kind of like the sound of "Cafe Atlantico's Chock full o'Nuts MiniBar." :blink:

#52 Apples & Bananas

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 12:10 PM

I'm sure if we all pitched in a few dollars we could probably claim it. DonRockwell.com's Minibar.

That has a nice ring to it.
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#53 ladi kai lemoni

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 12:28 PM

I kind of like the sound of "Cafe Atlantico's Chock full o'Nuts MiniBar." :blink:

"minibar brought to you by Nuts & Gum: Two Great Tastes Together At Last!"

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#54 cfl19

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 11:24 AM

Anyone been to Cafe Atlantico recently? Am going there tonight for the first time and what to know if there are any can't miss/should miss items.

#55 giant shrimp

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 11:36 AM

Anyone been to Cafe Atlantico recently? Am going there tonight for the first time and what to know if there are any can't miss/should miss items.

haven't been there in several months, but a mojito and guacamole is always a good place to start. (if you're feeling somewhat jaded, i'd also look for secondary ingredients that look like they may have spilled over from minibar, such as lime air, ham powder and pop rocks, although the sum of the cooking here is much more down to earth.)

#56 synaesthesia

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 12:21 PM

Not been in ages, but I really loved the duck confit with passionfruit oil. Welcome and please report back on what you have. =D
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#57 brettashley01

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 01:02 PM

Went recently and really, everything we had was delicious. The huitlacoche mushroom dish was to die for. I don't think we had a bad bite between the 4 of us- and we ranged from feijoada to salmon to bass(?).

On that note, anyone been to the dim sum brunch?

#58 Pete

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 03:05 PM

On that note, anyone been to the dim sum brunch?

Paula and I really enjoyed the dim sum brunch back in July. The online menu is fairly representative of what we had, and we probably plowed through about half of it. I definitely recommend it for something different.

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#59 kturkey88

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 04:12 PM

Haven't been in a few months, but I loved the tuna tartare with avacado app.

leave the gun, take the cannolis.


#60 brettashley01

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 08:22 AM

Just a report back on the dim sum brunch. Shared: huitlacoche and mushroom quesadilla (to die for, wow i love that fungus); Tuna ceviche with coconut; Fried egg with Veracruz sauce (a mess but a delicious mess), Seared cigala with vanilla oil (sort of a spiny lobster. would have preferred to have lemon rather than vanilla oil; didn't even taste the vanilla in there); guacamole tableside and the malanga chips. All delicious. Other than an obviously hungover server, the staff was super attentive and esp. concerned with making sure my experience was an allergy-free one. Would def. go back.

#61 heh

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 07:42 AM

I would add that the chef's dim sum tasting menu ($35 for non-vegetarians and $25 for vegetarians) is a pretty good value and you get to sample all of the highlights from the menu. DIm sum brunch only offered on Sundays now, FYI. Famous duck confit has been replaced with pork belly. Not quite the same, but delish.

#62 diddy

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 01:45 AM

why did chef katsuya fukushima leave?

#63 DonRocks

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 07:29 AM

why did chef katsuya fukushima leave?

He's spending his time shuttling back-and-forth to Los Angeles as part of the opening crew of The Bazaar.

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#64 dag556

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 02:46 PM

I'm headed to Cafe Atlantico tonight for drinks... Can you order food at the bar?

#65 dcandohio

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 03:03 PM

I'm headed to Cafe Atlantico tonight for drinks... Can you order food at the bar?

Yes, I've eaten at the bar. It get crazy busy in there, so be prepared to be jostled while you nosh.

Shut up and pour another glass of wine, please.


#66 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 06:45 PM

Anyone been lately? Going for lunch later in the week. Thanks!

#67 NolaCaine

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 02:30 PM

I had my second lunch at CA today and it was very yummy. Both my dining companion and I had the Vera Cruz which today was a nicely baked trout covered in a (tasteless) foam. The taste was perfect and it was not overcooked. The trout was accompanied by a nice assortment of olives, baby onions, and baby tomatoes (which were super sweet). Also on the plate; very thin pita slices and a small pile of guacamole. The Guacamole was lime-yer than i've experienced in the past and really liked it.

My companion enjoyed the Mango Soup which is PERFECT and I had the warm white chocolate mouse. It was very yummy but not next level like the mango. Maybe it's just that time of the year when I want light and fresh, not put-me-to-bed rich. That said, I think the portion sizes were perfect.

I want to go back for cocktails, an entire serving of Guac, and that Mango Soup.

#68 DonRocks

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 02:44 PM

I want to go back for cocktails, an entire serving of Guac, and that Mango Soup.

