Tackle Box Update

We returned to Tackle Box a few weeks after our first visit. We encountered a very quiet restaurant at 8:30pm on a Thursday, quick service, and this time--wait for it--HOT SIDE DISHES! ***Update: I also more recently discovered that none of the sauces fit the bill for me--it's GRILLED LEMONS all the way. The heat brought out the juices, and made the half of lemon way easier to squeeze. Juice came pouring out all over my fish, and it was FANTASTIC. Also I really like the cole slaw.***

Besides our plain old exploratory nature ("Do you think they figured out how to keep the sides hot yet?"), our trip did have another purpose. And that purpose was blueberry pie.

J heard from a friend that the pie was to die for--and it should be, it's made by Heather Chittum, formerly of, frankly, a lot of places, including Citronelle. She's currently the pastry chef over at Hook, and lends her talent to little sister TB as well. The pie was amazing. It was overflowing with REAL BLUEBERRIES, not blueberry "filling" with goo and glop. Little reddish purplish blueberries were occasionally rolling around on our plate. And the crust. OH the crust.

Of course, while I ordered the slice of pie, I couldn't help but chitter chatter with the friendly manager (or manager-like gentleman), Vince. He asked how everything was going, and I told him (and now I'm telling you) that our side dishes were HOT today, the mac and cheese was less watery, and the watermelon salad (a recent addition to the seasonal sides) was divine.

We were there pretty late, and got a free brownie. It had a little crunch on the outside, and it was chewy on the inside. J noted it wasn't "too chocolate-y." I'm not aware of anything ever being "too chocolate-y."

We heard a rumor that strawberry-rhubarb and ginger-peach are in the forecast for future pie flavors. What are you waiting for?

Tackle Box
3245 M St NW
Metro: Circulator to Georgetown or Blue or Orange Lines to Foggy Bottom and take a stroll


Evening Star Cafe - Brunch style

It's not a secret that we love Evening Star. With the darling restaurant's premier location (read: near Dairy Godmother), it's hard for us NOT to come back for more. Del Ray lacks the crazy crowdedness (and chain stores) of Old Town, and makes up for its tiny size with depth in the "charm" and "good eats" categories.

There's nothing crazy going on at brunch. They aren't reinventing the wheel. But what's done is done well, and consistently well. The Cinnamon-Apple French Toast is sweet (and gooey...and delicious...) but won't give you a toothache, and the Brisket and Eggs is the perfect solution for the person who sorta wants breakfast but also sorta wants lunch. My personal favorite is the Crabcake Eggs Benedict, partly because of all the colliding textures--smooth hollandaise sauce, soft poached eggs with silky yolks, crisp on the outside but delicate on the inside crabcake, and chewy English muffin to sop it all up. OK, I'm officially hungry.

The best part about Evening Star brunch? The slices of chocolate chip pumpkin bread that appeared on the table before our meal.

The worst? It's only on Sundays, people.

Evening Star Cafe
2000 Mount Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA
Metro: Park it up, drivers!
Evening Star Cafe on Urbanspoon


Me Jana, part deux

We recently returned to Me Jana and wisely convinced a friend to join us so we didn't have to over-order for ourselves (again) to get the full experience. We only got 2 repeat dishes, and otherwise tried new things.

Kafta kebob - This mix of ground lamb and beef mixed with onion, parsley, and spices was molded into a sausage shape and cooked on the grill. It was OK.

Zucchini fritters - 2/3 of us really enjoyed the flavors in this wet, latke-like dish, made with zucchini, mint, scallions, egg whites, and Manchego cheese. The fritters would shine more and meet expectations if they were less wet, but if they are deep fried to a golden brown they'll likely just taste like fried (instead of mint).

Chicken shwarma - Again, these mini shwarma sandwiches, the meat tucked inside mini-pitas, was a huge winner. The fluffy accompaniment labeled "garlic whip" also won fans.

Lahem be ajeen - The pieces of this dish resembled pizza slices, so we called it the pizza. The pizza was baked pita topped with ground lamb, spices, and pomegranate molasses. Yes, I ordered it because it had the word "pomegranate." It was OK, but not wonderful.

Seared haloumi - J says this dish is too salty and too chewy, and I say, BRING IT ON, that's Haloumi cheese, baby! Grilled and tops with dates and pears, this dish is everything I'd want on an Aroma sandwich in Israel (or NY) and more.

Scallops - Light, not quite hot enough for my tastes, and an inoffensive but unmemorable sauce.

Salmon - I was asked if I wanted the salmon "well done," and said no, I want it how it would usually be cooked, which was "medium." We received salmon that was definitely overcooked, but it was fine. The result of overcooking it, for me, was that it seemed more like slightly-softer chicken, not light flaky fish, and the marinade of lemon and herbs was totally lost.

Arayes - I had this dish at Zaytinya, and J frowns when I order it--so sue me, I want to compare two dishes at restaurants with similar fare! I like it, it's basically what's in the kafta kebab (ground beef and lamb, parsley, onion, and spices) but pressed into a patty inside a pita.

The pita was still delicious, as was the labneh. Because J was with us I felt compelled to order more meat dishes, but in reality, the Arayes and the Chicken Shwarma are my favorite. But I could go meat-free there for sure and just eat 5 baskets of pita and order extra labneh.

