$$$


For the last five years, I had been dragging my feet in going to Rosa Mexicano.  To me, when you’re repeatedly told that there are only a few good things on the menu, it’s not exactly a great endorsement.  Well, after reading numerous reviews and since I wasn’t paying, I finally went.

  • Food: We ordered guacamole which came with thick chips which were good.  There were nice chunks of avocado, but I still think my recipe would win in a guac contest.  I ordered the short ribs since it was the only thing that received constant praise and I was not disappointed.  They were so tender and made a knife completely unnecessary.  There are three HUGE pieces of short ribs on the plate.  Next time, I’d split the ribs with a couple of friends since it’d be more than enough food.  They brought black beans to the table which I thought were under-seasoned while the rice was completely over-seasoned and had too much lime juice. 
  • Service: Our server was OK, but as the restaurant got busier, he became more and more absent.
  • Atmosphere: The interior has bright colors and a comfortable atmosphere.  The bar is packed after work for happy hours (I couldn’t find any information that they offered drink/food discounts). 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$/$$$
  • Overall:  Since I didn’t pay for dinner,  I didn’t care.  But I think if I ever go back, I’d definitely order the short ribs again to share with others…and yes, the guacamole.

Details:

  • Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday: 11:30am-3pm; Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 11am-3pm; Dinner: Sunday-Wednesday: 4-10:30pm, Friday & Saturday: 4-11:30pm; Sunset: Daily 3:00 pm-4:00 pm
  • Address: 575 7th St NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: (202) 783-5522

Not only was Et Voila a new restaurant for me, Palisades was a completely new neighborhood!  Yes, I’m afraid I’m a creature of habit and have a tendency to stick to “my” neighborhoods…meaning those that I can get to via Metro.  Anyway, P3 was so kind to take me after I cat sat for her.  Seriously, she’s entirely too generous! 

Et Voila Palisades

  • Food:I ordered the mussels in garlic and white wine and frites.  The mussels were beautiful — fat and juicy.  While the frites were good, they weren’t all that crispy (bummer).  The other problem was that I thought the broth was a little too salty.   But while the broth looked a little watery, it actually wasn’t.  P3 ordered their chicken simmered in its own broth with veloutée sauce with Julienne vegetables.  She said it wasn’t as good as the previous time she went, but I thought it was pretty good.  The chicken was moist and the broth was creamy and with the Julienne veggies, it reminded me of a cole slaw.   For dessert, I ordered the chocolate mousse which was rich with these little crunchy dark chocolate nibs.  It was knee-buckling good.  We also ordered their almond pastry on strawberry gelee with pistachio cream on top.  While it was delicious, their mousse is ridiculous.
  • Service: Our server was nice, albeit a little absent.
  • Atmosphere: It’s a somewhat long and definitely skinny restaurant.  They have pretty limited seating — probably only about 20-25 tables.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: Unlike some restaurants, they don’t do a ridiculous mark-up on their wine.  We ordered their Domaine Guillon Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2004.  That was a fantastic bottle!  But I digress.  If I ever get to Palisades neighborhood again, I would definitely go back to Et Voila.  P3 and I chatted after our dinner and determined thatwhat we love about this place is that they rely on good ingredients and using a few spices to bring out those flavors. 

Details:

  • Reservations: They’re pretty much required if you want to get a seat, no matter if it’s a weekend or weekday.
  • Hours: Closed Mondays; Tues-Fri 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm; Sat & Sun 11 am-3 pm and 5-10 pm
  • Address: 5120 MacArthur Blvd NW; Washington, DC 20016
  • Ph: (202) 237-2300

I’ve been to Oceanaire a few times.  The first time it was for lunch and it was packed.  The most recent time, I went for dinner during the weekday at a peak dinner hour and there weren’t a lot of people there. 

  • Food: I went with a couple of folks who are all for eating and sharing. So we decided to order multiple plates to pass and share.  Their crab cakes are delicious because they use very little bread crumbs to keep it together.  So you’re getting a lot of crab meat (unlike some places!).  We also ordered the grilled calamari which was drenched in a very sweet pineapple sauce — not my favorite.  The oysters Rockefeller were OK, but not fantastic.  We also had escargot which were fine.  The best part of the meal?  The hash browns which were phenomenal because they were so crispy! 
  • Service: If I have a pet peeve about waitstaff, it’s to not be pushy.  When a friend was trying to determine what kind of wine, our server recommended the most expensive bottle of wine.  Now I know that servers depend on tips for their income, but seriously.  That’s when I said we’ll take a couple of minutes to take a look and we all commented on her recommendation.  Then I mentioned a story I read in the WSJ stating that at fine restaurants like this one, even the “cheapest” wine they serve is going to be good so there’s no shame in ordering it (not that you should be ashamed to order it anyway — it’s on their menu!). 
  • Atmosphere: It’s quite a large restaurant with several private dining rooms.  The interior has a nautical theme with medium-dark wood.  It’s also very brightly light.  On every table is a bucket for shells, Old Bay seasoning, and other seafood accoutrements.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: While I’ve been here a few times, I don’t feel the need to go back.  I think I’ve ordered their specialities and have tried their “unique” offerings.  While I know the fish changes regularly, I don’t have a sense that anything else changes.  There’s too many other great seafood restaurants in DC that do great (and sometimes surprising) things with fish.  But this is a good place to go with clients, especially since they have the private rooms. 

