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  1. 12 points
    Headed to Fiola Mare for an early dinner last Saturday, pre-company holiday party. The restaurant was packed, the music was loud, and the atmosphere was hectic. We checked in for our reservation a bit early and were offered a seat at the bar. As we ordered drinks, I perused the wine list. Ruinously priced, many, if not most, bottles at 4x retail or auction. Few bottles of red wine under $100 (unless you like Dolcetto or Lagrein) - nothing from France under $100 - including a cru Beaujolais for $125?! Glanced at the bordeaux list only to see the 2000 Ducru-Beaucalliou pushing $900! I don't begrudge a business their markups, but damn. After a cocktail we chose an '07 barbaresco from Taliano for $130 that didn't seem like highway robbery. Once seated, we ordered two appetizers - first, the Hamachi Sashimi, with marinated eggplant, basil, and olive oil. This was an excellent dish, albeit a bit olive oil heavy. The basil and eggplant added to the hamachi, punching up the flavor but not distracting. Next up were two orders of risotto with white truffles - shaved tableside. The truffles were in great condition, and the captain shaved a generous portion over the two dishes. Great pairing with the barbaresco. We really enjoyed this course, though I'd love pretty much anything with truffles. For mains we had Ora King Salmon, with a mushroom ragout, ditalini pasta and winter truffle and a Bucatini with Red King Prawns, Uni and piment d'espalette. Both mains were excellent - the bucatini was probably the more "interesting" combination of the two, and was really more suited to a white wine, but we did that ourselves. The Salmon paired very well with the barbaresco, but perhaps better with a half bottle of Altesino Brunello that we ordered as well. While we enjoyed both dishses, all fell into the realm of very good, not great. The salmon needed a bit of salt, and the bucatini would have benefited from a bit of acid. Overall, service struggled to keep up with the kitchen. Granted, the place was filled, but we experienced waits to be seated, to receive our cocktails, wine, second half bottle of wine, etc etc. Service was perfunctory, but pleasant enough. The waits were nothing egregious, but enough to be noticed as glasses were empty. I came away thinking a few things - I'm not sure if the goal for Fiola Mare is a Michelin Star but our meal and service in no way merited one, the wine pricing is ruinous, bordering on predatory, and I bet they will do super in Miami.
  2. 11 points
    My wife surprised me with a trip to the Inn for dinner. Until we left, I wasn't completely sure where we were going. She rightfully decided to find a more affordable place to stay, since $800 a night is extremely expensive. We ended up at 1812 Caledonia Farms B&B, which is another story entirely. At $140/night, it was quite a savings. Overall, the every dish we ordered was creative, perfectly prepared, and quite delicious. That said, I have have enjoyed food that's equally as good (or better), and the entirety of the service did not rate 3 Michelin stars. We arrived a bit early, and thought we might have a cocktail at the bar. Since I didn't have time to do any research, I didn't realize the bar is essentially a small waiting area. Nonetheless, we were escorted to our table, which was past the main dining room. I think the area overlooked the court yard--a fire pit was visible outside. Unfortunately, we were seated at a very odd corner table. I say "odd" because there was simply no way for one of the diners to sit directly in front of their place settings. My wife and I looked at one another, and quickly asked to be moved to another table. They moved us to the main dining room to a more conventional two-top. Much more relaxed, we settled in, looking forward to a wonderful experience. We indicated we would like to enjoy cocktails before we started, and quickly found out our primary server was less than engaging. We asked for recommendations, and our server replied simply with "it depends what you like", and nothing more. Again, very unexpected. My wife had read about the truffled popcorn, and we asked if that was available. A bit later, two boxes appeared. It wasn't revolutionary, but it was quite good. I believe the popcorn is normally topped with black truffle shavings, but that wasn't the case with ours. Both of our cocktails were exceptionally well-prepared and delicious. (One was a riff on a gin cocktail, the other a play on a manhattan.) I chose the "Out of the Blue" seafood menu, while my wife opted for "The Good Earth" vegetarian selection, substituting a couple of vegetarian dishes for selections from the other menus. Each menu is $238. As anyone who has been to the Inn knows, the wine list is massive. My wife opted for a single glass, since she was driving, and I opted for the $175 wine pairing. We asked our server for a wine that might carry through my wife's meal, and she decided on a Grenache, which was around $30 per glass. The next "misstep" occurred when the sommelier appeared with my first glass (L. Aubrey Fils, 1er Cru, Jouy-les-Reims, Champagne, France (N.V.) She very briefly described the champagne, but I thought it was very perfunctory. Our cocktail glasses were still half full, so I'm not sure why they decided to begin the dinner service. We both enjoyed a couple of small amuse-bouche, which were quite delicious. Following those, we were presented with a gruyere gougeres and a shot glass of a wonderful cheese soup, enhanced with country ham. Amazing. When our waiter returned, I mentioned that we were in no hurry, and we would like a more leisurely pace. To his credit, the pace of the meal slowed down. Overall, each of the paired wines was a great match for my food, and even though my glasses were never topped off, I thought the relative value was reasonable. That said, the sommelier was going through the motions, only appearing briefly to pour the wines, but never asking what I thought, etc. I'm barely a wine novice, but I've had many more enjoyable interactions with sommeliers at other restaurants. While our server was a bit of a dud, there were plenty of staff members who were funny and engaging. The lack of consistency was a bit puzzling. Based upon our experience, I've enjoyed more value for the money at other places. Two cocktails, a wine pairing, a glass of wine, and two dinners cost $798 before gratuity. (OBTW, two small containers of the truffled popcorn were $12. Each. On to a few food pictures: A Quartet of "Wellfleet Oysters" in Champagne SabayonSpectacular. Very rich and decadent. Paired with the champagne mentioned above. Chilled Baby Leeks with Black Truffle Remoulade. My wife's favorite dish. A "Star-Kissed" Tuna and Foie Gras Confit. Exceptionally delicious. Rich, velvety and savory. Paired with Domaine de la Bergerie, Le Grand Beaupreau Savennieres, Loire Valley, France (2-15) A Turnip Tarte Tatin with Caramelized Onion and Triple Creme Cheese. (Vegetarian). Another highlight. We were informed this was on the menu for the first time. They asked for feedback, and it was all positive. Well balanced textures and flavors, with a perfect warm temperature. Pan-Seared Maine Diver Scallop Perfumed with Curry and Calvados. Paired with Ebony, Chardonnay, Hive, Willamette Valley, Oregon (2014). This was a delightful dish as well. This is the first time I've seen a scallop served sliced. I'd be interested to know why they chose this method. A Marriage of Virginia Bison: *Pepper-Crusted Tenderloin and Braised Short Rib with Seared Foie Gras and Black Truffle Reduction. My wife picked this from the gastronaut menu. I was amazed at the tenderness of the bison, because it was literally "melt in your mouth" texturally. For whatever reason, I enjoyed this dish more than my wife did. Simply outstanding. A Duet of Lobster: Butter Poacched and Cabbage-Wrapped Maine Lobster with Caviar Beurre Blanc. Paired with Domain Blaine-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet, La Boudriotte Premier Cru, Burgundy, France (2016). Another delicious dish. I was very impressed by the relatively plain looking cabbage wrapped lobster. The lobster filling may have been a type of lobster mousse. Delicate and delicious. A Lilliputian Pomegranate and Maple Dreamsicle. We both received this. In hindsight, I should have received the listed Coconut Sorbet with Passionfruit and Ginger Granite. Very tasty nonetheless. Apparently a Pear. Paired with Jorge Ordonez, Victoria #2, Moscatel, Malaga, Spain (2015) This dessert's reputation is well-deserved. Chocolate-Hazlenut Mousse Napoleon. Light, but decadent. Finally, a mystery. (Sort of). Both of these are water glasses. Initially, we both had clear water glasses, but without explanation, my wife's glass was removed and replaced with this oversized blue glass. I finally asked our waiter, who said it was a signal that my wife was not eating seafood. She had indicated she likes a very limited range of seafood (she ordered the scallops), but she obviously does not have an allergy. The glass was comically large. Can anyone help with a better explanation? (I'm not complaining--it was funny)
  3. 11 points
    Marty, I think you're right about the pricing at the Line, but the duck easily feeds four or more, plus the duck and the made-to-order (duck fat) tortillas are pretty rich. (The feast comes with a duck confit salad, too.) Ericandblueboy, I'm fully aware you're no fan of mine, but I have yet to have even a good version of Peking duck at Peter Chang in Bethesda. Then again, my bar is pretty high: Duck de Chine in Beijing.
