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jca76

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  1. The Beyond Burger, while not as good as the Impossible Burger, is non-GMO certified and quite satisfying (at least to this pescatarian who misses meat). (Although personally I've never understood a blanket objection to GMOs as though they are somehow inherently bad for you. I'm sure the papaya farmers of Hawaii or consumers of golden rice don't object to their benefits.)
  2. we've been rooting for johnny spero since suna, where we had one meal during its short tenure that hinted at the chef's potential. we had three very good meals at reverie in the last year, and have been keeping an eye on the take-out options since the beginning of the quarantimes, eager to support the restaurant. given that we don't eat meat, this past week's reverie at home for 2 seafood menu was our first opportunity. the highlights: the bay leaf custard topped with jewel-like red currants was silky textured, herbaceously not-too-sweet, and brightened by the acidic pop of those currants. it may be the best take-out dessert we've had in the last four months. the scallop crudo, a favorite from our first reverie dinner last summer, remains a delightful new nordic-inspired play of sweet raw scallop, creamy buttermilk, and vibrant dill. (i don't get the crispy scallop chips, which i find to have a strong seafood funk and dense crunch that overpowers an otherwise delicate dish, and, to be honest, make me think of oversized fish food flakes. luckily, they were packaged separately and easily left off.) the madai crudo with smoked olive oil benefited from an additional sprinkle of sea salt, but was otherwise lovely -- clean, just a hint of smokiness, with a good acidic balance. both the crudos were thoughtfully individually packaged (two of each crudo), the garnishes carefully placed atop the seafood, so that it was easy to scoop them onto a plate for a beautiful at-home presentation. steamed carolina gold rice dusted with furikake was tasty on its own and a great vehicle for sopping up the herb butter sauce from the turbot. the nits: both the excellent (cultured?) seaweed butter accompanying the focaccia and the herb butter sauce needed salt, but that was easily fixed. (and i much preferred the focaccia to the dense rugbrod we'd had in-restaurant in the past; it always felt a bit too virtuously wholesome for me.) we had been excited to try the clarified gazpacho that had been listed on the menu when we placed our order (which we did a day or two before), but unfortunately it didn't make it into our bags. however, we got a prompt and apologetic response to our email, with the promise to refund part of the dinner cost. these things happen, and it was handled fine. the only real miss for me was the roasted, on-the-bone turbot. i acknowledge that turbot with a buttery sauce is already the sort of classic dish that is less my speed (and honestly a bit more boring that i would have expected from reverie), and i realize that it's a challenge to figure out a cooked fish that will travel adequately. even with a reheat in the oven, the skin was unappetizingly slimy, but once discarded, the flesh underneath was basically unseasoned -- back to the kitchen for lemon wedges and salt! -- and studded with a surprising amount of fat. i usually get a visceral joy out of performing my own dinnertime seafood butchery -- filleting a whole roasted fish, dissecting grilled head-and-shell-on prawns -- but separating the turbot from its skeleton just made for frustration and a bit of a mess. while i've roasted a lot of whole fish, i'll admit that i've never before tackled a turbot, so i'm just not familiar enough to know whether this was just my own personal (lack of) preference. overall, i'm glad that we ordered, and we'll definitely be keeping an eye on reverie's pescatarian-friendly options for future take-out. and i'm still thinking about that custard.
  3. the bf and i also did the whole bass dinner this weekend (on sunday night) and agree with marty that it was excellent and an excellent value. unfortunately for us pescatarians, the "family style" meals, which replaced the more diverse a la carte menu when the patio opened, have for the last few weeks been exclusively meat-based. i actually emailed the restaurant earlier in the week to ask whether they would have non-carnivorous options at any point, and within about ninety minutes received an email that the bass was available (which it definitely hadn't been earlier that morning). unclear whether the addition was a coincidence or responsive to my email, but either way, kudos for quick reply. (for those who are concerned, the take-out hand-off was very comfortable -- no need to go into the restaurant, because there's a host stand set up outside on the sidewalk.) the bass came filleted, skin sides up, in a disposable metal pan (perfect for reheating, had it been necessary, but we didn't bother). despite transport, it wasn't overcooked -- not something every restaurant has managed during the quarantimes for fish dishes -- and the skin retained sufficient crispness to be worth eating. the two fluffy, za'atariffic pita were bigger than i remembered, basically the size of the dinner plates onto which we unwrapped them. perfect for scooping up the summery pea-topped hummus. i've loved the caramelized onion-heavy mujadarra since we first tried it the week albi opened, and the current iteration, with its addition of charred corn, is even better. and those burnt cinnamon cookies were addictively spiced with a crumbly-soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. so glad to have albi back in our take-out rotation!
