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Found 36 results

  1. Just out of curiosity, how do you try new and different wines? Is it just random selection? Any great wine shop that can steer you towards hidden gems?
  2. A'ight kids, put yer reading caps on Friday was our 7th wedding anniversary. That means its been 7 years since some generous friends took us to a meal at the Inn at Little Washington as a wedding present. Our gustatory urges had been slowly awakening over the previous year, driven in part by our release from the penury of graduate school into gainful employment, and we had wined and dined ourselves at Obelisk, Cashions and DC Coast to name but a few. Fine restaurants all. But "The Inn" was the big kahuna. Remember that in DC in 1998, there was no Maestro, no Laboratorio, no CityZen, no Eve, a reminder of how spoiled we are for fine dining options now (I think Citronelle was there but for some inexplicable reason we have yet to dine there). The passage of time, the loss of brain cells and a couple of years of sleep deprivation have taken their toll, and memories of the meal are hazy, but we remember literally being *blown away* by the whole experience. The setting, the service, and most importantly the food were all superlative - we had never experienced anything like it - I remember a sublime molten Valrhona chocolate cake before it had become a tired cliche. Two years later we returned, flush with the proceeds of a Harry Potter arbitrage scheme on eBay, and left wondering whether The Inn had changed or had we changed. Were our expectations too high after our first visit? Had we become more discerning as diners? Or was The Inn standing in place, content to serve a menu eerily similar to two years beforehand to those willing (and there were still many of them) to make the two hour trek from metropolitan DC, or even further afield? Some of the dishes were very good, but lacked the wow factor of our previous visit, and the service seemed a little detached and rote. As we left, the prevailing sense was that for $120+ per person BEFORE wine, tax or tip was it just wasn't good enough. Based on the comments on several other food sites it seemed as if we were not alone in this opinion. Time passed and we concentrated our fine dining adventures closer to DC, enjoying spectacular meals at Maestro, Laboratorio, and Eve, or overseas (Arzak, McNean Bistro). Last Christmas, my sister, remembering our raves from our first visit generously gave us a gift certificate for The Inn. While grateful for the gift, we honestly were not that jazzed about going back to The Inn and sat on the gift cert for a while (and in the "We do it because we can" category, shame on The Inn for voiding gift certs after ONE year). We finally decided to go in late-September and turn it into an anniversary celebration both for us, and my parents who would be visiting. My mother has a garlic allergy which can make dining out a difficult process so I mentioned it as I made reservations, and was assured it would not be a problem. Then the day of the meal, our babysitting fell through and I called The Inn to find out if it would be ok to add a 4-year old to our reservation. Again, they said it was not a problem (to be honest I was surprised at this, as an ultra high-end restauranteur, adding a 4 year old into a dining room full of boomers spending $200+ per person seems to have lots of downside). We arrived just in time for our 6.30 reservation and were shown to a circular table overlooking the courtyard (the same table as our first time there, maybe a coincidence, maybe not). Our amuse bouche arrived quickly, with about 8 for the non-garlic allergites (is that a word?) on one place and 3 or 4 on a separate plate for my mother which I thought was a nice touch. The amuse bouche included a mini-BLT (still on the menu after all these years) a red wine risotto filled ball, parmesan crisps, a rabbit turnover, a mini-ham sandwich and one or two others which I have forgotten. In general the amuse were good but not earth shattering. In ordering for the rest of our meal, our waiter took scrupulous care in accommodating the garlic allergy, to the extend of tweaking the making and presentation of dishes to ensure there would be no garlic but that my mother could still order just about whatever she wanted. I was very impressed. After the amuse came a complimentary cup of chilled watermelon soup with a hint of tequila. The soup was excellent - creamy, yet light, tasting of summer, and with the tequila giving its just the slightest kick. They even brought a cup of the soup (minus the tequila!) for our daughter, which she loved. For the first course proper, me and my mother had Prawns and Charred Onions with Mango Mint Salsa, while my wife and dad had Maryland Crabcakes Sandwiched between Fried Green Tomatoes with Silver Queen Corn Salsa. In general both dishes were excellent, but I think the prawns shaded it. Three large, succulent prawns paired nicely with the sweetness of the charred onion