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About jaltman

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  • Birthday 09/04/1949

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  1. City Lights Bethesda was at its best two steps down from the Dupont Circle sibling, which itself is no longer what it once was. In Bethesda we like Shanghai Village.
  2. Running a little late on this, but my wife and I went to Fiola for Valentine's Day with another couple who spend a lot of time in Italy. It was, as others have noted, not inexpensive. But at least for the special Valentine's Day menu, it did not seem out of line. It was a wonderful meal. Among other dishes, we loved the Susci” of viking village scallops with smoked salmon and smoked salmon caviar. Just wonderful. The Spicy maine lobster with caramelized endives may have been another favorite of the night. The Tagliolini with winter black truffle was delicious - perfectly cooked. The Wagyu beef rib eye with rosemary zabaglione + pecorino was lovely. Plus two desert courses - Lychee panna cotta with blood orange granita was unusual and very tasty. That was followed by Dark chocolate ganache with vanilla szechuan pepper gelato and cocoa nib. A fine end to a fine meal.
  3. We made it back to 1789 last week after a decades long absence, in the company of a friend from Sweden who was last there in the early 1980's and had fond memories. I have a prejudice against the Clyde's restaurants, having never had more than a mediocre meal at any of the Clyde's chain or the Old Ebbitt, but our meal at 1789 was very nice. Good bread. In particular, high marks for the Grappa Cured Ocean Trout and the Shad Roe appetizers. The Foie Gras Torchon Brule was a nice idea, but just a little too sweet and didn't quite work together. The Brussel Sprout salad was well received. For the main courses, we particularly liked the Fluke. The beef - 35 day dry aged, seemed a little dry, but was cooked properly and enjoyed. The service was friendly and well done. The atmosphere, of course, is beautiful - Colonial and comfortable. Overall, if not quite a great meal, still very nice.
  4. Taking advantage of the snow to catch up on a few recent meals at Grapeseed -- We agree with darkstar965 on the tasting menu last weekend. It was great, as usual. In particular, the tuna tataki was one of the absolute best tuna dishes we've ever had. Just delicious. We enjoyed the Mache Salad very much, as well. The desert duo was terrific - the Greek Yogurt Cheesecake was unusual and very tasty, as was the Chocolate Cremeaux. As everyone has said, the tasting menu is one of the best bargains in town and should not be missed. In addition, we've been "on menu" several recent times. To start, I must say that I could easily order the fried chicken livers for both my appetizer and main course. And maybe a third for good measure. They're that good. The scallops, and every fish dish we've tried, have been superb. My wife would happily eat the braised beef short ribs at least once a week. And the filet mignon has never missed. Raves also for the Korean BBQ beef tips. I should add that the service has always been just top notch and very friendly.
  5. We were also there Saturday night and had yet another great meal. I think our favorite was the seared swordfish - tender, flavorful, and the grapefruit added a delicious little bite of acid and coutner-flavor. But the pork schnitzel and beef milanese were terrific as well. The desert waa a wild blend of flavors (pineapple, ginger, rum, and key lime). I was a little skeptical, but it worked fabulously. Great wine pairing as well, as usual.
  6. We were back again, for the Del Mare tasting menu yesterday. Anyone who is missing these Don Rockwell special needs to seriously reconsider their priorities. This was at least as good as the last two we were able to get to. The pompano was a perfect blend of flavors with perfectly cooked fish. I could have eaten a plate of the cauliflower polenta alone, and the roasted tomatoes nicolas was another highlight. As was the sauteed squid. Oh, I give up, the whole thing was a series of highlight after highlight. DO IT!
  7. We liked the first one so much we were back for another tasting menu last night. It was excellent. The Provencal Chickpea Soup was hearty and tasty. Perhaps a little strong on the chickpea flavor, but we liked it a lot. The Nantucket Bay Scallops in Mango Cream were excellent, cooked to perfection, and the cashew salsa was a delightful counterpoint. The Gangnam Style Short Ribs were terrific. Tender and tasty. Definitely worth getting as a separate main course some time. And the BBQ Japanese Eggplant was very flavorful as well. My wife passed on the desert - too sweet she said. So I ate hers as well. Guess I liked it. The Concord Grape Ice Cream was just right for me - delicate flavor,sort of more ice cream than grape. And the Peanut Cookies were just the way they should be. We'll be back. Thanks again, Jeff
  8. Another couple, and my wife and I, couldn’t resist and tried the “Not ‘Red Sauce’ Italian Chef’s Tasting Menu last Saturday night. My apologies that my notes are late, but the weather got a tad in the way. As to the food, the Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Salad was very tasty. As noted above, the nicely balanced tastes were set off beautifully by the Balsamic Vinaigrette. For me, the Prochetta Ravioli in a very tasty chicken fennel broth was perhaps the highlight of the meal; delicate yet tasty. My only complaint was that I could have eaten a whole platter. For the others, the Grilled Branzino was the favorite, and it was a very close runner up for me. Very fresh and cooked to perfection with the best brussel sprouts I’ve had in quite a while and some very tasty mushrooms. The Nutella Gelato was a terrific finish to the meal. The women headed straight for a bottle of the Peñalba Lopez Cava, which they enjoyed very much. The men each had the four tastes wine pairing. The Chemin de Reves (Carignan) was nice with the salad; different, as advertised, and robust. The J. Hofstatter Joseph (Lagrein) was smooth and rounded, but seemed to lack a little character to me. Or maybe it was just overshadowed by the Ravioli and broth. The Nicolas Rossinol pinot noir was tasty and matched the branzino well. The only match that did not work for us was the Lustau Fino Sherry with the desert. I suspect we would have liked it on its own, but it was so dry that it was too strong a counterpoint to the sweetness of the gelato. Overall, a wonderful meal and a terrific bargain. Thanks, Jeff
