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  1. Brohim and I went to Emilie's last night (Friday). We had a 6 p.m. reservation but arrived at 5:30 p.m. They promptly seated us at the counter and gave us the menus but it was a little while before someone came to take our drink orders. The cart menu was a little confusing and we had to have it explained twice. No bread comes with the dip, so you have to order bread (focaccia or sourdough) from the kitchen menu for $9. However, if you order a bread, it comes with your choice of one dip. Each additional dip is $3. In our case, we ordered focaccia - 4 pieces of rather chewy and dense foccia. We ordered the chicken liver pate and sichuan honey butter but due to their delay, they gave us all 6 dips (babaganoush, apple butter, seaweed butter, and mascarpone & jelly). I thought the chicken liver was fantastic. For apps, we ordered SCALLOP CRUDO - crispy okra, curry leaves, chili oil. BEEF TARTARE - cured egg yolk, crab fat mustard, pecorino. The scallops, after swishing around in the sauce, are fantastic. The beef tartare were even better. Mixed with egg yolk and pecorino, it had the texture of almost cooked meat. The combination of ingredients were new to me but the best that I can think of. Finally, we shared the PORK BLADE STEAK vermicelli, nuoc cham, peanut sauce. This is a straight up Vietnamese dish with a different cut of pork. The pork was tender, well seasoned, but fatty and sinewy which made it hard to chew. You can get almost the same dish at 1/3 of the price by going to Eden Center but that's an entirely different atmosphere. So I recommend you try both and see which you like better (just order grilled pork w/ vermicelli at any Vietnamese restaurant for comparison). This place will be a winner, similar to Rose's Luxury. Great, seemingly creative food that's really not, served at hipster prices for those who have disposable income, who rather stay in the city instead of venturing out into the burbs for authentic food. The lighting was awful. The only light source is the fluorescent light in the display kitchen. I also used a iPhone 6....and couldn't hold still while taking the tartare shot.
  2. We tried the newly opened Marvin, on 14th just off U Street. The restaurant serves Belgian cuisine and a few soup-inspired dishes (shrimp and grits), and is named in homage to Marvin Gaye - a huge mural of Marvin is painted on a main dining room wall. I have spent quite a bit of time in Holland and Belgium and the restaurant decor gives some of the feel of a traditional local place in either country(the hard driving rain on Friday night added to the Amsterdam and Belgium-like atmosphere). Full disclosure - we are friends with the owners. The menu included 5 different mussel dishes, several hearty entrees, salads, apps, and more. I had a butter lettuce salad and mussels in white wine with fennel and garlic. This is my favorite salad and it was well done - simple lettuce and a dressing with a nice vinegar bite. The mussels were quite good - very tender and not too large. The fries were served in a paper cone and were nicely crisp and served with curry mayo, wasabi mayo, and ketchup. I thought the wasabi mayo could have had a bit more kick, but it was good to have the 3 choices. My husband had a pork shank over green lentils - he said it tasted like a deconstructed erte soup, which is the traditional Dutch split pea soup, and was perfect for the dreary weather. The bread was a crusty baguette. I had a Delerium (bottle) because the Duvel was not yet available on tap. The beer list had the most commonly seen Belgian brews, and was rather a short list, especially compared to other places in town carrying Belgian beers. But, I would hope that the list will be expanded with time. I did not look at the wine list. A lounge is on the second level and a rooftop deck. We did not stay for dessert (but we should have since we ventured to Busboys and Poets for a less than mediocre dessert in an atmosphere that smelled like the day after a frat party. )
  3. ------> EXHIBIT #1 EXHIBIT #2 Seared scallops, portabello and pea risotto with parmesean crisp and truffle oil, at Mercato, in Philadelphia; a tiny (38 seat) new byob on Spruce. Mercato has only been open a few months. It is the sister to Valanni across the street (which came in handy when they ran out of bread - just sent someone over to refill the huge basket). There is a small open kitchen at the rear, and an unadorned dining room of dark wood tables placed cheek by jowl on the bare floors, with cushionless wood chairs (there is a banquette running down one long wall, with a nifty system of horizontally sliding backrests) and unadorned walls. In other words: very loud and cramped - in a good way - a good choice for dining solo. Every table was occupied the entire time I was there. Patrons on either side of me were practically in my lap and happy to share their opinions on what they were eating and what other byobs they like. I thought it was friendlier and livlier than Melograno, and had better food than Porcini. As with many byobs in Philadelphia, they don't take reservations, and they also are cash only. Fun, frivolous feature: they have a separate olive oil tasting menu and they give you tiny glasses for the "flight" of the oils. I didn't try it, because the herb/lemon butter that comes with the bread was so good, but I'm waiting for this gimmick to come to DC (of course, we can righteously claim we did it first at the Fall '05 picnic.)
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