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  1. Pho 75 in Rosslyn. Metro to Courthouse, about a 10-15 minute walk downhill. Have a small bowl, then a steak at Ray's, then pay your respect's to Dremo's before it closes with a few pints to wash it down. Hops are a digestif, natch.
  2. The other week, I was staying up near Towson University, and overheard a lady talking about a crab-cake shack that was "Oprah Winfrey's favorite!" After a bit of digging, I realized they were talking about the locally renowned Pappas Restaurant and Sports Bar, famous for their crab cakes, and deified everywhere as "the best of the best of the best," etc. Because of where I was staying, I went to the Parkville location, which was interesting because it's directly across the street from (what appears to be) their main shipping facility, as well as a third building on that small intersection, for carry-out only. Here's the picture of the Parkville Sports Bar, and if you blow it up, and look closely, you'll see the shipping facility across the street on the left, and the carryout joint on the right - note the sign that says, "Maryland Steamed Crabs." Pappas is anything-but shy when it comes to flaunting all the lavish praise they've been receiving for decades - this is the bottom part of a sign that's posted on their front door - there are many, many more accolades, both on their building, and on their website. I ordered the "Double Crab Cake" for $32.99, the menu saying, "Two of the best crab cakes in town! Just ask Oprah!!" And what showed up was absolutely gorgeous: But I have some bad news for Oprah Winfrey. And I have some bad news for Baltimore. And I have some bad news for people who think they've been enjoying the world's best Chesapeake Blue Crab for years if not decades. Sigh ... I don't see how this was possibly Chesapeake Blue Crab. Furthermore, I don't see how it was possibly from Maryland, or even from America. It seems like I'm always the person who walks in at 4 AM and pisses on the party which has been going on since sunset; I also wonder if I'm the only person who notices, or even cares, about these things. From the very first bite, I "knew" this wasn't Chesapeake Blue Crab - the lumps were *enormous*, the size of grapes, and were extremely consistent in size (huge), texture (tough), and taste (nearly absent). And $32.99 for two crab cakes that were *this* big? If these were made from Chesapeake Blue Crab, the restaurant would be out of business in a week. I'd already made up my mind, but I needed something a little more "official" to go on, other than my own opinion, so I talked with two servers with whom I'd struck up a friendly rapport. "There's no way this is Chesapeake Blue Crab," I said to both of them. They both fell silent, glanced at each other for a moment, and one of them vaguely shook his head no. "Two lump crab cakes this size would cost a fortune," I added, encouraging them to say something. "You're smart," one of them said to me. "You can tell the difference." We continued our conversation. Reportedly, "they" (I'm not quite sure who "they" are) have "crab meat tastings" a couple times a week with different distributors. And, after I asked how the meat is selected, I was told - without hearing any specific names - it's from whoever has the most-consistent, least-expensive product. I'm no expert, but I grew up in Maryland, and have been eating Blue Crab my entire life - lumps this big, this firm, this tasteless, and this consistently shaped, scream out "Southeast Asia" to me (recall Todd Kliman's fine City Paper exposé about Phillip's Crab House, et al, using Southeast Asian crab meat - you can pretty much consider this Part Two of that exposé, without the extensive reporting and fact-checking that went into it). Although I didn't read every word of their menu, and haven't scoured every word of their website, I did spent about 20-30 minutes specifically searching for damning language, and I found none. Nowhere did I see that these crabs are Chesapeake Blue Crabs, from Maryland, or even from America, but have a look for yourselves. About the closest I came was in the very first picture up above - the sign across the street says, "Maryland Steamed Crabs." Note, however, that it doesn't say, "Steamed Maryland Crabs," which would give it an entirely new meaning. In other words, I am absolutely not accusing Pappas of anything shady in terms of false advertising, because I don't think they're claiming to be serving Maryland crab, and they're apparently taking great pains with their language to "circle the wagon" without actually firing a single