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Brunching at The Bird

5 Jul

During our anniversary staycation in D.C. a few months ago, Rachel and I got to enjoy brunch at The Bird, the relatively new restaurant from the EatWell DC group. It might be their best addition yet.

Korean-style fried wings

We started things off with their Korean-style fried wings and I honestly could have eaten these all morning. The triple-fried wings are smothered with black sweet chili sauce and topped with cilantro, making for a very messy yet incredibly satisfying appetizer. It’s easily a contender for our annual roundup of best dishes.

Chicken and waffles

The chicken and waffles were no slouch either. The Tennessee-style hot chicken leg quarter is placed upon a crisp buttermilk waffle floating in a sea of maple syrup. It’s a sweet and savory classic that doesn’t disappoint.

Shakshuka

Rachel passed on another round of fried chicken for her course and instead opted for the shakshuka. Prepared with duck eggs, the shakshuka proved to be a hearty entrée with just a slight kick of spice.

Between the filling portions, affordability, and friendly customer service, The Bird is a great addition to the Shaw brunch scene. I’m already looking forward to my next batch of triple-fried wings.

Seafood Delights at Whaley's

12 May

I’m just going to keep this brief and say this: order the seafood tower. No, seriously. Skip whatever plans you had for dinner tonight, head to Navy Yard, procure a table at Whaley’s, and order a damn tower.

Opened by the same guys who brought you the great DGS Delicatessen, Nick and David Wiseman were inspired by the oyster bars of yesteryear as well as childhood visits to Crisfield’s (which we still haven’t been to since moving to Silver Spring nearly three years ago – something that needs to be rectified soon!) and introduced Whaley’s to the District.

Cocktails

And while we visited prior to the opening of their highly anticipated rosé garden, chef Daniel Perron has whipped up a handful of fantastic house cocktails that both wowed us.

We started the evening off with their day boat scallop crudo. Beautifully presented, it was light and refreshing while leaving plenty of room for our next course.

Day boat scallop crudo

And back to that seafood tower. That glorious, glorious tower. It was a sight to behold. While we opted for the small version, Whaley’s also offers medium and large towers, the biggest of which will accommodate up to six people. But still, between the two of us, this was plenty.

Seafood tower

A smorgasbord of treasures from the sea and priced at $65, the tower included smoked catfish, squid salad, clams, mussels, shrimp, artic char crudo and tartar, and last but not least, lobster tail.

So yeah, it was great. Like really great. I can’t remember the last time we’ve split a seafood tower let alone had so much great seafood in one sitting.

Chocolate tart

We closed out the evening with their chocolate tart. Topped with peppermint mouse and hazelnuts, it was a sweet ending to a very satisfying meal.

It’s a shame we’re not closer to Navy Yard because we would be taking advantage of their dollar oyster happy hour on a very frequent basis. But regardless, just go and order that tower already.

Whaley's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Urban Winery: Taste, Learn, Create

7 Apr

Rachel and I have lived in Silver Spring for about three years now and arguably one of our favorite spots since we moved to the neighborhood is Urban Winery.  It’s the first-ever urban winery in the Washington metropolitan area and is also the closest from our nation’s capital.

Urban Winery

Founded by Georgia and Damon Callis, Urban Winery doesn’t actually have a vineyard but that allows them the freedom to produce wine with grapes sourced from all over the country. The opposite can be said about everything else found at Urban Winery – from to the meats to the local craft beers to even the wood Damon used to build the furniture is all sourced from Maryland. We highly recommend the Silver Spring White and the Winemaker’s Helpers, the latter named after the couple’s children.

Georgia and Damon Callis

Owners and founders Georgia and Damon Callis

The mantra of Urban Winery is “Taste, Learn, Create”.

Taste: The tasting room offers wine lovers an extensive list of wines that are produced in-house, in the state of Maryland, as well as national and international bottles.

Charcuterie Charcuterie Greek dolmades

Greek meatballsAtlantic smoked salmonSmall plates

Furthermore, they recently introduced a full mezze menu that also includes charcuterie and some delicious desserts (be sure to order the s’mores skillet!). And while one typically associates fondue with The Melting Pot, Urban Winery one-ups the chain with its own chocolate and cheese fondue offerings that will have you leaving Silver Spring very, very full.

Dessert fondue

Learn:  Urban Winery offers several classes in its barrel room as well as guided tours of their winery operations.  They host about two classes per month that include a trio of wine samples as well as small bite pairings.

Urban Winery

Create: Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of Urban Winery is that you can create your own private labeled case of wine! Divided into two sessions, aspiring winemakers will be able to bring home 24 to 30 bottles once the winemaking is complete. Whether it’s for a birthday party or a corporate function, Urban Winery gives guests the ability to bring home their own pinot or malbec, complete with customized labels!

Winemaking

The Urban Winery is the epitome of a locally owned business that not only produces some terrific wine but is also a warm and inviting space that is serving up some delicious food to boot. Considering how many times we’ve been based on past dates and happy hours, we can’t recommend it enough.

Urban Winery promo

Oh, and be sure to use the hashtag #TasteLearnCreate on your next visit – you’ll get 10% off your bill!

The Urban Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Birthday Dinner at Kyirisan

2 Mar

For Rachel’s birthday dinner (which yes, was in November), we decided to venture to Shaw to dine at Tim Ma’s fabulous Kyirisan in Shaw. We heard great buzz about it from some friends and early reviews, and couldn’t wait to check it out for ourselves.

Situated in the heart of Shaw and just blocks away from the 9:30 Club, a place where Rachel and I frequented shows since ’99 (now we’re really dating ourselves!), Kyirisan uniquely blends French and Chinese cuisine in a homey atmosphere with friendly service and standout dishes. The menu is arranged into three categories: In the Ground, Under the Water, and On the Ground.

Deep fried tofu

We started the first category with the deep fried tofu. Placed in a shallow bowl of black pepper sauce, and topped with scallion and picked carrot, the half dozen cubes of tofu made for a nice introduction to what was ahead.

Raw sea bass

The raw sea bass, artfully arranged with sliced radishes and oranges and complemented with a fish sauce aioli, was simply delightful.

Pan seared scallops

Our favorite dish of the night, however, was the pan-seared scallops with coconut risotto and basil ice cream. Yes, you read that correctly. All of these ingredients worked masterfully with one another as we were instructed by our server to wait for the ice cream to melt in order to enhance the flavor of the dish. Boy was he right.  There’s a reason why this made our Best Dishes of 2016 list.

Freebird Wings

A closer runner-up would have been the Freebird Wings. Smothered with fermented chili paste, oyster sauce, and crème fraiche, it’s a messy but satisfying dish that definitely requires a few extra napkins.

pandan cheesecake

As for dessert, just order the pandan cheesecake and thank us later. Adorned with a chocolate crust and glaze, a pandan anglaise, a dollop of Szechuan whip cream, and sprinkled with candied hazelnuts, it’s an incredibly unique dessert that rivals some of the city’s best.

We can’t forget to mention that we started the evening with some of the wonderful cocktails coming from the bar. Rachel ordered The Forbidden Fruit, a cocktail with spiced rum, cocchi rosa, apple shrub, cinnamon, and cranberry. She loved it so much she got it again as an after dinner drink at the bar. We were going to go elsewhere for a drink after dinner, but loved the drinks so much we decided to just stay at the bar and linger for a bit after our meal.

Kyirisan is a great addition to the District and Chef Tim Ma is doing some great things in his Shaw kitchen. We can’t recommend it enough.

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

Our Favorite Dishes of 2016

21 Dec

Now that we’re a family of four, it’s more often than not you’ll see us enjoying Thai carryout or Peruvian chicken these days than dining out at all of the newest spots (and let’s admit it, even we can’t keep up with all of these openings). Nonetheless, we were still able to explore some great restaurants in the District during those very precious date nights, so without further ado, here are our favorite dishes of the year:

Pan Seared scallops – Kyirisan

While we haven’t had the chance to write up our fabulous meal at Kyirisan just yet (rest assured, we will!), Tim Ma’s latest restaurant is serving up one of the best scallop dishes in Shaw if not the entire District. The four perfectly seared scallops are placed atop a bed of rich coconut risotto and, get this, basil ice cream. Our server told us to wait until the dollop of ice cream melted before partaking in this amazing entrée. Patience is a virtue but it paid off, immensely. There’s a reason why this is one of the most-ordered dishes off the menu.

Pan seared scallops

Pork bahn mi – Mi Lay Cay

I’m ashamed to admit that after living in Silver Spring for over two and a half years that my first visit to the Vietnamese staple in Wheaton was only a couple of months ago. I sincerely regret not going there sooner. For starters, their bahn mi sandwich is tremendous both in size and value. Stuffed with generous servings of delicious pork and sandwiched by a crispy baguette, the foot long sandwich will run you just a mere $4.50!

