Saturday, March 31, 2007

DG and Grillfish

It was a really crazy week at work so I was glad to have happy hour plans on Friday and an excuse to create a stopping point and try not to work over the weekend and to enjoy the two day vacation. I met Chan for happy hour on David Greggory's patio, which was a perfect spot to enjoy the crisp, sunny and only slightly warm spring evening. I had a couple of glasses of the house red wine, what was a Tempranillo (as usual), and Chan had a couple glasses of Dogfish Head. They ran out of the brew and so he tried an Aggenbach, which he liked but said it was a bit light for his tastes. We shared the DG Pizza which is a steal at $5 during happy hour, and comes with spinach pesto, chopped tomatoes, a mix of mushrooms and a couple of gooey cheeses. I only eat the cheese and topping and just had two small slices, so it was the perfect snack and the savory notes paired nicely with the wine. I walked across the street to Grillfish to meet my dinner group. I arrived just in time to head to the large table with everyone to choose a seat. I started with a glass of Pinot Noir which was fruity and well-balanced. They were pushing fun martinis and many folks opted for the Pineapple-Infused Vodka Martini or one of the coconut drinks. I had a sip of a Coconut Martini and it actually was pretty good. The menus, including a value-oriented wine list, are written on chalkboards and are displayed on the walls throughout the restaurant. A couple of the most popular dishes are Grilled Shrimp Scampi or Clams in Garlic and Wine. They start you receive chunky, crusty bread with butter and a rich and tangy olive tapenade. I think mussels are almost always a lovely appetizer, so I shared the Mussels with Tomato and Garlic with a tablemate. The mussels were large in size and the broth well-seasoned and tasty, and they gave you plenty extra to use to soak up the bread. One of my neighbors sampled the Ginger Calamari, which was lightly breaded, well-cooked and the ginger flavor really paired perfectly with the crispy breading on the squid. I realize we were at a seafood place but I really wanted a salad, so I ordered the Grilled Chicken Caesar. The salad was huge and the portion of chicken was more than ample. The meat was grilled nicely and the dressing had a nice "anchovyish" tang. With a little extra pepper it was delicious. I love Arctic Char, and it often is hard to find on menus, so I recommended that to a few people who ordered it and really enjoyed it. I had a bite and it tasted quite a bit like salmon last night, but without the oily quality salmon often imparts. The fish dishes come with a big scoop of rice and dipping sauces - sweet onion or garlicky tomato - to round out the meals. We all were too full for dessert, though the Brownie Sundae with Caramel Pecan Sauce and Banana Cheesecake were tempting to a couple of folks. It was an enjoyable and relaxing Friday night dinner for sure.

David Greggory
2030 M Street in NW DC

1200 New Hampshire Avenue in NW DC

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Friends and I gathered for a Paso Robles wine tasting at Jury's in Arlington on Tuesday. There was a lovely selection of about 30 wineries and lots of yummy red wine. I am usually not a Zinfandel fan, but the region really does produce some great ones. I also enjoyed several amazing blends and Syrahs. J. Lohr, L'Aventure and Robert Hall were hands down favorites. There was some nice cheese and finger food, including crab cakes and seared tuna with aoili and mushrooms in phyllo dough, on hand as well. Even better, we befriended one of the wine reps and he offered to take us to Morton's for dinner afterwards, on his account. Hmm, not a tough decision. It was a gorgeous and very warm evening, so upon arriving at Morton's we decided to dine on their outdoor patio. We started with a nice bottle of Pinot Noir, to keep the evening going and all. I ordered the lobster and a side of sauteed mushrooms - absolutely gorgeous, really. Mark, Lee, Kristin and the rest of the table ordered one of the amazing steak offerings, and for the table we went for sides of spinach, sauteed potatoes and mashes potatoes. Ahhh, so good. It ended up being a very late and somewhat crazy Tuesday, but a great time was had by all.