  4. 10 points
    Seylou is one of the most important food service operations in the DC area. I've been on this board since its inception, and before that eGullet, and before that Chowhound, and almost everything that has been discussed in those 18+ years about what may be "lacking" in DC, or whether or not DC is truly a world-class food city, is represented in Seylou. It's success and future depends on DR.com and other like minded and passionate people to support it, either monetarily or on social media. Seylou literally checks all the boxes: local, organic, sustainable, free-standing, independent, world-class quality, unique, community, I could go on and on. The owners, Jonathan Bethony and Jessica Azeez, work tirelessly and uncompromisingly to put out some of the best breads and pastries in the world. Yes, I said world. Jonathan, who ran the Washington State Bread Lab and started the bread program at Blue Hill for Dan Barber (started as in did everything from selecting the specific wheat, growing, harvest, mill, bake) is doing the same out of Seylou. Nothing here is inexpensive, but it is all reasonably priced. A loaf of bread made from freshly harvested grains from a local Amish farm, milled in full the day of baking, does not come cheaply. But that $11 loaf of pain au levain will last two weeks and is massive, not to mention delicious. So certainly price point is a barrier to entry for most, and Seylou knows this. If you are on SNAP, the discount for bread at Seylou is 50%. Another challenge is the physical appearance of the breads and pastries, specifically the color. Everything is brown to dark brown. It looks burned beyond all hope. The croissants appear as if a single bite will cause the pastry to crumble into dust. There is no "golden" colored anything. The color comes from the whole grains and oils from the entire wheat kernel. That deep brown croissant that looks dry is "OMG this is the best crossant I have ever tasted" as my lovely wife stated oafter her first bite. Cut one in half and it is extraordinary in its lightness, with hundred of airy pockets in between buttery (Trickling Springs) rich dough. Just amazing. You can say the same about the cookies, bialy's, financiers, foccacia, etc. The District is incredibly lucky to have Seylou, and it is a bakery worth a special trip into DC, just as Metier or Komi are. Go. Buy a loaf of bread or as much as you can afford. This place should be a landmark in DC for years to come.* *Climbs down from soapbox.
  5. 10 points
    With a hankering for Peking Duck and bored of going to the same 4-5 places that we always go, my wife and I decided to venture out to Bethesda for a late dinner on Saturday. Wary about what we might come upon based on the reviews we read here, we decided to order "wide" in the hopes that at least two of the things, and most importantly the duck, would be hits. Lucky for us, everything we ordered we loved, and we will certainly be moving this place firmly into our rotation. To start, we got one of our favorite dishes from Arlington, the Dry-fried Eggplant and the Half Duck. The eggplant was fried and spiced to perfection, this would be an awesome snack to have at my Super Bowl party this weekend. The duck was what we were hoping it would be and far superior to the one that I had at Peking Gourmet Inn. Well prepared and plated, this was unctuous without being fatty and greasy, served with lovely light pancakes and fresh, crisp cucumbers and green onions alongside 2 sauces. This is up there with The Source's preparation, leaning more to the traditional, and really delicious if a bit expensive. Already feeling a bit full and satisfied, we realized we over ordered even prior to the huge portions of Double Cooked Pork Belly, Grandma's Country Style Chili Chicken, and Stir Fried Snow Pea Tips arriving. The pork belly has been a favorite in the past in visits to Arlington, and while this version didn't disappoint, it didn't have the level of heat that it has had in the past. I would still order this again, but it was the least popular dish at the table. My wife loved the chicken, which came with a 4 pepper rating on the menu and was way too spicy for my taste. The snow pea tips, which were initially ordered as just a way to add some green to the table, might have been my favorite dish all night. Garlicky, bitter, and well cooked, these were soft but still had bite in their spines and complemented everything that we had perfectly. A lovely dish that I left wanting to make for myself at home. This wasn't a cheap meal and has to be one of, if not the most, expensive Chinese restaurants in the area, but it was right in our wheelhouse.
  6. 10 points
    We had an epic meal at Bad Saint over the weekend. Four of us went through pretty much the entire menu. Needless to say we left stuffed. I can honestly say there were no "low lights" nor "mid lights"...it was all high lights. Lots of intense flavors, some good funk, and a couple dish brought the heat. The staff was lovely, the decor beautiful, and although seating is rather cramped/tight, the wonderful food more than makes up for it. We had: Labanos At Pinaitum radishes, burnt coconut, honey Ginisang Ampalaya bitter melon, farm egg, preserved black bean Adobong Dilaw cauliflower, kabocha squash, turmeric Kinilaw yellow fin tuna, ginger, kalamansi Laing lobster, bittergreens, coconut milk (this was a hot one) Lechon pork, mang tom's sauce, chile vinegar Kare Kare oxtail, peanuts, pickled okra It was tough to pick favorites, but I think we all agreed the bitter melon, cauliflower, lechon, and oxtail dishes were all excellent. Probably my only complaint is the restaurant lighting isn't very conducive to good phone photography! But I tried. Adobong Dilaw (cauliflower, kabocha squash, turmeric) Lechon (pork, mang tom's sauce, chile vinegar)
  7. 10 points
    I find commerce, cloaked in patriotism and military pride, to be stomach turning. It is the "mission" of Mission Barebecue. I find the playing of the National Anthem at noon to be absurd. I love our country. I love barbecue. This place gives me the creeps and is not for me.
  8. 9 points
    We enjoyed an exceptional evening at Métier last week. From start to finish, everyone we encountered was wonderfully hospitable, and the service was flawless. Celia greeted us in the lounge--she is wonderfully charming. Michael Chesser, the Captain and Sommelier, was engaging and informative, and led our service. For my budget, it's a special occasion restaurant, and even though it was very expensive, it was money well spent. The dining room is relatively small, but spacious. The kitchen is visible, but we couldn't hear any sounds. If I had one quibble, it would be that three desserts was one too much for me. (Signs of age, I suppose) Instead of providing my own descriptions, I'll include a photo the menu notes. The restaurant was quite accommodating, and changed a couple of dishes to better suit my wife's preferences. For the wine aficionados and experts here, I'd be interested to get your thoughts on the wines used for pairings. I enjoyed each pairing immensely. Toro with hummus and lavash crackers served in the lounge, accompanied by a burnt cinnamon cocktail. Seared Bluefin Toro Puree of Savoy Cabbage soup with Rye Bread and Cured Foie Gras Crostini Crispy Skin Filet of Virginia Black Bass Scallops. (They prepared this instead of lobster for my wife) Confit of Maine Lobster. Pan Roasted Martin Farms Beef Poached Pineapple Upside Down Cake. (My favorite dessert) Métier Candy Bar Dessert number three. I honesty forgot the description, but it's a play on cinnamon rolls, accompanied by a hot buttered rum drink. Our view of the kitchen. Eric was visible throughout most of the evening, but the table was occupied and I didn't want to intrude on diners' privacy by taking a picture while they were present. Menu Menu notes Menu notes Wine pairings
  9. 9 points
    Visited last night as part of a corporate private party. I'm sure there are a number of spaces/configurations for private events - we were seated in the front room upstairs, which was very comfortable for 15 or so guests. Service was fantastic as always and the food was a unanimous hit - some dishes I hadn't seen on the menu before (though I hadn't visited in some time). I wasn't part of the planning process so unsure what options or prices were available. The two wines for the evening were a Sancerre that carried us through the first 2/3 of the menu, followed by a french red but I didn't catch the specific type - that being said, the full bar and wine list were available. A quick rundown from memory as there was no printed menu: Foie Gras amuse Coconut ice cream with caviar Oysters with cream and spicy granita English Muffin with clotted cream and orange marmalade. This was the highlight for me - yes, the bread course. Lychee Salad Squash blossom rangoon. This was the low for me (but was still pretty good). It was salty and fried, but beyond that I wouldn't have been able to tell you it was a squash blossom or contained crab Honey fried chicken Rigatoni alla vodka with calamari - just a fantastic pasta dish Linguini with shrimp and garlic Wedge salad Tomahawk steak (picture below) - impressive presentation. Came with roasted garlic, also separate pans of roasted mushrooms and potato straws. The steak was fantastic - the mushrooms were very balsamic and cold - seemed better suited to a salad than a steak accompaniment, particularly the temperature Cinnamon toast crunch ice cream topped with crushed cereal ("palate cleanser") Chocolate pecan pie topped with chocolate mouse and vanilla ice cream They honestly could've stopped after the chicken and everyone would've been satisfied, but the servers were good sports about making to-go boxes. Also noted that one member of the group had a severe shellfish allergy that the restaurant handled very well.
  10. 9 points
    Sometimes, I like to walk into Vace and inhale deeply...certainly one of the best smelling stores in DC.
