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  1. "This is it," I thought to myself. "This is the best taco I've ever eaten in my life." I had read about the lines at farmer's markets for Suzanne Simon and Bettina Stern's taco stand, but didn't really know much about it. The other day, I decided to go see for myself, and I am *so glad* I found out early on about Chaia. First, the location: Chaia is on Grace Street, which is just a few feet off of Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, south of Georgetown Park Mall - it's *right there* off Wisconsin, and even has a little sign directing pedestrians to "tacos and beer" - don't let the words fool you. Having read their website before I went, I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for, and I also had a pretty good idea of what I was going to order. One thing of great importance: Chaia is a daytime-only taqueria: Tuesdays through Saturdays it closes at 8PM, and on Sundays, it closes at 6PM - it's closed altogether on Mondays. Please don't forget this, or you're going to show up and find a closed taqueria. And they serve beer, too - in keeping with their "hyper-local" theme, the two breweries they sell are Port City Brewing and Atlas Brew Works. Don't make the same mistake I did: Donnie Boy just *had* to have a beer with his tacos, and for no particular reason, so I started off with a plastic cup of Atlas Brew Works Rowdy Rye ($5). Why in God's name I did this, I don't know - Chaia sells cold-pressed juice from Misfit Juicery and seasonal shrubs, and non-alcoholic beverages are what you should be paying attention to here, unless you *really* like hop-laden beers at the opportunity cost of something truly special. Read on for another reason not to succumb to the temptation of ordering a beer. I got the Market Trio ($11), saving all of twenty-five cents from the í la carte taco prices of $3.75. You should ignore this special, and order however many tacos you want, and get whatever sounds good. Still, three tacos were just about right for me, and gave me a chance to try three different versions, the top three on the list: 1) Mushroom with feta, red sauce, and cilantro 2) Smoky Collards with queso cotija, tomatillo salsa, and pickled radish 3) Creamy Kale + Potato with pepperjack, polano crema, green sauce, and pickled onions. On this one taco, I sprung for a fried, pasture-raised egg ($1.50, available weekends only) - I'm a sucker for eggs and potatoes together, since they conjure up memories of diner breakfasts. I'd gotten my beer first, and nursed it throughout the meal. Note that you're not allowed to go out on the patio if you order beer, so if you want to eat outside, keep it non-alcoholic. Wanting to enjoy the egg while it was hot and runny, I ate my tacos in the order 3), 1), 2), and as I was about one-third of the way into the Kale and Potato taco, I paused, and said to myself, "My God, this is the single greatest taco I've ever eaten." I know it's California-style, and that it's vegetarian, but I don't care - this was not only the best taco I've ever eaten, it was the best quick-serve food I've ever eaten (think what that's saying). The corn tortillas are unbelievable, and the combination of ingredients on this taco was perfect. Do yourself a favor and *get the egg* with this - I could not believe what I was eating, and even cheated a little bit by dripping some of the egg yolk onto the other two tacos (only a few drops, as I didn't want to flirt with ruining perfection). Read that previous paragraph as many times as you need to read it - get this taco, and get it with an egg. In fact, get *three* of these tacos, and get *each one* with an egg. It'll set you back $15.50, and you'll love yourself (and me!) forever and ever. The Mushroom taco was next up, and it was fantastic as well, with thinly sliced mushrooms that picked up everything because they were so thin. A few days ago, I complimented the Wild Mushroom Taco at Virtue Feed & Grain - allow me to paraphrase my dear friend Terry Theise: 'I like tortilla chips, and I like truffles, and I also have no problem recognizing which of the two is better.' It's the same situation here: Virtue's Wild Mushroom Taco was tasty bar food; Chaia's Mushroom Taco was a great and profound taco by taqueria standards - there's a huge difference between the two, and if you like mushrooms, get over here and order this - it would also be terrific with an egg. Then came the collards, and this is why I should have gotten a cold-pressed juice: the collards are, by nature, bitter, and the rye-based beer was loaded with bitter hops - it was bitter on bitter, and literally left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, even as I was driving over the Memorial Bridge to get home it was still there, in a pronounced way. This is a *very* collard-greenish taco, and you have to really love collard greens to love this (think about the collard greens you get at barbecue shacks, without any of the pork they usually put in them). I'm not saying 'don't order this,' merely that you should be prepared for a blast of collard greens, and if that's what you're in the mood for, then you'll really enjoy it. As a boxed set, for $11, this was a fantastic meal, and I cannot recommend Chaia enough, both for vegetarians, and also for lovers of California (San Francisco, not Los Angeles) taquerias. This food was fantastic, and I contend that the first taco was the single greatest taco I've ever eaten in my life. I don't like putting pictures into my reviews, because I think it's lazy, and ruins the surprise for the reader when they get to the restaurant. However, in this case I'm going to make an exception, because this food is so beautiful, and tastes so good, that you'll be surprised no matter what I publish. Here you go: Enjoy your meal, and thank me later. Chaia is strongly initialized in Italic, and is one of the very greatest taquerias this city has ever known. It's also quite possibly the best quick-serve restaurant in DC, and happens to be the only one currently run by women. You're going to love this place.
