Revisiting Fish Taco

24 Oct

Rachel and I have always been fans of Fish Taco, the fast-casual taqueria tucked away in Cabin John. They recently opened a location in Wildwood Shopping Center in Bethesda so we decided to check out their newest site with the whole family.

Elote

We kicked things off with the classic elote, or Mexican grilled corn. Topped with cotija cheese, guajillo chilies, and their signature sauce, it’s the quintessential starter.

Beef brisket mini tostadas

We also shared one of their special appetizers, beef brisket mini tostadas. The fried tortillas were stuffed with refried beans, pico de gallo, coleslaw, cotija, and crema. As you can tell by the description, they were indeed quite filling!

Blackened fish tacos

As for entrees, it was rather self-explanatory given the restaurant’s name. I opted for the blackened fish taco platter. Topped with chili lime sauce, cabbage, and pineapple-chile relish, it always tends to be my go-to dish.

Grilled fish tacos

Rachel got the grilled fish tacos which were topped with cabbage, mango pico, cotija, and chili lime sauce.

Autumn taco

We also had the opportunity to sneak preview their autumn taco which featured black bean puree, acorn squash, avocado, and pesto that was prepared with pumpkin seeds and cilantro. It’s a seasonal delight that’s even vegan-friendly.

Fish Taco is one of those places where we’ve never had a bad meal, and being kid-friendly is always a plus. And now that they’re even closer to us with their new location, it’s a given that we’ll be visiting more often.

Fish Taco is located at Wildwood Shopping Center in 10305 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, 7945 MacArthur Blvd in Cabin John, and 7015 Wisconsin Ave in downtown Bethesda.

Fish Taco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Night at The Yards Food Competition: The Results Are In!

19 Oct

Last Friday, I was invited by Living Classrooms to participate as a food judge at their annual Night at The Yards event, benefitting the Foundation’s work of educating disadvantaged youth in the Baltimore-Washington region.

Night at The Yards

Night at the Yards featured over 30 food and drink vendors as well as four amazing musical acts including the Queez Beez, Living Classroom’s own program that gives young girls a platform to sing and dance and generated a great response from the crowd.

Food Judge

Meanwhile, the selection of food vendors was outstanding. Ranging from local breweries such as nearby Bluejacket to soon-to-open restaurants such as Farmers and Distillers (from the team of Founding Farmers), attendees had a wide array of food and beverage to choose from.

Pate de Campagne from Sonoma Wine BarRoasted brisket taco from Agua 301Cava Mezze spreads

So without further ado, here are this year’s winners from the 2016 Night at the Yards:

Best Food: Capital Crab Company

This local food truck and catering company hit it out the park with their jumbo lump crab balls and crunchy, savory hushpuppies.

Crab ball from Capital Crab Company

Crab ball from Capital Crab Company

 

Best Food Presentation: Farmers and Distillers

This upcoming restaurant from the Founding Farmers team not only offered the most generous portion of the event, but also the best presented with its barbecue pulled pork shaobing slider.

Barbecue pulled pork shaobing slider

Barbecue pulled pork shaobing slider

 

Best Booth Setup: Ice Cream Jubilee

The ice cream parlor, which is a just a stone’s throw from The Yards, dazzled with its table presentation with lights, cones, and scoops.

Best Brew: District Chophouse

A pioneer in the District brewery scene, District Chophouse was serving a seasonally appropriate Dunkelweizen that was a hit amongst the crowd.

Best Cocktail: Lavagna

The Capitol Hill establishment warmed patrons up with their autumn maple bourbon cocktail.

Congrats to the winners as well as Living Classrooms for putting on a very memorable event!

Strong Fit Meals Offers Healthy Meal Delivery Alternative

11 Oct

Over the past year, we have seen the debut of several chef-prepared delivery services in an effort to simplify meal planning when time is limited. Given that both of us work and have two children, dinnertime tends to be stressful, so it’s great to see more options become available.

Strong Fit Meals offers diners a healthier alternative, aimed at those with an active lifestyle or looking to watch calories. The meals, which are made to order and prepared with fresh ingredients, are rather straightforward.

Strong Fit Meals

Their “clean menu” offers a rotating selection of entrees featuring a protein, vegetable and starch, such as blackened steak with mashed sweet potatoes and fresh veggies.

Chicken teriyaki and rice

 

Strong Fit Meals also offers a build your own menu “lean menu” where customers can pick and choose not only the kind of protein/veggie/starch, but also the portion size, too.

