Washington, DC

Pulpo August 2013

Disclosure: Two weeks ago I received an invitation to a complimentary tasting experience at Pulpo.  The restaurant recently hired Chef Billy Klein and radically reinvented their menu.  In the words of the invitation they now have “a vastly improved core menu, a top-flight craft cocktail program, greatly enhanced standards of service, and coming in Autumn; Billy Klein’s tasting menus and chef’s table.”  This all means that the meal you’re about to see was free but all of the opinions are my honest and non-influenced thoughts as well as those of my dining companions.  

We arrived a bit early for our 5pm reservation since we opted to take the Metro.  The restaurant is less than two blocks away from the Cleveland Park Metro station and, since parking is limited to street parking and I don’t parallel park, riding the Metro was easy and painless. The hostess was very friendly and happy to seat us right away.  She warned us that the brunch crew hadn’t completely left upstairs, so that it would be a bit noisy for a few more minutes, but I certainly didn’t notice an unpleasant volume.  Art, who is a bit sound sensitive, did notice the increased volume, but only when we were first seated.  During the rest of the meal the noise level in the restaurant was great for all of to enjoy each other’s company.  

The décor of the restaurant was really lovely.  It felt casual, relaxed, and architecturally interesting.  The exposed brick on the walls and the duct work on the ceiling was a nice touch.  There is plenty of seating on the first floor, including tables for parties as large as ten.  In the back of the downstairs dining area is a glass walled kitchen that allows you to see what’s going on.  Our table was a four top at the front of the restaurant with a huge window and plenty of light.  

We were given menus to peruse and our waiter, Kai, took our drink orders.  Brian ordered the manager’s special wine which is a Tempranillo.  I’m never sure if I should take and share pictures of wine, but here you go.  He enjoyed it!

I normally stick with water at restaurants due to my allergies, but our amazing waiter mentioned that they also had virgin cocktails and agua frescas.  Agua fresca?  Tell me more!  The three flavors they had that day were cucumber with lime and mint, mango, and watermelon.  Since I can’t eat mango or watermelon, the choice was easy for me.  The cucumber was amazing.  I ended up drinking three of them.  Delicious, sweet, bright, and ridiculously flavorful.  Did I mention that I drank three of these?!

The chef came to our table to introduce himself and give us an idea of his vision for the menu.  He’s aiming for a modern take on tapas with a goal to respect the high-quality ingredients that he starts with.  Lance and I had actually been to another tapas two weeks before with my parents and we could tell that the menu was much less traditional at Pulpo than it had been at the other place.  We also couldn’t help but note than Pulpo has significantly fewer offerings, which we’ve learned is always a positive sign for a restaurant.  

Then the food started coming.  I hadn’t been 100% sure that it was going to be a tasting menu, but I had complained to both Art and Lance that everything on the menu looked too good and I wasn’t going to be able to decide.  I’m glad I ended up not having to!  Neither Art nor Brian had ever had a tasting menu experience, so this made the whole experience even more exciting.  

Our first two dishes were the two gazpachos on the menu.  The green one is Asparagus Gazpacho with saffron soft-boiled egg and black caviar.  The red one is Sandia [Watermelon] Gazpacho with house-made ricotta.  Wow.  The saltiness of the caviar added a really nice flavor to go along with the delicious asparagus flavor.  The asparagus was really the star of the show that was enhanced by the egg and the caviar.  The sandia gazpacho was even better.  I’m not supposed to eat watermelon, but I had to try a taste of it anyway.  The house-made ricotta was so perfect and creamy.  This is actually the first time I’ve been sad that I can’t eat watermelon.  

Our third dish was the Bacon Brussel Sprouts.  I love Brussels sprouts and tend to order them whenever they’re on the menu.  And, without fail, I’m always disappointed.  They’re always over cooked and either taste like boiled or burnt cabbage.  These were amazing.  The outer leaves were crisp, the centers were tender but not mushy, the flavor was superb.  This, like every other plate of our meal, was demolished.  Apparently we have our server to thank for this one, since Kai suggested to the chef to include it as it’s one of Kai’s favorites.  Thank you, Kai!

Our fourth dish was one of the signature dishes.  Pulpo means octopus and this is Octopus prepared with quinoa, olives, oranges, and parsley.  None of us had ever eaten octopus before and Art does not eat seafood or fish.  However, he decided that he was going to try everything anyway – I was super impressed by him for this determination.  We all tried the octopus and we all loved it.  The flavor was fantastic, the texture was nicely chewy, the citrus and quinoa paired excellently with the octopus.  Art and Brian both enjoyed the olives as well.  This was a very well conceived dish and surprised us all.  I also like that this dish didn’t look scary - there wasn’t a big tentacle or baby octopus head on the plate.  Instead, there were just bite-sized pieces of meat in a pleasing presentation.  I think this is a good call on the chef’s part.  [Update: Brian actually has had octopus before.  He says that this octopus was very well cooked and not at all rubbery as the octopus he’s had in the past has been.]

