McPherson Square


Organic To Go has taken over downtown DC (or at least it seems).  This chain has come out of no where to suddenly seem as ubiquitous as Pot Belly or Cosi.  I had to check it out and see if there was substance to the hype. 

  • Food: I have to combine service, atmosphere, and food together for this one.  First of all, from their cafe menu, it appears they have a lot of great sandwiches.  However, what they don’t tell you is that more than half of them are actually pre-made.  I hate pre-made sandwiches so that immediately removed a number of the sandwiches.  To see what is available, you have to look at the limited list of sandwiches on the board (above the cash registers) and then there’s more sandwiches at the sandwich counter (but they’re not labeled so you don’t know what kind they are).  Now that you know what sandwiches are actually available and you determine which one you want, you then order at the register and pay.  Then your sandwich can be picked up at the counter.  Anyway, I finally figured out I wanted the turkey veggie (photo on the left) and my friend ordered the turkey pepper jack (photo on the right).  The turkey veggie was good.  But my friend’s description of the turkey pepper jack was awesome — she said it was greasy and tasted like McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin.  Strange and relieving I didn’t order it.  Oh, and they were doing inventory when I was there (at about 11:30 AM) — kinda strange to do it at that time.  

Organic to Go Turkey Veggie  Organic to Go Turkey Pepperjack

  • Service: The cashier people were nice, but the counter people were not, so I never did find out what was in the counter sandwich display.
  • Atmosphere: See “food” section above.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:I have to wonder if they thought the fast expansion through.  For being a chain with multiple stores in multiple cities, it seems they grew too fast and didn’t take the time to make sure they could actually make the food correctly.  Plus, they had a sign when I was there that said they were no longer making pizza since they couldn’t guarantee uniformity with corporate.  Before they open up any more stores, I’d suggest first streamlining the ordering process and making it clear which sandwiches are available freshly made versus pre-made.  Then we can talk about what exactly is in that turkey pepper jack that makes it taste like a Sausage McMuffin…

Details:

  • Hours: M-F / 6:30AM – 4:00PM
  • Address: 927 15th Street NW; Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: 800-304-4550

Next to LIMA, I have walked by this place on numerous occassions thinking, “I wonder how it is…”  Well wonder no more.  I went to Bangkok One.

  • Food: Seriously, do you even have to ask?  I ordered pad thai with tofu and medium spice.  When I opened my container to dig in, the TOFU pad thai smelled like seafood which I thought was weird.  Then when I started to dig in, I realized there were three shrimps included.   Thankfully, I’m not allergic to seafood, but heads up in case you are.  Once I started eating, I noticed there was a great balance between sweetness because the instant I thought, “Oh, that was really sweet” I’d get hit with the spice.  But what was the most disappointing was that I ordered pad thai with TOFU and there was no tofu.  You can see in the photo.  Seriously, do you see any tofu in there?  The restaurant wasn’t very busy so I have to admit that I am surprised at the bad order.  It was a bit greasy, but not too bad at all.  There was only 2-3 bean sprouts (no lie) and a couple of green onions.  If I had to guess, they had an order for pad thai with shrimp and when I put my order in, they decided to double up in the wok.  So to the person who ordered the pad thai with shrimp, I think your order got the good stuff.  Mine stinks.  It was basically noodles.  Where was the tofu?  Bean sprouts?  Green onions? 

Bangkok One Pad Thai

  • Service: They were very nice when I ordered to go.  If you’re ordering to go, walk straight back to the bar. 
  • Atmosphere: Inside there’s 30-40 tables.  The walls are painted sea blue and while the decorations aren’t the greatest, it’s not bad.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Well, considering I ordered pad thai with tofu and there was no tofu, this was a disappointment. There were no bean sprouts or green onions either.  And the to-go container only had a fork and no chopsticks.  Bummer.

Details:

  • Hours: Mon – Fri: 11:30 am – 10:30 pm; Sat: 12:00 pm – 10:30 pm
  • Address: 1411 K St NW; Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: 202-393-6277

I was excited to see the Golden Triangle was getting a new Thai restaurant, Pasara.  Pasara has a restaurant in Alexandria, but as we all know, I rarely get out to NoVA (or Maryland).

  • Food: I ordered their grilled calamari salad and pad thai with tofu (and no peanuts).  First, the calamari salad had some great heat.  It was a bit heavy on the seasoning and I think there was some cardamom in there too.  So I wasn’t completely in love with the salad.  Now to the pad thai.  It was good because of the hot (temperature) but not spicy at all (my fault, forgot to ask for the heat!).  However, it was a bit greasy — you could tell see the grease on the plastic fork they gave me (no chopsticks – boo). 

Pasara Grilled Calamari Salad  Pasara Grilled Calamari Salad  Pasara Pad Thai Tofu

  •  Service: I ordered to go.
  • Atmosphere: When you walk in, their entrance isn’t big (shockingly small actually) which is forgiveable since they offer so much seating.  There are two stories with the 2nd floor overlooking the 1st floor.  While there’s a lot of seating, it’s not too squished.  On the right hand side, you’ll see 12-16 stool bars on the right hand side.  The interior is beautifully arranged and designed.  It’s a medium dark wood interior with great accent pieces throughout the restaurant.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Overall, I am glad Pasara moved into the Golden Triangle.  It’s another good dining option in the area.  At the same time, there’s too much grease for me on their Pad Thai.  Now that I know how to make it, I don’t understand the grease.  Also, here’s the menu

Pasara Menu  Pasara Menu  Pasara Menu  Pasara Menu

Details:

  • Hours: Sat & Sun 12 noon-10 PM; Mon-Fri 11 AM-10 PM
  • Address:1219 Connecticut Ave NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 223-3777

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

My friend got discounted tickets through Goldstar for Hairspray and so we decided to do dinner beforehand at Haad Thai

  • Food:We ordered the spring rolls which were really good.  They were lightly fried and flaky.  The sweet and sour sauce were definitely canned, but it worked.  The vegetarian Pad Thai we ordered was different.  While we ordered ours with medium heat, it had no spice.  In addition, the tofu was a bit hard and not spongy like it was supposed to be.   
  • Service: Our server was polite, but very confused when we asked for more chilies for our Pad Thai.  In the end, she brought out a simple 3 jar rack with 3 different kinds of chilies — perfect!
  • Atmosphere: The walls have a tropical theme and if you visit their Web site, you can see the photos.  From the photos, it seems like you’re sitting outside, but in reality at the restaurant, you know you’re not.  However, they do have pretty big windows (perhaps floor-to-ceiling — can’t remember) so it was very light inside.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: I’d go back for their spring rolls and to try their calamari.  But I didn’t think their Pad Thai was great.  On the upside, beer is around $4 at all times so it’s almost as if they had a happy hour.  I can see why people who work in this area would like to go there for a quick lunch though.

Details:

  • Reservations not required.
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 11:30 AM-2:30 PM, 5-10:30 PM; Saturday 12 PM-10:30 PM; Sunday 5 PM-10:30 PM
  • Address: 1100 New York Ave; Washington DC 20005 (entrance is on 11th Street)
  • Ph: 202-682-1111

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

UPDATE 9/2008 — This is my new comfort food.  I go here so many times, it’s ridiculous.  My favorite is the spicy chicken bibimbap.  Yum!!!!

A friend of mine was raving about the Bulgogi cart — and with my love of cart food, I was intrigued and looking forward to going.  And avid readers of my blog know I don’t go to the same restaurant because I’m trying to try out as many restaurants as possible.  But in this case, I went twice. 

