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Found 71 results

  1. Had lunch at Momoyama (231 2nd Street NW) yesterday. I was very pleased with my "Eel Box" ($10.95) bento: a bento-sized unadon (grilled eel over unvinegared rice), six pieces of eel roll, seaweed salad, three pieces of tempura, and green salad with sesame dressing. The eel was tasty, if a little oversauced for my liking on both the donburi and the roll. But everything tasted fresh, and the tempura was well cooked and not greasy. Very good, especially for an eleven-dollar bento. And I like saying "eel box."
  2. Thanks to Metrocurean, I saw that Art and Soul had opened yesterday, and so I bopped over for dinner last night. The common wisdom about restaurant openings is that you should "give them time to settle in." However, in my experiences, I often find that the food is as good as it will ever be the very first week a restaurant is open; it's the service that almost always needs to settle in. The two things I look for with opening service are a positive attitude, and a pleasant demeanor. Most technical issues usually get ironed out in a few weeks. Everyone at Art and Soul last night was genuinely nice, and service-wise, that's all that matters to me right now. And I'm happy to say that the food was across-the-board good, with no real misses at all. The menu features three "hoecakes," which are cornmeal pizzas, something like an oval-shaped johnny cake with an airy fluffiness in the dough. Land and Sea ($12) sounded like a big clash to me, with blue crab, braised beef, and brie. I was wrong, and the dish worked. This was primarily shredded, braised beef, with a few lumps of fin-meat, and only a gurgle of brie-based sauce, enough to moisten and accent the dish but not clash with it in any way. An appetizer of Shrimp ($14) was several medium-sized shrimp, grilled and wrapped in Smithfield ham, and came across as a bit salty only until eaten with the mild grits. Together, the two worked in balance, and a little chow chow lent a snap of acidity. A Rockfish entree ($26) was also Smithfield-wrapped, and was a relatively small portion, ever-so-slightly overcooked. But it came on top of some crab risotto which was remarkably good - firm, and smartly touched up with asparagus tips - and the tiny pool of brown butter at the bottom of the plate made an irresistible risotto-swab with some of the homemade griddle-bread brought out at the beginning of the meal. Pork Ribs ($12) are an appetizer marinated for several hours - little tiny riblets bathing in bbq sauce and served with a carrot-cabbage slaw that was crunchy and correctly not sweet (you don't want sweet slaw with this dish). It worked pretty well with a side order of Macaroni Casserole ($6) which was cavatappi-like pasta in a creamy cheese sauce, served in a cast-iron skillet. Yes, it was mac and cheese and a darned good one at that. The siren song: Sweet-Potato Bread Pudding with a whiskey-caramel sauce. This was a microcosm of the rest of the dishes - comforting, balanced, not too sweet, potentially heavy but executed with a light, elegant touch. A jovial but soft-spoken Art Smith was in for the opening and prowling the dining room, but the execution of the food last night was all Ryan Morgan. One of Smith's partners is also down from Chicago for the opening, and she said to come back in a month, or three months, "to see how we've grown." "Or how you've fallen apart," I joked. Fortunately, she laughed and joked right back. But the key to this restaurant's success will be putting out food six months, a year, two years from now that was just as good as they put out last night. If they can pull that off, they've got themselves a winner. A very quiet, soft, but successful opening last night for Art and Soul. Congratulations to Chef Morgan, and best wishes to the entire team at this promising new restaurant. Cheers, Rocks.
