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Wow, 2+ years since anyone last mentioned this stalwart of the Eden Center!  Today we picked up my son's college apartment mate at Union Station and brought them to Huong Viet en route to our home in Herndon.  Our son has been vocal in his displeasure with the quality of food at Rochester Institute of Technology (on-campus and delivery) and after a meal at Huong Viet,  his apartment mate now "gets" why Isaac has been so critical.  One bite of their cha gio is pretty much all it took.  We ordered cha gio, the chopped baby clam appetizer, and split the big mixed grill platter (grilled shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, noodles, and greens for wrapping) two ways while my husband had the yellow noodle duck soup.  My only complaint is that I think someone forgot to add the sugar syrup to my salty lemon drink so it was a bit too salty for me.   

This is a restaurant that doesn't coast on its reputation.  It cranks out good to stellar Vietnamese food from a huge menu.  It's also the reason I was so unimpressed by the Slanted Door in San Francisco back when Slanted Door was one of the top rated restaurants in that city.  Every traditional Vietnamese dish I had at Slanted Door was better and cheaper at Huong Viet.  
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Primrose has "Wine Wednesday" now with 30% off bottles of wine.  It was Wonderfully quiet there tonight with folks out of town and chasing restaurant week deals at other restaurants.  I'm pretty sure the discounted bottle of Sancerre we had tonight was a better deal than 9 out of 10 restaurant week dinners.  The brioche shrimp toast was pretty awesome too.  
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Michael Bozzelli is making the Alban Road flagship a special place for a good meal. And occasionally something interesting happens:




🚨🚨🚨 SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Food Dude USA 💥 WILL BE FILMING 🎥 AT ALBAN RD, Fri 8/23 // stay tuned for info about killer deals🍕, beer 🍺 tasting & live music 🎸on that day 🙌

Food Dude is an interesting concept on the YouTube platform.
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Anyone know a pupusa super-fan or expert?

I'm a producer at WAMU working on a new podcast called Dish City. One of our episodes will focus on pupusas and the marriage of Salvadoran and Mexican food at so many local restaurants. So far, I've interviewed an academic about Salvadoran migration to DC, and the manager at El Tamarindo in DC. Are there any specific restaurateurs, historians, food fans, etc. that you would want to hear discuss pupusas and Salva-Mex food? 

If you were to listen to this episode, what questions would you want us to discuss?

Hi all, I'm a producer at WAMU working on a new show called Dish City. With my co-host Patrick, I'm exploring city change in Washington, D.C. through the District's iconic foods (think: half smokes, Ethiopian food, mumbo sauce, pupusas, jumbo slice, etc). 

There are food & food history podcasts out there, but I don't know of one that zeroes in on D.C. specifically. Would you listen? What kinds of foods do you think we should be covering and what kinds of questions do you hope we explore? We're really open to feedback. 

We launch in September. It'll be just one season of 7 episodes --around 20 minutes each. If you like, you can follow us on Twitter to see what we're reading and what we're up to. 
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Happy hour from 3-7pm, $2 off rail drinks, $5 mules, $5 house wine.  Thursday has a raw bar happy hour all night.  My friend got oysters that just weren't super plump and had very little liquid in them, I think they just weren't shucked super well.  I had peel and eat shrimp that were good.  Mule was good, not too sweet.  
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So went back again for a great evening at the outdoor patio.

NOTE: They have done away with their "tasting" menu which is still posted on their website.  I let them know, so it should hopefully be updated soon.

Our meal and server were excellent.  They have a Family Meal, which is explained as if you are in Italy and stop in a villa - the family would serve you their freshest available food.  This was the closest thing I could find that would be similar to a tasting menu.  The appetizer portion all came out at one time, which was cool - so it went something like this:

OUR DAILY FOCACCIA<br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#5e5e5e;font-size:11.5px;text-align:center;">WILD RAMPS, NETTLE PESTO, PIPE DREAMS FARM GOAT CHEESE

SESAME CRUSTED FETA <br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#5e5e5e;font-size:11.5px;text-align:center;">SESAME, VIN COTTO, EARTH + EATS HONEY 

Octopus Salad

Broccoli rabe

There was more, but my attention after the excellent bottle of 2007 Calebretta, Azienda Vinicola became much less sussinct.

