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Found 76 results

  1. Last night, six of us ate and drank our way through much of the menu at the Black Squirrel, drawn by the promise of Tuesday's half-off-all-food deal and the hope that we could add a new spot to our list of places to eat in Adams Morgan. I think they've been open six weeks and I hope that, in another six weeks, things will be humming. Last night, things were not humming. The place felt a little schizophrenic -- cheery red walls and dark wood, one or two extra televisions, a funky tree trunk table in the window... Sports bar? Bistro? What's going on? The menu was similarly discombobulated -- chicken wings, burgers, fried calamari, duck spring rolls, artisinal cheese and charcuterie plate, fried chicken, leg of lamb... What? The service, however, was one note -- brutal. The front of the house went down in flames last night. They were more than overwhelmed by the number of people pouring in. It clearly wasn't due to anything but bad planning and a new restaurant. There were coverage problems -- there seemed to be two managers, two runners/kitchen staff, and one waitress working what must have been her third shift. There were delivery problems -- we didn't order that. There were checkout problems -- there are people packed in at the bar, staring at us to leave, and we couldn't get a check. They really need a strong manager to institute some protocols, carve out responsibilities and figure out how to staff that place. The beer... The beer list was good. There were eight or nine taps, including two house beers which I assume are Old Dominion, a Redhook and Czekvar (spelling?) and maybe a Belgian too, along with 60 or so bottles. The food... the food was not very good. The universal comment was "I guess this is worth $10, but it's certainly not worth $20," referencing the fact that our $20 entrees were $10 on Tuesdays. - the chicken wings were typical small, gnarled, Pizza Mart delivery with Franks-based sauce. Eh. - the duck spring roll was a 2" diameter fried tube stuffed with greasy duck, cabbage and raisins. Eh. - the Tomato/Basil/Mozzarella salad was, you know, fine. Creamy fresh cheese, March tomatoes, fine balsamic. - the Fried Chicken was panko-crusted, which was a little strange, but it was juicy and good. The collards were bitter and the side of mac-n-cheese was very runny, with gruyere that made it a little pungent/bitey, for my taste. - The rib portions appeared small and and were described as unremarkable, but I did not sample them. - The lamb shank was the star of the meal -- everyone who tasted it (not me) reported it was the best thing they'd put in their mouths. The burger did look tasty, but, again, not first hand account. My overall impression was that this place was hoping to offer something a half-step up from Bourbon, but they haven't quite been able to execute either stylistically, food-wise or service-wise. Alex
  2. Lady KN and I were in the Fells Point area and decided to hit Thames Street Oyster House on a Friday afternoon. In fairness, we only had access to the raw bar, as we arrived between lunch service and dinner service. No problem, as we tucked into Malpeque, another local Maryland oyster, two varieties of Virginia oysters and a dozen large shrimp as a cocktail. Everything was fresh and good, and I am definitely going to return to enjoy some of that enticing menu....
  3. While we wait for our moving truck to arrive, we are staying with family in Memorial, in the Western part of Houston. The whole family, 2 small kids in tow, had dinner at Izaykaya Wa on Memorial Dr. last night. I luckily called ahead and made a reservation, as it was packed to the gills with a boisterous group of drinkers/noshers when we arrived. This is a true Izakaya, being a great place to throw down a few beers and munch on yakitori and kushiage. It reminded Cristina and I of our old NYC haunt, Village Yokocho. We shared a number of things, mainly standards (edamame, vegetable tempura, takoyaki, seaweed salad). All were done well, especially the takoyaki, which were thankfully not drowning in Kewpie mayo. The chirashi and special rolls we shared were fine for a place that is not focussed on sushi. Chicken skin and chicken thigh skewers were nicely grilled, the skin deliciously crispy and salty. A whole grilled squid served alongside grilled slices of jalapeño (we are in TX after all) was mildly flavored and a bit too chewy...the only real miss of the night. Everything was washed down with several rounds of Asahi and Sapporo, and thankfully the exuberance of our fellow diners drowned out any squeals of protestation from our smaller dining companions.
