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Found 6 results

  1. Fate: it's one of those words that you know isn't really true. So, what exactly was it that had me at Don Tito yesterday? Bad Luck? Divine Punishment? Did I do something bad in a previous lifetime that I don't know about? It started when my phone cord gave up the ghost, and the only appointment at the Apple Store was late-afternoon. Afterwards, I had a couple destinations in mind, but when I was driving up Wilson Blvd., there was Don Tito on my right, and open parking spaces on my left. Open parking spaces?! What did I do to deserve *that*? I had never been to an A-Team establishment, and wasn't looking forward to ending that honorable streak, but if I don't go, then how can I pretend to have any expertise? I parked the damned car and went in. It was exactly as I knew it would be: a sports bar. And when I asked my very pleasant bartender what the second floor was, she said, "They made it into more of a sports bar than this level is." I about spat out my draft of Miller Lite ($3 on the "Football Menu," which is available during all NFL and NCAA games, which I guess is pretty much all weekend). Miller Lite? Well, look, if I wasn't going to dine well, I was going to dine gently, see? And since I figured the kitchen was largely Latino, I figured that was the impetus behind the "Flex-Mex" shtick, and so I ordered a pair of tacos since Don Tito pushes "tacos, tequila, and beer." And I was going to dine gently: I stayed vegetarian. Okay, lemme take a deep breath: I ordered the Fried Avocado with Tomato-Jalapeño Salad Tacos ($8), on soft "corn" tortillas. The avocado was Dos Equis battered, and it came with "cabbage," smoked chili "aïoli," and roasted corn. I was actually thinking of asking them to go light on the smoked chili "aïoli," but it wouldn't have mattered if I had. The tacos arrived in less than two minutes. What showed up were best described as "cole slaw tacos," each having about an ice-cream scoop worth of industrial, mayonnaise-based cole slaw in it. On top of each was one slice of pre-fried avocado which, in itself, wasn't at all bad. Underneath the avocado were random kernels of corn; I could find no tomato or jalapeño salad. The smoked chili aïoli, as I feared, looked like a squirt bottle had an orgasm. Was I going to eat what amounted to industrial cole slaw wrapped in flour corn tortillas, and fill up on probably 800 calories worth of slop? I used my fork, and picked at the fried avocado, which was clearly fresh at one point, and got about three small bites from each taco. I milled around, looking for the stray corn kernel which hadn't been doused. I broke off a small piece of the tortilla and tried it. I had about five chips from the warm basket of Chips and Salsa (gratis), which wasn't really so bad. I thanked my bartender, paid my check, and left, having finished my Miller Lite, and having eaten about ten nibbles of food. Onward. --- Dining in Clarendon (astrid)
  2. Xavier Cervera has produced another visually appealing restaurant, but this one looks somewhat different than the others. Located in the old Capitol Video Sales space at 514 8th Street, SE, it’s quite a transformation/reinvention of place. Nice bright tile complements the bright plates and glasses. It just feels light all around, even on the inside. There is also a rooftop bar and dining area and downstairs patio. The downstairs barstools are made of rattan or something similar and bolted to the floor. Unfortunately, one common element to his other projects--building out a narrow space towards the back and upwards--results in very narrow passageways to the back of the restaurant. Getting to the bathrooms requires a tight navigation around the kitchen, with people running in and out carrying food. They opened one week ago for a couple days and then closed again for a few more (according to their twitter feed, this was to get more power to the building). I’d held up on going because I didn’t want to go immediately and then they were closed. When I checked yelp, initial reports were good on the drinks, mixed on the service, and pretty bad on the food. Then I saw one very recent post from a yelper saying they had installed a new chef from Austin and the food had improved, so I decided to give it a go today for brunch. I saw the executive chef go by when I was there, and it was Gregorio Martinez from The Chesapeake Room (same ownership). I’m not sure if there is also a chef from Austin or exactly what the kitchen situation is, but the food I had today was pretty good, though with room for improvement. I also thought it was expensive for what it was. The menu on Urbandaddy (there isn’t one on the Pacifico site yet) listed nachos, which interested me, but they’re not on the brunch menu. I wanted chips, though, so I got an order of chile con queso with chips ($8) as well as huevos rancheros ($13), which is one of my standards for evaluating a Tex-Mex restaurant. The bartender was having some trouble understanding my order (I asked just for “queso” at first and he must have thought I just wanted cheese), but he asked me twice for clarification until he felt he knew what I wanted. I’d rather have that then get the wrong order. He was a bit slow but trying hard and he hasn’t worked there long, so it wasn’t a big deal. At first I thought the queso (which came with a shredded white cheese on top) wasn’t spiced at all, but it had more of a kick as I got farther in. This would be a moderate-sized appetizer for two people to share. I was hungry and ate it all. The amount of queso was