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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

While there is construction occurring around Cafe Soleil, they are still open.  However, I think their outside seating is no longer being offered until the construction is completed.

  • Food:First of all, their online menu and what they offer is different.  I really wanted to order their seafood linguine, but it wasn’t available.  Once my friend and I sat down, they came around with a huge basket of rolls and they cover it up, which makes one think it’s going to be hot rolls.  They’re not.  They’re cold.  Anyway, we then ordered their fried calamari.  It was lightly breaded so that made it good.  The menu said it was coming with tartar sauce, but it was more of an aoili I think.  I ordered the lamb burger and it had a great meat-to-bun ratio.  Plus, the bun was perfectly grilled.  Despite it’s messiness, it was delicious.  There was a little too much cheese for me (overpowered the lamb a little), but it was good.  I liked it.  The sweet potato fries were crispy, but they were cold.  If they would have been hot, it would have been great.  Also, they served it with ketchup but that overpowered the sweet potato fries flavor.  I would serve it with some other sauce.  Then we shared the chocolate molten cake which was good.  It wasn’t too sweet and full of dark chocolate goodness.
  • Service: To put it bluntly, it was horrible.  Despite the near empty restaurant, the servers were absent.  We waited for what felt like forever to get a wine list and then to order our wine.  When we said we would order our food too, the guy said he’d bring our server over.  When the server finally came back to take our dinner order, we never saw him again until our plates had been cleared and we were looking around to grab the dessert menu.  Seriously not good. 
  • Atmosphere: It’s actually bigger than it seems with a lot of seating in the back.  They’ve got a small bar with about 10-12 seats. 
  • Attire: Business casual/casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: I probably won’t run to go back due to their dismal service.  But I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to eating their food again.  At the end of the day though for me, service is a huge reason why I go back to any restaurant so even if they had the best food in the world, bad service isn’t worth it. 

Details:

  • Hours: Monday – Friday 7:00am – 10:00pm; Saturday & Sunday 8:00am – 10:00pm
  • Address: 836 17th Street NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202-974-4260

My love for Korean food continues, but I haven’t found a good sit-down restaurant in DC yet.  Now while I love the Korean cart and Adam Express, neither has real sit-down capabilities.  So when I found out Yee Hwa was in DC and had some good reviews, I was hopeful.  

  • Food:  One of the things I love about Korean food is the banchan.  Now since I went at a dinner, I was expecting more than we were given, but it was still good.  For the main, I ordered vegetable bibim bap — which was pretty good (not as good as Heebeen or Woo Lae Oak) because the egg was too cooked so the rice couldn’t get crunchy.  They charge an extra dollar for the claypot, but it’s definitely worth it (although am bummed they did that).  At the end of our meal, they provided a small cup of cold tea with honey, ginger, and cinnamon (and other spices?).

Yee Hwa Banchan  Yee Hwa Banchan  Yee Hwa Vegetable Bibimbap

  • Service: Our server was very nice, although a little absent. 
  • Atmosphere: It’s a decent sized restaurant and has 40-50 tables.  The booths though need to be redone because where I was sitting, the springs were poking out. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: When you can’t get out to Virginia and want a sit-down Korean restaurant, this place is the closest I’ve found in DC to good Korean.  I’d definitely go back again and try some of their other dishes!

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-10 pm Sat noon – 10 pm Sun noon – 9:30 pm
  • Address: 1009 21st St NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-833-1244

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

When I went to the grocery store last weekend, I happen to be in the spice aisle and noticed they sold a guacamole spice packet.  There’s no need!  Here’s a very simple and authentic guacamole recipe. 

Now when I say authentic, I had invited a couple of friends over for fajitas and beer.  I happened to make this recipe and one of my friends who was born and raised in Mexico, said it’s the closest thing she’s had that tastes like her mom’s recipe.  Wow.

  • 2 jalapenos
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 super firm medium tomato (or 1 seeded tomato)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Put the first 4 ingredients in a blender until chopped.  Then add the tomato and avocado. 

To get the good stuff out of a avocado, cut in half.  Then take a spoon and scoop.  To move the pit, carefully take your knife and hit the pit.  It’ll get stuck and then turn slightly.  Now you have the pit stuck to your knife.  Keep the pit — it’s part of the trick to preventing guacamole turning brown! 

Now chop the tomato and avocado with the other ingredients.  I like to leave some chunks so I don’t put them in the blender for long.  Taste it to see how much salt to add, but be careful to not add too much! 

Serve, but if you find you have leftovers, make sure to put into a plastic container.  Put the pit in the middle and cover the guacamole (so there’s no air remaining) with plastic wrap.  It’ll stay good in the fridge for 2-3 days. 

Homemade Guacamole  Homemade Guacamole  Homemade Guacamole

Seriously, I think you’ll love this guacamole.  And yes, I forgot to buy a red onion at the store so I had to settle for the yellow onion.  While it works, red onion is definitely better.

So I accidently participated in Summer 2008 Restaurant Week.  Let me explain.  I think RW, when it first started, was a lot of fun. It was exciting and people — from the waitstaff to the restaurants to the attendees — enjoyed it.  After my January 2008 experience, I decided I was done.  Some of the restaurants that participated offered such limited options; their waitstaff clearly hate this week; and it stopped being fun. 

That being said, I went to Grillfish.  It was a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try, but it’s also pretty inexpensive if you go besides RW.  So whatever, it gave me a chance to try three different courses.  Unfortunately, when I went at 12:30, they had ran out of a lot of the options so choices were limited. 

  • Food:I ordered the fried calamari which was hot (temperature wise), but had the weirdest batter ever.  I can’t describe it.  It wasn’t right at all for calamari.  The tomato sauce they included wasn’t complimentary to calamari (with a couple of new spices added, it would have been better over meatballs and pasta) and had too many large tomato chunks that made it awkward to dip the calamari.  For my main course, I ordered the shrimp po boy which was such a disappointment I can’t even begin.  First of all, the shrimps were so tiny (alright, more small — they weren’t the canned stuff).  Then when I started to eat it, the sandwich was ice cold.  There was way too much mayo which overpowered the shrimp.  The fries were really crispy though and hot.  So cheers to them for serving some good fries.  Then I originally wanted to get their chocolate bomb cake, but they were out.  So I ordered their chocolate cake with ice cream.  Good cake, but nothing too memorable.
  • Service: Our server was fine. 
  • Atmosphere:The interior reminds me a little bit like Logan @ The Heights (and yes, I know it’s owned by the same restaurant group) with very high ceilings and a comfortable atmosphere.  They have giant chalkboards that list the various fishes of the day. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:Hmm, not sure what I think of this place yet.  I definitely wouldn’t order what I had this time again, but would try some of their grilled fish.   

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 4 PM-7 PM and Saturday and Sunday 5 PM-7 PM with half-priced appetizers and drink specials.   

Details:

  • Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 12 noon-4 PM; Dinner Sun 5 PM-10 PM, Mon-Thurs 4 PM-10 PM, Fri 4 PM-11 PM, Sat 5 PM-11 PM
  • Address: 1200 New Hampshire Ave NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 331-7310

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