Do you love Indian food? Are you hungry right now? Stop reading, go to Chinatown, eat at Rasika, and then come back and read the rest of my nonsense later.


Welcome back! Isn't it gorgeous inside? At our recent trip to this modern twist on the never-boring (to me) Indian restaurant, J and I started with the Asparagus Uttapam. Uttapam has a pancake shape and texture, and usually the ingredients (like asparagus) are cooked right into the batter. It was fun to try, but next time I'd probably get something different with more flavor. Next was the Palak Chaat. Don't worry if you forget to write it down, I think the servers are trained to recommend it. It's basically flash fried spinach mixed with tamarind, sweet date chutney, and yogurt. It tastes similar to but better than french fries, and spinach definitely counts more as a "vegetable" than potatoes.

It turns out I wasn't man enough to take the spice on the Chicken Green Masala--without the heat it would have had a real cool, fresh taste from the mint that I would have enjoyed. That doesn't usually happen, but neither does the next part. My FAVORITE entree was the Lamb Dhansak, made with Dhansak masala, pumpkin, dill, and lentils. Dhansak masala is made with every spice and herb under the sun, along with ginger, garlic, and lentils--it just tasted like super good sauce, to me. The dishes were complemented by a white rice and long grain brown rice, respectively.

There were so many delicious-sounding (and looking) sides to choose from, but we went with the Palak Aloo Kofta (spinach, potato, fenugreek, and cumin). We were both pretty psyched that the potato mixture was sort of in a low mound hiding in the spinach, as opposed to being dispersed throughout the bowl. It was very flavorful, but next time I'd like to try something more daring--overall the vegetables are pretty tame, though. Maybe something with coconut next time. I love anything with eggplant (look for a "baigan" dish) but I had eaten too much of it during the week--effectively eggtplant-ed out.

Next time I may request that our naan come out with our main dishes--we ate it all with our appetizers and didn't have any left to soak up the delicious sauce from the lamb. We could have gotten more, I know, but how much naan must we eat?

Get dessert. If I hadn't stuffed myself at dinner I would have chosen the date and toffee pudding. I love dates. Still, I don't regret sharing the Chocolate Samosa, which was like a flaky pastry version of the savory favorite, filled with warm thick chocolate (sweet, not bitter at all). A little tricky to eat with a fork, but otherwise fantastic.

Dinner at Rasika lasted just over 2 hours for us speed-eaters, and was a perfect prelude to our movie at E Street Cinemas.

633 D Street NW
Metro: Red, Green, or Yellow line to Gallery Place/Chinatown



Dino of Cleveland Park is described by its owners as "rustic" and "traditional with a twist." Whatever you call it, I like it.

For wine aficionados, unfortunately, Dino does not have a wine list. They have a wine BOOK! At least that's what they call it--it looked to me like an overstuffed clipboard. I mean that in a good way, because obviously they are keeping it fresh and always changing, adding, depending on what's hott and what's now. I like it.

From the moment we arrived I felt like Dino and I were meant to be--we arrived at 7 on a Saturday night with no reservation and were seated right away after we found a parking spot 15 feet from the door. It was in the stars, I tell you! We sat at one of those tall tables, which I find very comfortable, and were against a wall (nice and anchored).

It being Chanukah and all, J and I noshed on the croquette di patate, perfect little cylindrical logs of golden brown fried happiness with piping-hot moist potato within.

J's buffalo steak took us back to the good old days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where some kind of wild game was our dinner every night (elk medallions, anyone?). Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the steak was juicy and tender and all the things it's supposed to be. After I finished my own food, it was only natural that I sample his purple potato and fontina gratin--it looked like a bruise, but tasted much better.

The halibut was perfect, and I ate every bit of my roasted eggplant risotto. While I enjoyed my meal very much, looking back at the stated ingredients, I can't say I really *felt* them all. That's not necessarily a bad thing, maybe they just worked and danced together unobtrusively...or maybe it lacked some zazz.

We didn't have dessert, but we did drink a bottle of wine. The list is accommodating to all wallets--the bottle we shared was only $21.

3435 Connecticut Ave NW
Metro: Cleveland Park

Dino on Urbanspoon


Hooked on Hook

I revisited Hook recently, a good idea--you may recall that my first visit was a lunch, during Restaurant Week, and not that long after this Georgetown eatery opened.

Off the bat: I could have spooned up the butter like ice cream and eaten it all, it was light and airy and extremely sweet. It may be filled with crack.

I started with the pumpkin risotto cakes on top of some sauce of pureed pumpkin. The look and texture of this dish reminded me of really crispy hash browns, in a good way! The pumpkin wasn't sweet the way you'd expect after pumpkin spice lattes and other dessert-like concoctions--the cakes were hot and savory, with delightful grilled onions topping them off, cooked to perfection. I could have had a couple more and called it a night. J noted that this appetizer was WAY better than my main dish at Restaurant 3.

J enjoyed the grilled calamari, but psst, my risotto cakes were better. The potato salad and calamari was an unexpected combination. The minty concoction on the side worked well with the calamari and was the most interesting part of the dish.

For my entree, the Sablefish was light and flaky, perfectly cooked, and well-seasoned. What i love about eating a great fish dish is it isn't too heavy and you can still have an appetizer and dessert, getting a real full meal at the restaurant and experiencing what they have to offer without feeling stuffed afterward and being rolled home. The accompaniments--roasted cauliflower was nice, and the roasted potatoes were...roasted potatoes. Fine but unnecessary.

J's mahi mahi with the butternut squash puree was---well, how was it? I know the butternut squash puree tasted good, but there was too much of it on the plate.

For dessert, a tart of paper-thin apple slices atop a buttery pastry crust with vanilla bean ice cream (I could SMELL the vanilla!) and the Tic Tac Toe--a TTT board of chocolate sauce with homemade whoopie pies and an X-shaped shortbread cookie. It was thoughtfully imagined and constructed, and certainly fun to eat. I couldn't watch it keep going by to all the other tables.

Hook is busy, and it's not that big--there seems to be an upstairs I've never been to, and a significant part of the main floor is taken up by the bar. The open floorplan (you can even see into the kitchen), cool colors, and oceanic decor makes it a comfortable space for enjoying a looong dinner. Our reservations were for 9pm, and we weren't seated until 9:25pm. Just an FYI.

3241 M Street NW
Metro: Your local bus, the Orange Line to Foggy Bottom, then walk to Georgetown, or take the Circulator from DC, or a Metro Connection (blue bus).


Lunch at Central: Guest Review by Mr. iEat

I have come to determine an unfailing truth, that is that the food at Central tastes great, but food at Central paid with an expense account tastes even better. A recent business lunch with two of my associates at Michel Richard's Central in the heart of downtown Washington D.C. was quite the enjoyable experience. The lunch menu at Central does not make decision making easy. The burger, fried chicken, fish & chips, grilled hanger steak, and the lamb shank immediately jumped out as first choices. How does one narrow down from such an appetizing array of options? Fortunately for me, our server believed the fried chicken to be the best around and so I took his word and ordered it along with the french onion soup as a starter. The server noted that "their" french onion soup was a little different that normal because the broth was sweeter more like a miso as he described it. To me and one other diner at my table it sounded promising.

First, warm baked bread was delivered to our table. The bread was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but MOST importantly it was pre-cut! I am not just talking about sliced half way through, I mean cut into individual slices. I have been to too many restaurants for business lunches around the district where the crusty bread is only half cut and what ensues is inevitably a messy and crumb filled attempt to finish slicing the bread with your own dull-as-a-spoon bread knife. Cheers to Central for slicing their bread. Everyone wants bread at a business lunch, but not everyone wants to either put their hands all over the bread to rip it apart or attempt to make a mess all over the table at those non-cutting establishments.

Next to arrive was the iced tea. As a semi-professional iced tea aficionado, I happily found Central's iced tea to be both well brewed and provided with a generous lemon slice. Again, Central warms my heart with its tubular "european" style sugar packets (including Splenda!) which both look and function in a superior manner to traditional rectangular packets.

After a reasonable time passed, the soup arrived in an earthy clay bowl with a baked cheesy top. I don't often order french onion soup, but I am glad that I made the decision that afternoon. The broth was indeed light and sweet and complemented the cheese well. It was warm and gooey, without being too gooey. Also, for french onion soup it was surprisingly "light".

I enjoy fried chicken, but I don't know if I've ever enjoyed it as much as I did at Central. The order comes with one large boneless chicken breast and one drumstick, both coated with a delicious crunchy crust, served on top of finely whipped mashed potatoes with a side of mustard sauce. The potatoes were excellent, creamy and smooth. The chicken was finely battered and fried and greatly enhanced with the tangy mustard sauce. A side of mixed salad greens was also served on the large plate but went ignored due to the generous portion size and quality of the entree served.

The other entrees ordered by my colleagues were the fried chicken (also enjoyed) and the lobster burger. The burger was served handsomely with a multitude of fries. I was lucky enough to have a piece of the burger which is all lobster (no filling or bread). It was quite tasty. Did I mention that we also ordered a side of Mac and Cheese? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...this ain't your grandma's Mac and Cheese. Served in a mini cast iron skillet, the Mac and Cheese is made with ziti pasta swimming in a delicious creamy cheese sauce and lightly topped with bread crumbs. This little pan was a big hit at the table and was scraped clean.