I also suspect this trio may be (or could be) 100% vegan, so vegans take note.

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#69 Anna Blume

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 03:03 PM

Two things:

1) My visiting friends went to CA for the first time last Thursday (instead of the Bombay Club which The NYT is apparently recommending for good cheap eats) and truly loved it. I don't recall everything they said they had, but they really liked the guacamole and 'organized' (re? dis?) Caesar salad. A leitmotif during their trip has been wobbly tables. Valiant server tried to remedy their plight and everyone was gracious.

2) This is Terri's restaurant now, but update on news above is that, while hatless, Kats is back more or less for good. He says D.C. is his town.

Then one question:

Anyone tried the Friday night market dinner yet?

I've only seen the CA team roam the street on Thursday afternoons looking for inspiration. Looks like fun.

#70 silentbob

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 10:01 AM

I would add that the chef's dim sum tasting menu ($35 for non-vegetarians and $25 for vegetarians) is a pretty good value and you get to sample all of the highlights from the menu. DIm sum brunch only offered on Sundays now, FYI. Famous duck confit has been replaced with pork belly. Not quite the same, but delish.

An out-of-town friend and I got the tasting menu two weekends ago. Pork belly is definitely the highlight. Conch fritter was tasty too, unfortunately it was more fritter than filling. Everything else was on the good-but-not great level. I really wanted to like the soups and mousses more but one flavor tended to overpower the others, not sure if that's by design.

I agree that it's a pretty good value overall (especially because you can get seconds of any dishes).

#71 kirite

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 09:58 PM

We recently had the legendary brunch at CA and it was great. Although the venue is a bit the worse for wear after twenty years of traffic , the food and wait staff were outstanding. The little plates were exceptional and very inventive. We each ordered three--four would have been better. This is a labor intensive restaurant with servers delivering and removing at just the right pace. I plan to return and try the vegetarian tasting menu.

#72 catharine

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 09:29 AM

We had the Latino Dim Sum brunch here on Sunday as well and thought it was wonderful. The pacing of the dishes was perfect. It was definitely a good value, but we didn't leave stuffed. Our favorite dishes were the pork belly confit with passion fruit oil, the conch fritters with a liquid center and the surprising pan dulce with cinnamon syrup.

#73 ktmoomau

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 02:03 PM

Cafe Atlantico had been on my list of places I wanted to eat dinner every since we went to Minibar two years ago. I had been for their Saturday brunch, which I really like, but never for dinner.

So Hubby and I had a date Friday night to Cafe Atlantico. I started out with their special cherry blossom drink with lavender and cherry. It was very good, and not overly sweet, because of the tang of the cherry, but definitely a little sweet. I ordered the grapefruit and shrimp appetizer and Matt had the conch fritters. I really liked my appetizer it was really light and acidic. The shrimp and grapefruit were mixed with chayote noodles and some greens (arugula I believe) and it all mixed very well. Matt's conch fritters were great though. They were nicely fried, but not tough, and had a great side of jicama guacamole on the side. I really liked these. He had the margarita with the salt foam, and loved it. I thought it was really fresh tasting.

I then got the passionfruit martini, which was so fresh and juicy it could be a very dangerous drink. I really love passionfruit and this was lovely if you like passionfruit. Matt ordered the magic mojito, which I have had better mojitos, but not better mojitos that melted from being cotton candy with a lime hidden in it. It was definitely fun to watch the drink being made, but they taste better at Zengo.

I had the duck confit entree with corn and fava beans. This was fantastic. The duck just fell apart and it went so well with the veggies underneath so it didn't feel over the top rich. Matt had the pork chop which was of notable size, but very good. It was spicy- very spicy- but in a good way.

We split the cuatro leches dessert, which had a nice light cake, and leche ice cream that wasn't too sweet and toasted almonds. The only let down was that the oranges with it weren't very flavorful, just not very ripe.

We wanted the mexican hot chocolate, but they were out.

Overall I was really happy with the meal. It was different, but well prepared. I think thought went into pairing the ingredients for each dish, and most of the ingredients were very fresh and flavorful (the exception being the oranges). So it was a nice place for date night. And the cocktails were really great. I don't think this place gets enough credit for really good cocktails.

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#74 ulterior epicure

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 09:50 PM

I'll admit that the length of my regular blog posts are way too long. I view my blog as a safe harbor from editorial limits; a sort of verbal vomit vortex. The following excerpt might still be too long for some of you. If you want more, including pictures, you can proceed with fair warning to my blog.