Main Course started with a Bison Hanger steak which was excellent.

A lighter version of homemade pasta with a light alfredo-type sauce and fresh cracked pepper.

We ordered the CARAMELIZED RICOTTA GNOCCHI<br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#5e5e5e;font-size:11.5px;text-align:center;">PORK SAUSAGE RAGU, CALABRIAN CHILI, PARMESAN CHEESE as an add-on because it sounded excellent - and it was.

There was also a beet/spinach salad, another round of bread.

My descriptions are not doing this place justice - the atmosphere on the patio was crisp and lively, not stuffy.  It was busy and we enjoyed a great meal with dessert as noted below.

CRISPY YEAST DOUGHNUTS <br style="background-color:#ffffff;color:#5e5e5e;font-size:11.5px;text-align:center;">ORANGE BLOSSOM SYRUP

They serve lunch as well and their Brunch looks great - for those wanting to try it  and not invest in an all-out dinner - there is an opportunity there.  The dinner was reasonable considering the complexity and diversity of the food we experienced.
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Just so it is official, we are ending the restaurant owning phase of my life. The Grotto will close before the autumnal equinox. I know so many here and have great memories of dinners and people saying “I’m so-and so from the board.” The board with no need to say more.  I hope those of you with fond memories will come in before we’re done. 
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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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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.
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We had a group dinner at Jim Thompson restaurant in Bangkok. This is a mostly touristy affair, with a gift shop across the pathway from the actual restaurant. But the silk fabrics are nice, and they aren't pushy, so it was relatively innocuous.

As was dinner. The plated dishes were quite beautiful, and flavorful. The use of pea flower to dye some of the dumplings in the first course, and the sticky rice (with mango) at the end was a nice touch. A pomelo salad with river prawn in an ornately carved pomelo shell was for me the clear highlight. 

I can't really complain much. But after having dinner at Paste, and after grazing on street food for a few days, this dinner was kind of like going to a concert where you respect the musicianship but aren't really so excited by the music. 
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I've been travelling to Miami for the last couple months, so figured I'd at least stop by and give some recommendations. All are listed in general order of 'goodness' within their group.

Breweries
Wynwood
J Wakefield - The grand daddy of breweries in the area. The owner is renowed for being a bit of an ass, but I don't think I've ever seen him there and the bartenders are generally very nice. Pretty easily the best brewery in Miami proper. They'll have flights of most of their beers (they'll usually have a stout or two that are 10oz pours only, no flights). The inside is Star Wars themed and on Wednesday nights (when I tend to be there) they alternate between boardgame nights and arcade fighter nights. They'll almost always have a mix of sours, stouts, IPAs, and a mix of other styles.
Concrete Beach - Fine alternative to J Wakefield if you want to go somewhere else but don't want to hit up an ABInBev brewery. They have a fairly wide range of beers, but don't remember seeing anyhing particularly dark on my visit.

Doral
M.I.A. - A pretty varied beer list, with multiple sour, IPA, stout, brown, and pale options with other styles as well. Solid all around brewery, definitely worth hitting up if you're in the Doral area. The food is really solid as well.
Tripping Animals - Another brewery that's worth hitting if you're around Doral. Focuses mostly on Berliner Weisse (a light sour, typically fruity) and IPAs.

Ft Lauderdale
3 Sons - On part with J Wakefield. Focuses mainly on IPAs, stouts, and sours. Puts out some really awesome beer (particularly if those are styles you prefer). Also has great pizza.
Invasive Species - Wide range of beers including a couple lagers on my visit (including a Japanese rice lager) and a saison (a style not all that common in South Florida for some reason).
Funky Buddha - They produce a number of 'off-the-wall' beers, like a maple bacon porter and a french toast stout. They also are distributed probably the most of anyone in Miami/Ft Lauderdale. Solid food options available as well.