  3. Xavier Cervera has produced another visually appealing restaurant, but this one looks somewhat different than the others. Located in the old Capitol Video Sales space at 514 8th Street, SE, it’s quite a transformation/reinvention of place. Nice bright tile complements the bright plates and glasses. It just feels light all around, even on the inside. There is also a rooftop bar and dining area and downstairs patio. The downstairs barstools are made of rattan or something similar and bolted to the floor. Unfortunately, one common element to his other projects--building out a narrow space towards the back and upwards--results in very narrow passageways to the back of the restaurant. Getting to the bathrooms requires a tight navigation around the kitchen, with people running in and out carrying food. They opened one week ago for a couple days and then closed again for a few more (according to their twitter feed, this was to get more power to the building). I’d held up on going because I didn’t want to go immediately and then they were closed. When I checked yelp, initial reports were good on the drinks, mixed on the service, and pretty bad on the food. Then I saw one very recent post from a yelper saying they had installed a new chef from Austin and the food had improved, so I decided to give it a go today for brunch. I saw the executive chef go by when I was there, and it was Gregorio Martinez from The Chesapeake Room (same ownership). I’m not sure if there is also a chef from Austin or exactly what the kitchen situation is, but the food I had today was pretty good, though with room for improvement. I also thought it was expensive for what it was. The menu on Urbandaddy (there isn’t one on the Pacifico site yet) listed nachos, which interested me, but they’re not on the brunch menu. I wanted chips, though, so I got an order of chile con queso with chips ($8) as well as huevos rancheros ($13), which is one of my standards for evaluating a Tex-Mex restaurant. The bartender was having some trouble understanding my order (I asked just for “queso” at first and he must have thought I just wanted cheese), but he asked me twice for clarification until he felt he knew what I wanted. I’d rather have that then get the wrong order. He was a bit slow but trying hard and he hasn’t worked there long, so it wasn’t a big deal. At first I thought the queso (which came with a shredded white cheese on top) wasn’t spiced at all, but it had more of a kick as I got farther in. This would be a moderate-sized appetizer for two people to share. I was hungry and ate it all. The amount of queso was perfectly matched to the amount of the chips. The huevos rancheros were not what I was expecting but good nonetheless. Menu description specified 2 fried eggs; 2 soft corn tortillas; ranchero sauce; refried beans; crema fresca; cotija cheese; red onion. It came out layered like a torte, not much bigger than the tortillas that were its base. I’d sort of compare this to Texas stacked enchiladas, but it wasn’t quite that either. In any case, it was tasty, but I’m not sure how I feel about the price tag. These two things plus a draft Pacifico ($6), set me back $36 after tax and tip, and I wasn’t completely full. I don’t like being stuffed full, so that’s not a complaint. Generally, though, I can’t finish a full meal at a restaurant, so that’s my basis for comparison. The most striking element is the rooftop bar and dining area. After I finished my meal, I went up to look around and ran into friends who were eating and drinking at the bar. This gave me the opportunity to sample even more food and a bit of the mango margarita. Sitting up there feels like being at the beach. It's configured to facilitate a nice breeze blowing through. It started to get a little too hot after a while, but it’s a great spot. That’s definitely the selling point of the restaurant. They were finishing the last of what they ordered when I arrived: guacamole in a huge molcajete ($12); pork, grilled fish, and shrimp tacos ($5 each; does not include rice and/or beans); chile con queso; salsa and chips ($3). They were drinking mango margaritas ($8) and sangria ($8). First, the worst: the salsa tasted like crushed canned tomatoes and desperately needed salt and other flavor. I didn’t try any of the tacos, but they liked the pork and fish more than the shrimp. (One of the people adores Senart’s shrimp as much as I do, so I’m not sure why these tacos didn’t please. Maybe it’s not the same sourcing.) The guacamole seemed to be mostly smashed avocado and red onion. There was probably something else in there, but I couldn’t identify it. I make better guacamole at home. Twelve bucks for this was ridiculous. For half the price, okay, but $12?! The mango margarita was strong and big for the price (gorgeous glassware!). It’s a slushy frozen type that melts into lovely liquid in the heat. The person whose I tried also likes their strawberry margaritas, but they were out of those. The price for margaritas is oddly low given that draft beers are $6 and canned are $5 (a can of Tecate accompanied my brunch encore). A bucket of 5 beers is $20, for anyone planning an outing. I didn’t try the sangria, but that’s half-price on Sundays after 5PM, as are nachos, so I may be back.
