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  1. We used to be fans of La Strada before it closed, but only recently found out (via a Daily Deal) that a new restaurant had long since taken its place. I'm surprised that I didn't hear of its replacement before. Apparently, the new place has been in operation about 2 years. Before we went, I read that it was owned by the same owners as Pines of Florence, of which I had not heard good things. Nonetheless, we gave it a try last night and were impressed. We enjoyed the caprese, mussels with linguini, and spaghetti bolognese. Bread was good too. My husband said the minestrone soup was the highlight of his meal. We like the menu choices - solid Italian-American which I miss from my childhood in Brooklyn. We will be back to try other tempting menu items like eggplant parmesan and seafood pasta! The only nit was that the mussels were small, but they were tasty and the marinara sauce was delish. I recommend that people give it a try. I am worried about the survival of the mom and pops.
  2. I've eaten there in the past, for dinner and for weekend brunch. I haven't been there in a few years because it wasn't that good, but I might give it a try again....it's literally right around the corner from Mediterranean Gourmet Market, so if I'm in that neighborhood, I'm usually there for my MGM fix.
  3. This restaurant is in soft-opening mode still with little web presence and a limited menu (not all the items on the printed menu are available yet)...that being said I think it is a game changer for the miserable state of dumplings in Alexandria. We went on a Sunday morning and had the following: Pork Soup Dumplings(XLB) --- I thought these were better than the XLB at all the Rockville joints. Great flavor to the soup--perfect mix of fat and meat. Thin delicate wrapper, yet sturdy enough not to tear when removing it from steamer basket. Steamed shrimp (har gow)--crisp shrimp, well made tapioca wrapper, held up without becoming mushy Scallion Pancake--were fine--Ive had better--less flaky and more flat Pan Fried Buns with egg and Chive--these were deep fried and tasty with fresh chives Pan Fried Buns with shrimp and Chives-- These were in a har gow style wrapper but pan fried with crispy bottoms--excellent Vegetable Stir Fried Noodles--these were a bust--we wanted something with the hand pulled noodles and these were the only veg option--noodles were good but sauce tasted like it had tomato sauce or ketchup in it--very weird This place is a franchise from NYC and is well reviewed there. I am excited for the full menu and will definitely be back. I think this place is going to be mobbed once fully opened and reviewed in the press. No website yet-- so I am grudgingly putting the yelp link here.
  4. I am more than mildly excited about the opening of Shababi, a takeout-only "ghost restaurant" operating out of Roro's Modern Lebanese Cuisine at 5655 General Washington Drive, Unit A, in Alexandria. Musakhan is more or less the national dish of Palestine, and when executed well, it is among the best of the world's chicken meals. And I have a feeling to believe it will be executed well, because Marcelle Afram was the former executive chef at Michelin-starred Maydan in DC, and is teamed up with Roro Asmar, who own's Roro's. If you've never had musakhan, it's a real treat for chicken lovers. It's a rotisserie-style halal chicken with amazingly crispy skin, coated with allspice, sumac, cumin, fenugreek, and cardamom, and cooked in a special oven imported from Lebanon. And as if that wasn't enough, za'atar fries and onion flatbread, followed by funnel cake-like zalabia for dessert, shoudl make for delectable meal. And for you vegetarians, I'm betting the mushroom shawarma will hit the spot. They will start taking pre-orders on January 18 and will go live on January 22.
  5. Hmmm . . . everything I've ever read about Yamazoto emphasizes that it's a place specializing in, well, humongous "specialty" rolls, which I've found to be a surefire sign that I won't like it. But if other Rockwellians would confirm its quality . . .
  6. WARNING: Shameless plug for Evening Star Cafe & The Wild Grape (JParrot)... This Monday, April 24th, the Evening Star Cafe is hosting Richard Weiss of The Wild Grape at our monthly wine dinner. If you like small production wines from South Africa, this is most definitely a not-to-be-missed dinner. Chef Matt Cordes and his staff are pairing their creations with seven wines from The Wild Grape. Menu Vischysoisse with Parsley Froth paired with a 2005 Louisvale Unwooded Chardonnay (Western Cape) Seared Scallops with Farmer Greens, Fennel & Articoke and a Lavender Vinaigrette paired with a 2005 Monteroso de Franchi Old Bush Vine Chenin Blanc Pan-Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast with Savory Sour Cherry Bread Pudding, Minted Duck Jus and Micro Greens paired with a 2003 Avondale "Amira" Syrah (Coastal Region) and a 2003 Hartenberg "Ecurie" Cab, Shiraz, Pinotage, Merlot Blend (Stellenbosch) Caraway & Herb Crusted Lamb Round with Red Onion, Parsley & Black Pepper Creme paired with a 2003 Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Blend and a 2001 Vergenoegd Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Stellenbosch) Raisin Tart with Port & Muscat Drizzle paired with a 2005 Vriesenhof Melelo Muscat d'Alexandrie, Tinta Touriga (Stellenbosch) Price is $85 per person (includes tax & gratuity). RSVP by calling Planet Wine at 703.549.3444.
