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I was impressed by a recent lunch at Iron Gate.  Friday at 1pm the bar area was empty, and the carriage house was maybe half full, and that was mainly due to a large party of about 14 people having a company holiday luncheon.  We were given a table by the fireplace, which was very comfortable on a cold day.

KOHLRABI TZATZIKI garlic chips, vegetable crudites, fennel seed crackers $11.  Basically just a plate of raw vegetables and the tzatziki.  The crackers were solid.  But unless you are looking to eat some raw vegetables, probably not worth ordering, especially at $11. 

ROASTED MUSHROOM ARANCINI grayson cheese, thyme, black garlic aioli $7.  A trio of golf ball sized arancini, perfectly fried and delicious.

SESAME CRUSTED FETA sesame, vin cotto, earth + eats honey $8.  Really excellent, wonderful soft feta, some earthiness from the sesame and sweetness of the honey.  Highly recommend.

CRISPY RUSSET POTATOES yogurt sauce, lemon zest, house seasoning $7. Also seriously good.  A nice sized portion of super crusty potatoes, sitting on a pool of yogurt. 

CACIOCAVALLO STUFFED MEATBALLS shell beans, charred cipollini, salsa verde $16.  Another winning dish.  Good play between the richness of the meatballs stuffed with cheese and the charred mushrooms and salsa verde.  Perhaps a bit pricey at $16, but a very nice dish.  

WINTER VEGETABLE CAESAR pickled egg, white anchovy, crispy parmesan crackers $14.  Fairly solid.  The salad itself wasn't that standout, but I always love white anchovies.  

CRISPY BLUE CATFISH oil cured olive, pistachio, chili, winter fennel salad $18.  I would have preferred to have received a larger portion of catfish, especially for $18, but it was well coated and fried. 

DAILY FOCACCIA local grapes, kalamata olives, sage (gift from the chef).  A very nice square of focaccia topped with the sweetness of roasted grapes and saltiness of the olives.

On a chilly winter day, Iron Gate is a lovely place to spend a couple of hours catching up with friends over a long boozy lunch. 
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Since November 20, 2018, I have dined at the counter at Green Almond Pantry five times.  Every meal has been truly a delight.  My initial impression is that the dishes are thoughtfully composed and executed with lots of care.  Ingredients are impeccable, treated respectfully and allowed to shine with minimal fuss.  Flavors are so well balanced and precision of execution is mesmerizing.  Simple yet complex.  Chef Cagla Onal-Urel's exquisite touch cannot be replicated.

Lunch Specials are updated daily and can be packed to-go.  Keep in mind some dishes have made only a one-to-two time appearance on the menu so I highly recommend that you take your time to carefully make your selection and don't hesitate to ask your server any questions.  To-go Dinner Specials if already prepared can be served at the counter upon request and at the discretion of the Chef.  Below is a list of dishes I have enjoyed (not in any particular order of preference):

Puntarelle Salad with Anchovy Dressing + homemade croutons


Tardivo, Farro + Beet Salad with Citrus + Balsamic


Local Leek + Goat Cheese Tart with Root Vegetable Salad


Puntarelle Tart with Goat Cheese + Egg


Roast Pork Tonnato with Arugula + Radish Salad


Tuscan Bean Soup



Click on any of the thumbnail photos below to see the enlarged version:
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It's been awhile since Lady KN and I checked in with George and Lily, and Lily reminded me of such with a nice voice mail last week wondering if I was OK. This being the holiday season, Lady KN and I packed a bottle of El Massaya arak in a gift bag and headed to see George and Lily for lunch today. 

After the greetings and hugs and family catch-up chit-chat, we sat down to a pleasant, if gut-busting, feast. We shared a combination platter of kabobs, along with small orders of hummus special (with meat topping), labne drizzled with olive oil, lubee (broad beans with tomato sauce), sauteed spinach, and a plate of pickles, pickled turnips, and olives. All of this was accompanied by bread from their oven, so hot it had to cool off for a minute or two before we could rip off pieces to serve as our dipping scoops. The food was outstanding. A true mom-and-pop serving up some of the fare of its kind in northern Virginia -- still on top of its game after nearly 17 years. Count me a very enthusiastic fan. Don't expect luxury here -- you're eating off styrofoam plates with plastic utensils in a small grocery store. But do expect some of the best Lebanese food in this area.

