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  1. Kanji-Kana is a very sweet and welcoming place on the 3rd floor of 1018 Vermont Ave. NW. I went today for the first time because I had to be downtown all day for boring seminar, ugh. This review by Tim Carman gives a good explanation of what is wonderful and what is acceptable about it. I will not say that the ramen was particularly great, but the experience was in fact great: a quiet, sweet, and welcoming place with a warm bowl of noodles. Their website is a weird little thing powered by GrubHub for some reason. All I'm saying is that on a day when you are downtown and want a quick respite with some very decent food and a lovely vibe, check it out.
  2. Expansion is always a scary word for acolytes of a particular restaurant. Although it often results in financial stability, a new creative avenue, and the room to retain or promote staff -- as a selfish group, us diners demand our favorite chef to be chained to his or her one restaurant, serving us with the dedication of a lifelong host. For Hugo Ortega, who is the American dream personified (Mexican immigrant dishwasher to James Beard award winner), expansion is just another way to demonstrate why he’s one of the best chefs in Texas. Xochi is the newest of the four restaurants he runs in Houston, opened this year, and a no better argument for adding even more to his mini-empire. Occupying one corner of the brand-new and gorgeous Marriott Marquis downtown, Xochi is sleek and lively, keeping up the modern aesthetic that Mexican restaurants have finally been allowed to embrace nationwide. The food follows suit; progressive and rooted in history (mostly Oaxacan) at the same time, for an all-together exciting meal that deviates just enough from Ortega’s other restaurants. Infladita de conejo ($14) -- Ortega’s version of the Olvera-popularized street snack. A puffed black tortilla cradled a sizable portion of braised rabbit, the bitterness of the fried tortilla balancing out the sweet, tomato-braised conejo. Red and green sauces with raisins and almonds rounded out the dish. Something old, something new, but a complete success. Puerco en mole de chicatana ($15) -- The pork ribs are fine on their own; obviously distant in comparison to the smoked meats found at true barbecue pits. But the real magic is when you pull apart the meat and slather on the “ant” mole served underneath. Ortega has long welcomed the presence of insects in his cuisine, and ants are what I assume account for the acidic and sweet notes in the otherwise hearty mole. Add the mole-doused rib meat to the accompanying corn tortillas (which probably have an interesting heritage, as they were a pale gold color and flecked with blue), and you have one hell of a taco. Helado de maiz ($9) -- Two types of ice cream here: one sweet corn, the other queso fresco. The former is playfully represented as baby ears of corn. Crumbled corn cookie and a dab of cinnamon-y, atole-influenced corn cream acted as garnish. Very fun and just right for those who pass on cloying or heavy final courses. I expect Xochi to be better a year from now, as any weak points get discarded and the best dishes are fine-tuned into perfection. Right now it’s excellent, and I would urge anyone traveling to the city to make time for a meal there. Houston is lucky to have Hugo Ortega, and his followers are lucky to have so many different ways to enjoy his cooking.
  3. Yes, you need to jump on the tickets as soon as they are released. We were there on a Tuesday with 11:30 tickets and observed that a number of people on the standby line were granted admission between 11 and 11:30. The standby line was no more than 50 people at that time. The Broad opens at 11 during the week.
  4. I know it's not really fair to judge a restaurant after one lunch, and an RW lunch at that, but since it's been open too long not to have a thread, I will anyway. The simple description, and I apologize to the current team that may or not being trying to avoid comparisons, is that it's essentially Vidalia with slightly different decor. And since I loved Vidalia, I mean that in a good way. Really, if you had told me I had just eaten at Vidalia after an interior makeover, I'd have no reason to doubt you. Started with a delicious basket of banana bread with whipped butter and a fruit compote. First course: Chesapeake Sugar Toads new orleans bbq, popcorn grits, pickled okra Essentially a poor man's shrimp and grits, except that I prefer sugar toad to shrimp any day of the week. If you've never had sugar toad (a little Chesapeake Bay puffer fish) before, you should. The only place I've had it before is, well, Vidalia. It's got a taste and texture somewhere between white fish, crab and shrimp, and was perfect with the toothy grits and sauce. Second course: Confit Duck Leg corn & tasso ham maque choux, duck sausage, pickled peach jam A perfect rainy day course. A nicely meaty leg with crisp skin...the sides had a touch of sweetness that cut through the duck really well. Dessert: Finnish Aura Blue Cheese concord grapes, rye bread, candied walnuts, spruce tip honey Simply a great combination of flavors and textures. So again, I hope I'm not insulting Chef Hamilton in any way by saying, in a obviously small sample size, that this place tastes like a re-born Vidalia. I'll certainly be back.
  5. For all you Chris Bianco fans, here's an interesting article from the LA Times talking about his new LA project and book. As one of the folks who has made the Pizzeria Bianco pilgrimage, I'm super excited about the anticipated opening of a location in the ROW DTLA, a developing high-end, mixed-use area next to the Arts District. Excited enough, probably, to make the trip down with two kids under 3 (yeah, that excited)!
