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ryant68

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About ryant68

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  1. FYI - I've seen them at Dupont Farmers Market recently. Which will increase their visibility and make it more convenient for many. Hopefully good news all around.
  2. In my opinion, Pinea remains an under-the-radar gem. The cooking is excellent, the wine list is solid with many reasonably-priced options, and the space is grand, but not stuffy. A recent meal started with the octopus with pork belly and beans. An interesting and tasty combination. Lobster/saffron risotto was decadent, but not cloying. My friend and I split a serving, but even at (roughly) half it was substantial and could have been a main course. We finished with the duck breast. It was tender, and the chef let the rich flavor of the meat shine through with a light touch. The duck was balanced with chard and pureed chestnuts. It was a delightful winter's night, hearty meal. The location is a little out of the way from the Metro, which may explain why it does not get the same attention. But going back to the Mendocino Grill days, Koslow's cooking has justified walking a few extra blocks.
  3. My thought is: Go. There was a period of change and for awhile it seemed adrift. But after a few trips over the last couple months, I think the chef and team have settled in. The food is thoughtful and creative. The wine list remains excellent, and the by-the-glass list is back to sneaking some gems in among the standards. There is a positive vibe about the place, even if it is not the "scene" it once was. I will stipulate that I've always been biased favorably toward Proof, but I think it is justified again.
  4. Buddha Bar: You were an anachronism of a conspicuous consumption before you opened - not even stopping to be a cliche. It is where the ghost of Lehman Brothers past float above black tables and compare their business card designs milling among people who chose an evening of expensive cocktails over bottle service. I suspect few readers of this board will ever go - but as a public service so that you do not have to feel guilty about making your party pick up and leave, I offer this warning: Do not go unless you are dress code code compliant (which not surprisingly matches anything you might see someone wear in a hip-hop video, a middle class family on vacation, or a Caps season ticket holder). I went last night for happy hour to meet up with some friends. I arrived after they started, but was told I could not stay because I was wearing sneakers, contrary to their dress code. I explained this to my friends and they graciously agreed to move on to somewhere else if management insisted. Management insisted even after I took off my shoes and offered to have them hold them until we were done. The place had many "reserved" placards spread around. However, when my friends cancelled their order and we left the staff outnumbered the remaining customers (at 8:00 pm on a Friday). It seems to me that if you are in the hospitality business you let the group - including the slightly less than natty dresser - finish their round rather than adhere to a strict policy, especially during a dead time. But subtlety is not their strength. Their strength is fleecing those willing to spend monopoly money on mediocrity. I only hope your cynical business model collapses under its own weight sooner rather than later and slouches back to Vegas. Apologies to any who have gotten this far into my rant. Kushi was delightful as always.
  5. I too was not impressed. I had hoped that Andres would add some twist to make classic new and interesting, but instead he seemed to go for authentic, which turned out to mean bland. I left thinking, "thank goodness for immigration." As for 2 1/2 stars - I think sometimes they are assigned like headlines meaning not by the same person who wrote the review because they don't always seem to match. Sometimes I block out the starts, read the review and then ask myself, "is there any possible way Tom could not give this place 2 1/2?" It adds some excitement to the process.
  6. I think this turns into a no-win, because some people will think the server forgot to bring it when they see it on other tables. At a small plates place I don't think charging for bread is out of line. One trick is to ask if any of the plates you ordered come with bread - (at Estadio some of them do). However, getting a $100 plus tasting menu and then having to pay $2.50 for a cup of coffee at the end of the meal - that is tacky. Finally, If you do go to Estadio, and have room for dessert: Pimenton Ice Cream sandwich, it is smoky, a hint of spice, sweet, creamy, chocolate-y. Oh, and the deviled egg rocks too.
  7. This sauce is so good I went back 2 weeks later just to get the same dish. The pepper-based sauce on the branzino is also really good. They make me wish Proof had real bread to do some mopping up of the plate before it is cleared.
  8. I don't disagree with the Palena, Proof, Corduroy, Komi list (though I'm still waiting to go to Komi). I would also through PS7 in the mix. Maybe a notch down in price, but not in quality of food and less stuffy than some other places.