Before we left, I picked up some shankleesh and olive oil, the latter because it makes for ideal holiday gifts, and the former because eggs and shankleesh are a pairing sent to us from Heaven.
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Visited last night as part of a corporate private party. 
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Interesting, per the 2 Amy's website:

No longer DOC

When 2amys opened in 2001, it was a very different time in the pizza world.  We were excited to be a part of what we saw as an inclusive and dedicated group of restaurants trying in their own way to preserve the legacy of Neapolitan Pizza.  

At that time, there were only a small handful of restaurants in the States involved, and we felt it was an important story to tell.  In the past 17 years, the rules regulating production have been changed, amended, and adapted (apparently you can now cook in a gas oven if regulations don't allow wood), and 2amys has been cited for improper peel usage, among other serious violations.  Although peel usage is not well defined in the dissaplinare, we have decided to move on and are no longer a member of the VPN.  We wish them the best of luck in continuing to redefine the history of pizza.  
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A HUGE loss for Philadelphia.

"Capogiro Gelato Artisans and Capofitto To Close" by Marilyn Johnson on phillygrub.blog
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We watched the documentary "New Chefs on the Block" last night. Frank Linn and Aaron Silverman  are the "new chefs" of the title. The film chronicles the build out of Frankly Pizza and Rose's Luxury (and to a lesser extent, P&P). It's a pretty fascinating film. The coverage starts in 2013 and goes through 2016. The film came out this year. I was unaware of it until I saw it pop up on Amazon Prime when we were looking for something to watch last night.

It was interesting to see the roles both sets of parents played in getting the restaurants off the ground. Also fascinating: the projected expenses for opening vs. actual. Rose's budget was much bigger, but as a percentage they went over much less than Frankly (which was working with an existing restaurant space). The way each handled staffing was also interesting to see.

Since there was quite a gap between when work on the film began and when it was wrapped up, there were some interview bits that otherwise wouldn't have been jarring but were. The most bittersweet part of the film was the segments featuring Michel Richard (who gets an "in memoriam" at the end) talking about food and restaurants. Then there were the segments with Mike Isabella talking about running restaurants. Oh my.

In any case, I haven't been to Kensington in years, but it was cool to see the evolution of Rose's, a restaurant I've been too quite a number of times.
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Any recent thoughts, especially in light of the Xi'an opening?  We haven't been in quite a while and were wondering about overall quality, anything specifically better/not quite as good, etc. 
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We had two proteins tonight. One was a salad I improvised using halibut.
The other was a Mark Bittman recipe for deviled chicken thighs, which I made cautiously, as it involved cooking skin-on chicken under the broiler. Served with dill mashed potatoes and the salad.
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A new season has started on Top Chef.  They're centered in Louisville KY for this season and we have a local chef to root for, Eric Adejpong, who formerly worked at Kith/Kin but now owns a catering company.  He's made it through the first round.
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I stopped by the One Loudoun location for lunch today. Since I was solo, I tried two menu items. I should have taken pictures, but I realized that after I had already eaten most of the food. 😎

The lobster taquitos ($6.50)  consisted of flour tortillas filled with a pleasantly rich, nicely seasoned lobster mixture, and then drizzled with a spicy sauce and served with a dollop of guacamole and and vegetable garnish. The taquitos were fried perfectly, and the serving size was larger than I expected. I'd easily order them again.

I ordered the single portion of fish and chips ($9 for single, $13 for double, grilled or fried). The fish used was Hoki, which I've probably eaten before, but never intentionally. It turns out that Hoki, a white fish, is one of the types of fish used in a Filet-O-Fish. I digress. The portion was ample, nicely breaded, and perfectly cooked. The fish was served with a serving of fries, house-made tartar sauce, and a pickle. Again, very satisfying.

While I only tried two menu items, I like the fact that the restaurant offers seafood prepared a number of ways. Ford's Fish Shack, which some see as a competitor, offers a menu that centers around fried fish/seafood. Slapfish offers plenty of fried foods and chowder, but it also offers Poke bowls, salads, and ceviche. Ford's is a full service restaurant/bar, while Slapfish is a fast casual spot.

The staff was extremely welcoming and helpful. I look forward to a return visit. 
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Had such a delightful time at Katz last Sunday morning. Going on a Sunday at 930am has several advantages. It is not crowded, the owner was hosting his grandkids and family to an elaborate deli spread in the back (yes breakfast like pancakes but also hot dogs), and it is never not a good time for their pastrami. The pastrami half sandwich was ample and so delicious. Their rye bread is only ok (I miss the double baked from DGS) but that meat, oh that meat. It is perfectly cooked - nice chew, but delicate, not falling apart, sliced in front of you to not too thick and not too thin, with great bark and so much flavor. The matzo ball soup was good - soup was pretty good packed with carrots and a nice huge soft matzo ball. The pickles were hit and miss. The sours were good but not great and the half sours were awful - salty cucumbers, I wouldn't even call them pickles. (now I'm biased against half-sours but these were not good). The potato knish's filling was rather good - lots of good sweet onion flavor but not too sweet but the dough was almost non-existent. It was super thin and basically a shell to hold the filling in one place. Kids loved the good bagels and cream cheese and the super friendly bagel guy to made them chocolate milk taking time to mix it all by hand. The countermen were also super friendly.  We got some black and white cookies to go which were rather good. 
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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.
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Took the kids to Joe's for lunch after their tour of the White House.  We've visited quite a few mansions recently and the White House is quite small in comparison.  The estimated tour time of 45 minutes was mostly spent in the security line.  

So I ordered the 2 course lunch with stone crab claws, hash browns, cole slaw, and key lime pie.  We also ordered some fried calamaris and fried shrimp.

When I did the 2 course lunch in Vegas, I was given a huge plate of hash browns, not so at the DC location - just a small scoop of seared potatoes.  The cole slaw is made tableside with cabbage, relish and mayo.  The seafood were great though.  The key lime pie had a very thick graham cracker crust.   

Brunch happy hour included half price champagne.
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It seems that they have closed/are closing. I'm not sure why, but I shall miss them.

We were there for happy hour on Friday, and heard from some staff that Saturday would be their last day.

No confirmation from management, or elsewhere yet.
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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.
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We were there for dinner on Saturday - 2 of the 4 of us had birthdays this week, and we celebrated. The food was great. The service (the upstairs bar, with bartender Zach, who we love) was great. And the cider was as good as always.
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Confirmed (with response from ownership): Ruta del Vino has permanently closed.

It seems that they have closed/are closing. I'm not sure why, but I shall miss them.

We were there for happy hour on Friday, and heard from some staff that Saturday would be their last day.

No confirmation from management, or elsewhere yet.
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As a tribute:
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Late lunch here was very enjoyable, though I was less impressed with the pizza than I thought I would be. The Pane bianco was otherworldly--almost like a crispy olive oil French toast, four perfectly toasted thick slices served piping hot. And only $4. The rucola/funghi/piave salad was a tower of fresh arugula layered with the mushrooms and cheese, with a nicely balanced lemon dressing. Really perfect. The meatball/mozzarella di bufala/chilies pizza was good--the crust was really beautifully crispy and chewy, as advertised. The sauce was a bit too much, and maybe the entire pizza a bit too much. Having been at 2 Amys last week before coming to Mozza, both are really outstanding but we are so lucky to have 2 Amys back in business.

A nicely curated beer list was satisfactory. I'd come back here anytime--the pizza menu is interesting and extensive--but next time I'd be very tempted to just put in a few orders of that bread--it really was that good.
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I've eaten a bagel or bialy for breakfast the great majority of days since the mid-80's. Thousands of 'em. For many years I frequented Bethesda Bagels on Bethesda Avenue, and when we lived on River Road, very close to Western Avenue, I switched alliances to Georgetown Bagel by the River Road Whole Foods. Both of them make a good bagel and a decent bialy. In 2011 we moved close to East West Highway @ Beach Drive, so Goldberg's Bagels on Georgia Avenue is my new place. Excellent, if somewhat inconsistently rolled bagels, and really good bialys. Their parking lot is an utter shit-show, the service is average to abysmal, and the coffee has improved from wretched to better than muffler shop waiting room coffee. They're closed Saturdays, as well as all the Jewish holidays you've ever heard of, and a bunch more. 

But the bialys, and the bagels haunt me. 

(I buy dozens and freeze them in Washington Post bags. 45 second defrost in the microwave, toast to just the tiniest hint of brown. Add Philly, Euro butter, or a quick lox or olive spread and a pot of Mayorga, and you're eating my daily recipe for making morning tolerable)
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Drink Law Brings To-Go Cocktails to a Leesburg Mall, by Tierney Plumb, November 8, 2018, on dc.eater.com.  Time to get shopping!
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It was good to be back at the bar at 2 Amy's.  It was somewhat quieter last night, perhaps people were suffering from election hangovers?
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Some highlights from a recent trip to San Antonio, in chronological order:
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