Archive | July, 2012

The Pig: Pork and Fork

31 Jul

It’s not often where the name of a restaurant instantly grabs my attention, but Logan Circle’s The Pig had me by the title alone. The newest member of the Eatwell DC family, it is also the group’s most distinct, separating itself from sister eateries Logan Tavern, The Heights, and Commissary.

Incorporating a nose-to-tail approach, The Pig’s menu is a carnivore’s dream. While stepping inside the restaurant, an aroma of barbecue drifts through the air across the 80-seat dining room. Chalkboards hanging up across the space inform diners where today’s ingredients are sourced, including the restaurant’s farm in La Plata where they grow their vegetables.

The Pig does not accept reservations and only sits parties if everyone is present, but the wait wasn’t bad for the four of us on a Friday evening. We put our name down and headed across the street at Churchkey for a few libations.

The Pig’s menu mainly revolves around small plates, but they also feature some entrees as well. We debated ordering a charcuterie plate, aptly titled The Pig Platter, but instead went right for the main event.

Braised Cheek

Our first dish was the braised cheek, a popular item amongst diners according to our waiter. After taking a bite, I could see why. Sitting atop a bed of stone grits, and topped with Spanish sofrito, the cheeks were delightfully tender. The texture was similar to that of brisket, and of course a knife was not necessary.

Charred Belly

Up next was the charred belly. As good as the braised cheeks were, the belly might have one-upped it by just a nose. Succulent and smoky, the fatty piece of belly was complemented with a rich celery root puree, watermelon jam, and pickled rind. Both dishes thus far were stellar, but the smokiness of the belly tipped the scales.

Heirloom tomato farm salad

We took a reprieve from the pork and ordered their heirloom tomato farm salad. Featuring tomatoes grown from their La Plata farm, the salad was complemented with basil-goat cheese mousse as well as olive oil-poached tomatoes. It was a light and refreshing course considering what lay ahead.

Buttermilk fried chicken

And that brings us to the buttermilk fried chicken. Listed as a supper item on the menu, this was indeed a full entrée that was split between the four of us. And just because it’s a protein other than pork doesn’t mean it’s an afterthought from the kitchen. In fact, the chicken was surprisingly one of the meal’s highlights.

Situated atop Thai chili gravy and collard greens, and complemented with a pair of herb biscuits, the chicken was crisp, juicy, and had a nice kick thanks to the gravy. For a place that specializes in all things pork, the fried chicken is a worthy contender.

Mac and cheese

Of course, one has to order mac and cheese at a place like this, and it did not disappoint. Featuring a truffle crust, it added a little crunch to the rich side dish and really went well together with the fried chicken.

Herb gnocchi

The herb gnocchi, which was prepared with truffled corn and topped with crisp pork belly, was another solid dish although it was a tad too salty.

Wild boar ragu

Just when we thought we had enough, we ordered the wild boar ragu as our final dish of the evening. Prepared with pappardelle and Pecorino cheese, the pasta was soft and delicate while the ragu added some heartiness to the dish. It was another hit amongst the table.

Overall, The Pig was a home run. Not only were the prices reasonable, but our waiter provided outstanding service – breaking down each dish with the ingredients used, how they’re prepared, as well as offering some helpful suggestions. We would definitely come back not only to explore more of the menu, but also to be surrounded by that enticing aroma. Oh, and to order more of that charred belly, too.

The Pig on Urbanspoon

Dim Sum Brunch at The Source

19 Jul

This was one of our most-anticipated brunches in quite some time. Not only was it the first time that we would be dining at The Source, but we postponed our original reservation for six weeks because of our busy schedules. And because The Source only offers its dim sum brunch on Saturdays, I was literally counting down the weeks until the date finally arrived. Why? Well, this is no ordinary brunch.

Chive Dumpling

Wolfgang Puck’s DC establishment features the renowned cooking of executive chef Scott Drewno. While dinner at The Source is very expensive, their brunch, which was launched a little over a year ago, is rather affordable. For $32, you have a choice of five tastes from nearly 30 small plates. For an additional $10, you can choose eight plates instead of five. The latter option is ideal for parties of two, and that’s what Rachel and I decided on.

The only problem was figuring out what to order – there were a lot of appealing dishes to choose from! Considering that the two of us are one of the most indecisive couples on the planet, we finally agreed on eight tastes.

Chow Feung

Our first dish of the day was the Chow Feung. Featuring thick yet delicate noodles and spicy rock shrimp in a sweet soy sauce, it became an instant favorite. But as we kept trying to finish the noodles off with our chopsticks, our other plates soon began to arrive.

Shanghai Noodles

Up next was the Shanghai Noodles, which was comprised of braised oxtail, curry, and chili. It was a hearty, satisfying portion of noodles with just the right amount of kick to it.

Sea Scallop Sui Mai

Of course, it’s not dim sum without dumplings, and we certainly had our fair share of those during brunch. First up was the Sea Scallop Sui Mai. Gorgeously presented, it was sitting atop a few tablespoons of curried lobster emulsion.

"Szechuan Dan Dan" dumpling

Next was the “Szechuan Dan Dan” dumpling, which was comprised of organic chicken and a very addictive peanut sauce.

