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  1. Another independent house in lower Montgomery County serving Vigilante. Silver Spring has seen a very nice uptick in local coffee shops in the past year -- Bump "˜n Grind 1200 E-W Hwy Silver Spring, MD 20910 http://bumpngrind.co Need to check it out, shame parking is atrocious on that part of East-West.
  2. I had read about this restaurant in NoVA Magazine. Since the menu didn't look more interesting than the decor, I had no intention of visiting. However, today is the second day in a row that I showed up after 11 and was confronted with a "closed" sign in the door of Caribbean Corner. So I walked around a bit to look for a place for lunch. I noticed right next to Caribbean Corner is Le Mediterranean, Driss Zahidi's new joint - open but empty. Another door down is Sisters Thai. I ordered a lunch special of stir fried veggie & tofu with basil, which came with spring rolls. I added chicken curry roti to flesh out my lunch. The spring rolls were thin and crispy, filled with a little cabbage and carrots. In general I find them so-so, and the version here is typical of what I've found. The chicken curry had nice flavor but the curry was too salty; however, the rotis are buttery and light (better than Elephant Jump). I did like the small plate of stir-fried veggies - there was discernable heat in the dish without any prompting on my part. There is a board of Thai items with no translation. I'll post a picture later, maybe Fishinnards can translate!
  3. Though I know Qualia has been referenced on some other coffee topics, I don't think it has it's own thread. Not in the Dining Guide. Didn't come up with a google search. So I'll create it here because this shop, now three years old, totally deserves to have a little spotlight shone on it. WaPo got it right with their brief review last year. And, even a visit to the content-rich Qualia website makes clear this is a shop obsessed with bean quality and the technique/process that convert bean to great-tasting cup. Today I was in the area of Georgia Avenue and remembered Qualia Coffee was nearby. I'd only been there once before a year or two ago and vaguely remembered enjoying it but I'd had a lot of good/great coffee since then...and had learned a bit more, so I wanted to check back. This time, I talked at length with Joel Finkelstein, Qualia's owner and chief roaster, along with Aaron, also a roaster and a serious and generous teacher of all things coffee to anyone interested enough to ask. Qualia is a Great Shop by my scale as explained here. They offer a large selection of very fresh, frequently changing and clearly dated beans. They roast onsite using a smaller roaster and average 5lb batches. This means they'll run out of a given roast often but then can restock in 2 hours. With a dozen or so from which to choose for a pourover, this means you'll always get freshly roasted beans, whatever the region or varietal. Joel and Aaron both care about roasting intensely. Their knowledge is incredibly deep and their dedication to excellence exceedingly high. I think they do espresso drinks but that's decidedly not the main focus here. It's very much about the world's best beans roasted with a crazy high level of finesse. Oh, and coffee aside, Qualia does seriously good baked goods including bagels from the area's best bagel maker* I had a very interesting Panamanian coffee I really enjoyed followed by a Brazilian Minco I loved. And, I left the shop with a deep appreciation for Joel, what he's doing and how he's doing it. He's thinking about possibly opening a 2nd Qualia downtown somewhere and I hope he does since the only downside to Qualia that I can see is that it's not that conveniently situation for me to be a regular. For all of us that deeply appreciate purveyors who prioritize quality over revenue maximization, Qualia deserves our enthusiastic support. It'd be great to see a few restaurants in town serving Qualia. Qualia won't ever be a multi-million, high-growth business. But it is already a great business because it is first and foremost about Great Product. * Georgetown Bagelry on River Road