Details:

  • Reservations recommended.
  • Hours: Mon-Fri lunch 11:30 AM-5 PM; Dinner Mon-Thurs 5 PM-10 PM; Fri & Sat 5 PM-11 PM; Sun 5 PM-9 PM
  • Address: 1201 F Street NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-347-2277

It had been more than a year since I had last gone here, but I just went back again.  For a good year and change, no one could talk to me about Rasika without me talking about their popcorn.  Have you had it?  It’s an amazing combination of spices, sweet, salty, spicy — it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s truly like nothing you’ve ever had before. 

  • Food:I went with a friend and we were there in time for their pre-theater menu (I think it’s from 5:30-6:30 PM and $30).  We ordered the calamari chili garlic which was not fried, but sauteed and absolutely delicious.  Then we also ordered the seekh kebab which was spicy with fantastic flavor.  For the entree, w ordered the tandoori salmon which was sweet with a hint of cardamon. 

That’s right — I ordered cardamon.  Here’s what I’ve figured — I don’t know like it when it’s overpowering which is what happens in a lot of Indian restaurants.  Not at Rasika.  It’s perfect. 

I ordered the lamb pistta korma and the sauce was phenomenal while the lamb was moist, tender and awesome.  For dessert, it was the gulab jamun.  It’s 2 dumplings with honey drizzled and super sweet with cardamon ice cream.  The carrot pudding with cinnamon sabayon was shredded carrots, cashews, raisins missed together with the sabayon holding it together.  It reminded me a bit like a carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting.

  • Service: Our server was incredibly nice and was helpful with telling us what was in some of the entrees.  Great servers! 
  • Atmosphere: There is a small bar with only 10-12 stools, but there’s also 7-10 small tables and chairs in the bar.  Then there are two main dining room areas.  With dim lighting and comfortable Indian-inspired interior, it’s an impressive restaurant to take anyone.  But it does get loud and cozy, so don’t go if you need to talk about anything you want to keep quiet!
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I love Rasika and I think I could eat here every week.  The food is always good and the popcorn is insanely unique.  I have to get that recipe! 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm; Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:30-10:30 pm, Fri 5:30-11 pm, Sat 5-11pm, Closed Sun
  • Address: 633 D St, NW, Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-637-1222

While I’ve been to Iron Gate tons of times, but never ventured across the street to Tabard Inn — until recently.

  • Food: They offer a bread basket with a few different types of bread.  I tried the kalamata olive bread and it was pretty good.  I ordered the fried catfish tacos with house-made tortillas, jicama salad, refried beans, mango salsa.  Instead of the jicama salad, they put a huge scoop of guacamole.  Now this was pretty good stuff with big chunks of avocado (although not as good as mine…).  While the fish wasn’t crispy, the coleslaw-type topping (cabbage and carrots without mayo) was delicious.  The black beans were over-salted though.
  • Service: Our server was nice and my ice tea was refilled when needed.  Good stuff.
  • Atmosphere: If Iron Gate is the perfect place to go in the summer, Tabard Inn is the great place go to in the winter.  With fireplaces all over the restaurant and inn, it would seem like it’s a bit like Russia House.  But to be honest, I think Tabard Inn would be even better than Iron Gate for the summer too because they have a decent sized porch with 10-15 tables and a huge mesh cover for the top that helps shield the sun (photos here).  With hardwood floors,  low ceilings, and a comfortable bar — it seems almost like you’re in a person’s house. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: With a decent menu and a good atmosphere, this is a fun place to go.  I’d gladly go back to try other items.

