J says "You got a scoop!" I say, I read a sign on the front of a building.

Either way, it looks like Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian bistro that popped up in Georgetown in 2007, is spreading into the Commonwealth. You may or may not remember that I wasn't particularly smitten with it on my first visit. Located at 2900 Clarendon Boulevard above the Gold's Gym in a space that had been empty foooreeeeveeeeer, LPQ will be a welcome addition to the Clarendon neighborhood. Yes, the sandwiches were small and weird and maybe even overpriced, but the bread was DELICIOUS. It would be nice to know that I can swing by a neighborhood spot to pick up a quality bread or even a pastry! The Whole Foods bakery is so hit or miss (the babka shouldn't even be allowed to bear the name "babka" it's such an embarrassment, and don't get me started on the DISGUSTING pumpkin pie we bought in December) that we're aching for some quality over here.

Maybe it'll come. I'll certainly let you know.

Le Pain Quotidien

Coming soon to 2900 Clarendon Blvd
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon



When I read this Five Bites Friday over at Metrocurean, I saw some words that spoke to me. "Sticky buns" and "jazz brunch." I decided that for your benefit, dear readers, I would investigate BlackSalt immediately.

First, on "jazz." There was jazz music playing, but it wasn't live (Boston, you win this round). Maybe there is live music sometimes, and I just misunderstood.

Second part was more successful. The sticky buns were delightful. Not too big, not *too* sticky (there is such a thing)--the perfect appetizer. Nuts were on top and inside the soft, flaky pastry. These buns were not dense or heavy; this isn't Cinnabon and we aren't at the Chesapeake House.

J's house-cured corned beef with cabbage and cabernet jus was a melt-in-your-mouth, lick-the-sauce-off-your-plate situation. The cabbage provided a little crunch, a fried egg and some potatoes on the side provided the balance, and the whole thing was a surprise; I'm pretty sure this was the one dish on the main brunch menu that didn't appear in the online version. His second choice was the chocolate-stuffed french toast, which will just need to wait until our next visit. Take some sweet-toothed people to brunch with you so you can have a few bites of theirs!

I had the three egg omelet with goat cheese, arugula, and mushrooms. It's not rocket science, so it was good, but I didn't care for the side salad of lame frisee and other stuff. It tasted like oil and wasn't seasoned at all. The wood-grilled salmon was my second choice, but I was feeling more breakfasty than that--this should come as no surprise, considering I eat breakfast for dinner quite often. If I was more health-to-the-wind I would have had the sticky buns (not shared) and twice as much coffee for my breakfast.

For those who aren't familiar, BlackSalt is a fish market/restaurant. You get to see some good-lookin' sea friends on your way in and out!

The service was friendly and properly attentive, and we were surprised with complimentary fruit (in lieu of rolls, which would have paled against the buns) before our brunch arrived. And of course, after eating, you should go for a walk/drive around the neighborhood and pick out which house you want.


4883 MacArthur Blvd NW
Washington, DC
Metro: Hm...
BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Listening Time

I love to eat, especially Italian food. Give me a bowl full of pasta, or a bowl full of basil, or a bowl full of pasta with basil, and I am good to go. I recently listened to a podcast from my (former) NPR member station, WNYC, with guest Pino Luongo, chef and NYC restauranteur. I recommend it! Click here to listen, or download from iTunes to your portable sound-musicky-thing-player!

And FYI, that gorgeous pizza on the upper right is attributed to J, not to Pino Luongo!


Farrah Olivia

We had an unbelievable meal at Farrah Olivia. Surprise and delight at every turn. I wish I could show you some PICTURES of the fabulousness, but therein lies my one complaint. It was so dark in the restaurant that the photos would have required flash--an amenity not available on the iPhone and honestly, even if I had my camera with me, it would have been a little inappropriate. J claims that the restaurant wasn't THAT dark, but we were in a very dark little corner. I could barely read the menu, but it probably doesn't matter because everything is good. I gather the menu changes often, for what's seasonable, what's fresh, and what has Chef Morou come up with today?! This is a man who was on Iron Chef (v. Bobby Flay, if you're wondering).

First, the amuse bouche--we were surprised by a gratis amuse of tortilla soup served in a double shot glass. The soup was served warm and tasted like if you had blended a really good taco and strained it finely. A very nice way to kick off the meal.*

The white grits appetizer were like little fritters with a soft center, very tasty. The painted soup was half smoky black bean soup and squash soup in a ying-yang design. The soup was hearty while being very smooth and refined. The smokiness of the bean soup and the sweetness of the squash soup created a delicious balance when taken together on the spoon.

The quail stuffed with chorizo and cranberries was unbelievable. The meat was tender and flavorful, the stuffing delicious, and of course, it was probably BEAUTIFUL, but I could just make out its outline!!! J got the cured venison; according to our server, the venison is brined for hours before it is cooked. It was served medium-rare along with sweet potato truffles (sweetly coated balls of sweet potato) some caramelized vegetables and a chocolate curry sauce. All of the elements of the dish worked well together. This was J's first foray into venison, after a honeymoon full of elk and bison. He says he is now "a big fan."

With an amusing amuse, delightful starters, and expectation-blasting entrees, we had to have dessert. I mean, we were celebrating--it was the week before my last final...

The pumpkin cheesecake tasted like pumpkin pie filling with the texture of cheesecake. Not too sweet, the way some flavor-y cheesecakes come out, and very creamy and light.