********

I can’t believe that I lived in Washington, D.C. and never once stepped foot in Cafe Atlantico.

Jaleo, yes. But never Cafe Atlantico.

Neither did I visit Jose Andres’s Mediterranean “mezze” restaurant, Zaytinya, which opened shortly before I moved away, or minibar, which always seemed (and still seems) like too much of a hassle.

Cafe Atlantico’s “Latino Dim Sum,” served only on Sundays, sounds like the kind of cultural collision I generally try to avoid. But everyone raves about it.

There’s nothing tremendously earth-shattering about the food here now, though it might have been slightly more so when the restaurant first opened two decades ago (in 1990).

Andres’s Latino “dim sum” is, basically, a smattering of creative tapas served with chopsticks, a fork, a knife, and a spoon. It’s a mish-mash of tropical ingredients and flavors from around the globe. He calls it “Nuevo Latino” cuisine.

The three of us decided to make ordering simple and opted for the 14-course dim sum tasting menu ($35 per person; $25 for the 12-course vegetarian tasting menu).*

The question of value of the tasting menu is worth considering here. A la carte, the dishes ranged in price between $3 to $8, with the average probably being somewhere around $4.75.

Some of the dishes came with two portions (there were two scallops – large ones – on the “Scallops with Cauliflower Puree” dish, two oysters on the “Oyster with Mango-Lime Oil,” and two conch fritters). Most seemed to come with three pieces to a dish – three cigalas halves, three endives, three pieces of tuna. However, it is difficult to know whether these were their normal a la carte portions, or if they were tailored to our three-person tasting menu format. Our situation was even more difficult to assess since Indo couldn’t have crustacea. Our server ended up bringing out 18 different dishes to accommodate Indo’s allergy. She even brought out multiples of the ones we particularly liked, though I have no idea whether this was the normal course of business, or whether it was her attempt to make up for the cocktail she accidentally poured over half our table. I suspect that individual dish portion sizes for a single person tasting menu would be smaller.

Assuming that the quantity of food we got was normal, then it turns out that ordering the tasting menu was slightly less expensive than if we had ordered those same dishes a la carte.

On top of the 18 dishes we were served as a part of the tasting menu, we also added three savory dishes and two desserts from the a la carte menu.

-

Endive with Queso Fresco Espuma
Walnuts and pomegranate ($3)

Malanga Chips
Plantains and curry ($3)

Tuna Ceviche with Coconut ($4)

Oyster with Mango-Lime Oil ($3)

Mango-Anchovy Ravioli ($3)

Fried Egg with Veracruz Sauce
($5)

Pineapple-Unagi
Avocado sauce ($6.50)

Cauliflower-Quinoa Cous Cous ($4)

Mushroom with 63-degree Egg ($5)

Conch Fritters
With a liquid center($5)

Potato & Vanilla Mousse
American Caviar ($4) (x3)

Hot & Cold Foie Gras and Corn Soup ($5) (x3)

Huitlacoche & Wild Mushroom Quesadilla
($7) (x2)

Grilled Skirt Steak “Carne Asada”
($7)

Coconut Rice
Crispy rice and ginger ($4) (x2)

Fried Egg with Black Beans & Pork ($5)

Pork Belly Confit
Passion fruit oil ($7.50) (x2)

Pan Dulce
Cinnamon syrup ($5)

-

Seared Cigala with Vanilla Oil ($8)

Scallops with Cauliflower Puree ($6)

Beef Empanadas
Date marmalade and queso fresco ($4.50)

Cuatro Leches “Morir Soñando” ($9)

Warm Apples & Raisins ($9)

-


As far as brunch goes, Cafe Atlantico’s Latino dim sum adds a splash of color to an otherwise predictable slate of options.

The food is all very good, and I suppose it’s a novel experience. But it didn’t leave me raving.

True to the dim sum experience, there’s a factory feel to it all.

Here, instead of steaming carts with loud-mouthed drivers, you have servers mad-dashing about the crowded, three-level dining room with trays stacked with dishes. Some might find it festive. I call it chaotic.

The restaurant was packed. They seated us 20 minutes after our reservation time. It might have been delayed even longer had I not checked in with the host about 15 minutes into our wait and mentioned that my friend and I were both needing to catch a flight out later that afternoon. While at no point did we feel rushed, other than by our own time constraints, getting people in and out efficiently seemed to be top-of-mind for the staff. There was a steady stream of diners exiting and entering throughout the two hours we were there.

Dishes were churned out with the same slapdash affect as at a dim sum house. The food wasn’t sloppily plated, necessarily, but most if it looked like it rolled off an assembly line; attempted order.