  2. Bidwell opened recently in Union Market, and as hard as it was to pass up the amazing smells of Toki Underground (he was serving a Thai yellow curry), we decided on a real-deal sit down lunch. The space is very smartly done, balancing the sterile white of the market with a mix of dark and grey wood. The country music playing was a bit of an odd choice that really didn't seem to fit the mood of the restaurant or the neighborhood. From what I can tell, there are not separate lunch and dinner menus. There were 4 of us, plus the boy, so we sampled a reasonable bit of the menu. Swedish meatballs: We ordered these right as we sat so my son would have something to munch on. No one was particularly impressed by them. Very dense and served in a brown gravy that could've used...something to brighten things up. Lobster tacos: These have gotten a bit of press, but don't go expecting tacos. This is more of kind of an unfried flauta. The lobster filling had a nice texture, not the least bit rubbery, and the avocado-tomatillo salsa was a nice, if a bit too subdued accompanyment. I would call for a good bit more spice, but I tend toward the spicy. I actually think the dish might be improved if the tortilla had a bit of crunch to it to contrast with the lobster. Crispy deviled eggs: Just a standard deviled egg fried with a light batter. The ranch dressing is touted as having roasted jalapeno, but I didn't taste any smokiness or heat. Probably would be a pretty good bar snack with a few beers. Fried oysters with green chile buttermilk dressing: Nicely fried...these went in a hurry, though at $12 I kind of expected 4 oysters instead of 3...YMMV. Raclette grilled cheese: White truffle listed on the ingredient list...pretty mild influence on the flavor of the sandwich. It was nicely grilled, and I liked the poached egg on top. Definitely a knife and fork kind of sandwich. I guess I'm just used to a more pungent cheese in my grilled cheese (Taleggio is our house favorite), but I found this kind of on the bland side. Gin and tonic salmon: This was the clear winner of the day. A lightly cured piece of salmon that was perfectly seared. Quite tasty on its own, and fantastic with the bright slightly creamy lime emulsion. The cauliflower "steak" beneath it was excellent, with tons of great carmelized bits. Definitely a go-to dish here. Our server was great, and they didn't bat an eye at bringing out a high chair for the boy. I'd be interested to hear what kind of dinner service they are doing. We were 1 of only 3 tables during lunch that day. Of course, that location doesn't really lend itself to a bustling crowd for a formal sit-down lunch. Overall, I'd call it a pleasant experience, but nothing that blew me away (except the salmon dish). Of course it's early on, so I'd be interested to hear others' experiences in the next few weeks. We'll be back, given we're in the market multiple times a week...I'd be curious to see if they start a brunch menu, as I imagine they would do a brisk business.
  3. We stay at the Ashby Inn on a regular basis, and were there last weekend. It is far more casual than genteel, although there's a bit of that in horse country. Sitting on the balcony and listening to the cows lowing will quickly convince you that the city is not too close. They recently changed chefs, and have, at least for the moment, shortened the menu because of decreased dinner traffic in this stuttering economy, but the food remains wonderful. I know that they have an eight ounce filet listed, but believe that's the only steak offered. Note, too, that the Inn is quite close to the Sky Meadows State Park, which has very nice hiking trails and beautiful views. One of Paul Mellon's finest contributions to that part of the world.