  • Food: They seem to be mostly known for their bulgogi, but they also serve bibimbap.  While I LOVE, LOVE bibimbap, I thought I should branch out (and besides, I knew I was going to come back). Plus, my friend said the bulgogi was really good.  I ordered the chicken version (they also have a vegetarian and beef one) and spicy.  There was a little Iceburg lettuce covered in a very light (rice?) vinegar and a side of kimchi.  The kimchi was really good and had such a great, unique flavor (of course, every Korean family makes kimchi differently).  The chicken bulgogi was pretty good and a little bit spicy (although they used all dark meat).  My second trip, I ordered their bibimbap (or as it’s on their menu, bibimbab).  While it’s traditionally with beef, I went with chicken again.  So good — it was healthy with a great mixture of vegetables, egg, and rice.  Plus, there’s a ridiculous amount of food — I mean, take a look at these photos!  The one on the left is the chicken bulgogi, middle is chicken bibimbap, next is spicy beef bibimbap, and the one on the right is of the cart (just so you don’t misss it!). 

Bulgogi Chicken  Bulgogi Cart Bibimbap Chicken  Bibimbap with Beef from Bulgogi Cart  Bulgogi Cart

  • Service: When I went, it seemed like it was a very nice mom and son who were working the bright yellow cart.
  • Atmosphere: It’s a cart!  You can only grab and go.
  • Attire: Whatever you want, IT’S A CART!!!  Ha, this is why I love carts.
  • Price: $
  • Overall:For $6.75 $7, this is a great place for lunch.  They offer ample portions in the Styrofoam container of the bulgogi chicken over white rice.  There was definitely enough food for lunch and dinner.  So yummy!  Oh, and here’s the menu:

Bulgogi Cart Menu  Bulgogi Cart Menu  Bulgogi Cart Menu  Bulgogi Cart Menu

Details:

  • Hours: 11ish AM-2ish PM Monday-Friday
  • Address: 14th and L (SE Corner of L and 14th Streets between N 14th St & N Vermont Ave) — it’s the bright yellow cart.  You can’t miss it.

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

I love NY-deli style sandwiches.  There’s something about that HUGE sandwich with three inches of freshly sliced meat on soft rye with a side of pickles…oh wow.  Damn, I have to get to NY. 

Anyway, I had heard a lot about Loebs Deli and thought I had to try it out for myself.  A restaurant that’s been around for 49 years — that means they have to serve something pretty good right?

  • Food: I ordered their pastrami on light rye and matzo ball soup.  The pastrami was warm and had a bit more fat on it than Eli’s, so that means it was a bit juicier.  It was really good.  The matzo ball soup was pretty good too — though the two baby carrots were a little strange (Right?  Or is that just me?).  While the sandwich was good, it wasn’t exactly like a NY-style deli sandwich, but it was close (so is Eli’s).  BTW, this is definitely not a Kosher restaurant (they serve cheeseburgers).   My friend ordered a side of fries and they were these huge thick cut steak fries.  I’m usually not a fan of such fries, but these were really good.  They were crispy and hot.  Yum!

Loebs Deli Pastrami Sandwich  Loebs Matzo Ball Soup

  • Service: Knowing it’s a family-ran joint made the experience even that much more fun.  It did feel like you stepped into a NY deli with their thick NY accents.  They were really nice and we got our food in 15 minutes.
  • Atmosphere: Inside there’s about 20 tables making it a pretty big lunch spot.  When you walk in, you can either go straight to order if you’re staying in (which means you grab a tray) or you go to the right where you can put in your to go food. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: Be prepared — they only accept cash or American Express.  If you’re looking for a menu, here you go: Loebs Deli Menu.  The food is really good and I’d definitely go back.  Would I rather go to Eli’s or Loebs?  Hmm, tough decision…

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday breakfast from 6 a.m.-11 a.m.; 11 AM-4 PM lunch
  • Address: 832 15th Street NW, Washington DC
  • Ph: 202-371-1150

I went to Corduroy in their old location (Four Points Sheraton) with a client and a colleague. 