  4. I don't know Annandale that well but, as best I can tell, amidst all the great Asian restaurants, it's an area very under served by good coffee. While I can't be 100% certain (and would love a good challenge here from any who know Annandale better), I feel pretty safe advising that anyone in the area looking for decent coffee should go here and only here. OTOH, by no means would it make sense to drive here from Arlington County, Alexandria, DC or MoCo for coffee. Beanetics, like Caffe Amouri in Vienna or Misha's in Alexandria, roasts their own beans, which they largely buy from a NY based wholesaler. Relative to all the other roasters I can think of in our area, the operation here is a bit larger in terms of the square footage devoted to a large capacity roaster and related equipment and beans at immediate left when you enter. Pretty cool setup based only on curb appeal. I ordered a small cappuccino and a pourover (the latter using their own roasted Hawaiian Kona coffee since that's a varietal less common with shops who sell other roasters' beans). I forget the type of espresso machine they have but it wasn't a Marzocco. The capp was heavy on foam relative to the espresso and the espresso itself was a bit bitter. Serviceable to be sure but probably a better bet to go for freshly brewed coffee here. They offer either french press or pourover though the latter with a plastic funnel and filters too small for the opening but workable. My Kona was okay. Nothing with especially notable flavor or complexity but smooth enough and drinkable. The owners here have definite passion for what they're doing. They had maybe a dozen different single origin and blended beans available for sale in unusual but perhaps more advanced packaging. They do put roast dates on all the packages, which is great to see. Most were roasted within the past 5 to 7 days with just a few that went back no more than 17 or so days. Pastries, cookies, muffins are all fairly standard for area shops. They serve Two Leaves and a Bud tea, one of the two better options available on the market for bagged teas. I like when I see this or Mighty Leaf in a coffee shop since I don't expect them to invest more in the best loose leaf tea program. If looking for a decent cup before or after an Asian repast out Annandale way, you probably can't do too much better than Beanetics unless headed back toward DC.
  5. On the way to La Colombe over the weekend, we passed by a new independent coffee house, Compass Coffee. We couldn't resist not checking it out. We weren't disappointed. The space is great - light, airy, with 2 large skylights in the ceiling, an industrial feel to the tables and chairs with white subway tiled walls. Definitely a place for hanging out - and there was already a presence patrons with their Mac laptops surfing/working away. While we were enjoying our cortados and rosemary/garlic biscuit, one of the owners came over to introduce himself. He and his friend, both former Marines got into coffee during their tour of duty and wanted to add to the DC coffee scene. Much, if not all of the storage units and furniture were built/welded by the 2 owners. Pretty impressive. They are roasting their own beans and the barista on duty pulled a lovely smooth and rich cortado. The biscuit was a bit chewier than I prefer, but had good flavour. Compass Coffee has only been open about a month, but the place was bustling with activity. Beans are sold in tin canisters which are treated like growlers in the way that you get a $1 discount when you bring the canister back for a refill of your next bean purchase. We are big fans of La Colombe, but are excited to also support Compass Coffee in their venture. It's a great new addition to the DC independent coffee scene.
  6. I made my second visit to Busboys and Poets tonight. I foresee more visits for many reasons and for different occasions--just like what the owners must have thought of when he opened this place. Conveniently located in my neighborhood (14th and V), this is a place for: (1) food: i am so glad to see decently priced and well-prepared food in the neighborhood where all things on the new-and-hip U St. are expensive regardless of the quality (think of Alero). All under 10, the chicken pizza w/ mushrooms, spinach, and roasted red peppers would shoulder next to pies at Coppi's, and the spinach salad w/ grapes-covered-in-goat-cheese-and-rolled-in-crusted-candied-walnuts was definitley memorable. I saw juicy-looking burgers, golden catfish, and more pizzas passing by me, and all looked pretty delicious. (2) drinks: The beer selection is pretty large - both tap and bottled: tap including magic hat #9, magic hat hocus pocus, delirium tremmens, amstel light, and two local microbrews. I can't remember too well, but it had a mixed bag of domestic and imported (one German and one French) bottles. There is also a full bar + wine. It's a nice to see this place continuing the trend in the neighborhood where bars offer a wide and interesting beer selection (e.g., the saloon, saint ex, and bohemian cavern). and (3) couches + wireless: this place is huge, airy, and full of couches and a handful of work tables. When are they going to start brunch on weekends? I can't wait to swing by with a book and grab a cup of coffee and a croissant. I sense that Busboys and Poets will become the U Street's Tryst (there were definitely a bunch of people w/ books and lap tops among diners). Anyone else who checked out this new spot?
