Showing posts with label Georgetown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Georgetown. Show all posts

6.02.2010

Mie N Yu

We’ve walked by Mie n Yu literally hundreds of times; whether living in Foggy Bottom or just over the Key Bridge, Georgetown has always been a place for strolling, shopping, and of course, frozen desserts. But we’ve never been inside. Part of it is that we’re not really part of the hip happening bar scene going on in the District, or really, the world. Any appearance of coolness associated with showing up at Bourbon Steak Lounge should be shaken off—I was there for some cheap(er) food.

When I got an email offering me and a guest a FREE meal at MNY to try a new $25/pp three-course meal I decided to grab it.  Several other Urbanspooners took the same bait - DC Socialite and Two DC, to be precise!  The host told me they were also inviting prominent Yelpers.  MNY wants the word out on the new menu, and I finally got to go inside this fabric-swathed themed establishment. This is somewhat of a test run for me – I like getting a run at new stuff, and I don’t doubt that I can provide an unbiased yet fully disclosed review. But we’ll see if it gives me just an icky feeling. So far I’m ok.

Mie N Yu is pretty obsessed with the Silk Road, which is another way of pretty much saying it's Asian fusion.  Everywhere you turn is a different themed room. The Turkish Tent, the Moroccan Bazaar, etc.  The spaces upstairs for events are spacious, private, and beautiful. I was told that the interior designer who worked on MNY went on to create interesting spaces like Brasserie Beck. While the variety can be interesting, not every diner wants to be so involved with a restaurant’s concept. Some just want to sit in a comfortable, beautiful (doesn’t hurt) space, and eat delicious food.

The menu being hyped up is the Blind Tiger, a 3-course tasting menu for $25.  Off the bat I was impressed--that's certainly a deal.  Also, the third course is NOT dessert, which made me glad.  I often feel like dessert during Restaurant Week is a bummer---me want more food.  Let's get down to it!

A bowl of edamame was a great start to our meal – some course salt on top, but not too much. I appreciated the extra bowl for the shells. It worked out better than awkwardly piling them on a side plate or something.  We were offered more, but I didn't take 'em--gotta save some room.



For the first and second courses we just picked “one of each.” A salad with soba noodles, blue crab, and pickled quail eggs was cool and light for a hot summer day, and the rice vinegar dressing was quite tasty.  The za'atar hummus was really good, but we probably could have used more pita.  The ratio was off!  Even though we really liked the hummus, part of me was like "Well, I make hummus at home all the time, I wish there was another choice..."




Second course we had lamb kabobs and Beijing style duck with little pancake wrappers.  I think the lamb was my favorite dish!  Flavorful, simple, and distinctive.  Lamb is the bomb.  The duck was good, but hoisin-drenched duck is hoisin-drenched duck, whether it's at Mie N Yu or in lettuce wraps at countless other places.  It's just not special.



Third course was the Pakistani cinnamon and ginger striped bass (in a spiced yogurt casserole with tamarind scented basmati rice) and lamb, wild mushroom, and tofu fried rice.  The striped bass wasn't what I expected--because of the yogurt and cinnamon I expected more of a korma-type flavor, sort of sweet and creamy.  Instead, there was a citrus-y pepper-y bite to it.  The fish was still nice, and J seemed to enjoy it a lot.  The lamb dish was hearty and tasty.  I can imagine digging into it on cold winter night; it was the epitome of comfort food.  I felt like one overpowering (but good) flavor overwhelmed the dish--there wasn't much contrast. 