Other breweries
Maybe visit these if you're looking for something to do and happen to be standing right next door?
Wynwood (in Wynwood)
Veza Sur (Wynwood)
The Tank (Doral)
Biscayne Bay (Doral)

Beer Stores
Boxelder - Great draft list in Wynwood that offers a number of hard-to-find beers typically and is well curated.
Union - Another place with a great draft list in Little Havanna.
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"Ray's Hell-Burger Is Closed" on popville.com
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An old friend of mine, whom I grew up with and knew from Jr High on, Larry Burdett, passed away either on the evening of June 19 or in the early morning hours of June 20; June 20 being his birthday.  The explosion of grief among family and friends is enormous.  Larry was the nicest most sincere fellow, moved back to our home town after college and lived there his entire life.  He passed away at the house his grandfather built in the 1930's; a house he grew up in.  Like his father he was a member of the local volunteer fire department and grew to become chief, serving 3 times in total (a position that rotates every year). 

We grew friendlier in the last few years.  Larry was a prolific FB user, and a prolific friend of many combining the two gave him over 750 FB friends.  On that basis the grief is enormous.  Due to FB we grew friendlier, he being an original member of groups associated with our home town, me having joined later on.

Larry opined on a variety of topics including politics where our perspectives were pretty similar.  His political posts were unique in that his friends from all political persuasions joined in.  For those that join in political arguments on the web it was completely unique.  I used to ask him if it was okay to rant--he approved.  He started asking me about people we grew up with, ones whose perspectives were on the opposite of ours.  We grew friendlier.   I saw him last Autumn.  It was a real pleasure--we were the essence of old friends, even as we hadn't been close in school. 

He is receiving an amazing outpouring of web love.  For a very "common man" he was remarkably loved.

See ya Larry.  Enjoy your bourbon and watching U of Kentucky up in heaven with your folks and other departed friends.  Hopefully there is a fire department there and you and your dad can ride the trucks to help out victims. 
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Dinner at Paste Bangkok was fantastic. Service was efficient, and while English was clearly not the first language of any of the servers they did fine in describing the dishes, and were very polite and welcoming.

I didn't feel like having wine with this dinner, so I opted for a "Phraya sour," one of their 'signature cocktails." It was great, nicely tangy and refreshing after a walk through the hot Bangkok night.

While their menus online suggest that they will only do tasting menus for parties of 2 or more, they offered me (as a single) a nice tasting menu. The amuse bouche of spanner crab on top of a rice cracker was a promising start, though not nearly as interesting as everything to come after. A trio of starters (watermelon/ground salmon/galangal, roasted duck/nutmeg/coriander, and scallop/mangosteen/young coconut) were each really nice, with the scallop dish being the clear highlight. It was sweet, sour, creamy and a little crunchy, absolutely amazing. The soup course of watermelon rind, dish roe and dumplings was flavorful and interesting, and I used the leftover broth to flavor the first helping of jasmine rice. 

These courses were followed by two 'main' courses (sour sausage/crunchy rice balls/kaffir lime/'weeds', and a southern-style yellow curry with spanner crab). The sour sausage dish was incredibly flavorful--the jasmine rice that was provided wasn't to tone down the spiciness, but to provide a counterpart to the intensity of flavor, in my view. A small dessert trio was almost too much--almost, but a very nice riff on the salty cream coffee.

I'd love to go back, but with so much else to experience in Bangkok, that's not too likely. Nonetheless, this is Thai cuisine done at such a high level. I was very impressed.
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Dinner at Paste Bangkok was fantastic. Service was efficient, and while English was clearly not the first language of any of the servers they did fine in describing the dishes, and were very polite and welcoming.

I didn't feel like having wine with this dinner, so I opted for a "Phraya sour," one of their 'signature cocktails." It was great, nicely tangy and refreshing after a walk through the hot Bangkok night.