perfectly matched to the amount of the chips. The huevos rancheros were not what I was expecting but good nonetheless. Menu description specified 2 fried eggs; 2 soft corn tortillas; ranchero sauce; refried beans; crema fresca; cotija cheese; red onion. It came out layered like a torte, not much bigger than the tortillas that were its base. I’d sort of compare this to Texas stacked enchiladas, but it wasn’t quite that either. In any case, it was tasty, but I’m not sure how I feel about the price tag. These two things plus a draft Pacifico ($6), set me back $36 after tax and tip, and I wasn’t completely full. I don’t like being stuffed full, so that’s not a complaint. Generally, though, I can’t finish a full meal at a restaurant, so that’s my basis for comparison. The most striking element is the rooftop bar and dining area. After I finished my meal, I went up to look around and ran into friends who were eating and drinking at the bar. This gave me the opportunity to sample even more food and a bit of the mango margarita. Sitting up there feels like being at the beach. It's configured to facilitate a nice breeze blowing through. It started to get a little too hot after a while, but it’s a great spot. That’s definitely the selling point of the restaurant. They were finishing the last of what they ordered when I arrived: guacamole in a huge molcajete ($12); pork, grilled fish, and shrimp tacos ($5 each; does not include rice and/or beans); chile con queso; salsa and chips ($3). They were drinking mango margaritas ($8) and sangria ($8). First, the worst: the salsa tasted like crushed canned tomatoes and desperately needed salt and other flavor. I didn’t try any of the tacos, but they liked the pork and fish more than the shrimp. (One of the people adores Senart’s shrimp as much as I do, so I’m not sure why these tacos didn’t please. Maybe it’s not the same sourcing.) The guacamole seemed to be mostly smashed avocado and red onion. There was probably something else in there, but I couldn’t identify it. I make better guacamole at home. Twelve bucks for this was ridiculous. For half the price, okay, but $12?! The mango margarita was strong and big for the price (gorgeous glassware!). It’s a slushy frozen type that melts into lovely liquid in the heat. The person whose I tried also likes their strawberry margaritas, but they were out of those. The price for margaritas is oddly low given that draft beers are $6 and canned are $5 (a can of Tecate accompanied my brunch encore). A bucket of 5 beers is $20, for anyone planning an outing. I didn’t try the sangria, but that’s half-price on Sundays after 5PM, as are nachos, so I may be back.
  3. After an absence of a few years, my wife and I found ourselves in our old Adams Morgan haunt on Saturday night. A few times around the block looking for parking, a conversation about whether this or that was gone or new, and a stop at Fleet Feet for running shoes, and we were ready for dinner. Between the snow and Valentine's Day, I suspect the opening of Roofers Union had escaped many peoples' attention, so we were able to get a last minute reservation despite it being Saturday night in Adams Morgan. First, a word on the space. It's beautiful. The second floor facade of floor-to-ceiling arched windows provides the best possible view of the bustle below on 18th Street. The room is wide open with a rustic chic feel nodding to the blue collar namesake of the restaurant. My wife thought that the roofers' jumpsuits hanging on one wall was a bit too literal a nod, but that's a minor complaint. The ceilings are high and the surfaces hard, so this is not a quiet room but that's excusable given the bar vibe of the restaurant. (One oddity: the two-top tables are too long, making conversation a bit difficult. As a consequence, the couple next to us were sitting at a right angle to each other rather than face-to-face. Again, not a major complaint, but these are not cozy, romantic tables.) As for the food, we enjoyed everything we tried (I'm going off of the menu that I found online, so some elements we actually had may have been different). This is not life-changing, transcendental food, but it is well-executed upscale comfort/bar food. We started with two "Snacks." First, deep-fried brussel sprout leaves with lemon and honey. These were very tasty, though primarily because anything deep fried is good. I didn't taste much lemon or honey, but I did taste lots of good oil. I thought they were a bit over-fried, but I could have eaten a lot of these. Then, we got the roasted cauliflower with mint and pine nuts. There was also a crumbled cheese in the mix--perhaps ricotta--that was not on the menu. Again, I'd say I mostly tasted the very good roasted cauliflower as opposed to the other elements of the dish, but that wasn't a bad thing. Roasted cauliflower is a great thing, and this is a fine rendition. We skipped over the "Stuffed" (i.e., house-made sausages) and "Stacked" (i.e., sandwiches) parts of the menu to get to the "Simple." Here, we opted for the beer-steamed mussels with andouille and chili served with a pretzel roll on the side. The mussels were fine, but I thought the broth was had a bit of a one-note chili character I like spicy food, and the level of spice was moderate but I didn't detect much andouille. Again, I was happy eating this, but it could be even better with a bit of tweaking. (The pretzel roll, on the other hand, should not be tweaked at all. It was great.) Finally, we tried the 1/2 brick chicken with smashed fingerling potatoes and arugula (there were also some roasted tomatoes on