We decided to grab dessert, too.  We needed a well-rounded experience, and the pecan and chocolate croustade sounded like just the thing.  One thing is for sure: it smelled positively divine.  I was expecting the inside to be more gooey, like a nice warm pecan pie.  It was warm, but the inside was not gooey.  I didn't get much of a straight-up chocolate flavor, just sort of a charred nutty flavor.  J doesn't really like the gooeyness of pecan pie, so he preferred the croustade the way it was.  I liked the cinnamon gelato, local from Dolcezza :)


Several friends told me there was a “surprise” about the bathrooms, and even my server said that they were award-winning. (A sign explaining how MNY was voted Best Restaurant Bathroom in 2009 by the Express is unmissable on your way to the facilities.) After all that build-up for a unisex room of single-stalls and common sinks (and a mirror that definitely tricked me into thinking the whole thing was twice the size), I was just annoyed that the bowl sink filled with decorative rocks = splashing water all over myself. Some things in life, like bowl sinks, are somewhat beautiful but totally impractical. Also, the Best Bathroom in my book is one that doesn’t require taking the stairs (or an elevator…I’m looking at you Hotel Monaco/Poste). Especially if you have a few cocktails.

I’ll stop picking on the theme now, and instead tell you about how my heart swelled with joy when I saw Kluge wines (from Charlottesville) on the list. MNY is very focused on local. Their list of farms that they partner with is quite long – everything from lamb to produce to eggs is coming from nearby (check out a list at the bottom of the page here). But many restaurants tout their existence on the local train without giving a hoot to the grapes. I’m not saying you gotta wave goodbye to France, Italy, or even Napa Valley. I’m just saying if you’re going to be all we’re-local-this and we’re-local-that, the least you can do is carry one local wine. In my opinion. So good for MNY!

The reservation system is a little funky. I like my OpenTable.  I have points, a login, and of course, the app.   To set up another account with yet another company is just...ugh.  Why.  Also, my confirmation went directly to my Spam.  C'mon guys, it's Gmail.  Everybody's doing it. 



Overall I had a good time at Mie N Yu; the food is fun, the atmosphere is different, and this $25 menu is definitely a good deal.

Mie N Yu
3125 M St NW
Metro: Blue and Orange Lines to Foggy Bottom or Rosslyn, walk or take the bus.  Or take the bus from a convenient location near you. 

Mie N Yu on Urbanspoon

4.27.2010

Bourbon Steak, Lounge


Fries cooked in duck fat.  The words alone could give you a cardiac arrest.  And yet I've eaten them here, here, and now at Bourbon Steak.  YUM.  This incarnation has three varieties--regular, Old Bay (of course), and white cheddar.  The flavors are subtle, and the accompanying dips are straight up ketchup, bbq sauce, and...the yellow-ish one that was fluffy and I loved it, but I have no idea what it was. Listen, the fries were one cocktail in on an empty stomach, and it was late.

Speaking of cocktails.  J enjoyed the Moscow Mule for the second time (second place, 4th Mule, really). He was only slightly disappointed that it didn't come in the traditional copper mug.  Ginger beer is so awesome.  I first enjoyed the Kerouac Cocktail, a pink (ahem, grapefruit) number that wasn't overly sweet, but just right.  Later I moved to the Pear Brandy Sidecar.  I liked both, but the sugar rim on the PBS was a bit too much for me.  Also, next time I have to try something with an egg white in it.  I love protein in unexpected places.   Oy, and the warm, spiced nuts.  They just kept comin'.



The burger was awesome.  Awesome awesome awesome.  Really juicy, a slight crunch on the outside, a great bun...can't go wrong.  I had the duck lettuce cups, it was my restraint--after all, I don't eat that much red meat, and two big burgers in 7 days is just not going to fly.  But J did share. The lettuce cups were nice, although they weren't what I had in mind--I was imagining shredded saucy duck, but it was cubed.  Loved the Thai flavors.  Very fresh, very delish.  And light--I had room for more cocktails, thank goodness.



Burger is a lil' fuzzy in the low light.


It was actually really cute, for some reason our server thought we were sharing the burger (nice idea!) and brought it split in half on metal skewers.  The guy next to us gasped and said, "That looks awesome."  He was an older guy, professional, wearing a suit.  But I guess that's the only way to describe the scene.
 
We were supposed to go to Bourbon Steak last year for J's birthday, but ended up canceling our reservation for a very good reason, then never rebooked.  The price tag is steep ($145 6 oz filet, anyone?), but we're suckers for anything Four Seasons-related, and damn do we love a good burger.  The lounge was PERFECT for us.  It's classy enough for a date (and not particularly crowded or loud), the food is awesome, the drinks are great, and you're eating for a fraction of the dining room price.    