While their menus online suggest that they will only do tasting menus for parties of 2 or more, they offered me (as a single) a nice tasting menu. The amuse bouche of spanner crab on top of a rice cracker was a promising start, though not nearly as interesting as everything to come after. A trio of starters (watermelon/ground salmon/galangal, roasted duck/nutmeg/coriander, and scallop/mangosteen/young coconut) were each really nice, with the scallop dish being the clear highlight. It was sweet, sour, creamy and a little crunchy, absolutely amazing. The soup course of watermelon rind, dish roe and dumplings was flavorful and interesting, and I used the leftover broth to flavor the first helping of jasmine rice. 

These courses were followed by two 'main' courses (sour sausage/crunchy rice balls/kaffir lime/'weeds', and a southern-style yellow curry with spanner crab). The sour sausage dish was incredibly flavorful--the jasmine rice that was provided wasn't to tone down the spiciness, but to provide a counterpart to the intensity of flavor, in my view. A small dessert trio was almost too much--almost, but a very nice riff on the salty cream coffee.

I'd love to go back, but with so much else to experience in Bangkok, that's not too likely. Nonetheless, this is Thai cuisine done at such a high level. I was very impressed.
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Dinner at Paloma in Mougins, France was really spectacular. It's a charming, intensely polished restaurant with some of the best service I've encountered; the service team truly made you feel that you were in the best hands, but were also completely unobtrusive.

Dinner was a multi-course affair, starting with an array of small bites before jumping into a Jose Andres dish (I believe), a direct steal from him (but who cares, really?): foie gras cotton candy. Absolutely a flawless homage (if Andres created the dish, or if somebody else has) and a fun way to move into the menu. The bread service was very good, featuring three nicely flavored butters, and then came a tomato dish that was, in a word, crazy. The menu describes it as "Heirloom Tomatoes with Provence Strawberry: Tomato garnished with a creamy centre and delicately chopped Green Zebra tomato with lemon thyme flavours, accompanied by a carpaccio and little strawberries." But while that technically describes it, this was something like a tomato that had been hulled out, maybe roasted, the inside coated with white chocolate, which was then filled with green tomato and a lemon thyme sauce and serve with delicately sweet strawberries. It was unclear to me how one would even begin to prepare such a dish, and it was heavenly.

The main course is described on the menu as "Brittany Lobster Marinière: Lobster medallions preserved with salty butter, accompanied by a lobster sauce with orange and basil flavours and artisanal linguine served with a creamy seafood emulsion." Again, that's right, but it doesn't convey how much of a spectacle this dish was, the seafood emulsion arising out of the cupped plate like a foamy soufflé. Original and delicious.

Speaking of soufflé, in fact the dessert course was an apricot one, served with a nice sorbet. One dessert was enough; too was indulgent but too delicious to say no. The typical 'sweets' finish was nice, and small

This was a really, really good meal; it should be, of course; what was surprising to me was that the tasting menu was only 98 Euros/person--an absolute bargain for food (and a restaurant experience) done this well.
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Turkey* and cheddar sandwiches with romaine on some kind of bread that Whole Foods calls "Fire Bread." It has wheat germ in it. Good and solid for a sandwich plus a bit crusty. Potato chips.

*This is the actual roasted turkey they sell at the deli counter at WF, not the pressed deli kind. I didn't know what I wanted to make for dinner and picked that and the sliced cheese up in a cold case in the deli department.
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Chateau de la Begude is in Valbonne, about 25 km from Nice. It's a good golf resort, and also has a very nice restaurant La Ciste. We had Le Menu du Chateau, a 4-course affair that did a nice job of showcasing creative cooking. The amuse bouche was not the greatest beginning, a somewhat wan crab meat/radish combination that didn't do much for me. My tuna/watermelon dish was fantastic, a mini Stonehenge of perfectly seared tuna wedges, with watermelon 'squiggles' and an interesting but not overpowering fruit sauce. The pig chest (poitrine de cochon) was great, a cube of slow cooked pork belly with nicely caramelized skin. Desserts were good, though not the highlight. Service was smooth and friendly. If you are here, go here. If you are close, it's also worth the trip.  
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Posted in the wrong thread, it belongs here . . .

