Wine


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

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

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