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  1. I needed some grounding today, so I headed to Woodlands out in Fairfax for some carryout. This is real Indian food, and I'm talking manly-man southern Indian. Not the meatly oolag you sit and nibble on with a Kingfisher and a side of A&D, but the stuff you snort down with a cup of damned tea. Look at this: $7.25 gets you a Special Rava Masala Dosa. Man oh man oh man this is awesome. Call ten minutes before you arrive because it takes them fifteen minutes to make it. Get your order, and march straight back to your car. Open the metal container. Notice the beautifully grilled crepe, a cream-of-wheat and lentil crepe, thick, honeycombed, and crunchy in parts. Green chiles are used to enhance the flavor of the potatoes and onions, not to overwhelm them. Try a few bites of everything, admire how deep and cellularly knit these flavors are. And now that we've gotten that little formality out of the way, take your entire thing of sambar, and dump it on top. Likewise your coconut chutney. Start driving home. Use the plastic spoon - not the plastic fork - that you requested. Start shoveling. I love Woodlands. Forget the buffet which is interesting but sometimes tired and picked-over. Get fresh-cooked food. Get a dosa. Get this dosa. Try this exact same dish and you'll dream about it later in the night. You'll thank yourself, and you'll come here again-and-again. Do it! And now if I could figure out what to do with this little thing of Paan I bought. What is this stuff? What do I do with it? Cheers, Rocks.
  2. Rounding the corner after a very satisfying meal at Mama Chuy the other day (go!) I saw Salt and Pepper Grill, a new Pakistani/Indian place on Georgia Ave right across the street from Howard. Has anyone been? Any reports? The menu is pretty typical Indian restaurant fare, but there are a few things I'm looking forward to trying like lamb karahi and and a few goat dishes. Too bad they don't have halim or other Pakistani specialties. The address is 2632 Georgia Ave, phone 202-588-0666. Edited to add: first attempt to use this phone number has not been successful as it's been busy all night, but that's what's printed on the menu.
  3. 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.
  4. Has anyone else tried Delhi Club yet? I went there with my cousin last night, and it was really nice! We had the Bhindi Masala, which is okra sauteed with onion, tomato and spices, and the Dal Makhani, which is black lentils simmered in butter, tomato, and spices. They were both delicious, but I especially enjoyed the okra, which I have rarely but always love. We also had the Pudina Paratha, which was a layered wheat bread with fresh mint, which was excellent. Service was good, if a little hurried, and the place was packed. We got out of there for just about $22 total, but neither of us chose to have anything to drink. All in all, a tasty and inexpensive Indian restaurant worth stopping into when shopping in Clarendon!
  5. Snagged a Groupon for Cafe to India since it's in the hood and gave it a go on Friday. Strictly middle-of-the-pack Indian food, nice dining room for a small restaurant. Was hoping for more than we got flavor wise, several dishes were bland or not seasoned very well. We ordered: Masala Dosa ($8) was not good. The dosa did not have that crispiness that a good dosa has and the potato filling was bland. Paneer Pakora ($8) a generous plate of wedges of paneer in pakora batter and fried. went well with the dipping sauces. Overall solid. Mini samosas (3 for $7) a decent samosa, but the filling was kinda bland (maybe it was a potato thing) could have used some more spicing. Eggplant Bharta ($12) despite the peas (not listed on the menu) this was a good bharta with surprising heat. Naan ($3) average at best. Didn't get that good crispy sear from the tandoor. Mixed Pickle ($3) spicy...and tasty. With Masala Art a 5 minute walk up the hill, don't see us going back to Cafe of India...but glad we gave them a try. Overall it was a pleasant dinner, just didn't reach the heights of other Indian restaurants in town.
  6. Spice Street, a restaurant promising “innovative Indian cuisine,” has begun hiring in anticipation of opening in the first half of October, according to owner Navjot Singh. The restaurant will focus on a smaller staff to start, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but Singh expects the number will grow later. The full menu is still underdevelopment, he said. https://www.sourceofthespring.com/business/spice-street-restaurant-hiring-planning-early-october-opening/
  7. I feel like I am on a mission to find really good, fast, and tasty lunch places while working downtown near Metro Center for this month. Today's find was based on a recent post for quick lunch ideas near Metro Center (see post #12 for original suggestion), specifically, a recommendation for Mayur Kabab House. Having driven past there numerous times, but not brave enough to go in until today, I was quite pleased with the results. For lunch, the best option is their Lunch Buffet for $8.00 (tax included). The buffet, which can be dine-in or carry out (I chose the latter) includes four vegetable dishes, chicken curry (bone-in), chicken kabab (also bone-in) and rice and baked naan. The portions were HUGE, to the extent that I now have dinner too. The vegetable dishes for today were: daal, paneer with peas, an eggplant dish, and a cauliflower dish. The eggplant was very soft and flavorful and the chicken kabob and curry chicken both very moist and not dried out from the burners. Would definitely go back.
  8. Haandi in Bethesda is now Kadhai. Interesting...this is from Robert Dyer on his excellent Bethesda blog. http://robertdyer.blogspot.com/2013/05/haandi-changes-name-to-kadhai-in.html The gist is, Haandi in Bethesda changed its name...don't know if it's with the same owner/management or not. If you look at Haandi's web site is says the Bethesda location is permanently closed. The other location seems unaffected. There are a bunch of new menu items as well.
  9. Rasa Grill opened in SE in Navy Yard in December. It's fast casual Indian (or more like Indian-ish), locally sourced ingredients, and some fun fusion (Masala Gin Tonic!). They have pre-made bowls, or you can make your own. Really beautiful space, fun colors, neat design. Great back story, too. They made Eater's hot list for this month and review have been good. Anyway, I won't say too much, since I'm an investor, except that I think it's pretty darn tasty, and you should try it out and let me know what you think!
  10. Mr P and I tried Passage to India for lunch today, and it may just be the best Indian food I've ever had. The first adjective that popped into mind, after trying a bite of lamb stew with dried apricot and thin sticks of fried potato (salli boti jardaloo), was "elegant". I don't believe I've ever felt that way about Indian food before. The words "subtle" and "nuanced" also came to mind. In addition to the stew, we tried aloo tak: crisp potatoes in three sauces - yogurt, tamarind, and, um, green samosa chaat: a samosa perched on mildly spiced chickpeas - quite good although the bottom of the samosa got soggy rather quickly makhmali kofta: vegetable dumplings in a delicious creamy sauce that I can't begin to decipher palak makai: spinach and corn cooked together - soft, creamy, subtly nuanced and elegant... also, I asked for and was served a half portion, at close to half price; this isn't on the menu but good to know that they'll do it chaina kheer: a dessert not unlike my beloved rasmalai, tiny paneer patties in a milk sauce with saffron and pistachios the tea was pretty decent, too; think I tasted cardamom and cinnamon in it No dinner for me tonight. I last dined in this space when it was an outpost of Heritage India, and the experience was not good. Passage to India, though... wow. Damn fine food. And there's goat on the menu! I'll be going back soon.
  11. I'm intrigued. I would like to organize a small group dinner here in the near future (6-8 people). Let me know if you're interested.
  12. "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.
  13. I'll vote for Taste of Tandoor. I had lunch there once last summer with a friend, and I enjoyed their food.
  14. My wife and I recently 'discovered' Udupi Palace and have been several times. Great stuff, cheap, and close enough for it to hit our rotation (we live in Laurel). Plus, the neighborhood vibe is so mixed and frothy and loaded with piles of ethnicity. Recommended.
  15. Has anyone been to IndAroma before? It's in Annandale and has interesting looking sandwiches and baked goods.
  16. Had dinner here last night. Overall a nice Indian option in a neighborhood that doesn't have many. Upscale modern vibe. Some good beer options and lots of (very expensive) indian whiskeys that I didn't try. I did have two of the happy hour cocktails, and found them both too sweet... Menu is pretty traditional indian restaurant fare, nothing very outside the box. We tried the aloo papdi chaat, tandoori gobi, and vegetable uttapam for starters. All solid, with good flavors. For mains we had allepey fish curry, lamb vindaloo, chicken kesari tikka with sides of dal makhani, baingan bartha, and aloo gobi. The lamb vindaloo was the highlight - not too hot but with a good amount of kick, as was the fish curry. Chicken tikka was OK but a little under-spiced. The baingan bartha was an excellent smokey eggplant dish. I didn't enjoy the dal, it tasted too sweet and buttery and was therefore generally unpleasant. The accompanying nan were fine, if not quite as billowy as one might hope. It is not cheap, and portions of meat are not large, but I would be happy to go back. Certainly not a destination restaurant like Rasika though.
  17. Wandered into Kohinoor Dhaba today, per the proprietor of Indus Imports in Old Town Alexandria. Just last night, he took his family there for the first time, in search of a place to send customers when they ask (and they always ask) "where should I go for lunch today". So there I went. Environment No frills. I did not realize this would be a buffet situation. But hey, in for a penny, in for a pound, and that pounding was going to be my headache if I did not eat something soon. The outside of the restaurant carried an inviting aroma, made furher appealing by the warm greeting I received when I opened the door. A prominent, cleanly kept buffet and a few tables dominated the first floor. A more open space and additional tables appeared on the second floor. Self service water, napkins, and plastic flatware were also upstairs, making this a quick, easy, convenient lunch or dinner option for anyone on the go. The bathroom was remarkably tidy for such a small space. As a solo, famished diner, I found this layout excellent for my chowful needs. Would also be hella fun as a group to start or end a night on the town, with none of the interruptive table service hassles that can be a conversation-killer. Food Hat Tips: Marinated (not really pickled) onions, spinach pakora, and goat curry. Especially the curry, gawds that was good goat. The freshly-quartered limes on the buffet are a bright way to punch up the flavor for any of the dishes (plus, Vitamin C in da haus!). Just Misses: Bund gobi aur matar, the cabbage and peas underseasoned and dominated with oil. Garlic naan appeared beautiful with hallmark char and browned allium, but the quality of the flour prevented anything more than a token addition to the meal. Regular naan comes with the buffet, garlic an additional charge. Ease of Access Parking spaces in front of the building seemed reserved for other establishments, so adjacent meters are the way to go. Since I don't mind the trek, I just parked in the neighborhood behind the restaurant and walked the block and a half over. Upon the entrance, a set of steep stairs awaits, entailing precarious footing. Once inside, the bathroom is also upstairs. The faint of knees should dine elsewhere. The all-you-can-eat buffet with six entree options and condiments a-plenty was a whopping $8.95. An option for anyone seeking quick-fix Northern Indian, especially on a Saturday morning before the lunch time crowd hits. Website
  18. It was one of "those" nights. I had a glass of wine early, and couldn't get motivated to go out restaurant hopping. I wanted to get a good night's sleep, get up early, and get some things accomplished. There could be no doubt - it was time for carryout at Cafe Taj. Over the years, I've been to Cafe Taj many times, although I haven't been much lately. I've always found it pleasant and reliable, it not ground-breaking or exciting, and that's exactly what I was after last night. Karahi Kabob Lamb ($14.95) Eggplant Bharta ($12.95) Fresh Garlic Kulcha ($2.95) Raita ($2.95) Double order of pickles Came home, dumped everything into a mixing bowl, poured a lusty glass of wine, scarfed everything down with a tablespoon, left half of it, didn't remember what I ate five minutes later, bang, dinner is done. Cheers, Rocks.
  19. Has anyone wondered why the outlandishly luxurious Indian restaurant, Punjab Grill (website), just ... appeared? Did you know this wasn't their first restaurant in the Washington, DC area? The corporation behind it also owns American Tandoor (website) in Tysons Corner, which just closed suddenly, and without explanation. Jan 23, 2020 - "American Tandoor Temporarily Closes in Tysons Corner Center" by Catherine Douglas Moran on tysonsreporter.com American Tandoor is owned by Lite Bite Foods (website), a huge corporation in India. Lite Bite Foods also owns Punjab Grill, which has numerous locations in India (website), and if you click on the "Locations" link (bottom-right), you'll be taken to the "Institutional Catering Outlets" section of their website (although they apparently feature "Bespoke Catering" (website)). Lite Bite Foods has, according to their website, "a scale of over passionate 3500 employees." (I don't know if that's missing a hypen, or two words need to be flipped). They're also in partnership with Subway, PVR Cinemas, etc. - they own or manage over 300 restaurants (if you mill around their Indian corporate website, you can find out a lot), and I doubt they're shedding too many tears over the "temporary" closure of American Tandoor. But, in case anyone was wondering how or why someone spent so much money on decorating Punjab Grill, here's your answer. The opening chef here is apparently quite talented, and it would be wise to go on an off-night when you know he's running the kitchen and not slammed. Is this the "game-changing restaurant" Food and Wine (website) declared it to be last year? This company appears to be about volume and making money (although you could say the same thing about LVMH (website), who owns some of the most revered brands in the world (take a look at them - they're a remarkable collection) so who knows).
  20. Have you tried K.N. Vinod's Chicken Chettinad? If not, write me, and I'll track him down and find out where you can find his best version - it is revelatory.
  21. Everyone, the first DC pop up of the Thali Llama Regional Indian Pop Up Series was a big success last week. Featuring the cuisine of Goa, it was a really nice introduction for these New Orleans-based chefs to the DC scene. Many thanks to Bar Bullfrog for welcoming them and creating a fantastic cocktail pairing menu for the evening. They are doing it again on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 17 and 18, this time featuring the dishes of Rajasthan. They are doing a tasting menu, $55 for the menu, $45 for a vegetarian version. Menu cost includes service; alcohol and its service is separate and goes to Bar Bullfrog, who will again be creating cocktails for the occasion. Check out the menu and tickets on their Eventbrite page. Thanks for your support.
  22. On September 3 and 4 - the Thali Llama, a New Orleans-based business that operates the Regional Indian Pop-Up Series will be showcasing chef Tyler Stuart's authentic Indian cooking - the featured region is Goa. This is my daughter and her boyfriend's business, they are visiting and are pretty excited to pop up in her hometown. We would love a big turnout to support not only these young kids just starting out, but to also thank host Bar Bullfrog with some bar income love. Please spread the word, and if you are at all interested in really delicious and unusual Indian cuisine, please come out. They are selling tickets on Eventbrite, but are also taking walk-ins. We would love suggestions on how to get the word out about this - any local journalists/bloggers on here? Facebook Page with Reviews Eventbrite Link Thank you!
  23. Restaurateurs, I have a friend whose daughter has a New Orleans-based pop-up business: The Thali Llama. They want to bring it to Washington, DC for one week in late August, and are looking for a space. If anyone knows of any pop-up spaces available for a week in August, please contact either me, or Lori Feinman. Here are some Instagram posts about The Thali Llama by New Orleans food bloggers: Jason Vowell @cici_eats Lorin Gaudin
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