  4. After reading some rave reviews, I went by for brunch (they say it's lunch, but it's only offered on weekends, starting at 11). The website doesn't actually have a lunch menu, so I wasn't sure what I was getting into. Unfortunately the lunch menu does not have the uni carbonara. But they do have most of the classics. I had the seafood charcuterie, consisting of smoked artic char, potted lobster, whitefish salad, shrimp linguica, and swordfish mortadella. The first 3 were traditional, and pretty good. The latter 2 were freaks of nature and not my cup of tea. I thought both were a bit too fishy, and the firm jello-like texture was weird. I also had grilled rockfish (or was it monkfish?) with braised kale, some kimchi cucumbers, and scallion pancake. I thought the scallion pancakes were so so. It's not Chinese nor Korean, more like American pancakes with scallions. The fish was cooked nicely. Altogether the flavor was pretty good. It's good to have another interesting seafood joint in the city.
  5. Boundary Road hosted a pop-up this past Sunday night, and SMN just killed it. I am really looking forward to the opening. Chef Sam had a couple other guys helping him out for the pop-up, including Chef Brad at BR and Chef Erik from TU/Maketto. They offered about 7 small plates and 2 desserts, my friend and I ordered the entire menu. Braised goat in a smoked pepper raita was the standout for me, as was the poached sablefish with escabeche. Veggies were also a large focus of the menu, I particularly liked the pan roasted radishes. Desserts were also excellent, a carrot and orange ice cream SCOOP (not quinelle) with a maple pizzelle, and a flourless almond cake in pear compote. Plateware was thoughtful, similar to R'sL. Pickles and acid play a consistent theme in the dishes, but always playing a complementary role to the main ingredient. The fingerling potatoes in pork fat, for example, look just like little sausages served over the sauerkraut, that dish worked really nicely for me as well. Currently, H Street NE has a couple of excellent restaurants, a smattering of fine ones, and a deluge of okay places. With the almost concurrent opening of SMN and Maketto, I hope that more venues with focused concepts will try to hang a shingle in the neighborhood, and help create a brand of thoughtful restaurants on the strip.
  6. Eight of us middle aged types just celebrating life nestled in at Barbuto last March one afternoon from 2pm to about 5pm.and ordered their family style fixed-price menu (plus a few additional add-ins as I recall). We just told them we were hungry and left the rest to them. The food was quite good and the atmosphere was fun. I recall the kale and chicken being standouts, as well as the fish they offered us off menu for an upcharge (Dover sole?). I can no longer remember the beer list, but I do recall half of our bunch drinking beer through the meal, and this tends to be a wine crowd, so that may say something.
  7. Last week, I went to the Rye Street Tavern, NoHo Hospitality Group's latest foray into Baltimore. It was on a Sunday evening, so we naturally gravitated towards their "Southern Fried Sundays" - a fried chicken dinner, served family style. Keep reading, because I'm going to tell you a little secret about ordering this meal that wouldn't be at all obvious to a first-time diner. and it will make the difference between you "liking it," and "loving it." The cocktails were somewhat expensive, but were well-made and delicious: And a little loaf of cornbread comes out just before everything else arrives: Then, the family-style dinner: Everything about this meal screamed "Repeat!" - everything, that is, except the price: We paid $70 for those two little assemblages of food that you see just above (plus the cornbread). "Geez," I said, "$70, and we got *four* pieces of chicken!" I mean, it was great and everything, but as you can see, there are three starch-heavy items: the cornbread, the biscuits, and the potatoes, and we both paced our dinners so that we finished everything at the same time. We were mildly full, and yes, the richness of the cooking made everything satisfying, but come on! I wanted more chicken, darn it! So, just as we were winding down, our server came up to us, and said, "Would you all care for some more chicken, or side dishes?" "Wat?" Okay, so ... spending my money so you don't have to ... we asked for some more chicken, potatoes, and collards (made with delicious bacon, btw), and got a healthy second portion; the rub is that we had *no idea* it was coming, so we filled up on starch, when we would have really preferred a better balance with another piece of chicken. Remember: Those second portions are coming your way, but not a word was said about them until we had almost finished the meal - if you take *that* into consideration, and use it to your advantage, then $35 is a very fair price for this meal. Also, the restaurant gave us two spice muffins "to have with breakfast the next morning," which is always a nice touch. To Rye Street's full credit, they offered to box up the second helping which we couldn't finish - we felt sheepish about this, since boxing up all-you-can-eat meals is something of a shady practice, but they would hear nothing of it. Keep in mind: I don't know if this is all-you-can-eat; I suspect you get two helpings, and *maybe* a third helping if you really do a number on everything, but I wouldn't count on that. Still, in no way did they seem like they were trying to skimp on things, so this was merely a lack of knowledge on our part - learn from our mistake! Go here on a Sunday night, get this exact same thing, and *remember* that it's essentially all-you-can-eat - I can't guarantee we'd have gotten a third helping, but who knows? There's no need to stuff yourself with carbs, merely so you don't leave hungry. Furthermore, the restaurant, and the grounds it's on (it shares acreage with a distillery) is beautiful - there's even a battleship in the background! And that is damned good fried chicken!
