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  1. Today
  2. Three dinners in Sacramento this week, plus a few other things.1st, a quick solo dinner at Osaka Sushi was fine. The pepperfin white tuna was an okay starter, albacore sashimi sliced a bit too thickly served with ponzu and jalapeños. The Katsu-don was good, albeit too large, with the cutlet being much bigger than necessary. A group dinner at Il Fornaio was just fine. the Italian caesar was a very large salad, but the dressing was very nice and the shaved parmesan ample and enjoyable. The penne con salsiccio was good, but nothing spectacular. The restaurant is very large, with a number of private rooms and semi-private booths. Finally, a dinner at Ella dining room and bar was the clear highlight. The house special gin and tonic was one of the better G&Ts I've had in recent memory; I'm typically more than happy with a nice gin, a nice tonic and some ice, but this complicated version was really impressive. The wine card was equally impressive and deep, as should be expected, in California, with lots of wines with vintages going back into the 70s (and prices going up in to mid triple digits). The steak tartare I had was very good, served with a large split open garlic popover (of which I would have happily eaten another). The scallop entree was really great, three perfectly seared scallops on a very fresh corn/mascarpone "chutney". It might sound a bit strange, but it really worked. Service was good and dealt with our slightly tight schedule very well. I'd happily go back to explore the menu and the wine list further. Coffee at Oblivion Comics and Coffee was really, really good. They use Chocolate Fish roasters, and do a great job. Small coffee shop with a comic book store (as implied by the name), and a fun place to hang out (or even work for a little bit). Grace Coffee Roasters made a top notch cappuccino as well--this small shop in a nondescript office building was a nice surprise; it doesn't look like much but they make a good coffee. Dumplings at Hao Bao were also good--these fast food-style dumplings are flavorful and satisfying.
  3. Charles Town/Ranson Had a good chopped brisket sandwich at Tee Dawg's BBQ on Washington St. in Charles Town this summer. Place is only open Thursday-Sunday and several menu items were crossed out (shortly after opening, so not like they had sold out ). It wasn't clear whether you could get the meats in non-sandwich form. Bushel & Peck a few blocks away on Washington St. sells produce and other foods from local producers. Step in Time Bake Shop sells pepperoni rolls and other baked goods out of an awkward location at the entrance to the Ranson Civic Center, which was being set up for a Quinceanera when I stopped in. At $5.50 apiece the pepperoni rolls are a lot more expensive than the Fairmont/Clarksburg places but they are pretty substantial. There was some cheese baked into a the bread which I don't think is standard.' Are there any decent places for a weekday lunch in Berkeley Springs?
  4. Yesterday
  5. All in Maryland. Baker's Pit Beef and Tavern (Baltimore) Bird's Nest BBQ (Bel Air) Charcoal Style (White Marsh) Char'd BBQ (Upperco) Expressway Pit Beef (Odenton) Jake's Grill (Cockeysville) Pioneer Pit Beef (Catonsville) Pit Boys (Annapolis) Shore BBQ Company (Easton) Smoky's BBQ (Eldersburg) Taylor's BBQ (Salisbury) Honorable Mention: The Blues BBQ Company (Frederick); the Canopy (Ellicott City); Chaps ( Baltimore); Smokin’ Joes Grill (Dundalk).
  6. FOH staff at sfoglina are being trained right now. By the end of the session they will know more about pasta than I know (and I've been cooking and working with it for 50 years). Good for them Why does pasta taste so good in restaurants?? They use a lot of cream. Yes they can do it without dairy. It won't taste as good. How much cream do I use?? Not much. They are better.
  7. Anju opened in the old Mandau space, and we went to try it. Cool space with exposed brick, rough surfaces, and multiple levels. Food ranged from ok to very good. Our favorites were charred kimchi pancake, korean sweet potato with honey butter, and many "panchan" -- little side dishes with various kimchis, marinated veg, etc. A salad was so-so. Seafood noodle stew was solid. Korean rice cakes were tasty, but one of us thought the setup was a bit bland. Bibim bap with tofu was disappointing; no crunchy bits in the rice and not much flavor other than chili sauce we added ourselves. The biggest disappointments were beverages and service. We had several disappointing cocktails. Our waiter disappeared for long stretches. He repeatedly got one person's drink order and walked away before others could give theirs. He dripped red sauce on someone's white shirt. And while he was often good about refilling water, he was nowhere to be found while we ate our spiciest dishes. The place has its charms, but I'll give it a little while to mature before I go back.