and the salsa. In another nice touch, they brought our daughter some macaroni (penne pasta to be precise) and cheese between our first and second courses so we could concentrate on feeding her and still be able to eat ourselves. This was seriously tasty and I'm guessing they used several different cheeses in its preparation. For the second course, I had A Marriage of Hot and Cold Foie Gras with Homemad Quince Preserves, my mom had a Morel Dusted Diver Scallop on a Cauliflower Puree, my wife had A Fricassee of Maine Lobster with Potato Gnocchi and Curried Walnuts, and my dad had A Warm Salad of Stone Church Farms Seared Duck Breast with Baby Arugula, Pine Nuts and Parmesan. In general, I adore foie gras and ordered this dish mainly for the seared foie with aged balsamic and it did not disappoint, but was pleasantly surprised at the "Cold" part of the dish, which was a delicious pate served with a small piece of toasted bread. For our main course, myself and my dad Medallions of Rabbit Loin Wrapped in House Cured Pancetta Surrounding a Lilliputian (!!) Rabbit Rib Roast Resting on a Pillow of Pea Puree, my mom had Prime Angus Tenderloin of Beef on Silver Queen Corn Saute with Wilted Baby Spinach, and my wife had Sesame-Crusted Chilean Sea Bass with Silver Queen Corn Succotash. I don't think I'd really eaten rabbit before and it was excellent. The pancetta added a good deal of flavor and it was surprisingly tender. The sea bass was also good, and the corn succotash was very flavorful. For dessert I had cheese, my wife had a trio of chocolate desserts (Black Forest Mousee Bombe, Chocolate Creme Brulee, and Bitter Chocolate Souffle), my father had the "Seven Deadly Sins", and my mother had a trio of peach desserts (Peach Melba, Peach-Champagne Sorbet and Peach Cobbler). In general I thought the desserts were good but not outstanding, although I think I was more in the mood for savory than sweet that night. Our daughter had a scoop of mint ice cream (that was as good as 2 Amy's and that's saying something) with chocolate ribbons. At The Inn, the cheese is served from the back of "Faira", a wheeled cow that must be (somewhat arkwardly) manouevered around the dining room - its cute, kind-of, but let me tell you when you're a 4-year old nearing the end of a 3 hour meal and its an hour after your normal bedtime, it's the coolest thing in the world! I had a nice back and forth with the cheese guy (earning a "you know your cheese" by the end of it all), and ended up picking a Montenbro, a crumbly blue from the Asturias region of Spain, a wonderfully ripe Tallegio, an even more wonderfully ripe Epoisses, a pungent cheese from Switzerland whose name escapes me and an award-winning American cheese that, much to my chagrin, I had never heard of. Now we were really starting to wind down, and Reinhardt Lynch came by and asked if we wanted the doors opening out onto the courtyard to be opened. Again, a great idea for a rapidly tiring 4-year old, and while we enjoyed coffee, tea and cookies, we took turns peering into the courtyards coy-filled ponds with her - several other tables were enjoying their desserts outside. After dinner, we had a quick tour of the kitchen and observed those willing to pony up the addition $300 ($450 on weekends) for the chef's table, exchanged pleasantries with Chef O'Connell (always easy when you have a cute kid), and made our way into the night air for the drive back to DC. Total bill for 4 people, a nice but inexpensive bottle Pinot, and a "kids meal" plus tax and tip was $775. The regular menu is $128 per person, our wine was $60, and our daughters meal was $28 (note that the tasting menu is $168 and the tasting menu with wine pairings is $243!!). We tipped 20% on the total bill including tax because the service was exemplary. Neil is a true professional, always there when we needed him, sensitive to the particular demands of our table, friendly, and good with our daughter. So, was it worth it? I would have to say yes. Its not the kind of place where you should go all the time, and it may not even be the place where you go for groundbreaking cuisine, but for a special occasion, the combination of ambience, service and food is hard to beat. I think they deserve credit for regaining their focus and maintaining a general level of excellence as they enter their 28th year in business. A final note on our superstar daughter. Yes, she's used to being taken out to restaurants, but she excelled herself this time around. By the end of the night, complete strangers were coming up to talk to her, clearly awed but her ability not to ruin their evenings! A final, FINAL note on the one teeny-tiny sour note for the evening. A young female member of staff loudly chastised my wife for reading one of Patrick O'Connells cookbooks that had apparently been already purchased by someone else but left on a table in the common area directly outside the kitchen. Honey, she wasn't trying to steal it, she didn't know it belonged to someone else, and your tone was not appreciated.