  8. For those that are reading this thread, Chez Panisse (the restaurant) is almost as difficult a reservation as the French Laundry. It is not an afterthought but a very real destination that many people on the West Coast and elsewhere build trips around. Quite literally this is Mecca for many who care about the emergence of America and the ascension of a serious cuisine from a country that was once thought of as having good fried chicken and decent charcoal grilled steak. For all that I may have raved about Danko (and the bar if you go at the last minute and arrive BEFORE THEY OPEN!) Chez Panisse is the Holy Grail of American restaurants. It is to America as Troisgros and Robuchon are to France and Santimaria and Adria are to Spain. In the late '70's and early '80's Alice Waters' place was a temple that born again foodies from Vermont to Georgia to New Mexico crossed a country to visit. When they returned to their hometowns America was never the same. What we eat today has much to do with what was started then. And there.
  9. New York Times Travel feature for Luca: "A Pennsylvania Restaurant That's Hot in More Ways than One" by Kathryn O'Shea-Evans on nytimes.com A sister restaurant to Ma(i)son. Luca, unlike its sister, serves liquor. Its nothing short of amazing. Central PA eats, kat
  10. Garrison has been open for just over a week now. It's a handsome restaurant with a pleasant patio space in front. The menu is vegetable-centric and apparently emphasizes seasonal produce. Mr. P and I nibbled our way through a number of vegetable side dishes/appetizers and a pasta course. Poppy seed gougères were excellent: very small and took awhile to come out, suggesting they were made to order. Gougères are as much about texture as flavor, and these were spot-on. Heirloom tomato salad was nicely composed, with a piece of burrata and mint rather than basil (a nice change of pace), and slivers of almond. Fennel gratin was straightforward but intense, the flavor punched up with a splash of Pernod. Squash blossoms with smoked provolone and Romesco sauce were outstanding, perfectly fried and not too much cheese, so the flavor of the blossoms wasn't overwhelmed. Mr. P also had the roasted cauliflower; he liked it but said it was his least-favorite dish. As I don't care for cauliflower I can't usefully describe the dish. Sweet corn tortellini was a nice summery pasta dish, buttery but not overwhelmingly so. The pasta was a tad overcooked but I'm so accustomed to that now it doesn't bother me. We also ordered two of the three desserts, a chocolate terrine and buttermilk panna cotta, which were pleasant but unremarkable. A nice way to end a meal, not too sweet, not too large, and blessedly not precious, either. Coffee was adequate. Would have liked to have half-and-half or cream with it rather than cold milk, but nope, not an option. Service was genuinely friendly and polite but somewhat lacking in a few ways that aren't worth going into, because for a place open just over a week it was impressively good.