  8. B and I prefer non-alcoholic drinks whenever possible, although there are times when I'll drink wine. This was ok - turmeric grapefruit soda with cardamom. Interesting on paper and nothing to write home about. On the other hand, it wasn't very sweet which I did appreciate. Toast points, warn goat cheese with raspberries and plums Way too much toast and it shows a stunning lack of imagination for $16. Baked butter beans, feta, oregano pesto and breadcrumbs Seared duck breast, fried wing, shelling beans, arugula, shishito peppers Rotisserie chicken, smashed cucumbers, figs and croutons Very good. The red sauce is romesco which provided just enough piquancy without being overbearing. I would not have thought of the combination of fruit and croutons, which worked to my surprise. Grilled broccoli with anchovy, breadcrumbs and lemon On the other hand, the vegetable side ($10) was not as successful. These spears were basically raw minimally cooked and I don't know about you but I am over "tender crisp". Would not order again. Peach cobbler, candied pecans, corn ice cream The dessert was probably the best thing we ate and forgave the sin of being enveloped in a cocoon of sound.
  9. Craving the pork belly tacos at Balo Kitchen today, so headed over to The Block for lunch -- tacos were just as tasty as I remembered. About 25% full at high noon on a gorgeous Saturday, no kids in sports gear so I imagine weekend games were still well underway and led to the relative quiet. While I was there, I also got an order of pork gyoza ($6/6 dumplings) at Bold dumpling shop. The wrappers were excellent, thin, a nicely chewy crispness on the pleated edge. The filling was underwhelming. Texture was good, but it tasted like simply plain ground pork without anything else and was oddly watery -- I'm guessing the watery part came from the steam condensing inside the wrapper. The filling could have used something, almost anything, to punch it up -- minced veggies/garlic, S&P, a dash of soy or mirin or chili flakes or......? So much potential but fell short. I also checked out the ice cream but the case only had 1/3 of the flavors on offer , and what was left didn't tempt me
  10. i'm done with my reviews on the blog of all the meals we ate in dc last month: baby wale hill country laos in town rasika teaism bantam king all my dc reviews can be found here. thanks to all of you for the recommendations. not sure when we'll be back again but i'll definitely hit you all up again. in the meantime, if i can reciprocate with twin cities, los angeles, delhi or bombay recommendations please let me know.
  11. here is the last of my meal reports from our trip to dc last month. we ate a quick lunch at the penn quarter teaism between smithsonian outings. the food was mostly just fine: not bad, not great, mostly just unremarkable (though i did like my chilled carrot soup a lot on that hot, humid day). $80'ish all-in for what we ate and drank (those juices are expensive!) felt like a bit much. but it was also a relief from the heavier eating we'd been doing every day. i'd recommend it for lunch to anyone at the smithsonians all day but i'd not be drawn to return in any other circumstances. here is the link to my full review on my blog.
  12. Yes, unless there's something I don't know, Nasime is the best restaurant in Alexandria right now (and has been since Restaurant Eve closed).
  13. I can never read the Post - who are the others? Pit Beef - Baltimore's Very Own Barbecue Chaps Charcoal Pit Beef Pioneer Pit Beef <--- This is the only place I've tried that's better than The Canopy. The Canopy Pit Beef
  14. Garlic bread Red leaf lettuce, sliced tomato, and vinaigrette Pork and ricotta meatballs over bucatini with marinara sauce The meatballs were great and easy to make. (NYT paywall)
  15. Nasime for Japanese but make sure you have reservations. 8 seats at the open kitchen, tables for about 10 (better be friendly) and one private room that will seat 8 in a pinch). Menu varies every day so I have no idea what you'd eat. Prix fixe of $55/per person for 4 courses one of which will be sashimi. Excellent food.