Stopped by for my first visit just now . . . Closed by the Dept of Health on 6/14. Next to the official notice is a sign that says “Equipment Repair . . . see you soon!”


 

 





 
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La Preferida has moved a bit further south on New Hampshire, in the parking lot of a Sunoco gas station.  An order of Pastelitos de Carne was 3 fried empanada-like creations -- expertly fried, great texture and not greasy at all, and stuffed with savory ground beef.  Accompaniments included a forgettable coleslaw, a moderately spicy red salsa, and a much tastier but very spicy green sauce.  The chicken sandwich looked pretty boring on the menu -- a subway roll with shredded chicken, hard boiled eggs, avocado and cheese -- but the chicken itself was moist and really tasty.  It had obviously been long-stewed and was very nicely spiced.  Three tacos, one each pork, beef, and tongue, were a huge disappointment -- the tongue was very tender and nicely flavored but the meat in the other two was miserably tough.  All three were served on a single, doughy, thick tortilla, with oversized hunks of dried out cucumber and radish that looked like they'd been hacked with a dull cleaver by a blind person, and no cheese or avocado.  So overall a pretty mixed bag.    
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SEI is closing...

Saw the restaurant yesterday with D.C. "suspension" signs in the windows (referring to DC Code 47-2026 and DC Regulations 9-415.7, which appear to be related to Certificates of Registration (http://dcrules.elaws.us/dcmr/9-415)).

Today, the website has been updated with the following message: "

After more than a decade SEI is closing.  

This will be our second farewell to an industry that we love and has been good to us for 12+ years.

We are humbled to have been a small part of the beginning of DC's booming restaurant industry.

 

SEI was the venue for numerous celebrations, met wonderful families, made forever relationships,

honored to serve such dignitaries and so many wonderful talented

employees, managers and chefs.

 

There are simply too many people to say thank you to and so many incredible experiences to recount.

We are eternally grateful to those that have graced our tables and made SEI a DC staple.  

So to our customers, friends and supporters, you have enhanced our lives for over a decade and we want to say

THANK YOU for the journey."

[https://www.seirestaurant.com/]

Another sad closing.  A bit overpriced, but fairly high-quality and innovative food.
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Komi's turned into Happy Gyro for June.  It's like a really refined vegetarian diner (think Chicago Diner or the local Fare Well putting on airs).  It continuously riffed on (at least my) childhood memories of favorite foods--sure, they're elevated here and fancier, but darn if they're still not comforting and deeply satisfying.

There were about 8 dishes of varying sizes, with the main attraction being a choice between a gyro or a cheesesteak.  My wife and I picked one of each and split them.  Both were delicious and would be perfect replacements for Adams Morgan's post-drinking jumbo slice, but my heart belongs to the gyro because it was the closest thing in the USA I've had to the gyro of my formative years.  The mini tacos tasted like--and this is a true compliment--how I remember Taco Bell decades ago.  There was also mushroom souvlaki, beet fritters, feta and tomato salad, garlic bread, roasted squash, and strawberry ice cream.  Everything was outstanding. 

(To those who may be curious: as far as I could tell, there wasn't any tofu, seitan, or processed meat substitutes--it was mostly mushrooms or legumes in place of meat.)
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[I sent agm a personal message of thanks, but it bears repeating that people on this board are amazing!]
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Went back to Bar Vasquez.  It is much improved.  We started with CAMARONES A LA PLANCHA - perfectly grilled Patagonian Red Shrimp, tender but slightly crispy on the exterior.  WOOD-GRILLED LENGUA DE TERNERA was another winner, tender tongue with a criolla sauce (similar to chimichurri).  Not pictured but a great value is the prime skirt steak, tender yet full of flavor.  The only miss was the crab bucatini - bland red sauce with equally bland crab meat.  We also had some broccoli.  I wonder why DC can't support a decent Argentine restaurant.
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