1050 Connecticut Avenue in NW DC

Sunday, March 25, 2007


After watching some exciting March Madness action yesterday, we were more than a bit hungry and decided to do Ethiopian for dinner. I love Etete so we popped in to what was quite a bustling evening for the restaurant. There was a table of about 20 or so folks celebrating some sort of occasion, but were lucky and got the last available table right away. Etete actually has a cute albeit small wine list and we each ordered a glass of Pinot Noir. Perfect - light and fruity. We ordered one of the veggie platters (a must do when eating Ethiopian) which comes with Yemisir Wat (slit red lintel cooked in Ethiopian red pepper sauce, meten shiro, oil, onion sauteed together), Yeataklit Wat (fresh green, carrot, potato, green pepper and onion sauteed with garlic, ginger and tomato), Yekik Alicha (a dip of delicately spiced cooked legumes), Gomen (fresh green, carrot, potatoe, green pepper and onion sauteed with garlic, ginger and tomato), Tegabino Shiro (Mitin Shiro, oil and onion sauteed together), and Azifa (choppen onion, green pepper, garlic, lentil, lemon juice mixed with Ethiopian mustard). We added Doro Wat (chicken leg seasoned with onion, garlic, fresh ginger, hot pepper, cooked and simmered with berbere sauce and served with hard boiled eggs) and Yefem Tibs (charcoal broiled sliced prime tender beef marinated in white wine and rosemary, with a touch of garlic and black pepper). Of course everything comes with injera as well. No need to add much more, but yum - what a perfect way to end a fun day. Definitely pop into Etete if you are curious about Ethiopian cuisine, or for no reason at all.

1942 9th Street in NW DC

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bistro du Coin

I really can't say enough about Bistro du Coin. This "corner bistro" is almost always hopping with energy and fun folks, and the food and drinks are consistent and fabulous. Friends and I visited on Tuesday evening, after a fun happy hour at David Greggory, and had a lovely evening. We started with two large orders of curried mussels, which are rich and delicious and come with a nice bowl of crispy and tasty fries on the side. Paul had the Steak Frites, always a winner, Ben had the Mahi Mahi which looked light and delicious, and I shared the Roast Chicken with a side of garlicky and yummy green beans with a friend. We all enjoyed a bottle of Cote du Rhone with the meal. Really, just a lovely and gastronomically fulfilling evening.

Bistro du Coin
1738 Connecticut Avenue in NW DC

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March Madness

Ahh, such a great time of year. Since I seem to be keeping up with the theme of new favorites, I thought I would recommend a couple of tasty takeout items that are perfect for enjoying during the games. I do recommend trying to cook at home and avoid doing takeout generally speaking, but sometimes there really is just nothing more luxurious and satisfying. My favorites include: Radius Pizza's Broccoli Rabe and Mushroom Pizza and Simple Salad, Skewer's Hummus and Lamb Kebab entree, Chicken with Mixed Vegetables in a Light Brown Sauce from Mr. Chen's Organic Chinese, Burger with Bacon, Mushrooms and Cheddar with a side of Sweet Potato Fries from Saint Ex, and Panang Curry with Chicken from Simply Home Thai. Make sure to add your favorite veggie side and a nice brew or glass of vino, and voila. Here's to happy game watching (and a happy St. Patty's Day too!)....