arrow. They're letting rave reviews from "journalists" - dozens of rave reviews from "journalists" (*) - do the talking for them about what an amazing experience these crab cakes are, and there's so much noise that the ignorance of the masses seems to overlook the minor detail that they're buying into a marketing blitz that has everything to do with the Chesapeake Bay, even though the worlds "Chesapeake Bay" seem not to be used at all. (*) I was once told, by a journalist, in the angriest, most-hostile terms imaginable, that I'm no journalist - essentially because I have no training. In a similar light, I am absolutely not saying that Pappas never serves Maryland or Chesapeake Blue Crab - merely that the circumstantial evidence presented to me on this visit was pretty overwhelming. As for my meal? Just because the crab meat wasn't dredged from the Chesapeake Bay doesn't mean it wasn't good - I loved my crab cakes. Yes, the meat was bland, but it was still crab, and it was still alive and skittering around in the water, somewhere. I would absolutely come here again, and get this exact same thing, with the exact same expectations - there is minimal binder, virtually no leg meat (or much of any fibrous meat) that I could detect, and the primary scent of the crab cakes was something like that of a savory soufflé (i.e., egg, perhaps used as binder), which I find extremely appealing. The beer selection at Pappas is surprisingly good (and cheap!); the side orders are of banquet-hall quality. So don't take this as a condemnation of Pappas Restaurant and Sports Bar; it isn't. But do be aware that this one journalist's restaurant critic's person's impression is that he dined on something other than Chesapeake Blue Crab on this particular evening - extrapolate as you wish, since my investigation went no further than what you just read. That said, I doubt you'll be seeing this write-up on any websites anytime soon - being honest can be isolating, and truthful, knowledge-based writing is not very conducive to fame and fortune - at least not in this self-serving, PR-driven industry. Don't get me started on the most popular "craft beer journalists." Cheers, Rocks
  3. Copperwood Tavern Website I didn't see a thread... Hubby and I wanted to go to Texas Jack's for July 4th, but they were out of bbq. So we kept going to Shirlington, which I was a bit hesitant about, but at that point I knew so little was open in VA and Hubby wasn't crossing the border into DC and wouldn't agree to go to Old Town. He had a decent brunch at Copperwood Tavern the other weekend, and wanted to go there. I didn't love the menu, I felt it was very heavy for the summertime, and really struggled on what to order. I settled on a Caesar salad and mussels. We were brought small corn muffins, on a plate that lacked any character and just made them look like they came from a carton from Giant, the taste wasn't anything special. My Caesar salad came to the table and was soggy and obviously either made earlier OR the lettuce was not in a condition I would use, it was supposed to have kale in it, but it seemed to have baby greens, which didn't appear to be any type of kale I am familiar with, which added no texture. It didn't have anything to make it interesting- no capers, no anchovies, no texture. I ate some of it only because I was starving at that point, and Hubby had a long day working and I just didn't want to make a fuss, he saw that it wasn't great so he gave me a bunch of his brussel sprouts to eat instead, those were better, although I think they needed to be roasted at a slightly higher heat. My mussels were an appetizer portion, but were good. The menu didn't note that there was cream in the dish, but it appeared there was and I normally can tolerate a small amount of blue cheese with a pill, but definitely had a reaction to lactose that appeared to be more than just that, I wish that would have been noted, I wouldn't have ordered it. The bread served with the mussels was burnt and hard even where it wasn't burnt. Hubby got a venison steak which was really good, but for $34 I would have expected some side on the plate, I mean, no offense, but it is deer meat. Anyway, I am sure some people think this place was fine, and July 4 certainly isn't a prime night for a restaurant to be on, but I really would be hard pressed to go back. I wish we had gone to Carlyle instead.
  4. bdoughnut.com Portuguese style malasadas & doughnuts by Brian and Pin Chanthapanya at the Mosaic in Merrifield. I stopped by for the first time and enjoyed a quick treat with crab dip bagel doughnut and chocolate creme malasadas. Very tasty!