  11. 9 points
    As planned, we ate at the bar last night & reacquainted ourselves with Andrew, Dean & Kay. All were great to see and talk to again. Nice to see that Hawaiian shirts are still in vogue 😎. And, since it was Sunday night, there were a ton of excellent "Happy Hour" specials offered (& accepted). Half price on good wines had us drinking a very nice bottle of Sagrantino throughout dinner. We started with an order of the deviled eggs w/prosciuotto (these are very nice) and a full charcuterie board of 5 excellent meats, olives & some cheese. These were not the usual slices of cold cuts that I'm used to (& would've expected and accepted), but 4-5 pieces each of interesting & tasty stuff - pork shoulder pate, tongue, testa, pate w/ginger slices & duck - all of which was top notch. At full price, I think this is a no brainer to order -- at $10 its a steal. We then moved on to a half order of boar w/pappardelle (for me) and spinach/cheese cannelloni (Ginny). Both were excellent as well. Writing this, it doesn't seem like we ate a lot -- however, eating it all wasn't easy, as this was a lot of food. I remembered the old location fondly and I'll remember this one even more so. The place was busy, both upstairs and down but, looking around, it seemed like folks were content to order mussel pots (which looked great) & other food without really paying much attention to what's being served here & why it stands out. We get that in Brooklyn a lot -- tons of red sauce places serving decent tasting Italian food that was probably made well in advance from standard ingredients by reasonably competent kitchens, served straight from the microwave to folks who like it well enough & accept it without much thought. However, Dino's, like a couple of favorites of ours at home, is doing something significantly different, serving much better tasting food which, importantly, comes from fresh, well sourced ingredients and is prepared/presented with a much higher level of skill and care. And they're doing it at a price point that makes it look "normal" & may not easily stand out. If I lived in the area, it'd be a once/week dinner place for us minimum. As it should be for any food loving person in Shaw and surrounding communities. Not that they made any $$ on us eating there on a Sunday & would be patiently waiting for us to make a return visit to D.C., but we're going to seriously consider more than a once in 7 years return & live vicariously through you all in between.
  12. 9 points
    2 Amys is a diner's best friend - the most important restaurant in the history of Washington, DC remains one of its very best, serving such diverse customers as families with infants in strollers, older couples out on date night, and award-winning chefs (chefs eat here all the time). It's a well-known "secret" in the DC dining community that the small plates offered at the bar (which can be ordered in the main dining area) rotate on a regular basis, and is essentially Peter Pastan's playground for experimenting with new and seasonal dishes. What isn't well-known is that legendary bar chef Scott Hager - who became a local celebrity by being drawn on 2 Amys menu (yes, that gentleman with the glasses was Scott) - has left and returned to Chesapeake, Virginia after many years running the food bar here. This Tuesday, the bar food was being made by a gentleman of enormous passion, creativity, and respect for tradition: Rick Cook, who has come from Etto, and who worked at both BlackSaltm and at The Grill Room with the legendary Frank Ruta. Perhaps even less-known is that once or twice a week - sometimes early on Tuesdays and Fridays - the wonderful trilogy of anchovies 2 Amys serves are de-boned, each one by hand, and instead of discarding the bones, they're lightly coated and fried, resulting in one of the most delicious bar snacks you'll ever taste - served in a basket atop a white napkin, as if they were potato chips, these bones are the essence of the anchovy, crispy like thin pretzels but with the flavor of the ocean, and not at all sharp. As the anchovies are packed in liquid, they're salty as you would expect, making them the perfect beer snack. Alas, this past Tuesday, my dining companion and I saw them sitting out on the bar, having arrived just before 5:30 on Tuesday to an almost completely empty restaurant. We ordered a carafe of the 2015 2 Amys' 'No Longer' Rosé (a classic example of an "orange wine," which goes perfectly with this - I urge you to try this combination if you get the chance). We were treated to one of the humblest and finest food and wine pairings you could imagine, and our little basket of fried anchovy bones went a shockingly long way - these things are deceptively rich, and even though it didn't look like much, we ate our fill, and then some. And it's a good thing, because there were only *three* orders for the entire evening, and I must re-emphasize: They only de-bone the anchovies once or twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays are your best bet, but you should check before committing). At $4 per order - especially considering the labor-intensive nature of these anchovy bones - this is not a money-maker for 2 Amys; it's a labor of love, walking the walk when it comes to using the whole animal and minimizing waste - this is precisely what Peter Pastan - and more recently Rick Cook - have always espoused, and it's on full display here. Fried Anchovy Bones with a carafe of 2 Amys' 'No Longer' Rosé - a match made in, well, a match made under the sea and under the soil. Get them, and then try anything and everything else you see that looks or sounds good - do not hesitate to turn yourself over to the hands of Rick and the wonderful bartender Allie: They will help you to dine, and to dine well.
  13. 9 points
    The fried Coq au Vin is no longer on the menu. The chicken dish is the Poulet Rouge for two. It is one of if not the best roasted chickens that I have ever eaten. Except for the drums it is deboned and pressed with something heavy while cooking. This produces a skin with an incredible crispy and crunchy texture. The tarragon vinegar sauce rounds the dish out nicely.
  14. 9 points
    On a Sunday evening - early, just before 6 PM - the impressive and cavernous Del Mar was packed, with no tables available, and so we took our chances, walked in, and found room at the bar, where we were offered a drinks menu and a tapas menu. We asked our affable bartender (whom we got to know on a first-name basis - but I'm not going to mention his first name in this post) about getting the full dinner menu, and promptly received it. After I washed my hands (in the lovely and spotless restrooms here), my dining partner went to wash hers, and as we both enjoy Gin & Tonics - Del Mar's menu is chock-full of them - I asked our bartender about the $28 Hable de Ti for two ("Talk about You," get it? Ti for two?), and whether there was good reason to order this menacingly priced drink, as opposed to having two of the "regular" G&Ts from the menu - he suggested that if we ordered two of the single drinks, we could try different types. In my wisdom, I ordered two of the single drinks, but the exact same one: the Te Quiero ("I Love You," $14) with lemongrass, rosemary, grapefruit, and homemade tonic - made with Tanqueray gin, and served in giant Tanqueray goblets, this was a magnificent drink, beautifully conceived, presented, and served from a futuristic-looking infuser. After our drinks were poured, I turned towards my companion, and remarked that these were not expensive at all - the goblets were huge, filled to the very top with ice, and after our drinks were poured, there was fully half of our tonic remaining, and nearly one-third of the infused gin left in the infuser (notice all the ingredients in the photo) - when I asked our bartender how many iterations they could extract from one set of these infusions, he told us, 'about four or five,' and that (surprisingly) it didn't take all that long to replace the ingredients - I suppose these are made in pre-prep, and simply placed into the device - still, it's an extraordinary presentation well-worth seeing and ordering. I finished my glass, and was ready for the rest - then came what can be best described as an "awkward moment": The bartender had taken the gin away, I assumed to keep cool, and after I poured in some more of the tonic, I got his attention, and asked if I could have some more gin. At that precise instant, our bartender realized that I mistakenly assumed that the entire infuser was for us, and made a halting gesture, while reaching for the infuser, and adding some of the gin to my goblet. At *that* precise instant, I realized (due to the bartender's halting gesture) that the rest of that gin wasn't meant for us, and that one pour was all we were supposed to get. After taking a few seconds to compose myself, I said to our bartender, "I'm really sorry, I didn't know that we had been poured the entire drink the first time," he instantly replied, "I know you didn't - that's why I didn't say anything," and all the awkwardness melted away. It certainly wasn't his fault, and I don't think it was mine - it was a monumental miscommunication on a small scale. Here is what I would do if I were Del Mar: Don't put such an extreme amount of ice in the goblet, and don't leave such a large amount of tonic in the decanter - those two things really contributed to my having thought there was more gin to come; given that there wasn't, there was too much ice in this drink, and the large amount of tonic really wasn't necessary (although it certainly doesn't hurt, as it's delicious on its own). This is why I don't wish to mention our wonderful bartender's first name - because he *really* did nothing wrong here, and if you had to point to someone responsible for the communication breakdown, you'd have to point to me. Well, it's a funny anecdote, but none of it matters (other than the recommendation about the amount of ice and tonic) because the drink was just fabulous - and worth the price even without any extra gin. Incidentally, I'd asked how the Hable de Ti (for two) was presented, and it was via an entirely different, but equally impressive, vehicle - it's also a more complex drink, as it's made with brine foam, Cava, etc. - next time I come here, I may have to give this a try, even though I couldn't have been any happier with the Te Quiero. For our second "awkward moment" of the night, we remained in the drinks department. After we finished our cocktails, I decided to order a bottle of Godello, my favorite white wine from Spain (recall the article "Waiting for Godello" which I wrote for Washingtonian in 2007) - just a couple weeks before we dined at Del Mar, we were in Catalonia (or Catalunya, if you wish), and even in places as cosmopolitain as Barcelona - which is nearly 600 miles away from Godello's native Galicia - Godello was quite difficult to find, which really surprised me. Knowing from first-hand experience that Godello made in oak is more expensive than in stainless steel (and sometimes made just to export to Americans), I purposely ordered the least-expensive Godello on the menu - Godello isn't an expensive wine, and this is one variety that I recommend people order the least-expensive offering they can find, because that possibly means that no oak was used. Hence, I ordered a bottle of 2015 Rafael Palacios "Louro de Bolo" ($56) and to nibble on while we waited on our entree, a classic tapa of Pan con Tomate ($10) - bread with tomato spread. Shortly after ordering, the sommelier arrived, apologized, and said they were out of the Rafael Palacios, but that he had another Godello that was even better. At this point, I expressed my