Bourbon Steak
Four Seasons Hotel
2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Metro: Blue and Orange Lines to Foggy Bottom

Bourbon Steak on Urbanspoon

6.29.2009

Blue Duck Tavern



To celebrate two years of married bliss, we recently hit up the West End's Blue Duck Tavern--you could walk to Georgetown from Foggy Bottom hundreds of times and not realize this restaurant at the first floor of the Park Hyatt at 24th & M Streets NW.

First, I had the spring pea soup with cuttlefish ravioli, and J had the warm asparagus with mushrooms and a poached egg. Both were good, mine was better. There's nothing like peas in the spring/summer time. The servings were very nice, and the food was delicate. Every flavor was accessible and pleasant.





For dinner, I ordered the duck breast. Ever since we went to Farrah Olivia, I’ve been trying to order that well again. When I got that quail, I’d never even had quail before. But it sounded delicious and I went for it, and it was amazing. So even though the duck was okay (maybe better for someone who loves duck breast from the start), it wasn’t a Farrah Olivia quail situation. I’m trying not to get the same old white flaky fish + side vegetable when I go out—I can make that at home! (And I do...).



I liked J’s dinner. He had the braised beef rib. Reviews online were mixed on this, some liked it, others said it was ok but nothing special. I thought it was delicious. I liked the sauce a lot, and it was so darn tender. I like how it was served “on the bone,” as in literally just sitting on top of a bone. Chewing was pretty much unnecessary, the meat was melt-in-your-mouth buttery. If your birthday falls on the week you get your wisdom teeth pulled, go to BDT and get this dish.


Also: online there are mixed reviews about the fries. Some people are like, “I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?” or “Maybe I’m not a fry person, but I just don’t know what’s so special...”

Dear Naysayers: Stop wasting the calories on what you aren’t enjoying, and bring them to me. I am wanting your fries now thxkbye. We seriously mention them at least once a week. Especially when we see crappy skimpy fries. We're like, "HAH! They are no Blue Duck."

The fries are HUGE square cut characters that are well-seasoned without being salty and SUPER potatoey. I loved them.



BDT is sort of family style. I say sort of because the dishes are large enough that they are easy to share, but not huge enormous platters or something. This is important to know for the desserts. You don’t get a slice of apple pie, you get a little mini pie. Ours was cinnamony and gooey and delicious.



Overall, BDT is a touch pricy, but with generous servings, good food, and really fantastic service. You will not be rushed.

Blue Duck Tavern
24 & M Sts NW
Metro: Orange and Blue Lines to Foggy Bottom
Blue Duck Tavern on Urbanspoon

1.13.2009

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

11.17.2008

Catch-up

I've been gone. Here are a few people to blame:
Christoph Schreuer
Frederick Lawrence
President-Elect Barack Obama

Anyway, I don't want the kids to know it, but we're definitely in a R-E-C-E-S-S-I-O-N, so folks aren't eating out at restaurants as often. Here are a few things I have been enjoying despite the tough times.

1. Cupcakes. At Baked & Wired in Georgetown I've enjoyed the coconut, the pumpkin, the chocolate/peanut butter, and the downright chocolate. Some flavors have a softer, spongier cake part than others, which are more dense. Seems kinda random, depending on the flavor. I like both. I gloated a little when the pumpkin w/cream cheese frosting that I chose was overall better than the coconut J chose. Sorry J. No, I don't know if this is better than Georgetown Cupcake or Hello Cupcake or Hello Dolly or Strawberry Shortcake (OK, I made the last two up). I know that there isn't usually a line, it's on the earlier side of Georgetown (read: closer to civilization/Metro), and they also have FOOD, so if you want a wrap or a coffee or both, you can have that and eat your cupcake too.