Next out was Sea Scallops with sweetcorn puree, blistered padron peppers, and angry popcorn.  It’s worth mentioning that Brian is quite a lover of scallops and he tends to order then whenever they’re on a menu.  He said that these were the best he’s ever had and that Art will be spoiled forever.  I have eaten scallops before and I agree with Brian.  If all scallops were like this, I’d order them everywhere too!  The sear was perfection and they were supremely tender inside.  The sweetcorn puree and popcorn were both flavorful and Art claimed the peppers.  

Our sixth dish was the Chorizo Pate with avocado mousse and pickled cauliflower.  This was another amazing dish.  I loved the buttery creaminess of the avocado and the pickled bite of the cauliflower with the garlicky and spicy pate.  Another really well composed dish.  

Dish seven was ‘Ropa Vieja’ with black beans and tostones.  This is the dish where it could have all gone wrong since Art is a total brisket snob.  Yet again, though, Chef Billy hit it out of the park.  The flavor of the brisket was fantastic, the tostones were crisp and flavorful, and the black bean puree was awesome.  Normally bean purees can be so bland and boring, but this was neither of those things.  We had no idea what the tostones were and decided they must be fried potato things, but google tells me that they’re plantains.  They were extremely tasty and the three components of the dish really complimented each other.  

Then the Smoked Pork Tacos arrived with salsa verde and pickled radishes.  Another delicious meat dish.  The pork was super tender and flavorful and the radishes added a great crunch and bite to the dish.  These were served on corn tortillas.  

Our ninth dish was a slider platter.  For the record, sliders are really hard to split four ways.  If you’re going to attempt this, we found that removing the top bun first makes for easier cutting, otherwise the bun smooshes everything when you cut.  From left to right our sliders were lamb, octopus, and pork belly.  The pork belly had some sort of pickle and the octopus included cabbage, bravas sauce, and aioli.  I forgot to ask about the lamb slider.  Even though we all only had a small bite of each of these, we were all very impressed.  The meats were all just packed with flavor.  

Lucky dish number ten was the Mac and Cheese with manchego, cavatelli, sweet peas, and crispy Serrano ham.  Special mac and cheeses are another thing I’ve tried to order in restaurants from time to time and they’re always a let down.  The flavors tend to be unbalanced or, even worse, the pasta is mushy.  This mac and cheese was superb.  The pasta was perfectly cooked with a nice texture, the Serrano ham was very crispy and nicely salty.  The manchego added a rich, buttery, creamy sort of taste to every bite.  Even Lance loved this dish and he is not a mac and cheese lover.  Art felt that it was closer to a carbonara than a mac and cheese, but this is probably because he’s a bit picky about what things are called.  (For example, we have to call pizza with non-traditional toppings “flatbread with toppings” around him.  Since pizza is something very specific in his mind.) 

Brian ordered another glass of wine!  I don’t have a note of what this was because he ordered one type and our waiter, Kai, suggested that he try a different one due to the upcoming dishes.  I thought that was pretty cool and Art ended up getting a glass for himself as well!  I tried a taste and it had a peppery, spicy sort of bite to it.  Sadly I didn’t note the name of the wine.  

Our final entrée dish was the Paella.  This was a combination of saffron risotto, peas, shrimp, mussels, chorizo, scallop, and piquillo peppers.  Risotto is one of those delicious things that I love to eat.  However, my experiences with it in restaurants have been hit or miss.  The saffron risotto which formed the base of this dish was lovely.  The rice was perfectly cooked and delicious.  The chorizo and peppers flavored the entire dish and we divvied up the seafood.  Art even tried a mussel!  This was a very flavorful dish and I’m sure that a lover of seafood, rice, and paella would thoroughly enjoy it.  If I was forced to pick a least favorite dish, this would be it, but that would be an unfair designation since everything was so excellent.  This was too, it just had a combination of flavors that I’m not in love with.  

Our last dish, number twelve, was a dessert called Tres Leches v2.0.  It’s described on the menu as “Billy’s unique take on a standard angel food cake, goat cheese frosting, dulce de leche, sheep’s milk foam, blueberries, and crumble.”  So, in addition to the normal “three milks,” Chef Billy included the milk of three animals as well.  The variety of the milks helped to temper the sweetness of the components and this was a fantastic little dessert.  

As we were finishing our dessert, the chef came back out to talk with us and answer all of our questions.  We talked about high quality ingredients and pointed out the dishes that particularly impressed us.  He explained to Art his brisket process, which is a three-day process involving rubbing the meat an entire day before cooking it.  He also deep fries the Brussels sprouts which is what makes them the best I’ve ever had.  He took a good 10-15 minutes to answer our questions and chat, which was pretty grand.  The general manager, Dave, also came out to introduce himself at that point and let us know that the whole meal was on the house.  