Dessert. Again, Michel does not make this choice easy. With several extremely tempting choices we each decided to get a different desert and share. I had the kit kat bar. This is a fun dessert that easily fixes any chocolate craving while not being too overwhelming. I also had a bit of the apple pan dowdy and the chocolate cake. Each was tasty and well presented. I don't think you can go wrong with any dessert at Central. In fact, I don't believe you can go wrong with ANYTHING at Central. So next time you are looking for a delicious downtown lunch to impress yourself, a date, or clients, look no further than Central.

1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Metro: Orange, Blue, or Red line to Metro Center
Central Michel Richard on Urbanspoon


U Wanna go to Me Jana

Me Jana, a new place in the Court House/Clarendon neighborhood, is a Lebanese family-owned establishment that mostly serves mezza. Mezza are like appetizers or tapas--small plates. I would prefer to eat all of my meals tapas-style, because I never want to order just one thing, and even an appetizer or two and one entree isn't enough variety. But as you know (if you are a faithful reader, at least), I hate buffets. So tapas are the natural best option, but I not only want Spanish food, I want EVERYTHING in tapas form--enter mezza.

The space at Me Jana is colorful and chic, but still has a warm, cozy feeling thanks to the friendly atmosphere. The restaurant is owned and mostly run by a family, and even though it's just a few months old, I see the owner greeting people by name with a kiss on each cheek. The staff is attentive and helpful with decision-making.

As soon as the menu was posted at Me Jana, I knew we had to go--grilled haloumi, people? The only thing better than grilled cheese (as in bread with cheese in the middle, in a pan with butter) is GRILLED CHEESE (no bread, just cheese...with grill lines...it's low carb and delicious, you should try it). We need to do this list-style. J and I had 5 dishes and dessert for two people. It came in at ~$60 including tip.

Throughout the meal our basket of pita was replenished--the pitas were in an interesting 3D cone shape, and arrived puffy and warm throughout the evening. While the 4-section plate of olives and olive oil was fine with the basket, it was the square of labneh that left me yearning for another trip to the Middle East, also known as "the place where I was meant to live because honestly, where else can you eat delicious fruits and cheeses all day long and call it meals?"

Grape Leaves - I had to try this staple, but ever since I had homemade still-warm GLs two years ago I am a changed person, and these didn't quite measure up. Surprisingly there were a lot on the plate, maybe 6? Good value and they were good, but not close to the best.

Lamb Kebob - J says it was "very good and well seasoned, cooked to a reasonable temperature." I don't like the texture of it (too chewy--are you shocked?) so I passed.

Ablama - Hollowed out zucchinis stuffed with ground beef, spices, pine nuts, and onions. This had serious potential to be REALLY good, but it just wasn't hot enough. I should have sent it back to get reheated, but it was just one of many dishes we had going on, and I didn't get to an actual cold spot until a few bites in...I wondered why. With mezza, it's no big deal to bring out the dishes at a different time, in fact it's NECESSARY because they don't have the table space to bring them all out at once at a table for 2. So why the chill, Bill? The components were there, but the temperature was off and I would have liked the zucchini to be a little crunchier--it would have more zazz if it was less mushy.

Chicken Shawarma - This dish was perhaps our favorite. The chicken, slow roasted in lemon and garlic, was extremely flavorful, and the plating was eye-catching: Four little shawarma sandwiches sandwiched in adorable mini round pitas that had been grilled to grill-mark perfection. The chicken was so juicy and flavorful.

Seared Haloumi - I can't say anything bad about this dish, it was deeeeelicious. Strips of seared cheese with warm slices of date and pear? For my last meal as a death row inmate, I'd like to have 5 portions of the Seared Haloumi.

Kanafe - A warm square (or other shape...) of goat cheese and spices nestled between two thin strips of pastry, topped with pistachios at this particular establishment. I generally really enjoy kanafe, and I liked this one, but didn't love it--maybe it was the pistachio topping, or maybe I was just a little too full.

Me Jana was a lot of fun--I got to eat 6 different dishes and transport myself back to vacation in Israel. You can even go here with less adventurous friends--the chicken shawarma is like a juicy mini chicken sandwich. Who doesn't like that?

Me Jana
2300 Clarendon Blvd
Metro: Orange Line to Court House


DC Weekend Escapes: Middleburg, VA

In an effort to get out of the bustling city and it's metro region, we headed out to Middleburg, VA for some country, foliage, and of course, food.

Middleburg is about an hour from Washington, DC. We'd driven right by the tiny town on our way to Chrysalis Winery a while ago. Chrysalis prides itself as the closest winery to Washington--while this may be true, it is the start of a pretty busy VA wine trail. Happily for Middleburg visitors, many of these are within a mile or two of the main town, making this a boutique-ing, antiquing, sweets-eating, wine-drinking excursion. Something fun for all ages, truly.

We arrived in Middleburg around lunch time and our stomachs brought us to the Red Fox Inn. The Inn, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has been graced by the likes of President John F. Kennedy, JBKO, and Elizabeth Taylor. The Inn is fully functioning as a place to stay on your visit, and the dining room is open for guests and outside visitors. Food wise, it was downright tasty. The Eggs Chesapeake and Steak and Eggs were tasty, and they have delicious home fried potatoes. Most offerings were egg-based, along with the inclusion of some crabcakes, of course, and perhaps the best-named burger ever--the Middleburger. Some of the tastiest treats came in the basket of pastries before our meal was served. Warm mini muffins, danishes, and breads were the perfect beginning.

We then headed to Mello Out, a local favorite for homemade marshmallows and THE BEST chai tea latte I’ve ever had.

On the way home, we stopped at Swedenburg Winery where the friendly staff treated us to our first tastes of mulled wine, their pinot noir spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, then heated to a comfortable warm temperature.

Red Fox Inn
Mello Out
Swedenburg Winery
All in Middleburg, VA


First Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup

Hello all! I don't usually post recipes, but what winter season is complete without a hot bowl of soup? That's right--NONE.

Props to my grandma for this butternut squash soup recipe. It was actually really easy to make, and the most time-consuming part is the peeling/cutting/dicing. I have tested this recipe, and it works extremely well, AND it's orange, which fits the season.

You'll need the following:
1 tbs butter/olive oil
2 c chopped onion
5 cloves chopped garlic
1 tbs curry powder
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 c peeled chopped McIntosh Apple or 11/2 c. apple sauce
2-3 lbs peeled and cubed fresh Squash
4c low salt/low fat chicken broth

In a large stock pot saute onions and garlic in butter or oil in medium heat for about 3 minutes.

Next, add squash, apple, broth, and spices.
Then add a little water--just enough to cover the veggies, and bring it all to a boil.

Lower to a simmer (on low, so there are little bubbles rising to the top but not big and bubbly like when it's at a "boil"), then cover and cook for 25 minutes until all the veggies are tender.

Let cool a bit, and then use a stick blender to puree. If you don't have a stick blender, you can throw the clumps of veggies in the regular blender until they are nice and smooth--poor some broth in as well.

Add salt and pepper to taste if you wish, or let your guests do so individually.



Super Pollo: Pre-Chicken Showdown Exploration

So the other night we headed to Super Pollo. We had to go to the fabulous Ballston Common Mall anyway, and it's right across the way. From prior investigation I discovered that while EPR was a favorite for actual chicken, SP is a favorite for side dishes, mostly because there are more than two.

I brought J along for the ride. My chicken was delicious, I got a lot of white meat, which I like, and it the skin was crispy and well-seasoned. My meat wasn't dry at all, but pretty much spot-on. J got fries and beans, both agreeable. I wish I got the yuca, but there were so many sides to choose from, I went with the chickpeas and plantains. The chickpeas are delicious, almost taste like they are from an Indian restaurant. The plantains, while really good, are just too sweet! I only wanted about half of the portion they gave me. Next time I'll try the yuca and the rice as my sides.

Super Pollo has a little more to offer to the eye than EPR--the space seems a little nicer, neater, and of course televisions, which no American family should eat without. All around us, families, couples, singles, etc were dining, and many were enjoying the FSU/Miami game at the same time.

J had half of a chicken with two sides, I had 1/4 chicken with two sides, and we both had Heinekens. $20 even was our total.

Super Pollo...c'mon, you didn't really think they'd have a web site, did you?
607 N. Randolph Street
Metro: Orange Line to Ballston


Lib Tav--Major Downer Contained W/In!

BTW folks, I'm sorry to mention that Lib Tav does NOT have a lovely brunch menu that makes you want to frolic over there for a delightful late morning meal.

Besides a few scant a la carte items, the brunch is a buffet. And you know what I say about buffets. Oh wait, maybe you don't!

"We don't need to eat all we can eat. We're not bears." See Ellen at 5:35.

If you like buffet brunches, then I apologize--I feel bad for you, you like your food to be same food everyone else is eating, made in big group bunches and placed under a heat lamp for gosh-only-knows-how-long. You must enjoy using the big serving spoon to hack away a piece of eggs from the 20 egg omelet that sits in the tray.

I want an INDIVIDUAL PLATE with a planned-out, comprehensive dish on it, to be SERVED to me with my COFFEE on a weekend morning. So we went somewhere else. Review pending.


Restaurant 3

Restaurant 3 is named such because it's the 3rd restaurant I'd go to if I was really hungry in the Clarendon area and wasn't allowed to go to Five Guys or Whole Foods. Maybe not, I'm not sure.

There's nothing wrong with Restaurant 3, it just annoys me because it's new and sort of snazzy looking, the food is okay but not fabulous, and it's on the pricier side for the quality of the food. Also, someone should do the owners a favor and steal that awful fluorescent "3" they've got hanging--it's totally out of place, and doesn't match their decor at all.

