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About DCJono

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    Chevy Chase by day, Capitol Hill by night
  1. Has anyone been able to snag reservations for lunch in the coming weeks? I checked Open Table and called the restaurant and was told there is no availability for the rest of the week, but yes, they do take reservations for lunch. The first available lunch opening according to Open Table is in mid-February. That would be fine, except that for dinner, there is reservation availability every day this week. (not peak times, tho) Also noted that there are reservations open for today's lunch at 11:45, 1 and 1:30pm. So I suppose I'm wondering if they are really not taking reservations for lunch yet? Anyone have any experience? Or is lunch just more popular than dinner? I'm thinking I will try again tomorrow morning (I'm trying to get a table for tomorrow) to see what happens.
  2. Tosca Friday night was fabulous. The entire menu was available for RW with only one or two supplements. The a la carte prices for most of the entrees were over $30. Service was friendly, pace of the meal was appropriate and food was delicious. I started with veal cheeks over palenta, then a stuffed quail and finally tiramisu. Although the place was packed, the staff handled it with grace. We tipped 30%+ because the size of our check was a fraction of a typical check there, and the staff derserved it. Perfect example of what draws many customers to restaurant week in the first place, the chance to try, sometimes for the first time, an expensive restaurant without risking hundreds of dollars. I definitely will return outside of RW, hopefully on someone else's dime.
  3. I'm afraid I can't agree at all with Pat's endorsement of RW at Restaurant Kolumbia. I had a very different experience. I had a reservation for lunch this week and thought the restaurant quite poor. My companion and I were seated in the tiny booths in the bar area. The regular menu was not available. Only three appetizers, three entrees and three desserts were offered. There was a fish stew, a basmati salad and grilled squid to start. We both had the squid which was dry, chewy and the bitter. The polenta it sat on was delicioius, though. And also something with olives which was good. At least 30 minutes passed between our apps being cleared and the next course arriving. I had the spinach salad with shrimp and egg as an entree which was very good. Companion had the steak frites which she said was fine, a tad fatty and the fries greasy, but fine. She also said the steak was cooked a perfect medium, but everything was lukewarm. We finished and our plates were quickly cleared. We had had a choice of vanilla ice cream with some fruit, an homage to the Twin Towers made of chocolate cake, and what appeared to be manchego under baby greens. None of this was anything that should take more than 30 seconds to get out of the kitchen. Another 25 minutes passed with no sign of dessert or visit by a waiter. It's now 2pm and we've been here for 90 minutes. We then spent a few minutes trying to flag someone down for our check and both our waiter and a manager apologized and got the check to us quickly. While we signed, the desserts came. They took 20% off for our trouble. We took quick bites as we put our coats on. The cheese was fine, but not special. Greens were pretty, but I didn't try them. The twin towers were two rectangles of plain chocolate cake with chocolate chips. Really unimpressive, and I thought the tribute a bit bizarre. The manager apologized again, said that guests usually have a different experience, but it's restaurant week and perhaps we should visit again when it's over. (?!) I'm beginning to agree with the ppl on this board that RW is the absolute wrong time to try new restaurants. It's a real shame, but over the past couple of years I've definitely had more misses than hits.
  4. I had the opposite experience at Acadiana last night. The place was packed. We were seated at nearly 9pm for our 8:30 reservation and didn't get out of there til 11:20. We didn't dawdle, just long gaps between the courses. We watched a table next to us turn twice. Not sure what the issue was, we were only a 4-top. Server was indifferent to our pleas. Manager disappeared after 10:30, which was about when we noticed how long we had been there. Other than the pace, though, it was a fine meal and kudos to Acadiana for including nearly the entire entree menu. Understandable that they were packed. I had the grilled redfish and tasted the crabcakes and they were both just perfect. Started with turtle soup with sherry and ended with a bread pudding with tastes of someone's peanut butter creme brulee with strawberry jam. Both were quite good. Even though it turned into a later night than we wanted, I'd totally recommend it for RW to others.
  5. Anyone have any recommendations or experience eating upriver from New Orleans? My partner and I are going to hit a plantation or two later this month and I'm looking for a lunch spot. I recall that the Oak Alley restaurant was just ok the last time I was there (about 10 years ago) and I really don't know of anything else. Any suggestions? We're open to driving a bit out of the way... maybe there's a cool place in Thibodaux?
  6. Aaack. Been meaning to go, but now the hordes might be heading in that direction in the coming week or two. My question, though: Is there an actual bar to sit at? I might pop in alone one evening.
  7. Hmmm - I've had some good ones from Deanie's at Dauphine and Iberville. Not sure I've had oyster or shrimp at Johnny's on St. Louis St, I usually get roast beef or sausage, but I think they are excellent... and usually full of local workers and only an occasional tourist. 99% sure they've reopened.
  8. I was also there last night, but sat inside. The new pork tenderloin dish was great, as was the spiced spaghetti squash side. I was happy to see the brussel sprouts with pecans back on the menu - it's one of my favorites. Sadly they were undercooked and raw. They should've gone back, but my friend was halfway through a long, serious story and I didn't want to interrupt. Otherwise, they did a great job last night.