Grilled salmon with couscous

We had the opportunity to sample some of their offerings and really liked how the nutrition information was clearly presented on the packaging. The directions are rather simple: just microwave your freshly delivered meal and you’re done.

Roast Chicken

Strong Fit Meals delivers to D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

DMV Dining readers: Use code DMV10 to get 10% off your order!

Convivial: Best Meal of 2016 Thus Far

9 Sep

In what is a really overdue post, Rachel and I dined at Cedric Maupillier’s newest restaurant in Shaw a few months ago and were wowed by every facet the French-American bistro had to offer.

From the modern interior that seeped in an abundance of sunlight to the straightforward menu (actual entrees!) to the impeccably executed food, Convivial is a gem in Shaw and rightfully deserves its #4 ranking in Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best Restaurants 2016.”

Escargot in a blanket

As fans of Mintwood Place, where Chef Maupillier first made his mark in the District, it was great to see a refreshing take on his beloved escargot hushpuppies with escargot in, well, a blanket. Crunchy and delectable, this is the appetizer you need to start your meal off with.

Soccer with beets

The socca, however, is an absolute must-order just on presentation alone. The chickpea pancake sets the foundation for a tower of beets, citrus fruit, shaved fennel, and picholine olives. The combination, as eccentric as it sounds on paper, works so effortlessly well and is the epitome of a summer dish – light, refreshing, and full of flavor.

soft shell crab meunière

Rachel’s soft shell crab meunière was a delight, which was complemented by sweet corn and hazelnut grits.

fried chicken "coq au vin"

Naturally I had to try the fried chicken “coq au vin” which was just as good as it sounded. The doubly fried and braised chicken was incredibly juicy, bursting with notes of red wine, yet maintained a satisfyingly crunch after each bite.

key lime pie with speculoos crust

The key lime pie with speculoos crust was an outstanding dessert and rivaled any slice originating from Key West. Topped with slices of kiwi, Rachel and I would buy an entire pie if we could.

And while the food was incredible, the service was top-notch as well. Our friendly waitress helped us navigate the menu and was continually checking up on us.

Furthermore, given the quality and size of portions, I honestly think Convivial is one of the better values in the city. Both of our entrees were under $20, and considering the work Chef Maupillier and Co. are doing in the kitchen, I tip my hat to them for offering five-star food at such an affordable price point in a city that’s getting more expensive by the year if not month.

Convivial is an exceptional restaurant and both Rachel and I are comfortable in saying in that it’s been our best meal of the year so far.

Convival Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mezze Box Brings Fresh Mediterranean Meals to Your Door

11 Aug

As working parents with two young children, we’re always on the lookout for trying new ways to handle the logistics of having dinner ready between picking our kids up from daycare and getting them ready for bed in hopes of avoiding a late night meal after the dust has settled.

And while we’re fans of meal delivery services such as Blue Apron and Home Chef, those recipes are still time-consuming and involve a good amount of both prep and cleanup.

Enter Mezze Box; a local startup that offers freshly prepared Mediterranean meals to your doorstep. Founder Johnny Seikaly, originally from Lebanon, cooks traditional Mediterranean fare using recipes passed down from his family that are both hearty and healthy.

Mezze Box

 

Mezze Box offers a rotating weekly menu featuring four individually sized main dishes as well as a handful of sides. And if you’re dining for two or more, they also offer Mezze Boxes, which mix and match entrees and sides that can accommodate four to up to ten people.

Last week, we had the opportunity to try their okra stew, lentils & rice, and cauliflower. Prepared with whole ingredients, all of which were listed on the packaging, the food tasted incredibly fresh and was bursting with Mediterranean flavor.

Okra Stew

 

The best part is that Mezze Box delivers not only to D.C., but also Maryland and Virginia, and the delivery is free if your order is over $25. And while they exclusively deliver on Mondays, they will be introducing daily delivery starting August 22!

DMV Dining readers can get 10% off their entire order by using code “DMVDINING”

A Birthday Dinner at Tail Up Goat

7 Jul

Let’s face facts – Rachel and I don’t go out nearly as much as we used to before we had kids, and now that we have two, expect that frequency to dip even further.  But then there’s the sacred “date night”, a time where Rachel and I hire a sitter, have a glass of wine, and enjoy each other’s company at a restaurant that’s either a staple of ours or has garnered some recent buzz.

Tail Up Goat, which opened earlier this year amidst much fanfare, boasts staff from the outstanding Komi and, perhaps one of my favorite restaurants, Little Serow. Located in Adams Morgan, Tail Up Goat is situated in the ground floor of a The Adamo; a condo building I didn’t even know existed that demonstrates how long it’s been since I’ve last visited this particular D.C. neighborhood.

Stracciatella

We kicked off the evening with the Stracciatella. The texture of the cheese resembled that of burrata, but was even creamier, and was accompanied by crispy artichokes and salsa verde. It was a very pleasing summer appetizer.

Charred chocolate rye

Up next was arguably the most unorthodox dish of the night – the charred chocolate rye. The freshly baked bread was generously smeared with a pea pesto and then topped with pickled tomatoes and salt-crusted sardines. Yep, sardines. There was a lot going on with this dish, and while I appreciate how the kitchen tried to create a balance of sweet and salty, the complexity of flavors was slightly overkill.

Carrot ravioli

On the other hand, the carrot ravioli demonstrates how Tail Up Goat excels in its pastas. The carrot-stuffed pasta, accompanied with baby leeks, apricots, and topped with pistachio breadcrumbs, was one of our favorite dishes of the evening. Just an incredibly unique dish that was perfectly executed.

Lamb ribs

And then that brings us to the crown jewel of Tail Up Goat: the lamb ribs. Quite reminiscent to the family-style main event goat platter at Komi, the ribs are meant for sharing, and Rachel and I went to town on this Mediterranean-style dish, complete with sumac onions, beets, and a wonderful yogurt sauce. Between the incredibly tender meat and generous portion (roughly 8-9 ribs), the visit is worth it alone just for this entree. Trust me.

lemon curb-stuffed cannoli

For dessert we decided to order a pair of lemon curb-stuffed cannoli. Topped with pistachios and placed on a dab of citrus marmalade, it was a playful interpretation of the classic Italian dessert.

Another highlight of the meal was the outstanding service. You could tell that the staff was disciples of Johnny Monis’ attention to detail, from the food, to the atmosphere, right down to the interaction between waiter and customer. Our server was incredibly helpful, attentive, and just all around pleasant.  I’m glad we had the opportunity to enjoy one of the rare nights Rachel and I get out at an establishment like this.

Tail Up Goat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pi Pizza Opens in Bethesda

9 Jun

While downtown Bethesda isn’t necessarily devoid of pizza joints, the St. Louis-based pizzeria Pi Pizza is famously known for its deep-dish cornmeal crust pizza and adds a Midwestern flair that helps it stand out from its nearby counterparts.  This is actually the second Pi in the Washington market as their D.C location, District of Pi, opened nearly three years ago in Penn Quarter.

In the space that formerly housed Pitzze and its previous incarnation, Haven, Pi Pizza looks to welcome Bethesda diners with their trademark deep-dish pizza as well as an array of toppings that includes prosciutto, sundried tomatoes, roasted chicken, and even daiya vegan cheese.

Thin-crust pizza

Since I was dining with my three year-old, I opted instead for the thin-crust style, as that was a bit more toddler-accessible as opposed to the deep-dish.  The crust was delightfully crispy and incorporated a sweet tomato sauce without being overly greasy.

Meatballs

Meanwhile, the biggest hit of the evening for my son was the meatballs.  Incorporating a pork and beef blend and topped with tomato sauce and Parmesan, my kid gobbled these up… and even asked for seconds!

Oven-blazed wings

And while the pizza is great, the oven-blazed wings are highly underrated. Prepared with a dry rub and baked in the oven (not fried!), the wings were accompanied with a yogurt cucumber dressing which was a nice, refreshing twist compared to your typical ranch dip.

Pi Pizza is a great addition to Bethesda, and with ample public parking in the back of the restaurant this looks to be a great destination for diners in search for a pie and a pint.

A Valentine's Day Dinner at Bistro Bis

31 Mar

After all the years we have lived in the Washington area, this was our first visit to the Capitol Hill staple Bistro Bis. We were looking to spend an evening out for Valentine’s Day without paying an extraordinary amount on a prix-fixe menu, and Jeffery Buben’s bistro happened to be offering a la carte options and had availability. Additionally, Bistro Bis recently cracked the top 20 of Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants of 2016, further piquing our interest.

One thing I love about restaurants is when they offer an assortment of non-alcoholic cocktails. Given that Rachel is currently pregnant (apologies for the lack of formal press release), we asked our waiter if they had any mocktails available from the bar. He came back with a tropical hand-shaken cocktail, poured right from the strainer, into Rachel’s glass. It was a very nice touch.

Mocktail

We kicked things off with a French classic, escargot. This preparation, however, was a deviation from your typical butter-drenched snails and instead was presented in a lighter fashion of garlic, sunchoke purée, fennel, Seville orange and topped with a puff pastry. It was a welcome change while we both marveled at the gorgeous presentation.

Escargot

For our main courses, I opted for the Icelandic cod à la Barigoule. The perfectly cooked potato-crusted fish was placed atop a bed of parsley-spinach purée and accompanied with baby artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and drizzled with tapenade vinaigrette, not to mention what tasted like potato-flavored foam. I have to admit that it’s been awhile since I’ve seen foam, but it was a welcome if not aesthetically pleasing addition.

Icelandic cod à la Barigoule

It’s hard to know if Rachel was more blown away by the presentation of the Sea Scallops Crecy or how the flavors worked so wonderfully together. The scallops were seared along with coriander-roasted carrots, black forbidden rice, a carrot purée, and smoked shiitakes. The best part of the dish had to be the shiitake mushrooms, as they tasted so smoky and meaty in such an intriguing way that she savored each bite. The overall dish was a far cry from a traditional French meal, but she loved it.

Sea Scallops Crecy

For dessert, we shared the Profiterole au Framboise. The appropriately colored for Valentine’s Day choux pastry was stuffed with raspberry mouse and vanilla ice cream, and then toped with a raspberry coulis. It was a sweet and filling dessert that made for a great ending to a terrific dinner.

Profiterole au Framboise

I’m still amazed that this was the first time we have dined at Bistro Bis, but it certainly won’t be our last.

Bistro Bis Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sichuan Excellence at Peter Chang

11 Feb

Between the countless number of restaurants that have opened in the Washington metropolitan area, Peter Chang’s not one but two expansions to the region were slightly overlooked. Maybe it’s because he decided upon the suburban locales of Rockville and Arlington instead of Shaw or Petworth, but regardless if it’s located in the District or not, it’s worth the trip up the Pike for some fabulous Sichuan fare (and those in Virgina don’t have to go too far, either).

It’s fair enough to say that nearly all of the dishes we had at Peter Chang were something we have never experienced before. Take for instance the dry fried eggplant. They were essentially eggplant fries sans any trace of grease while the outside remained delightfully crispy. Topped with chilies and Sichuan pepper, this isn’t even the spiciest dish on the menu, but if you’re a fan of heat then the dry fried eggplant is a must-order.

Dry fried eggplant

The scallion bubble pancake is highly recommended just for presentation alone. The pair of piping-hot puffy pastries (say that three times fast) arrives to the table with a side of curry sauce that makes for a great starter.

Scallion bubble pancake

I don’t know what was more memorable about the bamboo flounder: the presentation or how it actually tasted. Just like the aforementioned dishes, this was unlike anything I have had before. Crispy strips of lightly fried flounder were beautifully arranged between pieces of bamboo and, just like the eggplant, were topped with cilantro, chilies and Sichuan peppercorns, adding a nice kick to an already amazing dish.

Bamboo Flounder

Grandma’s noodle was another favorite amongst the table.  Topped with chili power, scallion, garlic cilantro, soy sauce, and hot oil, this is yet another spicy dish but the al dente noodles helped neutralize some of the heat.

Grandma's noodle

The hot and numbing combination speaks for itself. A simmering bowl of flounder, shrimp, chicken, mixed vegetables, mushrooms, and sweet potato noodle situated in a spicy broth, with nearly one out of four bites involving a unique numbing sensation. If you’re sensitive to spice then this isn’t the dish for you, but if you’re an adventurous eater and crave heat then this is right up your alley. Just take a breather or three once the numbing takes over.

Hot and numbing combination

On the flipside, Chang’s seafood in a stone pot was a much milder option. Featuring jumbo shrimp, flounder, scallops, and mixed vegetables, the curry-based broth was a nice retreat from the hot and numbing combination but still a very enjoyable, generously portioned entrée.

Seafood in a stone pot

The grand finale was the tea-smoked duck, arguably my favorite entrée of the evening. Accompanied with a side of crispy onions, the perfectly cooked medium rare duck had a delightful smokiness to it that really impressed me. Had we not ordered a dish too many, I would have finished it on the spot (rest assured the leftovers didn’t last long).

Tea-smoked duck,

Overall, I couldn’t be happier about our dinner at Peter Chang. I’ve never eaten such a unique array of dishes in one sitting and was very impressed with each preparation. Our only downfall was ordering too many items between four people – we simply got too much food, as the portions are very generous. Needless to say I’m really looking forward to our next visit as this is a wonderful addition to Rockville.