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I was at one of my new favorite places, Tonic in Mount Pleasant, on Tuesday with a few friends. It seemed the perfect place for a few of us who live in and around the neighborhood to catch up, and to watch the first game of March Madness. They do half-price burgers during happy hour until 7pm on Tuesdays, but we all didn't arrive until 7:30ish, but no matter, wasn't planning on doing a burger anyhow. For a neighborhood type bar, the menu actually is fairly extensive. I love that they have a cute little wine list as well as a Hummus Plate as an appetizer and sides that include Steamed Spinach, and when you order a burger or certain sandwhiches you have a choice of around eight cheeses including Brie and Gouda. I enjoyed the Tempranillo on offering by the glass, which was nice, Steph had a Woodchuck cider (not my favorite kind though - I only really enjoy the Granny Smith variety for its tartness), Amy had her usual light but tasty beer and others had other types of beer and soda. I ordered the Cobb Salad with the bleu cheese dressing on the side. The portion was large and the spinach and crisp Romaine lettuce was super fresh. It also came with bleu cheese crumbles, diced tomato, sliced red onion, chopped boiled egg and nice and large bacon bits. The grilled chicken was missing at first (and as a result I got my meal for free!), but when it did arrive it was a heaping plate of two huge breasts. It was a delicious and hearty yet light meal. One friend got the Portobello Sandwich which comes with Gouda cheese on wheat bread. It got raves. Everyone else got one of the variety of burgers which also come with Tater Tots that actually are not really greasy at all. After dining at Tonic I really do think it is a perfect little neighborhood bar.

3155 Mount Pleasant Street in NW DC

Monday, March 12, 2007

DC International Wine and Food Festival

Just a quick note regarding the DC International Wine and Food Festival, which took place at the Ronald Reagan Building downtown this past weekend. Certainly imbibing and spending time in a fun venue with friends is a great way to spend a weekend day or two, but I think the organizers can do better next year. Saturday's showcase was sold out, and I think everyone who bought at ticket showed up as it was quite crowded and a bit warm temperature-wise. The wine selection was great, with over 280 wineries in attendance, and a nice representation as far as Old World and New World goes. Not surprisingly, my favorites were the wineries from the Pacific Northwest (Sonoma not Napa in California), and also pretty much any spot that offered sliced cheese since, even though "Food" is in the name of the event, there essentially wasn't much to be found. All in all I think it is definitely an event worth spending time at and patronizing, but I think there are a few steps that easily could be taken to vastly improve the experience of attendees.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Ebbitt

Not that the Old Ebbitt Grill needs any additional publicity, but I was there for a happy hour on Friday, and Lorena, Mer and I enjoyed a fabulous and inexpensive bottle of a blend of Tempranillo and Grenache, for $24 no less, and a tasty flatbread pizza with diced butternut squash and tomatoes in a balsamic glaze with feta cheese. Mer and I were very pleased for sure, a somewhat light and definitely delicious snack which paired well with the fruity and velvety wine. You certainly don't need an occasion to pop in to this DC institution, and I think can feel confident you will be in for a great time once there. They have a fabulous raw bar happy hour early and late on Sunday through Thursday, if you do prefer to have a reason to go ...

The Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th Street in NW DC

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Napoleon and Cashion's

I met a friend for a fun evening out in Adams Morgan this past Thursday. He was quite accomodating and agreed to go to Cashion's for dinner, even though he has been many times. We were considering several other options as well, all of which I have already been to, and I have been wanting to check out Cashion's for a while now, so we decided on that. He lives in the neighborhood, and hadn't been to Napoleon yet, and so that we could both check out a new spot we met for some vino at Napoleon. We got a couple of cozy seats at the bar and settled into the delightful spot. From 4 to 7pm on weekdays, the wines by the glass and champagne cocktails are $2 off. I had a glass of Joseph Drouhin La Foret 2004 Pinot Noir, which was a typical and lovely French Pinot - well-balanced, and slightly tannic and fruity. He ordered a Chateau Haut-Surget Lalande de Pomerol 2003 Merlot, which he said was great but definitely probably a bit young to be enjoying now. I got the young part - the nose was quite alcoholic - but apparently 2003 is a great vintage, and I was happy to sample. We also tried the Maison Nicolas Reserve 2004 Syrah, which was actually delicious and much lighter than the Merlot. Fragrant aromas of the crepes, mussels, steak frites and other tasty Belgian fare on offering at Napoleon were enjoyable, but I was glad when it was time to head a few doors down to Cashion's. We ot a great window table, and ordered a Monthelie Cuvee Paul 2004 Pinot Noir, which wow, we both really loved. It was fruity and luscious and yummy. We shared PEI mussels with white wine, garlic, tomato and chili flake, and a Tritip appetizer with spiced couscous. I loved the mussels, but the Tritip was a bit tough and the portion was quite small. If you haven't had Tritip by the way, it usually is an absolutely tasty and tender cut of beef. I thought it was mainly a West Coast thing, but I increasingly have seen it locally. We shared Sunnyside Farms Aromatic Brined Chicken, which was served with a dollop of mashed sweet potatoes and chard sauteed with pearl onions and a honey-rosemary glaze. Good roast chicken is always amazing, and this was great. Juicy, flavorful, aromatic and just good homestyle food. We finished up with the cheese plate, which came with several soft and creamy offerings as well as a slice that looked and tasted like Manchego but was even creamier, and all in all the selection was lovely, and I think we both had a nice and certainly gastronomous evening.