  5. Victor Albisu's Taco Bamba opened yesterday in Falls Church/Tysons. It was a rough opening day. When the wife and I arrived at about 7PM the air conditioning was not working and their expediter was doing double duty dealing with the AC techs. We tried six tacos between us, Lengua, Tripas, Suadera and Pastor. All of the fillings were excellent, especially the tripe. The Pastor was not made on a rotating spit and suffered for not being quite crispy enough on the exterior. The flavorings on all the other meats were excellent, better than anything I have had in DC. The house made salsas that were served with the tacos were also excellent. We did not try the tamales, but if they are as good as the ones sold in his mother's store next door, then they are very good. The biggest disappointment were the tortillas. They were flour instead of corn and were not house made. My wife, the Arizonan, seeing the packaged soft tacos opted for the crispy tacos which were made from masa and they worked better than the soft flour ones. For me, the result was like having great pastrami on wonder bread. I hope they get a better supplier for the tortillas. I also prefer to dress my own tacos with, depending on the type of taco, cabbage, raddish, cilantro, onion or peppers. The tacos came pre-dressed though they did have small cups of diced raddish available. With opening night jitters, we ended up missing part of our order, but that is par for the course for any opening night. I am going to work my way down the menu and give them a chance to work out the kinks. As a former Miami resident, I am looking forward to trying their Torta Cubana and I hope they take a shot at another MIami favorite I miss Lechon (whole roasted pig). All things considered, I am very happy Victor Albisu has saved me a trip to Maryland to get a taco
  6. As I was in a bit of a "treat yo'self" mood last night, I decided to check out Mike Isabella's new place Kapnos and apply some strict ethnic scrutiny to what he is offering to the DC-area bourgeoisie as Greek food. The focus Kapnos (meaning 'smoke') is grilled foods from Northern Greece, although many of the items of the menu are classic Greek dishes regardless of their local origin within the country. Not wanting to BS around with the shi-shi items on the menu, e.g., kohlrabi crudite (I'm fairly sure the average Greek does not know what kohlrabi is, and certainly not in this economy...) or duck pita (duck phyllo pie on the menu), I lined up some of my favorite foods and those that I thought would most representative of Kapnos' focus. Tyrokafteri "“ Too much tyri (cheese) and not enough kafteri (spiciness). Tyrokafteri should really bring some heat, and I thought the sparse and thin slices of hot pepper could not provide enough heat to balance what essentially was a large plate of whipped feta with olive oil. The fresh-baked pita was really nice though; I always liked that at Zaytinya. Patates tou Fourno (aka Fourno Patates on the menu) "“ My username on this site also happens to list two of the basic ingredients for patates tou fourno (oven-roasted potatoes): ladi (oil) and lemoni (not surprisingly, lemon), oven-roasted potatoes have always been one of my absolute favorite dishes since I was a kid. So, you can imagine they hold a special place in my food life. Isabella's version is good, and more importantly, the dish does not try to do anything clever; they are simple and rustic. The potatoes themselves had that nice golden appearance with some charring, and were neither too mealy nor undercooked. However, in Greek cuisine, you can rarely have oil without lemon, and unfortunately, that's what was lacking from these potatoes. A bit more lemon and this dish will be a standard plate for every table at Kapnos. Charred Octopus "“ This was the big winner, and I could tell from the moment I sunk my knife into the first tentacle. Octopus is tricky to cook (as I learned first-hand recently), so I commend any chef who nails this. This was tender, not chewy in the slightest, and had that great roast flavor. Plus, the green harissa was a really nice addition to the dish. Overall favorite and this should be a standard plate for anyone dining here. Roasted Goat "“ So close, but not there yet. The goat is quite tender and has all the characteristics of delicious spit-roasted meats. However, like the potatoes, it was lacking something to balance out all that meatiness. I would have liked another herb or perhaps a tad more salt on the goat itself, because the harissa + yogurt combo on the plate was not enough to balance. But, I can see this dish improving over time as the restaurant evolves. Overall, I'd say that Kapnos earns a solid B+ right now. Since the restaurant is so new, I imagine the recipes will be worked and re-worked until they hit their peak. However, it's a worthwhile entry and I'll be keeping an eye on its progress over time.
  7. Last night we headed out to Lebanese Taverna to use a Groupon coupon only to find it closed due to a water main break across the street. We quickly regrouped and headed to the new Cava Grille - same problem. At this point we should have cut our losses and headed home instead I let my wife convince to head to American Tap Room. I had been to the bar for drinks but have avoided eating there to date. We arrived close to 7 pm and the place was hopping both bar and restaurant. We got a table right away and seated near the window looking out on Woodmont Ave. Wife ordered the Tap Room Steak Salad. I did not try but it looked like a decent sized salad and the steak was cooked to the requested medium rare - large enough that she brought the leftovers home for lunch today. I decided to go with the crab cake. It was actually not as bad as I expected - decent size with little filler but underseasoned. It was served with some type of vegetable medley and red pepper cream sauce, which was just plain awful. I think the vegetables were frozen birds eye that you heat up in the microwave. Kids had the mini burger sliders and buttered noodles, which they said were good. Total for four people with 2 glasses of wine - $80. Service was friendly and attentive. Our server commented that they have the "best Turkey Burger in the area", I was not willing to take him up on his challenge. Too many other options in Bethesda to return here any time soon.
  8. Went to matchbox tonight "on a whim". Try the white pizza with prosciutto. But instead of prosciutto, have anchovies on the side. Mmmmmmmm.