  7. Haute Dogs & Fries has just opened in Alexandria at 610 Montgomery St (steps from TJ Stone's). I haven't been to this location, or the original in Purcellville, but it looks like they will be a nice addition to the north end of Old Town.
  8. We need a list of where you can chow down and write about it on dr.com at the same time. Busboys & Poets Tryst Open City Panera Staryucks (for a fee) Mocha Hut Most of the King Street area in Alexandria
  9. I stopped by earlier today. The official opening is next week but they are open now. Something of a busboys and poets feeling to the decor. Anyone eaten there yet?
  10. Indigo is not cheap but it's worth it. Limited seating inside but a great patio for beautiful days like today (not sure what they'll do in cold weather "“ I guess more people will carry out). Very friendly and warm service. Family-owned and "“operated, and you can tell (in a good way). I had lunch here for the third time today and ordered the mango chicken for the second time. The first time I ordered it I didn't realize it was a special. I was disappointed that it wasn't available the second time I visited, but I ordered the butter chicken, which was also delicious. But the mango chicken is not something I often see on menus in the area (or anywhere for that matter), and I love it. Thinking back, I can't remember if the chalkboard menu described it as spicy (it may have?). What I got was definitely not spicy, and I wouldn't have minded some spice to counteract the sweetness of the mango. Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed this dish. The chickpeas (chana masala?) served on the side, often an afterthought in other restaurants, were delicious as well with a deep flavor. My dining companion ordered dal, which I can usually take or leave, but this dal was amazing, smoky and complex. I could have eaten a big bowl of this dal with some rice and been satisfied. My dining companion is a native of Bombay/Mumbai and says this is as good as the best home cooking he had growing up. I'm not as much of a connoisseur (I ate Indian food for the first time in college), but I also love the food here!
  11. Had to fill the gap between work and improv class with some food, and I needed something well balanced, so the Ballston Food Court was out. Up one level it was either Panera or Chicken Out, and we'd just had Boston Market the night before (to cure my hangover from an open bar at DC Coast). Panera it was. I enjoyed my frontega chicken and pleasantly overdressed greek salad. My wife had what amounted to a bruschetta salad served with little wedges of focaccia. The focaccia was definitely the highlight, with the tomatoes being just okay and the mozzarella being a bit firm for "fresh," almost like a hard swiss. Their iced green tea was, as always, a refreshing treat. Overall I think their baked goods are surprisingly good for a mall chain.
  12. Funny, I had an Americano (a large comes with four shots - they use a California roaster with a multi-syllabic name beginning with "D") in Del Ray just two days ago, at the pleasant Emma's Espresso and Wine Bar. I didn't try any of the baked goods, but the Americano was very well made, served in a ginormous (that didn't activate the spell-check alert?) mug, and was quite a good cup of coffee. The first few moments of service were addled, but instantly rectified themselves, and the staff there was as pleasant as can be. They have free WiFi, and Emma's is well-worth a visit if you enjoy independent coffee houses. They own the entire house, right off Mount Vernon Avenue, so there's ample parking.