The chocolate peanut tart was, well, a thin chocolate tart with peanuts. It was the shape of an oversized but skinny (really, short) Reese's peanut butter cup. It was definitely dense and rich chocolate, as opposed to too sweet, and it was served with peanut brittle.

At the end of the meal while receiving the check we were presented with a surprise trio of tiny treats. Two chocolate truffles (very rich and delicious), two raspberry fruit gels (like the faux sugar coated fruit slices), and two small shortbread cookies. We barely had any room left in our stomachs, but it would be rude of us NOT to eat them, right?

We will be back to Farrah Olivia very soon. It was a delicious meal, from beginning to the very, very end. It cost a bit more than our usual date nights out, but not that much--and the superior quality of the food and the service more than makes up for the price difference; in fact, it makes the other places seem overpriced and not worth it. I'd rather go out less and eat at places like Farrah Olivia instead!

Farrah Olivia

600 Franklin Street
Alexandria, VA
Metro: Blue or Yellow Line to King Street Station

*Mr. iEat wrote lots of this post.


Tackle Box - FYI

I know. We keep going to the same places. Maybe because (ahem, restauranteurs, take notice!) if your establishment is quick, conveniently-located, delicious, cheap, and possibly even healthy we will visit often! TB is on the way home from yoga, and by now, if you are a faithful reader or a susbcriber to TB's ways, you know the deal--$13 for the "Maine Meal" of a protein w/sauce and two sides.

Alert: Not sure when it happened, but now there's a $9 option for those who want just ONE side! You aren't trapped into the two-sider anymore ("OK fine, TB, force me--I'll have green beans AND the macaroni and cheese...but I'm not gonna like it). So I had my favorite--wood-grilled tilapia with grilled lemons (that's my "sauce") and macaroni and cheese, for less than $10. Try to beat that, especially in Georgetown.

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


Palena - burger time

At our first visit in the summer we had three goals: eat the burger, eat the fries, and eat the chicken. We got the second two but unfortunately they were OUT of the burger! Out of it! Obviously this added to its intrigue.

The bun on the Palena burger was a brioche monstrosity. The thing dwarfed the meat--the real show, it should have been--and honestly it was difficult to take a bite! I love thick bread that has a crunch to the outside as much as the next person, but not necessarily surrounding a burger or sandwich. Otherwise it's more like a bread sandwich with a little meat inside.

So if you want to experience the best of Palena, then head to the cafe, order the half a roasted chicken (and all it's lemony garlicky fall-apart-tender goodness) and the fry plate (soft and creamy dauphines, regulars, onion rings, and of course the lemon slices), and call it a day. Then curl up on the couch and take a nap.

Maybe I was there on an off night. Maybe I have unreasonable burger standards! Or maybe I've been spoiled rotten by Ray's Hell-Burger and their enormous, meat-heavy skinny-breaded, perfectly-cooked masterpieces.

3529 Connecticut Avenue
Metro: Red Line to Cleveland Park
Palena on Urbanspoon


News: We Want Steak!

People have been talking about it for a while, more recently here and here. I walk by almost eery day, occasionally peering in if my eyes think they see something new. For now there are some classy looking white leather-esque bench/seat deals, and cool fans that have two long blades (that go across the fan, looking like four blades) that are at slightly different heights and spin in opposite directions. The second article above says Ray's the Steaks is moving to the Navy League Building at 2300 Wilson Boulevard sometime in January, maybe--that's right across from the Court House Metro Elevator and around the corner from Five Guys. It's been a looong time coming, and it seems like such a prime location, it's insane that it's been empty for so long.

Apparently the current RTS location might turn into a fish fry place! I always hear people complaining that there's not a decent fish-fry in this town, so that would answer those guys. Fish fry tonight, guys? Nah, let's get enormous burgers instead.

Come quickly! Save us from the yucky American food in Court House. To be honest, only the Asian food in Court House is edible--Sawatdee, Minh's, and Delhi Dhaba.


Boulevard Woodgrill--way to go!

GREAT news! Boulevard Woodgrill, which I usually put in the mediocre category, has updated its brunch menu recently. I'm not exactly sure when, but I am CERTAIN that the last few times we brunched there, the menu was teensy and there weren't any low-carb meat-free options. I'm obviously not a vegetarian anymore, but I still enjoy big veggie omelets. Oh, and parfaits with granola and berries don't count in my LCMF options. Granola is just oats rolled in fat, ok?

So on this larger menu was an EGG WHITE (fave!!!) vegetable frittata with tomatoes (I believe they were cherry tomatoes), spinach, and feta. The feta was great--very creamy and not super salty or pungent. It played well with others. There were a few breakfast potatoes on top, but not a huge side that would make you nauseous.

BW has awesome French toast. It's cornflake-crusted, and baked after being dipped and pan-fried. It has a beautiful crisp to it. J got the French toast with a side of two eggs over easy, and gave me a slice of French toast. He essentially got more food than what comes with the French Country Breakfast for just $0.50 more, and was able to share the French toast with me (FCB comes with 2 slices, he got 4). It was a game-day decision, and extremely well executed.

I'm happy about this recent trip. I still think the lunch and dinner food leaves much to be desired, but for brunch this is definitely a new favorite. Obviously, we've been looking for a place that doesn't disappoint us every time we go there. Would it kill them to give a roll or muffin or something before the food comes out, though?

Yes, I know I'm over-excited. But it's brunch. I *love* brunch, and it loves me back. I had a brunch wedding, for crying out loud. It's a state of mind.

Boulevard Woodgrill
2109 Wilson Boulevard
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon