french


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

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

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

Owned by the same people who run Cafe Bonaparte, Napoleon opened February 1, 2007 in Adams Morgan.   I had been once before and had ordered a salad which was decent.  But when a friend was in town and wanted to catch up, I thought it’d be time to try this place out again.

  • Food:I ordered C&C Risotto which was made of shrimp and duck confit with creamy risotto and green peas.  The shrimp was tough and overcooked and there were only a couple of pieces of duck, yet the creamy goodness of the risotto seemed to make up for it all.  While it was good and perfectly seasoned, I don’t know if it was $18 worth.  My friend ordered steak frites with a bearnaise sauce (that came on the side).  It was a huge piece of steak and it was really good.  Perfectly cooked and well-seasoned.  The frites were big, thick cut fries.  I prefer the thin fries that are crispy so I didn’t really like them. 
  • Service:Our server was very nice, but one of the busboys was uber attentive — and my poor friend kept having to fight to keep his plate. 
  • Atmosphere: It’s dark wood interior which makes it a comfortable spot on a cold winter day.  During the summer, they offer great outdoor seating.  At night, you can visit their Metropolitan Champagne Bar in the basement where they have DJs spinning on the weekends.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:I wouldn’t order my risotto again, even though it was decent — it’s mostly because it wasn’t worth $18.  I would definitely order the steak frites (without the frites) or try some of their other meat dishes.  Oh!  And they serve my favorite Cabernet

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Wed 5 PM-12 AM; Thurs 5 PM-2 AM; Fri 5 PM-3 AM; Sat 10 AM-3 AM; Sun 10 AM-12 midnight
  • Address: 1847 Columbia Rd. NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-299-9630

Napolean Restaurant

Hi there, I’m P3 and am blogging today’s restaurant review.

My friend and I went to Central Michel Richard at 5:30, before theatre (even though they don’t really have a pre-theatre menu) and it was already starting to fill up fast.

  • Food:To start with, I ordered the iceberg and bleu cheese salad which had too much bleu cheese dressing and the lettuce was chopped (instead of the wedge).  Plus, it wasn’t icy cold.  I did like the nuts they added on top though.  My friend ordered the Caesar salad which he said was OK but was nothing out of the ordinary. It was served with a big crusty crouton.  Since Washingtonian had ranked it as one of the best, I ordered the cheeseburger. It came with fries, which were very good and crispy with a nice seasoning spice. The burger was just OK. Honestly, I think Columbia Station (the jazz place in Adams Morgan) has a better burger. But that might be because I like charbroiled burgers and this didn’t have it.  The burger came with crispy wafers of potato on top, which is interesting, but not enough to make me rave about it.  My friend ordered the mussels with white wine and garlic which was also just OK. Not a whole lot of flavor, but it was a very nice portion size. We got a side of creamed spinach which was bland. We kept tasting it and shaking our heads “No.”  
  • Service: When we arrived, I had to leave my car, with the keys, on the street with three other cars b/c the valets were so busy. (Very trusting of me, I know, but we were running late and fortunately nothing happened this time).  Our waiter was friendly, attentive and considerate of the fact that we mentioned we needed to leave in time for a 7:30 show. 
  • Atmosphere: The Web site says “playful, contemporary” — I guess I agree.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I’m afraid it was another one of those scenarios — heard tons about it, know it’s the “it” place to go, wanted to like it, but Central Michel Richard was mostly a disappointment.

[Ed. note I haven’t been, but Central apparently has great beer offerings.  They have Blusser (only available on tap in 4 places in the U.S. and DC has 2 of them), a German beer bottled exclusively for Richard.] 

Details:

  • Reservations recommended, though they say they accept walk-ins.
  • Hours: Lunch: Monday – Friday, 11:45 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Dinner: Monday – Thursday, 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday Hours: Dinner 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Address: 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-626-0015

**Update 11/20/07: I went.  Click here for my review.**

Super Chef Eric Ripert’s Westend Bistro will be opening on November 8th.  No doubt the line will be ridiculous, but it will be worth it.

His new restaurant, according to Zagat buzz, is going to be “classic French and American fare (think fish burgers with saffron aïoli and roast stuffed chicken).”

As if I didn’t love him already, he has this great quote on his Web page, “A cook and a chef are different entities.  A Chef is a title…but when you are a cook, that is who you are.  It’s your spine and your soul.”

I will definitely being going shortly after it opens, hopefully, I can convince a foodie friend or two to go with me. 

I promise to give you all a full report!

Details:

  • Reservations accepted.
  • Hours: Lunch (starts in Dec): Mon-Sat 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; Dinner: Sun-Thurs 5:30-10 PM; Fri & Sat 5:30-11 PM; Sunday Brunch: 11:30 AM-2:30 PM
  • Address: 1190 22nd Street NW; Washington DC 20037
  • Ph: 202-974-4900

**Update 11/18/08 – Les Halles has closed!**

Quite possibly one of my favorite restaurants in all of DC is Les Halles.  It’s not just because I think they have great mussels, French onion soup, and escargot.  Or the great steak and frites.  Or their alfresco seating.  Nor is it because Anthony Bourdain is associated with the restaurant (though important to note that he’s not the chef of the DC restaurant and is considered “chef-at-large” for the five restaurants).   It’s because I always have great memories and experiences when I’m there.  Whether I’m with one friend or with a group, we always have a fantastic time.   

My idea of a perfect Saturday or Sunday in DC is to eat alfresco at Les Halles around 2 PM with friends.  When you go at this hour, they have a tendency to leave you alone so you can catch up and leisurely eat.   

  • Food: It’s simple, yet fantastic French cuisine.  I’ve never been to France (traveling is something that’s on my list!), but I have to believe it’d be a little bit like this.  The frites can sometimes be a bit soggy (as they were when I just went on Saturday), but you can usually pick out a few crispy ones.  Overall, I have yet to be disappointed by their food and my dining companions have also always enjoyed their meals.  If you only come to DC once, you should order the mussels (white wine, shallot, and garlic) and the steak and frites.  You won’t be disappointed!   
  • Atmosphere: I’ve never sat inside to eat – always alfresco.  As an avid people watcher, Les Halles is a perfect setting for such an activity.  I think you get a decent amount of room between tables so you don’t have to worry about if the guy next to you can hear what you’re saying (unless you’re loud, which, I am sometimes).   
  • Service: Moderately slow.  This is definitely not a place to go if you’re in a rush.  I cannot tell you how many times I have had to wait for various things such as a fork, more bread, etc.  They are good about getting the food out in a reasonable amount of time.  They’re just not speedy when you need something “extra.” 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I only order the mussels and the steak and frites.  Plus, I only go when it’s beautiful out.  But I love this place!

Check out the tags to see if this would make sense for your dining experience.  This is not a great place for vegetarians (unless they eat fish).  And of course, they have a great wine and beverage list.

Details:

  • Reservations are accepted and are strongly encouraged when you go during peak hours. 

  • Hours: 7:30am – 11:30am, Monday – Friday for Breakfast; 11:30am – midnight 7 days a week serving Lunch and Dinner; Saturday & Sunday Brunch

  • Address: 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW; Washington, DC 20004

  • Ph: 202-347-6848