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  1. Coincidentally, I got a flyer today advertising the grand opening of Oh Mama Grill on Rollins Ave. (Rockville). I think it is where there is or was a kosher market and the first version of Moti's (now al-Ha'esh). Looks like they have a similar menu to al-Ha'esh.
  2. Chef Spike Gjerde has opened his long awaited farm-to-table restaurant in Clipper Mill. The wife and I went there last night and were shocked at the full dining room, given the restaurant's out-of-the-way location. No matter though, we had made reservations and were seated promptly in the loft overlooking the dining room. The renovation to the building is stunning. The exposed brick walls and recycled old-growth lumber that were used are dramatically illuminated, looking both elegant and cozy at the same time. A wood burning oven is the center piece of the open kitchen, and most of the food on the menu seems to be cooked in it. We ordered: Oysters (raw and roasted) Chicken liver parfait Hamburger Autumn vegetables Everything was very good: the food, the service, and the space. We'll be back soon. Woodberry Kitchen
  3. Rocklands is opening a new location in Wintergreen Plaza on Rockville Pike. Any reason for me to get excited about this, or should we continue to get our 'cue from Urban? The only Rocklands we're tried was the Glover Park location and that was at least 7-8 years ago. I remember nothing about the meat, but their corn salad was pretty good. The new Rocklands would be about 3 minutes from our house, rather than a trek down the Pike.
  4. I had lunch at the Eleanor, in the NoMa area under Elevation apartments. I'm nor recommending it, by any means, but it isn't terrible. It's just unremarkable, unless you want to go bowling for some reason. Let me say up front that I hate any waitstaff that doesn't write down an order. I have NEVER received my exact order from someone who just listens to your order and thinks they can remember it well enough to convey to the back of the house. Thus my burger, ordered medium rare with an egg on top and a side of salad, came out medium well with bacon on top and a side of fries. (Note -- the fries were very good.) Two of my companions ordered the rib eye, which at $26 should have been thicker than the 1/2" slices that came out. One companion ordered what looked like a reasonable lobster roll, but he wasn't raving about it. The menu has no rhyme or reason, and certainly no central theme. It's a hodge-podge of dishes that don't fit well on the same menu, like Greek salad, General Tso's wings, the aforementioned lobster roll, and "mussels and fries" (better known as moules et frites). Let's see -- Greece, China, Boston, and Belgium...?
  5. I guess I'm the last person on Earth not to know that FDB Eatery is now open under the same ownership as what used to be Frozen Dairy Bar & Boardwalk Pizza, and before that, Frozen Dairy Bar. (The original owner (Ray Fletcher) and the original location of Frozen Dairy Bar are both long gone - Joe H and I may be the only two people left in DC who fondly reminisce over the old building and the three original vintage-1946 Electro-Freeze machines.) <--- This really wasn't that long ago. Anyway, I walked in, and there was a handwritten sign saying that today, they were featuring "Local Peach Sorbet," so I decided to take the healthy route, and got a Medium Cup ($3.75), even though this was non-dairy and anathema to the original concept of Frozen Dairy Bar. Time marches on ... and the sorbet was wonderful. But man it's weird to see this place succumbing to the three-character, stock market symbol-type nomenclature:
  6. "Rhodeside Grill To Reopen with Renovated Bar, New Menu to Follow" by Rachel Hatzipanagos in the Clarendon-Courthouse-Rosslyn Patch Small Business Spotlight.
  7. Al Ha'esh, translates to on the fire or on the charcoal. It is a nice space carved out of Kosher Mart, which I believe is now called Motti's. The space was known for generations as Katz's. It has its own separate entrance from the supermarket, and is run as a standalone restaurant, although it looks like the kitchen may be shared with Motti's. I have always said that a restaurant cannot survive solely because it is Kosher, it must also have good food. This space may have figure it out. I went here for lunch expecting some good grilled meats, Israeli salads, and some good bread. I did not leave dis-appointed. We started with an order of falafel, hummus, and babaganoush. They were served with hot pita, which was really really good (has anyone noticed pita quality recently has jumped by a huge margin?). The falafel was perhaps the best I have had outside of Israel. The hummus and and babaganoush were also very very good. For my main, I had grilled sweetbreads, which we were told was pancreas. I had never had the opportunity to sample pancreas so I thought I would give it a try. It was decent, although a small portion. It came a with a choice of side, which I opted for Israeli Salad. My friend went full out and got a skewer of chicken, steak (entrecote) and lamb kebab. Entrees come with unlimited salad and pita. The salads alone were enough for a meal, there were about 4 dishes of tahina, tabbouleh, chickpea salad, a tomato onion salad, and something else I cannot remember. All were very fresh and well seasoned. Prices are decent--at lunch, single skewer of your choice is $14.00, $18 if you want a second one, all coming with salads and pita. I should also note that they have a decent well curated beer selection both on draft and in bottles, with prices which will have your head spin a 360, drafts are $4.50 (including Unibroue from Canada, Goose Island, and Smuttynose and bottles are $5.50 (Bear Republic, Founders, Hatachio (from Japan), North Coast, Weyerbacher). Being a Kosher spot, they are not open on Friday or Saturday night.
  8. Happy to report that Pho Binh's location in the Heights offers "The Original" banh mi (off menu, but advertised on signs around the restaurant & on the cash register), which is essentially a cold-cut and paté sandwich. Grabbed one the other day for lunch. You're going to have a hard time finding a better way of spending $5.50 for lunch elsewhere in the city. Fantastic on its own, the flavors popped that much more with an easy shake of fish sauce and a thin line of Sriracha. I can also vouch for the lemongrass beef banh mi and the pork/spring roll bun. I am slightly embarrassed that I have yet to try the pho, especially considering the possibility of the roasted bone marrow add-on. Soon...soon.
  9. This is kind of exciting: ARLNow is reporting that paperwork has been filed that shows Four Sisters Grill will be taking over the space last occupied by Fatshorty's.
  10. Cafe Kimchi has closed. The space is now open under (I believe) different ownership with a new name and prettier look. The new restaurant is Torai, which serves Korean and Japanese food. Yelp link (obligatory "Sorry, Don.") Someone I know who lives nearby told me about the change and said that the food is quite good and a step up from Cafe Kimchi. I have not been in to eat here yet and, for that matter, only got food at Cafe Kimchi once. I forget what it was but it wasn't something that traveled too well. Given the small space, takeout probably remains the best option here, though there is some seating. The space is at 751 8th Street, SE, next to District Doughnuts.
  11. The still-in-progress dining area at the front of Lezzet Market (on Nelson St. in Rockville, just down the hill from Rt 28 at I-270) will evidently be a branch of Balkan Grill, and not Simit & Kabob as previously surmised. I'm told there will be Turkish kebabs though. The interior reconfiguration is complete, a few tables are in, the kitchen is equipped. Latest rumored opening date is "this Friday, insha'Allah".
  12. Anybody have information about the new management team and renovations underway at Kenny's? Additional context from a Craigslist ad: "KENNYS SMOKE HOUSE is currently under new ownership is undergoing complete renovations including menu changes to better serve our community with authenticate quality BBQ and smoked meats. We are planning to relaunch an entirely new experience and look before July 4th with redesigned interior\exterior, menu enhancements, beer garden and craft beers. Must be able to start mid June."
  13. Senor Canales's Tortilla Grill and Cafe is not only a tiny jewel on the Hill, but one of DC's best hole in the wall secrets! The Canales family is one of the major players at Eastern Market owning three different stalls: Canales Deli, the stand with the fresh pasta, and Canales Meats. Several years ago the Senor of deli fame opened up a tiny eat in/take out store front serving El Salvadoran/Mexican food directly across the street from the Market. It was an immediate success, with lines stretching out the door. But one shouldn't been surprised when the kitchen staff was ordered to make the food like they would at home and a pork tamale, 2 mixed (pork and cheese) papusas with a side of plantains running you $8.
  14. I’ve been to a few outposts of Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill, a local-ish chain, which has 16 locations all over southern California and, oddly enough, one non-CA location in Springfield, VA. It’s a reliable and reliably nice place for more-than-decent BBQ, good salads, and solid service. I know that sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, but I’ve actually been quite a few times because it’s such a general people-pleaser. I like the tri tip in all its forms – entrée, sandwich, salad – it’s always tender with lots of beefy flavor (similar to Buckhorn Grill in northern CA). The peanut slaw, with its vinaigrette base, is a standout side. I’ve had the slaw at several catered and potluck lunches (they do a brisk takeout business) and it’s gobbled up for a reason. I’ve also tried the brisket, chicken, and pulled pork, and all are fine-good, but I prefer the tri-tip. The hot, buttered, garlic rolls are also worth eating, even if you’re limited carbs! The restaurant is decorated with warm wood and mostly (or all) booth seating, and the servers and hosts are well-trained and friendly (and younger and good-looking). I think I’ve been to 3 or 4 different locations and they all seem to be similar. They work well for meals with coworkers or picky groups, and I’ve even done an interview there! All in all, going to a Wood Ranch is very much like going to a branch of the Great American Restaurant group.
  15. This is a cute little place that opened last fall. My husband and I have stopped in for lunch several times (they have lunch specials), and have been very pleased with the experience. We've tried a variety of dishes and all have been excellent. Most recently, my husband had the Sushi special and I had Tuna Tataki. Everything was very fresh and tasty. They serve beer and wine. The space is bright, modern and attractive.
  16. This is the original location of the Old Hickory Grille (I understand that there are several more now, but I've not been to any of them) and has been here for years. It has become a standby when we are in the mood for a steak salad or roast chicken. The place has expanded over the years but still maintains its original flavor. It has a definite Cajun slant, what with fried oysters and oyster po'boys, Cajun spring rolls, etc., but it is still best to stick to the tried and true. The kitchen/grill is open and you can watch as they prepare your food. The roast chicken is excellent, marinated for 24 hours then slow roasted. It is my son's favorite. I love the steak salad, a huge salad with perfectly grilled steak, balsamic marinated and sauted onions and your choice of dressing. I really like the horseradish dressing. The ribs are huge and meaty, not the little baby backs that some places sell (though I did notice the last time I was there that you could get babybacks, a downturn in my view) and there is a nice "cowboy" steak on the menu frequently. The fried oysters are excellent, lightly breaded in cornmeal and served on a bed of the horseradish dressing with a corn and tomato salsa. The fries are thin, crispy, and come in a huge pile, and the mashed potatos are excellent. The BBQ beans are a little sweet for my taste, and the cole slaw could use a little more kick. Service is very friendly and efficient. When you first come in you get a basket of home made cornbread biskets and white biskets. Hot and tasty. There is a wine list, but it is ordinary and forgetable. I like the iced tea. While this is not necessarily a destination, it is a very good stop on the way home if you are in the area and even worth a little of a drive if your are not. And right next door is Rita's for some italian ice.
  17. In my efforts to eat lunch across the 'burbs of NoVA, I had lunch today w/ a friend at Walker's Grille, which is in an odd location behind Inova Alexandria. There's plenty of parking, a built in clientele w/ the hospital & doctors offices, I think it was about 3/4 filled. The space is attractive enough, reminiscent of an office building, a little noisy, & has an outdoor patio that might be nice, when the weather is warmer. We both got sandwiches, I was craving a club, (which is why I tried this place), so, turkey club w/ bacon & cheddar on wheat toast- large, a little dry, & the fries were a little limp. My friend had the reuben, said it was ok, not outstanding. Service was excellent, so while I won't be rushing back, I think it was just fine...
  18. I had a lunch meeting in Clifton today, and I suggested Trummer's on Main....my lunch partner countered with Main Street Pub. I acceded. Not a bad choice. If there was a poster for downtown Clifton -- and there probably is -- this is the place that would grace it. The front of the house is the Clifton General Store, with carry-out sandwich and bakery items, plus quite a bit of penny candy. And T-shirts. The back of the house is where the so-called Pub exists, with 10-12 tables and a nice little Pub menu, plus a spare but nice variety of libations. For lunch today, I enjoyed a Chef Salad of reasonably high quality, well worth ordering again, and my companion enjoyed one of the best looking burgers I've seen, cooked to his medium-rare specification. Definitely worth a repeat, and now I'm trying to think of a reason to be in Clifton for a breakfast here.... Just a few steps away from Trummer's.
  19. Who have you stolen, Ramparts? You’ve been a neighborhood regular in the Fairlington section of Alexandria for over 30 years. Four years ago, my first few visits were limited to your sports bar, a smoky, loud, pickup scene, separated from your restaurant by a series of heavy double doors. The full menu was available on the bar side, with Jack Daniels featuring a little too prominently on the description of several plated offerings. I’d dabbled with your choices, a hamburger here, a salad there. My samplings revealed nothing noteworthy, with the exception of your signature hot peas ($5) appetizer, deep fried legumes with a crave-able blend of celery salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne. Served in a metal basket on parchment paper, these were fun to eat and interesting to enjoy, evoking the image of Mexican jumping beans. I even ventured to your restaurant side once before, maybe two or three years ago. I recall digging the vibe, Cheers meets log cabin meets speakeasy. I am a sucker for dimmer lighting and muted acoustics. You featured both with your wooden, sound-absorbing walls and soft glow. Servers seemed friendly and helpful, chatting intimately with groups of regulars, a true neighborhood joint. But my adoration ended there, as your entrees never delivered anything more than a ho-hum monotone to accompany the friendly scene. Back then, I recall a trout dish composed of supermarket quality ingredients, seasoned without much interest, plated without much consideration of vertical lift or other visual design. I was OK with all of this. A single interesting and hard-to-find-elsewhere item on your menu was fine with me, and I looked forward to those hot peas the few times I wound up stepping through your doors. But recent experience has changed everything. You’ve given me such hope, such a sense of mystery! We aimed for your doors this week out of convenience--we required a specific number of walking miles to end the day’s workout. We entered a busy scene on the restaurant side, surprisingly hopping for what is normally a mid-week slump in the restaurant industry. Since my last visit, both the regular and daily specials menu had received a significant facelift. More interesting dishes appeared, described with multiple components in a more eye-catching and professional formatting. This seemed promising. Forgetting everything I read in the recent meat ethics discussion thread, I ordered a medium-rare hangar steak that arrived with a hefty, well-browned crab cake on top, adjacent to Brussels sprouts cooked with bacon, shallots, and littleneck clams ($20), all finished with a peppercorn wine demi-glace. Flash-fried potato sticks crossed over the top of the crabcake creating dramatically attractive angles, and a slash of horseradish cream sauce cut through the side of the plate. At first taste, I knew this was not the cuisine of visits past. This was high quality, well-cooked, deftly seasoned, and interesting bite-after-bite. I stole a few nibbles of my dining companion’s Ramparts signature hamburger ($11) and was equally impressed with ingredient quality, cooking method, and balance of flavors. This burger features components that just work---smoked gouda, mushrooms, fried onion strings, a sweet-hot