  4. worst burger I've had in a long time...Finn MacCools, almost inedible...if I hadn't been starving and rushing to get to the DC United game it would have been inedible. and speaking of inedible...their Irish nachos most simply put is a big pile of crap covered in melted crap.
  5. Chesapeake Room, yes. From the Lola's and Molly Malone's folks ... which has mixed implications. (At this point I'm far more intrigued by Ted's Bulletin ... but I won't write off Chesapeake Room til it's had a chance.)
  6. Had a craving for nachos last evening, so I went to the Ugly Mug. It's the only nearby place I could think of that has them on the menu. Still not a place I gravitate to, but service has gotten much more attentive and friendlier over time. The nachos were okay. Craving sated and at a reasonable price. If only I hadn't got caught in the storm on the way home...
  7. Bistro Cacao will be opening shortly in the old Two Quail space at 320 Massachusetts Avenue NE - they're currently shooting for the end of next week, but that is not official. The restaurant is owned by Harun and Yavuz Bolukbasi who owned Mezè in Adams Morgan. But the really exciting news about Bistro Cacao is the chef, Kemal Deger, who last ran the kitchen at Le Tire Bouchon in Fairfax, and the GM, Veronique Onteniente, who just got back from France, and who before that was the gracious presence running the front of the house at Montmartre and Montsouris. If you're familiar with the work of these two, you know they'll make a formidable BOH-FOH combination. Bistro Cacao's website isn't ready yet (and currently lists an incorrect opening date), but it can be found at www.bistrocacao.com. Good luck to everyone, and congratulations in advance. Cheers, Rocks
  8. Last night, I had a great meal at Charlie Palmer Steak. The menu had just been updated for spring/summer to add some seasonal elements. There's a chilled corn chowder with lobster and avocado, for example, as well as buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomato "composed salad." I had been to CPS before and liked the whole experience, the food, etc. but this time, I came away loving the place. Everything about our meal was more personal which added to the experience, IMO, greatly. The visit didn't start off all that auspiciously. I found that our bartender wasn't very friendly, but she made my mother a rave-worthy vodka martini so...whatever. Not long after we arrived a drunk and loud rowdy crew (in jeans, no less) rolled in and caused a little commotion in the bar area. Some members of the party seemed to know the other (male) bartender and I could see that he was uncomfortable. They were seated in a quiet part of the restaurant quickly in order to get them out of the way. About our food: IMO, the bread service could be improved. I like having options (ciabatta or kalamata olive last night), but the bread is served almost cold and with unsalted butter. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar came later, but was probably intended for the salads. Warm bread makes a big difference, I think. Mom had the romaine salad with fried pancetta and blue cheese. I had some of the crisp bacon and it was delicious. Dad had the mixed greens. My friend and I shared the buffalo mozzarella. It was fine (my friend really liked it), but I've had some really excellent buffalo mozzarella lately and this just wasn't on par with the best of that lot. Perhaps it was bland? Maybe. Mom and Dad both had the CPS surf & turf, filet mignon with butter poached lobster and loved it. I tried the lobster - unusual for me, yes I know - and really enjoyed it. I had the marinated hangar steak (at $29, it's one of the lower priced entrees) and had zero regrets. It was SO GOOD, a cut of beef I pretty much always enjoy cooked a perfect medium rare and full of flavor. My friend had the lobster, also butter poached, and ate every last bit of it. Our sides were great - the most buttery (buttery-est?) mashed potatoes, asparagus and a new-to-the-menu creamed corn. When I was last at CPS, I had the bittersweet chocolate dessert and wasn't crazy about it, but I remembered enjoying my companion's sorbet a lot; I steered the group in that direction. Instead of the mix of ice creams and sorbets we had last time, we were served six little scoops - two each of mango, blueberry and rasperry. So delicious and perfect for summer. At the end of the night, we asked the wonderful host Martin if we could see the view from the roof deck (used only for private events). Upon exiting the elevator, you have a lovely view of the Capitol, brightly lit against the night sky. I suspected it would be a very enjoyable experience for my visiting parents, which is why I made the request to go up there, and I am so happy I did. It was an enjoyable end to a special night.