We started with the lettuce wraps of duck confit and bourbon molasses, which were actually very good--maybe the best part of the meal. The meat was very soft but almost drowning in the sauce, and its accompaniments were also very tasty (a crunchy salad mixture and nuts to wrap in the lettuce). Grilled brie with a side of grapes was pretty good, but the oil-saturated slices of toasted bread that came with it were unnecessary--not quite warm, and with an almost stale-like texture. I ended up just eating the brie with a fork in combo with the grapes, which I wish were colder for a greater contrast with the warm brie.

My dinner was okay, but I probably wouldn't order it again. The menu at Restaurant 3 just didn't call to me, it wasn't my style. I wasn't freaking out about ordering the way I usually do, wondering how in the world I'll be able to choose between choices X Y and Z which are all making my mouth water. I got the vegetarian croquettes, described as grit cakes with salsa verde. They were large, not too dense, yellow mounds of what seemed like cornmeal and some veggies and lots of butter, tasty, but I would have rather had ONE of them on the side of something else than two of them as a meal. I wasn't sure what to expect but went for it figuring I'd try it sooner or later. Plus, nothing else was really floating my boat.

J had better luck. He ordered the cider-brined pork chop, which came with a three-apple relish and deliiiiicious mashed potatoes (three potato mash). I guess that's the three theme going on.

We've already been back to Liberty Tavern for dinner, and will probably go again soon to try their brunch. R3 has yet to have iEat feet walk through the door again. We'll give it another chance eventually, but it just seemed like it wasn't really worth it.

Restaurant 3
2950 Clarendon Boulevard
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon


Liberty Tavern

Liberty Tavern is a new kid on the Clarendon block (or more appropriately, the Wilson block). Mrs. K (not of Tollhouse fame, but of restaurant recommendation fame) recommended this new corner spot for my next local dinner.

Although I was lucky enough to taste the summer menu on its last week, we are now in AUTUMN at LT, so I'll return soon for some of those delicious sounding dishes, including pumpkin ravioli--yummmm.

I started with the Clarendon Market Salad, which had pole beans, diced potato, greens, and goat cheese. The herb dressing had a very refreshing and light flavor, and it was GREEN! Yes!

For my main course I chose the Summer Pizza sans ham, because it was its last hurrah on the menu. Fontina and sweet and sticky figs made this pizza truly heavenly. There were some greens on top, so I guess that added a health factor, but I could've left them aside. Also, this pizza was HUGE. It was priced as a meal for one person, but I only ate about 1/3. J had a gnocchi appetizer that had tiny gnocchi pellets mixed in with veggies and other things I couldn't identify but liked the taste of. I know, very descriptive. If you want that kind of detail, see Mr. Sietsema--he's all class and I'm all sass, and that's just the way it is. J's dinner was the fish and chips--again with the REALLY generous portions! He liked it, which means they did a good job not messing up what's easy--fried food. Fried food tastes good, but it's not to die for. It's fried, and whatever you fry like that will basically taste the same.

Our service was attentive and not smothering, the space was--hmm, we sat outside, so it was lovely to watch the traffic of Wilson Blvd, and overall I had a great time. I had an allergic reaction later that caused me to delay the writing of this post, but as it turns out, NOTHING I ate at LT caused it. Yay, now I can return there soon.

Liberty Tavern
3195 Wilson Blvd
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon


El Pollo Rico

Going to El Pollo Rico with my friend E made it obvious that sometime soon--VERY soon--we need to have an Orange Line Chicken Showdown between El Pollo Rico, Pio Pio, and that place that smells ridiculously delicious across from the Ballston mall parking deck.

The menu at EPR is easy, just decide if you want a quarter, half, or a whole chicken. Or two. Accompanied by a seasoned pro, I ordered the quarter chicken "with everything" and got a can (yes!) of CAFFEINE FREE Diet Coke, which you usually just don't find anywhere. The Everything included really delicious and HOT steak fries, a pile of coleslaw, and two sauces--one mayonnaise-based and one that was green and spicy.

My chicken was flavorful and delicious--I'm not the biggest fan of bones and all, so in a perfect world someone else would deconstruct for my leisurely consumption, but I was mentally prepared to go the distance, and I did.

My can of soda, quarter of a chicken, fries, and coleslaw cost a grand total of...$5.45. Right. And I was so full after (seeing as I had cleaned my plate), that I barely even wanted any dessert later! What kind of crazy is that?

By the time we left EPR, the line was out the door. 1/3 of the line was made up of Arlington County police offers. EPR is fast, cheap, delicious, and safe, too!

I had an allergic reaction last week and didn't want to report on my latest adventure until it was figured out--luckily, it wasn't anything I ate at Liberty Tavern. That review, as well as Restaurant 3, is coming up soon!

El Pollo Rico
932 N. Kenmore Street (Across from GMU Law)
Metro: Orange Line to Virginia Square


The Average Lunch

It's a weekday, and last night you were up late and just weren't feeling that turkey and watercress sandwich (or pb&j, pick your poison). No one's cooked in a few days so you're low on leftovers. What are you least likely to regret at the old regulars?

Here are my top choices:

Signature Salad from Cosi
Chicken Guacamole sandwich from Breadline
Aloha Pineapple from Jamba Juice (yum, liquid lunch!)
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich from Old Ebbitt Express
Hot dog from Five Guys
Mac & Cheese and a salad from Au Bon Pain

What are yours? (Cue: You leaving a comment)



"How's your lamb?"

J doesn't usually use such strong (yet favorable) language to describe his meals! Usually a nod and a smile with "it's good" suffices for him. But before we get to the lamb, let's start from the beginning.

Appetizers! J had the cream of cauliflower soup with seafood sausage. When his mostly empty bowl arrived with just the sausage and a floret or two of cauli, he seemed confused. Then, the server poured the very creamy soup out of a teensy teapot, and ta da! Soup. My salad was the Davon Crest Blend, greens with a blackberry vinaigrette, with two blackberries and two goat cheese fritters on the side. The fritters were divine, crunchy on the outside but creamy on the inside--still warm. I wish I could go to a happy hour and just get a basket of those with an ice cold beer. Mmmmm. Are you listening, Chef Chittum? Are you adding that basket to the bar menu?

Our main courses brought J French-cut pine nut crusted lamb with a sweet syrupy glaze, and a cucumber and onion salad on the side. Consider the opener a spoiler alert--he loved it. He then compared it to other things he'd eaten recently, as in, "That pork chop at Evening Star was really good, but this is way better," and also, "My steak? At Buck's? It was good. But this...this is...::eyes roll with pleasure::."

I read that a great thing about Vermilion is that if you are a vegetarian, you aren't confined to side dishes and appetizers. If my dish I hadn't existed, I probably would have went for the chicken, which I'm sure would have been good, but I didn't really feel like chicken. The caramelized gnocchi was a dream of gnocchi, caramelized onions, fresh herbs and olive oil, and oven-dried tomatoes. As a general rule for the past 23 years, I don't even LIKE tomatoes. But I believe that in a dish, every ingredient, every line of sauce is there for a reason, and in that dish it was just fabulous. Best of all, it was nice to have gnocchi without feeling like I needed to be rolled home after. Instead of being in a thick creamy sauce all goopy-like, my gnocchi definitely hit the sautee pan, and overall the dish was inventive, light, and fresh.

J noted that one dessert choice was obvious, because it had the "F" word. No, not that F word you dirty bunch. FIG. The goat's milk cheesecake with caramelized figs was airy and delightful. As fluffy and white as the cheesecake was, the nutella bombe was just the opposite. Described as "hazelnut anglaise, salted filberts & chocolate sorbet," to us it was small round thing of super dense and delicious chocolate, with some ignorable chocolate sorbet and nuts to its right. Leaving the accompaniments aside, that anglaise was delicious. J enjoyed scraping a bit of each dessert onto his fork and eating them together. So wild.

We've been heading back to Alexandria over and over recently, and admittedly this particular evening was inspired by The NY Times.

The atmosphere in Vermilion was nice--I knew if the lounge was crowded the first level could get loud and smoky, two things that would make me sad. Neither of those things occurred. It was slightly noisy, but I'm not convinced that being upstairs would have made a difference. The lighting was not too light or too dark, the red color (or "vermilion") throughout was warm and inviting, and the gas lamps were charming. The seating was funky, especially in the lounge--similar to Tallula, Vermilion's sister.

My only complaint is that the bathrooms did not match the dining room in the slightest. Not in color, class, or style. Outside, the warm red color and stylish decor ruled. Inside the bathroom were walls horizontally striped with a circus-y purple/yellow/blue and stall doors that were once covered in black paint, but were now chipping. Badly. Also, for some reason right inside the women's bathroom was an old chair that looked like 500 mothballs woven together.

A sure sign you've had a fabulous, mind-blowing meal is when you can't imagine not have dessert. Everything has been so incredible, that you are so curious about what's next that you must have it. It helps that our courses were perfectly spaced. We didn't starve between each course, but we were definitely not rushed or overwhelmed by too much food at once.

I almost forgot about my drink! My very delicious drink! I had a King Street Lemonade, a mix of Absolut Citron, lemons, mint, sugar and a splash of soda. It didn't taste at all of alcohol and had a great balance. Too many drinks I order have been tooth achingly sweet lately, but I could have had three or four of these--good thing I didn't.

So if you don't go into the bathroom, allow Chef Anthony Chittum to surprise and delight you with every bite you take. I'd like to go back to Vermilion soon, it's one of the best places we've been to in a while.

