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jca76

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About jca76

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  1. Thank you! This is extremely helpful.
  2. I’ve been tasked with organizing a friend’s bachelorette party in late April, and the plan is to spend the weekend at a house in The Plains and do some nearby wine tasting. (We are not looking for a stereotypical let’s-get-trashed party; we are all in our mid- to late thirties and many of us, the bride included, enjoy good wine. Ideally we would like someplace that offers a not-to-crowded experience, but there will be ten of us, so that rules out Linden and some of the others.). Does anyone have any recommendations? (I will certainly look at many of the suggestions on this thread, but figured the potential options may have changed significantly since 2010.). Thanks!
  3. four people was a good size given that a number of the dishes were too small to be shared with a larger group, and we did get to try a number of things. however, if you wanted to do a larger group, i'm sure a server could advise on the dishes for which you'd need to order more than one. many of the larger plates (like the broccoli) would be fine to share with a few more people.
  4. four of us had dinner last night at punjab grill. service wasn't great, but the service kinks seem like the newly opened kind that hopefully will be worked out. dinner came out to around $90/person, which was definitely expensive but not quite as brutal as i'd feared from a maharaja-inspired restaurant that offers "market price" caviar and truffle supplements. while we agreed that the food is more interesting than rasika's and most of it quite good, the overall experience wasn't one that will have any of us rushing back. i'm guessing this place will live or die based on the amount of expense account business it draws. the first dish that i tried was the adraki tuna tartare (sago crisps), which was . . . adequate, at best. a small cylinder of ring-molded fish atop under-seasoned, possibly underripe avocado, with one crisp on top (which i didn't try, because only one). no distinguishing flavors stood out. (my internal monologue is concerned that i'm about to sit through an entire disappointing dinner.) luckily, the chana masala “hummus” (amritsari kulcha, radish achar) was much better, albeit quite small: a quenelle of spiced, creamy dip was accompanied by an airy round of kulcha that was no more than four inches in diameter, with a nice pop of acid from the pickled radishes. (luckily the four of us are all pretty close friends, as we tore apart the little disk with our fingers so that everyone got a bit.) our carnivorous friends got a meaty small plate that they seemed to really like, but i have no recollection of what it was. the rest of our food came out basically all at once, crowding the table. the tandoori tiger prawns (moilee sauce, curry leaf, tomato jam) came two medium-sized prawns to an order (heads on, but surprisingly dry inside -- nothing to suck out). i like tandoori seasoning and the prawns weren't overcooked, so i enjoyed my half-prawn bite, but be warned that this is another small one. in contrast, the malai broccoli (amul cheese fondue, spiced churma) was basically an entire head of broccoli. childhood favorite broccoli with cheese sauce grew up and studied abroad: char on the brassica, the richly cheesy sauce given texture by the breadcrumb-like churma, all with a spicy kick. probably my favorite dish of the night, for nostalgic deliciousness. i've read for ages that jackfruit is a serviceable vegetarian substitution, but i'm not sure that i'd ever had it before the kathal kofta (jackfruit dumpling, lebabdar sauce, cilantro cress). the dumpling did have a satisfyingly dense (but not too dense, just enough to be meat-adjacent) texture, and i was sad to realize that the bowl of delicious brown sauce was cleared before i got at it with my naan. (with only four chocolate truffle-sized dumplings in the order, the ratio of sauce to dumpling had to anticipate side carbs, but with table space at a premium, the busboys were quick to clear even the not-quite-empty plates, so i see why this one got away.) at our server's urging, we ordered the burani palak paneer (spinach, tandoori cottage cheese, olive tapenade, garlic), which he assured us was different than the palak paneer with which we would be familiar. a pre-sliced (mostly -- the very bottom wasn't cut through, presumably to keep the slices together) block of paneer sat in a pureed green pool, a bit deeper and more