1847 Columbia Road in NW DC

Cashion's Eat Place
1819 Columbia Road in NW DC

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Two New Favorites

Last Saturday I met Amy for a drink at Rumberos in Columbia Heights. Really cute place with an interesting wine list - mostly offerings from Chile and Argentina - and a nice, relaxed vibe and interesting art all over the space. We had plans to try two spots in Mount Pleasant afterwards. Neither of us had eaten much all day, so we walked four or so blocks to Radius Pizza, excited about what would hopefully be a delicious meal upon arrival. You actually have to walk into the foyer of an apartment building to get to Radius, and we entered the small but comfortable space and snagged the last open table. The menu is fairly straightforward - standard apps such as calamari and cheese bread, as well as a nice selection of salads, pastas, pizzas, calzones and entrees - but certainly would satisfy almost anyone. I started with a Caesar Salad, which was super fresh and actually arrived with several anchovies, which I thought was a nice touch. I delicately removed them from my plate though - love the flavor, but they aren't very appealing in any other way really. The dressing was tangy and had a nice nutty and rich flavor. Being a pizza joint for the most part, I ordered a slice with broccoli rabe and mushrooms, and wow - what great pizza! It's authentic New York style, with a thin crust and nice charring here and there. The tomato sauce is absolutely perfect - tangy and flavorful but not overwhelming. I also like that you can order by the slice as well as by the pie. Amy got one of the specials, which was akin to a great Chicken Parmesan. The chicken was coated in polenta, which made for a delightfully crispy crust, and was served on fresh bread and smothered in the lovely tomato sauce and Provolone cheese. One bite was enough for me, definitely not a light dish, but yumo for sure. Amy enjoyed the Chianti on offering, and I paired my meal with a delicious Sangiovese. Afterwards, we headed next door to Tonic, one of the best neighborhood bars I have had the pleasure of visiting in a while. We met a couple of nice folks, watched some heated college basketball action, and enjoyed the rest of our evening in Mount Pleasant.

I actually ended up back at Radius last night by the way - had a Chopped Salad, which comes with fresh Iceberg lettuce, chopped cucumber and tomato and a creamy Ranch dressing - and shared a small pizza with a friend. We opted for broccoli rabe, mushrooms and basil as toppings. I actually prefer the pizza without basil, as it is a bit sweet for me, but it was absolutely delicious. Definitely can't wait for yet another visit - I think Tonic's tagline is appropriate for a visit to either place at any time - it hopefully will "cure what ails you."

