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  1. Past hour
  2. I have friends who live in Old Town and dine out frequently, lovers of Italian cuisine. They pass up Hank's Pasta Bar. They say at best it's middling cuisine. The cocktails can be pretty good, but the food is nothing memorable.
  3. Hat Yai, the new Belmont location. The Hat Yai combo with puffy, stretchy roti, thick and darkly flavorful curry, crispy/juicy/tasty fried chicken, including an extra wing, ordinary sticky rice, and various pickly/saucy elements. The food is absolutely divine if you are into SE Asian flavors, the vibe is a bit overly trendy, young, and shiny new, and the tall stools are deeply uncomfortable (hard, weird height). I almost went to the other location to have the same meal again the next day but ran out of time. Chicken rice at Nong's Khao Man Gai. It's sad that the original and other carts are gone, but they have two teeny restaurants serving, theoretically, the same food. While this was pretty and yummy and I was happy have this dish again, it didn't blow me away like the dish I remembered (I've had it twice from the original cart, years ago). The soup is blander, with no pickled taste. The sauce is fiery sweet but not...hmmm...life changing, which is kind of how I felt the first time I took a bite. It was nice. It's a PDX institution. But for my $ and calories, I'd go to Hat Yai every time unless I was feeling like I needed a cleansing meal. Finally, no pics but I went to the Din Tai Fung location at the Washington Square mall. It was a rather long line for a weeknight but a lot of fun per usual. Pork XLB are still delicious and perfect, and the vegetable dumplings are good for vegetable dumplings if you must, but the brand-new fish dumplings were not a dish that I'd order again. I had to try them in my quest for the West Coast version of China Bistro's sliced fish dumplings, but the mushy filling is overly fishy yet not particularly flavorful (I did ask in advance and knew it was not a sliced fish filling). Meh.
  4. Today
  5. Date night! Walked in to Tagliata after an exhausting day of administrative tasks in Forestville, DC, and Pentagon City. Left the DC area right at the beginning of rush hour, and found a parking spot right next to Tagliata at 7 PM. Walked in, horribly underdressed and very grumpy, and found ourselves two seats at the bar. (Shoutout to my parents, who took care of the boys for two nights while we did work things.) The black label prosciutto di Parma was pricey but worth it, though I wish we had a few more bits of house-made giardiniera. The tuna crudo was served with these delicious black rice crisps that added savory crunch, with tiny dollops of spicy chili oil to add just a little tickle. The asparagus bruschetta had just enough speck to give the dish body without overwhelming the asparagus. Main courses were predictable: scallops for her, and softshell crabs for me. The unbilled star in the green and wax bean salad was the generous portion of frisee, whose bitterness worked extremely well with the sweet crab and the sour mustard vinaigrette. The scallops were cooked just to the right of pink in the middle, M's preferred temperature. Normally we share but I wasn't give the chance to taste these scallops -- they are her favorite, and she hasn't had them in over 18 months. Overall: a fun, hip place, terrific seafood. The live piano player was a great touch. Priced at the DC-level, not what I am used to for Baltimore, but the quality was commensurate with the cost.
  6. Was just thinking about Joe H. Where did he go? Didn't always agree with him, but he always had an interesting opinion.
  7. Hah. All above is true. BTW: I like the training and service. Staff there does a great job. Staff with high grade individual skills do better. Great training. Other employers covet the training GAR gives to employees. I don't blame them. Training is very hit or miss per establishment.
  8. I don't know why these restaurants are treated as separate entities. The only things that are really different are the names. Try to order a salad without sun-dried cranberries. I know, I've asked. Sorry, that's the way it comes. I say I don't like gummy bears or ju-ju-bes in my salad, and I'm told I can pick them out. Try to figure out what a short-smoked salmon is. Every GARG restaurant has it on the menu. Jambalaya pasta? I prefer my jambalaya with rice. Drunken rib-eye? It's prepared in salt-forward sludge masquerading as marinade. There's no real difference in these restaurants, even down to the deafening din that characterizes the ambience. Why do we even break them out separately in the Dining Guide, while clumping all of the Clyde's restaurants together?