Details:

  • Reservations recommended (although they keep a few tables open for walk-ins)
  • Hours: Breakfast Mon-Fri 7 AM-10 AM, Sat 8 AM-9:45 AM, Sun 8 AM-9:15 AM; Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; Dinner Sun-Thurs 6 PM-9:30 PM, Fri & Sat 6 PM-10 PM; Brunch Sat 11 AM-2:30 PM, Sun 10:30 AM-2:30 PM
  • Address: 1739 N Street NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-833-2668

I’ve been to Vidalia several times over the years and have always had a great meal.  While I wasn’t planning on participating in the Summer 2008 Restaurant Week, I ended up going to Vidalia during this time period. 

  • Food: Before I tell you what was ordered, I need to tell you that I didn’t eat all this. I swear. But because I was going with a client who was starving and wanted to do the five course meal, I had to do the five course meal. Thankfully, my client’s super cool so I was able to try a bite and then pass it on to him. I ordered the thinly sliced raw hamachi with cucumber, Fuji apples, lime basil, and smoked scallop essence. It was very good and fresh. He ordered the house smoked Wild King Salmon with vidalia onions, salmon roe, yogurt-cucumber soup and croutons.  My client won for ordering the best first course. For the next course, we both ordered the Point Judith calamari that was stuffed with oyster sausage, avocado, tomato, and periwinkle vinaigrette – delicious. For the third course, I ordered the Maine diver scallops with surry sausage crust, chow chow, rice beans, and bouillabaisse emulsion. This was the least favorite part of the meal — the scallops were overcooked and the crust was burnt. He ordered the Tasmanian sea trout roulad with warm cauliflower panna cotta, curry-golden raisin puree, and smoked trout roe. It was awesome. 4th course, still with me? He ordered the slow roasted Shenandoah baby goat with sweet garlic confit, cucumber-yogurt riata, zucchini, and flat bread. There were a lot of smaller dishes on the plate. It reminded me of one of the Top Chef episodes where one of the chefs compartmentalized their dish too much. The flat bread had no flavor and was stale. I ordered the corned Japanese Kuroge beef brisket with yellowfin potato pave, King Trumpet mushrooms and ginger beer reduction — it was seriously delicious. The brisket was so tender and the reduction was a fantastic pairing. The final course was dessert. We ordered the “Whopper” which was meringues with malted milk chocolate mousse with condensed milk emulsion, but the winner was the Georgia pecan tart. I’m not usually a pecan fan, but this was absolutely ridiculous. It’d make a pecan tart fan out of anyone!
  • Service: They hire good waitstaff who are knowledgeable and attentive (without being annoying). 
  • Atmosphere: After walking down the stairs, you’re actually in a basement restaurant.  While there are no windows, you easily forget that when you’re eating.  The bar has 12 stools and there are 3 sofa areas for mingling and waiting for your table.  The restaurant itself isn’t large, so if you want to go for lunch or dinner, make sure you make reservations! 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I don’t know if I can do 5 courses again, but this is a great place to test all their courses.  It’s perfect for impressing anyone or for a quiet meal.  While the restaurant may be packed, they have good acoustics so it’s rarely too loud. 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm; Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sun 5pm-9:30pm
  • Address: 1990 M St NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 659-1990

The evening started out rough when we went to Hudson and no one waited on my friend and me.  We were both dressed business casual (coming straight from the office) yet NO ONE WAITED ON US.  We sat there for 15 minutes and nothing.  And in case you’re thinking, “Well, they were busy/short-staffed.”  No, there were about 5-9 employees who stood/sat there and only about 10 total people in the entire restaurant.  Wow. 

So then we decided to go to M Street Bar & Grill

The food was uninspired, yet we ordered a lot of it! We tried the prosciutto crisps, Angus sliders, bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits, mini pulled pork sandwiches, and handcut fries.  The winner out of the bunch was definitely the pulled pork because there was a little heat and balanced well with the sweetness from the BBQ sauce.  The burgers were dry and flavorless (and too much bun to meat ratio).  The fries were soggy.  There are too many problems to mention with the prosciutto crisps.

But the reason I’m writing about this place is because they have a pretty good happy hour.  It’s $19 for a pitcher of house mojitos or margaritas from 5-8 PM.  Now that’s a good deal! They also have beer and house wine on special.  On Wednesday nights, they have 1/2 priced wine with dinner.  Thursdays are live jazz nights from 6-9 PM. 

This is a good place to go for a few drinks with friends because you can talk (and hear) each other.  Although there were points throughout our evening where we realized the music was too loud, which we wouldn’t have noticed as much except they have a bad stereo system so it was rather annoying.

Details:

  • Hours: Breakfast – Monday – Friday: 6:30am – 10:30am, Saturday & Sunday: 7:30am – 10:30am; Brunch: Sunday: 11:00am – 3:00pm; Lunch: Daily: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner: Sunday – Thursday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm; 21 M lounge: Open For Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM Cocktails Mon-Sat 5 PM- Closing
  • Address: 2033 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 530-3621

Brasserie Beck.  I was supposed to go a couple of different times but things kept happening that prevented my visit.  I finally made it with a couple of friends. 

On a total personal side note, both of my food-loving friends (who are always up to try new places and cuisine) are leaving DC!  Ugh, it’s so depressing when cool, fun people leave this city.  Damn.  Now who am I going to go out to dinner with? 

  • Food:The bread they sit in front of you when you first sit down was crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  The butter was so incredibly rich and smooth.  Wow.  Outstanding!  Huge statement is about to be made — I think their mussels and frites are the best in town.  The frites were incredibly crispy with three sauces — aioli, curry, and tomato.  The mussels were hot (temperature wise) and so good.  As my friend pointed out though, there were a few that were a bit gritty, but it is so hard to get all the grit out.  I’m kinda used to it by now.  I also loved taking chunks of the bread and dipping into the mussels sauce.  Yum.  My friends ordered the chicken waterzooi and beef carbonnade.  Both were good, but neither one were better than my mussels! 
  • Service: Our server was really rather irritating to be quite honest.  I’m going to be nice and say that she was perhaps having a bad day, but she was very much “off her game” the evening we went.  She was absent when we needed her and rarely checked in to see how things were going.  Although when she did check in, it was two seconds after our food was delivered so we had yet to try the food.  Yeah, definitely bad timing!
  • Atmosphere:They have huge outdoor patio and while there’s little atmosphere outside (lots of concrete), it’s another restaurant that offers outdoor seating (yay).  We sat inside and the tables are smooshed together so it is a bit crowded.  But it is a relaxed atmosphere so I like it.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$/$$
  • Overall:While Belgian food isn’t my favorite, I loved Brasserie Beck’s mussels and frites.  I would absolutely go again.  And make sure to read the comments below — thanks to Ralph who reminded me about their vast beer offerings.  Here’s a link to their beer menu

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-5 PM; Dinner Mon-Thurs 5-11 PM and Fri & Sat 5 PM-11:30 PM; Brunch Sundays 11:30AM-8 PPM
  • Address: 1101 K St, NW, Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: 202-408-1717

Yet again, another new dining experience!  This time, it was the Bombay Club, owned by the same folks who own a favorite restaurant of mine — Rasika

  • Food: With my love of spicy food, I asked the waiter what would be better — green chili chicken or the Tandoori chicken chops.  He said the Tandoori chicken chops was spicier than the green chili chicken.  So not feeling like having a running nose and tearing eyes, I ordered the green chili chicken.  I went with a couple other folks and one of them ordered the other “spicy” dish.  Folks, my dish was a thousand times spicier than the Tandoori chicken chops.  I had tears and my sinuses were definitely cleared.  But, I did like it — even though the spiciness overpowered the cilantro and mint.  We also ordered a basket of their assorted breads which were very good (and helped ease the heat).
  • Service: Our waiter was very nice, but he was dead wrong on the spicy food.  Thankfully, I have a pretty strong spicy food tolerance, but it was still hot. 
  • Atmosphere: The interior is classic, simple elegance. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I’ll definitely go back to try some of their other dishes like their chicken tikka or some of their lamb dishes. 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch: Monday – Friday: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner: Monday – Thursday: 6:00pm – 10:30pm, Friday – Saturday: 6:00pm – 11:00pm, Sunday: 5:30pm – 9:00pm; Sunday Brunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm
  • Address: 815 Connecticut Ave., NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: (202) 659-3727

I know, I know — Morton’s is a chain, but unlike some other chains (ahem, none to be mentioned here but take a look at the list of “Restaurants I’ve Been”), they’ve managed to still be pretty good.

  • Food: First, let’s talk about their enormous (freshly baked?) onion bread they plop in front of you.  It’s the size of a half of a soccer ball and the top has onion flakes.  It’s really yummy.  Then to be healthy,  I ordered the salmon salad which was pretty good.  I wanted to order a steak, but for a mid-day meal it seemed too much!  Then we ordered a slice of the S&S Cheesecake, which we were told gets FedEx’ed to Morton’s on a daily basis from the Brooklyn store.  It was absolutely amazing — creamy, rich, moist, and perfect.   We also ordered Morton’s Legendary Chocolate Cake which was thick, dark, and also amazing. 
  • Service: We had a very nice server who knew exactly when to approach the table — a tough task but one he did very well!
  • Atmosphere: In earlier times when you’d see or hear about those smoke-filled rooms, this is one of the places I feel they’re talking about — with the dark interior and huge booths — you can tell this was (and is?) a place politicians, lobbyists, and business people go to talk shop. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall:  Unlike other chains, Morton’s has still managed to churn out good food.  Their offerings and service remind you that this was a place for “movers and shakers” to make deals.  While I would never come here on my own, I’d have no problem taking clients.   

Happy Hour: Monday-Fridays from 4:30-6:30 and 9:30pm to 11pm, they offer “Bar Bites” for $5 per plate.

Details:

  • Reservations recommended/needed.
  • Hours: Monday – Friday 11:30am to 11pm; Saturday 5:30pm to 11pm; Sunday 5pm to 10pm
  • Address: 1050 Connecticut Ave NW # 2, Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 955-5997

One of my all-time favorite restaurants in DC is Hook.  Is it the fact that it’s an organic and sustainable restaurant in DC?  Is it the fact that the pastry chef is so widely respected?  Or is it because Barton Seaver is such a cutie?  Yeah…

Hook - Georgetown  Tackle Box and Hook - Georgetown

  • Food: To start off the meal, I ordered the calamari salad which had a great grilled, simple flavor.  So fresh and so good.  For my main course, I ordered the seared Steel Head Trout.  The flavor of the fish was simple and was a bit like salmon (but less oily!).   My dining companions ordered the Artic Char which had a great grilled taste and the Sablefish (my least favorite of the table).  For dessert, we ordered the Apple Tart (with almond frangipane, caramel sauce, and bourbon ice cream), donuts and coffee, and Bittersweet Chocolate Torte (with caramel ice cream, salted cashews).  My favorite dessert was the donuts and coffee — although they were much smaller than Buddakan, they were equally delicious. 

Hook Apple Tart  Hook Coffee and Donuts  Hook Bittersweet Chocolate Torte

  • Service: Their servers are put through an intense one week course on fish so they are able to talk to diners about what the fish tastes like (and what it’s similar to).  They’re also always polite and really good.  They know when to stop by to see how the food is and also when to leave the table alone.  I get a sense that most are professional servers. 
  • Atmosphere: At the end of the meal with the bill, they give everyone a fish handout to take with you on what fish is OK to eat and what isn’t (as far as being sustainable. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: This is one of my favorite restaurants in DC because the food is cooked simply but amazing.  The sides that accompany the main entree compliment perfectly.  The appetizers are amazing.  Desserts are ridiculously good.  The servers are fantastic.  There’s nothing else you can say — all good.  If you haven’t been, you must!

Details:

  • Reservations are strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Dinner: Sunday – Tuesday 5pm to 10pm, Wednesday – Saturday 5pm to 11pm; Lunch: Tuesday – Friday 11:30am to 2:30pm; Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 10:30am to 2:30 pm
  • Address: 3241 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
  • Ph: (202) 625-4488

After hearing so many great things about Blue Duck Tavern, I finally went. Why did it take me so long to go?

  • Food:I went with a client and thankfully, a cool client that’s into sharing! So we ordered their braised barbecue beef “long rib”, crab cakes, triple fried fries, and glazed baby carrots.  The fries were more like logs (like when you cut tofu into eighths). But they were still insanely crispy!  And readers, you know I don’t like thick fries but damn, these were so yummy! The crab cakes were definitely some of the best in town – full of crab with a little breadcrumbs to hold it all together.  You know, the way crab cakes are supposed to be made.  Plus, there was a remoulade sauce on the side that didn’t overwhelm.  The beef was insanely tender and fell off the bone so easily.  The barbecue sauce tasted like good, homemade sauce.  Now on to my favorite course, dessert.  We ordered the chocolate cake with a side of vanilla ice cream (had to order this separately).  Our waiter made the vanilla ice cream sound like it was mind blowing good – but it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong – the ice cream was good – rich, creamy vanilla, but it wasn’t earth shaking.  The chocolate cake wasn’t overly sweet and had a fantastic dark chocolate with a light rum flavor.  Yum. 
  • Service: Our server was nice, but a little pushy.
  • Atmosphere: It has a wide open feel and hundreds of people could easily be in the restaurant and you’d never know.  While they have a very open kitchen, the chefs/cooks are very quiet!  The interior has dark wood tables and chairs (and accent pieces on the walls), but the floor is very light and balances out nicely.  It’s comfortable and beautiful — definitely an impressive place to dine! 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: Here’s another restaurant that would easily impress even the toughest critics.  The food was cooked simply but so wonderfully!  Oh and don’t be surprised when you pull up to the Park Hyatt — this amazing restaurant is on the first floor of the hotel. 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Breakfast in the Lounge: 6:30am – 10:30am; Lunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Weekend Brunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner: 5:30pm – 10:30pm
  • Address: 1201 24th Street NW, Washington DC 20037
  • Ph: (202) 419-6755

After dog sitting for P3, she was quite generous with her “thank you” gift and gave me a gift certificate for Cashion’s.  I was excited because I’d never been before — and so I finally had the opportunity the other week.

  • Food:To put it mildly, some of the best appetizers ever!  I ordered the grilled octupus which had a great, simple grilled flavor.  My friend ordered the fried oysters in grits.  I’m not a grits fan (I don’t get why people like it, I really don’t.  It’s just about putting a lot of butter on it and if I put that much butter on anything I ate, I’d love it too).  But these were really good (probably a lot of butter).  And the oysters were super crispy with a bit of corn meal.  For the main, I ordered the seared tuna with black beans, mango, and cilantro.  While the tuna was perfectly cooked, I thought it lacked uniqueness.  And I think they forgot the cilantro because I didn’t taste it in my dish.  My friend ordered the shad roe.  Now I don’t know why she did, but she did.  If you don’t know shad roe, here’s a photo and an explanation.  And because she didn’t like it, I only got half of my seared tuna.  Oh well.  I ended up eating a lot of the bread since I was still hungry. 
  • Service: Our server was a bit too eager throughout the meal.  She kept asking if we understood the menu, which is nice the first time and annoying the second and third.  Perhaps we looked confused?
  • Atmosphere:From the exterior, it seems like it’ll be a small restaurant.  But the looks are deceiving because it’s long.  Straight back on the left is a bit of an elevated bar.  Then there are tables throughout.  We were fortunate to get a table by the floor-to-ceiling windows so it didn’t feel claustophobic, but I could see how that could happen when those windows are closed!
  • Attire: Business casual/casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I’ll definitely go back to try out other main courses and I hope they’ll offer those fried oysters again!  That’s the trouble with changing menus — you never know if your favorite is going to be available.  At the same time, you get to have new favorites!  So P3, thanks for the gift certificate!  Another good recommendation!

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Mondays closed; Tues 5:30-10 PM; Wed-Sat 5:30-11 PM; Sun 5:30-10 PM; Sunday Brunch 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; Late Night Menu 12 AM-2 AM on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Address: 1819 Columbia Road NW, Washington DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-797-1819

I finally went to Georgia Brown’s the other day and ordered their fried chicken.  I really liked that the meat was all white and there was only the leg bone.  The mashed potatoes were pretty good but overall, it was too salty.  Was it worth $22? 

You’ll see I listed under “Places I’ve been” but I thought I’d share this photo of my meal.

Georgia Brown's Fried Chicken

I have heard great things about their Sunday brunch though!

Details:

  • Reservations recommended.
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m.; Fri 11:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m.; Sat 5:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.; Sun 10:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Sun 5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
  • Address: 950 15th Street NW; Washington, DC 20005  
  • Ph: (202) 393-4499

I don’t know why, but the Beacon is always viewed as a good place for HH (happy hour) and food.  Personally, I disagree.  Instead, I prefer to tell people about Nage.

  • Food:While their menu can seem somewhat limited (it’s seasonal), their chalkboard offers another 10 various options — and from that menu, you can have a pre-fixe meal (3 courses for $35).  I’ve been a few times and have had some good meals.  The mac and cheese is more creamy than cheesy, so it’s definitely not 15ria.  Their Chesapeake oysters with spinach, fennel, mushrooms, and Asiago cheese are good.  Most recently, I ordered the Prime Rib burger which was cooked perfectly, though I didn’t care for their fries (they were a mixture of potatoes — including a few sweet potatoes, but not worth the calories since they weren’t crispy…you know how I love my fries crispy!).  As far as dessert, their best offering is the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding.  I’m not a huge bread pudding fan, but this was insanely good! 
  • Service: They’ve always been courteous and efficient without being annoying.  In other words, good service.
  • Atmosphere: Strange as it might sound, this restaurant is in the Marriott Courtyard, down the block from Beacon.  But don’t let that scare you away!  They offer way better options for wine and beer and much better food.  Their restaurant is small and only has about 20 tables with a few bar tables and seats.  They also have a flat screen TV which always runs various sports games.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$ if you order off their bistro menu; $$$ if you order an app and main entree
  • Overall:  Next time you want to go to Beacon, try out Nage instead.  As a friend said when she went, “It’s not the best meal ever, but it’s pretty good.  I mean, it’s better than Beacon.”  Although the $$$ may make you pause from making it your new weekly hangout.   But their apps are reasonably priced so you could definitely go after work without spending an arm and a leg.