  16. I had an overnight in Dublin because I flew Aer Lingus to Spain. My impression of Dublin is that it's very expensive. Prices are generally about the same as DC except charged in Euros, so about 10% higher than DC. I ate at L'Gueuleton, and had 3 apps. L'Gueuleton is a Michelin Plate joint and has been around for a long time. It's not at all stuffy, but a bistro atmosphere. I ordered simply and was rewarded with tasty food. It's a short walk from my hotel near Merrion Square (stayed at the Davenport, a converted bank building I think). Foie Gras Parfait with Grape Chutney, Mixed Leaves & Toasted Sourdough €13,5o Pork Cheek Ravioli with Salsify, Sage Butter Emulsion and Crispy Kale €14,5o Crispy Duck Egg in Ketafi with Duck Bacon and Truffle Mayo €11,5o (this is like a scotch egg).
  17. Oh my goodness! Look at this extract about the wines from Andy's latest review: "The wine list was quite extensive but the pricing was outrageous, even by the stratospheric standards of Mayfair. Often with an expensive wine list you can find relief by delving into the obscure regions, but don’t bother here. Chateau Bela 2011 from Slovakia, a collaboration of Egon Muller and Mirsolav Petrech, was listed at £180 (plus service), a little matter of nearly 11 times its retail price of £19 once you factor in the service charge. Matosevic Alba Malvazija Istarska 2017 from Croatia was £59 plus service compared to its shop price of £13. Donnhoff Riesling 2013 was a lovely wine to drink, but was listed at £80 compared to its retail price of £18. Guenoc Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from California was £140 plus service for a wine that costs just £12 in a shop. If you think the really prestige wines might be less marked up then, as The Dread Pirate Roberts said in the wonderful movie ‘The Princess Bride’: “Get used to disappointment”. Chateau Latour 1983 was £2,840 plus service for a bottle whose current market value is £462. I could go on. This is the sort of wine list to drive anyone to drink tap water. If you are determined to drink alcohol then there is some relief in parts of the champagne list, with Ruinart Blanc de Blanc NV at £128 plus service for a bottle that costs £66 in a shop. Otherwise just pray that you are dining with a rich friend with a large expense account. Sadly I wasn’t. Just in case you are contemplating corkage, it is £75 a bottle, with a maximum of three bottles per table."
  18. IIRC, thats a whole. They carved it off the bone for us. In any event, we didn’t finish it. The size may be small by intention. The porterhouse is $145 for 32 oz presumably bone in.
  19. Eric, is this half a tomahawk steak, or a whole one? $140 for this seems extreme; $70, much less so.
  20. Last week
  21. As I recall, the service and the food was excellent but really expensive. We had a ceviche, sweetbread, and tomahawk steak that was a special that day. IIRC, the steak was around $140 but much better than the dairy cow we had at Reverie down the street.
  22. Back when the year was still in its middle age, Steve and I went to Queen's English. While I generally enjoyed the food, I'm not enamored with "fusion" restaurants that tend to charge more because they appeal to a more "sophisticated" clientele. I've never been a fan of the Source, Tiger Fork, etc. and I'm not any more excited about Queen's English simply because the chef is Chinese. Food at these restaurants are not better than at authentic Chinese restaurants. I can see going back as a change of pace but certainly not on a frequent basis. We ordered the fried oysters, enoki mushrooms, tofu purse, typhoon shelter shrimp, cockles, and daikon fritters. I distinctly remember the typhoon shelter shrimp not having the flavor that it's supposed to, i.e., the fried garlic flavor wasn't imparted onto the shrimp.
  23. I don't know if @Genevieve has returned but I'm a big fan of the spicy tonkotsu pork ramen. Excellent with every ingredient. Its currently priced at $12/bowl. Seriously it is damn good!!!!
  24. Very similar to DC Prime in Ashburn is Eddie Merlot's, a smallish chain. They have pretty decent promotions from time to time (1/2 priced wine seasonally Sundays and Mondays, All-you-can-eat crab in the spring, etc.) and steaks are nice. If you enjoy carrot cake, bring a few friends and try theirs...
  25. I haven't been to Oak Steakhouse in Alexandria, but have heard good things, and it looks very cool. Maybe someone else has been?
  26. Dinner last night was cheese and 2 cookies at a meeting. But I did make myself a homemade pate bahn mi for lunch at least.
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