  11. Since moving to Houston, I've been on a mission to find my new place. I'm the kind of creature of habit that needs a local, a home base. In New York, the dearly departed Redhead, and (also dearly departed) Northern Spy filled that role, and in DC, Boundary Road did the heavy lifting. While it may be a tad premature to say after only one visit, Nobie's is looking the part here in Clutch City. Nobie's is named for the chef's grandmother, and radiates a warm, familiar feel from the very beginning. I think the comforting confines of the former Au Petit Paris help, as do the beautiful vintage speakers displayed throughout, playing an eclectic mix of music off of a stash of vinyl records. It also helped that we immediately ran into an acquaintance at the bar as we walked in...a welcome occurrence when you're new to a city. The bar itself is relatively small, with a few stools, and from the looks of it, the full menu is available there. Cristina and I have a long-documented love of dining at the bar wherever we are, so I imagine we'll end up parked on those stools fairly often. We started with 2 of the 3 cocktail specials of the moment, the lightly effervescent gin-based Snow on the Pines, and the rye-based Baby it's Cold Outside (served warm, which would've been even better if it weren't 70 degrees in Houston right now). Both were excellent, and I imagine it would be tough to go wrong ordering whatever the daily cocktails happen to be. The rest of the drink list is equally well-edited and curated, with 3 interesting draft beer options, and a number of bottles and cans (big ups for Lone Pint Yellow Rose on tap). I took note of the Schlitz tallboy for $3 and $5 shot of Four Roses Yellow Label for another time/context. I miss my occasional late nights at Boundary Road with a friend or 2, winding down with a slightly superfluous Natty Boh and shot of Old Overholt. We started with a couple small plates. The Texas Tartare is a finely chopped steak tartare adapted to our lovely State's tastes with smoked jalapeño and topped with a layer of deviled egg yolk. Served with nicely toasted bread, this was a hit. The "Texas" bits were noticeable but played with a measured hand such that they didn't overtake the basic flavor profile of my beloved steak tartare. This is the kind of thing that can get super gimmicky real fast, and the skill shown with this dish is a real "tell" as to what you can expect from the kitchen here. The beer battered sweet potato tots came hot from the fryer in a bowl ringed with a whipped goat cheese. Crispy, soft, salty, cheesy. So get those. It was tough to pass up some of the other snacks on offer...the dukkah Chex mix and cool ranch chickpeas sounded great. Next time. Our salad of local citrus and fennel was the perfect foil for the richness of the tartare. Segments of grapefruit and orange mingled with paper-thin slices of fennel, bits of mint, red chili, and black sesame seeds. This is a simple salad whose execution elevated it beyond my expectations. There are a few salads on the menu, and if they all receive the care this one did, they shouldn't be missed. Moving along, we shared the Ricotta-stuffed raviolo with crispy duck confit, and the Aleppo prawns with burnt orange. The pasta is a rather robust single raviolo filled with house-made herbed ricotta and an egg yolk that covers everything beautifully once you cut into the shell. This was surrounded with irregularly sized pieces of crisped duck confit. This was a hearty dish whose richness would have been better appreciated in colder weather, but was still greedily devoured. The ricotta was light and lemony, and a nice counterpoint to the richness surrounding it. The prawns were served head-on and simply, seasoned with citrus and Aleppo pepper. These were well-cooked and delicious, though without any accompaniment on the plate, they felt a bit spare. We unfortunately skipped dessert to make it to a movie, but there will be plenty of time for that later. Nobie's hit all the right notes, from the unfussy, comfortable decor, to the friendly, unpretentious staff (none of that "Are you familiar with chef's concept crap), to the soulful, straightforward, ingredient-driven cooking. There's something for everyone here, from bar snacks and well-chosen wines by the glass, to large-format dishes like a grilled octopus and "Fred Flintstone" ribeye. My favorite joints always have that flexibility. Nobie's is a welcome and important addition to the Houston scene. Keep my seat warm guys, I'll be back soon.
  12. Kingbird is now the answer to any question about dining near the Kennedy Center. If you can get past the absolutely shameful high prices on the wine list (a long list from $90-$500, but only one or two bottles priced at $40-$50; I wouldn't recommend coming for drinks after happy hour), the service is friendly and we all enjoyed our meals and the atmosphere. Scallops, beef tartare, and pommes frites were all fantastic starts to share before the main courses. They also serve gratis curry popcorn that is very good. We had pork belly and veal bolognese for entrees, which were both okay. I finished with some kind of deconstructed tiramisu with coffee gelato, I think shaved coffee beans on top, cream, and chocolate. As much as I'd want to protest ever going back to this place based on the prices of the drinks, our appetizers and dessert served by our friendly waitress really won us over. They also gave us gratis lemon macaroons at the end, which was very nice. I didn't see a thread yet on Kingbird, and I usually don't like to start new threads for a restaurant like this on my own, but I'm sure Don will start one based on this post.
