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Found 19 results

  1. Had dinner last night with one of our visiting farm owners at the kitchen table at 2941. The four of us had brought eight or nine wines (allowed in private rooms in VA), and Chef Krinn tasted each one before sending out a dish against it. It was a brilliant meal in a setting that perfectly balances the voyeuristic and practical.
  2. I am surprised that this little jewel of a fine dining establishment doesn't receive more fanfare. It's tucked in a the back of a strip mall a few doors down from the Virginian on Glyndon St., just off 123. Cafe Renaissance is not that big -- the main room might seat 50 on a Saturday night, and the little room off the front side might seat another dozen or so -- but it is probably the most comfortable and romantic dining room in northern Virginia. From the white tablecloths with fresh cut roses, the tuxedoed and attentive wait staff, the paintings and murals on the walls...this is where you take the significant other for a romantic dinner. Of course, that means it's not a guys-night-out kind of place, or one of those loud bistros where you have to shout to be heard by your dining companion. Saeed and Soraya are the Persian couple who own the restaurant, and Ocean Joseph is the Turkish chef who runs the kitchen. Ocean's food is the best kept secret in northern Virginia. He generally nods in the direction of Italy with a few Turkish riffs tossed in. The mussels are spectacular, with a garlic-y broth as the base, which I sopped up with almost a whole basket of bread. My girlfriend then enjoyed a tower of salmon, monkfish and crab cake, sauced with a wine and butter reduction, with a wonderful carrot puree that was poached in Grand Marnier for 4 hours. I had a mixed grill of lamb and steak, each bit tender enough to be cut by my fork, and sauced with a raisin glace. On previous visits I was able to enjoy my inner European foodie with pate, sweetbreads and calves liver. But whenever I have a hankering for a big pile of mussels, this is where I come. For flair, Ocean is experimenting with different dinnerware shapes and sizes, and he is also exploring some new twists on recipe themes. I'm looking forward to tasting the evolving repertoire over the coming months. A word about the extensive wine list -- Kirby Pope, who runs the Vienna Vintner in the same strip mall -- and worthy of a whole write-up on his own -- helped put together a very thoughtful and extensive wine list for Cafe Renaissance. You're not likely to find a better wine list this side of 2941. When you're in this part of Vienna, a visit with Kirby prior to a bucket of mussels from Ocean is about the best way I can imagine to enjoy a few hours of the good life.
  3. We had a lovely lunch though it got off to a bit of a rough start. I've checked and re-checked the website and I did not seeing anything about a dress code, and nothing was mentioned when I reserved or when I confirmed. Alas, my guest's gray pants did not fit the bill the hostess informed us as she suggested we sit in the cafe. Which was loud, crowded and it was unclear who our server really was. But the food was lovely. We had the bruleed foie gras, the crab dumplings and the yellowfin ribbons to start. The yellowfin ribbons were in a delightful sauce and plated so they looked like a rose. It was lovely. For entrees we had the veal scallopine and beef tenderloin. The tenderloin was cooked perfectly but the veal had wonderful depth of flavor in the sauce that elevated it far ahead of the beef dish. For dessert we split the harvest plate and the chocolate plate. The desserts were enchanting and just the right finishing note. We got out for $100 each and felt we had just the right amount of food and a glass of wine each. Next time, we will clarify the dress code in advance though!
  4. I have been to this Boulud outpost maybe 4 or 5 times dating back to I think 2003 or so. It was quite nice back then. Then, I went there for lunch a couple of times with a vendor for the overly wrought burger for fun. It was all good. Then, last fall, went again pre-theater of all things and WOW. They'd updated the dining room a bit it seemed, and the menu was great. Really great. Good wine list if a bit overpriced. GREAT service/staff. My only regret was not taking proper tme to give the place a lingering meal for justice. Next time. I've been luck enough to go to db, Cafe Boulud, Bar Boulud, Danie; and I think another instance, this db experience was near the top of the heap. Honestly, Daniel was kind of a let down (aside from the over the top service, which was a hoot). My wife and I were walking quite a few blocks after the meal as we are wont to do, and we both came to the realization 'Palena is better.' (sad in retrospect now, but true!). And Daniel itself was no slouch by any means whatsoever. It was quite fine.