  7. Had a pre-dinner meal at Sampan Cafe this evening. This place is in the little strip mall where Mediterranean Gourmet Market is located, and whenever I'm in this vicinity, I always eat at Mediterranean Gourmet Market. It's the best Middle Eastern food in northern Virginia, I'm convinced, but it turns out it closes on Sunday evening at 5pm. So, Plan B was Sampan Cafe, a few doors down. I had been going to Sampan Cafe for over 20 years in its original incarnation. It used to be the definition of American Chinese, with big floppy egg rolls and chop suey on the menu, and the waiters clad in red tuxedo tops. Not many Chinese people ate there back then. It closed about 6 years ago and an average-ish Vietnamese restaurant took its place. Then about 4 years ago, it reincarnated as Sampan Cafe, under different ownership. I have raved a bit on this board about Canton Cafe in Springfield. Sampan Cafe is at least its equal, and maybe then some. Aside from a few quirks in the service -- girlfriend's entree arrived about 5 minutes before mine -- the food here is very good and the clientele is mostly Chinese. We started with a whole steamed oyster with black bean sauce that was exquisite (and large). Last night I had the Beef in Black Pepper Sauce at Canton Cafe and labeled it Peking man-food. I mentioned that at $16 it was superior to any beef dish I ever had at Morton's or Ruth's Chris or any other steak house that would charge $40 for a la carte beef. Well, tonight I had the same dish at Sampan Cafe, and it was even better and was only $14. It came out sizzling like Canton fajitas, but the beef was perfect, tender and juicy. Girlfriend had her standard seafood combination, which in this case was off menu. Chunks of scallops, shrimp, lobster, and veggies in a white sauce, for $12.50 (did I mention lobster?). The chef's specialty here is "Hong Kong style" and I intend to come back and taste "Sour Cabbage Stir Fried with Intestine" and "Salt Fish and Chicken Stir Fried with Chive Flower".... Bottom line is that Sampan Cafe in its current incarnation is very good, and at least the equal of Canton Cafe, but at a better value. [but I still have the problem of passing up the best Middle Eastern food in northern Virginia just a few doors down!]
  8. I just saw the paperwork in the window. Oriental Cafe's signage is still up and the interior looks untouched thus far. Please, if there is a Santa Claus, let this place be better than the Little Caesar's abomination a few doors down.
  9. We happened upon the now open Monaco Old Town when we couldn't find enough seats to eat at the bar at Eve. The restaurant and bar areas were both packed and it was pretty late so we just picked our way through the bar menu. The shrimp corn dog was lightly breaded and much better than it sounds. The crab cake, fries, fried apple pie/turnover, and vanilla ice cream were not. The space is modern and maybe a little overly hip. They do have 20 bottles of wine at $20 a piece and a couple VA wines (Barboursville) available by the glass. I'm not sure I'll rush back, but it looks like they've already developed a pretty good following. Some more details here.
  10. Don asked where we've eaten recently. Last night we walked to the Pita House in Old Town. website It was our second visit this year. It is a nice walk though old town and a casual and inexpensive spot. They seem to do a fair amount of takeout, as well. I had the chicken shawarama salad and my husband had one oft the specials - it was lamb stewed with okra and other veggies. He loved it. The lamb was tender and he really likes okra. It came with a basic salad and rice. The shawarama salad was a basic garden salad with feta cheese and chicken shawarama. Pretty tasty, although a the chicken was a bit dry. The tahini sauce was a nice addition. I didn't try the pita bread, but my husband pretty much demolished the basket on his own. We've been eating out a lot lately - this last week has also included: CD Cafe - Solomons Overwood - Alexandria plus festival food at Zoofari and the Brew-and-Que (St. Mary's county)
  11. Mango Mike's owners are opening a new place (supposedly bbq?) in that former gas station/now construction site next to the Dairy Godmother. I guess they're participating to generate some buzz/goodwill in the new neighborhood.