  9. Four of us dined at Galileo III on Friday, the 8th. (Apologies for the delay in the post; we've been a little too busy.) Like so many others, we have terrific memories of Galileo I and were filled with, perhaps too much, anticipation. I hesitate to quibble when so many others have obviously had truly great experiences, but our experience was a little more mixed. To begin, the service was excellent; as friendly as could be. Kudos especially to Nancy for her friendliness throughout the evening and to Giovanni, our waiter, for his knowledge, unfailing cheer, and eagerness to be of assistance. Some other highlights: The Taglierini Neri All’Aragosta (black taglierini in a lobster cream sauce with a butter poached Maine lobster tail) was excellent; I could eat a lot of that. The Raviolini Del Plin (small ravioli filled with three meats & served in veal jus, butter, and sage) were very good - delicate and flavorful. The Budino di Parmigiano was tasty. We weren't quite transported by it, as others have been, but it was unusual and very good. The Tonno Delle Isole (a lovely mound of chopped tuna, smoked tuna, Bottargaof tuna, and fregola (a couscous like pasta), with a blood orange dressing) earned a "this is very good; wow!" from its primary eater. More mixed: The house-made breads were very good, if a little short of excellent, as was the herb spread served with them. But the breadsticks were underdone, not at all crispy, and flat-tasting. The Mezzeluna (small half-moon shaped pasta filled with roasted eggplant and jumbo lump crab with an orange-tomato sauce) was, for me, less than the sum of its parts. The sauce was interesting on first taste, but morphed over time into chopped tomato with a fuzzy citrus overlay. More importantly, the flavors of the eggplant and crab somehow got lost. It sounded like a great combination, but turned out to be bland, or perhaps a little overwhelmed by the sauce. The Capesante (sea scallop with yellow &black polenta) was very, although I think you can get better scallops. The black polenta was very tasty; the yellow polenta was good, but did not quite match up. The medallions of veal were very good, not fantastic, perhaps, but very enjoyable. (I gather I should have tried the Branzino.) We had a slight glitch when the first delivery of the beef ribeye was dramatically overcooked to the point of mushiness. But a second attempt was excellent. The Aragosta e Calamari (butter poached lobster tail and squid stuffed with cabbage) did not work. It did not help that the lobster was overcooked and rubbery. The cabbage did nothing for the squid, and without help the squid was not at all tasty. The Panna Cotta was very good, though not better than other good Italian restaurants. The Torta di Cioccolato was also very good, but not great. The apple crostata was a little disappointing, the crust a little soggy, and the flavor a little muddled, although the sorbet was excellent. One last note: One of our diners was disappointed that there were no leafy type salads on the menu and the kitchen was apparently unable to put one together. Despite the somewhat mixed review, we'll be back. Many of the dishes were very good to excellent. One of us works around the corner and we'll all be curious to see how it evolves. It was after all, just the first week.
  10. The Washington Post Capital Business Section reports that Clyde's will take over the space at 14th and F Streets currently occupied by Borders and will open a a two-story, 35,000-square-foot restaurant next year. Plans are to include sushi, a raw bar and, on the bottom level, live music.
  11. The Stieg Larsson books are huge in Sweden so, yes, we've read them, although I read the English version. The coffee drinking is accurate, as are the sandwiches, although they tend often to be open-faced with smoked or cured salmon, shrimp, or sausage. The Billy's Pan Pizza are frozen and sort of a quick dinner at home. By and large I think he captures the details of Swedish life pretty well. (Of course, he should know it a lot better than I do.)
  12. OK, Don and everyone else -- hi. The short version is that I signed up for DonRockwell.com at the suggestion of our good friends, Bobby Bloch and his wife Sari (of Bobby's Crabcakes fame). My wife (who brings a somewhat different perspective having grown up in Sweden) and I love good food and good wine. (Except the day before my wife goes to Weight Watchers.) So this seemed like a natural, and so far it's been a lot fun and quite interesting. Although we've lived in the area for more than 30 years, our restaurant experience was somewhat limited for a long time by the fact that our children insist on sushi 90% of the time that we go out. We love sushi too, but a litle balance is also ok. Actually, now that the children are getting a little older (one now in college), we've started to branch out a little. If you call going to Bobby's Crabcakes close to once a week branching out. Why Bobby's? Because Bobby and Sari are really good friends, the food is great, we really like the menu, and we like the fact that you can get really good food in a nice but casual atmosphere. Having said that, I am still forlornly looking for good Chinese in the Bethesda area, and am largely disappointed with the Italian restaurants. You can do ok, but where are the little hidden gems or even a consistently good trattoria? We are really enjoying the developments in the DC restaurant scene over the past few years - especially around Penn Quarter and Dupont Circle. As long-time DC residents know, when my wife came to town, the choices were rather slim. She used to have to carry around a jar of instant coffee. That way she could order a cup of coffee (she would describe it as coffee water) and then add a spoon of instant to get something close to what she was used to in Sweden. (Caffeine addiction = yes! True for all Swedes; seems to be in the genes.) Now it seems like there's generally acceptable and sometimes good coffee on almost every street corner. And the restaurant scene is simply light-years from what it was. Keep up the good work all you struggling restauranteurs out there!! You're on our list; we hope to get there soon. We will try to chime in with some thoughts about our dining experiences over time, but one question to start. Yannick Cam recently opened his new Bistro Provence in Bethesda. We've heard from some friends who were disappointed, especially with the portion size. But we've heard from others who loved it. I'd say there are more of the latter. If you've been there, what was your experience? Jim
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