  3. For a short time only (I would guess), but very good right now at 2 Amys: Durham bread crostini with fava bean puree, olive oil and shaved pecorino. Bonus -- watching every member of staff variously set to skinning fresh favas at each lull in their other duties.
  4. We stay at the Ashby Inn on a regular basis, and were there last weekend. It is far more casual than genteel, although there's a bit of that in horse country. Sitting on the balcony and listening to the cows lowing will quickly convince you that the city is not too close. They recently changed chefs, and have, at least for the moment, shortened the menu because of decreased dinner traffic in this stuttering economy, but the food remains wonderful. I know that they have an eight ounce filet listed, but believe that's the only steak offered. Note, too, that the Inn is quite close to the Sky Meadows State Park, which has very nice hiking trails and beautiful views. One of Paul Mellon's finest contributions to that part of the world.
  5. After a soft opening on Sunday afternoon for friends and neighbors The Red Hen officially opened last night. Menu is not on the website yet, but Washingtonian has a scan. We were hoping to walk down right around 5:00, but never made it out the door; it was apparently packed (as expected given the neighborhood excitement for this place). Early Comments I've read so far are very good on the food, so-so on the value (although no cocktail is over $10, so hooray?). Portions size comes up most, but there are lots of small plates. We're very much excited to try it out. Has anyone been yet?
  6. WARNING: Shameless plug for Evening Star Cafe & The Wild Grape (JParrot)... This Monday, April 24th, the Evening Star Cafe is hosting Richard Weiss of The Wild Grape at our monthly wine dinner. If you like small production wines from South Africa, this is most definitely a not-to-be-missed dinner. Chef Matt Cordes and his staff are pairing their creations with seven wines from The Wild Grape. Menu Vischysoisse with Parsley Froth paired with a 2005 Louisvale Unwooded Chardonnay (Western Cape) Seared Scallops with Farmer Greens, Fennel & Articoke and a Lavender Vinaigrette paired with a 2005 Monteroso de Franchi Old Bush Vine Chenin Blanc Pan-Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast with Savory Sour Cherry Bread Pudding, Minted Duck Jus and Micro Greens paired with a 2003 Avondale "Amira" Syrah (Coastal Region) and a 2003 Hartenberg "Ecurie" Cab, Shiraz, Pinotage, Merlot Blend (Stellenbosch) Caraway & Herb Crusted Lamb Round with Red Onion, Parsley & Black Pepper Creme paired with a 2003 Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Blend and a 2001 Vergenoegd Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Stellenbosch) Raisin Tart with Port & Muscat Drizzle paired with a 2005 Vriesenhof Melelo Muscat d'Alexandrie, Tinta Touriga (Stellenbosch) Price is $85 per person (includes tax & gratuity). RSVP by calling Planet Wine at 703.549.3444.
  7. I've visited Grapes Wine Bar in Annapolis at least three times in the past month as we are closing on a house nearby. We had a great dinner there Saturday night and prior times have enjoyed food and wine at the bar. This is a wine bar with a great selection of wines by the glass and bottle. Lots of chalkboard specials and special pours that night. Small but reasonable menu with good cheese slections and all good entrees. The whipped Goat Cheese with Fig jam is amazing. This is a locals spots on Forrest drive outside of downtown Annapolis. Thus the crowds aren't there and there isn't a wait to get seated. The prices are not upscale DC or Bethesda but reasonable and laid back Annapolis. I saw a bottle of Billecart Salmon Rose Champagne for $90, retail is not much less. I'll be drinking the Friday night after we close on this house.