  6. Grand Central Market In 1963, As Shot By An Oscar-Winning Cinematographer, by Oren Peleg, Jul 18, 2017 12:07 pm, on laist.com.
  7. Grabbing dinner with a former boss and current mentor the first week of July to catch up. Needs to be somewhere in DC where he can find parking relatively early. While I would love to go to Mirabelle, that is probably a bit too pricey to ask of my mentor who will likely be paying. Thinking Oval Room, Central, or Fiola. Any other suggestions/thoughts would be much appreciated.
  8. The Grist Mill Restaurant in the Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC is seeking an experienced line cook to join our PM culinary team. The perfect candidate will have several years of cooking experience in either independent restaurants or hotels. Are you tired of working long hours, in difficult conditions, for little pay? Do you want to practice your craft in a positive and team oriented environment? Are you creative and passionate about cooking? Do you want to work in a stable and respectful environment? If so, this may be ideal for you. Executive Chef Will Artley is looking to bolster his staff with the addition of a serious culinary professional. Competitive pay, Healthcare, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance, 401k, paid holidays, Vacations, and Personal Time off are just a start! The shift is usually 2:30 until 11pm during the week, and 3 until 11:30pm on weekends. Please email your resume if you are interested in joining our team to brian.reymann@hilton.com
  9. Walked by this place on the way to what would prove to be an excellent lunch at Siroc. Anyone tried it yet? Initial Yelp reviews are outstanding. It's right across 14th st from Buredo, in the old Lighter Cafe space at the top of the Metro escalator. Great to have some good felafel within walking distance of my office.
  10. Evidently, there is already one in DC and there will be a second location. Has anyone tried this place out? I don't really know what to think. Is this what its coming to? Credit--Washingtonian.
  11. I had lunch at "Harriet's" today in the Hotel Harrington. Harry's is the Pub, Harriet's is the family restaurant, and Ollie's Trolley is nearby and may be affiliated. Harriet's is somewhat large, not very busy, and mediocre in quality. However, the combination of location and reasonable price are hard to beat. Plenty of competition in the immediate area, no doubt, but a moderately priced sit-down restaurant in that area of Penn Quarter is a rarity. For $10.95, I had the roast beef sandwich on whole wheat, with sides of chips and cole slaw. Adding the house's steak sauce that was on every table made it a reasonably tasty dish, but it was otherwise unspectacular.
  12. NMWA has free admission all weekend, January 21 & 22, 2017. Great opportunity to see some great art for free.
  13. My co-worker asked me for recommendations on an inexpensive but good sushi place between work (downtown DC) and her apartment (Woodley Park). She generally goes to Umi in Woodley Park but says she ends up spending more than she'd like there ($25) and is looking for other options. I am not familiar with the options on that side of town and could only think of Kotobuki in the Palisades or Momiji in Chinatown. Is there any other place I can recommend to my co-worker? I want to keep my reputation as the office guru of DC restaurants. Thank you!
  14. NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection opens September 30, 2016 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This exhibition is a collaboration with the famed Rubell Family Collection, and features work from 37 artists from 15 countries. Established in 1964 in New York City by Don and Mera Rubell, the Rubell Family Collection is one of the world’s largest privately owned contemporary art collections. The collection is exhibited within a 45,000-square-foot re-purposed Drug Enforcement Agency confiscated goods facility in Miami. The Rubells might be familiar to DC-ites, they are responsible for buying and renovating the Capitol Skyline Hotel in SW DC. In another interesting tidbit, Don is the brother of Steve Rubell, co-owner of the infamous nightclub, Studio 54. More great art coming to DC!
  15. Website Don't shoot the messenger: The Trump International Hotel is opening on Sep 12, 2016 - I had no idea it was so close to opening. "Win or Lose, Donald Trump is Coming to Pennsylvania Avenue (with His New Hotel)" by Jonathan Mahler on nytimes.com
  16. Stan's Restaurant is in the MacPherson Square area, and is a worthy addition to the Dining Guide. A friend and I both tucked into a club sandwich, which thanks to Mario Batali in Lucky Peach a few years ago, I usually order at my first time in a restaurant because, as he says, "the club sandwich is the most interesting, most telling dish about how hard the kitchen is trying." And so it would be at my first visit to Stan's.... The club sandwich here did not disappoint. The combination of ingredients hit the spot. Filled to the edges of the four triangles, the lettuce was fresh, the bacon was fried in-house, the tomato was fresh and maybe local, the architecture was sturdy, and the satisfaction quotient was high. I had the fries as the side, and almost to my surprise, they were crisp on the outside and soft and hot in the middle. This place is a bit of a dive and somewhat loud, but I can't think of too many reasons not to return when I'm in that neighborhood.