  5. Lina's Diner & Bar officially opens Tuesday in the former Piratz Tavern in Downtown Silver Spring: "The inspiration for Lina’s comes from his childhood experience going to a diner in New York City in the Meatpacking District that he said, “just blew my mind, it was such a cool place. You were seated next to transvestites, prostitutes, business people. It was open 24 hours a day. It was really kind of what I guess New York was in the 80s and 90s.” https://www.sourceofthespring.com/silver-springs-newest-restaurant-officially-opens-next-week/
  6. We had brunch earlier today to make up for a disastrous dinner last night at a local Vietnamese place in the Castro (Jasmine Garden, (708 14th Street (Church Street)). The waitstaff didn't hear that I had ordered chicken pho even though I repeated my order a few times. As a result, I never received my entree. The steamed bass that B ordered was somehow mixed in with glass noodles and a thick cloying sauce. Strike another local place off our list which we won't be returning to anytime soon. Brunch was much better, in spades. Monsieur Benjamin 451 Gough Street (Ivy Street) http://www.monsieurbenjamin.com/ It's a beautiful glass enclosed space with an open kitchen, a marble counter, one communal table, several two- and four-tops and an outdoor seating area. The room can get loud. At the time we were there, it was half-full and eventually became three quarters-full. Lots of wooden surfaces, glass surfaces, hard edges and square corners mean that there's no sound absorption. You can hear your partner if he or she is sitting next to you but you might have to speak louder than normal in order to make yourself heard by the staff. That is a valid criticism that we have, so take it for what it's worth. Butter lettuce salad with fines herbes and radishes. Very lightly dressed. B loved it, even with the minute amounts of tarragon that were present in the vinaigrette. Fried frogs' legs en aigre doux, with garlic and lemon. Expertly fried, and greaseless. Great attention to detail. It made me sit up and take notice - this is a place we should return to, for dinner. Oeufs en meurette (eggs poached in red wine), with duck confit, spinach, mushrooms, potatoes and sauce au poivre. Well-made, although the sauce was a tad oversalted. Tarte au chocolat, mint sherbet, shortbread cookie. Was perfect. Can't say much more than that. Total bill came out to $114 ($57 per person). The restaurant adds a 20% surcharge which replaces the need to add a tip.
  7. The Bistrot Lepic folks are taking over the former Bistrot Le Zinc space. No plans for major renovations, so they are claiming a late October opening. Washington Business Journal with the story. La Piquette will have a small menu featuring seasonal, sustainable products posted daily on a large chalkboard in the dining room. The wine list will feature wines by the glass and the bottle that are priced comparably with other restaurants in the neighborhood. "We don't want to be pricey. We want it to be trendy, fast-paced, fun, with a nice wine program and good food to go along with it,"
  8. A week ago, a few friends and I had dinner at the brand new Chelsea restaurant, Montmartre. It's taken me a week to write about it, because basically it took me that long to digest all the food we ordered. That's a bit of a joke; but seriously, we probably ate our way through 70% of the menu, ordering "the whole top half," per one of the attendees, as well as 3 (or was it 4?) of the main courses, all the sides, all the desserts - or, in our lingo, the bottom half of the menu... Now trust me, I don't normally order (or eat) like this, but when I'm with a bunch of people who are a good deal younger than me (like 90% of the population), going with the flow is easy, even if my digestive juices and taste buds don't think so. It's also why my standing rule is that dinner out with more than 4 people sucks, unless it's for pizza or at a bustling Chinese/Thai place, where tasting everything is part of the fun (I'm looking at you, Congee Village and Sripraphai and you'll have trouble spending more than $25 a person. All that said, the chef and one of the partners at Montmartre is Tien Ho; Well known to food-crazed locals, Tien "made his bones" at Momofuku Ssam Bar, during what some consider its finest hours - in my opinion, Ssam is still damn good, though perhaps not as exciting as it was 4 or 5 or 6 years ago when Tien was at the stove and you were lucky to get in. Oh by the way, we used to eat the same damn way at Ssam Bar, ordering literally the whole menu and fighting for the last scraps of kimchi laced Fuji apples with fluke, or whatever happened to be on the menu at the time. Here at Montmartre, Tien has moved toward a more French bistro vein, which is OK in my book as its one of my favorite