Baked & Wired
1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW (Georgetown)

2. Founding Farmers. [If you don't know the deal, it's owned by a consortium of a zillion American farmers, it's LEED certified, etc.] When we went for dinner before the sunset brought on Yom Kippur, I was slightly disappointed at first. I ordered a "roasted chicken salad" which I thought would be a salad with roasted chicken on top, but instead it was CHICKEN SALAD, like with the mayo? Anyway, it was fine, but at least 2 of our 8 or so meals came out cold, and we all waited for new, hot food to come out. Service was spotty, but the size of our party mandated a huge tip. In response to our concerned voices, a manager sliced 50% off of our bill. We were shocked and very gracious. I returned for brunch and had the vegetable scramble with asparagus and mushrooms, which was a very reasonable portion but was a little cold. Not the thing you want when you wait almost an hour for your breakfast. My friend M had the smoked salmon hash which was awesome. I was surprised that the English muffins that came with our meals were not whole wheat or grainy, but the apple preserve made us really happy. Almost as happy as the fun milk-jar-type-holders that the water comes in :)

Founding Farmers
1924 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (Across 20th from Johnny Rockets)

3. Java Green. Java Green is about to become a staple in my near-school existence. It's DELICIOUS. I enjoy fake meat and other typically vegetarian/vegan food items because I was vegetarian for so long, so this vegetarian joint is perfect. Besides the typical sandwiches (soy turkey, soy chicken, vegan burger, veggie burger--soy cheese, sprouts, and avocado are typical toppings!) there are some yummy hot dishes, too. My friend A recommended "Rice and Beyond"--organic rice (it was purple, the hottest color of the fall), cabbage, onion, carrot, jobche noodles (interesting, almost a little spicy), broccoli, kale, a dumpling, and I got soy orange chicken as my topping. It was SO GOOD, a really good balance of protein, starch, and veggies, without the usual 89239234234 grams of sodium that would be in a typical Chinese takeout situation. For $10 I got a hot meal that stuck with me all day--I literally didn't eat another meal for 9 hours, just a few pieces of fruit and a granola bar for snack. The place is packed around lunch, so head over early (12pm on the dot) to beat the crowd, or wait until it dies down. Also, FYI--they have brunch on Saturdays, which is hard to come by in this town; it's more of a weekday-lunch atmosphere, but breakfast could work in a Teaism sorta way.

Java Green
1020 19th St NW
Metro: Farragut North (Red) or West (Orange/Blue)


4. Ray's Hell-Burger. Despite how I usually feel about web-site-less places, I'm still head-over-heels for RHB for three reasons. (1) It's fast--even if there is a line, there's no sitting and waiting for the server, then ordering and waiting for the drinks, then waiting, then ordering the food, then waiting, then eating, then waiting for the check...; (2) It's cheap--it's not Five Guys cheap, but it's a hell of a lot better tasting and is a major value, which leads me to the next thing; (3) It fills you up. If you can eat that 10 oz burger and drink a root beer and tell me you aren't full, then we need to have a serious talk about shrinking down your stomach. The heck sauce is awesome, you can get guacamole (always a plus), grilled onions, a zillion kinds of cheese if you want, blackened/au poivre burgers, and I swear the buns have improved since the place opened. They heard our call [for better buns]!

Ray's Hell-Burger
You know, in between Rosslyn and Courthouse in the tiny strip mall

5. Cooking. That's what people do when they are afraid they will be unemployed forever and they realize not only that they still need to eat, but also that the food they eat must be mostly made/prepared in tiny kitchen.


See challah dough sit


See challah dough rise


See food

Also, perfect sugar cookie sandwiches with a pumpkin butter/cream cheese frosting filling (thanks S for recipe, which originally called for apple butter):


That's that for now. I'll post more round-up type entries soon.

5.29.2008

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

5.13.2008

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

1.26.2008

Citronelle

Other appropriate names for this post:
We're Number One
How The Other Half Lives
Hm--I Don't Know What It Is But It Tastes Great
Foie Who?

The experience I had at Michel Richard's Central last spring, while very pleasant, does not even fall upon the same map as what happened to me yesterday. We arrived at Citronelle and our friends were stuck in traffic--we later found that this doesn't matter when your dinner is 5 hours long, because they aren't expecting to ever turn your table over. Until tomorrow. Hah.