cooked-down in flavor than i'm used to from palak. i appreciated the starring cheese; i'm that person who is constantly wondering how many cubes she can dig out of the shared dish of palak paneer before friends get annoyed. the mushroom khichdi (morels, exotic achari mushrooms, yogurt, lentil) felt more southern than indian, weirdly enough; a friend pointed out that the lentils almost had the texture of grits. along with the broccoli, this was the dish that i just kept eating: roasty mushrooms and starch are addictive in any cuisine. (i swear the lentils tasted cheesy, but i'm not sure whether that's the grits association playing tricks.) given how i usually make a meal out of rasika's sides, the baigan bharta (charred eggplant, desi ghee) and the brussels sprouts thoran (fresh coconut, mustard seed, curry leaf) were both a bit disappointing. the eggplant was a one-note mush of very cooked eggplant. the brussels sprouts were much better, the shaved sprouts warm but otherwise almost raw. the almost-salad was a light counterpoint to the rest of the tablescape, though. naan (both garlic and sundreid tomato, olive & basil) tasted nicely of its respective toppings, although the bread was a bit more crisp and less fluffy than i'd probably prefer (personal preference, not a flaw). a side of the raita never made it to the table (which i did not realize until just now, as i am looking over the menu to recall everything that we ordered). the cocktails we tried ranged from pretty to very good; we all tried each other's. my first drink, the chaiwala (masala chai infused scotch, spiced cordial, lemon, ginger) was probably my favorite, a classic-ish, penicillin-adjacent cocktail. a friend seemed happy with her king alphonso (gosling’s dark rum, mango, pomegranate, lemongrass, mint), although such fruit-forward drinks tend not to be my favorite (unless i'm on a tropical vacation and the setting calls for it). in retrospect, i'm fairly sure my order of the kasauli 1820 (rittenhouse rye, saffron & spiced sugar, orange, smoke) was mixed up with a friend's order of the akbari (old monk rum, dry vermouth, ginger, cloves, aromatic bitters), as his smelled of smoke and mine didn't. (not sure what it says about our palates or the drinks that we couldn't be sure from the other flavors, but his drink was half gone by the time mine arrived.) both were enjoyable, although the one i drank (so probably the akbari) was a tad on the sweet side. (and i think that sweetness is what confused me as to which drink i got, as "saffron & spiced sugar" sounded likely to make a sweeter drink.) the bf's rikki-tikki-tavi (pyrat xo rum, tullamore dew whiskey, pineapple, coconut, egg white, cardamom keora water) was described as a not-too-sweet take on a pina colada, which was a pretty good description (served up but with a frothy head), although the drink could have used acid (maybe some lime) to add another note. the gt&t (mango, ginger, lemongrass & cardamom infused gin, house-made turmeric tonic) was also a bit flat and could have used acid; i think the addition of all the other flavors (especially the turmeric in the vivid orange tonic) muted the brightness that i associate with a more classic g&t. we were seated in a little side room across from the bar, which was quite loud (although possibly less so than the main room); they seem to be going for a scene-y atmosphere with the music. service was surprisingly slow. everyone was perfectly nice when they did come by, but there were lots of noticeable lags throughout the night. i arrived earlier than the rest of my party and was immediately seated, which i appreciated, but no one asked whether i wanted a drink while i waited, which i did. two of my friends joined about ten minutes later, and we only managed to order cocktails after awkwardly calling back a somm (i'm assuming -- he stopped by to draw our attention to the wine list but walked away before asking if we wanted anything). even more awkwardly, i went to a bathroom in the back of the room where we were seated only to discover after i had a handful of soap that the sink wasn't working! (there was an out-of-order sign on a second bathroom, but the one i entered had no indication.) when i asked someone where there was another bathroom, explaining that the water wasn't working in the one, the guy's initial response was something to the effect of "yes, those aren't working, wasn't it locked?," which put me on the defensive. i was led through the main dining room to another set of bathrooms, feeling very uncomfortable the entire time as i avoided touching anything or dripping soap. ugh.