This was a really amazing experience.  The amount of food we were given was perfect and the pacing was spot on.  We were all pleasantly full but didn’t feel stuffed.  The restaurant atmosphere was great and relaxed. They filled up as the evening went on and, from what we could see, every other table was receiving the same level of service that we were.  The service was great!  Our glasses were always full and Kai was knowledgeable, attentive, and friendly.  

This was the first tasting menu that Brian and Art have ever had and they were both super happy with the experience.  They’re both eager to go back again in the future and we’re hoping to make that happen before too much time passes by!  Just a quick glance at the menu and I see 10 things on the menu that I want to try and didn’t get to, not to mention all the things we had that I loved so much I want to eat again.  

This is a tapas restaurant, which means that plates are small and intended to be shared.  It’s normal for people to order 2 to 4 dishes each.  I felt that the dishes here, when compared to the other tapas place we had visited, were better composed and thought out.  While sharing does add to my personal enjoyment at a restaurant like this, I do think that a person would be completely satisfied to order their own plates and horde them.  I certainly had a few dishes I would have liked to keep all to myself!  

I highly recommend that you give Pulpo a try when you’re in the DC area.  It’s a super easy restaurant to get to from the Red Line and the food and service were stellar.  We will definitely dine here again in the future, and you should too.  

Total price: unknown.  We tipped $60 based on Lance’s quick math with the menu and our enjoyment.  

Pulpo Restaurant
3407 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008

Reservations: 202.450.6875 (and OpenTable)

Pulpo on Urbanspoon

Founding Farmers Park Potomac February 2012

Art’s birthday is in February and one of his favorite restaurants is Founding Farmers.  We had heard that the owners had opened a new location in Park Potomac, and, thinking that it would be the same as the DC location, we decided to go with the suburban location since the travel time would be about the same. 

Sadly, I am made of fail and did not read through the menu in its entirety which means the fish bowl of mousse Art had his heart set on was unavailable at the Potomac location.  Thankfully he was a trooper and persevered in the face of adversity. 

Brian joined us for Art’s birthday meal, but he was a bit late so we went ahead and guessed at what to order for appetizers. 

lollisBacon Lollis and Tater Tots

We’ve loved the bacon lollis at the DC location, and knew we had to get them again.  This location also has homemade tater tots and that’s a combination of words I can’t say no to.  I love tater tots!  These were all grand and the presentation was unique. 

flatbreadFlatbread Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, Pickled Red Onion

We had eyed the flatbreads at the DC location and decided to go ahead and try them here.  The only downside to this appetizer is that there were only 3 breads and 4 of us!  But the do-it-yourself assembly worked well and all of the ingredients went well together. 

skirt steakSkirt Steak Chimichurri Sauce

This was my entrée.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love skirt steak.  This was nicely prepared and the sauce was lovely.  I was a bit disappointed that the seasonal veggie side was potatoes.  Two sides of potatoes isn’t really my ideal arrangement.  There were a few carrots in with the roasted potatoes and those were tasty. 

chickenFried Chicken and Waffles Mac and Cheese, Chef’s Vegetables

Art and Brian both ordered the chicken and waffles.  This is because they are both weird.  From what I could tell they were both happy with their choice – the waffles were crispy and so was the chicken.  The mac and cheese wasn’t a winner, but I’ve learned that restaurant mac and cheese rarely is.  Their veg was also the roasted root vegetable assortment that I received. 

filetGrilled Center Cut 8oz Filet

Lance ordered the filet and it also came with sides of potatoes and more potatoes.  The steak was prepared nicely. 

breadSkillet Honey Butter Cornbread

Art had wanted to order the biscuits, but they were out of them for the evenings so he ordered the cornbread instead.  It was just as delicious as it is at the DC location and I love the little corn bits!

Carrot CakeFarmer Marcy’s Carrot Cake Bourbon Caramel Pecan Ice Cream

Art got the carrot cake and didn’t like it very much.  I guess there are multiple kinds of carrot cake and this is the kind that Art’s not a fan of.  Sad times. 

cakeFlourless Chocolate Cake Vanilla Ice Cream, Berries

Lance’s dessert was also a bit of a letdown.  He said the cake tasted stale, like it had been made a few days before instead of fresh on the spot. 

peanut butter pieChocolate Peanut Butter Pie Caramel Corn Cluster, Chocolate Sauce

Thankfully the dessert tide turned with Brian’s dessert which looked insanely amazing.  I tried a little bite and it was like a big, huge Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  I almost had dessert envy. 

beignetsUncle Buck’s Beignets Raspberry, Chocolate and Caramel Sauces

I didn’t have dessert envy, though, because my dessert was awesome.  The beignets were fresh, hot, little dough balls of awesomeness.  I went with triple chocolate sauce since I’m not a fan of either berry sauces or caramel.  I’d go back just for these beignets – or I should learn how to make them myself.  So delicious!  I couldn’t finish them all so I got a little take away box and they were just as tasty cold later.  Yum. 

The service at the new location was certainly great and there were some great aspects to our meal.  Sadly some of the desserts and entrees were lackluster, which is surprising after such great experiences at the DC location.  I think that, in the future, we’ll stick to the DC location even if the travel is a bit of a pain.  I would, however, really like to go back for their breakfast or brunch since those menus look awesome!

