Archive | June, 2012

Crab Cakes at Faidley Seafood

26 Jun

As close as Baltimore is to our home in Bethesda, we don’t go there nearly as often as we’d like. I happened to be in Charm City for a work conference and we definitely had some good eats while we were there, from Boog’s BBQ at Camden Yards to Amicci’s in Little Italy to Pazo in Fells Point. But the one place I knew we had to go before we headed back was Faidley’s at Lexington Market for some crab cakes.

Faidley Seafood

As my colleagues and I walked into Lexington Market, we were overwhelmed by all of the vendor stalls. We asked an officer to point us in the right direction and we were quickly shown to the star of the show, Faidley’s. What we saw wasn’t just one stall but a whole corner of the market, complete with a raw bar, an area for cooked meats, and then the crown jewel of crab soup, fish and chips, and of course, crab cakes. You can order a regular crab cake, one with backfin meat, or an all lump crab cake. Obviously, we got the all lump version, which was the size of a baseball when it arrived.

All lump crab cake

On top of the awesomeness of the crab cake itself, when we arrived, the first thing we noticed was a camera crew. Sure enough, there was Andrew Zimmern from The Travel Channel! We were definitely a little star-struck and watched as he ordered both a fish and chips and crab cake platter. According to Zimmern, he was definitely impressed with the crab cake (which he was told was the best ever by both Michael Symon and Adam Richman), but wasn’t sure if it was the best he’s ever had.

Andrew Zimmern!

Well, I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Zimmern as I was in heaven with each bite. All lump meat, no filler, and a rich buttery flavor – it was just perfect. I have definitely had my share of crab cakes while living in the DC area the last 10 or so years, and this one takes the cake, hands down. It was so good that I had to order two more to go so Brett could try one for himself and that I could enjoy the crab cake awesomeness one more time. Now that I finally know that crab cake heaven is only a 40 minute drive away, we will definitely be back again soon. I can already envision this being our mandatory pit stop on road trips to and from New Jersey.

Faidley Seafood on Urbanspoon

A Waterfront Dinner at Sou'Wester

14 Jun

Root Beer FloatA few weeks ago, Brett and I decided to have a date night in DC as we wanted to check out Doug Aitken’s Song 1 exhibition at the Hirshhorn before it ended. It was definitely a unique and breathtaking exhibit and we were glad we went. First came dinner, and we thought a perfect place to try would be Sou’wester in the Mandarin Oriental since it wasn’t a far walk from the Mall.

This was the first time we had been to the Mandarin since Brett surprised me with dinner at CityZen the night we got engaged, and that night almost seems like a blur now, so it was nice to walk in and see the views from the hotel of the waterfront. Luckily, we were seated at a great table facing the water, so we were able to see the boats and sunset right from our table.

Sou’wester’s menu is mainly local fare with a southern influence and a heavy focus on fish and seafood. We had heard so much about the hush puppies that we knew we had to try them as a starter. Brett also ordered the bar’s alcoholic rendition of a root beer float, which consisted of Jack Daniel’s, housemade root beer, vanilla bean, bitters, soda and vanilla nuage. It was strong yet refreshing, especially since it was so muggy outside.

Corn bread and biscuits

Before we could even try the hush puppies, out came a basket with cornbread and biscuits accompanied with a honey butter spread. I’m not sure which I liked better, but they were both excellent and I would have eaten more if we weren’t limited to one per person.

Hush puppies

As for the hush puppies, they lived up to the hype. In fact, they may have been the best we’ve had in this area. They were piping hot and had the perfect balance of sweet and salty when paired with the honey butter spread. We certainly had enough carbs to start our meal, but hey, we weren’t complaining!

Roasted local rockfish

For our entrees, Brett ordered the blackened red drum atop a bed of jambalaya with a spicy tomato emulsion, while I got the roasted local rockfish with a farro salad. My rockfish was excellently prepared, and I loved the farro and lightness of the sauce it came with. Between the shaved cucumbers, grapes, and tomatoes, it was a perfect dish for spring.

Blackened red drum

Brett really enjoyed the red drum and remarked that he felt like he was back in New Orleans, which was where we last had this fish back in December. The seasoning gave the fish a nice kick while the outstanding shrimp jambalaya could have an entrée in its own right.

