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I know how many feel about Lauriol Plaza.  And I am one of those who groans and rolls her eyes when the restaurant comes up as a dinner choice.  But when it was clear I wasn’t going to get out of going this time, I decided to suck it up and go.  Besides, maybe it would be better than the last time I went…

  • Food:  I can’t lie.  Lauriol Plaza is a good place to go when you have a large group of people.  Their chips are always hot, thin, and fresh out of the fryer.  Plus, when you add the fact they’re free — who doesn’t appreciate it?  They offer two sides of salsa — one pico de gallo and the other is a hotter mixture.  Their guacamole is decent with good flavors and chunks of avocado.  I ordered their steak fajitas, which when you think about it, you can’t really mess up.  good.  But make no mistake, they really serve Tex-Mex food.
  • Service: Once you get a table, they are good about getting your order, serving your food, and cleaning up quickly. 
  • Atmosphere: There’s actually three levels and outside seating.  It’s a huge restaurant and can be super loud when it’s packed.  The bar is usually jammed as well. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:  Is it worth the long lines at night and on the weekends?  I’m not a wait in line kind of person so I say no.  If you’ve never been to DC, I’d say to pass this place.  But after living here for five years, it makes sense that you’d try it at least once. 

Details:

  • Reservations are not accepted, but at night and on weekends, be prepared for a super long wait! 
  • Hours: Mon-Thu,Sun 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-12am
  • Address: 1835 18th St NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 387-0035
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3 days with a car and at least 5 bowls of pho.  Obsessed I tell you!  Anyway, I continued to work my way through to the pho places throughout Eden Center in Falls Church.  Today’s pho bowl is from Viet Royale.

viet-royale-page-1  viet-royale-page-2

  • Food: Well, I think their broth is truly outstanding…and it might even be better than Pho Xe Lua.  But, you’ll see the beef is cooked…even though I asked and the waitress promised that the beef would be raw.  Despite the delicious broth, I thought their pho was OK.   The beef was a bit tough, onions were cut too thick, etc. 

Viet Royale - Falls Church VA  Viet Royale Pho Tai  Viet Royale Pho Tai

  • Service: I ordered to-go so it was fine.
  • Atmosphere:Interior has more character than a lot of pho places.  It’s one big room with probably 25-30 tables.  In the back, they have a small bar which is where you order your food-to-go.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price:  $
  • Overall:I’d skip the pho and order some of the other Vietnamese dishes they offer. 

Details:

  • Hours: 10 AM-11 PM Daily
  • Address: 6767 Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: (703) 533-8388

A few years ago (2-3), I went to Odeon Cafe and had a really great Italian dinner.  The food was delicious, service was good, and had an overall positive experience.  When a couple of friends wanted to go to brunch one Sunday, I didn’t hesitate to mention Odeon Cafe since a different friend had recommended the place.  Since I enjoyed my meal the last time I was there and so did she, I thought this would be a great brunch…

  • Food:I ordered the Cafe Odeon Benedict eggs.  The entire plate was cold and the poached eggs were terribly overcooked (the yolk was completely hard).  The potatoes had no flavor.  One friend ordered the salmon crepes which was the loser of the table.  The crepes were too thick, doughy, and chewy.  There was no salmon flavor whatsoever.   The winning plate was the salmon egg white omelet, but it was also cold.  However, the eggs were nicely cooked with a nice salmon flavor. 
  • Service: Despite an empty restaurant, the server rarely appeared.  When he did stop by the table, he was nice.
  • Atmosphere: There are two stories and in the summer, the windows in the front open.  On the left-hand side, there’s a bar (about 12-15 stools). 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:Did the restaurant change owners?  Did they get a new chef?  Who knows?  Stick to the egg white omelet with salmon for brunch and it’ll be OK.   I haven’t been in a long time for dinner but would love to hear from you about your experiences…

Details:

  • Hours: Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 9:00am – 4:00pm; Lunch: Daily: 11:30am – 4:00pm; Dinner: Nightly: 4:00pm – 12:00am
  • Address: 1714 Connecticut Ave N.W.; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 328-6228

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

When I rent a car, I make the most of it.  I rented a car for three days and ate pho everyday at least once a day.  Yes, I’m obsessed with pho.  Since I am on a personal mission to find the best pho in the area, I am slowly trying each place at Eden Center in Falls Church, VA.  Today’s pho restaurant is Huong Viet (the menu is here).