  4. Heavy Seas Alehouse opened up in Rosslyn this week Based on the crowds there for both the soft open and official open, its arrival has been eagerly anticipated by many! The service was fantastic at the soft open -- despite the crowd (almost every seat was taken), our waiter was friendly and attentive and every staff member who passed by made us feel welcome. The beer was excellent as well, but of course that's no surprise. It's a big, well-used space -- lots of seats without feeling too crowded. Great photos and food menus are here.
  5. This place is on Eutaw Street, near the Edgar Allen Poe House and the UMD Medical center. We had dinner there last night. If you go to their web site (http://www.alewifebaltimore.com/), the brief slide show gives you a good idea of what it's like inside -- dark, lots of wood surfaces. It's in an old bank building. I'm not an expert on architecture, but the outside says "Greek revival" to me. The inside features one small interior room, not pictured in the slide show, that may have been the vault, complete with steel door. They have a huge selection of beers, both on tap and in bottles. If you can't find anything you like, then you just don't like beer. They also offer cocktails and wine. I wasn't in the mood for beer last night, so I enjoyed a stiff Manhattan and a serviceable glass of pinot noir. Both of my dining companions branched out and tried a couple drafts they'd never tasted before. For food, daughter and I had the same thing, starting with the smoked tomato soup, which was good, and the Cajun pot pie, which was just OK. It was at least 90% rice, with little evidence of the promised andouille, crawfish, crab, shrimp and chicken, and while pleasantly warming on chilly evening, the flavor was largely one-note (cayenne). My SO had a black bean burger with fries, which she liked well enough. Service was pleasant and efficient on an evening when the front room consisted of 5 or 6 tables and a few customers at the long bar, such that the lone waiter was easily able to see to everyone's needs. It's likely we will return to try some other items on the menu and explore the beer list.
  6. I really wish I'd stumbled into Smoke and Barrel at the beginning of an evening out rather than at the end, when, famished and a little tipsy, I devoured my pulled pork sandwich at approximately the speed of light. I can't, therefore, provide thoughtful details much beyond "yum!" The smoked meat is piled on a respectable bun with a scoop of good cole slaw, with the surprisingly spicy sauce on the side. And I don't think anything has ever tasted better after a night of beers with friends. A side of sweet potato home fries was excellent.
  7. We've been ordering from Lost Dog fairly often this week (simultaneous kitchen and bathroom updating will do that to you...). I love their tomato-feta pie (light on the feta) -- it has rosemary and toasted pine nuts. Yum. I also love their Big Dog sandwich -- messy but filling and delicious. Their milkshakes really vary -- if they listen and make them "extra thick," they're not usually evil. "Regular" thickness isn't worth it. We tried their brownies this week -- perfect, with chocolate chips and no nuts -- and I tried a peanut butter pie thing last night that really didn't do it for me. We've eaten in a few times and like their onion rings, but I honestly (even with the ridiculously poor communication skills of almost every single person manning the delivery line) prefer delivery. PLUS, rumor has it that by the end of the summer, they'll be able to deliver some of their fabulous selection of beers again -- woo hoo!
  8. My friend Thor Cheston, who is a manager at Paradiso, is going to be heading up this project of theirs. Thor is a beer enthusiast of the first order, and this should be exciting! Drop by and say, "Hello!" and have a great beer on draught and some of this city's best pizza. 3282 M St., NW Washington, DC 202-337-1245 Pizzeria Paradiso Georgetown is proud to introduce Birreria Paradiso, a sixteen tap draft bar featuring 80 bottled selections of microbrews, artisinal and handcrafted beers from around the world. Enjoy pilsners, ales, lagers, and stouts in our newly renovated lower level dining room and bar, where you will be able to feast on our Quattro Formaggi Pizza and a Belgian tripel like Gouden Carolus, or a Bosco Pizza and a Saison Dupont on draft. Then, top off your meal with our vanilla gelato paired with North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. We will be offering our complete menu, wine list, and a full bar in addition to the new selection of beers. Most of our longtime favorites are available, including Rogue's Dead Guy Ale, Dogfish Head's 60-minute IPA on tap, and Moretti and Amstel Light in bottles. We will also be serving some standards like Corona,, Miller Lite and Samuel Adams. All of the new beers will also be available in the main dining room upstairs.