Happy Hour: I’ll have to let you know — I forgot to take a look but I know they have 1/2 priced wine (I think it’s on Mondays).

Details:

  • Reservations are suggested, but to be honest, I’ve never needed them.
  • Hours: Breakfast Daily 7-10:30 am; Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30 pm; Daily Dinner 5 pm – 9:30 pm
  • Address:1600 Rhodes Island Avenue, NW; Washington, D.C. 20036
  • Ph:  (202) 448-8005

I’ve been to Olives a handful of times and have never gotten anything but a really good (albeit expensive) meal. 

  • Food:I ordered the Greek-style Baby Red Romaine Salad with tomatoes, cucumber, mixed olives, red onions, oregano, and crispy phyllo-wrapped feta.  But the star salad was the grilled squid and octopus with a vinaigrette of chickpeas, tomatoes, toasted garlic, and parsley.  I ordered their grilled salmon special with Israeli couscous which was spectacular.  Their fig and prosciutto pizza is amazing too.
  • Service:It’s not bad, but considering the price tag, you’d think they’d be a little more attentive.  I’ve also witnessed several times when they’d rush people eating.  If you’re eating a salad, they might bring your entree before you’re ready.
  • Atmosphere: When you walk in, on the right is their bar and on the left are tables (and their open kitchen).  If you walk straight ahead, you’ll see their stairs to their downstairs dining room.  The restaurant has an open, warm feeling and tons of windows on the first floor (meaning great sun…if it’s out).  I love their open kitchen with their wood-burning oven and their chef was cute. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: Like I said, I’ve never gotten anything but a solid, yummy meal here.  Thankfully, I’ve also never had to pay either.  Ha! 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch: Monday – Friday: 11:30am – 2:30pm Dinner: Monday – Saturday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm Closed for lunch on Saturdays, all day Sundays
  • Address: 1600 K Street, NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: (202) 452-1866

Yet again, I’ve ventured to Virginia!  This time, it was for Farrah Olivia during Restaurant Week with P3.

  • Food:Offering their entire menu during RW (with a few extra charges for some dishes), it was an overall outstanding experience.  P3 ordered the painted soup with fruitwood smoked apple, gingered squash, and beet cider.  P3 loved the smoky apples and the soup had a great creamy flavor.  I ordered the shocked escolar with soy pearls, pickled quince, and wasabi.  Now I didn’t know this, but escolar, if eaten in large quantities, *ahem* can cause some gastrointestinal problems.  This quantity, at least for me, did not.  Then P3 ordered the chicken breast with curry banana crust and quinoa salad.  The banana crust was phenomenal with an amazing sweet and crunchy texture.  The quinoa salad was also really good.  I ordered the pork loin which was really moist and delicious.  For dessert, P3 ordered the citrus fruits with lemon cheesecake, candied citrus segments, and thyme syrup.  I ordered the chocolate brownie, toasted marshmallow, and raspberry-beet sorbet.  While P3’s was good, I loved mine — and I don’t even like marshmallows that much.  For $15 each, we chose the wine pairings with each course.  Wow was that a good deal! 
  • Service: P3 thought our server was coming over a bit too much, but I thought she was being very attentive.  She also clearly knew a lot about the menu and was able to answer all our questions. 
  • Atmosphere:Next door to a Balducci’s, the exterior is deceiving because inside, there’s such an outstanding restaurant.  It’s a small dining room — only about 20-30 tables.  The interior is warm and inviting, filled with browns and greens. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall:I loved it.  The food, presentation, and service was phenomenal.  This was my favorite restaurant to try during Restaurant Week because I felt I was given a lot of great menu choices.  I definitely recommend trying this place out if you haven’t already!

Details:

  • Reservations required.
  • Hours: Tue-Sat 11:00 am-2:30 pm, 5:30-10 pm, Sun 11 am-2:30 pm, 5-9 pm
  • Address: 600 Franklin St.; Alexandria, VA 22314
  • Ph: 703-778-2233

I went to Taberna Alabardero during Winter 2008 Restaurant Week with three other friends.  After looking at their RW offering (only 2 options for each course), we decided to order off the regular menu. 