  5. we had our first meal at 701 in october, and based on that experience, it would likely have been our last regardless of the closure. i always enjoy reading when this community has fond memories of a restaurant over the years. sounds like 701 filled an important niche in its time, but at our dinner it felt like a restaurant past its prime. nothing horrendous, but an unexciting, unmemorable meal on all levels -- food, service, and decor. but it's a rare, impressive feat to have stayed in business for this long in an ever-evolving restaurant scene.
  6. we went to rose's last weekend to celebrate a friend's birthday. she had made one of the "group dinner" reservations for eight people, where you get a "tasting menu" of dishes culled off of the regular menu for $75/person. i'd not done a large group reservation at rose's before, having never been particularly interested in the roof garden (given that the cost seemed disproportionate for the experience, based on descriptions here). we were at a long table (four on each side) in the back of the upstairs bar area, rather than the farmhouse table on the first floor near the bathroom (which i believe seats three on each side and two at the ends), which made conversation from end to end rather difficult due to distance and noise. the $75 cost here was still more than you would pay for food if you ordered (even quite heavily) a la carte, but it seems like a reasonable enough mark-up for the guarantee of a reserved table. unfortunately, i don't think the food at rose's is well suited to being structured as a tasting menu -- i.e., one dish at a time in succession. the main advantage of sharing-oriented small plates restaurants is the opportunity to have multiple dishes on the table at once, so that they can be compared/alternated between, and the last bites can be allocated according to who preferred what. (plus, many of the dishes feature the sort of bold flavors that contrast well with each other when there is variety on the table, but work less well in prolonged isolation.) moreover, gaps between dishes were too long, especially in the beginning when we were quite hungry. without knowing what was coming, i ended up eating a bit too heavily at the beginning. while dietary restrictions were accommodated, we didn't get any choice in the dishes. (and sadly we didn't get the two dishes that i most wanted off the online menu: the trenette and squash blossom rangoon, two of the few dishes we hadn't previously had.) from what i recall: CAVIAR & COCONUT -- the sweet-salty combo is tasty, but i would like a third element (finger lime for acid? something for crunch? just something). small bowls for each person. OYSTERS & GRANITA ("happy oysters", cultured cream, spicy aji limo granita) -- a delicious reminder of how much i have always liked their oyster and granita combos. surprisingly spicy (keep in mind we hadn't seen the menu before they arrived). GRILLED CUCUMBER (yogurt & anchovy) -- herby-fishy excellence. probably the most subtlety impressive dish. SMASHED POTATO (bagna cauda, cotija, hard-boiled egg) -- more anchovy brininess, which i like, the sort of haute drunk food at which aaron excels. LYCHEE SALAD (pork sausage, habanero & peanuts) -- i much preferred when they used the old morningstar fake sausage as the vegetarian accommodation. the house-made tempeh doesn't work as well in flavor or texture, although i'm sure it's much more natural. i still enjoy the salad, but it doesn't wow the way it used to (and some of the garlic slices in my portion were burnt). individually portioned rather than a larger bowl for sharing. RIGATONI ALLA VODKA (squid & thai basil) -- probably the most delicious dish of the night in the i-can't-stop-taking-bites way, bold vodka sauce flavor. not clear why this couldn't be vegetarian without the squid but our one vegi got the HERB PISTOU (spaghetti, jalapeno & pinenuts), which i found to be a bit too dry in texture and flat in flavor. acid and/or salt needed? BBQ SPARE RIBS (fish sauce caramel, tarragon) -- meat eaters cleaned this plate, looked great. the pescatarians got a plated version (i.e., individual filets) of the WHOLE-GRILLED DORADE (spring pea curry, sushi rice, snow pea gremolata), which was just okay, more muted than i would have expected from the description. we also got a side of some sort of grilled shredded lettuce and avocado salad, which was fine but sort of an odd accompaniment to the fish; maybe intended more to complement the ribs, which weren't a plated dish? desserts were a grapefruit sorbet that i found too pithy-bitter to enjoy, although others liked it. i loved the rich, almost butterscotchy custard in the POPCORN BRULEE, although i thought the whole popcorn kernels over the top were more distraction than anything. i would have preferred it if (1) the popcorn was broken up into bits, so that it was better integrated, and (2) more heavily salted, as i love a salty-sweet contrast. sorbet was individually portioned while the brulee was shared between two people. the big-table reservation worked well for the two couples in our group who have kids (and therefore value having a set reservation time when getting a sitter), but i otherwise wouldn't recommend this format as the way to experience rose's for people with the flexibility to come under normal circumstances. the bf and i left feeling very full and yet not entirely satisfied.