Huong Viet

  • Food:  While I have since heard Huong Viet has amazing apps and entrees besides pho, I only ordered pho.  They only offer 3 pho bowls — Pho Dac Biet (which is what I ordered); Pho Bo Vien (beef balls); or Pho Ga (chicken).  I did ask if they would serve the beef raw and on the side as one commenter suggested, the server said they couldn’t do that.  Instead, as you can see from the photo, the beef was cooked.  While the broth was good, I didn’t think it was all that memorable. 

Huong Viet Pho Tai

  • Service: Our server was nice.
  • Atmosphere: The restaurant has around 15-20 tables and a back bar.  The tables have glass tops and wooden chairs.  You can see the photos of the restaurant here.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:Like a lot of the restaurants in Eden Center, they only accept cash or checks (no credit cards!).  Now that I’ve been and know that they’re better known for food besides their pho, I’m looking forward to trying some of their other offerings!  

Details:

  • Hours:  Fri-Sat 10 am-11 pm; Sun-Thu 10 am-10 pm
  • Address: 6785 Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: (703) 538-7110

Well, this was a rather disappointing recipe for jalapeno poppers to be honest with you — and from Epicurious too! 

There were multiple problems but I have some ideas on how one might be able to fix this.   But first, the problems.  One issue that isn’t Epicurious’ fault is the jalapeno itself.  The exterior is slick and there’s nothing for the breading to hold on to.  The second is that the shredded cheese doesn’t work at all.  It’s too messy. 

The breading recipe itself is great and when it was able to stay on the jalapeno, it was awesome. 

Jalapeno Poppers  Jalapeno Poppers  Jalapeno Poppers  Fried Jalapeno Poppers

I thought the baked jalapeno poppers were really good and next time, I think I’d just stick to baking them.  I think it was at 375 for about 10-15 minutes or until the breading was brown and the cheese was melted.

Baked Jalapeno Poppers

UPDATE 11/1/2008— I made these again.  Here are the modifications I made:

  • I did use an apple core and carefully cut off the tops and de-seeded the jalapenos.  Then I cut a chunk of mozzarella and put inside the jalapeno. 

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • I put the chunk of cream cheese in the freezer.  While I didn’t wait for it to actually freeze, I did spread the cream cheese on the mozzarella.  But if I would have waited for it to freeze, I would have cut a chunk and put it inside with the mozzarella.

Fried Jalapenos with Cream Cheese

  • Then I took the peeler and carefully peeled pieces of the jalapeno skin off.  If you look carefully to the photo, you’ll see some of the skin is removed.

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • Next I dipped in the egg and bread crumb (though I used panko) mixture. 

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • Then I fried in vegetable oil.  If you had a real fryer, you could definitely use the grill skewers and put on the top to fry.   You can also bake them as those taste great too!

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • I fried normally, but it still worked (although it did goop out a little).

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • It was still excellent and good modifications.  I now can recommend this recipe!

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So here are my ideas that might make this work better — I haven’t tried it yet though so don’t hold me to it!

  • Reverse the jalapeno so the outside is now the inside and the inside is now outside.  That gives it the texture  so the breading can hold on.  Don’t cut the bottom off, but cut the top off the same way you carve a pumpkin so the top can sit on top when frying — use an apple core to cut the top and de-seed the jalapeno. 
    • Or what about using wonton wrappers for the outside to seal it up and give the breading something to hold on to?  That might work too!
  • Use a chunk of cheese (e.g. provolone) to put on the inside, not shredded cheese — some recommended using cream cheese too and that sounds like that would be good.
  • Seal it up with toothpicks.
  • When it’s ready for frying, use grill skewers and put through the tops of the jalapenos so that you can dip the majority of the jalapeno into the hot oil. 

I love french fries.  They’re right up there with chocolate for me.  Fries?  Yes please!  But they’re so not healthy…

So here’s my attempt to make them a little healthier:

  • 2 Russet potatoes, cleaned and cut into wedges (slice in half long way, then half the half again, then those in half again)
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary coarsely chopped
  • 1 /2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp minced onions
  • 2 TBSP Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup of panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400.  BTW, make sure to clean those potatoes — check out the before and after photo! 

Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges  Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges

Then coat the potato wedges very well in the vegetable oil.  Mix the other ingredients (rosemary, garlic powder, onions, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs) in a separate bowl.  Now put the potato wedges (making sure they’re not touching) on aluminum foil on a baking sheet (or I used my cast iron skillet). 

Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges  Homemade Potato Wedges

Bake for 20 minutes and then flip.  Then bake for another 20 minutes or until they’re crispy.

Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges  Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges

Enjoy!

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