Yet, almost everything was properly cooked.

My favorite dishes were the more traditional, hearty Spanish ones. The “Grilled Skirt Steak ‘Carne Asada,’” for example, was simple, straightforward, and tasty. The strips of meat were tender and juicy. “Pork Belly Confit” was amazing – the layers of melting collagen and tender meat were almost indistinguishable from each other.

The egg dishes – all of them – were great, especially the one with a delicious layer of pork-stewed beans (“Fried Egg with Black Beans & Pork“).

The “Coconut Rice” was also very good, an unexpectedly savory comfort (I had expected something more akin to sweet rice pudding). And the “Huitlacoche & Wild Mushroom Quesadilla” were great – a toasty tortilla sandwich layered with a beefy, layer of silky mushrooms glued together with melted cheese.

Other than the cigalas, which were mushy (Could they have been frozen? Past experience suggests so.), there were few truly disappointing dishes. The “Hot & Cold Foie Gras and Corn Soup” sounded better than it tasted: warm corn soup with a cold foie gras froth, it tasted like a mistake. I like my soups either all hot or all cold. This just left me feeling lukewarm, literally.

The balance of our fare fell somewhere between forgettable and good. The scallops were good (and, at $6 for two, giant U-8s, the best buy of the day), as were the oysters. The packets of anchovy mousse wrapped in thinly shaved sheets of mango were creative – admirable for the subtlety – but not terribly moving (“Mango-Anchovy Ravioli“). Even less interesting was “Endive with Queso Fresco Espuma,” another casualty of the iSi epidemic. Crunchy endive leaves beg for a hefty partner – a cloud-like foam is not it.

Rave? No.

Pleased? Sure.

Like the refreshing and well-made limeade, our “Latino dim sum” brunch at Cafe Atlantico was a bubbly and fun occasion, much more because of the company than the food. Unless someone lands a reservation to minibar and invites me, I won’t be rushing back.
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."
- Carroll

#75 DonRocks

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 11:59 PM

Limp, limp, limp ...

Aria Pizzeria may be open now.

Limp, limp, limp ...

Elephant and Castle was packed, as usual this time of year, both the patio and the bar. I opted out and moved on.

Limp, limp, limp ...

Ollie's Trolley, no.

Tosca, underdressed.

Limp, limp, limp ...

Zaytinya, underdressed.

Ella's, not interested.

Cedar, too recently.

Zola, nah.

limp, limp, limp ...

Penn Quarter Farmer's Market, acknowledged with a reverential nod.

limp, limp, limp ...

Cafe Atlantico.

Mojito ($11) - Reasonably well-made
Chips (Free) - Average at best
Xinghu Black Beer ($7) - An underrated beer, with finesse, not power
Roasted Beet Salad ($12) with seasonal organic baby beets, oranges, cotija cheese, sherry vinaigrette (not to mention lots of toasted seeds on top) - Dominated by an over-application of pungent vinaigrette, the few honorable beets lost in the mix
Glass of Screwtop Rueda ($7) - An overcropped, insipid table wine left 2/3 unfinished.
And out of respect for the kitchen, despite wanting to escape the clutches of JoséVision on the bar TV, Olive Oil Poached Escolar (a painful $27) with an abundance of stewed cherry tomatoes, black olive powder, corn two ways - three poorly cooked, surprisingly dry, pieces of escolar - one of my favorite inexpensive fish - without any bread to soak up the impressively skinned tomatoes served in a clumsy (but modern) bowl.

This kitchen should be better than this, and has been in the past. Tonight, it was an unimpressive, expensive showing, and a big waste of my money.

A long-overdue downgrade for this tired restaurant.

Cheers,
Rocks

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#76 fuzzy510

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 12:15 AM

I'm actually glad to see Atlantico get knocked down a few notches not out of any sort of malevolence towards the restaurant, but because I have had a couple of really lackluster meals here, and I was starting to think I was the only one who thought it wasn't that great. I think "tired" really is the best word to describe Cafe Atlantico right now, and if it weren't for Jose Andres' star power or the fact that Minibar is inside, I'm not sure how relevant it'd be.

#77 ulterior epicure

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 12:55 AM

Olive Oil Poached Escolar (a painful $27) with an abundance of stewed cherry tomatoes, black olive powder, corn two ways - three poorly cooked, surprisingly dry, pieces of escolar - one of my favorite inexpensive fish - without any bread to soak up the impressively skinned tomatoes served in a clumsy (but modern) bowl.