Total price: Unknown

Founding Farmers – Park Potomac
12505 Park Potomac Avenue
Potomac, MD 20854

Phone: 301.340.8783

Potomac's Founding Farmers on Urbanspoon

Dish + drinks July 2011

After such a great meal here in June, we decided to go back in July before a showing of Wicked at the Kennedy Center.  The meal was great, as was the show!  DISH really is in a great location for walking to the Kennedy Center from the Metro. 

breadOur meal started with great, grainy slices of bread. 

saladArt and I both ordered one of the specials for an appetizer.  In the middle of tomato season, if a place has Caprese on the menu, it’s a safe bet that I’ll order it.  These tomatoes and the mozzarella were perfect and delicious. 

saladLance revisited the salad he’d gotten the previous visit.  A mixed green salad with blood oranges, pine nuts and goat cheese.  Obviously he enjoyed it enough to order it twice!

chickenfree range chicken potato mousseline, grilled asparagus, mushrooms, sage-cream sauce
I rarely order chicken in restaurants since it’s a meat that, traditionally, we’ve had often at home.  I’m glad I made an exception for this since it was really scrumptious.  The asparagus was lovely and the mushroom sage cream sauce was grand.  I gobbled up every single bit and wished that I could lick the plate when I was finished. 

steakgrilled new york strip potato mousseline, sautéed seasonal vegetables, sauce bordelaise
Lance ordered the NY Strip and, although it was tasty, he was reminded of the fact that this is not his favorite cut of meat.  Oops.  He still enjoyed it and the sauce was very rich and velvety. 

lamb chopsnew zealand lamb chops confit of sweet potato, butternut squash, andouille sausage, onions; baby arugula salad
Art ordered this because of the sausage, I’m sure of it.  The lamb chops were grand and the arugula salad was wonderful too, but the confit really won the show.  All those flavors Art loves.  His entree was certainly a hit!

brownie sundaebrownie sundae Art and I both splurged and went with the brownie sundae for dessert.  It was awesome.  I got mine with cinnamon ice cream. 

brownie sundaeAnd Art went with mint chocolate chip ice cream. 

lava cakechocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce
Lance decided to revisit the molten chocolate cake which, like last time, was rich, warm, and chocolaty.  We were all quite happy with our dessert choices and pleasantly sated before our evening at the theater. 

This was another great meal at DISH and, again, I’d be happy to return whenever I’m in the area!  It’s a great little place and the food is wonderful.  I definitely recommend DISH if you’re in need of sustenance prior to a show. 

Total price: Unknown since it was in July… I need to write these reviews sooner. 

DISH + drinks (at the River Inn)
924 Twenty-Fifth street NW
Washington D.C.. 20037

Phone: 202.338.8707

Dish + drinks (at the River Inn) on Urbanspoon

DISH + drinks June 2011

Earlier in the year I found out that the Reduced Shakespeare Company was coming to town to “do” Hollywood.  I’ve seen them do Shakespeare, abridged both in London and in Philadelphia, so this seemed like a chance too good to pass up.  (Lance is a movie buff so he and I see quite a lot of movies.  Recently we’ve even finished IMDB’s top 250 list!)  I asked my parents and Brian if they’d be able to join us, bought tickets, and then life got away from me.  I knew that I needed to make pre-show dinner reservations but I kept thinking about it at the wrong times and getting distracted at the right times. 

The week prior to the show (which was AMAZING, by the way), my mom asked where we were going for dinner and I realized I still needed to make reservations!  Pickings were slim for “restaurants between the Kennedy Center and the Metro station” that had 5pm reservations available.  In fact, I got to choose between two places.  DISH seemed to be in a better location for walking, so DISH it was! 

For a last minute reservation with slim pickings, I believe I chose well.  Even if I’d had the choice from 50 restaurants, DISH would have been the correct choice.  The food was fantastic, the service was great, and the atmosphere was cozy.  It was a grand dining experience and the proximity to the Kennedy Center was perfect! 

breadWe started out with bread.  Well, everyone else started out with bread.  I skipped it because I didn’t want to fill up before the food came.  Everyone else loved the bread, though, and the grainy slices on the right were particularly enjoyed.

Art, Lance, and my mom all got this mixed green salad.  It had blood oranges and pine nuts and goat cheese and all sorts of yumminess.  The portion size was great and it was enjoyed by all three of them. 

Brian and I both got the gazpacho with grilled shrimp.  I believe this is the first time, as an adult, that I’ve ordered something with shrimp of my own free will.  (I OD’d on shrimp as a child and have loathed them ever since.)  I ate them, and the gazpacho, and then had to prevent myself from licking the bowl clean.  The flavors in the gazpacho were lovely.  This is a great dish to order during tomato season. 

My dad went with the Caesar salad which certainly smelled and looked delicious.  Since he finished it all, I’m assuming that it was delicious! 