cuisines (and his too, from reading about him). So there's an excellent brandade and a fine beef tartare with mustardy gaufrettes to liven things up; radishes (a classic bistro snack) get an update, served both raw and cooked along with trout roe and olive smears... (Oh, the pictures. It's a new camera and this was my first time using it under weird lighting conditions, so they suck). We loved the frisee au lardon, a salad loaded with duck confit and topped with a runny duck egg. And the cassava chips. And the potatoes Gascognaise, because if you don't love fried potatoes over caramelized onions and foies gras, you're nuts. The blanquette de veau was a personal favorite of mine, and the lamb served two ways with lots of Mediterranean flavors - yes. Were there misses? Well, sure...there are bound to be when a restaurant is only a few days old; the desserts didn't move me (there's no dedicated pastry chef - yet). I'm not a big fan of snails, and the cavolo nero tarte was fishy with anchovies even by my anchovy loving standards. And I don't like my $12 glass of white, while waiting at the bar, to be served in a tiny Picardie glass - this isn't Schiller's, I don't think. Be that as it may, when there's this much food on the table during round two, there was plenty to like... And when I get to go back with Significant Eater in tow and order just what we want, I'm pretty sure we'll be happy Tien's in the kitchen again. Montmartre 158 Eighth Avenue, New York City (646) 596-8838
  9. My wife and I had a great meal at Townsend last month - low-key setting, good service, great cocktails, and for the most part, excellent, interesting food. I had the hamachi, the escargot, and the swordfish, while my wife had the gazpacho, crab risotto, and the skate. The hamachi, swordfish, and risotto were standouts, while the gazpacho was a bit underwhelming. I had a phenomenal cocktail called the One Block Down with an unusual combination of mezcal and bourbon.
  10. On the strong advice from a friend (and Pete Wells), we had lunch on Monday at Dirty French. One of the things I miss about living in NYC was how wonderfully empty the city was on long weekend holidays, and this Memorial Day was no different. We stayed in SoHo, and the neighborhood felt like a ghost town as we made the walk east to the LES. So for lunch at noon, we had the restaurant to ourselves. Our waitress was charmingly odd, recommending things not by saying "this is one of my favorites," but "Oh man, I totally want you guys to get this...it's just so cool," and then stopping by later to make sure we thought it was as cool as she did. She also wanted us to get a particular dessert just because she hadn't seen it before and heard it looked cool. Like I said, odd, but a little endearing. The grilled flatbread that comes out gratis with fromage blanc is addictive. It lasted about 90 seconds before we completely devoured it. The mushroom mille-feuille is as amazing as it was cracked up to be in Wells' review. The buttery mushrooms paired with a thick Thai green curry, crunchy snow peas, and lightly pickled red chiles and ramps. Go here and order this. (Paired nicely with a Loire rose.) A salad of kale with chèvre, fried sun choke chips, and pear was a refreshing counterpoint to the heaviness of the mille-feuille. A "banh mi" of foie gras and duck confit was totally ruined by being served on a thick, dense, sesame seeded roll. We ended up scraping out the innards, and leaving all the bread behind. We passed on dessert, planning to grab some gelato near the high line later, but the selections sounded promising.
  11. The Elm has been open a few months, and the reviews have been mostly ecstatic. Brilliant, modern French food, at incomparable prices. Liebrandt, NYC's enfant terrible, certainly knows his way around a kitchen. He owns Michelin and NY Times' stars, and was the chef at Corton for 5 years and prior to that was at Gilt, also earning accolades. I liked my first visit, where I was sharing and passing plates with 3 other diners. But I really like my second visit, with just my wife; I got to eat more of the things I really wanted to. Go - ASAP - who knows how long he'll be in the kitchen here?
  12. [These paragraphs were copied from The Mother Thread as part of larger posts. Use the Snapback Function (the little icon at the top-right of each entry) to view each post in its entirety.]
  13. The Birchrunville Cafe is in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Chester county and, for better or worse, has 28 from Zagat for food. The only light in the dining room at dinner is from candlelight. Has anyone been?
  14. Having lunch there on Friday. What should I not miss? Are Johnny Iuzzuni's desserts special or is he all hype? Thanks!
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