  9. I would add to Mark's suggestion to read a little and drink a lot. Talk and write. Using words when drinking is a great tool to learning and remembering. A few years back I was roughly where you are. I can't claim expertise, but I have deepened my knowledge and appreciation and am no longer intimidated by even the longest of wine lists. I found that talking about wine with a more experienced drinker, whether at a store, a bar, a winery, your friends, or the sommelier (and I have asked all of these along the way) is a great help. To have a sip and then talk about things like fruit-forward, acid, tannins, oak, structure, balance, young wine, old vines, etc will give you points of reference. Some may say that it is hard to find a patient person to talk to you. I have found the opposite. Most wine people love to talk wine, have lots of opinions, and want to share their passion. I also try to keep a wine journal. When I open a bottle at home I record the vital stats and then do my best to describe it. Sometimes just a couple words, sometimes a paragraph. The act of choosing words makes you think a little bit about what is going on when you taste. It also helps to build a bank of memories to associate with wines. And I agree completely that the most important thing to keep track of is whether you like it.
  10. This past Sunday a friend and I went for dinner. It was my first time and we thought we'd take advantage of outdoor seating while the weather lasted (plus I didn't realize until then how many places were closed on Sunday). The food was good, especially for the price. A great neighborhood place. We split the melon, prosciutto, mozzarella app. I'm not sure the mozzarella held up enough to the cured meat and melon but that could be my own bias toward the mix of melon and prosciutto unaccompanied by anything else. I had the grouper with veggies on the side and my friend had the half a lobster and pasta dish, which was a lot of lobster for the price. Both were off the specials list and tasty. We had an Inama Soave to go with it (replacing the slightly cheaper - I believe -- Soave on the list that they were out of, but gave us the replacement at the same price) Food aside, I wanted to pay a special compliment to the staff that dealt with a very demanding, fidgety, possibly unbalanced customer who was seated a table over from us. She was clearly a drama queen, making demands just to get extra attention. It took several visits from various servers, hostesses, and managers to keep her satisfied, but they did so is a smooth manner. Despite the customer's apparent desire to make a scene, they kept the situation defused.
  11. BDT has been on my list of places to try for awhile. I used a friend visiting from out of town to go for dinner last night. The dinner started with a stumbling out of the gate, but ended well. We had an 8:30 reservation and showed up 5 minutes early. The hostess told us the table wasn't ready yet and directed us t the bar to wait. We rolled with it, had a drink and waited for them to retrieve us. After 30 minutes I finally went back over to check in. It seemed pretty clear they had forgotten about us. The two people working the desk seemed frazzled. I had to remind them my name and reservation time. Luckily they had an open table at that point and we were seated. In the first 5 minutes or so we were hit up by two different people about drink and/or wine orders. The waiter came over to explain the menu and inform us that any tomato dish was out for the evening. It is a market based restaurant, these things can happen, though I couldn't help but wonder if they had run out in the last 30 minutes. My friend and I looked over the menu and settled on some choices and I made a wine choice based on that. Ordered the wine from the other waiter, but then he came back to tell us that they were out of that choice. I asked a question about another wine. He came back with the wine, but did not have an answer to my question (which was a basic question about the kind/percentage of grapes in the wine). It seemed like something that if he didn't know, someone else should have been able to help him out. He opened the wine and then we waited for several more minutes until I flagged the waiter over to take our food order. While the staff seemed to disappear for stretches during the meal, they always seemed to be around to top off our wine glasses. My cynical side thought couldn't feel like drinking gets a higher priority than the food because the different margins. I realize this is a fact of life for restaurants, and I don't mind the markup on wine for that reason. But it shouldn't seem so obvious. After that rough start, things got better. The waiter brought over a plate of shaved ham (though he only said something along the lines of "something while you wait" without saying what it was or where it came from. Tasted great and we gobbled it up.) For apps, we split an order of the bone marrow which was a huge portion. I thought the flavor was a little weak, but I was comparing it to a smaller cut with a very intense beef flavor that I had last year. The whole roasted garlic tasted really good when spread on the bread. In retrospect I wish I could have just ordered the garlic and bread. My friend got the braised beef for her main course. The sauce was rich and tasty. The beef was done well, with that almost falling apart texture. I got the duck, which is really two different pieces. One was a leg confit that was very good - not too greasy, the herbs adding complexity. And the breast was tender and pure in flavor. It doesn't come with a sauce, but I thought this worked well allowing the natural flavor to shine through. We got a side of brocolli that was good but nothing memorable. For sweets my friend got the peanut butter/banana ice cream and chocolate sauce on the side. The sauce was just bitter enough to pack a punch, and was divine with the ice cream. I got the goat cheese custard. It was decadent and tasted great, but I thought it was a little too custard and not enough goat cheese in the flavor. But it was a large portion and I ate the whole thing. The waiter also managed to redeem the earlier service missteps. When he brought the ice cream he forgot the sauce. A couple minutes later we flagged him down and he went to get the sauce. When he came back he brought a fresh serving of the ice cream because the first one had started to melt. The bottom line was the food was very good, but I'm not sure it was worth the price. For those kind of prices I expect the whole experience to be enjoyable. I can cross BDT off my places that I haven't been to, but I won't be adding to places where I'm eager to return.
  12. I went with a friend to PS7's after a movie last night and had a great meal. My friend had the carrot and ginger soup as an app and it was creamy and flavorful. The pine nuts added a great texture. She had the scallop appetizer as her main course, but the serving was so large that I suspect the kitchen might have added a little extra. I had the artichoke ravioli, which were a great mix of sweet and salty. The only complaint is that the flavor of the sauce was so strong that the taste of the artichoke was lost. For the main course I had the Veal Tenderloin. This dish was a decadent treat with a lot going on (maybe too much, but I ate it all). The morel bread pudding on top of morels in a creamy sauce created a series of sensations and interesting flavors as the earthiness of the morels and the sauce mixed, while the bread pudding had a complexity despite being a simple slice. The veal came with a reduction sauce and sorrel-pea foam, that slowly mixed over the course of the meal, so that two nice flavors became a third one. Dessert was mini-donuts for my friend (try dipping the donuts in both the raspberry and chocolate sauce at the same time). I had the semolina and olive cake, which were small rounds with chocolate in the center and a light mandarin ice cream. Wine was a 1997 Rex Hill Pinot Noir from Oregon. It was very mellow, with only a small amount of tartness on the finish, but it still retained a great - though not powerful - taste. It did well to bridge the various courses. Service was great, and the bread rocked (but give it time to cool down). It is exciting to go to a place that is trying to be creative and break out of the standard fare (no tuna carpaccio or goat cheese/beet salad to be found). It is even better when it works.
  13. I went a couple weeks ago for the first, on a Friday night. The meal was great, the service charming and the place was about half empty. I fear the location is not ideal and the rough patch getting things started denied them early buzz. I hope the place manages to pick up (or has huge lunchtime business to compensate). I had the squab in cherry sauce, which was a little crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside and the cherry sauce worked very well with it. My friend had a slew of small plates, tuna hamachi (the sorbet is divine), the scallop (good but the sauce is a little heavy) and a salad I don't remember, but which she seemed to enjoy. Dessert was the marscapone nougat, which was subtle and sweet. The server warned us that it comes out hard from the freezer but it didn't seem like that much of a challenge. One minor complaint. I ordered two rounds of wine from the by the glass list. One white and one red. In both cases they were out of my first choice. I understand places can run out, but it made me wonder how much of the list isn't in stock. And whether the thin crowd has forced them to cut down on overhead.
  14. This raises the question of where to get decent Mexican within walking distance of Dupont, or anywhere along the red line for that matter. I think Lauriol is okay, but the waits can make it hit or miss when you just want to drop in. I concur with the consensus on Alero after one take-out burrito a couple years ago. Where else is there? El Tam? "Mediogre" food: Dreck for Shrek
  15. After I get my luggage I go to Tommy's for a double chili cheeseburger, chili cheese fries and a (no coke) pepsi. I'll hit In-n-Out a couple days later usually. But I love 5 Guys too. I recently had one after a long lay-off at the newly opened one in Dupont. It tasted pretty darn good, just like I remember a decade ago when I went for the first time to the one in VA. Both for fries and burger it is a huge leap over any other chain out here.
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