  9. Did you have the onion rings at Quarry? I keep hearing they are excellent. Both the Half-Moon BBQ and La Bamba are also good places to eat. Both are directly below the (ex?) Napoli, and both are IMO better than any of the formula places that have invaded Silver Spring.
  10. We took my boyfriend's sister in to Total Wine in Fairfax. She's newly 21 and we wanted to pick up a sampling of beverages for her to try during her visit. The cashier upon seeing her ID handed her a form to sign verifying that she is 21 years of age. When we asked about it, the manager came over to explain that it was company policy that all people born in the newly 21 year (1985) sign the form every time they purchase anything from the store until the year (2006) expires. I mentioned that it was the first time I've heard of a procedure like this and it was a bit odd. Making the visit even stranger, the manager explain to us that the policy was not odd and we were wrong. Policies are policies and I understand that but I don't believe this is a common practice. That being said I haven't had my age questioned for a number of years so I haven't had to deal with the oddness of being 21 and the efforts to combat underage drinking. So my question to the group is has any one heard or experienced this? Is this normal? Thanks, Emily
  11. K1 (Beer Advocate rating) is a neighborhood gem for beer and wine. I am planning to visit Belgium, so I stopped in at K1 to buy a bottle of Chimay. I was delighted to find several types of Chimay here, but I didn't buy any because there were so many other interesting beer selections from Belgium. I wound up trying two beers from Bruges, where I am planning to visit for a few days. This store is small, but it has a great selection of adult beverages--particularly beer.
  12. Needed to start a thread on the very good neighborhood tavern in Highlandtown, Snake Hill. Highlandtown is, arguably, one of the current frontiers of Baltimore gentrification with fancy new condos next to bodegas. Notwithstanding this development, it still maintains the diversity of ethnicity and races that other neighborhoods (cough*Canton*cough) no longer have. Tucked just off the main artery of Highlandtown is Snake Hill, a seeming hole-in-the-wall that actually maintains an excellent beer list and, notably, a delicious array of handmade sausages. Not content to focus on the standards, i.e., bratwurst, Italian sausage, chorizo, etc., Snake Hill also incorporates exotic meats into its menu, such as alligator and rabbit + rattlesnake. I enjoyed the 'Pho-Q' sausage, a pork, fennel, and Sriracha sausage, which I opted to have served in the 'Pho' Real' sandwich format; it is what you would expect---the sausage served with pho accouterments such as Thai basil, sprouts, hoisin, and jalapeno. I certainly recommend a visit, and I will be certainly be aiming for a return visit to continue working my way through the menu.
  13. Barking Mad Cafe has a solid coffee program. They use Counter Culture beans and can draw a serious espresso. Their cappuccinos and lattes are also good, although I have had a few cappuccinos that were wetter than I prefer. They have drip coffee, but no pour over. The standout, though, is their cold brew. During the summer, they had two offerings, both on nitro taps. It's so smooth it's like drinking Guinness coffee. The coffee served at Barking Mad Cafe would be noteworthy anywhere in the DC area. IMHO, it's extraordinary in Gaithersburg, which has nothing comparable within a reasonable distance.
  14. I hear Johnny Brenda's is cool place to hang out, from the group that has a place called The Standard Tap.
  15. GBD Chicken and Doughnuts is opening on Friday at 8am at 1323 Conn Ave (where Yola used to be, so fried chicken & doughnuts is replacing a healthy yogurt place). From the Our Story page on their website: "GBD (which gets its name from the restaurant kitchen shorthand for golden, brown and delicious) pairs the sweet and savory specialties of husband and wife team Chef Kyle Bailey & Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac the culinary masterminds behind Birch & Barley." Washington Post article about the opening and offerings here.