  12. Market to Market in Del Ray offers made to order subs and sandwiches with fresh breads and quality ingredients. They also have prepared foods such as lasagna and meatballs that come from the kitchen(s) of Cafe Pizzaiolo. They carry a small selection gourmet groceries (pasta, sauce etc), wines, a large beer selection and probably one of the best baguettes in the DC area. There are a couple tables inside and out, as well as a blackboard with daily specials. Look for Specialicious coupons and you'll really get a deal. Try the "Randolph" and enjoy very thin pastrami on rye and just go with the shredded lettuce and tomato. It works!
  13. I could not find a topic for Monterey's Pizza in Alexandria. They just opened a new location about a block away from their old location. They are going to have a patio, they have some inside seating (not huge about 7 tables of various sizes). Beer and wine license coming. We have tried DRP, Lost Dog (our previous favorite), Lena's and Monterey's so far has been our favorite delivery/eat in pizza that we have found so far in the Alexandria/Del Ray area. the crust has nice char, I think the toppings are really good. The staff is really nice, delivery is fast. We have eaten in their new location and while not amazing ambiance wasn't bad, we watched baseball and ate some pizza. I think the sauce is better than Lena's, crust is better than Lost Dog, and I am not sure why exactly, but as a whole I find it better than DRP. Anyway, just my two cents.
  14. Yunnan by Potomac is a new place in northern Old Town (according to google maps, it's outside the actual boundary of Old Town), that opened in early February. I went there a couple weeks ago for lunch and enjoyed it for the most part. They are a Mixian Noodle place from the Yunnan Province. Here's the blurb from their website: MIXIAN: SOUL FOOD Yunnan is a beautiful diverse region in southwest China, offering a variety of unique flavors and textures in its distinctive cuisine – not your typical Chinese food. The soul food of Yunnan is Mixian - delicious rice noodles - which are prepared with braised meats, rich broths and sweet, savory and spicy sauces. Mixian bowls are at the core of our menu and are complimented by a variety of unique small plates. They have (or did) a limited menu at this point with promises for more to come. The menu in the restaurant has more options than the one currently posted online. I ordered Pork Belly Lotus Leaf Bun and the Braised Beef Lu Mixian soup (at least I think that's what I ordered. I just asked what's their best dish/specialty). The pork belly bun was good, but not great. The meat was fine, but the bun tasted like a mass produced Wonder bread version. That may be an unfair assessment, as I'm no expert, but I was underwhelmed by taste/texture of the bun. The soup was good, but again I don't think the broth was as deep and rich as my memories of Daikaya or Momofuku's versions of broth. Like I said before, I'm no expert on this, so maybe my memory of those other soups are better than they actually were?!!? I'd love to do a side by side comparison of all the ramen/mixian broths that's probably impossible. The service was understandably a bit rough as they are brand new. When I sat down I was greeted by a server who came up to my table and said, " ". I said, pardon me, and she said, "Drink?". This time it was an audible question. Barely audible, but audible! I asked what they had and she said, "Soda, water, tea" so I just got water. I saw repeat performances of the super quiet interaction with other guests, and lots of repeat questions. The woman working the register and taking the orders was much more on the ball however. Interestingly, I didn't see a single Asian person working there, but I never saw into the kitchen. Also interesting perhaps was my second "visit" to this place. I happened to park in front the other evening for a class, and a group of 4-5 Asian people were entering and none were speaking English. I took that as a good sign, but it's likely that was their first visit (it took them a few seconds to figure out where it was along the block), so who knows if they'll return? I'll definitely go back when I'm in the neighborhood and I'm happy to have a new cuisine on the scene. Photos of the menu and my dishes below.
  15. Stopped by Smoking Kow for a late lunch today. They opened earlier this week. The place is pretty small, with about four picnic tables to eat at inside. They didn't have wings, tacos or ribs today, which was too bad. I ordered the two-meat platter with pulled pork and brisket, along with barbecue beans and mac and cheese. I also tried all of their sauces. I believe they were: original, vinegar, mumbo, chipotle, and gold. I thought the pulled pork and the brisket were both good, though they didn't provide a lot of it for a platter. I also thought it strange that the brisket only comes chopped. It made me suspicious that they're trying to cover up something, because that's why I do when my brisket turns out dry. Of the sauces, I enjoyed the chipotle the most, especially with the brisket. I really enjoyed their barbecue beans. They're red and white beans with a vinegary sauce that has a lot of interesting flavor to it. Can't wait to try that again. The mac and cheese was creamy, fine, nothing to really write home about. Overall, I'll definitely give this place another chance. I think the transition from food truck to restaurant will probably give them some growing pains. The menus (and meat portions) seem more geared toward sandwiches, which makes sense for a food truck. Hopefully they'll have brisket slices and ribs in the near future.
  16. There's also Killer ESP in Old Town. I've never been, but I've heard the service is friendly, but very slow; their WiFi is reportedly even slower. In other words, it's arch-hipster. They use Stumptown Roasters from Portland, and are a legitimate Independent Coffee House.
  17. This restaurant just opened up on a relatively dead strip of King Street. The chef is from Kaz. They offer primarily a Japanese set menu, similar to Kaiseke but less delicate. We had dinner there earlier this week and were pretty pleased with the food, particularly since it was opening week. My wife is a pescatarian and they were accommodating with advance notice. Courses consisted of 1: Sashimi platter--scallop, salmon, tuna(lean),grouper,sweet shrimp--the fish was excellent in quality on par with Ogawa in the city and Takumi ( variety was more pedestrian than both), fresh wasabi 2: Probably the most interesting: Lotus and Eggplant Age-Dashi --- Two slices of lotus root sandwiched around a shrimp mousse and two slices of eggplant with crab in the middle--both fried and in a dashi. The lotus root in particular was really good. The eggplant was cooked perfectly and meltingly tender but the crab stuffing was not as good as the shrimp mousse. The dashi needed a bit more salt but was quite good 3: Kurobota pork tenderloin fried in a panko crust with a coated and fried mushroom: The pork was cooked perfectly--just a little rare but overally this was a boring but good dish 4: grilled black cod: this was given to my wife in lieu of the pork--this was the only dish that failed--- fish was overcooked and oversalted 5: In place of the Oxtail Ramen on the menu they gave us Tuna tempura with soba noodle soup. The tuna was fried to a perfect rare and did not overcook in the broth. Broth was tasty. 6: Desert was a Japanese sweet potato custard---this was fine, nothing special. Set menu was $47 a person---very reasonable for the amount of food. We will definitely be back in a month or so after they have been in business a while longer. For Old Town this is a major score given the dearth of non-tourist trap restaurants. The chef is definitely serious about his food and I will happy to see him succeed in this market.
  18. "Curry Mantra 4" is called London Curry House and is now open at 191 Somerville St, Alexandria, VA in Cameron Station (see attached screenshot of Curry Mantra's website identifying it as the Curry Mantra 4th location). According to this Windsor at Arbors Apartments blog post, London Curry House opened during the week of August 17.
  19. The last time (and I do mean last time) I was in Al's the owner, who I assume is Al, yelled at a woman calling her a "Dumb F***ing Bitch" because she had the audacity to ask why it took 45 minutes to make her sandwich when someone who came in after her and order the exact same sandwich had already been given their order. She asked politely, and Al's behavior was absolutely unacceptable. I think that it is fitting that he has an autographed picture of Ike Turner on the wall, the personalities match.
  20. I don't see a thread for Lena's Wood-Fired Pizzas & Tap at 401 E Braddock Rd, near Braddock Metro Station. Friends and family opening was this weekend, and soft opening reported for today. This is said to be a partnership between management of The Majestic/Virtue and the Yates family. The space looks great. Large bar. Extensive outdoor patio with fire pit and gas heaters.
  21. https://www.chopshoptaco.com/ Hubby and I tried to go to Chop Shop Taco Friday night, but it was so busy that they were only doing carry-out at that point. It was a little on the later side, so we didn't think our chances at bar seating were good either. Happily on Sunday there was plenty of space to be had. They make their own tortillas here, I know as I watched them press them on Sunday. I thought the tortillas quite tasty, they were sturdy enough to hold up and not fall apart even when there was a good bit of sauce, but I thought they had good flavor and weren't bland or too tough. To be honest, I would like to see how they make them, as I was a little jealous, mine are nowhere near this good. They serve the tacos to us in this little cardboard box with three taco slots. I had chicken, brisket and chorizo. The brisket was by far and away the favorite. I thought the flavor was smoky, with nice pickled onion balance, good sauce, the meat was tender, but not too soft. I also liked the chorizo- quite oily- but good flavor with lime crema. The chicken was interesting- my least favorite of the three- it had a mango salsa that was kind of mustardy. It wasn't bad at all, but just not nearly as addictive as the brisket. I would like to try more of the menu. The staff was really nice. I haven't been to Urbano yet, but will probably soon, and will do a comparison, the meat and fillings are way better than Tios and Poblano. This place was really fun, the drinks look nice. It is a small space so it fills up fairly easily.
  22. Hello DonRockwellians, Taking the invitation Don gave me in another forum to start a thread on my law firm and some of the good work we do. We have a fairly diverse practice area, I mainly do family law, but my firm practices in a lot of areas, including general civil litigation, real estate, land use, wills, trusts, estates, guardianship, adoption, criminal, etc. Well here is one thing we are currently doing to help out small businesses in the Northern Virginia area. If you need this for your business, reach out. Katelin Moomau
  23. Zento opened a few weeks ago in the space previously occupied by Burrito Grill (North Washington near the corner of Wythe St). In addition to the sushi and sashimi menu, they have a variety of teriyaki dishes, ramen, bento boxes, and small plates. We stopped in last night to check it out and were happy with what we tried. They have a happy hour from 5-7pm daily, with a selection of discounted beverages, small plates, and roll combo (2 from a list of 6 varieties for $9.95). The spicy tuna roll and tuna avocado were both very good, with fresh ingredients. Edamame and seaweed salad are pretty standard fare - no surprises there. We shared a sushi/sashimi combo . Other than a few pieces of sashimi that were a touch on the cold side (better than too warm), we had no complaints. Pieces were generous, clean, and well-cut/prepared. Veggie tempura was fresh and hot, with vegetables still fresh and crispy. My only quibble was that it was a touch greasy. We're looking forward to heading back and trying some other things. The dishes we saw at other tables all looked very nice. Service is friendly and efficient. Free parking in the two retail lots with entrances on Pendleton and Wythe Streets (if you pull in somewhere you have to take a ticket, that's the wrong entrance). This has become a decent block to stop for lunch or dinner, with Teaism on one side and Zento on the other.
  24. There is a little place right by the Penzoil and Mr. Wash in Arlandria/Del Ray called Silpancho's House. They have a small Bolivian menu- the menu on facebook has their daily specials, but then they also have some other dishes, including saltenas, pupusas, wings and cheesesteaks, chicken cheese steaks, and about 5 other entrees- that I just can't remember the names of, but there are pictures and etc here: https://www.facebook.com/silpanchoshouse/ We got a beef and a chicken Saltena. It was good, although the pastry seemed just a tad over baked. I would rate Pan American Bakery above Silpancho's House, but when jonesing for a saltena in Alexandria, this is a good local spot. Matt got a dish with chicken cutlets, rice, potatoes, salad and fried eggs. I had some of this and it was a nice dish, we added some green sauce for some spice. They also have a few desserts, drinks including some beer. The woman working- who I think may have an ownership interest was truly nice. I will go back to try some other items.
  25. Thought people might be interested to hear about Chef Guo, a new restaurant featuring Chef Guo Wenjun's take on Chinese banquets. This is probably the closest the DC area has had to Chinese fine dining, and I'm interested to see how it fares. The chef serves a selection of two tasting menus, the Banquet of Eternal Bliss Hot Pot ($68 lunch, $98 dinner), and the Banquet of Peace and Prosperity ($158 dinner only), both of which feature 10+ courses in the style of imperial cuisine. Scroll through the website to see the full menus, pictures of the dishes, and a press release detailing the overall concept. So far there hasn't been much buzz about this place outside of the Chinese community, but some friends who have gone reported it to be luxurious, visually and conceptually unique, and a lot of (too much?) food, mostly very good to excellent. There seems to be a mix of traditional cuisine and modern/Western techniques. If I understand correctly, the dinner they attended was a special event combining dishes from both menus, with all of the guests at a shared table and Chef Guo himself coming out between each course to explain the concept behind the dish (in Chinese); it's not clear to me how different the experience will be once the restaurant gets settled in, but from their website it seems like they are definitely interested in catering to non-Chinese clientele as well.
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