My mom ordered the crab cakes for her entrée.  They were served with a butter sauce involving capers and a small pile of veggies.  I knew one of my parents would order crab cakes – where better to get them than in the Maryland area?  She greatly enjoyed them. 

Continuing in the realm of seafood, Brian ordered the scallops.  They were served over risotto with a lemony butter sauce and, from my side of the table, they looked very large.  Brian thought they were fantastic without a trace of sandiness that scallops can sometimes have if not prepared and cleaned properly.

I knew that Art was going to order this as soon as I saw it on the menu.  Homemade tagliatelle with Italian sausage and a creamy tomato sauce.  He tried to give me a taste but I was all the way on the other side of the table at the other end and I predicted disaster as that fork was passed.  He, however, gobbled up every bite and joked about ordering seconds.  He liked it so much that he wants to go back just to order it again. 

I ordered fish. I’m 99% sure that this is swordfish and I’m 100% sure that it was amazing.  The sauce was that same lemony butter sauce that Brian and my mom got and there were greens and, I believe, a grain under the greens, but I’ve since forgotten what the grain was!  I must take better notes next time, or a photo of the current menu, or something.  The fish had a great texture and was grilled magnificently. 

Lance and my dad both ordered the flat iron steak.  It was served with thin roasted fingerlings, a vegetable medley, and a great and tasty sauce.  The meat was perfect – super tender and super flavorful.  I got a taste of Lance’s and it was fantastic. 

Lance and my dad also both had the molten chocolate cake.  Every restaurant these days seems to have one, not all are good, but this one was exceptional.  It was served with vanilla ice cream and a strawberry. 

Art ordered the key lime tart and, sadly, I think he’s decided to forgo key lime desserts in restaurants in the future.  They’re his favorite, but they’re so hit or miss that it’s just not worth it.  This one was a miss – it wasn’t nearly tart enough for Art’s tastes.  I guess this means I’ll need to make him one in the not too distant future. 

None of the desserts really called to me, but I asked about the ice cream.  Not only was it Haagen-Dazs, but they had a flavor I’d never even heard of – cinnamon.  So I got a scoop and I’m so glad I did!  The cinnamon took a moment to hit and then it was just bite after bite of cinnamon goodness. 

I would definitely eat here again and, in fact, I’ve already made reservations for a pre-Wicked meal in July!  The service was great and friendly, all six of us had a great time.  I ended up just passing the camera around the table and letting everyone take a picture of their own food – this seemed to work very well and efficiently. 

I highly recommend DISH if you’re in the area for a show at the Kennedy Center, or just in the area in general.  It’s a very short walk from the Foggy Bottom Metro station. 

Total price: Unknown since my parents treated! 

DISH + drinks (at the River Inn)
924 Twenty-Fifth street NW
Washington D.C.. 20037

Phone: 202.338.8707

Dish + drinks (at the River Inn) on Urbanspoon

Ruth"s Chris March 2011

For Art’s birthday, in February, his parents gave him a gift card for Ruth’s Chris.  We ended up being able to go in early March and had a great meal together overlooking the river and the airport. 

Caesar - Fresh crisp romaine hearts tossed with romano cheese and a creamy Caesar dressing. Topped with shaved parmesan cheese and fresh ground black pepper. As usual, I started off my meal with a Caesar salad.  The best of all salads.  Ruth’s Chris has great dressing and I always enjoy the inclusion of tomatoes. 

Harvest Salad - Mixed greens with roasted corn, dried cherries, crispy bacon and tomatoes in a white balsamic vinaigrette, topped with goat cheese and Cajun pecans. Art will order pretty much anything on a menu that has goat cheese so he got the Harvest salad.  It was scrumptious and he especially enjoyed the Cajun pecan pieces. 

Steak House Salad - Iceberg, Romaine and baby lettuces with cherry tomatoes, garlic croutons and red onions. Lance went with the steak house salad with thousand island dressing. 

I’m assuming, since there’s only one photo of an entrée, that we all ordered the filet mignon.  I would have ordered tuna, but this Ruth’s Chris didn’t have tuna on the menu!  The filets were all delicious, perfectly done, and oh so tender. 

For sides we ordered shoestring fries, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, and some mashed potatoes that we something like jalapeno cheddar.  All the sides were delicious but we came home with most of the asparagus for leftovers since I’m the only true asparagus lover in the house. 

Chocolate Sin Cake - Chocolate and espresso Art and Lance both ordered this sinful chocolate cake which was super dense and rich. 

I went with a bowl of chocolate ice cream which was Haagen-Dazs and awesome. 

Yet again, it was a great Ruth’s Chris dining experience.  RC is always a safe bet if you’re in the mood for a reliably delicious steak house.  I’m glad we finally got to try one in the local area.  Thanks to Art’s parents for the generous gift!