  16. Time and again you see R.F.D. and Brickskeller touting themselves as THE places to go for beer in this town. As some of you already know, I call bullshit on them. My visits to RFD have shrunk to almost a trickle since they've opened because they never have any real ale available. Right now, their website claims: "While we regularly feature Great Britians finest examples of cask ales we also contract our favorite American craft brewers to supply us with their favorite recipes brewed as Real Ales which we serve directly from the firkin thru our gravity pour tap at the proper serving temperatures." There are a handful of folk here who enjoy drinking real ale. I would like to ask those of you who do, to please use this spot to post when you visited and what real ale they had on tap when you went in. Even if you're not in the mood for a drink, but you're walking by, I encourage you to just pop in and ask the friendly barkeep, "Hey, what real ales you got on tap?" Chances are you'll post something like I'm about to do. Friday, December 23, 2005. 6:10 p.m. "Hi, what real ales do you have tonight?" "Oh, I'm sorry, we've got nothing on right now." Let's hear your RFD/Brickskeller stories. As far as I see it, DA is full of BS.
  17. I did not know there's a sausage party in my backyard, it's called Tysons Biergarten. You have to buy food and drink tokens. Website
  18. Warren Rojas is one of our area's most underrated restaurant critics. He first wrote about La Caraqueña here, in the October issue of Northern Virginia magazine. Take a look at those pictures of the arepas. Todd Kliman than picked up on it in Washingtonian here, and between the two positive reviews, I felt negligent for not having tried it myself. La Caraqueña has a bright new sign outside, but sits in the parking lot of what can only be called a fleabag motel. As I drove into the parking lot, I said out loud to myself, "God this place is a dump." That impression went away the moment I walked into the restaurant - a completely empty restaurant at 12:45 on a weekday. Warren's review was on the wall, and a gentleman was standing behind the cash register, all by himself. "Do you do carryout?" I asked him. He handed me a menu, which I began to look over. Then I looked up at him, and asked, "Do you make your salteñas here?" The look I got was a curious mixture of politeness, frustration, and what amounted to almost complete dismissal. "Yes," he said. "We make everything here." "I'll take two of them to go." I stood around waiting, and after a moment, he said, "It's going to take about fifteen minutes. You might want to have a look at the paintings on the wall [for sale], or have a seat." So I went out, made a quick call, then came back in, grabbed a menu, and sat at a table and waited. I read that all items are cooked to order, and that this is not fast food - they don't even have a paper carryout menu. After a couple of minutes, he came back out to the register, and asked me if I'd ever been in before. I told him no, but that I liked the salteñas at El Pike in Seven Corners. He perked up. "You've been to El Pike?" he said. "Yes. I don't like the ones at Luzmila's [down the street] as much because they use a lot of sugar." That was all it took. He became animated and engaged in the conversation. "Salteñas are all over Bolivia," he said, "and you can't find the real ones here. Wait until you try mine." "Are you the GM?" "No, I'm the chef." It was Raul Claros. After a few more minutes, he went back into the kitchen, then came out and handed me a bag. He said, "Here you go, sir. You're about to have salteñas like you've never had before." His confidence bordered on cockiness. And he was right. El Pike's have been very good in the past; La Caraqueña's were fantastic - the best I've ever eaten. And yet, the dining room was empty. My friends, I cannot vouch for the rest of this menu, but after Warren and Todd raved about the arepas, can there be much doubt about them? I propose a $20 Tuesday, sooner rather than later, at La Caraqueña. I am utterly intrigued from what little I've seen, am going back for a more thorough exploration very soon, and have a feeling that this little restaurant is doing something very important, in a small-scale way. Please try it and give us your impressions. Cheers, Rocks.
  19. I see that Sehkraft appears to be finally making progress. They've got the giant fermenters in place and I see tables and chairs. Any word on when this place will open? An Arlnow article said they were aiming for late August, which was obviously wrong. (In case folks here aren't aware of the place of which I speak, it's a sister restaurant to Westover Market Beer Garden.)
  20. Carole Greenwood is opening up a New Haven style pizza place next to Buck's! Maybe the "he" Sietsema is referring to is James Alefantis (co-owner of Buck's).
  21. I wanted to start the thread here for a new spot coming to downtown Takoma Park. Seth Cook and Chris Brown, two coffee veterans who have been at Northside Social for years, are branching out on their own. They have a great location on Laurel Avenue, and construction is about to begin. TKBC (@takomabevco) will offer coffee, beer(draft) and wine as well as a great cocktail program. The menu will be designed by a chef you will all recognize. I love this team and this concept, and that is why I decided to back them financially and advise on the project. Keep your eyes out as the project progresses.
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