proclivity towards Godellos with no oak, and he assured me that this wine was made without oak, and not only that, but as he was pouring it, he said he'd give it to us for the same price as the Rafael Palacios, which was a truly nice gesture. So instead, we got a bottle of 2015 Avancia "Old Vines" ($70 on the list), and this is where the moment became awkward, although the awkwardness was entirely contained within ourselves. The sommelier put the bottle on ice, walked away, and I turned to my companion and said, "How do you tell a sommelier he's wrong about the wine not being made in oak?" The answer is: You don't; you just enjoy it for what it is. The little sticker on the bottle that says '92 points from Robert Parker' should have been enough to tip off any wine professional that this wine had seen a healthy dose of oak, but then, there's this: which explains everything - the gentleman was probably "acting sommelier," and I'm glad I didn't say a word. Back to that Pan con Tomate - we had just spent about five days in Spain, and had dined very well. Including some obligatory tapas-hopping in Barcelona, we'd just had Pan con Tomate twice, including once in a Michelin one-star restaurant. With all this fresh on our minds, we both agreed that Del Mar's version was better than any version we had in Spain, and even if two pieces of ficelle topped with some garlicky tomato spread might sound expensive for $10, we also both agreed that the price was commensurate with quality - this was possibly the best Pan con Tomate I've ever eaten (I can't swear to this, as I've been to Spain several times in the past ten years, but I've never had any this good in the United States). Simple and perfect, this bread is every bit as good as it looks (my apologies for the slightly blurred picture, and the lack of perspective in terms of size - they were ample pieces - not mammoth, but ample). For comparison, here's an order of Pan con Tomate (5 Euros) we had at a delightful little Bib Gourmand restaurant, Antaviana, in Figueres. As an aside, while in Barcelona, the former Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, had been arrested in Germany, and was in danger of being extradited back to Spain for trial. Many Catalunyans didn't take kindly to this, and on Sun, Mar 26, we were right in the thick of some pretty intense protests that seemed not-too-far from becoming riots. While walking to dinner, I caught some of the action on my phone: On to the main event! Del Mar is bringing Las Vegas to DC, in terms of size, atmosphere, and prices, so I wanted to go straight for the jugular, and let the restaurant show at its best. We ordered the Paella de Pescado y Mariscos ($98, serves 2-4) with Maine Lobster, wild calamari, PEI mussels, and tiger prawns, made with Bomba rice, and served with real garlic alioli (although certain purists would argue that Catalan allioli (note the two ls) should never have any egg, there are varying degrees of tolerance for this pressing issue): Aug 10, 2009 - "Allioli, the Catalan Accompaniment" by Edward Schneider on dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com The paella is just the right amount for two people, if that's all they order, and is served tableside - the seafood was fantastic, the portions were generous, the rice was just right (both in quality and ratio), and the alioli (however you want to spell it) hit a home run with me. I barely finished my half, and helped my dining companion finish her lobster (*that* wasn't going to waste), but there was some rice left on her plate that I just couldn't finish - this doesn't look like a huge portion, but it's deceptively rich, the alioli not helping in that department. I got permission from our jovial server to take a picture, and although I said I'd try not to get his face in, he said he didn't mind (I actually did try not to, but failed). Overall, there wasn't much more we could have asked from our meal at Del Mar - with tax and tip, the final bill was right around $250, and while expensive, we both felt the meal represented very good value for the money, as it was outstanding in just about all facets - atmosphere, service, and cuisine. Dining here won't come cheap, but it's *easy* to say I'll be back here numerous times, and mean what I say - Del Mar is a wonderful restaurant, and just what The Wharf needs as its anchor.
  15. 9 points
    To this wonderful community on its 13th anniversary-- and to its tireless founder, DonRocks, who made this all happen.
  16. 8 points
    To characterize Grant Achatz and Cat Cora as culinary stalwarts at the same height in the culinary stratosphere is like lumping Ernest Shackleton and Popeye Captain Stubing in the same boat as accomplished sailors. But sure, we can all agree that any international "go fuck yourself/s" gesture is the perfect catalyst to a reasonable conversation.
  17. 8 points
    Tonight was vegan night at Casa TrelayneNYC and I'm snacking on some chilled diced pineapple as I type this... The first two pictures are approx. 1 kg of wild and cultivated mushrooms. The first bowl contains black pearl oyster mushrooms and baby shiitake mushrooms, and the bowl in the bottom picture has yellowfoot chanterelle mushrooms. Clockwise from bottom left: porcini broth; yellowfoot mushrooms; baby shiitake mushrooms; black pearl oyster mushrooms; thyme leaves; red pepper flakes; sage leaves; flour; tomato paste; garlic paste (3 garlic cloves, smashed and pounded into a paste in a mortar and pestle along with a pinch of salt); diced onion; olive oil. The porcini broth consists of 10 g dried porcini mushrooms combined with 150 g diced onion, 100 g diced celery, 60 g diced carrots, 1 bay leaf and 710 ml water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. Strain liquid into a small saucepot and keep on another burner, on low heat. You can smash the garlic cloves into a paste using the tines of a fork, or pound them in a mortar and pestle. It'll become something like this after a few minutes. Porcini broth. Leave this unseasoned since you'll be using it later on. Warm olive oil in a pan, then fry onions until browned. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer onions to a small bowl. Add mushrooms to the pan. Cook until the mushrooms begin to exude some liquid. Eventually they'll reabsorb the juices and begin to brown. At that point, add the garlic paste and herbs to the pan. Stir them in and cook for a minute. Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions back to the pan. Stir in the tomato paste. Fry for a minute, then stir in the flour. Cook for one more minute, then add in the porcini broth, a ladleful at a time. Cook until ragu reaches your desired consistency. Taste for salt and pepper, stir in some chopped parsley, then serve at once. Curly endive salad with orange and oil-cured black olives Wild mushroom ragù, served over pearl barley and pigeon peas
  18. 8 points
    An early dinner at 2 Amys last night featured the restaurant in high gear, at its most ambitious and creative self; still, it was slightly different than any of the many dozens of meals I've had here in the past. With only a couple of tables left, 2 Amys was kind enough to seat us near the window, where a friend could stretch out a recently strained knee. 200 ml bottles of San Pellegrino Aranciata ($2.50) got us through the entire meal. I'd gone to wash my hands, and on the way back, glanced at the bar to my left - on it sat something that was the length of a loaf of bread, but the circumference of a basketball, and I knew it was in my immediate future. Sometimes, 2 Amys puts exclamation points on their daily-specials menu, and last night was no exception. The Roman Artichoke !! (Carciofi alla Romana, $8) was a capitulation to the kitchen, as there was no description for it, but with two exclamation points, it must be good, right? It was. A single, majestic artichoke, presented on a plate with some olive oil, like a gigantic Hershey's Kiss, gave no indication of its stuffed, inner self. The bottom half was stuffed with a green, pesto-ish hash of what seemed to be parsley, lemon, and possibly mentuccia. Beautiful in its simplicity, this extremely mild dish allowed nature's basic ingredients to take the bow, and served as a much-needed counterpoint to its partner dish. Porchetta with Farro and Green Sauce !!!!! ($17) was a five-exclamation point dish, both in name, and in ambition. This was that huge, basketball-thick roulade I saw when I glanced over towards the bar, and was the result of a cook's psychedelic fantasies on steroids. The rolled-up pork monster was multi-layered, with some of the layers being nearly lard, and this was the richest dish I've had in recent memory - two of us could only finish half of it; if we'd gone any further, any hope of enjoying our pizzas would have been lost. I'll be cursed (literally, cursed, and cursed *at*) for saying this, but my endless respect for this porchetta, and the creative energy and labor that went into making it, mostly ended on the plate - it was so rich that actually eating it became an exercise in theory, and I felt guilty for taking the portion from whichever hungry NFL linebacker missed out on it later in the evening. The spicing was subtle and suave with whispers of clove and vanilla, the little rectangles of skin, tooth-breaking, the "green sauce" something like a pesto (slightly darker, and with a bit more verve than what was in the Roman artichoke), and the farro, curious. I had some for lunch today, and I'll have some for dinner tonight (simmered down in a previously vegan, homemade blistered-red pepper soup (*)) - bravo to 2 Amys for offering this dish, and for having taken the time and effort to make it: There's nothing else like this being offered in the DC area. As many times as I've been here, over the course of what must be close to 25 years, I don't ever remember having ordered the Pozzuoli Pizza ($14.45) before. I forgot to order the pizzas "well-done," and I'm curious to see what they'll be like if I do. Remember, 2 Amys is no longer DOCG-certified, and that may have shown last night in the pizzas - they were unlike any I've had here in the past: not better, not necessarily worse; just different, very thin in the center, with a thicker crust at the periphery, blistered and charred, with a fine flavor, but also markedly more bready in the interior of the rim. The Pozzuoli was made with tomato, Fontina, 2Amys sausage (!!!!!), grilled peppers, "hotties" (only in appearance), and parsley. I wish I could purchase this sausage in bulk - to have with breakfast, to freeze, to put aside for the nuclear winter: It was as good as sausage can possibly be; the Fontina was somewhat assertive and rind-y: a slightly riper version than I was expecting, but not at all overripe - although this isn't a spicy pizza, the ingredients aren't shy, and it seemed wise to use a cheese on that half of the spectrum. I look forward to getting this again (note: We asked for the pizzas to be sliced). The second pizza was a daily special: Burrata di Bufala, Squash Blossoms, Tomato Purée, Cherry Tomatoes, and Parsley ($16.45). Served with a half-orb of Burrata in the middle of the pizza, this was a self-service spread-around - necessary to prevent the pizza from becoming soggy (as it was today for lunch). If you're familiar with 2 Amys' pizza, and can picture how the crust was different on this evening, then you know exactly how this pizza was - the tomato purée was sweet and terrific, the Burrata making it milky and homey, and this was a fine foil for the Pozzuoli. Yet another "imperfect, but perfect" showing at this monument to rustic Italian dining. --- (*) ETA - It was *magnificent* in the soup, both the meat and the farro.