Total price: Unknown

Ruth’s Chris
2231 Crystal Drive,
11th Floor,
Arlington, VA 22202

Reservations: 703.979.7275

Ruth's Chris Steak House on Urbanspoon

Ichiban Sushi House January 2011

In January, I was craving sushi and our local sushi place had not yet opened so our local options were sort of non-existent.  Through some research I found Ichiban Sushi House in Alexandria, VA and Art and I gave it a go.  The sushi was delicious and here are some pretty pictures of it. 

Total price: Unknown

Ichiban Sushi House
Old Town Alexandria
211 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: 703.683.2232

Ichiban Sushi House on Urbanspoon

Founding Farmers October 2010

Once upon a time, way back in October 2010, we had the pleasure of going to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in our nation’s capitol.  After the rally, we ate at Founding Farmers.  I took pictures, we loved the food, and I never got around to posting about it.  We even went back to the restaurant a month later with my parents, but I forgot to take pictures that time.  Our first trip included our good friend Brian but I’ll try to remember what we all ate the second time as well. 

cornbreadSkillet Corn Bread - Honey Butter, Sea Salt This was delicious.  Dense skillet-style cornbread with sweet butter.  We cut it into fourths and dug in. 

baconBacon Lollis - Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Glazed Thick-Cut Bacon When bacon is on the menu, you’ve got to order it.  These were delicious.  Nice, thick bacon with a sweet glaze that I’d love to try to make at home.  Sadly we had to fight over the last piece.  No blood was shed. 

burgerBurger I don’t remember which burger Brian ordered, perhaps the Frisco Burger with White Cheddar, Bacon, Avocado, Louie Dressing?  Whichever burger it was, he loved it. 

ravioliRoasted Butternut Squash-Mascarpone Ravioli - Sage Brown Butter Art felt that he chose poorly because his raviolis were not all that they should have been.  He felt that the filling was lacking and, overall, the dish was just a disappointment.  As you’ll see, he more than made up for it when dessert came along. 

steakWe think this is flat iron steak – this is the problem with waiting 8 months to write a restaurant review!  Lance enjoyed the steak and it was prepared perfectly.  I was lucky enough to get to try a bite and it was, indeed, perfection. 

fish and chipsFish and Chips This was my entrée and it was great.  Nice, crispy fish with a light batter.  Great French fries and fried potato slices.  The tartar sauce was delicious as well. 

cakeTriple Layer Chocolate Mousse Cake - Devil’s Food Cake, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Ganache, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Lance loved his chocolate mousse cake.  He tends to get chocolate cakes whenever we eat out, so his opinion is worth listening to! 

mousseChocolate Mousse Bowl For Two - Milk Chocolate-Hazelnut Crunch, Whipped Cream, Caramel Sauce Art’s dessert was so ridiculous that it really needs more pictures to do it justice.  It was a huge, deep bowl filled with the most delicious chocolate mousse.  It’s really “Chocolate Mousse Bowl for an Army,” not just for two.  He managed to put a pretty decent dent into it. 

ice creamBeing less adventuresome, and less hungry, I just had a bowl of house-made chocolate ice cream. 

The restaurant itself has a very casual feel and, even though I don’t recall what we paid, we all felt that it was quite reasonably priced.  The service was fantastic and our waitress was friendly and informative.  It was also one of those restaurants where we all had a hard time choosing what to order and felt that there were numerous things that would have been satisfying.  The second time we went we ordered different things, but we’re all having a hard time remembering. I seem to recall I had a bowl of soup and an egg salad sandwich.  My mom has the “straw and hay” pasta and she loved it.  Beyond that, though, my mind is blank.  I just remember it was all delicious and we still want to go back again and again! 

Total price: Unknown

Founding Farmers
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

Reservations: 202.822.8783

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Smith and Wollensky July 2010

In July we decided to go eat out at Smith and Wollensky to celebrate two years of being a happy household.  Smith and Wollensky is one of Lance’s favorite steakhouses and we hadn’t been to one since I started blogging over a year ago. 


breadOur meal began with warm bread in a little skillet type pan.  The bread was topped with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary. 

tomatoAs usual, I ordered the Tomato and Bufala Mozzarella Salad which, at Smith and Wollensky, comes in the form of a stack topped with basil and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  Sadly, while the salad has potential and was delicious the last time I ordered it, I suppose that July is a bad time to be ordering tomato salads in Maryland.  The tomatoes were not quite ripe which made for a sad salad experience.

saladLance ordered the Wollensky Salad.  This salad has mushrooms, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, thick bacon pieces, and “croutons” that are made from potato chunks.  It’s Lance’s favorite salad ever. 

Mac and CheeseOn a whim and recommendation from our server we ordered Truffled Mac and Cheese.  It looks so tasty but we all had to come to the realization that we’re just not huge fans of truffles.  Bummer. 

friesOf course we had to order French fries to satisfy the potato requirement of our meal. 

mushroomsAnd delicious sautéed mushrooms – the leftovers went into eggs the next day.

filetLance and I both ordered the 14-ounce Filet Mignon simply grilled.  It was tasty and done to perfection. 

rib eyeArt ordered the Bone-In Rib-Eye and devoured it.  This is probably his favorite cut – nice and steaky flavor but still fantastically tender.