1120 King Street
Metro: Blue or Yellow Line to King Street


Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien, or the daily bread is a Belgian chain that has begun to spread around the world. So far NYC, LA, and DC have the only US outposts. And now Georgetown can be The Place To Go for French-style bread/bakery stuff.

If it wasn't such a spectacular sunny but mild day, we could have sat inside at the large communal table. To many dining around us on the adorable (and spacious) patio, the place seemed more like Le Pain in the Tush. Service was admittedly slow, simple lunches took a long time to arrive, and no one was quite sure how to pay and get out of there. It was confusing--when we walked in we saw a small line, and assumed that at 12:30 that would be a line for sitting. Nope, that's for takeout. You seat yourself at Le Pain Quotidien, and then anxiously (if you're me) hope that a server notices that you've arrived and are indeed new! In need of menu! Starving!

The good news is that the food was mostly good. They translate tartines to simply "sandwich" on the menu, which may be the reason why some people furrowed their brows when their plates arrived. The tasty herbed roasted turkey sandwich consisted of 5 tiny triangles of thinly sliced wheat bread topped with a a thin layer of turkey and a squirt of dill mayo. The curried chicken salad was the same, but more generous with the topping. I was curious about how to go about using the cranberry sauce on the side, and ended up awkwardly spreading it on top of the chicken salad. Open-faced sandwiches create some problems! The black bean soup was watery and lacked flavor. The chamomile mint iced tea had the some problem--it tasted exactly like water.

When I go back to LPQ, I'm going to make it brunch. The blackboard out front boasted a goat cheese and asparagus omelet, but you've got to arrive before 12pm.

The best part about the meal, hands down, was the slice of baguette that came with the soup. It was absolutely fabulous, crusty and chewy, and all that a baguette was meant to be. There were some interesting looking salads, but I was hungry and felt like a smallish $12 sandwich wasn't going to pack the punch that I needed to keep going. And don't leave without getting something from the bakery--the chocolate chip cookie is great, as is the Belgian brownie.

Overall, I prefer the quicker and more reliable service at La Madeleine for now, but LPQ has only been open a week or so. There's more time!

Le Pain Quotidien
2815 M Street NW
Metro: Foggy Bottom or DC Circulator to Georgetown


Evening Star Cafe - an evening in Del Ray

Because we once were huge fans of Tallula for brunch and Buzz bakery, it was only natural to head over to Del Ray to try out Evening Star (they are all part of the same group). Of course, it also came highly recommended by a friend who has impeccable taste.

As per usual, I had scoped out the menu online and hoped that it had been updated recently. I was very happy to see that it had, and the Grilled Watermelon salad was my first course. The listed ingredients are tatosi, mizuna, herbed goat cheese, and pine-nut brittle. I believe the first two were the greens. The salad was fantastic, with balanced flavors, sweetness and saltiness. I wish I could have a brick of the pine nut brittle! It was also nice to have some watermelon this summer--back home the summer meant cousins running around and a giant watermelon getting sliced up. For two people, a giant watermelon doesn't exactly make sense.

For J's first course, he ordered a special scallop appetizer (I now forget the contents) but actually received the bay scallops over gazpacho. The mistake was realized by us, but because he's a fan of tomatoes and it was a beautiful summer evening, he ate it anyway. The scallops were tasty but after a few bites of gazpacho he was done. It wasn't bad or anything, but it was a lot of gazpacho!

Dinner brought me the seared scallops and mashed potatoes. The scallops were delicious, great texture, nice and lightly seasoned, all good. The mashed potatoes were okay, nothing special. My new thing is if it's not that good, I stop eating it (may seem obvious to you, but a few months ago I would have eaten all of those mediocre mashed spuds!), so I barely touched them. J had the peach and apple cider glazed pork chop, which he said was deliciously fabulous.

The real treat is dessert. From what I'd heard, Evening Star's desserts were a little inconsistent. Rather than risk it, we walked over to Dairy Godmother for some delicious frozen custard. The flavor of the day was banana pudding! If I hadn't liked the flavor of the day, I may have gotten The Turtle (caramel and hot fudge) with vanilla ice cream.

The inside was pretty cute, but we sat outside so I already forgot what it looked like. Outdoor seating was comfortable, but the table furthest from the door felt neglected--they brought their check and credit card to the hostess table in an effort to get out of there quicker. I sensed they'd been waiting long, which is tough with antsy kids. Our server(s?) were cool and chatty, which I like.

We'll be back there (to BOTH places) very soon.

Evening Star Cafe
Dairy Godmother
Metro: Nope, it's in Del Ray, Alexandria
Evening Star Cafe on Urbanspoon


I Like Big Buns And I Cannot Lie

Of course, by Big Buns I mean Big Buns Gourmet Grill in Ballston. It's pretty much brand spanking new and pleased the iEat crowd completely.

Nestled into a courtyard away from traffic and noise, this green spot is definitely going to hit it big with the locals. By green I mean seriously, GREEN! The place is covered in the color, including the logo and staff t-shirts. And also green as in, the garbage cans are recycled oil drums, everything is super uber recycled, the plastic cups are made from corn (somehow?). ECO FRIENDLY BURGERS, everyone.

First question: Bun or bowl? The buns were fresh and tasty, nice and large, but I personally chose to get my protein on a bed of Romaine lettuce.

Second Q (or maybe this is first):What kind of protein? You want mahi mahi? Marinated grilled chicken? Portabella mushroom? Ohhh you want a regular old burger?!?! OK fine, we have that too.

Third question: What's going on it? Maybe some cheese (from which there are 5 or 6 to choose). Maybe some peppers, onions, mushrooms, guacamole, grilled pineapple, onion rings, or a zillion other things.

Fries, sweet potato fries, all kinds of good stuff going on here. The best part is that I can get different crazy combinations that maybe only I would want, and that's OK! I had a burger in a bowl with guacamole and grilled pineapple. I got a drink, and filled my cup with iced tea before heading to the syrup bar.

Yes, syrup bar.

Personally, I made myself a fruity raspberry iced tea. But if I got a diet coke, perhaps I would have made that a VANILLA diet coke. Or cherry!

Big Buns is a lot of fun. Everyone can get something different, it's relatively cheap and fast, and it makes you feel good inside to spend your money there. The staff is friendly, and the owner is too--both to customers AND the Earth. I challenge you to go there and get "the works." Is it "better than" Five Guys? No. It's different. The fries aren't as addictive, there are no peanuts, and there are no hot dogs. Five Guys hot dogs rock my socks, but that's a different story altogether.

What it comes down to is the following: I'm a sucker for alternative options, Havarti cheese, guacamole, grilled fruit, sweet potato fries, and Italian sodas. And they have milkshakes. Now you know why I really like it. And I'm not the only one.

Big Buns Gourmet Grill
4401 Wilson Blvd
Metro: Orange Line to Ballston
Big Buns Gourmet Grill on Urbanspoon


Buck's Fishing & Camping

After hearing about Buck's over and over, iEat decided to check it out. This upper-NW establishment, despite its name, is NOT a shop for outdoorsy-type supplies. Sure, there is a overturned canoe resting on the wooden rafters, but that's just part of the fun decor.

J was surprised about the small menu, and seemed to fear for my life. Lest he forget that in my vegetarian days I spent (too) many dinners ordering appetizers as my meal, and am perfectly capable of and happy to revisit the method. Usually there are starter combinations that I actually prefer to real entrees. The entrees were oysters, a whole grilled fish o' the day, steak, and shrimp and grits. If there were mussels I would have been SET, but ah well.

The appetizers are mostly winners, the top pick DEFINITELY being the fried green tomatoes. They were super hot (VERY important in my book), not greasy, and perfectly crisped. I also LOVED the green herby sauce provided and definitely wish there was more of it. The iceberg wedge with bacon and blue cheese is a crowd pleaser, especially because there is a generous triangle of decadent blue cheese just hanging out on the plate. Neither of us were particular fans of the bread--it was cold, and aside from a somewhat mysterious hint of a smoky flavor, it lacked interestingness. Nevertheless, I used some crust to eat the rest of my blue cheese. The woodgrilled eggplant had a good flavor, but the breadcrumbs promised to me were stuck on the tomatoes, which, because of the sheer number of them, almost completely overpowered any hope of tasting eggplant. The dish should have been called BREADCRUMBS SPRINKLED ON A ZILLION TOMATOES, resting on two skinny index-finger-sized slices of eggplant.

J's steak was...huge. Seriously. "Take of $10 and serve half of this." His words, not mine. At a whopping $46, this huuuuge chunk of meat was served practically mooing, so if you are sick of people not serving you properly medium rare-cooked steaks, head to Buck's. Our server did warn us about the size of the steak, mostly to gauge whether or not the rareness would be an issue. The fries were AWESOME, I only wish that there were more of them.

The Very Good Chocolate Cake (I think that's what it was called?) was indeed Very Good. The combo of cold unsweetened whipped cream and warm chocolate sauce was a welcomed contrast, but we were too full to finish it.

The feel of Buck's is dark but warm, with lots of wood, cool glass lamps hanging overhead, and lots of curtains--I wondered aloud if anyone ever closed them to provide more privacy to their table (while also making their table look like a shower). We sat at the furthest end of the loooong communal table that occupies the middle of the dining room. Mid-meal, another couple was seated at the opposite end. Seems like a great table for a large group. For people who say that table is awkward, the only difference between Buck's and Central is that at Central the tables aren't connected--but you and your neighbor are sitting just as cozily. Our server at Buck's was friendly enough, but seemed inexperienced. Service was also pretty slow, considering the restaurant was not nearly full.