  • Food: We ordered Serrano ham and cheese plate.  We also ordered Pencas con Alcachofas Salteadas con Jamon Serrano, which is chard greens and artichokes sauteed with Jamon Serrano.  Both of the appetizers were truly outstanding.  Then one friend and I ordered the seafood paella while the other two ordered the chicken and Chorizo paella.  No one was exactly wow’ed by their paella and in fact, our mussels had a very pungent seafood taste (and smell).  Of course, I ate mine first and what did I do?  I told my friend, “No, you have to try it.  It’s fine…but see if you think it has that weird seafood taste.”  Ha ha.  She didn’t try it, but I didn’t end up getting sick.  I just thought the mussels had a bad flavor.  Oh, and the seafood that was on the plate, beyond the 2 mussels and 2 clams that were in their shell, reminded me of Trader Joe’s Seafood Medley.  I’m not saying it was though!
  • Service: The servers were incredibly polite and attentive without being overly annoying.   I really thought they were great!
  • Atmosphere: As soon as you walk through their doors (which are on 18th Street), you’ll run into their 10-14 stool wooden bar.  On one end of the bar, you’ll see a leg of Serrano ham, which was as good as it looks.   
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I’d definitely go back for their appetizers and to try out their tapas, but I’d skip the paella and try some of their other main courses.  Their desserts looked really good too!  I’m looking forward to going back and trying new dishes.

Details:

  • Reservations required.
  • Hours: Mon-Fri lunch from 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; Mon-Sat 5:30-10:30; closed on Sun
  • Address: 1776 I Street NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202-429-2200

Recently, I went to Panache with a few business associates for lunch. 

  • Food:I usually only go for a quick happy hour and an order of the fried calamari.  The calamari is good, but it’s the aioli that makes it really good.  When I went for lunch, I ordered the rockfish special which was tasty.  It’s been a couple of months since I went so I forgot what the sides were.  I also ordered the Tiramisu for dessert.  I thought it was really good because it was incredibly light. 
  • Service: Good — even for happy hour.
  • Atmosphere: The restaurant is borderline casual and business casual.  They have these huge half-circular booths on the side and then their bar is on the right — just hope you don’t sit immediately by the door on a cold or wet day.  Their bar gets packed for happy hour though.  
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall:I like their happy hours.  The lunch was good, but it wasn’t $$$ good.  Their HH isn’t super upscale, but it’s comfortable (without being like a college happy hour).  It’s a nice middle ground location. I’ve never been at night, but apparently, the atmosphere changes with live music on Thursdays and DJs on Fridays through Sundays.

Happy Hour: Their weekday happy hour is from 4-7 PM and their HH menu has Panache shots for $6 and signature cocktails for $9.  I go for their $4 glasses of wine and calamari appetizer. 

Details:

  • Reservations accepted.
  • Hours: M-F lunch 11 AM-4 PM; M-F Dinner 4 PM-10:30 PM; Saturday 5:30 PM-10:30 PM.
  • Address:1725 Desales St. NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-293-7760

Another place I went during Restaurant Week was Il Mulino New York

  • Food: Recognizing it’s RW and their “free appetizers” aren’t around, they did offer a mixture of cooked eggplant, squash, and some other veggies.  It had no flavor and the fact it was already there when we sat down didn’t add to the appealing factor.  Then I ordered the Inslata Caprese which was really good because of the fresh mozzarella.  Then I ordered parpadelle pasta with sausage.  It was an enormous portion and the sauce (primarily canned tomatoes with a few fresh mixed in) was pretty good because it had a sausage flavor throughout.  I can’t seem to find anything on their Web site that would indicate that the pasta is homemade (which a friend insisted since it’s Il Mulino’s), but I think it was boxed (which is fine).  I make this point now because my friend ordered a salad (which she wasn’t too pleased with) and then mushroom ravioli which was in a heavy cream sauce.  I tried it and thought it was good, but I preferred the one I had at Locanda (with the homemade pasta and light sauce).  Then we both ordered their very good tiramisu which came with a pudding-style Bailey’s on the side and a Pirouline Hazelnut Chocolate.  I know my description is lame, but it’s all I can remember. 😦
  • Service: Our server was strange and that’s the best way I can describe it.  You could tell he clearly detested Restaurant Week by his snide comments (e.g. “You can have that if you pay me an extra dollar.” Umm, seriously?).  Then I also noticed that the servers and busboys were arguing over a table — folks, that’s not something you do in front of customers. 
  • Atmosphere:The front of the restaurant seems a bit generic, but if you can get seated in the back, it has a much more cozy and quaint feel. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall:I am intrigued to go back for all the freebies I seem to keep hearing about and their supposedly impeccable service, but my experience at Restaurant Week definitely makes me hesitate.  Plus, the food they prepared for RW — a time to put your “best foot forward” — didn’t really impress me.  

Details:

  • Reservations required.
  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30 AM-10:30 PM; Friday 11:30 AM-11:30 PM; Sat 5-11:30 PM
  • Address: 1110 Vermont Ave. NW; Washington, DC 20005  
  • Ph: 202-293-1001

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