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wlohmann

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About wlohmann

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  1. I stopped for the first time yesterday morning and thought the Vanilla Bean Muffin was absolutely splendid- -got it in a bag so I could bring half of it to work for later and it didn't make it out the door- -well-prepared espresso, comfortable space and extremely friendly service made it a great morning stop.
  2. Not sure if it merits a split topic but I tried the Fojols's relatively new Ethiopian truck today ("Fojol Brothers of Benethiopia) and loved it. Got the berbere lentils (full of flavor and heat) and the Beets n Beans (Crimson and savory). Injera on the low end of the "sour-scale" (which I prefer). Service jovial and fun (without being over the top as sometimes they have been in the past) and a generally great food truck experience.
  3. I know I know, say nothing but good things about the dead, but, after being intrigued by this place driving by (my daughter lives nearby), I did go there for lunch one Saturday afternoon. The place was quite empty and, after being pressed hard to take the buffet rather than ordering ala carte, I found the fare on the buffet to be underwhelming at best...it is quite possible that, by that time (just a month or so ago), the kitchen staff was just phoning it in, but I found it to be very lowest-common-denominator generic steam table Indian.
  4. I think this may be the longest thread devoted to an establishment at which none of us has ever dined!! Chalin's has ceased to be an actual restaurant and has become a purely symbolic entity!
  5. At Monti's height, there was a line out the door with new arrivals craning their necks to see what Vic has condescended (nice guy but quite conscious of his own talents) to put on the menu that evening and at what astonishingly reasonable price-point...the place was a gem.
  6. Lovely dinner at Kellari last night in honor of my daughter's 23th birthday. I have always found Kellari to be a very friendly and hospitable place and the staff outdid themselves last night. Those who arrived early enjoyed the free olive and cheese toast bar (nothing like perfectly prepared crostini and huge hunks of Greek sheepsmilk cheese with big knives sticking out of them to start the evening. Dining room was quite full but service perked along. I suppose it's a bit kitschy but I love walking over to the display of fish and having our server explain what's on offer for the evening. I expressed interest in the little barbounia and our server suggested three, which was a perfect portion and weighed in at about a pound. Two of my companions shared the red snapper. Difficult to wrong with any of them as the preparation is very simple. Other highlights for me were the roasted beet salad and the spinach and arborio rice side (we were also mistakenly brought, then gifted and not charged for, an arugula salad which was also tasty). Lovely crisp white wine from Santorini. And, though I'd not mentioned my daughter's birthday when I reserved (she is low-key about these things), our server got wind from the conversation that it was her special day and brought a BIG slice of a not-too-sweet chocolate cake with a candle out for her with a pile of extra forks. As we each grabbed one of the tasty cookies off the tray on the way out, the hostess called us over and handed us each a little BAG of the cookies...and our server rushed over through the crowded dining room and smilingly urged her to give the birthday girl a few EXTRA bags...so we left with our arms full. Price tag with tip for the 5 of us (with wine) was just over $200 - - pricey but not by any means stratospheric (my younger son was content with the mushroom rissotto side as his entree which brought our tab down). And you do feel as though you've gotten value for money between the always cheerful service and all the little extras (the olives, the cheese toast, the cookies, our cake and the extra salad!). Kellari has become a special place for us and has not let us down yet.
  7. It would be sad if Monti was gone but, in truth, it's been gone for some time. I actually happened in on Vic Kreidl's first day when he took over from the pizza and sub place that preceded him. He had previously cooked at Tiberio downtown. There were two employees, Vic and his Wife who worked the register and made streudel in the tiny kitchen. He planned to continue to do pizza and subs for the lunch crowd then do real food in the evenings at a good price point. Sure did. I swear the schnitzel was priced at 6.99 for the first few years. Great ecals each night. Huge crowds great reviews. A few years on he brought in more staff and a new chef.... Pleading exhaustion....and eventually sold to one of his managers and started all over again at his little place in Ballston. He had a nice ride in that teeny tiny place though and, for a time, his was the coolest spot in West Alexandria.
  8. Just for clarification (not sure if it was in my original post) but both the "Chinese" and "American" menu's are out in the open in separate piles at the hostess station - - and both are in both mandarin and english. It's funny Tweaked would mention Congee- -while I was talking to Kenny about the tripe, he pointed to a bowl of congee HE was having for lunch and said "I'm sure you wouldn't like to eat that." I like Barbara's characterization of it as "Conventional Wisdom." Re: the oddities, I must admit my family has great fun, when at Full Kee or Taste-Asian where they only have ONE menu covering all, trying to gross each other out with the various blood, foot and offal dishes - - I can honestly see how restaurants aiming for the mainstream would hesitate to list everything on their "regular" menu.