mustard, combining for powerful flavor. The one flat note for me was the fries, which obviously steamed more than they fried, resulting in a softer texture. My dining companion prefers this texture, so he finished those while I happily stole more of his burger. The steak and crab entrée was too much for us to complete, and leftovers were even better the next day, another harbinger of quality. I began to wonder why these menu selections were of such higher satisfaction than of visit pasts---was it a new, behind the scenes consultant or rock star staff member? My suspicions escalated once dessert arrived. The apple tart a la mode, described as if it were a basic comfort food on the dessert menu, had been plated with much eye for design on a long, rectangular dish. Paper-thin sliced apples graced an adorable tart in a post-centrifuge pattern dusted with cinnamon, along side finely crushed graham cracker, vanilla bean ice cream, and whipped cream sprouting a fresh sprig of mint. Go, order this dessert, and tell me this shortbread is not one of the best you can recall having. I almost fell out of my chair, marched back to the kitchen, and demanded to know who was back there. Figuring this was a one-off experience, we returned to the restaurant for a second visit a few days later. The sports bar is a full-on fume fest, but the restaurant bar is smoke free, so we saddled up to take a seat. These may be the most comfortable bar chairs I have encountered in years. Something about the height, cushioning and back seemed custom-designed for my form and frame. This time, we examined the drink menu more carefully. Bottled wine selections offered a few hopeful choices, but by-the-glass offerings were limited to the pinot grigios, sauvignon blancs, chardonnays, merlots, cabernet sauvignons, and malbecs of the every day table. On the other hand, although local microbrews had not yet made an appearance, a dozen beer selections on tap provided several excellent choices. We did not order mixed drinks, but a look at the fully stocked bar revealed several less common choices, probably favorites of frequent locals. I also noticed four kinds of bitters—peach, chocolate, rhubarb, and orange, another promising possibility for future visits. We aimed for small dishes on this second visit, a bowl of corn and crab chowder and hot wings (my dining partner’s craving; it’s a long story involving a grappling match with three coconuts and the subsequent aftermath). The chowder ($6), once again, evoked a reaction of me wanting to storm the kitchen to investigate who was behind the menu and the kitchen prep. Masterfully tiny potato cubes, corn stock-infused cream, fresh and meaty crab, this was balanced soup of a much higher standard than I thought would be possible from this location. Hot wings were hot wings ($9), a heaping basket, appropriately fried, nicely balanced acidic heat, accompanied by slightly-steamed carrots, a nice touch with the blue cheese dressing tasting light and of good quality. We once again ordered the apple tart dessert, which arrived on a round rather than rectangular dish. While immensely tasty, the simple switch from ground cinnamon to powdered sugar garnish, missing mint sprig, and different plating took away from the transcendence of the previous edition. The venue was packed to the gills, and these changes were all symptoms of a kitchen in the weeds. So, Ramparts, who did you steal? What kitchen manager, sous chef, or other gem do you have hiding behind your kitchen’s swinging doors? Consistency will be your challenge, but if you keep the quality of ingredients I’ve been seeing, and every-now-and-then reveal triumphant brilliance of an artfully delicious masterpiece, the future will be bright, gallantly gleaming.
  20. I'm going to post some reviews based on my recent trip to LA and Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. In response to Xochitl10, the only good meal I've had in Riverside (and I've had many there) is at El Corral for Mexican food. It's my great aunt's favorite place, so when I'm visiting her I end up there a ton, and I love it, particularly for breakfast. They have posole and menudo on the weekends.