the plate, though I don't think they were listed on the menu). This was a very satisfying plate of food. The chicken was perfectly done with the nicely charred skin that one expects of chicken under a brick, and the potatoes were a terrific side. The greens were a bit over-wilted from sitting directly under the chicken, but again, I think that's something easily rectified. We closed the evening by splitting a sundae of vanilla ice cream with fudge and pretzel praline. What can I say? It was a good sundae, but I don't encounter t many sundaes I don't like. Unfortunately, their coffee/espresso machine is not yet installed because I sure would have loved a double espresso with that sundae. For drinks, we both had cocktails to start. I don't recall their names, but I had a rye based cocktail (loosely resembling a Manhattan) while my wife had a bourbon/fruit/soda concoction. Both were the creative, delicious concoctions that we've come to expect from the Ripple team. I also had a glass of sauvignon blanc with my dinner that was perfectly fine, if not perfectly memorable. Finally, service: the service was terrific, and it was clear a lot of effort went into training up the staff before the opening. If anything, the service was too good. Food arrived very quickly, more quickly than we frankly would have preferred. I suspect that service will reach an excellent equilibrium once everybody settles in a bit and exhales from the initial rush of opening. All in all, we concluded that this is a place we would definitely visit again, even if we won't necessarily go out of our way to deal with parking in Adams Morgan to eat here. If we still lived in Adams Morgan, I have no doubt that we would visit Roofers Union frequently. And perhaps that's what Roofers Union ultimately is: a very good neighborhood joint (one of the best in this particular neighborhood) that doesn't need to be anything more than that to be an excellent addition to the dining scene.
  4. Bullet Points on Mosaic: yes I am working on a property in the Mosaic District. why not the city first? Edens and their team are fantastic and it is a different branch for the brand food: think back to vidalia days with less boundaries price point: not cheap but not expensive either size: 5200 sq ft main level 2100 sq ft roof top (140 seats & 70 on roof) Roof top: bar and 3 wood burning grills menus: will be different from roof top and the main dining room cocktails and spirits: hell yes driven and curated by bryan and myself wine & beer: yes when will we open? some time between 1.13-12.13 is it going to be cool? yes not as interactive as rogue but we will not be hiding as well name; GYPSY SOUL why Merrifield: 10 minutes by harley from my house...and the property is cutting edge will we do another property in the city? When we find the right building to buy. Any other information is highly secretive (we are still working out the details)
  5. I've actually received a few PM's about Eventide and was going to wait until our chef's name is public knowledge before I started this thread, but I guess it's never too early to give out details to this group. We're still in a lengthy construction period but truly hope to open by May/June. (My fingers are cramping as I type because they've been crossed for so long.) We're on Wilson Blvd. at the beginning of the same block that the Clarendon Ballroom and Liberty Tavern are on. The scoop...nice bar/lounge on the first floor run by an exceptionally professional and hilarious Bar Manager that will be concentrating on inspired, well-crafted cocktails and a bit of a more elegant atmosphere than a bunch of Clarendon restaurants play host to (read: no Jager bombs served here...ever). Second floor will be about 90 seats of unpretentious, "date night" dining with 3 semi-private areas where we can host 3 seperate groups of 10 or combine the areas to hold up to 30 for receptions, business dinners, etc... The rooftop will feature table seating and will be a food-first floor. We certainly want cocktail-only guests to sit at the tables, but will not be playing host to an "SRO" rooftop scene...that's what the Clarendon Ballroom's roof is for. (The Ballroom owners are partners at Eventide as well. I might as well be straightforward and divulge that info now.) There will be a small bar on the roof for late night cocktails after dinner, but the roof will be managed so that it stays as comfortable as possible for all and remains a mostly-seated area. I have also hired an extremely gregarious and knowledgable wine director but, you guessed it, I can't divulge his name either. Please don't think I'm being cloak-and-dagger about naming my management team, but they are all still working at their jobs and cannot put in their notice until I can afford for them to come on salary. My Assistant GM (and also an Eventide partner) is Nick Freshman. Nick's a great guy that I've known for over 10 years and has worked with me at Olives and Poste and will be running the upstairs dining room. We're all extremely excited about this project and really can't wait to get our doors open. In the meantime, if any of you happen to walk by the site and the front doors are open, please feel free to stick your head and ask for Nick Freshman or myself and we'll give you a quick tour while it's still under construction. Just bring beers!! (Feel free to post or PM me if you have any questions/comments/suggestions about the place. I welcome them and look forward to answering you.)
  6. 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. )
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