Overall, Buck's was fun. Although the options are somewhat limited, the food is tasty and comforting. It's likely that the menu changes subject to season and availability.

Buck's Fishing and Camping
5031 Connecticut Avenue NW
You should drive.
Buck's Fishing & Camping on Urbanspoon


Brooklyn Bagel

You're young, hip, good-looking, and need a place to see and be seen on a weekend morning. Oh, you're also hungry.

Enter Brooklyn Bagel. This neighborhood fixture has the best bagels that we at iEat have had since being torn away from the New York metro area and the accompanying breadly perfection. We've been to that place on P Street, Georgetown Bagelry, Whatsa Bagel, Chesapeake Bagels, thisabagel thatabagel whatever etc, and they are all terrible.

Unlike the suburban bagel store I worked at growing up, Brooklyn Bagel almost exclusively sells bagel sandwiches (how many 25 yo need a dozen bagels?), of which they have a dozen variations. Yes, there's the standard egg/cheese/bacon combos but also whitefish/egg/tuna salads, deli meats (sandwiches are named things like Bayridge, Flatbush, Coney Island, etc), hummus and sprouts, and daily specials that include wraps and soups, too. On a recent morning it seemed like everyone in sight was having the tuna or chicken salad melt, maybe there was something in the air that day? UPDATE: J had the Bayridge with chicken salad and it was SO MUCH FOOD--if I liked it, we could definitely share one of those and a bag of chips for lunch. Also, the pizza bagel is pretty good, but I doubt I'll order it again soon.

The bagels are delicious (albeit not as awesome as the place in Secaucus where my family buys then freezes in bulk) and the yummy sandwiches are cheap and filling. They do not skimp you on your toppings, people! Do you want to drown in whitefish salad? So do I.

The space can be tricky. On most weekends there's a fight to sit outside, with some people resorting to the awkward ledge on the oversized median across the street. With recent extreme heat the indoor 10 or so tables have been packed. There are also a few stools right by the door which make for great people watching for solo diners.

BB is a perfect place to stop on the way to or back from the farmer's market or flea market. I only wish it were open later so I could also eat bagels for dinner.

Brooklyn Bagel
2055 Wilson Blvd
Metro: Court House, walkable from Clarendon, too.
Brooklyn Bagel Bakery on Urbanspoon



The Peanut Gallery should chime in here, especially the ones that dined with me at Hook. I'm not going to be subtle with you, you two.

How fancy am I! My new description should be Recent Diner at Hip New Georgetown Eatery.

Went to Hook for Restaurant Week and we were all very pleased! The menu had a lot of different options, both for the fish-eater and his/her potentially non-fish-eating companion.

I wasn't feeling so hot, but I wouldn't dare cancel such a prime RW lunch. Sacrifice is necessary for greatness. Food greatness, that is.

I started with a local garden salad, no frills. It was delicious! The vinaigrette had such a lovely flavor, and it wasn't overwhelming (or drenching) my vegetables. The greenery was unlike any lettuce I've ever seen--I was nervous when I first eyed it that it would taste bitter, but it didn't at all. It reminded me of a tangle of clovers. Also, unlike my lunch at PS7's, my salad had more than one pine nut in it!

My fellow diners enjoyed the beet salad and the peach and prosciutto salad. On a regular healthy day I probably would have went for the peach, too. The beets were orange, which was a fun surprise, I think. There were other various salads and two "Flight of Crudo" choices. In our educational portion of the lunch, we learned from our friendly server that crudo is a bite of raw fish usually oiled and seasoned, and the flight comes with three.

For our entrees we got the wahoo (served over corn), barracuda (not the one you're thinking of, that one is poisonous to eat--but this is still rare for a restaurant) over polenta, and MUSSELS! The orange-red sauce on the mussels was described on the menu as having some fire, but I didn't really taste any heat. They did have a delicious smoky sort of flavor that I'm not used to having with my mussels--I expect either garlicky white wine-ness or red tomatoeyness. I'm not HUGE on spicy food, but I've come to appreciate that there is a time and a place for those flavors, and these mussels could have been kicked up a little bit. The sauce was delicious, and the perfect pieces of accompanying toast work well for sopping it up.

If you or someone you know doesn't eat fish, they had a hamburger and fries on the RW menu! Hah!

The service at Hook was very prompt. While we (not impatiently) waited for our first course, someone dropped by and asked if we had received our appetizers yet. When we said no, they came about a minute later. Some confusion, but at least they were paying attention to our table. Our glasses were kept full with iced water, and on a day where the temperature probably peaked at close to 100, hydration is a priority.

The space is pretty small but doesn't seem crowded because of the high-ish ceilings and open kitchen. When you walk in you can see straight back into the kitchen, making the restaurant seem larger than it actually is. I love the art on the walls (particularly one of a clam where you can see the blue, spotted interior of the shell) and the light fixtures. The long, tall table by the bar looks like a fun place to gather with friends after work.

Gripes: It is LOUD in there. Pretty on par with Central for loudness, and this was during a pretty busy but not totally wild lunch time--I can't imagine, nor do I want to, what it sounds like when the bar is full. The bathrooms are single-stall, and more than once I saw three or four girls go at once, only to realize it's just one, and then wait outside. Luckily, the bathroom has its own little enclave so the waiting people weren't hovering over another table.

3241 M Street NW
Metro: Take the bus, Circulator, walk from Foggy Bottom on the Blue/Orange line, or take a shuttle from Foggy Bottom or Rosslyn station.



The only reason I went to PS7’s in the first place was because when I heard it was named after the chef Peter Smith, I was tickled that I had a very brilliant, serious professor with the same name. I looked at the web site to make sure he wasn’t leading a double life as a fabulous chef, and thought the menu looked interesting—okay fine, I wanted the hot dogs. The following describes my experiences at the restaurant—one during Restaurant Week, and one a few months before. Enjoy the discrepancies.

Part 1--PS7’s On Any Old Regular Kinda Day
We may have been the only people in the restaurant, and we weren’t even inside. On a gorgeous not-too-hot summer afternoon, we sat outside and enjoyed some quality people-watching in Chinatown.

J went for the steak and potatoes, a little heavy for my lunch tastes but perfect for him. According to him, his steak was better than the one he’d had earlier in the week at the District Chophouse. I went for the 4 little half-smokes, each sitting in a delicious homemade bun, arranged in an orderly fashion beside small containers of ketchup and mustard. My side of pomme frites was a perfect complement, and I felt that PS7’s had successfully reinvented the hot dog and fries of the picnics and barbecues we once knew. The half-smokes were juicy and flavorful, which was almost surprising—their small size could easily lead to overcooking.

Also, everything was piping hot! I LOVE my food either hot hot hot or cold, and lukewarm is NOT going to do it for me. Perhaps that’s why I eat so quickly…I truly heed the advice to “get it while it’s hot.”

Our service was impeccable—you never know when it’s empty if you’ll be smothered or ignored, but our server was friendly, funny, honest in his suggestions, and best of all he made sure our glasses of iced tea were full. After all, we were sitting outside. In DC. During the summer.

We didn't have appetizers or desserts because hey, it's lunch, and what do you think this is? Restaurant Week?!?! That's later.

PART 2, JUST AS IMPORTANT AS PART 1--PS7’s on Restaurant Week:
The restaurant was bustling. I was so excited to share with a friend the wonder I had discovered that is PS7’s, which I felt (at that moment) was underrated! I started with Sarah’s Salad, which the menu describes as containing strawberries, pine nuts, gouda, and pearl onions. The plate I received was embarrassingly large for the serving of salad that sat on it. Too much dressing, too little of what was touted by the menu. Some scrawny shaved gouda was on top of the salad, but I wish it was cubed. The salad lacked texture, which is funny because there were supposed to be pine nuts in it—crunchy, no? More like pine nut. Singular. Salad can be so delicious when it’s done right—all the ingredients were there (in theory), but the ratios were off, along with the temperature (not quite cold enough) and the amount of dressing. There's a different salad with the same initials I would have rather had, and it comes from a place that starts with a C and ends with an -osi.

M started with the risotto with chorizo, or something like that. It tasted all right to me, but to her (much more) sophisticated palate, it seemed undercooked. She said that in theory it seemed like a good idea on paper, but the execution was lacking something. I liked the smoky flavor, but otherwise didn’t think it was that special.

Next I got my seared scallops, asparagus, seared (and finely diced) tomato with plum vinaigrette. The golden color on top of the scallops was perfect, and the plating was pleasant to my eye. I LOVED the flavors introduced by the plum vinaigrette, sweetness really does it for me.

M wasn’t thrilled with her particular cut of lamb. It was okay, very peppery, but still good. It may not have been as disastrous if two things hadn’t gone wrong at this moment. One, her side order of potatoes never arrived, even when we’d been told they were “on their way.” Two, the supposed “rustic bread” that was to be served with her lamb was mysteriously missing from the plate. Neither of us would have realized #2 save for the fact that we still had our menus so we could contemplate dessert. Our waiter sort of looked at us like we were crazy when I inquired about the “rustic bread.” The potatoes, it turned out, had gone to the wrong table, and they were taken off the bill. Our iced teas never actually appeared on the bill…okay with us.