Ouch. Dry escolar. That's not an easy achievement.

A long-overdue downgrade for this tired restaurant.

I'm nodding with some familiarity.
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."
- Carroll

#78 Anna Blume

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 12:30 PM

Limp, limp, limp ...

Hurt your foot, Don?

#79 Toogs

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 12:52 PM

Wait, Zaytinya is dressier than Atlantico? Hmm. Maybe because I only seem to go there before or after Wiz or Caps games the crowd is a little different?

#80 Miami Danny

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 04:16 PM

despite wanting to escape the clutches of JosťVision on the bar TV

In that case, you may want to pass on 60 Minutes tonite. Yeesh.

#81 giant shrimp

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 07:27 AM

Hurt your foot, Don?

what happened to jose andres? maybe it's just my imagination, but wasn't he just here?

many years ago he used to be in the kichen at cafe atlantico cooking, and the food was so good he would promenade in the dining room.

#82 mdt

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 07:41 AM

what happened to jose andres? maybe it's just my imagination, but wasn't he just here?

many years ago he used to be in the kichen at cafe atlantico cooking, and the food was so good he would promenade in the dining room.

What happened? You mean besides recently opening a place in LA that is getting huge raves, not to mention running the rest of his restaurants. Oh and there is the planning for new ones in Las Vegas and wherever else they mentioned in the 60 Minutes piece last night.

#83 giant shrimp

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 11:02 AM

What happened? You mean besides recently opening a place in LA that is getting huge raves, not to mention running the rest of his restaurants. Oh and there is the planning for new ones in Las Vegas and wherever else they mentioned in the 60 Minutes piece last night.

actually, i was referring to local sightings in the vicinity of cafe atlantico.

#84 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 08:48 PM

Latino Dim Sum Tasting Menu (exactly 14 courses)

The first dish is some kind of whipped cheese in endive - nothing special.

The next trio were (1) Tuna ceviche with coconut, (2) Mango-anchovy ravioli, and (3) Oyster with mango-lime oil. Couldn't taste the tuna because it was overpowered by all the other ingredients.

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#85 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 08:52 PM

The second trio were (1) Potato & vanilla mousse with American caviar, (2) Conch fritters with a liquid center, and (3) Hot & cold foie gras and corn soup. The potatos were great with caviar, could've lived without the vanilla. The foie soup was super (mostly because we love foie gras). And the conch fritter had no conchiness to it...could've been ham.

Pineapple-unagi with avocado sauce. Nicely grilled ell but why pair it with a cloyingly sweet pineapple?

Mushrooms with egg 63 - nice dish of various mushrooms, kinda helped fill me up.

Grilled skirt steak “Carne Asada” - grilled from medium rare to medium well, good flavor and a little chewy at times.

Duo of (1) Pork belly confit with passion fruit oil - it was 2/3 fat, not at all appetizing, and (2) Fried egg with mashed black beans & pork - very tasty dish that helped fill my wife up.

Coconut rice, crispy rice & ginger - their version of congee. I don't really care for congee, it's okay if I'm stuck in a hotel in China with a lousy breakfast buffet, but not as part of tasting menu.

Pan dulce with cinnamon syrup - grilled cheese with syrup - this I can do at home.

Overall - not my cup of tea. I would prefer 14 courses of regular dim sum, which would have cost much less. The service was really good so that was not a factor in my less than stellar opinion. FWIW, I also didn't think much of Minibar (more form than substance IMO).

Attached Thumbnails

  • Unagi - eel.JPG
  • Mushrooms with Egg.JPG
  • Skirt Steak.JPG
  • Pork Belly Confit Passion Fruit - Fried Egg Black Beans.JPG
  • Coconut Rice Porridge.JPG
  • Grilled Cheese with Syrup.JPG
  • Conch Fritter, Mashed Potato, Foie Gras soup.JPG


#86 Tujague

Tujague

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 02:10 PM

Cafe Atlantico is disappearing, at least temporarily, for this, then the long-promised Minibar expansion will happen.

"There's no need to get snippy. I'm just doing my job here."--Marge Gunderson, Fargo


#87 DonRocks

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 04:53 PM

The new Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner location of America Eats Tavern opened on Monday, June 2, for breakfast and lunch, and they plan to start serving dinner later this week (via Washingtonian).  The address is 1700 Tysons Corner Blvd, McLean, VA.

 

[Leave it to José to create an administrative nightmare. I almost *have* to split off the old Café Atlantico posts at this point, and create a separate thread for America Eats Tavern. I'll get to it. Grumble.]


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