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  1. To close the loop, we ended up at ghibellina. We were able to book a large private room on the second floor overlooking 14th street with a $2000minimum spend. Staff was responsive in helping plan and there are set menus with a ton of choices and price points. If I remember correctly, we were able to select three wines, which would be charged each time a new bottle was opened, and three cocktails which would be charged per drink. food was great and service, all the way from when we sent our first email to when we closed out was fantastic. I would strongly recommend.
  2. Does anyone have any advice for making ahead if we are going somewhere for the game?
  3. Thanks, again, guys. The wines "survived" freezing and tasted fine for the most part. A half bottle of 2013 Lynch-Bages which popped its cork was pretty blah, and a 2013 Beaucastel which did not pop the cork lacked any sort of body, but I'm not sure if that's a function of freezing. Highlights of the rest of what drank last weekend were a 2008 Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay, which was perfect, and a 2009 Ridge Estate Cab. A 2013 Pierre Bourée Fils Gevrey-Chambertin was also really good, but had a weird, but not necessarily bad, grapefruit flavor. We don't drink a lot of old world wines, and especially don't drink very much red burgundy, so maybe that's a normal thing? We did open a 2014 Monte Bello last night, despite it not appearing to have frozen or have cork damage. Due to a snafu with our decanter, we drank it over about three hours straight from bottle to glass. It was pretty great after an hour or two. The last glass had a fair amount of pretty fine sediment which I'm not sure is from the cold or naturally occurring. I'm a little worried about these having been damaged, either directly from the cold or from having pushed the cork, so I'm thinking that I will likely drink the Monte Bello that we have left over the next few months. :-(
  4. Don, thanks for the advice! You weren't kidding about the "crystalline matter!" All of the dozen or so wines that we drank this weekend that had popped their corks had significant sediment that looked like sand. I had one additional question, though. At least one of the wines that we drank this weekend didn't show any visible signs of the cork popping, but were clearly wet on top, so we are likely to open a few bottles of the young monte bellos to see how they fared. Do you have any advice on how best to enjoy a red that you weren't planning on drinking for 10-20 years? For example, is it a good idea to decant it a few hours in advance of drinking? Thanks!
  5. So, i popped into my basement to do some laundry this morning and noticed what I thought was a leaf on the bottom of my 40 bottle wine fridge. Upon opening, it turned out that it was not a leaf, but a small puddle of red wine. Upon further inspection, it turned out that my wine fridge went haywire and some how tried to turn itself into a freezer. So, the (hopefully good news) is that the only really fancy stuff that I have are about 15 bottles of Ridge Monte Bello from between 2008 and 2014. These appear to have gotten really reallycold, but do not appear to have frozen. The bad news is that the remaining 20 bottles or so have gotten at least partially frozen, with a number of them partially popping their corks. So, two questions: 1) What is the likely damage to the Monte Bellos and the couple of other bottles that didn't freeze? I wasn't likely to drink the first of these for at least another 10 years, so I assume that this will be at least a bit of a mystery until then. However, if the effects of the cold will do something to the aging, then I guess that I'll drink them now. 2) Are the bottles that did actually freeze toast? Is there any difference if they didn't pop their corks and remained unexposed to outside air? Thanks for any advice. I suppose that if worst comes to worst, I'm going to be drinking some pretty fancy sangria and mulled wine this weekend.
  6. Hey, everyone. My wife is turning 40 in August I'm looking for a private or semi-private space for a seated dinner for between 10 and 20 people on a Saturday night, preferably in Virginia or DC. Would love to keep it under $100 for drinks and food, but have been looking at Jose Andres places and this appears to be around the going rate. You only turn 40 once, right? Thanks for the help!
  7. Cooter


    On Friday afternoon, our driver took us from 14th and r through DuPont circle to m street and all the way through Georgetown to deliver us to bluemont. What should have been a 20 minute trip turned into an hour. Brunch at le diplomate was great, but my morning absinthe left me too confused to speak up.