  9. I don't see anything nefarious My sense is that Chinese restaurants catering to the American general public have always sought to offer what their clientele wanted to eat When I was a kid, Chinese menus were very short and contained very few truly Chinese dishes-they were carrying on the tradition of offering the chop suey and chow miein and egg foo yung they had offered since the turn of the 20th century. And my guess is that, when the staff had their meals or welcomed family, they prepared their favorite regional dishes from home, exotic things, things they couldn't fathom western palates would tolerate. When the first Szechuan and Hunan and traditional Cantonese restaurants were opened by more adventurous chefs or owners and paved the way, that more culturally appropriate fare gradually crept onto mass market menus. The restaurateurs were anxious to serve the mass market but rarely adventurous enough to challenge their customers or get ahead of the market. They would happily serve anyone who wanted more traditional or challenging dishes, but their perceived, perhaps misguidedly, that only Chinese patrons wanted the chicken feet, the congealed duck blood and the sautéed intestines, etc. So they put those dishes and other more exotic fare on Chinese language menus or posted in mandarin on wall posters, etc. In part they may be trying to protect the sensibilities of western customers--as when Kenny rushed to say "you wouldn't like tripe." So my sense is just that the Chalins of the world are trying to serve their market (or actually their two markets) with what they think they'd enjoy eating. I know from my conversation with this manager that he would be proud to serve any customer a meal of adventurous, truly regional dishes, and maybe a DR group should give them a chance to "rock it" as Rocks so aptly put it. I'm sure game!
  10. I was walking back to the office after an almost life-changing Garlic Chicken Lemongrass Banh Mi from Bon Mi (about which I will post separately) and saw out of corner of my eye across Eye Street a restaurant I'd not seen before called Chalin's. Couldn't even discern from the name what cuisine it served so I walked in out of curiousity and found it to be an old-school-looking Chinese restaurant. Lightbulb then went off in my head that it used to be a downtown location for Charlie Chiang's. I would have nothing to post about except that I wound up having a long and delightful conversation with the guy who is managing the restaurant (during the absence of his wife, Jessica Zhang, who is apparently in China visiting family). His name is Kenny Wang and he was a delight. He told me the story of the restaurant's evolution from being part of the "Chiang" chain (I didn't precisely follow it, but I gather that it is now independent of what is left of the "Chiang" dynasty). We got talking about their chef and his reputation locally and among the Chinese diplomatic community and the IMF/World Bank and all kinds of special functions (with suitably exotic menu's) for which he has cooked. This led to him showing me the "Chinese menu" (in English and Mandarin) that, he confided, they give as the ONLY menu for customers they perceive as native Chinese and as one of TWO menu's (that and the regular "American" one) they give to Chinese-Americans. Non-Asian customers just receive the "American menu." I expressed interest in arranging a lunch or dinner for friends or co-workers and Kenny said that the chef would be happy to design a menu to our specifications (the only determinant being how much we wanted to spend per person) and he (with really contagious excitement) pulled out some Chinese language invoices from past events to walk me through some of the dishes we might want to consider (he seemed to think I'd be disinterested in tripe but he was so enthusiastic about it, who knows, I might go for it!). I ate nothing during this visit (rest assured I will when I go back) but what I was struck by (and what led me to post) was the energy and enthusiasm and pride that Kenny exhibited in chatting with me. I can't help but expect that, when I DO dine there (perhaps after prearrangement for some special dishes), it will be a delightful meal. I'm so glad I stuck my head in!
  11. Not to pile on, but agree with all that has come before re avoiding the food at Birchmere at all costs. The "comfort food" menu that they launched when they opened in the new location actually was pretty well-prepared in the beginning but it has descended to the absolute depths. And the bottled water policy really honestly needs to be re-thought. The servers now come prepared with a discourse on how much it costs for them to provide free water and ICE for the free water and wash the glassware, etc. etc. but it all rings so unbelievably false. I do believe they permit outside water to be brought in (which is a silly thing to have to think about doing), but in any case it's all a distraction from what you're there for, which is good music in what is otherwise a great venue. Is funny, have had multiple artists at shows there comment on the fact that it just feels ODD to be performing while peopl are chowing down in the audience. Yet another reason to vote with your feet and get your food (and water) elsewhere. So many good places in Del Ray these days that they need to feel some competitive pressure to re-think the water policy and come up with an improved dinner service.
  12. Had a lovely meal on Tuesday night in which I had the good fortune of tasting the squid (with chorizo puree and vegetable salad), the beet cannolli (alone worth the price of admission), the Rockfish, the Duck (special gold star for the parsnip puree and the shaved sprouts) and of course the cookies and milk to close. Nice chat with Chef Artley who was extremely gracious and friendly (and seems quite excited (while observing proper confidentiality) about his appearance on Chopped, which has not yet aired). Service was relaxed yet prompt and attentive. OH, almost forgot my chocolate chili cocktail (forget the formal name)- -VERY tasty- -clear as water yet full of nicely balanced sweetness and heat! Thanks so much to Chef for fitting us in- -can't wait to see what he brings us next!
  13. I'm pretty sure I've been there since Rocks posted. I used to like it as a medium-(ok, medium-high)-priced but comfortable spot for a salad, a sausage plate or a bowl of mussels (seem to recall a pretty good steak sandwich too)- -just looked online and prices now seem sky high and oppressive and the menu a bit more pretentious than I recall...mussels still on offer though (at $21 bucks, need to think this is the most expensive bowl of mussels in town)..nice bustling ambiance and fun to eat outside in the courtyard or out front when the whether is nice (which who knows maybe it is today??)
  14. I'm in for Tuesday at 6 (thanks SO much to Will)! Any other DR folks going to be there for that seating?
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