  9. My friend is the assistant chocolatier at J Chocolatier, so this is a little biased. But I really love the "drunken Buddha" chocolates - chocolates with a Bells Cherry Stout-infused ganache and a liqueur-soaked dried cherry inside. Pretty boozy and nice. The classic dark chocolate truffles are also quite tasty. They also just added a lavender-infused lemonade to their drinks menu, and plan to add a few others.
  10. Posting a new topic for those who need some sort of food option while stuck in the no man's land area of dining near the Union Station-New York Avenue Metro station corridor. Came across this site while browsing discount coupon pages. Mods - please feel free to move this elsewhere. I have never been here, so cannot attest to it, but the falafel option looked good on their menu. Apparently they do office catering too. Right across from the NY Avenue Metro. Serving Kickapoo Coffee. Pound Coffee (FB page) 1300 2nd Street NE Washington, DC, 20002 Phone:202-408-5282
  11. I need to organize a dinner for about 9 people next week after a special event. The keywords are nice and quiet. Bis? How loud is Johnny's? Art and Soul? I don't think they want Sonoma on the House side.
  12. Saw this banner walking home from Barracks Row the other day. 735 8th St SE, pretty much right across from the barracks. Can't find much other information besides their Facebook page which says they're opening this December. Anyone have any other info? (Sorry if there's already an entry on this somewhere; I searched and searched and couldn't find it.)
  13. Rose's Luxury is accepting reservations. For a larger party. Well, actually, you're going to need to get a small group of people together since it is designed for 8-10 people. This is for their "private luxury roof garden" tables @ $125 for "all you can eat" per person and as much time as you want to spend. Plus, "booze", tax and tip. And they "have an awning." This is a private dining "rooftop" which is designed for eight to ten people. (You can reserve for two but you'll pay for eight.) They accept reservations on Monday mornings @ 11:00AM through their website (no phone calls). They are also already booked through May.
  14. Romeo & Juliet Garden Café has replaced White Tiger at 301 Massachusetts Avenue NE, opening Jul 16, 2015. "A New Restaurant On The Hill Applies for Late Hours, Hiilarity Ensues" on barredindc.com "Romeo & Juliet - Garden Café Coming Soon Signage Up at Former White Tiger Space on Capitol Hill" on popville.com Website - Facebook
  15. I've lived on the Hill for about a year and a half now, and last night was the second time I have ever eaten at White Tiger. Both of my meals there have been good, but the service both times was atrocious. Just very very very slow to have orders taken, receive meals, get check, etc. But since it's one of only a few restaurants in the neighborhood, I will likely be back. Three of us started with an order of Naan (a little crispy for my taste, but not bad) and an order of Paneer Mushroom Shaslik (Skewered chunks of farmers cheese, mushrooms, onions and bell peppers flavored with fresh ground spices and cooked in the tandoor). I actually really enjoyed this simple app with the two dipping sauces (one red and one green and I could not for the life of me tell you what they are). Plenty for three of us to share before our entrees arrived. I had the Murg Makhani (house special of tandoor chicken sauteed in a tomato based sace) and although I would have liked it a little spicier, I still managed to finish it off even though I was stuffed. One of my friends said it was too "Italian" (read: tomatoey) for her. Our favorite dish at the table was the Pepper Chettinad Varuval (chicken cooked with black pepper and spices). This was the spiciest of the table and I think I would get this next time I go back. The third friend got a lamb dish that I can't remember. I liked the sauce on hers, but since I don't usually eat lamb, I didn't try too much. All of us left stuffed for not a ton of money. Is it the best Indian in the city? Of course not. Would I go back? Yep. Would I make sure I had plenty of time and didn't have to rush anywhere afterwards? You know it. I'm actually headed to Rasika tonight for the first time, so we'll see what kind of comparison that draws!
  16. Let me begin by saying that I realize that this is not a restaurant generally open to the public, sort of like the Tower Club or the City Club. You have to be invited by a Senator during the prime hours, or by a staffer beginning around 1:30pm. And thus it was as I was seated around 1:45 with my host. Let's start with ambiance. This place is beautiful, start to finish, top to bottom, with original art on the walls and history all over the place. VIP sightings abound, and the service is probably close to Michelin 3-star. The Oval Room would have a hard time comparing to this restaurant. On to the food, and the singular purpose of my visit was contained in a bowl of bean soup, Washington's 'national dish.' It did not disappoint, and it was heavenly. Perfect texture and flavor, even a mere hint of clove on the ham chunks, this was heaven in a bowl. It was so good I wanted to dab some all over me and pour some down the front of my shirt. It was damn-damn-damn good. On to the main course, and my comparison to the Tower Club and the City Club was not unintended. You see, these members-only places with chefs from the "B List" have their ups and downs. They nail the atmosphere part with an A+, but the food creations have various failings that magnify on the plate. I ordered the 'Cuban sandwich sliders' which were three little sandwiches that had the requisite cheese, ham, pork, pickles and mustardy sauce, only the menu attracted my eye by replacing the "pork" with slow-braised pork belly. Hmmmm....must have....! After I placed the order, the waiter came back and told me that instead of the pork belly, today they were offering pulled pork on the Cubans. I decided to proceed, but the result was not pleasant. The sliders tasted too smoky, the rest of the ingredients were overwhelmed, and I added yet another failed attempt at a Cuban sandwich to my long list of Washington DC failed attempts at Cuban sandwiches. On the other hand, and true to the Tower Club and City Club analogy, the salads that I saw coming out of the kitchen were towering compositions of protein on top of greens and vegetables that looked about as good as any I've seen anywhere in a long time. But back to that bean soup....it was truly incredible. It's now in my top-ever-favorite-soups/stews ever. In any order, the Senate bean soup, Lampeter (PA) Fire Hall Chicken Corn Soup at the annual September festival, No Name Restaurant (Boston) fish chowdah, Cioppino at Scoma's on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, and just about anything on the menu at Pho 75. Give me my death row meal from any or all of these five, and I'll go out without a whimper....
  17. A new neighborhood kebob spot from the folks behind Nooshi and (I think) Moby Dick. Soft opening tonight for neighbors with 50% off of all checks. Lovely decor and a small but tasty menu... Reasonable prices. "Fast casual" with table service and a full bar. A good addition to the neighborhood. Look forward to the Nooshi-esque concept opening upstairs from it in coming months.
  18. This piece of news is about 1 and 1/2 years old...but interesting in its details, and the enormity of the activities that it tracks. The article is from a political group that tries to shed some light on the volume of fundraising that goes on in the American Political System. It provides a map and a graph that gives some light as to the size, scope, and volume of political fundraising. What is visually fascinating is to see the volume of political fundraisers within blocks of the Capitol and the restaurants that do a significant amount of that volume of entertaining. The data represents 5 years of fundraising. It also seems to me that their methodology doesn't capture all the fundraisers all the time. Its the business of Washington after all. Some years ago a friend of mine, a former lobbyist for a major corporation either was describing members of Congress and/or paraphrasing how someone else characterized their time in Washington. It went something like this....."they spend a few hours each day on some legislative issues, most of which is mastered by their staffs and then spend the majority of every evening in town going to fundraisers and either raising or giving money". The graph seems to indicate that is a very astute description. In any case its obviously very valuable to some restaurants in the neighborhood.
  19. I could have sworn that I had posted something on this place last year after my first visit, but I can't find a topic for it, so I must have been a little more drunk that night than I thought. I recall having a decent fried baby artichoke appetizer and some woefully undercooked gnocchi with pear and gorgonzola--nothing that encouraged me to return. I had heard that they brought in a new chef this past spring, so Bob and I dropped in here for dinner on Wednesday night. Lavagna seems to be positioning itself somewhere between old-style Italian places like Trattoria Alberto and places selling more contemporary (and pricier) cuisine. The menu is brief and focuses mostly on simple preparations, house-made pastas, and fresh ingredients. It's an honorable concept, and I wish I could report that it is fulfilling that mission successfully. Unfortunately, my experiences at Lavagna suggest it falls smack-dab into the overall mediocrity that marks so many Hill restaurants. It's not a terrible place, and there is even some respectable cooking going on, but the lack of refinement and carelessness make it a frustrating experience. For instance, the two parmagiano arancini that served as my appetizer on Wednesday were perfectly cooked, well-sized, and on a mild but pleasing marinara sauce. Their problem was that the parmesan was erratically scattered through the rice, so the flavor was mostly bland except for an occasional pocket of cheese flavor--very different from, say, Taylor's arancini with their molten-cheese centers. Bob's fritto misto also seemed ungreasy and appeared cooked well, yet the taste of the calamari was muted by a taste of raw flour. Flouriness also marked the pasta in my fettuccine bolognese, though cooked more or less al dente. The sauce was okay, though no particular flavor stood out except pepper (the pork was so finely minced that one would be hard pressed to know this was a meat sauce). Bob's mussels were good-sized and tasty, with a rather peppery tomato broth, served with four thin croutons that proved inadequate to soak up the juices. The wine flights each of us had reminded me of similar service we had at Ezme a few years ago, and none of them stood out. Service was pleasant and even a bit overeager, with different servers duplicating others' efforts. If Lavagna were out-and-out bad, I think I would have felt less frustrated than with the erratic nature of our experience. (Even that earlier gnocchi entree showed they had a good idea going, but a major lapse in the kitchen spoiled it.) I like the simplicity of the menu, and there is some skill to be discerned, yet the kitchen doesn't seem to have the overall finesse and reliability to make this a place I want to return to anytime soon. Too bad.
  20. Pacific Cafe is the sort of restaurant you hope will survive, aren't sure how they survive, and wish the cooking was just a little better. The sort of place were you know a handful of reliable dishes and that's what you always order. Located on a lonely stretch of Pennsylvania Ave, SE (at the corner of 12th Street), many Friday and Saturday evenings the dining room is mostly empty, though I have noticed an uptick in patrons. They do a pretty decent take out business, but frankly I have no idea how this place has managed to stay open...maybe they do a rip roaring lunch business. It's a place I order out from at least once a week, the cooking is fresh, and while by no means the best Vietnamese around, the fried spring rolls are tasty, they do a passable pho and I love the grilled lemon chicken with vermicilli noddle. However, I recently stummbled across two dishes that are now on my rotation. The Roast Duck Pho is a winner, comes with a whole roast duck leg, mushrooms, and baby bok choy. I also like the beef shank pho with thin slice of meat which is much tastier than their original beef pho. Hillians, the next time you want a warm refreshing meal on the cheap, definitely check out the roast duck pho at Pacific Cafe.
  21. Cheezepowder's post on the closing of the last Marvelous Market made me think to post this. The transition from Silver Spork to Radici is nearly complete. They haven't made any radical changes or closed down during the changeover. It's all been pretty smooth. The last I was in the store, the Silver Spork employees were wearing t-shirts that said "Radici," with a tag line in Italian that translates as something like "coming soon." Many of the products should stay the same. I thought all the bread had, except the last whole wheat mini baguettes I bought were definitely different from the ones they had in the past. The wine offerings will probably be the biggest difference, and they're making changes to the layout of the store as well. This is the website for the new store. It doesn't really have anything on it but a statement of purpose yet.
  22. East Street Cafe, my go-to spot at Union Station, serves up a smattering of Filipino dishes. The pan-Asian restaurant is Filipino owned and operated. While I have had only the adobo from among their Filipino offerings, I will say that several other dishes--most notably the house spicy ginger beef--are consistently good. Some of their Filipino dishes: Lumpia Summer Rolls Fried Tofu Chicken Mami Pork Adobo Manila Pork Barbeque Pancit Bihon
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