  8. Well, this is a bummer. "Minh Vietnamese Restaurant on Wilson Blvd. has Closed" by Adrian Cruz on arlnow.com
  9. I'm not sure if it's because it was Easter Weekend or what, but we had dinner at IALW last Friday and experienced similar issues as Eddiebosox that simply aren't acceptable at this price point. First things first, the food was very good. There are currently three menus: "Our Enduring Classics," "Menu of the Moment," and "The Good Earth," with the latter being their vegetarian menu. Diners are permitted to mix and match, and our server indicated that they could adjust portion sizes if you wanted, say, a third course from one menu to serve as your first course. I selected The Menu of the Moment and my wife selected Our Enduring Classics with the idea being that we would share. Prior to the described dishes, we got two plates of amuses. The first had three small bites, but the only one I remember was a potato chip wrapped around house made pimento cheese. It was pretty good. The second plate was a gougere with a shot of red pepper soup. The soup was very good, with a hint of pernod giving it a nice depth of flavor and scent. The Menu of the Moment was the hands down winner. In particular, the veal tongue and sea bass were pretty great. The veal tongue had a pastrami flavor and while I thought that the horseradish ice cream would be too cute, it actually worked really well with the slight sweetness being offset with slight spiciness. It's been my (limited) experience that sea bass is relatively forgiving when it comes to cooking, but this was a perfectly prepared piece of fish. I literally could not have been cooked any better. And the Sauce Choron, which was described as a tomato hollandaise, was fantastic. Personally, I don't understand cooked lettuce, so this prevents me from saying that the dish as a whole was perfect, but that's a personal thing. Definitely dish of the night. The foie gras was good (is it ever not?), and lamb was cooked well, but neither of those dishes were anything special. As to the enduring classic menu, everything was good. The tin of sin and lamb were both good, however I agree with Eddiebosox that you couldn't taste the lamb that well. Cesar salad ice cream was fun and good, but along with the pesto like green sauce on the plate, the lamb tended to get lost. Neither of us disliked it, but the kingfish was probably the least favorite dish of the night. Despite the relatively strong flavor of the fish, at least as compared to the sea bass, the red wine reduction overwhelmed the protein. My wife liked the veal, but I thought it was a bit dry. The country ham and fontina ravioli may have been her favorite element of the night. We shared a plate of cheese, which was fun. As noted elsewhere, Cameron is the cheese whiz and his collection of terrible jokes is pretty fun. We were familiar with most of the things on the cart, but he did select a spanish truffled cheese we had never had before when we asked to try his favorite. For dessert I had a fruit centered plate, with a rhubarb tart, ice cream, and lemon pudding. My wife had a butter pecan thing which was out of this world. We've been to the inn once before and on our last visit, service was impeccable. Perfect pacing, and when we asked about a dish we hadn't ordered, they brought out a taste. This was not the case this time. As an initial matter, we were staying at the inn. For guests of the inn, they pin a white flower to the lapel of the male guests. Not sure what they do if there are no men. We didn't see any difference in service for us. Like Eddiebosox, wine service was not up to snuff. I did the wine pairings while my wife picked a couple of glasses. As an initial matter, the wine pairing is $125. If someone else could confirm this, it appears that this is more than a full bottle of all four wines would cost at retail. The Santa Duc, for example, appears to retail for under $20. While value, particularly at a fine dining restaurant, is relative, service is not. Twice, we received dishes before receiving our wine. The first time, we actually had to flag down someone to help. The second time our server notice us looking around, but it took three trips to the table before I received my wine. The first trip, he brought the wrong wine, the second trip, he brought the wrong glass. In each case, our food sat in front of us for at least five minutes, before we received our wine. Again, this happened twice. The last time we went for dinner, we received truffled popcorn which was pretty good. When we did not get it this time, we assumed that it wasn't something that they did anymore. But, as we were eating our cheese course, we noticed someone else get it. My wife asked our server about it and he said that he would be happy to bring us some before dessert. We never got any popcorn. Finally, this is just a little thing, but they bring back your personalized menus at the end of the meal. They had to come back to replace ours since they brought us the wrong one. This might explain why they wished us a happy anniversary when we weren't celebrating anything. There were also little things that I thought didn't meat the aspiration of perfect that they strive for. For example, why do you get one small brioche toast with the tin of sin and just two with the foie gras? When we had dinner at the French Laundry a few years back, one of the things that sticks out in my memory was our server binging out fresh warm pieces of brioche when we ran out during the foie gras course. Not only weren't we offered extra here, but there was no chance that enough was served to begin with. Similarly, we were not offered additional bread when our bread plates went empty. This was a shame because the tarragon butter was awesome and I would have loved to have soaked up more of that glorious sauce Charon. Bottom line, the food is very good, but the execution doesn't meet that of other similar restaurants that we've been to. When considering the service hiccups, the meal simply didn't justify the greater than $800 price tag (two dinners, one wine pairing, two glasses of champagne, two glasses of wine, one cheese plate, and one scotch). Bonus content! As noted above, we stayed at the inn. We were across the street from the main building at the Parsonage House. We were a bit worried because the reviews uniformly state that the rooms are small, but our room was medium sized with a large bathroom. We had access to a Keurig, macrona almonds, tea, and literally the best salted oatmeal cookies I've ever tasted. However, service suffered a bit here, too. When no one showed up after two requests and 25 minutes waiting for help for our bags, we took care of them ourselves. We also got charged for someone else breakfast ($76 for pancakes and eggs benedict!) which necessitated a call to clear up. Double Bonus content! Ben Jones, former Georgia Rep and Cooter on Dukes of Hazzard, has a store in Sperryville. I got a signed mug and a picture with the General Lee.