Creme BruleeI love Crème brûlée and ordered their trio for dessert.  This comes with chocolate, vanilla, and then a seasonal berry which, in July, was blueberry.  I opted for two vanilla and one chocolate because I’m not a berry fan. 

cakeThe best part of the meal was definitely the chocolate cake.  This cake is HUGE and has delicious sponge cake layered with light and fluffy chocolate mousse.  The guys each ate about a third of their cakes and the rest went home for delicious leftovery goodness. 

This wasn’t the best meal experience we’ve had at Smith and Wollensky.  The tomatoes were a serious disappointment and that sort of killed the rest of the meal for me.  The service was attentive and we were seated in an area by ourselves with increased lighting. 

Total price: Unclear

Smith and Wollensky
1112 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

Reservations: 202.466.1100

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BLT Steak February 2010

This year we decided to do something slightly different to celebrate our birthdays and, instead of eating out three different times, we chose to just eat out once to celebrate all three.  Since Art and I enjoyed our trip to BLT Steak so much in October, we ended up going there for our birthdays dinner as well so that Lance could try the restaurant as well. 


pateOur meal started off with the same house made chicken liver pâté and toasted bread.  I enjoyed it just as much as last time, which was no surprise.

PopoversThe house specialty gruyere popovers followed.  These reminded Lance of Norwegian pancakes, but they just reminded me of deliciousness.  They were hot, eggy, and perfect.  I really should try to make them at home, since I’ve got the recipe.

tartareTuna Tartare / Avocado / Soy-Lime Dressing

Because I am a creature of habit, and because I’ve been looking forward to it since our last visit, I had the same appetizer as before.  And it was just as amazing.  A huge amount of tuna on top of avocado and a perfect soy-lime dressing

Caesar SaladCaesar Salad

Both of the guys opted for the Caesar Salad and they were fantastic.  However, they were also huge and it was determined that they could have just ordered one to share and would have been content.  The croutons were nice and spicy.  The dressing was also a bit creamier than the Caesar dressings I’ve had in other restaurants.  It was pretty tasty!

baconGrilled Double Cut Bacon

And, since it was on the menu, we ordered an appetizer of bacon to share.  I did find it to be a bit overdone with the grilling, but the chimichurri sauce on top was flavorful and the bacon was still quite nice. 

steakMy steak was fantastic and I wish I could remember the proper name – sadly it was a special, so I’m not able to refer to the menu to make sure I’ve got it right!  I believe this was some sort of chuck cut.  It was extremely tender and just as extremely flavorful.  It was much meatier than a filet mignon steak.  It’s topped with a very large piece of foie gras, shaved black truffles, and the sauce is some red wine and foie deliciousness.  The only downside to my entrée is that it was served on top of a piece of toast, which made it hard to get to all of the sauce!

DuckSeared Muscovy Duck Breast / Confit Sausage / Fennel Marmalade

After much deliberation, Art opted for one of the specials as well.  He firmly believes that he was the winner of the entrees and found this duck to be absolutely perfect.  The confit sausage had nice bits of duck meat, but the sage and thyme flavors of typical sausage.  He even enjoyed the fennel marmalade!  I think that he would have licked his plate clean if no one had been watching.

steakAmerican Wagyu Top Cap / Chimichurri Sauce

Lance went out on a limb and chose not to get the filet mignon.  We were all very shocked.  This cut was explained to us as being the “top part of a rib eye” and it was insanely tender.  The sear was great and it was perfectly cooked.  Lance also believes that he was the winner of the entrees.  (I guess it’s a sign of a good meal that we all felt we won!)

SidesOnion Rings / French Fries / Stuffed Mushrooms

Sadly, the sides were a disappointment.  I recall that I wasn’t super impressed with them the first time, but hoped that it was just an off night.  While I normally love beer-battered onion rings, these were soggy – both the onions themselves and the coating.  The fries reminded me of Arby’s curly fries.  The mushrooms were dense and grainy, just like they were the first time we ordered them.  We have made the decision that, for future visits to BLT Steak, we will only order one side and we will ensure it’s one we’ve never had before, in hopes of finding a side that is as delicious as the rest of the food we receive at this great restaurant.

petit foursNone of us had any room left for dessert, so our meal ended with these delicious warm gooey brownie/cake bites.  I was so full that I only ate half of mine and then sadly gave the rest to Art.

Aside from the side dishes, this was another great dining experience.  The service was knowledgeable and attentive – all of our questions were answered and our water glasses were never empty. 

Unlike the previous time, my request for a table with good lighting was honored!  Sadly, the best lighting they’ve got isn’t really that great… but it was nice that they tried.  We would all be happy to dine here again and I’m sure we will in the future. 