Collard Greens

We also shared a side of collared greens, which I couldn’t get enough of. They were cooked with stewed tomatoes and had a slight sweetness to them which I loved. They may have been my favorite part of the meal.

By the time we got to dessert, everything looked amazing, but we had to pass because we were simply too full. This was a case of us trying a place we likely wouldn’t have come to other than the fact that we had a LivingSocial deal, but we were glad we were able to try it out and would definitely go back again, if nothing else but to sit outside by the water and eat a basket of hush puppies.

Sou'Wester on Urbanspoon

Birthday Dinner at Bourbon Steak

7 Jun

Having been to Ray’s the Steaks (and Classics), Charlie Palmer, BLT Steak, and Morton’s, Michael Mina’s steakhouse at the Four Seasons in Georgetown was the one restaurant we have long wanted to check off our bucket list. Rachel thought it would be appropriate to finally visit Bourbon Steak to celebrate my birthday a few weeks ago.

After we watched the Nationals pummel the Orioles 9-3 earlier that day, we took the American River Taxi over to Georgetown in what turned out be a picturesque day. We got to enjoy a tour of the Potomac as an added bonus as we made our way towards the Hilltop.

Duck fat fries

After looking over the wine list, our waiter came by and delivered the restaurant’s famous trio of duck fat fries. Each style came with its own seasoning and housemade sauce: thyme-herb with sweet ketchup, pastrami with 1000 Island, and white cheddar with BBQ sauce.

Truffle rolls

The complimentary truffle rolls, however, were even better. These delightfully pieces of flaky bread, which arrived in a cast-iron pot, were simply indulgent. Then again, anything that uses black truffle butter has to be good, right? They were like a cross between a sticky bun and garlic knot, but the flavor was just incredible. These might be the best rolls in all of DC, even besting Fiola’s.

Charred Spanish Octopus

We started the meal off with the charred Spanish octopus. It was a light and refreshing course given the hot, humid weather outside while the presentation was simply gorgeous.

14 oz bone-in New York Strip 50 Day

For the main course, I went all out, because hey, it’s my birthday. I ordered the 50-day aged, 14 ounce bone-in New York Strip, cooked medium-rare of course. It was as delicious as it sounded. With a nice sear on the outside, the marbleization gave the steak a very pronounced flavor while being very tender. Definitely one of the best I have had in the District.

8 oz Filet Mignon

Rachel kept things a little tamer and ordered the eight ounce filet. Excellently cooked and incredibly tender, Rachel was generous enough to share some with me. Not that I didn’t have my plate full with 14 ounces of my own steak, but I was just as impressed with her cut.

Black truffle mac and cheese

As for sides, we got the highly-acclaimed truffle black truffle mac and cheese as well as the wood-roasted “magical” mushrooms. The mac and cheese indeed met the hype – in fact, it proved slightly challenging to mainly focus on the steak given how rich this side dish was. The mushrooms, on the other hand, were just alright. Rachel remarked they had a rubbery texture to them and were simply not as good as the ones that we recently had at Boqueria.

Wood roasted "magical" mushrooms

Before we ordered dessert, the restaurant surprised us with a slice of their seven-layer cake since Rachel gave them the heads up that it was my birthday. The cake was rich and moist, and definitely would have sufficed as our dessert course had we not been persuaded by the waiter to order his personal favorite, the brown sugar bananas.

Seven layer birthday cake

I tend to stray away from superlatives, but this dish was one of the best desserts we have ever come across. Let’s list the ingredients now, shall we? Banana cake? Check. Peanut ganache? Check. Fried Captain Crunch ice cream? Oh, hell yeah. Now imagine all of these components on one plate. And the amazing part is that it all worked in perfect harmony. Honestly words cannot do it justice… just order it.

Brown Sugar Bananas

Overall, we had a lovely birthday dinner at Bourbon Steak. Our waiter was exceptional (he earned some extra tip after the brown sugar bananas recommendation), the food was terrific, and the atmosphere was lively without being stuffy. As for steakhouses, it’s clearly one of the best in Washington. And considering the water taxi accessibility, I might just skip Shake Shack at Nationals Park and come by the lounge and order one of their burgers instead.

Bourbon Steak DC on Urbanspoon