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Found 5 results

  1. I got the last seat at the bar at a crowded Riggsby, and immediately got an odd impression about the bartender. This was going to be an unusual evening - I felt it. He handed me the cocktail list, full of ordinary wines a touch too expensive for my blood, but I flipped it over, and there were some graphics showing some of the more upscale drinks; the problem, is that both the graphics and the text were so faded that they were barely readable. Strike one. But I wanted a Gin & Tonic, and that was the one list in the top-right corner, touting that it was made with Hendricks Gin and Fever Tree Tonic Water - I don't love Hendricks in my G&Ts, but I can live with it, so I ordered it. You're out of Fever Tree Tonic Water? Oh. Normally, I'd say Strike two, but you'd just been First Bitten the day before, so, no pitch. And plus, you told me you had their Ginger Beer, so I looked below it at their Moscow Mule. A picture of a beautiful copper tankard was accompanied by the description that the drink was made with a "high-quality" vodka with Fever Tree Ginger Beer, a little lime juice, and a wedge of lime - sounded good to me, so I went with it. Oh, you don't serve these in copper tankards like you have them pictured? Well, I'd say Strike two, but that's not really you're fault, so no pitch. Sure, why not. So I started my meal with a Moscow Mule ($8), and the vodka he used was pulled up from under the bar and poured like he was trying desperately to empty the bottle. The lime juice was measured, however - I thought it was supposed to be the other way around? It was a *strong* drink, but it didn't taste bad, and after all, it used Fever Tree Ginger Beer. But what was that vodka? It was in a blue bottle, and I became curious. I nursed my drink while perusing the menu, and by the time I got to the bottom, I was ready for another, and when he asked me, I asked him what type of Vodka he used in that first drink. He pulled the bottle up from underneath the bar, and held it before my eyes: Skyy. Strike two, my friend: this is a $14 bottle of rot-gut, and it's no wonder you were trying to get rid of it - what happened to the "high-quality vodka" in the description? Well, at least it was an $8 drink. He told me I could have it made with any of their shelf vodka's ... Tito's, Ketel One, Grey Goose ... okay, better. This one, I got with Ketel One. And he measured the vodka, and short-poured me - filling the measuring cup only about 3/4 of the way before taking a scoop of ice so large that there was ice 3-4 inches above the top of my glass which needed to be whisked off. The rest of the drink was made normally, but it's amazing how small of a cocktail you can get when your glass is absolutely full with small ice cubes. It tasted like a mocktail with no alcohol in it. And damned if I didn't get charged $12 for the drink. Strike three. He knew what he was doing; he was just anti-customer, or so I thought. I ordered my meal, a Schnitzel "a la Holstein" ($29), and asked what it came with - "warm, German potato salad," he said. Okay, it sounded potentially acidic, but I took my chances, and with it, I ordered as a second side order, something from the bar menu: Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms ($7) which took him aback - I guess people aren't ordering these things as sides with their meals, but it sounded like it would go just fine with my meal, so I verified with him, yes, I'd like it with my meal; not as an appetizer. No problem. A short while later, everything arrived from behind me, and I could see why my bartender had raised an eyebrow - my entree and its "German potato salad" had been cooked to order; my chorizo stuffed mushrooms were made earlier in the day and reheated - they were dried out, and really did look like pass-around canapes, or bar snacks. But the flavors were all there, and they did, in fact, go with everything else. The schnitzel itself was delicious, but pounded more thinly than I've ever seen a schnitzel presented before - I was hoping for something nearly twice this thick for $29. So they not only get you with a high price, but also with deceptively small amounts of meat. Still, the batter was delicious, the schnitzel was cooked very well, and it came with some anchovies (for some much-needed salt), capers, and a runny egg. Every so often I'd spear a new potato from its iron skillet sitting next to my plate (this was my "German Potato Salad" - it was halved new potatoes, with a little onion on the bottom and cooked with some jus, perhaps from the schnitzel, and they were *delicious* - a nice surprise in a meal where I felt like I was getting nickled-and-dimed. Likewise, I did the same with my chorizo-stuffed mushrooms, which were about the same size as the potatoes - yes, they were older and dried out, but when put on my plate and cut in half, they went very well with my other two items. Right when the food came, my bartender asked me if I'd wanted another drink, and I told him I was thinking about a glass of wine. He thought for a moment, and said, "I've got something for you to try," before pouring me a generous glass of Vermentino ($11), which is exactly the wine I would have chosen for myself. I complimented him on his call, and he began to warm up. So I enjoyed my rather expensive meal (the final bill was $73.70 before tip), then asked for the check. I reached for my wallet and mouthed the words, 'Oh, my God.' He saw me do this, obviously read my lips, and knew something was wrong. I had forgotten my wallet in the car. Embarrassed, I explained this all to him, and handed him my keys and iPhone, saying I'd be back in five minutes. (I did have the wits about me to take my car key off the ring.) No problem, he said, and I showed up a bit later, left a $15 tip, and all was well. "I could tell something bad had happened when I saw your face," he laughed. So, all's well that ends well, and I enjoyed my meal even though I was out $88.70. And the bartender wasn't such a bad chap after all.
  2. Alta Strada opened three weeks ago and MichaelBDC and I have already stopped in twice for two very good dinners. After returning from a quick trip to New York, starting a new job, and facing an empty refrigerator, I convinced MichaelBDC to go to Alta Strada for opening night. We were surprised that the restaurant was only half full, but one of the GMs told us it was by design in order to allow the restaurant to ease into business. Michael Schlow was on hand to expedite and do some quality control. We started with the grilled octopus with chickpeas, calabrian chiles, and parsley. About 80 percent of the chickpeas were blended with the chiles to form a hummus like consistency and spread in a crescent shape on the plate. This was topped with the perfectly cooked octopus (which was poached and then grilled) a few whole chickpeas, and parsley. MichaelBDC and I both enjoyed this dish, especially the spice from the chiles. We also had the crunchy meatballs to start. MichaelBDC enjoyed this dish a bit more than I did, though I thought it was very good. I agreed with him that the outside of the meatballs were very crisp but did not result in a dry meatball. The restaurant also gave us an order of whipped ricotta to start. This was a luscious and great dish MichaelBDC and I both enjoyed. The only downer was the gratis bread and olive oil. The Italian sesame bread was average and the olive oil needed some salt. But since MichaelBDC and I enjoyed the starters so much, it was easy to overlook this part of the meal. We were already pretty full after the appetizers but had already ordered the Maltagliati with rabbit, fresh fava beans, and pecorino. This was my favorite dish of the evening. I really enjoyed the bits of rabbit and the fava beans. The pasta was lightly sauced, enabling the ingredients to shine through. We also ordered the broccoli rabe and spicy sausage pizza. It was good but not great pizza. There was nothing wrong with the dish, I just felt that the other items on the menu were much better. However, the pizza is perfectly good for an Italian place trying to offer a bit of variety. MichaelBDC and I each had a slice and asked for the rest to go. Last weekend, my brother and cousin were in town to run the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler with me and we decided to have our pre-race dinner here. We ordered everything that MichaelBDC and I had at our previous dinner minus the ricotta and added an order of tagliatelle bolognese and local striped bass with rosemary, white beans, escarole, and lemon. I only had the tagliatelle and thought it was very good. For dessert the table split the lemon sorbet, which was delightfully tart, and the nutella tarte, which was delightfully rich. MichaelBDC and I had two very successful visits to Alta Strada and are looking forward to more. It's so great to finally have a solid and decently priced Italian restaurant in the neighborhood.
  3. Casolare opened a month or so ago, in the Kimpton hotel that is on Wisconsin Ave in Glover Park between Calvert and Davis (?). Apparently the "name" behind it is Michael Schlow, who has James Beard award(s) though I confess I don't know the name. It is a very pleasant warm place, bustling on a Friday early evening - mostly, apparently, neighborhood folks rather than hotel guests. Current menu is here and is self-explanatory - mostly Italian-ish. Everything we ate was well made - not revelatory but good to eat. I mean, it's a hotel restaurant, but one that we will happily go back to, and sit again at the bar, and talk to nice people and eat some good burrata. Park on Davis and check it out if you are in or near the neighborhood.
  4. I'm surprised that there's still no thread on Tico so I'm starting one. I've been there a bunch of times, and it's one of my favorites. Each time I've ordered a fried dish, I've been impressed by how well it's fried. The dishes have been crispy and not greasy (fried calamari, fried manchego, fried oysters). I've also really liked their mac & cheese with ham, duck tacos, salmon ceviche with almonds, and chorizo risotto. The few dishes that I did not care for were their fried chicken taco and black risotto croquettes - both tasted bland to me.
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