  9. I headed to Los Tios Saturday night to give it a shot. Even though Del Ray is a bit of a drive from my 'hood, I'm always open to new latin food outside of the Hill. I live down the street from Las Placitas at 13th and Penn and just can't take it's mediocrity any longer - and that goes for all the other look-alikes on the Hill. Imagine my surprise to get to Los Tios and find basically the same menu, same not-very-good margaritas and exact same salsa. No difference. I also think the table tops had the same orange design. I asked if Los Tios had any sister restaurants in the District, and was told no. I stuck with the safer fajitas, which along with the sides were the same as Las Placitas and were fine except for the hot sauce, which was new to me, and kicked my ass. But the entire meal was the same and nothing special. Cute little neighborhood place, but not worth a drive across the river, sadly. I've decided that a great number of little neighborhood Salvadoran/Tex Mex joints are either owned by the same extended family and/or are supplied by the same supplier so use the same salsa, margarita mix, guac, etc. Total bummer. Not sure if it was the giant margarita influencing me or what, but the guy who appeared to be the manager looked exactly the same as a senior server at Guapos in Tenley a couple years ago when I lived up there. Also adds to my mediocre Salvadoran/Tex Mex conspiracy theory.
  10. There was a very supportive article in the Post's Food section a few weeks ago: "For the Scoop on Gifford's" by Walter Nicholls on washingtonpost.com Scott, the very end of the article states that they are trying to bring the molds back.
  11. My kitchen disasters usually revolve around burning rice. I refuse to buy a rice cooker, but if something will go wrong while cooking, chances are, I've forgotten to take the rice off the hot burner. Though there was one year that I dropped my jug of vegetable oil while baking. Cleaning a couple of cups of veg oil off the kitchen floor and cabinets was a nightmare. My favorite story involves my roommate a couple of years ago. It was around the holidays and she was making several batches of chocolate, vanilla and peanut butter fudge to give as gifts. It's my aunt's recipe and is damn good fudge. On Day Two of fudge-making, I walk into the kitchen to see my roommate measuring soy sauce into a spoon measure. I yelled for her not to move and got the soy sauce away from the fudge only to find out that several batches had already been made. (The soy sauce bottle was similar in size and color to the vanilla.) The funny thing is, we tasted the soy fudge and it wasn't bad. A little salty and lacking vanilla flavor, but totally agreeable. We even added a bit of salt to the old fudge recipe as a result!
  12. It's also a true neighborhood experience. A little bit dumpy, but loaded with good energy, good food and happy customers. I live nowhere near the neighborhood, but have made a point this summer to drop in whenever I cross the river. Good stuff. I'm a big fan of oatmeal crisp topping and Door County Cherry Sundaes - but not together. And I feel a lot better spending my hard earned $$$ getting fat there than at big chain ice cream shops (no matter how good a corporate citizen they might be.)
  13. Boards like this democratize these differing opinions. If everyone is raving about someone's crispy fries, and I go and they're soggy, I'd usually post that. Although matters of expectations and taste creep in here, lots of restaurants have bad days and sometimes bad dishes mistakenly get sent out to the floor. One or two people saying here: "Hey! They were soggy!" doesn't mean that their observation was wrong, just that perhaps the fries are inconsistent. Or that they are much better when one cook makes them. This ain't McDonalds - variation happens a lot. I also want to add that sending something back or talking to a manager is not always an easy thing to do. On a date, in a big group, a business dinner, none of these are really appropriate occasions to "make a big deal" out of your average problems. Is it fair to always give the management the chance to fix something before posting about the experience? Sure! But who said that ANYTHING in the restaurant business was fair? If the restaurant is good, there will be more good reviews than bad.
  14. I think waiting a month is an excellent compromise. New restaurants deserve a little time to work out the kinks - and the dining public is aware of this also. But you have to draw a line somewhere and start reviewing them? Two months, three months? I think knowing that Tom and other critics will be turning up after the first few weeks is an excellent motivator for the restaurant's management to get their sh#t together as fast as possible. The dining public benefits too. And as for teh Le Pigalle review, a lot of Tom's issues weren't kinks that need to be worked out, but major problems like the decor. Blech!
  15. DCJono


    After the whole lead reporting issue, I'd think that the EPA is keeping a closer eye on WASA these days. As for the original question, I saw some at-home test kits at Lowe's some time ago. You take a sample and send it in for the results. There were several different kits for different items to test for. The internets also has a fair number of tests floating around. I'm afraid I don't know a local lab who will take a peek at your water for you, though. DC chlorinates their water pretty heavily, so I'd expect that there aren't too many bugs in there. Lead may be more of an issue, though. I've known a lot of water purification people through the years, and they've always struck me as competent professionals who take their jobs very seriously. Don't recall every meeting anyone from WASA, but there's no reason to think otherwise. It would also be a good time to remind everyone that the EPA requires all sorts of testing and close watch on municipal water systems. This is not the case for bottled water, which is regulated by the FDA. There is much more transparency on what's in our drinking water (and what's been done to it) than Safeway-brand water that's been sitting in a plastic bottle for lord-knows how long.
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