Dessert! Lemon cheesecake for M, the beignets for me. Beignets were definitely better, I thought. They were tasty either dry or with the strawberry sauce, but I didn’t care for the aftertaste from the chocolate sauce. It wasn’t creamy or thick enough to deserve to be paired with those little perfectly crisp doughnuts. The cheesecake was good, I really enjoyed the crispy little pieces of something—maybe shortbread?—and candied lemon rind (I think?) that sat on top of it, and the blueberry compote was good too. Nothing wrong with the cheesecake, I just liked the beignets better. Simple girl.

Our server was apologetic about the potatoes, and like I said, they were taken off the bill, but mistakes and annoyances like that can't help but put a damper on the meal. At one point, two women were leaving the restaurant, walking slowly, and 6 servers stared at them from the server station a few feet from our table. Was she famous? What was she doing? Who cares? All I know is, I don’t want 6 servers standing two feet from me all staring at someone. It’s awkward and makes diners uncomfortable. Didn’t their mothers collectively teach them not to stare? Also, it didn't seem like the servers knew what to do with themselves--I felt like saying, "Take me to your leader" but was sure there would be no leader. They lacked direction and seemed confused. It wasn't that crowded, and even if it was, you want to at least put forward the appearance of order.

Anyway, the food can be interesting and tasty, but while I entered thinking PS7’s should be The Next Big Thing, I left weirded out.

Being disappointed on Restaurant Week is like raaaaain on your wedding day, it's that freee riiiide when you already paid...

777 I Street NW
Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown


Bangkok Joe's

First, let me throw this out there: Citronelle is a place I'd like to go before I die. A 4+ course dinner at Komi sounds fantastic. At this stage of my life (early 20s, full time student) restaurants like those aren't happening. Yet. So if you are asking yourself, "Why this blog? Why now?" the reason is this: I feel like we (people like ME! It's all about me, isn't it?) are left out in the hunger-pangin' cold when we read blogs that discuss the 1638th trip to Insert-Expensive-Restaurant-Here.

Explanation over.

Our sister's visit almost led to a return trip to Zed's in Georgetown. Don't get me wrong, we love Ethiopian food and especially the part where we eat with our hands, but it was SO HOT that getting out of the heat for a funky place like Bangkok Joe's just seemed better--on the water, cool decor, lots of different food options...

We started with--in order of increasing crispiness--the Panang chicken buns, winter squash potstickers, and crispy chicken wontons. All three were delicious! The Panang chicken buns are light and fluffy with a filling that is deliciously soft. Two buns come in each steamed basket. I know winter squash potstickers don't seem very summery, but they are sweet, which was welcome on such a sticky day. (We sat inside, obviously.)

I had the Rama Chicken, which is marinated grilled chicken served on top of sen mee noodles (think vermicelli), with spinach, garlic, ginger, and peanut sauce. It was very tasty, but to eat all by myself it was a) a lot of food and b) very saucy. It's a great dish to share with someone else, because halfway through even the biggest fan would be sick of all the sauce. The pad thai is stellar, and the rice bowls are fun if you're feeling noodly without the noodles. The entrees are served in large asymmetrical bowls--it's a lot of food. None of us cleaned our bowls and we were all completely stuffed.

To our delight, we spotted a local (and I mean really local) celebrity in SJT. SJT, the former president of The George Washington University, was dining with his wife just a few tables away.

Plus side of Bangkok Joe's: when you leave and are very full, you can walk around the Georgetown waterfront and people-watch as you digest!

Service was OK. We got seated really quickly, which was surprising, but J never received the drink he ordered--at least we weren't charged for it.

Bangkok Joe's
3000 K St NW
Metro: Circulator or Metrobus to Georgetown, or stroll from Foggy Bottom on the Orange Line
Bangkok Joe's on Urbanspoon



Tallula is a pretty solid place to take people for brunch. It's close by, relatively inexpensive,they have funky foamy outdoor seating (red foam square ottomans!), and the inside is an eye-pleaser, too. And unlike Central, there are soap dispenser holders so I don't have a label staring at me (shame, shame). Best of all, they serve Illy coffee, and when the service is good (it's somewhat inconsistent), I always have a full glass of iced java to start my day.

I've never eaten dinner at Tallula or it's connected neighbor, EatBar (which they describe as a "gastropub," Euro style!). What I do there is this: I brunch. I brunch with friends, family, or alone with J. On a nice weekend day, I'd probably go there alone with the newspaper.

The online menu has a few more things than are actually available, it probably changes with the season. Tallula's French toast is exactly what it should be, cinnamony and moist. A more sandwichy choices is the fried egg BLT, with nicely crisped bacon and an interesting balance of flavor--that fried egg rounds out the traditional BLT lunch. The ricotta pancakes (with bourbon, bananas, and walnut syrup) are delicious, but it would be a good idea to order the syrup on the side. The most recent serving I saw was doused, much to our dismay! I personally enjoy the pancakes, but they are almost like a dessert--very sweet, and after a few bites you want something else! I love when a friend orders them so I can just have a taste.

My FAVORITE thing to get is an 3-egg (white) omelet, which I fill with goat cheese. I wish spinach was an option, but you could get mushrooms, peppers, bacon, or cheddar, all at no extra cost. An omelet with the works would be a LOT of food! The "home fries" are actually more like roasted potatoes--delicious, but with a deceiving name! If you aren't feeling breakfasty, the burger or grilled hangar steak salad are for you.

For side dishes, I like the creamy cheddar grits and the buttermilk biscuits with gravy.

The downside of Tallula has been the spotty service. Our very first visit was great, with glasses being kept full and smiles on our faces. The next visit was a little less attentive, and we found ourselves a little thirsty while sitting outside in the heat! But, I've never had an issue with the food quality/heat/timing, and they even remember who got what at the table (even in a group of 6!). I don't rate a restaurant badly for handing me my pal's dish, but I feel extra special when they are placed as they should be.

Going on a trip to NYC soon, maybe I'll throw in a Time Out: NY, like the Boston post, for any of you travelers...

2761 Washington Blvd
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon


Old Ebbitt Express

Lunch is a difficult time for us government-types. Bringing lunch is definitely the least expensive option, especially on the measly government intern salary (or lack there of), but sometimes that equals staying inside. All day. Sad! If you haven't been to the supermarket lately, or you just feel like having something that's difficult to make, take your $10 (or maybe make it $15) and head out to some regular spots.

Before I talk about Old Ebbitt Express, my new FAVORITE lunch spot, I'll give you my top choice at other local favorites.

Turkey sandwich at Potbelly
Signature Salad OR Chicken Parm Melt at Cosi
Pretzel from Cart Guy at 17th and Penn...remarkably filling.

NOW--Old Ebbitt Express is the take-out lunch offshoot of Old Ebbitt Grill (a skip and a jump from the White House), owned by Clyde's. My first time at OEG was on a memorable February 14 (thanks hun), and when I heard I could get a hearty lunch there for a reasonable price, I ran--NOT WALKED--across the street.

I'll start with THE BEST. The turkey burger I had at OEE was the best turkey burger I ever had. It wasn't a dry circle-shaped slab of turkey meat. It was spiced and seasoned, ground up with vegetables, and THEN put into a circle shape on my lovely roll. I would get this every time if it was available.

The Italian Chicken salad featured an herbed breaded chicken breast served over...lettuce. The chicken was delicious, and looked it, too--several people asked what it was that I was holding and chagned their orcers--but the rest of the salad was just okay.

The Buffalo Chicken Sandwich is not as spicy as I feared! A little messy, but very satisfying and quite tasty.

There are pasta dishes that sound delicious, but usually entice my companions instead of myself. They've never complained, and enjoy the opportunity to eat pasta for less than $10 at lunchtime, as well as the flexibility of ordering either half or full size portions.

Most options come with chips, a cookie, or a piece of fruit, and there may be a combo including a fountain soda. FYI there are TWO kinds of cups--styrafoam for those just getting water, and regular soda fountain types, for the soda people. For those like my parents, there is a bowl of reading glasses to assist with the tiny font size on the menu.

You can expect lunch to set you back about $12 at OEE, depending on what you get it could be a little more or a little less. With the portion size and array of options, it's a good deal. Plus, you can't eat Five Guys every day can you?

Old Ebbitt Express
675 15th Street NW
Old Ebbitt Express
Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Blue/Orange/Red to Metro Center



This post is divided into the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

THE GOOD: This Chinatown hot-spot has a prime location. Everyone likes pizza, beer, and burgers, which fares well for a place that is known for the 3.6.9 logo (that's the number of mini burgers you want).
1. The burgers themselves are delicious, from your cheese choices (gorgonzola, cheddar, and !SMOKED GOUDA!) down to the silver dollar-sized pickles that line the bottom. The buns are a comforting consistency and temperature.

2. Pizza is another safe bet at Matchbox, although I'd almost rather have a burger. If you go with friends, get both and mix it up. The salads are okay, but the last time I ordered one to start with it came AFTER my burger, and being a Strict American I prefer to eat my salad before my hot food.

3. The mozzi carozzi is a comforting heart-attack-on-a-plate appetizer, basically like a deep-fried eggplant parm sans eggplant. Cheese, basil, tomato.

4. The girly cocktails are fun, especially the Slingblade and Berry Blast.

I wish I could remember the desserts, but they aren't on the site and we ordered 4 different things...I should revisit before I post about them.

1. I know (I do know) that I'm nitpicky, but your mini burgers come with little ramekins of ketchup and mustard, and no tiny spreader. So you have the teensy top of a bun, a small plate, a little ramekin of your chosen condiment, and a HUGE CLUNKY BUTTER KNIFE. I'm sure I'm not the only one with bun fatalities, and my heart goes out to other sufferers. If you won't allow us to squeeze out our ketchup, then at least provide us a decent way to apply it. Tools are everything.