  8. This landed in my inbox this morning, from the Dept. of Useless Information. Drinks International's survey of the world's most admired wine brands. It's a Tour de Force in bullshit, and good reason for consumers to maintain a healthy skepticism of corporate winespeak. Zero info on selection criteria. The global panel of wine experts sounds like an outfit I'd be proud to be kicked out of, if I was a wine expert, that is. Imagine if you are number 15 or 17 on this list. The World’s Most Admired Wine Brands is considered a leading authority on the most influential and trending wine producers from around the world and the full list can be seen below: 1. Penfolds, Australia 2. Torres, Spain 3. Villa Maria, New Zealand 4. Concha Y Toro, Chile 5. M. Chapoutier, France 6. Sassicaia, Italy 7. E. Guigal, France 8. Marqués de Riscal, Spain 9. Errazuriz, Chile 10. Ridge, USA 11. Cono Sur, Chile 12. Felton Road, New Zealand 13. Campo Viejo, Spain 14. Vega Sicilia, Spain 15. Château Margaux, France 16. Barefoot, USA 17. Tignanello, Italy 18. Château d’Yquem, France 19. Yalumba, Australia 20. Château Petrus, France 21. Cloudy Bay, New Zealand 22. Château Musar, Lebanon 23. Cavit, Italy 24. Château Lafite, France 25. Louis Latour, France 26. McGuigan, Australia 27. Georges Duboeuf, France 28. Château Haut-Brion, France 29. Château Cheval Blanc, France 30. Santa Rita, Chile 31. Jean Marc Brocard, France 32. Oyster Bay, New Zealand 33. Robert Mondavi, USA 34. Château Latour, France 35. Royal Tokaji, Hungary 36. Peter Lehmann, Australia 37. Wolf Blass, Australia 38. Château Mouton Rothschild, France 39. Yellowtail, Australia 40. Ramon Bilbao, Spain 41. Undurraga, Chile 42. Trapiche, Argentina 43. Jacob’s Creek, Australia 44. Beringer, USA 45. KWV, South Africa 46. Château Le Pin, France 47. Nederburg, South Africa 48. Inniskillin, Canada 49. Rosemount Estate, Australia 50. Barton & Guestier, France
  9. Pennsylvania 6, a moderately upscale Modern American restaurant with locations in Philadelphia and New York City, will be opening SepNov, 2015 at Franklin Square. Among other things, diners should anticipate a strong wine program, as Mark Slater will be the opening sommelier.
  10. Got a mailer for the new Bistro Sancerre last week, so I walked over to check it out. I knew there was activity in the space some months ago, but somehow missed that it had opened already. This may be telling. I walk by this area to Whole Foods frequently, but not this secluded plaza. The restaurant faces onto a plaza with fountain which is the side of the Embassy Suites. Inside, the dining space steps up 2 levels, with a private dining room and art display, extending all the way to the Duke St side of the building. I only ate in the bar. A few beers on tap, but good ones. Extensive beer bottles/cans selection. But I think the wine is more important. The bar seats about 10+ 3 or 4 high-tops for 2 people, and one for maybe 4 people. It looks nice but a bit hard (lots of stone), not much character. Had some sliders and winter squash soup. Sliders were pretty tasty. Good beef and brioche buns. The soup was a little gelatinous. Good flavor. The bartender said it was made with emulsified fish (cod? don't remember now). I'm pretty sure I heard that correctly. Anyway, it looks like the place is worth a try for a real dinner. Maybe this week... Looks like they specialize in steaks. Some pics attached.