  9. Tried out the newish Duke's Grocery today for lunch over in Dupont on 17th street. First a few odd things: 1) it is not much of a grocery - they have a few baskets of produce for sale, but it is really a restaurant, 2) its menu consists solely of sandwiches, a few sides and a bar menu - but for now they do not offer carry out sandwiches (concerns about too long of a wait when they have a tiny open kitchen and basically one (maybe 2 sometimes cooks), 3) it looks like it'd be a place for counter service, but they have bartenders and waiter?/food runners so it is unclear whether tipping is expected. I sat at the bar where you order on the ground floor when you enter - but they have an upstairs with tables and some other ledges and stools around on the first floor too. Overall, I think they are still trying to figure out what their concept really is. Nevertheless, the bar is nice and 2 young bartenders were very friendly and nice explaining the menu and chatting. Now onto the food. So the price/value is great here. All of the amply portioned sandwiches are just under $10 with tax included and despite my gluttony of finishing my whole Brick Lane Salt Beef monster, it easily could be shared by 2 people. The other couple of sandwiches I saw come out were equally well-made, fresh in the kitchen using mostly homemade ingredients in small batches and likewise large. The sandwiches come on a variety of breads from Lyon Bakery including rye, ciabatta, etc. I've never been to the UK nor had Salt Beef but it was described as less salty corned beef. It had thick cut soft white bread that was good and then piled high large chunks of tender beef (not melt in your mouth, but soft). The sandwich is slathered with sinus-cleansing Colman Mustard (think horseradish or chinese spicy mustard without the heat) and house made dill pickles with bit of onion laced within. I said next time I'd get the sandwich with less mustard and more of the good pickles. The sandwich was good and definitely well made with quality ingredients - but I think the mustard overwhelmed the somewhat lightly seasoned meat. Probably go back and get something else or maybe the salt beef on rye with sauerkraut and dilled mustard (Ruby on Rye). Besides these 2 options there are several pork ones, a chicken salad, and a vegetarian aubergine/eggplant sandwich - but check/call before you go if you want something particular as most of the menu changes according to the staff.
  10. Thanks again to a Chowhound post, the hunt was on for a newly open coal-fired pizzeria. They've been open all of four days and are located off of Route 108 about a mile east of the intersection of Routes 108/104/100 and west of Snowden River Parkway. It's in the same shopping center as a Starbucks and Coldstone Creamery. COAL*FIRE "Charred to Perfection" Open daily for lunch & dinner 410-480-COAL (2625) Located in Shipley's Grant 5725 Richard's Valley Road Ellicott City, MD 21043 After asking our server too many questions [sorry, we didn't know it was her first day], one of the owners did a drop-by, chatted with us about their 18-month pizza research and told us their oven is from Bellingham Washington. This oven uses coal, gas and electric/convection to keep the temp controlled and the flat surface hot. Because of this, the crust on our two pizzas were uniformly crispy. After seeing several "blonde" pies go out, we asked specifically for charred crust and were rewarded with this Margherita [12"=$12]: Excellent Moz from Ceriello Fine Foods in Baltimore's Belvedere Square and a choice of one of three pizza sauces. The sauces include Classic (straight up Marinara-plum tomatoes), Signature (a mix of spice and very mild sweetness � no hint of sugar at all) and Spicy (it'll get your attention and reminds me of Arrabiata sauce). Our second pie was with the Spicy sauce and sausage [12" = $12.50]. Also very good and benefitted from having less cheese on the pie. They also have 16" pies, but we opted for the variety of two 12" pies. After the Phat Pug flameout, I'm more hopeful for this place because its owners are industry vets though they own Nottingham's [sporty bar: billiards, dartboards, tiki and annoying website] in nearby Columbia.
  11. Has anyone had an opportunity to visit Fireworks Wood Fired Pizza in Leesburg, Virginia? http://www.fireworkspizza.com/HOME2.htm My family and I have eaten at the restaurant once, and ordered take out twice. On our first visit, the first pie we ordered was the: quattro carni. The second (take out) was the: smokey blue, and the third (take out) was the: fire cracker. Our favorite pie thus far has been the: smokey blue, but felt that the service each time has been poor. During our first visit, the wait staff neglected to remember one-half of the order for my family. As a result causing the food delivery to be staggered. Each time we have called to place take out orders, the phone manners from the wait staff/bartender taking the order has been less than stellar.
  12. 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.
  13. Walked by this place on the way to what would prove to be an excellent lunch at Siroc. Anyone tried it yet? Initial Yelp reviews are outstanding. It's right across 14th st from Buredo, in the old Lighter Cafe space at the top of the Metro escalator. Great to have some good felafel within walking distance of my office.