2. The Ginger Snap (girly) drink just isn't Gingery enough to warrant its name.

3. You can't get seated if your party is not complete, which sucks if you want to do appetizers and then wait for others to join you later. Not everyone gets out of work at the same time!

4. Expanding your restaurant is GREAT, FABULOUS, even WONDERFUL. Having a zillion stairs and like half a bathroom is ridiculous. Why must I walk down a few flights for a restroom? The expansion is funny, because when you say you are "upstairs" at Matchbox, there are TWO different upstairses. Once we got moved from one upstairs to the other, and literally went across the room, down the stairs, around the corner, up the stairs, across the room, and sat down again. Why is there not a hallway connecting these? What is the deal?

THE UGLY: Last time I was there we saw a rat. Upstairs (right). Yuck.

713 H Street NW
Metro: Red/Green/Yellow line to Gallery Place/Chinatown


Time out: BOSTON!

A visit to Beantown brought some good eats, not to mention the great price.

Brookline Village is just a nice stroll from my sister's apartment, which is more towards the Coolidge Corner neighborhood. We originally set out looking for a place that was known for its omelets, only to find it was turned into a Turkish eatery. Although we like Turkish food (mm, 7 Hills of Istanbul in Highland Park, NJ to be exact), it was breakfast time and we wanted BREAKFAST. MMM.

Enter Pomodoro, an Italian place with two Boston locations, which my sister had been to for dinner but not for breakfast. I felt immediately at home in the cozy but not too tiny restaurant, with comfortable seating and a trendy-looking bar. Just our luck--it was Sunday, and an enjoyable jazz ensemble would be playing all morning. A little loud, but loud jazz is better than none at all. Behind the bar was something that delighted me--a row of water caraffes filled with mint and lemon. Yum, why can't all my water look like that?

We were amazed that EVERY brunch entree was $10. Whether you were having granola and yogurt with fruit or steak and eggs. J had said steak and eggs (looked great), while Sis and I shared the breakfast pizza and vegetable frittata. The frittata looked interesting enough at first, but after digging in, it did not retain its upside-down cup shape at all--just fell apart. There were peas and carrots all over the place. While the taste of it was generally pleasing, Sis seemed unimpressed at the peas-and-carrots-ness of it all--aren't there more fun veggies available at this point of the summer? Don't feel bad about skipping this option for the delicious breakfast pizza. Topped with eggs, spinach, and shaved parmesan, it was delicious and HUGE--together, even with the less-than-fulfilling frittata dish by our side, we only ate half of the pizza.

The service was friendly and attentive, and we were kept well-watered.

Warning: this restaurant is cash only! We don't have these types of establishments in DC--if you're sitting down and have a server, they take plastic. Luckily there's an ATM not too far away.

No web site--those who know me know this is a Shade Alert for me...
24 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02445
Pomodoro on Urbanspoon


La Tasca

A return visit to La Tasca (but my first to the Chinatown branch) with a fab friend brought some interest to what otherwise would have been a dull Tuesday. Interesting bit about La Tasca, it's actually a UK chain that is alll over the place across the pond with just five US locations, all in the Balt/Wash metro area.

Tapas are my cup of tea. In fact, I'd like to have tapas-style meals with all kinds of food, not just Spanish. I'd like small plates of Italian, American, Thai, etc etc. That's why I love going out for Indian and Ethiopian food with groups--you get to try tons of stuff. Go out for Indonesian, same deal!

We had the following:

1. Champinones al ajillo (pardon my lack of tilde)- Sauteed mushrooms - You know, mushrooms. Good. Not particularly flavorfully seasoned.

2. Berenjenas gratinadas - I wanted this to be better than it was. It was ok, but I prefer my eggplant peeled, and the cheese had melted and hardened a little, gathering in the middle. So if you wanted to eat some cheese you had to literally cut it with a knife and take a piece, rather than have it smothering your eggplant. It was less "baked with cheese" as described, and rather, topped with baked cheese.

3. Mejillones a la marinara - I really enjoyed these mussels! The sauce was delicious, I wanted to drink it but instead politely dipped my olive and tomato bread in it.

4. Pulpitos a la gallega - baby octopus - I have put out many disclaimers about my lack of adventurousness, but I tried it. It was hard to look at it up close (I'm glad it was kind of dark in there) because ewww gross, but the crunchy legs (tentacles? Whatever they were) were pretty good and had a little kick to them. They could have been potato straws for all I knew.

5. Albondigas a la jardinera - MEATBALLS. Can you ever go wrong? There were peas in the sauce, and they were welcomed.

The service was ok. While our server was friendly and mildly amused at my attempt to order in Spanish (I've been learning via podcast), our service wasn't attentive. We were starving and ordered some appetizer bread (pan de tomate and pan de aceitunas--tomato and olive), which came along with a basket of regular bread WITH OUR FOOD. I'm sure the bread could have been ready earlier, and maybe it's Spanish custom to serve it with the food, but I needed something to nibble on in a serious way. Also, a few times I wished I wasn't staring at an empty glass of water. We were seated in the back left corner of the restaurant, and I faced my friend and a door that was THANK G-D NOT THE BATHROOM, because then I would have been annoyed. Besides the general bathroom smell (even if it's an air-fresheny one), I don't like the people shuffling in and out and around. Very distracting.

Sidenote, my other area of seating pickiness is with "floating tables." I prefer to be anchored to a wall, particularly when it's only me and another person, that way I can't be surrounded on all sides by people (sitting, talking, walking by...). I don't mind a small space, just let mine be against the wall.

Also, La Tasca, your pillows are a little bit awkward sometimes for sitting. Too big maybe? Too many?

Coming up: Why Old Ebbitt Express is the best bang for your lunch buck, and my Happy Hour picks...

Bon appetit and b'teavon.

La Tasca
2900 Wilson Blvd...772 7th St NW
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon...Green, Yellow, or Red to Gallery Place/Chinatown


Harry's Tap Room

Another neighborhood go-to spot.

Located steps from the Clarendon Metro and easily walkable from Court House, Harry's stands out as "the nice American place" on a backdrop of deeeelicious Indian restaurants and bar-y type places.

bar-y: bär-ē, adj.
Quality of a restaurant that ensures that if you drank a lot, had a bite to eat, got trashed and had a one night stand, the gravest error would have been the bite to eat.

COUGHwhitlow'sCOUGHCOUGH...pardon me, I had a nasty greasy omelet stuck in my throat.

Dinner was good, but relatively uneventful. The butternut squash and ginger soup is a winner, but with that title, how could it not be? The endive & Granny Smith apple salad has all the winning ingredients, but for me something was missing...I like more (blue) cheese to balance out all that endive-iness. I haven't had the mussels, which seems like a mistake, so next time I promise I will, as long as it's not before 11:30am. ARBITRARY TIME LIMITER! The burgers (whether it's Harry's or the turkey burger) are burgers. Can't go wrong, nothing to freak out about.

Now BRUNCH! That's a meal I can sink my teeth into. Maybe that's because I adore brunch. First of all, and this is relevant to any meal at Harry's, the lemon wedge with my iced tea is HUGE, which is well recognized by us lemon folks. I only wish I'd get more lemon wedges as my iced tea is continuously refilled.

Moving away from the power of the tea, most recently I enjoyed the cobb salad at Harry's, as opposed to my traditional delicious omelette and the yummy accompanying grits. The parmesan crusted fried chicken on my salad was clearly freshly fried, as opposed to fried then rewarmed or kept warm under a shiny light thing. As I cut into it, I saw some juices (or oils, whichever) seep out, and the golden color was divine. I appreciated that I had to cut the chicken myself, as I'm sure it ensured keeping the heat and texture in place, but my avocado, egg, and cucumber were all in long, clumsy slices. In a deep asymmetrical bowl with a big clumsy butter knife, I had a hard time trying to cut these things up to make an easy enjoyable meal. The ingredients were mostly yummy (the avocado should have been used in my salad maaaaybe the day before), but the difficulty of eating it soured my mood.

I already said the omelettes (or omelets?) were great, but J's particular favorite is the steak omelet. Should I get steak? Should I get eggs? Lunch? Breakfast? Steak omelet solves this problem. Worry no longer. Cheesy grits are a happy sidedish, and the potatoes and pretty good too.

Speaking of brunch, next I'll review Tallula, a place where I literally have had almost everything on the brunch menu, thanks to some friends who don't mind sharing.

Harry's Tap Room
2800 Clarendon Boulevard
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon stop
Harry's Tap Room on Urbanspoon



Ah, Central. The poor wo/man's Citronelle. Another birthday destination, here. I had SUPER high hopes, after reading and reading about it, seeing how the reservations filled up quickly as soon as the date became available for booking through Open Table (I believe it was 1 month in advance). If you are looking to impress coworkers who are "in the know" about DC restaurants, Central is a good place to start. You can definitely get away with a classy but funky dinner there without blowing a hole through your wallet.

The decor is minimal, typical of Michel Richard, but the clean lines are pleasing to these eyes. The bar is nice to look at, too, and I'm sure a great place to enjoy a more upscale happy hour than we're used to having. I will say that I was surprised that with all of the clean lines and elegant details, the beautiful bathroom had a major detraction--a plastic bottle of Softsoap. I know it's petty, but with so much thought going into the other "little things" that plastic container was an eyesore!