  11. For me Charleston still sits at the pinnacle of "fine dining" in Baltimore. For better or worse, the East Harbor location is now ultra-trendy, close by the water (ask to sit in the front if you want a view) and steps from several other chi-chi restaurants like Roys and Flemings and all that is Fells Point. Inside is serenity itself: richly appointed, comfortable and refined. Do not bring young children. Don't even think about it. The menu is split between prix fixe and a la carte. I enjoy Cindy Wolf's cornmeal crusted oysters - six or seven for a first course with lemon-cayenne mayonnaise are reason enough for me to go. The cornmeal fried soft shell crabs are amazing too. Sauteed and served in a bright lemony brown butter, they need and get nothing but the few dressed greens upon which they perch in oozing glory. Grilled gulf shrimp with Andouille sausage and cubes of salty tasso ham over stone-milled grits are a perennial menu favorite. I'm no Southerner, grits ain't me, but these grits is great! The fried green tomato "sandwich" (ok, stack) with lobster and lump crab hash includes tiny perfect cubes of Yukon gold potatoes and a healthy pinch of curry. Oh yes. Entrees are wonderful, but this time it was straight to dessert. Cheesecake with apricot compote. A ramekin-size light cheesecake on a bed of roasted chopped pecans was very good, but apricots are my favorite fruit and the intensely tart/sweet compote surrounding the cake was the best I've had.
  12. For those who think wine tasting is some sort of bogus lie, I could name nearly an infinite number of counter examples: * If you walk through an art gallery, can you tell a Renoir from a Rembrandt? * If you close your eyes and sip a glass of juice, can you tell if it's apple juice or orange juice? * If you hear a song, can you tell if it's Bob Dylan or David Bowie? --- This is a true story: About twenty years ago, in a New York tasting, a group of my wine-tasting friends were all there. Our own Sasha Katsman had passed out on the couch sometime after midnight, but the others were still going strong. One of my friends had opened and served an old wine, in a brown paper bag, which, after much arguing, was determined to be a 1964 Bordeaux. After about fifteen minutes of arguing and screaming, they had all narrowed it down to a Pomerol, but nobody could decide which one it was. When they had reached a point of permanent disagreement, they went to shake awake Sasha from the couch, who had been dead-to-the-world for thirty minutes. They roused him, and shouted, 'Sasha! We need you to tell us which 1964 Pomerol this is!' With his eyes closed, he staggered over to the table where the glass of wine was, picked it up, and without opening his eyes, sniffed it, and without tasting it, put it back down, eyes still shut and said, "It's not a Pomerol; it's Cheval Blanc." He then staggered back to the couch and went back to sleep. He was right.
  13. The kids were going to see Aladdin so I made early dinner reservation at Masseria Dei Vini. I’ve never heard of the place but the location works and the menu looks authentic if not on the expensive side. The best starter is the fried zucchini sticks - thin, crispy and the batter did not fall off. Their baked calamari is almost as good as fried calamari. The rice in the GUAZZETTO ALLA PUGLIESE (Shrimp and Clams in a light Tomato Sauce, served with Apulian Grain) apparently is very delicious according to my daughter. The two pastas we ordered were very good - pappardelle with rabbit ragu, squid ink pasta in whey clam sauce. If anything the pasta could’ve been firmer. We also ordered a thinly sliced steak that’s very good as well. I would recommend the restaurant as a solid Italian joint.
  14. Andy Hayler's Numerous Reviews - Note that Bonhams is closing on Dec 21.
  15. Please define mid afternoon? Rustic Canyon Wine Bar is superb and one of the hottest restaurants in L. A. right now (#6 in Jonathan Gold's top 100 L. A. restaurants) but it does not open until 5:00PM. Ten minutes from LAX in Santa Monica-we went a month ago and loved it. On par wtih Red Hen or Rose's; extremely creative. Superb wine list heavy on Central Coast wines. If the time works it would be my first choice of any. Press reports on Rustic Canyon including LA Times and New York Times:
  16. Metropolitan Coffee House and Wine Bar is great. Federal Hill, not Inner Harbor, but close by. Casual, coffee shop atmosphere, but nice friendly spot with good breakfast foods. 902 South Charles at Henrietta.
  17. No, but it's now open, and here are the website and current menus. Note that there's a pop-up window advertising heritage turkey dinners (complete dinners) to go for Thanksgiving this year - they're asking you to order early (note to NRG: That window is showing up every time you click on something on the website - it would be nice if you saw it only once). Dinner: Charcuterie: Beer: Drinks and Wine:
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