  14. I've been pretty pleased with the pizzas at Cafesano, Marie's replacement. Another place that made a huge step up in terms of atmosphere.
  15. OK, I couldn't find a listing for this restaurant, so here it goes... I have tended to only go to the take out place in Arlington and the new "cafe" in Silver Spring recently, but Friday I found myself at the Lebanese Taverna in Woodly Park. I used to go here all the time in years past, so when were were looking for a quick bite to eat, we thought we would give it a try. I would say the food was ok, but not as good as I remembered. I think ultimately knowing you could go to Zatinya and have similar food, but prepared in a more inspired way, you would pick Zatinya. We ordered a bunch of the mezza. Some items were fine (the Kibbeh and hommus), one item was very good (sharaht ghanam- which was sliced lamb), and others were average to not very good (the lamb kabob appetizer was terrible, the pieces were so fatty my piece was impossible to eat as it was all fat). I know that its location near the hotels means that there are many tourists, but I think they may have dumbed down some of the food for them. I used to remember this restaurant as a fun and interesting place to go. I still like the take away in Silver Spring, but if I want to sit down and eat, Zatinya is the winner, with better food and atmosphere. I wonder if they are successful with the 100 King restaurant in Alexandria, they will go back to to Woodly Park, and give it a much needed update.
  16. That would be my #1 option (YMMV) in Cleveland Park, then. Great news for Cleveland Park!
  17. District Dumplings: Jun 6, 2018 - "District Dumplings Set To Open New Location in Arlington Ridge Shopping Center" by Alex Koma on arlnow.com
  18. It looks like Agraria's second location will be Founding Farmers, at the IMF building. See links here and here.
  19. I've been a fan since they opened the Bethesda location many moons ago. The food is consistantly great for fast food, and blows away Chipotle and Baja Fresh in my opinion. Any other fans out there? Favorite burrito? I've been rotating between the Blackened Chicken Caesar and the Spicy Sunset lately....
  20. Pho Nom Nom, out Rockville Pike is a bit of a drive but so worth it. Best Pho around!
  21. There's a spot in a Centreville where restaurants go to die. After two Indian places met their maker comes a new contender. Frito Chicken. The place has an interesting story: Mar 15, 2018 - "Frito Chicken Gives Ashburn New Fried Chicken Option" by Chris Wadsworth on theburn.com My wife met the owner yesterday who invited us to give it a try. She was very nice and we didn't feel like making dinner tonight so we gave it a try. "Frito Chicken is the brain child of Amina Khan. She’s was born in Pakistan, raised in Canada and has collected a wealth of recipes. Over the years, friends have told Khan that her chicken recipes — both fried and roasted — are some of the best they’ve ever had." We got the strips which were spicy and an 8 piece chicken. The yuca was all done perfectly. The potatoes and corn were fine. The fried chicken is the star here and I urge everyone to give it a try. Remember, it takes 20 minutes for it to cook so be patient. It is worth it.
  22. Guess some of you will be headed down my way now. http://news.fredericksburg.com/businessbrowser/2013/02/14/broker-new-fredericksburg-restaurant-likely-to-draw-from-no-va/
  23. Team, We have been reading this forum for a long time and found it very helpful in enhancing our dining experience. Now, me and my partner Enzo Algarme have opened our own food establishment and want to invite you guys to check it out. Enzo, who is from Naples, Italy, worked in the kitchen of the renown "Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente" (certified by Verace Pizza Napoletana) in Naples, where he learned how to make authentic Neapolitan specialties, which we are now making here, in Arlington, Virginia. Some things, like the Neapolitan Fried Calzone, you can't find anywhere else in this area. We also make Palle di Riso (crunchy rice balls stuffed with peas, veggie crumble and cheese), Panzarotti - potato croquettes stuffed with mozzarella, Neapolitan-style pizza (we do not have a wood-burning oven, but use the same recipe and the ingredients as pizzerias in Naples). The food we serve is the authentic Neapolitan STREET food, just like you find on the streets of Naples. Our food establishment is a STREET CART, not a restaurant, so the prices are more than reasonable. We have been open for about 1 week in the neighbourhood of Ballston, in Arlington, VA just outside the Metro station, at the corner of Stuart and 9th streets. We are only open Mon-Fri for breakfast and lunch right now, from 8 to 3:30, but soon will be open until 8pm. Come to give us a shot! Anastasiya and Enzo pupatella.com myspace.com/pupatella1pizza
  24. "Photos: Mezeh Mediterranean Gril Now Open in RTC West" by Fatimah Waseem on restonnow.com
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