  7. glad to hear that they are ramping up a bit. there were no hot specials as of sunday (when rick was there). i don't know whether they lost staff during the closure, but jeffrey coincidentally left about a week before the flood, and i don't think they've replaced him with another chef yet.
  8. rose's is now rolling out same-day reservations. the description from the website: "Here is how it works; After we’ve chatted with everyone in line, our same day booking system will open up and show all remaining availability for that evening (currently available Monday through Thursday, after 5:30pm.) Then just click the rough time you want and voila, your dinner at Rose’s is booked! Seating times are not an exact science so please bear with us. We will do our best to seat you at your preferred time but occasionally guests can linger longer than expected. If this happens, we will do our absolute best to make sure your wait is no longer than 30 minutes max (if at all). " the bf and i were there last week (for the joint dinner with tug and taro, which took reservations), chatting with our server about how we don't come in as often as we'd like because we're deterred by the potential for a long wait. she commented that the night before had walk-in space from around 7:30 on. i wonder if the demand for the later end of weeknights (always our go-to anyway) has fallen to the point that this is their attempt at a solution to empty seats. the warning about up to thirty minutes of wait time is interesting; are they anticipating hiccups in the process?
  9. i've been to a number of three-star restaurants in both the u.s. and europe. some of them are that transcendent, and some . . . aren't. in my experience, michelin has a strong bias in favor of formality/old-school service (at least outside of asia), which the inn would satisfy nicely. (i recently read a quote from rene redzepi where he referred to michelin as the "toilet guide," because ratings are a reflection of how nice your bathroom is. seems like a pretty good encapsulation of the problem. i've done a fair bit of eating in copenhagen, and its only three star, geranium, is by far the most formal restaurant of the top tasting menu places but has never surpassed my experiences at two-starred noma or kadeau -- and kadeau only got a second star after a change of location to a fancier setting.) while acknowledging that i've only been once and a few years ago at that, my memory of the inn is that it doesn't really merit a third star -- nor do many places that have received them, in my opinion -- and i'm not surprised that it got one. perhaps the real problem is that the scale is too compressed: there is a huge range within the three star band. maybe the inn deserves three stars, but my favorite restaurants deserve five.
  10. das is the ethiopian restaurant in georgetown (right over the bridge) that used to be zed's (not sure if there was a change in ownership/kitchen with the name change). i haven't been in years, but zed's was a favorite . . . probably fifteen or more years ago? (if i recall correctly, it was the first place that i ever had shrimp at an ethiopian restaurant, which appealed to a pescatarian who sometimes likes variety beyond a veggie combo.) it is no surprise to me that in a city full of ethiopian restaurants, michelin honed in on the fanciest both in decor and neighborhood! that is hilarious and totally unsurprising re taro and tom.
  11. Bib Gourmand list for DC is out. (I'm going to assume that the removal of 2 Amys is just due to its closure at the time of publication, and therefore avoid a rant.) Some excellent new additions, although the criteria for this list continue to be comically pointless given the proliferation of (not cheap) small plates restaurants where you couldn't really have a full meal under the cost threshold.
  12. 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!
  13. Going to Wolf Trap tonight, and given the rain, our initial plan of a pre-show picnic on the lawn is sounding less enticing. Has anyone eaten somewhere you'd recommend in the last two years?
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