Garlic Littleneck Clams

After some heavy dishes, things lightened up a bit with the Garlic Littleneck Clams. Prepared with cilantro and sambal, the clams were sitting on a bed of delicious cellophane noodles.

Duck bao buns

Of course, I had more than enough room for the restaurant’s trademark duck bao buns.  Stuffed with crispy, succulent duck that’s lacquered overnight, the buns were simply fantastic – a must-order dish.

Pork Belly Pot Stickers

Moving onto our seventh taste, we opted for Pork Belly Pot Stickers. I mean, it’s not brunch without pork belly, am I right?

Maine Lobster Club

Just as we were ready to cry out uncle, out comes our final taste of the day – the Maine Lobster Club. This could nearly be an entree in itself, what with the chunks of lobster sandwiched between two delightfully satisfying slices of walnut bread. Oh, and did we mention the bacon vinaigrette? Unfortunately, we were so full that we were only able to eat a few bites and had to get the rest wrapped up. Let me reiterate, despite the fact each dish is called a “taste”, these plates are generously portioned.

Turnip Cakes

Just as we were tapping out and entering a food coma, out comes Chef Drewno himself! He mentioned how his travels to China inspired him to launch the dim sum brunch and that he has been continuously adding dishes to the menu while making the typeface smaller. Gotta love that.

Dim sum brunch at The Source was hands down one of our favorite brunch experiences throughout the entire Washington area. Between the quality of the food, the size of the portions, and the price you’re paying, it’s an incredible value, especially when you compare it to how much you would spend on dinner at the very same restaurant. Rachel and I would go back in a heartbeat not only because there are so many more dishes to try, but also because the food was just so damn enjoyable. If you want to try Chef Drewno’s cooking without breaking the bank, we cannot recommend The Source enough.

The Source on Urbanspoon

Boloco Opens in Bethesda

18 Jul

Yet another addition to the growing list of fast casual eateries in downtown Bethesda, Boloco will open its doors on Thursday, July 19th. I had a chance to take a sneak peak at this Boston-based burrito company last night, and Boloco already seems like a great addition to the neighborhood.

Boloco Bethesda

When you walk into Boloco, you have the choice of either ordering from staff at the counter or placing your order at a computer kiosk. The general concept is “globally inspired burritos”, and you have the option of choosing the type of burrito or bowl you want, and then adding your protein. The choices range from Buffalo to Tikka Masala to Bangkok Thai, and you can pair them with chicken, steak, carnitas, tofu, or fajita veggies.

Boloco Bethesda

When you think burritos, you generally think Mexican, but there is only one traditional option listed. We were told last night that there is also an off-the-menu option called the Yucatan Habanero, which consists of pickled onions, black beans, sour cream, boloco rice, and hot habanero salsa. Apparently you can add that salsa to any burrito as well. There are also cold options, such as the Mediterranean, which features hummus, black bean hummus, feta cheese, and cucumbers. And, if you really just want to make your own, you can pick the tortilla, protein, base of rice or lettuce, beans, sauces, veggies, and cheese.

The Summer Burrito

I was overwhelmed enough looking at the menu, and was assured that the staff can recommend which protein goes best with which burrito. Speaking of options, there are also sizes to think about. You can get the original, which is about the size of what you would get at Chipotle, the small, which is about 2 inches smaller, or the mini, which is more of a snack then an actual meal. You can also get a mini bundle of two different burritos, being able to mix and match different choices.

Buffalo Chicken Burrito

In addition to their main line of burritos, Boloco also offers sides of chips and guacamole or salsa, desserts, and an extensive menu of smoothies and shakes. I tried several of them, and my favorites were the Mango Passion, the Nutella Milkshake, and the Jimmy Carter shake of peanut butter, banana, and ice cream. You really can’t go wrong with those ingredients. Those again come in an original, small, and mini size.

Boloco Bethesda Artwork

Considering that the space used to be a Baja Fresh, the look itself is impressive. As you head towards the bathrooms, you can read the story of how Boloco came to be. They started out as a wrap company with numerous chains throughout the Boston area, but eventually changed the name after market research showed that people began to have a negative connotation with wraps. So essentially to get a better idea of what this place offers, think warm and cold wrap sandwiches instead of another Chipotle or Qdoba, since that’s really what it is. There is also wonderful artwork in the bathrooms showing different scenes in Boston, but even better are the two pieces of artwork right by the order counter by a local artist showing downtown Bethesda. One illustrates the Metro entrance while the other is of people going up and down the Metro escalator.

Boloco Bethesda Artwork

The concept itself reminds me of Cava Grill where you can build your meal, and they also have adopted green practices by offering options for recycling and composting. They have a passion of giving to local communities, and have specials each month where if you order certain items, a dollar of the proceeds goes to the charity Bethesda Green.  I can definitely see myself either getting a small burrito, or getting a mini burrito and a mini smoothie and turning that into a meal. The prices are fairly reasonable, or at least on par with the other comparable establishments in Bethesda. This is their first location outside of New England, and other locations are planned this year for Dupont Circle and Georgetown.