  13. I only recently became aware of this new entrant in the booming DC coffee shop scene despite it being open a couple of months. Did a quick search here on DR.com and, though I found a hiring post, didn't see a thread or report so here you go. Most of the other food websites/magazines/blogs have announcements or articles about it including Washingtonian, Eater and Y&H. In short, BakeHouse is a very nice place with a nice back story and a few smart points of differentiation (aka good reasons to visit). Briefly, BakeHouse was founded by a young married couple who hatched the idea while working in a small museum in South Georgia (the island which figured in the Falklands War and, of course, Shackleton's Endurance expedition; not Savannah/Valdosta). I like this place. It's small but modern with a bright and airy design. Approximately 15 seats not including some outdoor sidewalk seating. For this time of year (July), I can attest their A/C works quite well. More seriously, they have all the essential requisites. Quality coffee (more on that below), some complementary (actually more locomotive than caboose) food items, free & fast wifi, and a mix of seating types (counter, sofa, tables). Just west of 14th on T, so close to metro, bus lines, bike lanes, landing strips and whatever other transport options. Just a fundamentally nice and pleasant place. With that backdrop, two things at BakeHouse really stand out. The first is signaled by their name. Different from most coffee shops with plasticene (or worse) food, this place is really and firstly a bakery cafe that also has a very good coffee program. That versus the more typical coffee house with a couple of cellophane-wrapped biscotti options and uber-sweet muffins. The BakeHouse folks seem to love baking and they do it well. I tried a good-looking cinnamon roll. It tasted good too (!) and, interestingly (appreciably for me), it was served warm with the frosting on the side. Tarts, scones, pies, cupcakes, cookies and a full array of breakfast and lunch sandwiches are all part of the mix here. Much better grub than most coffee shops. The baked goods and casual, grab-and-go foods are themselves an excellent reason to visit. Second, of course, is the coffee. I love the places in town we now have that are really coffee forward. By that I mean spots owned and operated by coffee obsessives who care intensely about their equipment, technique and, of course, their beans. But, alas, an achilles heel of such places is they tend not to emphasize food very much, if at all. Filter, Peregrine and Qualia are good examples. All top of the heap in terms of the very best, painstakingly-made cups you'll find around here but, if you want a truly great muffin or scone to go with it, well, have to go elsewhere for that. BakeHouse is a slightly different animal. They're using a very good coffee not yet well known in DC called Zeke's. Zeke's is an 8-year-old, small, family-owned Baltimore roaster that's been a presence at many of the area farmer's markets for a few years. They will be opening a shop themselves at Conn and Rhode Island later this summer, where they'll be surrounded by several of the other higher-end independents now clustering in the Dupont/Downtown/Shaw/Logan/14th St area. At BakeShop, I tried a single-origin pourover from Bali and a cortado. Though maybe not quite as precise concoctions as other shops, both were quite good. BakeShop uses a Cecilware Venezia espresso maker and a Mazzer grinder. Pourover rack looked to be filled with Hario v.60s. BakeShop is bringing some new mojo to the booming small, artisan coffee scene in DC (Yes, Msgr, Furstenberg--talking to you here ) with much-better-than-the-norm baked goods, a new local coffee roaster and a respectable coffee program. It's a nice shop. They even welcome dogs outside with peanut butter treats though that's hearsay for me since noone is outside sipping hot joe on 95-degree days.
  14. I would say this is the latest example of the airline industry's contempt for their customers: <--- Needless to say, I refused to pay it. But there's this which gives me a glimmer of hope: "American Airlines Sues To Exit GoGo's Inflight Wi-Fi" by Mike Snider on usatoday.com And I acknowledge that GoGo is a private company, which may be guilty of unbridled greed. I wonder how many hotels realize they lose my business 100% of the time when they charge for WiFi.
  15. My expectations of Rapphannock Coffee & Roasting were so low that it wouldn't have taken much to exceed them. However, despite its flaws, Rappahannock is one coffee house that South Arlington or North Alexandria residents should be aware of. I walked into Rappahannock, and was immediately caught off-guard by Beethoven's Emperor Concerto playing on the speakers (at this point, it was theirs to lose ). There was one lady working the counter, and about ten customers on a late weekday morning. Looking around the room at some of the decor (including several types of Ethiopian coffee beans), it's possible that there is an East African ownership of, or influence on, Rappahannock - there's also a large parking lot in back with plenty of off-street parking (there's a stone walkway up to the front of the store, so I assume parking here won't result in your car getting towed (check the signs more carefully than I did, just to