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Found 116 results

  1. Since opening five years ago, Chris Shepherd's Underbelly has been a self-appointed beacon for the evolution of Houston food. The menu has a half-page thesis on why Houston is the most interesting culinary city in the country, there are dozens of celebratory links to *other* Houston restaurants on their main webpage, and Bun B is quoted on the wine list. From afar I've found the chest-beating a little too much, but I can appreciate a chef who wants to represent his city -- especially in a time where many owners are happy to replicate restaurants from other cities. And being such a vocal proponent certainly helped Shepherd win the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest. But hey, what about the food? Head-on Gulf shrimp with buttermilk dill panna cotta, pickled beans ($24). Plump and sweet, this was a great showing for Gulf seafood. The panna cotta was a nice compliment. Hand-torn cornbread pieces and pickled beans were both sort of throwaways. Seared soft-shell with eggplant curry ($24). Shepherd recently made a big PR announcement about getting away from beef and pork, which meant a larger focus on seafood. Soft-shells are among my personal favorite foods, and this was a very good one. The eggplant curry was nicely done with a touch of heat; Shepherd is a fan of moderate-to-significant spice (if you're not, be aware, as it permeates the entire menu). Vinegar pie with salt brittle ($9). Previous savory dishes were not coursed (nor labeled as appetizers or entrees; guess by price) so I was rather full after two. Still curious enough to try this dessert, which I believe has been on the menu since 2012. It's not scary at all; more key lime in flavor than sour or acidic. Overall, a quality showing by Shepherd and his team. I didn't fall in love with Underbelly, but it's worth visiting for anyone who appreciates loud flavors with global influences -- basically the "Houston creole" cuisine that the restaurants trumpets.
  2. 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.
  3. Friends and I are trying to watch basketball tonight but can't think of a place that has both TVs and decent drinks. Somewhere in Logan/Shaw would be ideal, but relatively flexible. Ideas? Only place we could think of was Riggsby, but that's not really a sports bar.
  4. My husband and I were walking in Clarendon Saturday night looking for a place to stop for dinner (we had planned to get a salad at Northside Social, but squatters who weren't eating were still taking up tables for work at 7:30 p.m.). We walked past Bar Bao, which we've been looking forward to trying once they opened, and saw activity inside. It turned out they were having a soft opening and it was their second night open. Because it was a soft opening, I won't report in any detail other than to say we enjoyed our meals thoroughly. (We liked the music, too - it was loud, but it was not EDM which can set off headaches for me, but rather a good mix of some '80s/'90s/'00s energetic music). They had a more limited menu than they will for the true opening, but there were still plenty of things on it and we were quite happy. It's mostly Asian-inspired street food / bar food (including several kinds of bao, steamed dumplings, and at least one vegetable side). We had one of the nicest and most attentive (in a non-annoying way) servers we've ever had, too. We definitely plan on going back and may become semi-regulars.
  5. Kingfisher has been open since the summer. I went in shortly after opening, and the guy behind the bar told me that they wanted to build a neighborhood bar on 14th Street, and that they hoped to tune the TVs behind the bar to nerdier things (like Godzilla movies) than muted sporting events. After half a year of it open, I like just about everything but their happy hour: the free popcorn is great, the beer list (cans only, no drafts, like Red Derby) is pretty well-curated, and it's a really nice place to meet people for a drink, but the happy hour offerings (particularly in the way of beer) are pretty meager. Otherwise, it's a really nice place and a very welcome low-key addition to a perhaps overly buzzy neighborhood.
  6. Hat tip to Jake for nudging me to this "real good" spot: The Wallace. Smart crowd but decor is tasteful and comfortable. Started with a spinach salad with grilled portabellos and blue cheese which was very nice and straightforward. Grilled Japanese eggplant over lentils was next, and possibly my favorite dish of the night. Lentils were smokey and delicious! Spouse ordered the squid ink pasta with Uni bescamel and ikura. Tasty but a bit too rich for me. And yet hypocritically I loved the next course, foie gras three ways: terrine, mousse, and grilled. All fantastic, with the exception of the mousse which was spectacular. It was served over what looked like crumbled feta, but was actually dehydrated foie gras! We shared a carrot cake that delivered. Many tables ordered a mushroom tartine that looked really good. Cocktail was an apple brandy and a duck fat rinsed orange liqueur with bitters. Very nice. And the wine was all good as well. Fun place! Service got weeded here but we enjoyed ourselves and had no subsequent commitments.