  13. I was up there this past weekend and made several trips to Capogiro as it was right around the corner from the hotel. One of my favorites was the grapefruit with campari. Also had some toasted almond, bittersweet chocolate, limoncello, burnt sugar, and fior di latte. If you are in Philly go, and go often. As a side note I had dinner at Buddakan and had a very good meal. Details to follow when I have more time...
  14. No thread on this place? You're slipping, Don. My wife and I went to Stable on Saturday night and were very pleased with the offerings. It's a quaint, if oddly configured space with a dark yet cozy atmosphere. The food, while certainly Swiss, has some French and American leanings, and tends to be on the heavier side. I could see this turning some folks off, but on a cold, rainy night for this guy who spent 6 early years of his life in Geneva, this menu suited me just fine. We started with a couple hearty appetizers in the Famous Stable Wings and the Landjager. The wings came out piping hot, sitting on top of a Cafe de Paris sauce that added some moisture to the very crispy skin, but in my opinion did not necessarily take the dish to the next level like you would want a wing sauce to do. The chicken, which the owner told us is a typical preparation for a whole or half chicken, was really lovely, as there was absolutely no flabbiness to the skin. We finished all of the dish, but I think we might try other items when we return next time. What we will get next time, though, is the lovely Landjager, a style of sausage that I have always loved but unfortunately not seen as much in the States. This hard, wonderfully smoked link came with a small pile of pepper and a lovely peppercorn mustard for dipping. Simple, yet fantastic, my wife was pining for us to order another, but I knew that we would be stuffed to the gills after our entrees. After going back and forth a few times (and being a bit disappointed by the 4 person minimum for Raclette), we went with the Veal Zurich Style and the Vol-au-Vent. I think that we wound up going a little safe with our entrees, but it didn't matter as they were both delicious. The veal is exactly how you would imagine it being a Swiss restaurant; pan seared in a mushroom cream sauce with a side of very crispy Rosti. Everything was cooked just how it should be and I wouldn't blink if I had to have this again, although I think next time I would probably get the Venison or Pork Cheeks a la Chasseur to really get a feel for the non-cream based cooking. My wife absolutely loved the Vol-au-Vent, which was a fun preparation that paid homage to the traditional while modernizing a bit, adding some green to the plate with some roasted brussel sprouts on the side as opposed to the french fries. I got a few bites before she finished it off and shamelessly swabbed up the remaining sauce with the excellent Wurzel bread. This cooking is devoid of gelees, smoke, foams, or really any modern culinary gimmick, and thus may never be a darling of critics or regional award ceremonies, but it hit all the right notes for a good Autumn/Winter night. We will definitely be back.
  15. Please define mid afternoon? Rustic Canyon Wine Bar is superb and one of the hottest restaurants in L. A. right now (#6 in Jonathan Gold's top 100 L. A. restaurants) but it does not open until 5:00PM. Ten minutes from LAX in Santa Monica-we went a month ago and loved it. On par wtih Red Hen or Rose's; extremely creative. Superb wine list heavy on Central Coast wines. If the time works it would be my first choice of any. Press reports on Rustic Canyon including LA Times and New York Times:
  16. I was thinking about this restaurant the other day, knowing that it was supposed to open in the Spring (but figuring that it would be delayed) and realized that we went the whole summer with no news on when exactly it will start service. I figured I would come here to see if cheezepowder or any other members had heard any rumblings and was shocked to see that no one had posted a thread about it yet. There has been quite a bit of buzz on the internets for over a year now, and dare I say that if David Chang and Eric Ziebold did not have anticipated openings this year or early next year that this would be the hottest reservation in town when it opens. I'm sure everyone has at least heard in passing about it at this point, but wanted to see if anyone had any more insight into what sounds like a very cool new restaurant. Website / @thedabneydc on Twitter "Jeremiah Langhorne's Restaurant, The Dabney, Will Open in Blagden Alley" by Missy Frederick on dc.eater.com "Meet Jeremiah Langhorne: Picking Composters, Pigs, and Potential Line Cooks" by Tim Carman on washingtonpost.com
  17. Been to Level in Annapolis 3 times in the past two weekends and my wife and I are convinced this is the best small plates restaurant in the Annapolis area. Large and crowded but we have been able to snag reservations on consecutive Friday nights. Place isn't quiet and adult oriented. I.E. I didn't see any children or really children friendly food. Small but great list of curated cocktails. My wife had a pair of Gimlets with Lime Foam and shaved Lime Rind and I have Moscow Mules with handmade Ginger Beer. Seemed like a good selection of Beer and Wines. We had Finca La Mata on Saturday night, a good wine which I have bought by the case. Annapolis is a drinking town and it doesn't disappoint in this regard. We have had salads, Fried Cuban Rolls, Lamb, Sea Bass, Pork Loin, frites and they were all great. They have 4-5 entrees in groupings such as sea, land, veggie, pasta and appetizers. On West street about a mile away from city dock, which makes for easier parking.