Also, this may seem obvious but I (of course) didn't think of it before we went: it was REALLY LOUD in there. SERIOUSLY loud. Maybe it would be different if the bar wasn't so crowded (it was a Thursday) but who knows. Loud = not romantic.

And the woman at the table next to ours was seated so close to us that she jokingly said, "Hey, sorry we're late!" as she and her husband were seated. Despite her early attempt at light-hearted humor, she went on to be the most obnoxious customer ever, glaring at our server when he tried to do anything right, complaining when he took things away (or didn't take them away soon enough), and made a remark every time he left their table. It would have ruined my meal if I didn't have my cool-as-a-cucumber dining companion smiling across the table. The problem is, if you have some cranky customers and you sit them SUPERCLOSE to non-cranks, the cranks ruins other people's meals. The solution is don't seat people that close together.
On to the eats: We started with the homemade cheese puffs because I felt like we had to--that's what everyone talks about! I know, I'm a slave to fashionable appetizers. They were okay. I almost wanted just a few to taste, and not the rest--they come in a wire cone, and there were a lot. The flavor wasn't quite what I expected, but the first few were definitely delicious--still warm, even. A better appetizer for 4 people maybe than 2, because midway through we were sort of sick of them.

For dinner I had the mussels. They were very good--then again, steaming mussels isn't exactly rocket science.

J had the 72 hour short ribs. They were soft, flavorful, and the sauce was "tasty." Overall a happy camper.

DESSERT! THE HIGHLIGHTIEST HIGHLIGHT OF THEM ALL!!! Richard's homemade kit-kat dessert was delicious. Chocolatey wafery happiness, put in a take-out container for the very full diners aka us.

I hear the lobster burger is to die for, and on a return visit I plan on trying it or having someone I'm with try it.

TTFN, folks.

1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
Central Michel Richard on Urbanspoon



Forever and ever I meant to go to Teaism, I mean, RACHAEL RAY went there on $40/day, it’s always suggested on The Chat, and it kept slipping through the cracks. [For what it's worth, the fellas I dined with seemed very excited about the fact that Ms. Ray recommended Teaism. Interesting sidenote.]

Recently I finally went to the Penn Quarter Teaism for lunch and was overall pleased and am looking forward to returning there—although maybe a little earlier, next time!

The PQ location was very crowded during the normal lunch time. Despite a sign politely asking people to not “save seats,” seats were being saved—we could see people sitting alone at empty tables with no food, waiting for the person in line. What is the problem with this, you might ask? Someone else may very well eat and finish by the time you get through the line! Seriously! The three of us had to sit outside in order to sit together, which wasn’t the most pleasant option on a typical steamy day.

The fried chicken bento box was our meal of choice. Small pieces of fried chicken (light, not greasy at all), cucumber ginger salad (reminded me of the cucumber dipping sauce at Thai restaurants, but with whole slices of cucumber), and sweet potato pieces. I noticed while online that as your food makes it down the Teaism assembly line, some unmarked squeezy bottles are picked up and the food is drizzled in—um—something. I’m not sure what was on top of my sweet potatos, but I’d rather there wasn’t so much of it.

To drink, the Mint Morrocan Green Tea was not nearly as flavorful as it should have been. When mint is the first word, it should taste MINTY! It did not. Another tea, the “special,” that I can’t remember the name of, had lots of tamarind in it (listed as the main ingredient), and was apparently delicious. The ginger limeade, according to a colleague, was too sweet—the first few sips were good, and after that it was a little too much to handle.

Overall, Teaism is a unique place to go for lunch when you are sick of the typical Cosi/Potbelly scene.

Soon I’ll be posting an It’s Just Lunch—or is it? segment with all my favorite area lunch choices to help you the next time 12 rolls around and you have no clue what you want. Or your picky coworkers want suggestions.

(Friends, if you don’t start commenting I will disown you all.)

Lafayette/Penn Quarter/Dupont



Corduroy was a birthday destination, and I’m returning soon for Restaurant Week this August (partly to double-check that I’m remembering the food correctly). I’m bound to get hungry while recapping the experience we had last time, which was sensational.

Location: awkward. I have friends that walked by Corduroy daily without knowing it was there, until I clued them in. The restaurant is hiding inside the Four Points Hotel, for now. It’s scheduled to move to Shaw (1122 9th St NW to be precise) at the beginning of the new year. While I want it to be packed with people, both for Chef Tom Power’s sake and for the welfare of the people (seriously, they are missing out right now!), I kind of liked it being somewhat of a secret spot. I felt like I knew something that no one else knew—just me and everyone else who reads Tom’s chat. We walked from Dupont because it was a warm-but-not-hot day and we enjoy a good stroll.

Enough small talk. I had the buffalo mozzarella porcupine, which was divine. I can’t really explain what it is, but it’s cheese, it’s warm, and it has a spiky (but not painful) breaded outside that made me downright glad. Being a recovering vegetarian, I opted for the safe roasted chicken as my entrée. This was the first time I had ordered chicken in a while. As a relatively non-threatening choice, grilled or roasted chicken is my go-to food, but I had an incident in Philly that curbed my chicken appetite. Basically, I had the same rubbery, dry grilled chicken for lunch and dinner for four days straight. Blech.

My meal at Corduroy reopened my heart to chicken dishes, and made me a believer in the 3 hour dinner. We lingered over wine, thought about dessert for more than 2 minutes, and—how is it so—DIGESTED a little in between each course. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxing, the perfect private and romantic birthday spot.

The vanilla bean crème brulee was a fine choice in dessert. I have nothing negative to say about this meal, except that I made the mistake in not repeating it weekly ever since.

1201 K Street NW
Metro: Metro Center or McPherson Square



[Today's photo is of Long Bay in Tortola, BVI.]

Lindy’s is a Foggy Bottom staple. It’s a great pre-game meal if you’re a Colonials basketball season ticket holder, and it happens to be a great place to resume leavened-bread-eating post-Passover.

The space is nothing to marvel at—it’s small, usually full, and when you are seated at a “table” upstairs you spend most of your time listening to the conversation of the people next to…wait, maybe that’s only me. Nosy!

Two words for you: Burl Ives. Not the guy, the dish. This burger solves the biggest problem for most BBQ-goers by eliminating the need to choose between burger and hot dog. The Burl Ives consists of a 6-inch sub roll with two (2) hamburger patties sitting side by side, topped with a hot dog (split long-ways so it sits nicely). HOW CAN YOU GO WRONG HERE?! The answer: You cannot.

If I’m not feeling up to the ol’ BI I’ll go for the Acapulco burger, which has a dollop of tasty guacamole on it.

Lindy’s also has what we call “thebestonionringsever.”

You can get each style in either a hamburger, a veggie burger, or with chicken.

Beer and burgers people.

Lindy’s Red Lion
2040 I Street NW
Metro: Foggy Bottom/GWU
Lindy's Bon Appétit on Urbanspoon



REMINDER: If you are my friend and you are reading this blog and keeping up with this craziness, don't be shy...comment!

Reminder over.

In the words of my favorite blog-her, Amalah, I had a burger “cage match” between some area favorites—it even got published in the Free Ride section of the Express, and on Tom’s Chat (my sorry claim for local celebrity). I’d like to take this opportunity to expound upon my math.

Elevation Burger (Falls Church), Five Guys (all over), and Urban Burger (Rockville) all have their pluses and minuses, which appear below.
+EB has potato rolls
-FG "controls" their napkins at some locations
+FG gives you TONS of fries
-EB doesn't give as many fries, a minus
+FG is metro accessible!
+FG has peanuts!
+EB has milkshakes!
+UB has a great variety of burger options with cute names and yummy toppings (like avocado)
-UB is more expensive than the others
+UB also has fried twinkies! Plus!

I really liked Elevation because potato rolls remind me of childhood, they have such a great texture. Others might agree with J, who said he liked the option of a potato roll, but wouldn’t necessarily want one every time.

The varied options at Urban Burger make for great fun, but it almost takes it out of the category, because the joy of EB and FG is their simplicity. This or that. Ta da. Also, it's in Maryland--great for some, a trek for others.

Five Guys will always be the easiest for me to get to (and thus the most frequented) but if only they let me have as many darn napkins as I’d like, they would probably win. Fries and burgers are greasy, people! Especially with those unlimited toppings, it can get messy.

Do the math, think about what's important to you in a burger joint, and enjoy!

Elevation Burger
442 S. Washington Street
Falls Church, VA

Urban Burger Co.
5566 Norbeck Road
Rockville, MD

Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries
All over the place

Metro: Court House, Gallery Place--do I really have to name them all?


Faccia Luna

Today's image is brought to you by us--at Meadowlark Gardens.

I like Faccia Luna. When seeking a decent dinner out, but not too far from home, I’ll head over to this joint on Wilson Boulevard, next to other perpetually-busy spots such as Boulevard Woodgrill and Whitlows on Wilson (neither particularly impressive).

My usual take is a small misto salad to start, which has dates, pecans, AND feta, all in one salad with a light champagne dressing. The dates alone are enough for me to make up my mind. Part II is always pizza—La Capra has been our favorite so far: goat cheese, spinach, and grilled chicken.

The service is friendly, the atmosphere is nice (not too loud, not too quiet--not too dark, not too bright), and when we get small salads as appetizers and split a pizza, we almost always have a few pieces left over for midnight snack or pre-lunch appetizer. They also have Splenda, which means that J & I had iced tea. An inexpensive but satisfying night out in Arlington is nothing to sneeze at. Their other area location is in Alexandria.

Faccia Luna
2909 Wilson Blvd
Metro: Clarendon