  7. Last month we visited BlackTail, the new Cuban-themed bar in Battery Park from Sean Muldoon & Jack McGarry of Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog. We really enjoyed ourselves, and we're always amazed at how much attention to detail Sean, Jack and their team put into creating world-class establishments. http://blacktailnyc.com
  8. Barking Mad Cafe has a solid coffee program. They use Counter Culture beans and can draw a serious espresso. Their cappuccinos and lattes are also good, although I have had a few cappuccinos that were wetter than I prefer. They have drip coffee, but no pour over. The standout, though, is their cold brew. During the summer, they had two offerings, both on nitro taps. It's so smooth it's like drinking Guinness coffee. The coffee served at Barking Mad Cafe would be noteworthy anywhere in the DC area. IMHO, it's extraordinary in Gaithersburg, which has nothing comparable within a reasonable distance.
  9. Convivial uses the same method to chill their cocktail glasses. It is a current trend. Nothing out of the ordinary. What about these below, filled with ice? Anyone used them? Do they keep drinks chilled?
  10. I wanted to start the thread here for a new spot coming to downtown Takoma Park. Seth Cook and Chris Brown, two coffee veterans who have been at Northside Social for years, are branching out on their own. They have a great location on Laurel Avenue, and construction is about to begin. TKBC (@takomabevco) will offer coffee, beer(draft) and wine as well as a great cocktail program. The menu will be designed by a chef you will all recognize. I love this team and this concept, and that is why I decided to back them financially and advise on the project. Keep your eyes out as the project progresses.
  11. Earlier this year, my friends Ryan Irvine and Stephanie Jansky launched Full Measure Bitters, a Cleveland-based purveyor of small-batch cocktail bitters (and Ohio's first legal bitters company!). They recently finished production on Batch 4 and have had great local success. They just started selling their product on Amazon and I couldn't be happier for them. Until they get approved for Prime, they're offering free shipping to anywhere in the Continental US. It makes for an excellent Old Fashioned; the recipe is on the label.
  12. Has anyone her in DR Land been to Ivy City Smokehouse? They got a good write up in the Washingtonian (I can't seem to find a link on their website), and was wondering what the DR scoop is.
  13. Summer Cocktails

    Anyone have a short list of their favorite summer cocktails? Trying to expand my horizon for home cocktail making and stuck in a little bit of a rut. Kind of vexed by drinks involving topping off with something bubbly (champagne or similar, soda of some sort, seltzer/soda water, etc) as the bubbles never last more than a minute or two. Anyway, TIA for suggestions.
  14. I recently had a chance to visit Bottega Louie, a bright, cavernous space in The Brockman Building on South Grand that is both a gourmet market and restaurant. The large open floor and high ceilings plan gives the place a certain vibrancy, with an accompanying noise level that you might expect from such a large room. I took a seat at the 10 stool bar in the front closer to the market and quite enjoyed the Cioppino, which also cost $30. It was a full bowl of succulent seafood, that contained perhaps the most plump mussels I have ever been served. Truly satisfying.
  15. We were excited to try Brick and Mortar after Eater named it one its five finalists for Philly 2015 restaurant of the year - along with Aldine, one of our best dining experiences in the city so far. After dining there last night, I can tell you the inclusion on that list does Aldine a great disservice. Brick and Mortar is housed in the first floor of the Goldtex apartment building - it's an oddly shaped, generic space that is really devoid of any character whatsoever. There's an enormous TV that had sports on when we got there although to their credit they did turn it off once the dinner crowd really started to roll in. This restaurant continues an annoying trend of playing loud pop music while you're trying to enjoy dinner. They have a number of crescent-shaped tables that are totally awkward and make you feel like you entire party is sitting on the same side of the table - they tried to jam us into one and then made kind of a big deal about accommodating our request to sit at a regular 4-top. The food is your standard charcuterie, cheese boards, small plates, yada, yada that you see everywhere these days. I would say everything we ate was enjoyable though nothing to write home about. The oysters were just OK, the lamb was pretty nice, as were the rock shrimp. All in all, just not a standout restaurant - there are plenty of better places to go.