be sure). I ordered a Large Americano ($2.85), and added a fourth shot of espresso ($.60) - the barista is quiet and reserved, but opens up once you say more than two words to her. She smiled as she gave me the WiFi password. Taking a seat in the sunlit back seating area, with the roaster merely feet away in its own sun room, I plugged into Rappahannock's WiFi and set out to enjoy my coffee. Reading some of the reviews online, one gathers that Rappahannock's roast is on the dark side (it is), but my Americano is a level up from what you'll get at Starbucks. They have simple syrup at the fixins bar, and did I mention the Emperor Concerto was playing when I walked in? Rappahannock's website is here, and there's a fairly accurate description from The Washington Post's Alex Beattie here. Reports are that the bagels are above-average and the thing to get here, but Rappahannock also has a selection of panini sandwiches, salads, and soups in the $3 - $7.50 range. A recycling container sits in a little nook in the back. Online bean sales have been temporarily discontinued, probably because of lack of demand. Rapahannock Coffee & Roasting, operating under the name JCL Coffee, Inc., is an above-average independent coffee house. It merits serious consideration by people along the Columbia Pike corridor, but is essentially a local destination. For putting out a decent product at a reasonable price, for offering WiFi in a funky, sunlit seating area, and for not vaporizing the squalling, demanding little brat and his inept mother (for whom I feel pity, rather than anger), Rappahannock is initialized in Italic in the Dining Guide, alongside of most independent coffee houses. While top-flight independents can rest comfortably, the sorry state of South Arlington coffee is the buoyancy that pushes Rappahannock up to the top of its neighborhood. As I was walking out, I heard Chopin's 3rd Piano Sonata playing, so I took a seat along the front wall, overlooking Columbia Pike through the large front bay windows, and continued to work and enjoy my coffee, still hot after nearly thirty minutes. PS - The Florida Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice (Large, $2.79) is nothing more than Tropicana Pure Premium, poured straight from the carton.
  16. Great idea for a thread. Good job!! I don't know if this is splitting hairs or whether it's a typo, but Little City Gourmet's web site says they're in Arlington.
  17. Downtown Takoma Park's dining options continued to expand with the opening a week ago of Takoma Bistro, operated by the Bread and Chocolate people. Taking over the ill fated Everyday Gourmet, with some art and a little remodeling they've transformed the space into a warm and inviting cafe that also has outside seating, open seven days a week for three meals a day. a beer and wine license is expected in about a week. Right now the place opens early, at 6:30 well ahead of competitors like Capital City Cheesecake (7:30, weekdays) and Marks Kitchen (9:00, weekdays). The breakfast menu includes eggs, waffles and pancakes (like Mark's, no hot cereal), lunch and dinner offer a wide variety of sandwiches, side and entree salads, burgers and the like, examples of more substantial entrees include chicken pot pie, moussaka, salmon and a flat iron steak. An expresso machine is turning out some great coffee and espresso based drinks. My companion and I went in for a late lunch. She had a tuna melt, but strangely the cheese was under the tuna, not melted on top as per the menu. She thought the accompanying side salad was ok, but boring. I had the burger, beautifully cooked and very good. The shoestring fries were a little overcooked. We finished with a latte and a cappuccino, both exceptional. Friends at a table nearby really enjoyed their salmon salad. The place has been slammed since it opened, and the staff is definitely still finding its way, so involved with working out details of the operation that sometimes customers get ignored. Procedures have to be worked out, and someone needs to keep an eye on the floor at all times. But the community has clearly welcomed Takoma Bistro, and the staff knows there are many rough edges and is working to correct them. Hopefully it will not only bring another option but some synergy to the growing Takoma dining scene. 6923 Laurel Avenue, at present 6:30AM to 9 pm.
  18. I have heard that this space, formerly the "Washington Park Gourmet," is going to be some sort of coffee bar. Construction has been ongoing for over a year now, but things seem to have accelerated in recent months. Does anyone here have any inside information on what we can expect, or when it will be opening? I have also heard rumors that the Tryst people are involved...
  19. Chef Dennis Friedman is opening a fast-casual concept called Newton's Noodles later this month. Lots of better writing than mine: - the Post - Eater - PoPVille has the official presser - WBJ has the business concept After making private sacrifices that I shall not reveal*, I managed to get an invite to the soft opening. I never get to feel fancy, so this is BIG for me. This is their press event, and Chef said pictures and cameras are no big deal. (Nobody will notice me and my camera in the corner.) Cheers! * - mostly, we eat at Newton's Table a lot. We might have made doe-eyed sad faces.