  19. 8 points
    The centerpiece of Christmas Eve this year was a chestnut bisque (from this Geoffrey Zakarian recipe). It came out extremely well, but I really should have bought frozen chestnuts, as the recipe indicates, rather than roasting and peeling my own. That was a lot of extra time and frustration I didn't need. The addition of the pumpkin pie spice in this is essential. I even bought a new jar of it, and it paid off. This was really good. I also picked up a new and decent quality bottle of sherry for the recipe. The rest of the meal was an herb and garlic baked Camembert from Smitten Kitchen Every Day; crudites; an assortment of breads and crackers (sourdough baguette, pumpernickel, whole wheat pita, Carr's rosemary crackers, and Triscuits); cold cuts (Virginia baked ham, mortadella, and Genoa salami); regular and spicy Cava hummus; various olives, pickles, and mustards. It was way too much food, but it was fun to graze and everything left can be used in future meals. Christmas lunch was more of the bisque, plus grilled cheese (leftover Camembert plus Parmesan, pear, and leftover ham.) Christmas dinner was a simple and delicious celery and Marcona almond salad I've made before (from Fine Cooking) to start. For the main course I made a sous vide boneless leg of lamb (rubbed with Maille whole grain mustard, black and red pepper, and olive oil, stuffed with thyme, rosemary, and nicoise olives). Steamed green beans with evoo and toasted pine nuts and sage scalloped potatoes rounded out the meal. That makes two dishes over the holiday I added to the menu after seeing Food Network's "The Kitchen" on what seemed like endless repeat. The potatoes were incredible but super rich. I will not be making them again for another year, because OMG...2 cups of heavy cream. They were GOOD. The sage and garlic infused cream made the flavor amazing, plus the salt and cayenne between the layers added a spark I don't usually associate with scalloped potatoes, and the heat cut through the richness. The only downside (other than our cholesterol levels) is that the 1 lb. amount given for potatoes in the recipe is too low. I used two medium potatoes (1 1/4 lbs.) sliced thin and couldn't even get three full layers. I should have added the third potato I had. This is the first time I can recall not parboiling potatoes for this kind of dish and having them cook through perfectly. Both nights I planned to make ice cream sandwiches with the homemade toll house cookies I made (my only holiday baking this year) but they went by the wayside since we had plenty of food already. Maybe this weekend.
  20. 8 points
    Thank you for the support on this. There is Supreme Court precedent supporting basic first amendment rights in this case (see 44 Liquormart v Rhode Island in 1996). But even though Virginia has all but said they agree with me, they are trying to bury me and my attorney in paperwork. I handed over 65,000 of absolutely useless documents to them. It is data on sales by the hour (they wanted by the minute). I gave them three years of information. They wanted ten years but my point of sale doesn't keep that info beyond three. They wanted to settle with me but it would have been an incomplete victory as laws would have still have to make it through Richmond post dropping the suit. The best thing for Virginia to do is to concede. The further they delay, the more money the state is wasting defending asinine regulations that serve no purpose. The fact that it is against the law to advertise the price of a glass of pinot grigio at happy hour makes no sense. And Virginia is making it worse by trying to defend it. -Geoff Tracy - Chef Geoff's
  21. 8 points
    I wish for many things: I wish I could get to College Park more than once-in-a-blue-moon, I wish everyone would realize how great Ferhat's cuisine is, I wish people knew how much of a risk he took opening in Shaw, I wish people knew just how wonderful of a human being Ferhat is, I wish people - myself included - would just say, "to heck with it," and make a beeline towards College Park to get three-days-worth of cuisine at Fishnet.
  22. 8 points
    Did you, by chance, see the comment by "Joel Haas"? If not, read it to the end...or just read the end of it.
  23. 8 points
    A Clyde’s regular gets a final honor from those who knew her best, by John Kelly, October 31, 2018, on washingtonpost.com.
  24. 8 points
  25. 8 points
    Well, we did it up well. Thanks for the suggestions and between the four of us we did everything that was mentioned last week. The night started with a bang by getting a metered parking space right across the street from the restaurant! The pre-meal Negroni was delicious, as was the Ric Flair cocktail with rye, an amaro of some sort and some other tasty liquids. Restaurant Week pricing was extended until the night we went, so we sampled a good chunk of the menu. Burrata appetizer was fresh and tasty. It included a cool little stewed tomato with a bright, palate cleansing tang from some unknown ingredient. Very cool. Squash blossoms were nice and the octopus was tender and tasty, as were the canellini beans which accompanied the tentacles. MrsDrXmus had the crab pasta which to me tasted like a light Alfredo. Honestly, it wasn’t very crabby, but the fettuccine were delicate, al dente and delicious. I had the frito misto which was great but I should’ve had a pasta, I just couldn’t make a decision. My friend raved about his fra Diovolo pasta and his wife loved the risotto main course she got. Desserts were terrific and I loved the option of cheese instead of a sweet. The tasty gratis spiced pear ‘cello digestif was appreciated. We also had some post-meal amari, which was great to see on a menu. I wish we lived closer to the Grotto because there were several dishes I wanted to try. I know Dean is keeping the menu seasonal, and if every season tasted like this meal I’d love to try it through the year.
  26. 8 points
    I have a new neighbor whose dog is Harry Houdini. Escapes all the time and frequently is captured by myself or other neighbors and held until the owners get home. They gave me a bottle of wine as a thank you, which I graciously accepted, thinking it would be plonk. Went to the bag an hour later and removed the tissue paper, and saw the capsule of the wine. Wow. Smiling, I pulled the bottle from the bag to see it was a 2013 RdV Lost Mountain. Certainly a generous gift for being neighborly and an hour of dog sitting. a few days later I was chatting with another neighbor, who also captured the dog and also got a bottle of wine as a gift. Excitedly, I asked what they received. "No, idea. You know we don't care about wine" So I asked to take a peak. They got a bottle of Mark West Pinot Noir. Now, I was intrigued. The next time I saw the dog owners I thanked them for the gracious gift, and asked them if they were wine aficionados. They like to drink wine but "really don't know much about it". Turns out, they were just re-gifting wines left at their house or given to them! I told them the wine they gave me was quite good, hard to acquire, and very expensive....offering to give it back. They chuckled and declined, saying "you'll seem to appreciate it more than we will" and that was that.
  27. 7 points
    Agree with everything Eric said. Last night's dinner was delicious. I am not sure what things were called on the menu, but am going to talk about what I liked- I really enjoyed the Shaanxi cold noodle in chili oil, this dish got eaten faster than any other. The noodles are thicker than the chengdu cold noodles my friends make, but were very tasty, not off the board spicy, but enough of a kick to be good, the small bits in the sauce were good. The beef tendon and tripe in spicy sauce was delightful, I think this is something even most non-tendon/tripe people would like, I thought it was very good. The lamb with pita soup was really a nice balance to a lot of the spicy food we had, and I really liked the flavors, I thought the lamb was good. The Enoki mushrooms were very good, but I don't know I would order them just on my own. I really liked the vegetables (Shaanxi flavored vegetables?) They reminded me of this spicy dipping pot dish we had in China. The vegetables had nice crunch and a good heat to them, this is a veggie dish I would order again, even with more limited people. The spicy pig trotters might not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed them, they have a good amount of bone and cartilage, so you have to be ok gnawing a bit, but well worth it. The chicken dish we had with the noodles was very good for being a little more pederstrian, I thought it had good flavors and was something with good flavor to eat in between spicy bites. The bean jelly, OH, the bean jelly- this might be a must order for me anytime I go here. It was everything you don't think a bean jelly would be, kind of like a cold spicy noodle dish in a good way, but with bean jelly slabs instead of noodle. The "burger" was fine, I mainly used mine to get more spicy sauce off my plate from the bean jelly. I liked the fish, the lamb above was very good- the yams with it were good and the lamb was very tender, I thought it was a very good dish. I am not sure what else we ordered, it was a full table, but this really is one of the best Chinese meals I have had in this area.