  16. No, but it's now open, and here are the website and current menus. Note that there's a pop-up window advertising heritage turkey dinners (complete dinners) to go for Thanksgiving this year - they're asking you to order early (note to NRG: That window is showing up every time you click on something on the website - it would be nice if you saw it only once). Dinner: Charcuterie: Beer: Drinks and Wine:
  17. DC City Smokehouse folks are opening Wicked Bloom Social Club nearby at 1540 North Capitol St, NW, DC, on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. Washington City Paper also says:
  18. My wife and I had a great meal at Townsend last month - low-key setting, good service, great cocktails, and for the most part, excellent, interesting food. I had the hamachi, the escargot, and the swordfish, while my wife had the gazpacho, crab risotto, and the skate. The hamachi, swordfish, and risotto were standouts, while the gazpacho was a bit underwhelming. I had a phenomenal cocktail called the One Block Down with an unusual combination of mezcal and bourbon.
  19. Magnolia's on King - We went just after they started taking reservations. The bar upstairs is WONDERFUL - unique cocktails (range $12-16) I had not tried before with a range that everyone enjoyed something. We though of trying the appetizers upstairs but figured (wrongly) that we could get them downstairs. Know that they do not server the drink or bar menu down in the restaurant (To risky to carry down the stairs was reason given). Bar is well lit, easy seating that can adjust to different party sizes but I can see it getting to full fairly quickly. I highly recommend 'The Cure' black bottle scotch, ardbeg 10 year, domaine de canton, lemon juice, honey. Generous sized drinks and worth the higher pricing. The restaurant has some serving issues but those were all due to being just opened (wait staff not able to answer questions and having to go check), they seemed pretty inexperienced. Wine list is good, cocktails downstairs are pretty simple, but the southerner in our group was pleased to see the multiple Fanta options. Dinner was good but not great, my options were limited because of spice levels (many options are heavy on the hot side). I had the Bison Meatloaf which was good but not great. Others had Catfish (Very happy), Fried Chicken (good but not great (If you want great see my review of Tupelo's )) and Denver Steak. (Range $18-35) portion size was good. Dessert Cobbler was good as was the Smore's bread pudding but neither worth a special trip The Southerner with us said the corn bread was to sweet but the greens were wonderful, though the cobbler should have been double crusted. The chef came out and talked to us for feedback (though later on our Southerner wanted to add some more but there is no email address on the web page) he seemed sincere but also talked down other restaurants when we gave comparisons. Overall I'll be back for the bar and might give the restaurant another try in a few months once they settle in but not sure since so many better options in that area. Well lit and Grandma friendly but not sure will make the list to take her to.
  20. Met up with some friends on Friday night to try Smokehouse Live in Leesburg. No better way I can think of to describe this place than suburban Hill Country - same system, same basic theme, very similar menus. The good - The bar area here is bright and very open with friendly service, a limited bar menu and good happy hour prices. Nice selection of bourbons, some cocktails during happy hour for $5 and a tap selection that goes beyond the Shiner limitations of HC downtown. But then... The rest - Hill Country (normally I would say so many comparisons to HC would be unfair, but they don't seem to even be trying to hide the imitation, so...) somehow manages to pull off sticking a room full of bench tables together and have it not seem totally cold and impersonal. Smokehouse Live can't say the same - plywood walls, disjointed floor plan and an oddly cramped 'market' ordering area made me miss some cheap and tacky kitsch and finished hardwood. But hey, you're here for the barbeque, right? The pulled pork was ok - not awesome, but not bad - wished it had more bbq flavor. I will admit - I order lean brisket - and am used to this being a bit more on the dry side than the 'wet' orders, but this was so dry it was crumbling apart. The beef shoulder (crod) is just a hard cut to work with - even after trimming visible tough areas I still had trouble chewing (not sure this is as much the restaurants fault as just a tough cut). Texas Chainsaw sauce was ok, though could have used more heat for being the 'spicy' version; eastern carolina was a little close to being straight vinegar for me. Please, for the love of God, if you only read one sentence in this write up, read this one: A 16oz portion of collard greens will cost you $14.25. Just to make sure we didn't miss anyone there - A 16oz portion of greens will cost you $14.25. Now to be fair, your little order card does list the price for each side in tiny little numbers inside the bubbles. Generally being a person who is not so concerned with price that I thought a side order of