  10. With one pretty significant exception, me, my wife, and our five year old had a pretty good dinner on Wednesday night. For starters, you'd never know that this place just opened. The waitstaff was knowledgable about the menu and drink list, bussers kept our waters full and the tables clear, and food was paced pretty well. Our waitress explained that they are looking to focus on fish and seafood the same way that Kapnos downtown focuses on meat. This doesn't seem evident in the menu, so it will be interesting to see if they make any changes going forward. They did tell us that they were out of the scallops, because of weather in Mass, and the whole lamb shoulder. Both Chefs Paganis and Isabella were in the kitchen while we were there. I started with a papa-bear cocktail. Great if you like sweet, which I do. On to the food . . . our first dish was the king crab. I know that this isn't ever cheap, but $25 seemed pricey for one leg and part of a cluster. In any case, it was cooked fine, although the lemon yogurt served on the side, which was tasty on its own, pretty much overwhelmed the crab. Next up was a serving of three spreads. We had the hummus, the melitzanosalata, and the taramasalata. Of these, the melitzanosalata was the favorite, with lots of fresh veggie flavors. The taramasalata was great, too, almost like an eggy lox blend? But, it was too rich to have more than a few bites. For bigger plates, we got the crispy eggplant, Brussels sprouts, meatballs, and spit roasted lamb. All were pretty great. The eggplant came out as inch thick discs with a crispy panko coating and whipped interior. Texturally, these were perfect, although the honey and orange sauces underneath were a bit too sweet for me. I can't really remember the specific flavor of the meatballs, but they were fantastic. They came on a bed of, like, eggplant mousse which was my wife's favortite thing of the night. Brussels sprouts were also perfectly cooked and the lamb was really good and lamby, too. Which brings us to dessert. We ordered the greek sundae which is described on the menu as like a brownie sundae with baklava instead of a brownie. I don't know if there was some mistake, but this should have been called a salt sundae. It literally tasted like someone dumped a shaker of salt on each scoop of ice cream/whipped cream/cherry. It did have some nice like brandied cherries, but there was no baklava to be found. Embarrasingly, we finished it since we thought the next bite wouldn't be salty so didn't complain. The waitress said that one of the items was salted caramel ice cream, so maybe someone screwed up? In any case, it was probably the worst dessert that I've ever had in a restaurant, but not enough to prevent me from coming back. As to prices, it ain't cheap, but not out of line for Ballston. Our total was $140, before tip, for the food, one cocktail, one milk, and three glasses of wine. I don't think that this is way out of line for the area, comparing favorably to our daughter's favorite restaurant, Mussel Bar, down the street. We'll definitely return.
  11. Seriously, the burger is one of the best Ive ever eaten. I don't remeber anything about any onions, but it had the beefiest flavor of any burger I've ever eaten. And it's huge.
  12. Say hi next time! We also ate here before the DJ Tick Tick Boom show. We actually had the opposite service issue, with a long wait to take our original order, but no problem getting additional stuff. We chalked this up to an unexpected rush ahead of Stevie, so wouldn't hold it against them. The pork and brussels sprouts skewers had some of the best brussels sprouts I've ever eaten. Everything else was pretty good with the exception of a cabbage dish that featured whole uncut cabbage leaves. Not an easy thing to eat when you only have chopsticks. Mixed drinks were on the sweet side, but I enjoy the shochu list is nice and the bartenders are happy to chat about them. My buddy claims he saw the very pregnant backup singer at the bar before the show, but I'm not sure I believe him.
  13. What Mark said. Notwithstanding the fact that this isn't exactly the crime of the century, what exactly do you want "management" to do about this? To answer your specific question, is this one of the times that management wants to know, the answer is an unequivocal no.
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