  • Food:We ordered the oysters on the half shell with champagne mignonette which was really good.   I could have eaten 30 of these (OK, maybe only 25).  We also started with Filipino styled eggrolls.  There were two rolls on the plate that were the same size as a long cigar — about 4 inches long.  They were fried to perfection and had a nice pork taste.  Then all three of us ordered the roasted lamb with garlic mashed potatoes.  My client wanted to order the veal, but was told they were out of it and would substitute chicken.  The lamb was really good and the potatoes were so tasty!  Although I ordered medium rare, while the others ordered medium.  Everyone’s came out medium rare.  In addition, there was a side that was quite unique and we didn’t know what it was (and were running late so we needed to rush through lunch).  But perhaps some of you who have been to Corduroy will know what it was?  It was a quarter of the size of a red potato, but was a bit crunchy.  It was white and didn’t have a strong flavor. 
  • Service: Our server was nice and my ice tea glass was never less than half-empty/full. 
  • Atmosphere: It doesn’t matter since they’re moving to their new location, right?  This location is closed January 31st.  They’re moving to 1122 9th Street NW (Chinatown/Penn Quarter) and will be open March 2008.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: I’m looking forward to going to their new location in Chinatown/Penn Quarter.  I think it’s a good restaurant that offers solid food. 

Details:

  • Reservations recommended.
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 6:30 am – 10:30 am, Monday – Saturday: 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm; Saturday – Sunday: 7:00 am – 11:00 pm (Not open for lunch or dinner on Sundays)
  • Address: 1201 K St. NW — Four Points Hotel, Washington, DC 20005 (until Jan 31st); Reopen March 2008 at 1122 9th Street NW (Chinatown/Penn Quarter).
  • Ph: 202-589-0699

I went to LIMA with a group of friends a few weeks ago and had a fantastic time. 

  • Food: I had seen some mixed reviews, but I still wanted to try this Latin-infused cuisine.  We had decided to order some mojitos (which were good) and some appetizers.  Up first was the Ceviche Mixto, which was mixed seafood with lime, hot chilies, onions, and cilantro.  The fish was flavorful, fresh, and had a little bit of a kick.  We also ordered their Taste of Spanish Cured Meats which were also tasty.I had ordered the Grilled Chilean Sea Bass, which was perfectly cooked.  From their menu, it says, “sautéed in cashew-cilantro crust wild mushrooms and roasted root vegetables.” It had a nice crisp exterior with a rich flavor.  It might even be the best Chilean Sea Bass I’ve tasted.  My 3 other dining companions got the same dish – the Cuban Dinner with Chicken.  The menu said it was a roasted half a chicken “‘encebollado’ with lime braised red onions steamed aged basmati rice, black beans, and fried green plantains.”  I thought the chicken was really good, moist with excellent flavor. Even my friend who had a rotisserie (will tell that story in a later post) said it was one of the best chickens she’s ever had.  The downside of the meal?  The fried green plantains.  We concurred it was the worst part of the meal. 

  • Service: We had a very nice server who was very nice and offered great suggestions.

  • Atmosphere:We sat upstairs and right by the kitchen door.  It was a bit strange to seat us there since there weren’t a lot of others in the dining room.  Regardless, it wasn’t a bad table. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable upstairs

  • Attire: Business casual

  • Price: $$$

  • Overall: I’d definitely want to go back for dinner.  It seems like a place I’d want to avoid on weekends (unless you’re OK with standing in line to get into a bar).  I have a sense that the atmosphere on the weekends completely changes the audience/crowd too. 

It would be a great place to go for the first date.  In the summer, they have these huge sofas outside so it’s great to grab a drink before dinner.  They have a great wine and beverage list along with a beautiful upscale bar downstairs.                                                                               

The lounge has weekly DJs that play house and dance music.  Bottle service is also available.                            

Happy Hour: 5:00-7:00PM $5 Call Drinks; $4.50 House Wines; $4 Import Beers; $3 Domestic Beers; $4.50 Johnnie Walker Red, Absolut Vodka & Jack Daniels mix drinks; $5 Beef Empinadas

Details:

  • Reservations are accepted and recommended 

  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 5:30pm-10:30pm; Fri & Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm; Sun restaurant is closed but Lounge open 9 pm-2 am.

  • Address: 1401 K Street NW; Washington, DC 20005

  • Ph: (202) 789-2800