  9. A 7-2 consumer friendly ruling from SCOTUS this morning. Here's how Sean O'Leary (Irish Liquor Lawyer) described it.......... Writing for the majority Justice Sam Alito made a statement that is going to resonate in the liquor industry for years to come. He held that reading Granholm as only extending to producers has no sound basis and Granholm stands for the proposition that the Commerce Clause prohibits state discrimination against all out-of-state economic interest. As the debate over how Granholm applies is at issue in many wine shipping cases, Justice Alito may have ended the debate and provided a clear principle for these cases that were previously muddled by the lack of clarity after Granholm. Only time will tell how lower courts apply this principle, but the probability is high they will follow it! Justice Alito made a very clear statement today. Here is the excerpt from the opinion. “The Association resists this reading. Although it concedes (as it must under Granholm) that §2 does not give the States the power to discriminate against out-of-state alcohol products and producers, the Association presses the argument, echoed by the dissent, that a different rule applies to state laws that regulate in-state alcohol distribution. There is no sound basis for this distinction. The state laws at issue in Granholm discriminated against out-of-state producers. See 883 F. 3d, at 621. And Granholm never said that its reading of history or its Commerce Clause analysis was limited to discrimination against products or producers. On the contrary, the Court stated that the Clause prohibits state discrimination against all “‘out-of-state economic interests,’” Granholm, 544 U. S., at 472 (emphasis added), and noted that the direct-shipment laws in question “contradict[ed]” dormant Commerce Clause principles because they “deprive[d] citizens of their right to have access to the markets of other States on equal terms.” Id., at 473 (emphasis added). Granholm also described its analysis as consistent with the rule set forth in Bacchus, Brown-Forman Distillers Corp. v. New York State Liquor Authority, 476 U. S. 573 (1986), and Healy that “‘[w]hen a state statute directly regulates or discriminates against interstate commerce, or when its effect is to favor in-state economic interests over out-of-state interests, we have generally struck down the statute without further inquiry.’” Granholm, supra, at 487 (quoting Brown-Forman, supra, at 579; emphasis added).
  10. Tomato and Zucchini Gratin. The recipe calls it a Provencal style gratin, although I can't find any references to a similar egg based dish in Provencal cooking. Blame the NY Times.
  11. Papa Hadyn in east Portland. Buttery, cheesy (brioche is grilled with butter and parmesan) decadence in the form of a croque monsieur with cucumber salad. The cucumbers were a better choice than the plain salad, but I do wish that the dressing had more dijon bite, or a vinaigrette dressing to better counterbalance the sandwich. The main was HEAVY but good but the star of the place is dessert - so many gorgeous cakes and pastries to choose from! Every desert brought out was head-turn worthy pretty. Our mint chocolate cake slice was moist and delicate, yet rich with chocolate and mint flavor, with fun crunchy accents. Worth the splurge. Also, this location has a lovely outdoor garden patio seating area. The flowers were in full bloom, the hedge protected from most traffic noises/smells, and the umbrellas kept us cool on a sunny day. It was not exactly what I'd choose for myself but a wonderful pampering experience of a business lunch!!
  12. We enjoyed a terrific dinner last night. Although we had studied the menu last week, we were happily surprised by a new one. The service and food were perfect! The sautéed rouget atop a white gazpacho cream was a great pairing of cold and hot. I am a fan of the lobster French toast to share and was not disappointed. Lamb and sweetbreads were perfect. Chef is a master of temperature and textures and of course taste. Almost too full for Dessert and coffee but we persevered. I was intrigued by the small hammer and found this very interesting information from the hammer museum https://www.hammermuseum.org/hammer-highlight-toffee-hammers-and-suffragettes
  13. Last night was a casserole night. I made a summer squash gratin -- yellow squash, zucchini, and chard stems layered with cracker crumbs and spicy cheddar, topped with mozzarella and more crumbs and dotted with butter. I also had bought some ravioli at TJ's that was filled with cremini mushrooms, kale, and chard, plus several cheeses and decided to dress them with more of the same. I sauteed some sliced creminis and garllc, and added some dehydrated onions that had been soaked in a little chicken stock plus torn rainbow chard leaves to make a sauce of sorts. That cooked down a bit while the ravioli went into boiling water. I mixed the vegetables with the cooked ravioli and topped with some mozzarella and chopped fresh tomato. Everything heated through in the oven for just a few minutes at the end of the squash casserole cooking time.
