While it's still cold, do yourself a favor and head to Minh's for an enormous bowl of pho. (Most Americans say pho like "fee fie PHO fum" but it's really more like "fuh"--the problem is, most people won't know what you MEAN when you say "fuh" so you're stuck seeming confusing and pretentious at the same time).

Yes, the ginger beef is also good. Yeah, there are other dishes (like pretty much anything made in a clay pot) that are delicious.

But the savory soups outdo them all--I'm a huge fan of beef noodle soup #2, which contains well-done brisket. Others have rare beef, or both rare and well-done TOGETHER (J's choice). The "cup" is pretty big--you and a friend can each get a cup and share an entree (or get two and you've got leftovers for lunch). Get "large" and don't bother with entrees. They are not kidding around with the large, my friends!

So quick! Hurry! Before it gets warm again!

Minh's Restaurant
2500 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA
Metro: Court House
Minh's on Urbanspoon


Bye King Street Blues, Hello Velocity Five Sports Restaurant & Bar

We weren't exactly fans of King Street Blues (read: it's greasy and mediocre at best), so it's sort of exciting that a new sports bar is opening.

Velocity Five (VV--they play on the Roman numeral...) should do well in that awkward spot by the Metro, especially considering that Ray's is it's new neighbor. Much like Guajillo and the Italian place down in the old Ray's strip mall, VV should at least get some of the people who are starving, didn't "call ahead" as per the new policy, and cannot wait 2 hours for steak.

The homepage looks more like ESPN than a restaurant, and the menu is full of wings, but maybe it'll be a little interesting. I'm unclear about why they have a sushi menu, but if they say it's the most exciting sports restaurant of the millennium then I'll at least try it. We'll see what their happy hour specials are--it's nearly impossible to get a cheap beer around here. $3.50 is NOT a special, people.

Velocity Five Sports Restaurant & Bar
Coming soon to 2300 Clarendon Boulevard
Metro: Orange Line to Court House


Taverna Cretekou

When A asked me a month and a half in advance if I was free for dinner, I figured sure! Why not! Greek food, Old Town, all the good stuff.

Taverna Cretekou is right in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria--a lovely place that just doesn't have rent cheap enough to lure me that far from D.C. proper.

We started with an assortment of appetizers--spanikopita, hummus, tzatziki, and some grape leaves.

I got the Glossa Aegeou, flounder stuffed with spinach, feta, and pine nuts in a lemon and white wine sauce. The fish was fishy, which was weird for a mild white fish like flounder. The spinach/cheese delish tasted like it walked right out of an Eggs Florentine situation, but the floppy fish left much to be desired in texture, unfortunately.

My pals dug the Garides Cretekou, a casserole of prawns with tomato, garlic, and feta. A couple weeks later, B went back with her pops and he loooved the Arnaki Kikladitiko--braised lamb with black olives, red wine, and both (!) fresh AND sun-dried tomatoes.

My pals love this place, so I think I'll go back and get the Kotopoulo Lemonato--basically herb-y lemon-y chicken deliciousness (at least it sounds like it). The service is very friendly, the house white wine was yum, and we had a lovely time. I just picked the wrong thing, I think.

Taverna Cretekou
818 King Street
Alexandria, VA
Metro: Blue or Yellow Line to King Street
Taverna Cretekou on Urbanspoon


Restaurant Week

A lot of people (ok, maybe it's just J--you know, of the famous J&J, soon to be featured again in another sushi adventure?) have been asking me about Restaurant Week, a semi-annual event occurring in August and usually January--this year, February. My guess is that there was too much excitement with some other D.C.-based event this January and RW didn't want to cater to the tourists. It's a local yokels thing. Lunch = $20.09, Dinner = $35.09, and yes New Yorkers, we include the weekend in our RW!

See DCFoodies for a list of participating restaurants and many menus--all the menus aren't quite out yet, but get your hands on what you can. As DCFoodies suggests, try to go to a place that offers most or all of their regular menu. The Mr. has become somewhat anti-RW because 1) he wants to order whatever he wants, not from a limited menu that may only have two or three choices for each course, and 2) it annoys him that certain restaurants are totally eat-at-able for less than $35/person, making RW not really a "deal."

Take that into consideration when choosing. Also keep in mind which restaurants are extending. I'll tell you a few of my favorites from DCFoodies' list of extenders in reverse alphabetical order, with a link to my posts on them...

1. Zaytinya (1 week)]
2. Rasika (1 week)
3. Farrah Olivia (month of February)
4. Dino (1 week)

None of this is rocket science--these are top restaurants by most standards. But I just wanted to share my feelings :)

Where am I going, you ask? Lunch at Zola--I've never been--on Monday, and dinner at Zaytinya on Friday. I really don't find Zaytinya to be very expensive, and I'm not sure how RW works because of all the small plates. I'm going because we took M for brunch last May and she's been in NY dreaming about it every since; it was clear that on her next trip to DC we'd be trekking to Chinatown.


Thank You, New York Times

I'm a fan of recipes from the newspaper. I don't know, they just seem more trustworthy (and tested) than any random online find. I've tried cakes from the Post and I love ideas from The New York Times' Mark Bittman, whose latest (republication of a) book I've been meaning to buy.

I was a little oranged out after Thanksgiving and Chanukah because a lot of my family was making butternut squash this and that, and I, in my haste to devour all things winter, kept ordering orange soups while out and about.

After a month or so hiatus I finally tried a healthful Times recipe we'd been eying, a butternut squash and sweet potato soup that promised to be creamy without adding cream--this is good not only for health, but for the kosher constituency.

Anyway, it was delightful. I saved leftovers in serving-size (maybe slightly larger than the normal person's serving) containers and froze two of those for my future lunches. You should make it too, before it warms up!

So tasty, and also, SO BRIGHT. Seriously, it was more yellow than orange but it would really add to your table's color. Perhaps serve it in clear glass bowls!


Ray's! Soon! Clarendon!

Remember when I said it was going to happen?

It's happening this Tuesday.

Hide the women and children! No wait, take them out for steak.


Adventures in Grillpanning

When J got this book for Chanukah, the first thing he did was flip through for some wisdom from the Mighty Rocco DiSpirito. Among the nice features of this particular cookbook, the chef has a "tools" section for each recipe, including a picture of that tool! It took about 10 minutes for J to completely convince himself that he Must. Have. A grill pan.

Grill pan--what's the big deal, right? Turns out the internet is full of pro- and con-grill pan people, like here on Chowhound. It's hard to clean--not it's not. You need a cast iron one that you can heat in the oven first or it doesn't really work--no, I've used mine 82372445 times on an electric stove, and yada yada yada.

Regardless, I didn't read any of these comments until the damage was done. He bought it at the outlets in Leesburg.

Our favorite Rocco Recipe to make in it so far is our interpretation of his "Grilled Turkey Steaks with Sauteed Belgian Endive, Bacon, & Mango Chutney." I say interpretation because we use chicken breast instead of turkey steaks, turkey bacon instead of oinkers, and have used now both bok choy and leek instead of Belgian endive (not that we don't like BE, just availability issues). This dish is so full of flavor and deliciousness, with my favorite sweet (mango chutney) and salty (turkey bacon) combination going on. Anyway, here are a few pictures.

I'm not in any way joining the dramz about the grill pan, but I'll say that so far we like ours :)