  28. 7 points
    In appreciation for my favorite dish in this area. Their Chengdu Kung Pao Chicken continues to be the best version I’ve ever had. I stopped in for lunch today. They have a Kung Pao Chicken lunch special with rice and an egg roll. I asked if I could have the special with the Chengdu Kung Pao Chicken. They said no. I didn’t even care. The real “special” is the Chengdu version and this confirmed it. I’m always here with groups and order multiple dishes, so it was great to just focus on one outstanding dish. Outside of the traditional chicken, peanuts, and peppers, they also include sliced ginger and garlic. These take it to the next level. I’m usually a stickler for using chopsticks, but I was wearing a tie so I used a fork for safety. This also made the dish better as I could get all the flavors at once rather than one at a time. These folks take my favorite Chinese dish and make it my favorite-ist.
  29. 7 points
    I thought I posted something similar elsewhere on the site. Maybe Don can find it. Here is my hummus making advice after making a lot over many years and eating it in the Mideast and all over the place in the US. The difference between store bought and home made is the freshness and creaminess and the ability to adjust it to your taste. First tip - start with canned chickpeas except for special occasions. The difference in final product between canned and soaking dried chickpeas is minor. I find you can get a more delicate, airier hummus with soaked chickpeas but it turns a 15 minute food processor recipe into a multi-day affair with soaking overnight and long cooking. Second tip - fancy tahini is hard to detect once you mix it together with everything else. I tend to use cheaper Israeli/mideast or even Greek brands I can find in my grocery store. (I don't use Joyva). I have also tried Soom and didn't notice much difference. If you were making a more straight tehini sauce or dressing, maybe you'd notice the difference more. Third tip - figure out how aggressive you want the added flavors to be (such as garlic, lemon juice, or other non-dried spices added for flavoring). If you want it strong, then simply toss those ingredients in the food processor along with chickpeas and tahini for quick and tasty hummus. If you want more subtle flavoring, then roast the garlic or infuse the flavors into the tahini before adding to the food processor with the chickpeas. Again, Zahav recipe has a neat trick to blend garlic with lemon juice and let it sit and then press the garlic through a sieve into the tahini and mix before adding to the chickpeas. This of course is much more time consuming but does have a nice effect. Fourth tip - figure out your preference for chickpea to tahini (or other ingredients) ratio. Some recipes are chickpea heavy which often leads to a thicker/denser more neutral tasting hummus vs. other recipes call for a lot more tahini which is a bit smoother and of course much stronger sesame flavor. Fifth tip - taste it before you remove from the food processor and adjust it to your taste. Most recipes call for using a certain number of lemons but each lemon has a different amount of juice or sometimes garlic is stronger, etc. Sixth tip - start with a recipe that likely suits your personal preference. Zahav is heavy on tahini and subtle flavoring. I like it. This recipe I've used for years from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs is more chickpea heavy and strong on the garlic: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/IsraelExperience/Lifestyle/Pages/HUMMUS -Chick-pea Dip-.aspx (when you only use the 3 TB of tahini. Michael Solomonov's need cookbook as a quick recipe for hummus I haven't tried yet, but anything by him is worth trying. Seventh tip -process it longer than you think needed - it will help you get the smoothness you want. (or if you are cooking the chickpeas, follow the Zahav advice and overcook them). Eighth tip - hummus is forgiving and if you plan to top it with dried spices like paprika, herbs like parsley, a swirl of olive oil, or strong vegetables like olives or even roasted meats - don't worry too much about having the perfect subtle, fancy hummus as these add-ons will likely overpower the base hummus. Save all of the above fancier ingredients and time consuming steps for when you plan to eat the hummus straight or with only a bit of an add on (I do like a swirl of extra olive oil). Ninth tip - get some good pita bread (or make your own) to enjoy your hummus more. I haven't been able to find much great stuff in grocery stores - but I'll go with the Mideast bakery brand which is decent. I like Yafa Grille and Shouk's pita (which is the more pillowy type). I'm less a fan of the thin lebanese pita you find at Lebanese Taverna and others place (note I like LT generally and the bread is good but not my preferred style). Tenth tip - I've seen some videos online and even a recipe or two that says to make hummus in a mortar and pestle or a bowl, but unless you like arm workouts and chunky hummus, stick to the food processor. For store bought hummus, I like sabra but there are a bunch of niche brands that I haven't tried and may be better. there is a lot of funky, non-chickpea hummus available in stores. Like fake meats, know that it will not be the same, but if that is what you like, enjoy.
  30. 7 points
    So I finally made it to Corduroy for dinner after meaning to go for so many years. Perhaps mistakenly I thought there had been a jacket and tie requirement which goes against my very ethos (modern slob in case anyone is wondering) - anyway the dress code is gone now if it ever existed and I was excited to try the place after so many wonderful reviews here. Went with a couple close friends who were happy to share in the adventure. I had the appetizer special, a smoked salmon/cream cheese affair that was quite good with the accompanying bread. Followed that with the chicken two ways - confit and roasted - that was wonderful. Really enjoyed this dish immensely. Perhaps what helped that was the wonderful wine recommendation from Marc Slater, who stopped by to say hi and to suggest a really great red that all three of us enjoyed. I'd be glad to add this place to my standard repertoire, such as it is. Kudos for the wonderful cooking and hospitality.
  31. 7 points
    Four of us had dinner at the bar here last Friday (10/12). We had originally intended to go to Kinship to celebrate a friend's birthday, but it turned out that they were closed. So... up the block and across we went. Just us at the bar when we arrived (early), but it filled up. When we eat there, we usually do the $30 bar menu, but being as this was a celebration, we decided to go for the $70 "Chef Surprise" 5 course menu. They were remarkably accommodating, as I do not eat seafood, and 2 others don't do mushrooms. I really appreciate this. It was absolutely delicious, and as ever, the drinks and wine are fabulous. I don't get here very often, and am always astounded that the wonderful bartender (whose name I have forgotten again) remembers us, and even remembers what we drink. I don't think we are that memorable - she's clearly a customer service genius. And the wine advice is really good too!
  32. 7 points
    On May 20, 2018, I enjoyed a very delectable lunch at Mikko's Café, which serves casual modern Nordic fare. See café menu. Seating is limited to 5 seats at the back counter and 4 at the front so take-away is a very quick and convenient option. Mikko plans to expand to al fresco dining with beverage service in the near future. I can't wait for the expanded café menu! I enjoyed the following: Pickled Herring Open-Face Sandwich with Egg, Greens, Mustard, Dill (Herring is pickled in-house. Mikko has a smoker for smoked fish. And for smoked mushrooms in a recipe for a catered soup, which I hope will make it on the expanded café menu!) Karelian Pastry (served reheated) Finnish-Style Fish Soup (this is a hearty dish and can be enjoyed on its own) Salmon Quiche (as take-away immediately enjoyed by reheating at home)
  33. 7 points
    My wife and I went out (a less frequent occurrence now that we have 3 kiddos) for our anniversary last Sunday and were very very pleased we chose to do so at Kinship. We arrived early for our 830 reservation and enjoyed a couple drinks at the bar - a pear themed fall cocktail for her and a glass of chenin blanc for me. The bar was relatively empty but the dining room was humming even on a Sunday so it was a really nice, relatively sedate, way to start the evening. Upon finishing our drinks we were informed that our table was ready and escorted from the bar to our table in the back corner of the dining room. As an aside, in the future I’ll definitely try and grab one of the private booths right off the bar. I thought those looked terrific and should’ve heeded the advice of others in the thread above and snagged one. A nice touch was a little card awaiting us on the table wishing us a happy anniversary from the staff. For our meal we shared 3 courses and a desert, complemented by two excellent half bottles of wine (a nice dry Riesling and an excellently chosen Pinot Noir): -Squid Agilio e Olio - I literally (and my wife would’ve fought me for it) could’ve eaten a giant bowl of this. Extremely light and dressed so that the squid really shined (and texturally was perfect). We gobbled this up before my wife had a chance to snap a picture. -Lobster French Toast - I agree with Don that this dish doesn’t totally represent the “best of” Kinship due to its overall decadence. That said - we both really enjoyed splitting it (for me, it would’ve been too rich to eat by myself). I found the “french toast” to be a nice compliment to the perfectly cooked lobster I also thought it was a perfect size. -Roasted Chicken - I had to convince my wife go this route and man, she was pretty thrilled we did. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a chicken dish of any sort that rivals what we had (and I’d include Palena’s in this). The panade was incredible and I liked the way they shredded the dark meat over the frisée salad. I accompanying potatoes (I wonder if they use the par boil with baking soda technique to get the crusts the way they are) and parker house roles served as nice compliments to the roasted bird. - BlackRock Orchard Baked Apple - we paired this with the excellent coffee service (its worth getting to echo everyone’s statements above) with this fall focused desert (despite it being 80 degrees outside). The apple may have been slightly underdone - but otherwise this was another excellent dish. I really was surprised at how much I enjoyed the “bay mouse” that served as the base. Despite some absolutely atrocious behavior from a customer nearby, I was also extremely impressed by the staff at Kinship from both a warmth and an overall level of service perspective, even late on a Sunday evening. Additionally - from a cost perspective, getting out of there after having the amount and quality of the food we ordered plus two very nice half bottles of wine for 160 pp (including tax and tip) felt like an excellent deal (not cheap certainly, but more than fair in my opinion). I really look forward to returning.
  34. 7 points
    Cheers. To be honest I am not really qualified to answer this. I have a WSET advanced qualification in wine so am comfortable to talk about wine lists and wine pairing, but I don't know a great deal about cocktails I'm afraid. The other beverage that is interesting to pair with food is Japanese sake, which I am still learning about. I'll leave the cocktails to others that are more knowledgeable about them. Thanks Don. It has been very kind of you to invite me to participate in this forum and I would especially like to thank all the forum members that contributed so many interesting questions and responses to my answers. It has been a real pleasure and I would like to wish you all very happy dining in the future.
  35. 7 points
    the bf and i checked out himitsu's monday "supper club" last night, which i ringingly endorse. seven course menu for $90 (pre-tax/tip), which is expensive but not insane given the quality and quantity of the food. i would even go so far as to call it a good value (in the expensive world of tasting menus -- all relative, of course). how are these reservations not impossible to snag? (there are currently tables at a variety of times available every monday in september, which is as far out as they're currently booking.) but come hungry: it was a lot of food. multiple dishes basically felt full-sized, despite the tasting menu format. (i wonder if this is something that they will tweak with experience.) and be prepared for spice; almost every dish was spicy to some greater or lesser degree. the meal began with the akami crudo (tuna, compressed honeydew, chile, white onion, and shiso), which was the only item that pulled from the regular menu (although subbing shiso for . . . cilantro? if i recall correctly from a dinner last week). as expected with crudo at himitsu, it was a bright, balanced combination of fish, sweetness, spice, and acid. one of my favorite crudos since they've opened. next up was a sort of shumai (although i believe our shrimp filling was a pescatarian sub for boudin blanc -- bits of southern influence on this menu) in a soy broth liberally studded with salmon roe. i quite liked this dish, but it was right on the edge of being too salty for me, and i'm a salt fiend. i imagine some diners will find it too much. the dumplings themselves were a bit too big for one bite but a bit too soft to easily scoop from the bowl with the provided fork. (plus, all that roe!) i should have asked for a spoon. maybe my taste buds were a bit overwhelmed by the shumai, but a sprinkle of finishing salt on the "tartless" tomato tart probably would have been fine with me. (again, salt fiend; not necessarily a technical flaw.) a thick slice of heirloom tomato sitting in a pool of tomato water, topped with little heirloom grape tomatoes (peeled, maybe slightly cooked to condense flavor or just really good to start) and dotted with a spicy yellow paste (more tomato?). i vaguely recall something crunchy -- fried red quinoa, maybe? very summery. (i requested a spoon for the tomato water.) next up, a little pyramid of perfectly fried panelle cubes stacked atop concentric pools of a peppery-garlicky sauce and cauliflower puree. (yes, i did use my fingers to swipe up the last bits of that puree. screw spoons.) tasty but starchy -- could have easily had half as many cubes, given how much food was still to come. back to the southern influence with fried catfish over coleslaw. the coleslaw was bright (not creamy), with raw slices of beautiful purple carrot (which are presumably the same as they use for the awesome roasted carrot dish on the regular menu), the catfish was well fried (of course), and everything was complemented by creamy hot sauce underneath. deceptively simple-looking, immensely satisfying to eat. i think i had three small fillets, and i ate them all. i wasn't hungry by this point, but i couldn't leave anything behind. (really, the bf and i should have packed one dish up for someone's lunch today and split one plate at this point. hindsight.) given the size, we would have expected the catfish to be our last savory but for the fact that we were paced behind an adjacent table, which received a beef dish after the fish. our sub: seared scallops (at least three, possibly four?), fingerling potatoes, charred okra, a pool of salsa verde. very good but also the least favorite dish of an excellent meal, not really more than the sum of its (well-cooked) parts. for those who remember the early himitsu desserts fondly or just lament the lack of dessert offering on the regular menu: the supper club includes dessert! and it is excellent: a (coconut?) forbidden rice pudding studded with roasted pineapple, slivered avocado, and roasted peanuts, and dusted in lime zest. satisfying and complex without being too heavy at the end of a very filling meal. possibly my favorite dish of the night. the meal was great, but between the large portion sizes, the spiciness, and more than one fried/starchy dish, i definitely left in second trimester food baby territory. carlie's cocktails never disappoint; i love how much sherry she uses. (there were also three levels of wine pairing available, and the regular drinks list.) and it was great to have a way to experience himitsu's food with a reservation!
  36. 7 points
    I've been meaning to write about Texas Jack's for a while now, but the WaPo listing reminded me. It's in my neighborhood and I've gone off and on since it opened (I've been going about 2x a month recently). I think Don can remove the "warning" from the title at this point. It has had some consistency issues, but the good/great has largely outweighed the disappointing. I've stuck with the brisket (moist) and pork ribs after trying some of the other meats. The smoked wings were okay, but I didn't love the texture. The sausage didn't leave an impression. I got the pulled pork once and have stayed away ever since (little smoke and dry, but this was well over a year ago). My wife gets the smoked chicken, which I think is "okay", or the fried chicken sandwich. (Compare to Rockland's, which I pass to get to TJs, where I think the best items are the beer, hamburgers and pulled chicken). The pork ribs have generally been great and have been consistently the best item on the menu. They come with a decent amount of pepper from the dry rub and are still moist. The brisket is sometimes a little inconsistent (once or twice in the past year it has been dry), but the bark is great and the moist brisket is usually on point. The brisket sandwich with queso and fried onions (I think it's from the flat) is enjoyable too. I can't believe I'd recommend this, but my favorite meal here is brunch. I've made it a semi-regular habit to go and get the huevos rancheros. It can come topped with brisket (or I guess any meat) for no additional charge, but this feature is inexplicably not listed on the menu. The queso, runny egg and other sauces mix great with the brisket, which is chopped. Doesn't hurt that there are cheap drinks ($5 bloody mary).
  37. 7 points
    I was in Austin this weekend and arose early Saturday to make the trek to Snow's BBQ. Snow's is located in Lexington, Texas - a very small town about one hour east of Austin. It has also been named 'The Best BBQ in Texas' by Texas Monthly magazine on two occasions, last year beating out Franklin's for the title. They are open only on Saturday mornings and are typically out of meat by noon. For those few who haven't ready about Snow's, their story is as remarkable as their barbecue. Snow's pitmaster is Tootsie Tomanetz, an 82-year old woman who arrives at 2:30am every Saturday morning to smoke meat for the masses. During the week, she works in the maintenance department at the local school district. This spring, she was nominated for a James Beard award. A reporter who reached out to her after the nomination had to explain to her what it was. We pulled up at 6:30am sharp, and I was the 11th person in line. In front of us were a group of five men from Los Angeles who were doing a BBQ tour of Texas, hitting several places in a single day. By the time Snow's opened at 8am, there were roughly 60 people in line. The line provides a good view of the open pits, and I noticed Steven Raichlen was there, following Tootsie around and taking lots of notes. I wanted to say hello, but he was gone by the time we got our food. Entering a small shed, you have a choice of ribs, chicken, turkey, sausage, pork butt, and brisket. I went with the brisket, sausage, pork butt, and some chicken to share with my companions. There is coleslaw and potato salad to buy, and free barbecued beans. I tried none of them, not wanting to waste valuable stomach space. There are a few tables inside, but ten picnic tables outside next to the pits are where you want to sit. The brisket was great, with good smoke and nicely rendered fat. Some of the lean parts were a tad dry but that is to be expected. I've read they use small briskets (5-6lbs) and only cook them for about six hours. The pork butt is the real star. They cut it into steaks about an inch thick, then cook it about 4-5 feet over hot coals for about six hours. Then the meat is carved into slices before serving. This is not a tender cut, but is salty and fatty with a nicely caramelized crust. I had read many people say the chicken is their favorite, and it is very good. It has the 'bite through' skin that is so important on the competition circuit, is nicely crispy and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. I thought I detected a hint of citrus in it (maybe lemon pepper?). The sausage was good as well, though not particularly noteworthy. Was it the best barbecue I've ever eaten? It was up there, but probably not quite the best. Was it the best barbecue meal I've ever had? Unquestionably. You arrive in a tiny Texas town at sunrise. Exiting your vehicle, you can hear the cows rustling and mooing in the nearby cattleyard during the coolest part of the day. From your seat, you can look over the nearby fields while feeling the heat and smelling the smoke from the fire and watch these pitmasters at work while enjoying the fruits of their labor. It is an encapsulation of everything about Texas barbecue, and a reminder that meals are about experiences as much as food. I can't wait to return.
  38. 7 points
  39. 7 points
    Happy birthday to both (yes, both!) of my parents, born 95-years-ago today. Their positions in the grave reflect the same side of the bed in which they slept. Married on Sep 6, 1946 when they were 23, just after my father got back from Japan. I'll always love you, mom and dad - you were the best parents any kid could ever have had.
  40. 7 points
    well, my candied flowers didn't turn out as well as I hoped, but it's still a festive piece of work
  41. 7 points
    Straightforward and confident in concept, thoughtful, well-balanced compositions and superb execution! Delicious flavors and textures on the palate make for longing with each bite! Super delicious! I could eat here every day! From my first visit to Fancy Radish on March 27, 2018: RUTABAGA FONDUE today's bread, yesterday's pickle From Sebastian Zutant's winery, "LIGHTWELL SURVEY'S The Weird Ones are Wolves! The 97% Cab Franc 3% Petit Manseng is a subtle nod to Cote-Rotie. The Cabernet Franc leaps out of the glass with its dry cranberry fruit while the honey of the Manseng rounds out the edges. The blend brings an elegant and lush palate that drinks more like a traditional red, while soft tannins and bright acid keep things lively. It’s ready a long life in the cellar but perfect for dinner tonight." SMOKED CHIOGGIA BEETS crushed cucumber, capers, cured tofu, pumpernickel STUFFED AVOCADOromesco, pickled cauliflower, "fried rice", black salt RED LENTIL FULcharred brassicas, zhoug, whipped tahini, barbari bread SPICY DAN DAN NOODLESsichuan pepper, five spice mushrooms, zucchini MISO BUTTER NOODLESnori, black pepper, pickled ginger TRUMPET MUSHROOMSas "fazzoletti", grape tomato, basil SEARED MAITAKEsmoked remoulade, grilled celery, celery root fritter STICKY TOFFEE PUDDINGsmoked cedar ice cream, hazelnut tuile SOUR CHERRY JELLIESsumac jelly doughnuts, halva ice cream, pistachio egg cream
  42. 6 points
    As mentioned in a separate post, a number of new restaurants/food outlets recently opened in Tyson's Galleria. My daughter and I were out doing some Christmas shopping, and we decided to check out Sen Khao. I haven't been to Thip Khao, but I frequented Bangkok Golden a few years ago, which is the restaurant that introduced me to Lao cuisine. The menu is somewhat "compact", and featured two starters, a salad, two sticky rice dishes, and three noodle soups. You have your choice of proteins for the salad dish as well as the soups. We opted for Curry Puffs ($5) and two of the soups. The curry puffs may have been the best I've ever had. The dough was thin, light, and perfectly cooked, while the filling consisted of nicely seasoned pieces of potato. An order consists of two curry puffs with accompaniments. I chose the Khao Piak Sen ($14), which is a type of chicken soup featuring rice noodles, pulled chicken, garlic chili oil, herbs and greens, and some crispy rice. While it was slightly spicy, chili paste and raw chiles are available for those who like it hotter. This soup was a winner. Clean favors, nicely seasoned, and freshly prepared. (Note: The menu states the noodles are udon-style, and while I'm not a noodles expert, I think rice noodles were used.) My daughter opted for Mee Kathi with tofu, which is a coconut curry rice noodle based soup flavored with egg, peanuts, cabbage, and banana blossom. She declared her soup to be outstanding as well. The service was extremely quick, and the staff was very friendly and helpful as well. If I worked in the Galleria or lived nearby, Sen Khao would be on my short list. We strolled to check out the other food outlets, and picked up an eggnog ice cream cone ($4) at Ice Cream Jubilee. The eggnog ice cream was fantastic. Creamy, rich, and with a hint of rum. They offer several interesting flavor combinations (Thai Iced Tea, etc.) Looking forward to a return visit there, as well.
  43. 6 points
    The rest of our meal there consisted of the Crispy Jerusalem Artichokes, Moulard Duck Foie Gras Confit, Pan Seared Venison Loin, Vietnamese Banana Fritters, Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit, and a special off menu ice cream sandwich for my birthday. Everything was perfectly cooked, but the standouts were the Pommes Anna and the Foie Gras Confit. The richness of the foie gras was a perfect accompaniment to the butter pickle savoy cabbage. @MichaelBDC who generally doesn't even take a bite of dessert much less order his own, polished off the Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit on his own. We shared a bottle of Crozes-Hermitage, which we thoroughly enjoyed. One of the best meals we have had in a long long time and one of the few outings where we felt our dinner was worth every penny.
  44. 6 points
    Cuban-style roast pork Black beans with pancetta, mojo and herbs Steamed rice Oranges for dessert
  45. 6 points
    I first wanted to applaud this new establishment (now several months old) for opening in one of the riskiest spots in the city for restaurants, given how PizzaGate affected so many businesses near Comet Ping Pong. We ate here several weeks ago, and I would describe it as a safe-choice venue with some interesting specials. Prices are fair for the value. Ambiance is come-as-you-are comfortable, I like it. Service is a strong point, they are very friendly. It is hard to provide any strategies for this place, as WYSIWYG menu-wise. We did order from the larger format menu, and got the $45 Grigliata Mista - filet of mackeral, two head-on fish, and octopus. Simple and tasty. Our child ordered spaghetti and meatballs $16, it was a modest portion which she easily finished. I also ordered a tripe dish in a red sauce, from the special menu, it was good. We will be back, it is a nice neighborhood amenity, and the bar is well-stocked. It will be in my rotation with Buck's and Sfoglina for last-minute neighborhood walk-ins. My interest is peaked in that it seems to be food-centric without being Instagrammy or outwardly pretentious. But I don't think they will capture an AU crowd like Comet Ping Pong or Medium Rare seems to enjoy. It is a bit of a strange bird and I will enjoy tracking it.
  46. 6 points
    I prepared Hainanese Chicken Rice last night, using some frozen broth from another Hainanese chicken recipe I'd tried before. My wife and I are both under the weather, and while the chicken and sauce were delicious, the broth proved to be very comforting on its own.
  47. 6 points
    Tim Carman had Vinh Kee at #9 on his list of top 10 bargain joints in the burbs. I had their dim sum when they first started but it wasn't anything special so I was skeptical. But a few weeks ago we went and validated the actual goodness of their dim sum. This is the best dim sum joint in NoVa to my knowledge, in terms of quality and variety. The star was the XO turnip cake. The turnip cake was cut into cubes, deep fried, and then topped with minced meat in XO sauce. It came out really hot...so wait awhile for it to cool down. It was a substantial portion...we ate some before snapping the photo.
  48. 6 points
    I'm honestly not that interested in trying many of the offerings at the Wharf, but I've driven there multiple times now (from Arlington) specifically for the mercato at Officina. It is awesome - highly recommended. Excellent fresh pasta, semolina loaves, cheese, house cured salami, biscotti, fritti of various types, roman pizza al taglio, and a whole butcher case. Delicious quarts of housemade soups. Chicken liver pate. Pints of housemade gelato. Seriously, as an Italian-focused home cook, I love this place.
  49. 6 points
    The problem is you ordered a soup that is Bun Rieu in name only. Bun Rieu is a crab soup with crab broth. The problem is no Vietnamese restaurants in anywhere all over the US offered Bun Rieu the way it's supposed to be made. What they do instead if making up this weird combo of pork broth and MSG laden crab paste from Thailand and doused it with tomato paste to balance it out. It's like making bun mam broth and call it Pho. Sea substitute for land vs land substitute for sea. My suggestion: If the bun rieu costs less than $15, it's not bun rieu. It might seem expensive but then how much would a crab cake served with a side of crab broth, noodles and veggies, herbs should cost? Authentic Bun rieu also must be served with Vietnamese Balm (kinh gioi). The crab broth and Vietnamese Balm go together beautifully. That's the essence of Vietnamese cuisine. Certain herbs must go together with certain dish.
  50. 6 points
    Definitely a place that deserves more love when it's on. The lobster purses are excellent, but I thought the showstealer was an eggplant puree served with a few dishes, rich, smoky, and sweet, and according to our waiter prepared fresh by Chef Yannick over several hours each day. Most entrees combined a perfect classically cooked protein with an interesting and visually stunning accompaniment, such as lamb saddle with a mini mushroom and zucchini cake, or seared scallions and turbot with pea coulis and morels. Wonderful elevated French bistro fare in a quaint Bethesda townhome; the second story dining room, complete with decorative kitchen, felt like we were guests at a dinner party.
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