  18. I was at the original Delfina in the mid-late 2000s, before they won their (2008) James Beard Award, and I was pretty much blown away. Then, it was a sketchy neighborhood (sort of like when Corduroy first opened at 11th and K Street), but the food was magnificent. Craig Stoll (the James Beard Award winner) is no longer on the line. In fact, he's no longer at the restaurant. In fact, there are now *four* restaurants including two pizzerias. Times have changed, Delfina has a young gun in Brian Gremillion, but the dinner I had last night was exactly the reason I fell in love with the restaurant last decade. Delfina's wine list is a touch on the expensive side, but I was perfectly content to stay with the Downtown Brown English Brown Ale ($6) from Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, CA, a nut-brown ale without any unfortunate complications in the long, smooth finish. This is a rare instance where I'm disagreeing with the Beer Advocate, as I think they have the beer underrated (but I also love good, straightforward brown ales). This beer took me through all three courses, and only missed with dessert (at which point I didn't care so much). I ordered the Ribollita da Delfina ($11) expecting a bowl of soup; instead, what was plopped down before me was a hamburger patty. "Oh! I ordered the Ribollita," I said. "This is the Ribollita," the runner replied. The chef takes the components of the traditional Tuscan soup, and forms them into a patty. Just before walking away, he gave me a friendly pat on the shoulder, and said, "You'll love it." And boy howdy did I! I'm not sure what the ingenious influence was behind this, but I'm thinking Haemul Pajeon, and it worked perfectly. This was not a ground-up patty; it was lovingly formed, bound by its bread, but with the chunks of peasant vegetables intact. This was a great dish that showed elements of legitimate genius. Puntarelle alla Romana ($12) with lemon, extra virgin, olive oil, and parmigiano, on the other hand, was as straightforward and traditional - in a kingly way - as it could be. A cold salad consisting of nothing more than the stems cut lengthwise, and dressed perfectly, it was a perfect intermezzo between the Ribollita and the knockout punch. Tripe alla Fiorentina ($10) was, by far, the heaviest dish of the meal, and again, as straightforward as it could possibly be. Heated and served in a cast-iron pan, resting atop a wooden crater so the diner wouldn't burn himself, this was to be eaten with a spoon, and sopped up with Delfina's delicious bread (free upon request). This was a stew, with the tripe prominent, but also containing probably a dozen other components, all melded together into a winter-rich harmony that would go beautifully with a dark wine from Piedmont. Although it wasn't a large portion, I was stuffed when I was finished. In fact, I was so stuffed that I debated not getting dessert, but only for a second or two. Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta ($9) took center stage on a plate strewn with coastal huckleberries and roasted grapes, with some tiny cubes of sugared jellies thrown on for good measure. This was another straightforward (yes, I've used this word four times) dish that relied on perfect execution, and got it. Special kudos to Heather, who was working the host stand, and my bartender Kari, who ensured that the pacing of the meal was perfect, and I told her just as much - whenever I had only a couple bites left of one dish, the next would magically appear, so that I got some overlap as a transition. As I'm a notoriously slow diner, doing this with me presents a custom timing problem, but Delfina pulled it off with aplomb, just as they did with the entire meal.
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