Total price, no alcohol, including tip, valet parking, and signed cookbook: $385.10

BLT Steak
1625 Eye Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Reservations:  202.689.8999

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Teatro Goldoni October 2009

Dinner on Saturday was my favorite meal of the weekend.  I chose Teatro Goldoni due to Washingtonian’s 100 Best Restaurants list and Art’s love of Italian food.  As an unexpected benefit, Teatro Goldoni was also within easy walking distance from our hotel, which is always a bonus!


Teatro Goldoni pretty much nailed it just by seating us.  For all five of the restaurants we ate in I requested a table with nice lighting.  The host at this restaurant was the only person who acknowledged this request and seated us at the table with “the best lighting in the house.”  It was a simple thing, but it meant a lot to me.  

The restaurant had a pleasant noise level and we were seated near the front window which is always an enjoyable experience in the city.  The service was attentive and friendly, I was never out of water.  

BreadOur meal started with a nice bread basket and small plates of flavorful olive oil.  The darkest bread was an olive bread that Art enjoyed.  I’m not a fan of olives.  Then we got foccacia and rosemary bread.

SaladStriscia di mozzarella di bufala Deconstructed buffalo mozzarella with cherry tomatoes mix, black olives, crispy capers, micro basil, balsamic vinegar gelatin cubes, extra virgin olive oil

This was a fascinating take on a tomato and mozzarella salad.  Yes, tomatoes are my favorite food during the summer so I tend to order them a lot in restaurants.  Have you noticed?  Buffalo mozzarella has such a different flavor profile from the regular stuff and I could really notice that in this salad.  The capers were cooked somehow, perhaps roasted?  They had a crisp and smoky flavor that was very unique.  The balsamic gelatin cubes were genius.  I picked out the olives.

TerrineComposta di melanzane e Pomodoro Roasted eggplant, farm raised goat cheese, organic yellow and red tomato terrine with Sicilian extra virgin olive oil, cracked black peppercorns crystallized salt, basil gelatin

Art ordered this terrine dish and I think his only complaint was that he would have preferred more basil.  He enjoyed all of the ingredients and felt that it came together nicely but probably isn’t something he’d order again.

TunaTonno in crosta con carciofi Seared Ahi tuna with a black pepper and anise dust and served over a ragu of artichoke hearts, black olives and tempura style zucchini blossoms stuffed with a foam of sweet fava beans

Lance teases me for always ordering fish in restaurants.  Art doesn’t like fish so I was never able to cook it at home until he started traveling for work which only started in the past year.  As a result, I’d tend to order fish often in restaurants because I love it and wasn’t getting it often enough otherwise!  

Lance should be proud of me, though, since this was the first time I had fish the entire trip and boy did I pick the right restaurant!  It was perfectly seared and rare in the middle.  The crust was very spicy and the anise was not at all overwhelming although it was noticeable.  The artichokes were tender and flavorful.  The zucchini blossoms were crispy and filled with a fantastic fava bean puree.  This was a scrumptious dish.

RisottoRisotto con funghi misti Italian rice with fresh mix mushrooms, tomato fillets and tempura like stuffed zucchini blossoms with fava beans puree

Art loves risotto and he had never had the pleasure of ordering it in a restaurant.  He, like me, has also always wanted to try zucchini blossoms.  He was pleased with the flavors and loved the zucchini blossoms but he found the rice to be a bit too al dente and chewy, almost crunchy at times.  This seems to be a common problem with restaurant risottos which is unfortunate.  He still polished off the dish so it couldn’t have been all bad!

Egg dessertUova finte al Tegamino Vanilla pannacotta with orange gel yolks sunny side up with cocoa nibs, pistachio, and crispy tulip virtual bacon

I’m not sure what I can say about this dessert.  It was phenomenal.  The presentation was simply awesome.  The gel was great, the pannacotta was rich, and everything just worked perfectly together.  I am so glad I ordered this since I had some trepidation!

ChocolateTorre di cioccolato all’ arancia Orange Gianduja chocolate tower in orange glaze and hazelnut spikes

Art’s dessert was yet another “Chocolate Thing” and, again, with citrus flavors.  He felt that the chocolate was very good quality but that the gel topping the tower was a bit unnecessary.

SorbetsSorbetti and Gelati Basil, lemon mascarpone, and peanut butter jam

We’re not usually in the habit of ordering an extra dessert but we were just so curious!  Both of us were most pleased with the lemon mascarpone sorbetti.  From there Art went for the basil and I just ate my pannacotta.  The peanut butter jam was lacking a pronounced peanut butter flavor and the jam flavor was sort of strange.

Clearly I was much more impressed with this meal than Art was, although he tried all of my dishes and did think they were great, so he thinks it was just his dishes that weren’t prepared quite perfectly.  He’s interested in going back some day which is a relief since I loved my meal.  I was surprised by the amount of molecular gastronomy going on since I was sort of expecting traditional Italian cuisine.  Instead, this was all new age and I think it worked very well!

Total price, no alcohol, including tip: $167.37

Teatro Goldoni
1989 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Reservations: 202.955.9494

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