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


Tackle Box

(Pre-post P.S.: We recently returned from Paris, so look forward to an upcoming postcard, but for now suffer through a slightly outdated review of a new spot)

Tackle Box is the latest Barton Seaver adventure. Turns out he's more than just one of D.C.'s Top 20 eligible bachelors, but I guess we already knew that.

TB is simple: For the Maine Meal ($13), first pick whether you're going to be good or bad (crispy or wood-grilled). Crispy could be bay scallops, calamari, pollock, shrimp, clam, or oysters. Wood-grilled includes tilapia, calamari, bluefish, rainbow trout, and a hamburger. After choosing a protein, pick your two sides (cornbread, green beans, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, and many more). Lastly (although I guess you can do it whenever), choose a sauce (from classic tartar to basil walnut pesto!).

I enjoyed the wood-grilled tilapia. I picked the lemon-garlic aioli "sauce," which to me didn't seem much different than a regular old mayo. I didn't sense anything particularly lemony or garlicky about it. As a result, I barely used it, which was fine. My asparagus side would have been excellent if it was hot. The gus was perfectly charred on the outside (without being burned), and was well-seasoned. It's a shame that it was room temperature. My hushpuppies WERE hot, but I was slightly disappointed in them. Hushpuppies are essentially fried cornmeal bread (not as sweet as cornbread). I don't know if it's that the Tacklebox hushpuppies aren't up to snuff, or if I just plain old am not a hushpuppy kind of gal.

J loved the crispy (read: fried) bay scallops, which were hot and provided in a generous portion. His sweet potato fries and mac and cheese (especially the mac and cheese) would have been GREAT if they were HOT. But they were NOT. They were ROOM TEMPERATURE.

What I don't understand is how a place with only 7 hot sides and with counter service (you order, pay, get a number, they call your number when it's "up") manages to serve cold food. It's not like I'm at a table for 15 and it was sitting under a lamp or anything.

I'll for sure go back to Tackle Box. Maybe by the time I do they'll have figure out the whole temperature thing. In a nutshell, they serve cheap, fast, good quality food in trendy and somewhat unreliable Georgetown--a serious feat. You can go healthy (wood-grilled, greens/salads on the side) or not (fried, fried and more fried). While Stewart's root beer is on tap, Diet Stewart's is not (tsk, tsk).

Tackle Box
3245 M Street NW
Metro: Orange/Blue Lines to Foggy Bottom, and every other route to G-town
Tackle Box on Urbanspoon


2 Amys

When I mention 2 Amys to friends from back home (NJ/NY), I always tell them it's the best pizza in the area, then quickly qualify that with something like, "You know, sit down pizza. Not by-the-slice." But the truth is, I prefer the "sit-down" pizza at this Northwest Neopolitan pizzeria to some of the delicious cheesy by-the-slice establishments of central Jersey; it's just a totally different thang. 2 Amys pizza is so serious that they are certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, which specifies the exact ingredients and preparation methods to abide by to create the most authentic Neopolitan pie.

Beware, this place is packed. And noisy. And if you want the homemade donuts, you better arrive at a reasonable lunch hour, because they are usually gone by dinner. Reservations? Pah! So why would families schlepping kids of all ages, high chairs, grandmas, etc wait hours for pizza?

It's that good. And I'm not the only one to say so.

The nasty weather influenced our decision on how exactly to end Passover. We were going to stroll down to a local Mexican joint, but the rain convinced us a car ride to 2 Amys was meant to be. Our first taste of non-K-for-P was a Hefeweizen-like beer at the bar while waiting (just 30 minutes) for our table.

J's Abruzzese pizza was topped with meatballs ("polpettine" at 2 Amys), garlic, parsley, and Pecorino cheese. Considering he ate 3/4 of it right there, I'd say it was good.

My Ripieno Basilico was truly fantastico! [As I edit this post, my mouth is watering just thinking about it, and it's breakfast-time.] Ripieno means "stuffing" or "supplementary" in Italian, but is also a musical term referring to the main body of an orchestra. At 2 Amys it refers to the menu's stuffed pizzas. These aren't neat calzone-shaped pockets with ribbed closed edges. This is literally like someone took an awesome pizza and then closed it in half. The crust is fluffy but crispy but chewy, and blows my mind. Mine was filled with ricotta, fresh mozzarella, grana (an Italian cheese), pesto, and tomato. But let me tell you, this was no cheese pizza. Half of my dish made a superb dinner, and the leftovers were the next day's lunch. I reheated it in the microwave (too impatient for the toaster oven) and the crust held up just fine.

Before our meal, we decided to forgo traditional appetizers and just split a pleasant crostini with sheep ricotta and asparagus. AFTER our meal, when we were both stuffed, we still decided to order cannolis and the chocolate truffle swirl ice cream. The house-made ice cream was divine, and I'm sure any of their flavors would be. It had a silky, creamy texture with a little bit of crunch to it (but avoided being silly, like a Ben & Jerry's). The cannolis were not my favorite, probably because I'm less traditional on the cannoli front and enjoy a thicker, sweeter filling. In the past we've enjoyed the straight up Margherita pizza and the polpettine al forno (meatball appetizer).

2 Amys is one of the best place to eat in Washington. Like many of the other places I frequent, it's on the Washingtonian's Top 100 in 2008, resting comfortably at #30.

2 Amys
3715 Macomb Street NW
Metro: A hike from the Red Line to Cleveland Park, or drive.