  4. the bf and i ate here three times in the approximately two weeks between albi's opening and the beginning of the quarantimes, and we've done take-out at least half a dozen times in the months since. for us, it's easily the most exciting new restaurant opening in dc of the last few years. a number of items on the current menu are new since our last order two weeks ago (which means we're due for another night of take-out!), but anything that sees the grill/hearth is probably worth trying (grilled fish, umami-rich mushroom skewers, probably the best baba ganoush that i can recall), seasonal vegetable-heavy hummus makes (what i usually find to be) a boring staple exciting, the baked goods make excellent use of relevant spices (seasoned turmeric honey on biscuits, za'atar croissants, etc.), and smoked trout spread is ideal brunch fare (but i'll also happily eat it with dinner), like punched-up whitefish salad. if i had one complaint, it's that sometimes lettuce-y salads are overdressed; they should consider dressing on the side as the default for take-out. the wine list is interesting thanks to its affiliation with next-door maxwell (and, i believe, fully available for take-out, although you may have to call for that). service was great for dine-in in the before times, and on the one occasion when we had a slight hiccup with our take-out order, the response was prompt and overly generous (a $25 gift certificate in apology). we love this place.
  5. but that's exactly what makes it so impressive -- they're accomplishing that with tofu! (as a pescatarian who remembers meat as delicious, a successful facsimile of a meat dish manages to evoke the satisfying textures and flavors that are often difficult to get in vegetarian dishes.)
  6. from my stalking of the menu to check for new items, it seems like the menu updates intermittently over the course of the afternoon. there have definitely been days where one pizza sells out but another option is added later in the afternoon that wasn't on the menu initially, so it's worth checking back. also, they space out pizza orders and you can select pick-up time (unlike orders that don't include a pizza), so no need to wait until you're ready to come pick up to put in an order.
  7. i would argue that they are the third and fourth best, although it's an honorable bottom half of the ranking. i think the tofu gyro was the tastiest thing i ate in 2019 -- not necessarily the "best" or most creative or difficult-to-make -- but the dish that was the most deliciously satisfying, which i could eat indefinitely. being able to eat it while stuck (mostly) at home has been a small bright spot in the last week. and the celeriac reuben is also pretty great.
  8. Do you mean the gyro? It's made with tofu skin, not mushrooms. I didn't notice a particularly charred smell (we ate it last night). For anyone who did the Happy Gyro tasting either time last year, fyi, the take-out gyro is a little smaller, I believe, but still absolutely delicious.
  9. the bf and i had a spur-of-the-moment dinner at annabelle last night. the makeover of the old nora space is lovely, although i do find kind of funny/sad that notwithstanding what i assume to be a target clientele of older, more formal diners, rows of tiny photography-friendly lights above the tables are apparently de rigueur these days. the wine list is very classic, the cocktail list only slightly less so. the sancerre and chablis by the glass were both perfectly satisfactory exemplars. a scofflaw* cocktail was good, but the pencillin was surprisingly mediocre -- quite sour, with very little discernible sweetness, ginger, or peat to balance it. the laminated brioche was delightfully flakey and salty; i was disappointed that our basket contained only one. seed-dusted rolls were unexceptional but made for good soup mops. *i have long loved this cocktail, not least for its delightful origin story: the term "scofflaw" won a contest sponsored by a prohibitionist who wanted a new, pejorative term for those who defied prohibition by drinking. harry's bar in paris promptly thumbed its nose at the endeavor by creating the new cocktail. for our first course, we shared the yukon gold potato gnocchi (rogue river smokey blue, hazelnuts, balsamic compressed pear), kabocha-organic barley soup (pickled maitake puree, yuzu koshu, pumpkin seeds), and caesar-esque (little gem, puntarella, pickled mackerel, piave, baguette). our clear favorite was the gnocchi, which balanced smokey richness with a hint of heat from slivers of red chili, crunch from the nuts, and sweetness from the fruit (which looked like bits of mushroom, confusing me on the first bite). my only quibble was a desire for the few chili rings to have been halved so that they could be spread around more bites. in second place was the soup, which varied pleasantly from bite to bite depending on whether you scraped up a bit of the yuzu or mushroom. the salad was a beautiful mix of green and pink leaves that made excellent use of capers and cheese, although the concentrated fishiness of a few slices of pickled mackerel wasn't an improvement over the traditional anchovies. less exciting were our main selections: organic salmon with korean pepper crust* (radish kimchi, purple potato puree) and savory oatmeal (fennel bulb granitee, coddled egg, sorrel froth). when the waiter explicitly asks whether medium rare salmon is okay -- my preference, so great -- the salmon shouldn't come out with the same solid shade of opaque pink all the way through. it wasn't overcooked, so i wouldn't have noticed but for the expectation-setting of the medium-rare inquiry, but more disappointingly, the dish was kind of boring. the spiralized radish on top only