collard greens for two people might break me, I didn't really pay attention - after all, its a side of greens and some turkey that was left over from the day before. I would love to see their food cost for this. Or for the $14.25 portion of macaroni and cheese. Or for the $14.25 portion of lima beans and corn. But moving on... It was our server's first day, or at least appeared to be, so I hold her completely blameless but when you are half way through your meal and still do not have someone take your drink order, AND when you have flagged down three different staff members begging for drinks and then a manager, AND when you give you drink order to all three of these staff members never to see said drinks, it gets old. I'll still never understand why, when the new server finally appeared, she made an Arnold Palmer using Mountain Dew, but at this point I was beyond questioning. Bottom line - would totally go back for happy hour at the bar and listen to some music, but the dinner experience was approaching 'one-and-done' levels of not good. P.s. didn't want to start a new topic for a restaurant so far out that wasn't good, but please feel free to move as needed
  21. We dined at All Set for the first time a few weeks ago. I must confess that I am Friends with the Owner and Chef as well as one of the bartenders. Right at 5 pm on a Saturday, we had the Chick Peas Fries and some Oysters and Clams to start. The fries were good fresh tasting and accompanied by two dipping sauces. The oysters were Wellfleets and they were expertly served. Chef sent me a few others to try but I forget their name. Clams were ultra fresh tasting as well. The point here is the presentation. It doesn't get much better IMO. Care was taken with this. Well thought out and executed. We ordered the Salmon (Norway) and Short Ribs. Both were great. The Short Ribs were classic comfort and the Salmon was perfectly cooked. I really enjoyed the lentils with the salmon ( I was not sure I would). The point so far is that you can tell that they care about what they're putting out! Dessert: I forget exactly what it was. One lighter one with Olive oil vanilla ice cream? and one chocolate peanut butter slice of decadence. I believe the recipes for dessert were crafted by the former pastry chef at Volt. Bottom Line is that we were served fresh food with care in a beautiful and inventive setting. They are a young restaurant and an independent one as well. I would definitely recommend ALL SET to anyone. Even the kids menu is well thought out. Please pardon my lack of detail. Ooh! The bar serves up some fun drinks. I had a Perfect Storm and with dessert a "Grape Drink" the latter of which was my favorite of the two for its inventiveness.
  22. Being new to donrockwell.com I decided to look around and see what I could find about the places in my neighborhood. I was a little surprised that there were not any posts about Sixth Engine even though they've been open for over three years now. Perhaps that's because it wallows in mediocrity. Don't get me wrong, they've always had a consistently good brunch and well cooked burgers. The problem for me is that much of the rest of the menu has always been a little 'heavy handed' when it comes to ingredients and sauces. Thankfully, the chef who opened the place, Paul Madrid, has left and things are starting to get better. Additions like the arugula salad and roasted cauliflower with "Ling Sauce", which is very much a sweeter General Tso's sauce, have injected life back into the menu. Hopefully they will continue down this path. The bar program, on the other hand, came flying out of the gate and hasn't lost its momentum. Draft beers rotate regularly to highlight the best of the season and the bartenders take pride in not only making the drinks, but also the ingredients, creating custom shrubs and tonics to use in their creations. While I realize the latter can be found at craft cocktail bars all over the city, it's surprising to find in a place that has the vibe of a glorified TGI Fridays. The layout is more on par with the food than the bar program. Do not go there if you're looking for a quiet evening. The bar bleeds into the downstairs dining area and with TVs in both, it can quickly become a situation where you have to yell at the person across the table from you in order for them to hear you easily. The beautiful upstairs dining room has exposed brick walls and hardwood floors that echo all of the activity in the kitchen that adjoins it. Surprisingly the outdoor patio is the least noisy of the three even with the traffic on Mass Ave just a few feet away. There are a plethora of tables and the service is good. The sun us really the only enemy. During happy hour you're fine and in the shade while the sun scorches Philos' patio across the street. During brunch though you are in the sun's crosshairs and it will roast you at your table even with umbrellas in place to help prevent that. At the end of the day Sixth Engine is a nice place to get a drink and maybe have something to eat if it speaks to you. Otherwise, have a few drinks and walk around the corner to Wise Guy Pizza and score a slice of pie.
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