  14. La Formagerie is my top choice for Old Town, meals there always delighted me. I find it a better value than Hank's or Vermillion, I know that's not saying much.
  15. I am going to throw in some suggestions- Second Magnolia. What about Bastille? It might not be in the part of Old Town you wanted. Hummingbird has a nice view and is solid foodwise, not exciting, but solid. Hank's Pasta Bar is fine, it's pretty easy to find parking in North Old Town so that is a plus. I think the Regular Hank's is better, but mostly seafood. Virtue has a nice varied menu, I find it very stable in consistency with good options. I really like their salads. I haven't been to Urbano 116, but really want to try it out. Might be worth a gander. I like many items at Sunday in Saigon, it's not as good as some places in the Eden Center, or some other Vietnamese favorites of mine, but you can get some decent items. Skipping Japanese and seafood suggestions. If you don't want pricey, I will leave off La Fromagerie, Brabo, Landini Brothers, The Warehouse.
  16. I’ve used Main Event recently and had issues with getting food for our vegan guests that was actually vegan. If you don’t have special needs for the day of it is probably okay.
  17. I should add that I'm almost surely in the minority here - she's actually making money at the Hank's restaurants; 15 RIA was quite good under her tenure, but probably not sustainable given how empty it often was. Think, "A medium-sized step below Sfoglina, both in quality and price" - both restaurants feel like "concepts" to me; her "Meat and Three" specials at 15 RIA felt like they came from the heart (this is more a comment on restaurant economics and the reality of DC, than it is any type of criticism).
  18. Thank you. The only place of hers I have been to is Twisted Horn/Hank's Cocktail bar, and clearly that has been a while.
  19. Past six months? It was "okay," nothing special, very formulaic (but, I should add, I think Hank's Oyster Bar is pretty mediocre - I think Jamie Leeds' peak (thus far, and I'm talking in terms of producing good cuisine) was at 15 RIA).
  20. Has anyone been to Hank's Pasta bar lately? That's been highly recommended elsewhere.
  21. Don't know if this is still true or not, but it used to be that Silverado had the highest profit margin of any of them -- probably due to lower rents & smaller size for said wholly unattractive strip mall location.
  22. For Italian, A La Lucia, on Madison and? N. Royal, I think. A bit worn around the edges, but the food is consistently good, and the service warm and relaxed. And if you have room for dessert, excellent pistachio gelato. Also, parking is a bit easier up at that end of town. And Bastille for French, I think a little pricier. On the west side of Old Town, Oronoco or Princess and.....Fayette?
  23. Yesterday
  24. Cocktails These are going to almost all be in Miami Beach based on one ridiculous evening of drinking that got a bit out of hand. Keep in mind that cocktails in Miami beach will be $15+ so can get expensive quickly. On the other hand, there's some truly good cocktail places out there. Miami Beach Repour - Probably the cheapest drinks (don't lower your expectations too far, its still Miami Beach) and probably my favorite of the evening. Very laid back vibe next to the lobby of the Albion Hotel. Regent Cocktail Club - The smallest cocktail list of the places we visited (though still with a full bar), but well made drinks. There was also live music that was quite good and was nice to sit and relax and listen to some music with a couple cocktails. Sweet Liberty - Dimly lit, we sat at the far end of the bar and the bartender helped us immediately. Good cocktails, imaginative, and made well. Brickell Blackbird Ordinary - Solid place for a solid cocktail. Not sure what it's like on the weekends as some of the pictures definitely look different than what it was like during the week (very laid back) Things to Do I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Wynwood Walls. Most of Wynwood is adorned with graffiti that is amazingly interesting to walk around and look at. And then there's the art exhibit called Wynwood Walls. Absolutely amazing. Graffiti artistry at its highest in a curated exhibit. Entrance is free. You could easily spend a couple hours here if you were so inclined. I think we spent a bit over an hour and it's one of my favorite parts of the city.
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