Radius Pizza
3155 Mount Pleasant Street in NW DC

3155 Mount Pleasant Street in NW DC

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Dinner at Bobby Van's

Last night the dinner club I am part of dined at Bobby Van's on New York Avenue in downtown DC. I met a friend for a pre-dinner drink at Capitol City Brewing Company, which is right nearby, and when I arrived at Bobby Van's the bar area was packed with the usual and somewhat rowdy and festive happy hour crowd. We were a group of 30, and were seated at one long table in a relatively quiet part of the restaurant, which was conducive to relaxing a bit and to conversation. I already had a glass of the house red wine, which was a Malbec last night, and joined the group in trying to figure out how to navigate the fairly expensive but delicious-sounding menu. I already had checked it out online, but there are no prices offered in that format. Most folks ordered a martini or another cocktail, and served for the table was whipped butter with sliced baguette and raisin bread. I decided to just do one course, figuring I could sample a bite of what other folks ordered, and opted for the Harry's Salad, which is chopped shrimp, string beans, tomatoes, red onions, roasted red peppers all topped with bacon. It actually was delicious, and served in a somewhat small bowl it didn't seem like much, but it was enough for me. I also shared the sauteed mushrooms with Angela, which were well-seasoned, garlicky and fabulous. The strong savory flavors in each dish paired nicely with the Malbec as well. Each side comes in a portion for two, but at $8 a pop I sort of wished they offered individual portions as well. Sides include a choice of preparations of Spinach (Steamed, Creamed or Garlic), Asparagus, Crispy Fries, Home Fries, and Baked Potato. Yes, Virginia, this is a steakhouse, and so you will probably pay around $40 for a steak entree, and your side of greens will be an upcharge. Anyhow, Amy had the St. Louis Ribs, which came in a heaping pile with lots of sauce, and chipotle mashed potato, home made cole slaw and jalapeno corn bread. The sauce was a bit thick but had a nice vinegar flavor, but still was a bit sweet for me, but was tasty nonetheless. Most folks ordered one of the varieties of steak, which all came a little well-done for my taste, but still were very juicy and delicious. The Gorgonzola Sirloin was my favorite, ahhh so good, but I also tasted the Porterhouse, which had a nice char on the outside but was moist and flavorful, and the Filet was lovely too. Joe kindly gave me a nice portion of his Calamari, which was very crispy and had lots of seasoning, and was served with an absolutely delicious and pungent peanut sauce which also would have been a perfect pairing for a Sate of some sort. My end of the table was not offered dessert for some reason and just received our check after the mains, but I think everyone was more than sated anyhow. We lingered over our drinks and enjoyed the rest of a festive, Friday evening.

Bobby Van's
1201 New York Avenue in NW DC

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Yummy Tapas Dinner

Apologies for being somewhat incognito as of late, have been a bit (sometimes more than a bit) under the weather with some kind of nasty bug. Wine country this weekend probably did not help, but what is a girl to do? Can't cancel on such an engagement right? Anyhow, wanted to pass along my idea for a fabulous tapas meal at home, since spring (as well as rain), seems to be in the air, and small plates are perfect for a celebratory occasion or time of year.

Chunky White Bean Dip
2 cans of cannelini beans, liquid drained
2 heads of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs of rosemary
Kosher or sea salt
Black pepper
Whole wheat pita bread
Vegetable crudites (any variety will work, but try sliced celery, cumcumber, carrot, broccoli, and red or yellow bell pepper for color)
To roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tops off of two heads of garlic so each clove is exposed. Wrap the garlic in foil and drizzle each clove with about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Wrap up the heads of garlic in the foil and roast in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the garlic easily squeezes out of the cloves.
For the dip, pour the drained beans into a medium-size mixing bowl. Mash the beans with a spoon for a minute or so, just to lightly break them up. Squeeze the roasted garlic into the beans, add two tablespoons of olive oil, one sprig of rosemary chopped finely, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix to combine, and serve with toasted whole wheat pita triangles and vegetable crudites.

Why not enjoy with a couple of other simple tapas, such as mushrooms sauteed with garlic, chopped flat-leaf parsley and olive oil and served piping hot. Add to the mix a hearty hunk of Manchego cheese placed in a shallow, earthy and oven-safe bowl and bake at 400 degrees for a few minutes until melted, and voila. Enjoy with the pita wedges and crudites (or with a spoon once cooled a bit!), as well as a delicious red wine such as a Malbec or Carmenere. For dessert, put a few dollops of Greek yogurt (look for Pace brand in the market) in a wine or martini glass and top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, sliced strawberries and finely sliced basil. Yum!