  21. Downtown Takoma Park's dining options continued to expand with the opening a week ago of Takoma Bistro, operated by the Bread and Chocolate people. Taking over the ill fated Everyday Gourmet, with some art and a little remodeling they've transformed the space into a warm and inviting cafe that also has outside seating, open seven days a week for three meals a day. a beer and wine license is expected in about a week. Right now the place opens early, at 6:30 well ahead of competitors like Capital City Cheesecake (7:30, weekdays) and Marks Kitchen (9:00, weekdays). The breakfast menu includes eggs, waffles and pancakes (like Mark's, no hot cereal), lunch and dinner offer a wide variety of sandwiches, side and entree salads, burgers and the like, examples of more substantial entrees include chicken pot pie, moussaka, salmon and a flat iron steak. An expresso machine is turning out some great coffee and espresso based drinks. My companion and I went in for a late lunch. She had a tuna melt, but strangely the cheese was under the tuna, not melted on top as per the menu. She thought the accompanying side salad was ok, but boring. I had the burger, beautifully cooked and very good. The shoestring fries were a little overcooked. We finished with a latte and a cappuccino, both exceptional. Friends at a table nearby really enjoyed their salmon salad. The place has been slammed since it opened, and the staff is definitely still finding its way, so involved with working out details of the operation that sometimes customers get ignored. Procedures have to be worked out, and someone needs to keep an eye on the floor at all times. But the community has clearly welcomed Takoma Bistro, and the staff knows there are many rough edges and is working to correct them. Hopefully it will not only bring another option but some synergy to the growing Takoma dining scene. 6923 Laurel Avenue, at present 6:30AM to 9 pm.
  22. Website 240-439-4010 7810 Wormans Mill Rd. Frederick, MD 21701 This is a nice bar and grill up in northern Frederick, right across from the Wegmans. The food here is what I would categorize as 'above average but not worth going much out of your way for', but the beer selection here is one of the better ones in town. Most notably, the beer selection is constantly rotating. Usually there will be one or two craft brewers from the area taking up 4-6 taps each, as well as a decent staple selection. Troegs, Dogfish, Duclaw, Flying Dog, Victory, and Heavy Seas are all locals that frequently appear here. It's good to keep your ears open because they occasionally will do full tap takeovers, and sometimes have special deals or pairings or freebies. They had a Duclaw takeover once where a $5 12oz pour let you keep the glass, which was nice. They also have a Nitro tap, of which Old Rasputin is frequently on board, please make sure to get this if you go here and see it. They also have a Randal, which rotates in and out. Finally, they have some decent bottles and cans to choose from, including Ten Fidy, V12, Blasphemy, and I've even seen Avery's Mephistopheles here for a disturbingly low price before (about $6 for a 12oz bottle). In general, the prices here are Pretty Good for beer. Food wise, definitely do not pass up on the Goat Cheese Brulee Dip, this stuff is just all kinds of amazing. I have not had anything else here I thought was exceptionally good, but nothing has been bad either. I usually go for a chicken sandwich or the Jambalaya myself, my wife always gets the steak with blue cheese. Also peanut butter pie. I just can't help myself.
  23. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...7052300674.html Anybody been there? Heather? This is in your neck o' the woods.
  24. Mom and I were by Union Square checking out the holiday market which was really quite cool and needed to eat before our show. Mesa Grill was about a block or two away and I knew we could get something at the bar and then catch a cab to our show in the right amount of time. Mom was tired of walking and wanted a glass of wine so it just all worked out to be a good place to go. We just sat at the bar and service there was really good, very nice bartender, I liked my peach margarita, fresh ingredients, not overly sweet and just refreshing. We ordered the blue pancake with duck barbecue, bison steak with onion straws and a side of mashed potatoes. The food was actually very very good. I loved the blue corn pancake with duck bbq. The flavors were excellent, the duck was rich, sauces fit it just right, was very very tender and just good. The bison steak was cooked right to medium rare- seriously, I was impressed with how right on the temperature was. It tasted excellent, sauces again really good. The real winner was the mashed potatoes with lots of chives, parsley and butter. Oh they were excellent. My Mom commented that she was impressed that they were real potatoes that were mashed well, but still had an almost homemade texture to them, not a potato puree at all, mashed potatoes. They were so good I almost liked the little cup they came in. I wish I would have ordered the meatball appetizers, our neighbors got them and OMFG did they smell good. Anyway they got us in and out in very quick time and the food was very good. But we had wanted some red meat and something kind of substantial americanish so it hit the spot.
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