  20. I drove by today, and there was a sign up for Sheba, an Ethiopian restaurant, saying it would be opening in November, 2011. I can't imagine this space will be much more than a few burners simmering pots of long-cooked stews; the good news is that might be all you need. Wild Chicken isn't much of a landmark (it's an impossibly obscure restaurant in its own right), but they're next door to each other.
  21. And I am once again starting a new thread about a Brookland restaurant! Smith Public Trust (in the space that used to be The Library, Kitty O'Shea's, and something else?), is in soft opening mode in Brookland right now on 12th St between Monroe and Newton. It's a sister restaurant to Smith Commons on H. I believe the soft opening runs through the World Cup and they have a limited menu available (I've been told the menu will be about 3 times as large upon full opening). The space is pretty interesting (see pics in the link above), with exposed brick, unfinished floors, murals, mismatched vintage furniture, etc. But they do have high chairs! I went during last week's USA vs Germany game for lunch and again last night for dinner with mixed results. Service has not been great either time. The servers and the GM have been very nice, but not necessarily the most attentive. Of the food I tried, my favorites have been the Edamame Hummus, the Nachos, and the Duck Spring Rolls. The Burger looked pretty good, but I didn't taste it. It's served with super thin cut matchstick fries that were pleasantly salty and crunchy. The bite I had of the Tacos tasted good, but there was way too much liquid (the tortillas fell apart and the plate was covered with a layer of juice at the end). My friend did not care for the Ramen (although he admitted Toki and Daikaya have spoiled him). The Fried Chicken and Red Velvet Waffle were ok (the chicken was piping hot and well seasoned, but the waffle was not hot...and I would've preferred some variety instead of two drumsticks). I'm unsure if they will expand their drink menu later. They have a good selection of beers on draft and in cans, but only 4 wines to choose from, and the two whites were chardonnay and riesling (meh). At this point I don't plan to rush back, but would like to return once the full menu is unveiled.
  22. Website Here. Fulton Thread Here. After tasting a skim iced chai at Sidamo yesterday I thought to myself... how can I get them to put one of these in Old Town. The chai was the best I have ever had. Spicy and full bodied, made with real chai tea. You didn't even notice the type of milk selection because all you could taste was how good the tea was. I wish I was a coffee drinker because I bet they make great coffee just from smelling them roast and grind it. Ginger molasses cookies... lovely. I also stole a sip of one of the smoothies, we were taking to a friend. Very fresh with real fruit. I love the atmosphere and back patio. They had a nice little menu and by how good the place smelled something on the menu has to be good. I look forward to going back here more often. I just really wish it was closer to my house. * I didn't see a thread for Sidamo, if there is one please merge.
  23. Culture Espresso is a single location, midtown-based, very high-quality, coffee shop staffed by friendly hipsters. I know, contradiction in terms: friendly NY hipsters. Address: 72 W. 38th St Go figure. Among a sea of Starbucks in the coffee desert of Midtown is an oasis called Culture Espresso. Small shop with super beans rotated frequently. All the majors: Intelligentsia, Counter Culture. Stumptown, etc. Pour overs and a focused menu. We were told 3 or 4 different espresso roasts per week. Probably reminds me most of Filter in DC but even smaller than Filter. Also, unlike Filter, Culture allegedly has some excellent baked goods including some supposedly life-changing donuts from a Brooklyn producer called "Dough." Allegedly and supposedly because, since we tried it late in the day, they were out of nearly all the baked goods. American owned but the opening manager was Australian, which is why they have an excellent flat white on the menu. The cortado is one of the better ones I've had outside Argentina. Most amazing given the general New Yorker stereotype, the dudes working this place are both seriously knowledgeable and genuinely nice. We ordered a double espresso which came out at maybe an ounce or ounce and a half because it was a properly made double ristretto shot. When we asked about this, they immediately offered to pull another one for us without charge. Huh? In NY? When they did nothing wrong??? I'm sooo confused...in the best of ways. We didn't take them up on the offer. Wouldn't have been right. But damn fine joe made expertly in a part of the city not especially known for this.
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