When you walk through the doors you are at the bar, and down a few stairs a friendly-looking man is smiling at you, wondering if he can lead you to your table downstairs. And he did.

We had the nine course tasting menu, and I wouldn't have done anything differently. The idea of fifteen was a little scary, and any less than nine would have sacrificed the experience of tasting more of the kitchen's magical creations.

As a whole, the menu was fantastic. I tried foods I'd never had before, and even if I had, those foods took on a completely new and unexpected form. The wine was incredible (we shared two bottles, one white and one red, instead of doing the pairings), the sommelier was so adorable we wanted to take him home with us (yes, and he was very learned in the ways of wine selection), and the thick pieces of crusty bread kept reappearing on my plate all night long. At first I was confused, because I was sure I had eaten it all, but BAM there it was again.

While everyone had a different opinion about what was out-of-this-world, I'll give you my highlights from the complete menu, or at least my favorite part of each dish.

1. Amouse bouche: The escargot crumble (crumble being mainly pistachio nuts) was the most incredible item on the plate, but best presentation goes to the egg surprise (cauliflower mousse topped with tiny pieces of smoked salmon, inside a perfectly-lengthwise-cut hollowed eggshell with a tiny round handle glued (?) to the top half).

2. The chestnut-peanut soup was smooth and rich, not too peanut-y.

3. I liked the abalone, but can't explain why. Leave me alone!

4. The sablefish was marinated in miso for three days, and you can taste that fact. The top had those delicious flavors, while the inside was creamy and just melted in my mouth. The temperature was nice and hot, but the fish was still so moist.

5. My favorite part of the fun lobster burger was the incredibly tiny and perfect fresh bun and the homemade potato chips that tasted like a piece of heaven. A friend said they were "salty" but I respectfully dissent!

6. The veal steak was tender and flavorful, and the sweetbreads, despite their happy sounding name, come from a strange place--but they tasted great to me, almost in a crispy outside--it seemed like if you had breaded and fried something with the consistency of a soft fresh mozzarella, very smooth and creamy.

7. The imported cheeses were great, I loved the goat and the blue (bleu?) in particular. J & I were surprised at how well the dark raisin/pistachio bread slices we received complimented the cheese so well. How can we be skeptical of these people, they clearly know best, but still--he's not the biggest fan of raisins OR nuts. If there was ever a time for us to trust the chef, it was last night.


8. Jolie Pomme: This deconstructed caramel apple might have been my favorite dish--definitely my favorite "dessert." The most real tasting mini-apple-shaped granny-smith-apple sorbet with a vanilla/cinnamon piece of bark for a stem, sitting on just enough caramel. Those are paper-thin slices of apple in the photo. which tasted almost like a sugary-candy that melts on your tongue, but we were assured they were real apple. Photo credit to Washingtonian magazine.

9. The chocolate three ways had one piece I found bland, the white chocolate panna cotta, but the middle piece was a gem--very cold chocolate-shell-covered chocolate mousse on a mini popsicle stick. It was good AND fun to eat.

10. The petit fours gave me an unexpected (and unwanted) surprise in the chocolate/raspberry malt ball. But another, what seemed to be a ball of white chocolate with a lemon meringue pie explosion inside, was very fun. Dessert in one bite.

Will I go back? If I can, I will--but it may take years. I had never been exposed to a tasting menu before, and it's everything I've ever wanted (besides good health, world peace, safe families, etc etc). You can have just a bit of everything without being wheelbarrowed home. The food was like art--luckily I didn't think it was too beautiful to eat.

I don't know if they read the blog, but I want to thank our hosts for providing the best company a couple could ask for, and inviting us to the best meal we've ever had.

Michel Richard Citronelle
3000 M Street NW
Metro: Get to Georgetown (walk/shuttle from Foggy Bottom or Rosslyn Metro, or take the DC Circulator)
Better off in a cab or valeting.
Citronelle on Urbanspoon

12.06.2007

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.

Hook
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).

9.14.2007

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

8.10.2007

Hook

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.

Anyway,
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.

Hook
www.hookdc.com
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.

8.06.2007

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