whispered of spice, not remotely approaching the funky heat that "kimchi" evokes. the pretty potato puree was well seasoned and creamy, but salmon and mashed potatoes wasn't my goal with the selection. the savory oatmeal was less a porridge and more a plate of grains studded with chunks of vegetable (onions, beets, fennel) and topped with an egg. tasty, but as the bf correctly noted, one of those vegetarian entrees that won't let you forget that you are eating a vegetarian entree. if this had been a brunch dish, i would have thought that it was a creative take on breakfast food, but as a dinner entree, it didn't feel sophisticated or cohesive enough. *our menu contained a slightly different description than the currently online menu in how it referred to the pepper tuile on top. things picked back up with dessert: goat cheese cake (caramelized puff pastry, huckleberry-balsamic sorbet, spicy urfa honey) and pine nut tart (cornmeal crust, rosemary-mint semifreddo, lemon cream, port reduction). [i'm not sure whether the tart description from the website varied slightly from what we had.] the cheese cake was light and distinctly goat-y, the honey was an excellent pairing, and while i didn't get any balsamic tang from the sorbet, it was very nice. surprisingly (given my love of goat cheese), i preferred the tart, with its sweet chess pie underlayer -- think pecan pie subbing pine nuts. paired half-moons of two semifreddo flavors had a kulfi-esque texture, and the rosemary was pleasantly prominent. while i'm not the ruta devotee than many on this board are -- only one meal at palena before it closed, a few good meals at the grill room, one disappointing dinner at mirabelle -- i was happily anticipating annabelle's opening, and i'm glad that we tried it. i'll keep an eye on the menu for churn, but am unlikely to rush back until there are some additional options.
  10. a close friend and i went to rose's on monday night (which was where we first met at a group dinner about five years ago), and after my last few visits, i'm just not that into it anymore. (i've eaten there literally dozens of times since they opened, and it used to be one of my favorite places.) less innovation -- we ate many of the same dishes more than three months ago -- and less balance in the menu, which skews heavy. (is it my imagination, or is the menu also shorter than it once was?) we showed up at around 8:00 p.m. and were quoted an hour wait. our your-table-is-ready text arrived about 55 minutes later, so well done on the estimate. we were seated at the back bar, where, when we asked for descriptions of the three skin-contact wines by the glass, the very nice bartender just poured us both a splash of the three. (as we watched her and other staff polishing glassware as the evening wore on, i particularly felt the generosity of the additional six dirty glasses!) the bf loved the cacio e pepe monkey bread on our last visit, but both times i've been underwhelmed compared to their past bread offerings. while tons of cheese and black pepper would be good eaten on a spoon, much less on carbs, the texture of the bread is a bit too dense and uninteresting (kind of like a just-okay garlic knot). we ordered the green tomato panzanella (kean's sourdough & anchovy), the lumaconi alla norma (eggplant, anchovy & tomato), and the family style salt & pepper catfish (caviar tartar sauce, pickled melon rind & hush puppies). i've had the panzanella before (back in september) and thought it was good -- nice briny-brightness -- but we mostly ordered it because it was the only fresh vegetable dish on the menu. this is what i mean about lack of balance. (we let the last bites go when a serve came by to clear because we thought she was replacing it with our pasta, but it turns out the dish she was holding was for another table.) the meal felt like it had a lot of downtime, which was particularly frustrating because we were hungry and it was late on a monday. the lumaconi was by far the best thing we ordered; rich, acidic, salty, spicy. just wonderfully bold; we scraped that dish. we were also gifted the whole wheat reginetti (mustard greens & baby kale), a dish i've enjoyed many times before. maybe it was the contrast with the norma sauce, but the reginetti just tasted flat. (and while i appreciate the gesture of an extra dish that rose's and other places frequently make, it just seems wasteful when we've ordered a sufficient quantity of food and then another pasta arrives. we were basically full before the fish arrived.) the catfish was the most disappointing dish of the night. the hush puppies were excellent, well seasoned and light in texture (for hush puppies). while the batter on the fish was nicely seasoned, it wasn't as crispy as i would have liked, and the whole dish was just a lot of fried heaviness. a tiny pile of pickled watermelon rind on the side was insufficient (both in quantity and integration) to add acidic balance. the caviar tartar sauce was a little dollop of roe in the middle of a pool of . . . perfectly ordinary tartar sauce. granted, i'm not a huge tartar sauce fan in general, but this tasted totally generic. (come on, rose's, get creative! add some lemon! add some herbs! go nuts and mince up that pickled rind into the tartar sauce! do something!) the leftovers were decent with a lime-yogurt-tahini sauce that i had around, confirming my belief that a better sauce would have helped. (sadly, the pickled rind didn't make it into our to-go boxes.) we left very full, but in that weighed-down-but-not-quite-sated way that i get when i eat too much heavy food that i didn't really love -- a feeling i'd also had on our last visit. sadly, i think rose's will be out of my rotation for awhile.
  11. the bf and i had dinner at mama chang on christmas, and happily, all three dishes were excellent. (we, too, have experienced disappointingly inconsistent meals at his restaurants, although i've never had one that i'd call truly bad.) green beans with pickled cabbage did not have the discernible chunks of cabbage that i'd expected, but the whole dish was wonderfully garlicky, very umami, well seasoned, and the beans maintained a good crisp texture. as noted above, the dry fried cauliflower was very good. similar to the dry fried eggplant that we routinely get at his restaurants, it was well fried and studded with chilies. the cauliflower was chopped into reasonably small florets, which avoided bland centers. the farmer's stir fry (tofu skin/egg/chinese leek/green pepper) was a big bowl of lots of vegetables, studded with extra-savory bits of delicate tofu skin and scrambled egg. one of those dishes that has so much green that you can kid yourself that it's healthy. (pay no attention to all that oil that is making it so tasty!) our total before tip was under $40, and we had leftovers to take home.
  12. i believe we've discussed this in the past, but little serow exceeds the bib gourmand price cap and is therefore ineligible (although i think that it should have a star anyway, and komi more than one). the omission of 2 amys from the bib gourmand list is ridiculous.
  13. for anyone who missed it in the last two go-arounds (or who just wants another opportunity to eat that tofu gyro), happy gyro is back for october!
  14. i'm pretty sure the pizzas are in addition to everything else, although i'm not entirely sure how they're doled out. my impression is that they lack the capacity to make them a standard part of the menu for everyone, unfortunately.
  15. second the rave for happy gyro! i've never been to chicago diner or fare well, but to me it's basically vegetarian greek little serow. (if johnny and anne want to open this concept as a third restaurant, i am so there for it.) as washingtony notes, the mini black walnut taco is playing on some serious childhood nostalgia vibes. think ground beef texture -- how do they do that with walnut?! -- shredded iceberg lettuce, crunchy shells, old el paso seasoning. the souvlaki was two bites of excellent umami, layers of crispy-edged mushroom with a bit of chew in the center. the beet "morcilla'" was probably my least favorite dish of the night -- which is still a pretty decent floor -- because while i loved the sweet corn puree accompanying it, i found the crunchy, fried beet fritter to be a bit dry. greek salad (tomato, cucumber, onion, caper) was elevated by a delicious whipped feta. two outstanding cold salads came at the same time: the first a mix of white and green asparagus, baby potatoes, and dried olive bits that were almost bacon bits-y in their salty umami. in the second, roasted summer squash and really crispy halloumi were dressed in a lovely herby green sauce. both had excellent acidity. mini belgian waffles topped with tzatziki, radish, and tiny purple allium flowers was as beautiful as it was tasty -- a balance of carby crunch, creaminess, brightness, acidity, and something sweet. the tofu gyro was fantastic; they manage to get an amazing texture out of the thinly sliced tofu (compressed? tofu skin? not sure), and of course anyone who has done the normal menu knows how great the tzatziki and especially the pillowly komi pita are. but the chicory cheese steak was a sleeper hit for me; i'm not usually a bitter vegetable fan, but the bitterness was mellowed by cooking and balanced by the gooey cheesiness, while still having a nice char. strawberry ice cream had vivid berry flavor, and the sweet-salty-crunchy polenta topping provided a great contrast. an excellent meal and really great value, especially for the quantity of food. i'm definitely going to return before the end of the month!
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