Peter Chang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Our Favorite Dishes of 2015

30 Dec

With a three year-old and a house in the burbs, DMV Dining shifted towards exploring more family-friendly dining options this year than routinely dining in the District proper, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying a variety of amazing dishes regardless of venue. And while we were able to have a date night or two in the city, there’s a multitude of terrific options outside the D.C. border. With that said, here are our favorite dishes of 2015:

Pork Lychee Salad – Rose’s Luxury

First of all, we’re just proud of the fact we were able to walk into Rose’s on a humid summer day and get a seat within half an hour (it can be done!). After coming off that high, we were brought back to cloud nine with their incredible pork lychee salad. Composed of pork sausage, habanero, peanuts, and raw onion, it’s a combination of ingredients that somehow works, and works well. Like, really well.

Pork Lychee Salad

Shoyu Ramen – Ren’s Ramen

I’ve expressed my love for Ren’s Ramen countless times, but it really is one of the best ramen shops in the area. Despite the lack of parking, the Soup Nazi-reminiscent list of rules posted on the front door, and cash-only policy, it’s still worth the trip to Wheaton. My go-to is their Sapporo-style Shoyu ramen. For $10 you get a heaping bowl of soy sauce flavored soup prepared with Tonkotsu broth, roast pork, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, scallions, onion, and ground pork. It’s a rich and hearty ramen that makes for an ideal wintertime meal.

Shoyu Ramen

Palak Chaat – Rasika

What needs to be said? This is a quintessential dish at a classic venue.

Palak Chaat

Baklava – YiaYias’s Kitchen

This Beltsville restaurant servers up some incredible gyros (although I’m still partial towards Marathon Deli in nearby College Park), but the baklava stands out as one of their top dishes. With endless layers of filo held together by honey, it makes for a wonderfully sticky treat.

Baklava

 

Injera Plate – Ethio Express Grill

Silver Spring’s Ethio Express Grill marks the first time Ethiopian food has entered the incredibly popular fast-casual market, but rest assured quality is not compromised despite the express moniker. Their trademark platter features grilled beef (tibs), hot sauce, ayib cheese, collard greens (gomen), spicy lentils (miser), and split peas (kik), and is accompanied by warm injera bread. It made for a quick, affordable, and certainly delicious lunch.

Injera Plate

Szechuan-style Duck – Crane and Turtle

Chef Makoto Hamamura is doing incredible things at Paul Ruppert’s Petworth restaurant, where Japanese cooking wonderfully intertwines with French cuisine. Paired with pea shoots, braised Yuba, and dan dan sauce, the savory, perfectly cooked duck was the highlight of an outstanding birthday dinner.

Szechuan-style duck

The Hot Mess – Frankly Pizza

Frankly Pizza has been one of the biggest additions to what has been a somewhat lackluster dining scene in Kensington. Starting off as a mobile wood-fired pizza trailer back in 2011, Frankly Pizza opened its doors in 2014 and has been incredibly busy since. All of their pizzas are outstanding, but the Hot Mess really stood out. Topped with mozzarella, pickled jalapenos, caramelized onions, bacon, Gruyere and Romano, we had to get this amazing pie to go since the wait for tables was so long!

The Hot Mess

Crispy Miso Kushi-Katsu – KAZ Sushi Bistro

Chef Kaz Okochi’s downtown restaurant is more than just a sushi spot, albeit a great one. From an extensive sake menu to an array of small plates, KAZ also offers some popular Japanese street food such as these incredibly delicious panko-crusted pork and onion skewers. Topped with sweet red miso sauce and Japanese mustard, this deep-fried delicacy makes for great bar fare.

Fried pork skewer with miso and mustard

Brisket Buns – Momofoku CCDC

The opening of David Chang’s latest venture in CityCenter brought much ballyhoo to the District, and while no restaurant can match that amount of hype, Momofoku delivered when it came to its brisket buns. The combination of pickled red onion, cucumber, horseradish sauce, and slow-roasted brisket is well worth the wait.

Brisket buns

Dry fried Eggplant – Peter Chang

We haven’t even had time to write about our wonderful dinner at Peter Chang’s Rockville spot from last week yet (rest assured, we will), but the dry fried eggplant was an exceptional dish and nothing like I have had before. They were essentially eggplant fries sans any trace of grease while the outside remained delightfully crispy. Topped with chilies and Sichuan pepper, this isn’t even the spiciest dish on the menu, but if you’re a fan of heat then the dry fried eggplant is a must-order.

Dry fried Eggplant