  17. Looking for someplace convenient and inexpensive, we stumbled upon DC Thai not far from the White House. The restaurant is about 3 years old, and is on the 2nd floor of a street front access. Walking into the place, there was a mild odor of day-old seafood and the tables seemed to have a glaze of slightly sticky sediment... Nonetheless, this was pretty decent fare, and at a price that belies the neighborhood. Happy hour deals are great, with most appetizers at $3 or $5, and all wines and beers at $5. I had the "Capital Hill" which is stir fried beef with fried basil on top. Save for one tough bite, it was very good. Companion had the "FBI Undercover" which was a seafood stir-fry. We both agreed to hit this spot again. This is not Chada Thai in Las Vegas or Elephant Jumps in Merrifield, but this is sound Thai food at a good price in an atypical location for value.
  18. Sounds like part of Ardeo+Bardeo will be re-vamped into Bindaas, an Indian street food restaurant with Vikram Sunderam overseeing the food: "Rasika Chef Vikran Sunderam to Oversee Upcoming Indian Street-Food Restaurant" by Becky Krystal on washingtonpost.com At 50 seats, I'm assuming the smaller side space that used to be Bardeo will become Bindaas. Targeted opening early August, but you know how that goes. According to the article, Ardeo+Bardeo will continue with a dining room and the upstairs patio.
  19. Samurai Noodle, on Durham in the Heights opened in 2015 as the 1st Houston location of a small Seattle, Washington chain of ramen joints. I stopped in for lunch yesterday, and was surprised to find a nearly full restaurant. Given the heat/humidity, a steaming bowl of tonkotsu didn't really grab me, but Samurai offers 3 tsukemen options: a cold fish-based broth (described as "sweet"), a "peppery" chicken broth, and a spicy version of the chicken. I went with the basic peppery chicken broth ("Tetsu-max"), with "firm" noodles (you can specify the chewiness of your noodles, from soft to extra-firm). The house-made noodles were indeed firm, and I would not recommend venturing below this level, if you aren't into mushy noodles. The broth was strong and salty, as it should be, augmented with shredded pork, bamboo, and bits of nori. Condiments on the table included pickled ginger and chili sauce if you cared to dress up your bowl further. The portion of noodles was reasonable for lunch, though I imagine if I were here for dinner, I might ask for an extra serving, or maybe order some gyoza or karaage to start. There were a couple families with small children, and they have high chairs available if you need that sort of thing.
  20. I am taking 3 or 4 people out to dinner. Last time I took one of them to a very nice place, and expensive (Marcel's). It was great but he commented on the price saying something like it must be nice to be in my business (health non-profit...funding from for-profits). Anyway, ignoring the fact that he DOES work for a for-profit, I want to take him and some others from his industry out to dinner to talk about a difficult topic. What's good, quite, near downtown, open on Monday, has good service but is not "expensive". How expensive is Corduroy. I would love to go back there. Or, someplace that will give menus without prices and just take my credit card. Must serve alcohol.
  21. We'd like to go out to lunch after a graduation ceremony at DAR Constitution Hall on a Thursday in June. Is there anything you'd recommend that is within walking distance? If not, we'll head back to Arlington/Alexandria for something. There will probably be only 5 or 6 of us, so we have no need for special seating/dining room. What would make a nice celebration in the DAR area or near home?
  22. 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.
  23. Ocean Prime. Looks like another expense account steak and seafood chain is opening up just blocks from the White House, at 14th and G in the old Ceiba space. "OCEAN PRIME is much more than just a steakhouse or a seafood restaurant. OCEAN PRIME is an extraordinary dining destination." "We deliver more than just in amazing food and drinks: We create remarkable experiences." "Stylish attire suggested." I'd yawn, but I can't work up the energy.
  24. After the Post listed their cheese pie in their cheesy-dish guide i thought I'd stop by and get some carryout, and i was glad i did. The shop seems mostly designed for lunch--they close at 6. they have a number of savory pies, and a couple sweet ones too, and at least one cake and some salads in a case. the savory pies come in spirals and rectangles, and large and small sizes, so if you want you can sample more than one pie. most of the pies feature cheese and most may be vegetarian--i've had plain feta, spanakopita, cheese and olive, and cheese potato and leek. They were all tasty. They make their phyllo in house and you can tell--it's quite different than the usual stuff, thicker, you can taste the olive oil, and just overall much more flavorful. it's hard to explain but usually i feel like phyllo mostly adds crunch. theirs is an ingredient, not just a wrapper, and adds its own flavor as well.I was slightly apprehensive about getting an all-feta pie, but their feta (as the sweetheart of a proprietor informed me) is from greece and quite different. she was so proud of it she gave me a mini pie to try right there to show how mild it was, and she was right, it's very good. It was also lovely to talk to someone so proud of what she was doing, and her ingredients that she just had to have you taste her product. if you get carry-out, you pop the pie into the oven for a few minutes and it crisps up beautifully. i think that with a salad, one pie is more than enough for dinner for one person.
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