Pork bahn mi

Socca – Convivial

While the fried chicken “coq au vin” gets a lot of the well-deserved hype, the socca is just as good and twice as pretty. 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.

Socca with beets

Chicken Himmapan – Thai Taste by Kob

Look, I love the Bamee Moo Deang. I really do. But the chicken himmapan might be my new go-to dish after my last few visits to Phak Duangchandr’s amazing Thai eatery. The stir-fried chicken is served with cashews and dried red chilies that make for a spicy yet satisfying entrée.

Chicken Himmapan

Sansa Temple Bibimbap – Seoul Food

Like the aforementioned Mi La Cay, Rachel and I are kicking ourselves for not discovering this Wheaton gem sooner. While neither of us are vegan, the Sansa Temple Bibimbap is a vegan lover’s dream that appeals to carnivores alike. Prepared with sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, avocado, seaweed, and a blend of original and chives kimchi (both prepared-in house), this dish is just one of half a dozen vegan bibimbap preparations Seoul Food makes.

Sansa Temple Bibimbap

Cauliflower soup with Parmesan – Corduroy

It’s no secret that chef and owner Tom Power makes some of the best soups you’ll find in the District, and his trademark cauliflower soup is no exception. Topped with aged Parmesan, the rich and creamy cauliflower soup is an essential dish especially during these wintery months.

Cauliflower soup with Parmesan

Lamb Ribs – Tail Up Goat

The newly Michelin-starred restaurant in Adams Morgan took a cue from its mentor at Komi by serving up a family-style platter of incredibly succulent lamb ribs. Meant for sharing and accompanied with sumac onions, beets, and a wonderful yogurt sauce, the Mediterranean-style dish is worth the visit alone.

Lamb ribs

Sweet Corn Agnolotti – RPM Italian

The Chicago import has been highly buzzed about since they opened earlier this year, but Rachel and I were very impressed with the pastas they were churning out of the kitchen, especially the sweet corn agnolotti. Topped with summer truffles and cracked pepper, the pillows of pasta basically melted in your mouth.

Sweet Corn Agnolotti

Ma Po Tofu – Bob’s Shanghai 66

I’ve been to Bob’s 66 twice this year and have had the Ma Po Tofu each time. And I don’t even like tofu! Yes, the soup dumplings are all the rage but for me to eat tofu and actually enjoy it is quite an extraordinary feat. I guess I really do like tofu. As long as it’s incredibly spicy, that is.

Ma Po Tofu

Shack Stack Burger – Shake Shack

I like Shake Shack. A lot. But you know what? A single cheeseburger isn’t filling enough when I’m at a Nats game. So why not throw a fried portabella mushroom patty filled with melted Muenster and cheddar cheese on top of it? Done.

Shack Stack Burger

 

Brunching at B Too

9 Dec

Rachel and I have always been fans of Belga Café, Bart Vandaele’s Belgian restaurant in Barracks Row since it opened back in 2004. His second restaurant, B Too, is located on 14th Street and offers a more modern take on the original both in regards to the food and décor. With both kids in tow, we made our way down to the District for Sunday morning brunch.

While we love Belga Café’s intimacy, it’s a bit tight when you’re arriving with a stroller and carseat. B Too, on the other hand, is much more spacious as we had no problem navigating the dining room with our five-month-old in the Snap n’ Go (parents, you know what I’m talking about).

Green Egg McWaffle.

After reenergizing ourselves with some coffee, I decided to be a bit daring and order the Green Egg McWaffle. The waffle muffin (yes, you read that right) was stuffed with green eggs, smoked salmon, cheddar cheese, and avocado cream. Certaintly one of the more unique brunch items I’ve encountered, my adventurousness paid off in what was a very savory, satisfying entrée.

Lobster waffle

Rachel one-upped my savoriness by ordering the lobster waffle, one of their signature dishes, which featured lobster bisque, tomato, and an herb salad.

Decadent crepes.

When your brunch is that savory you need to balance it out with just as much sweet, and we did just that by capping our meal off with their decadent crepes.  The four miniature crepes were stuffed with banana, complemented with Chantilly cream, and drizzled with Nutella that nearly covered every portion of the plate. This honestly could have been a meal in itself as “decadent” would be an understatement, but it made for a fine ending to a very filling meal.

B Too is a great brunch option for those looking for options in the 14th Street corridor, and we hope to come back for dinner soon for some mussels, frites, and of course more of their amazing crepes.

B Too Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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”