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Holiday Extravagance at Capella's Grill Room

20 Nov

Last week I was invited to check out the Christmas and New Years Eve menus at The Grill Room, located in Georgetown’s posh Capella hotel. Hosted by Marco Bustamante, the general manager of Capella, a group of us were welcomed into the luxurious dining room to sample an array of decadent dishes to celebrate the upcoming holidays.

Oyster topped with caviar

And things got indulgent right off the bat as we kicked the evening off with a glass of champagne and oysters topped with caviar. Spreading the warm bone barrow over the crunchy, housemade bread was a real treat, too.

Bread and bone marrow

The baby beet salad featured luscious amounts of firefly goat cheese, hazelnut, and arugula, and was accompanied with verjus vinaigrette. Meanwhile the Little Gem Lettuce with blue cheese and bacon lardons was an upscale (and much better) take on the classic wedge salad.

Baby beet salad

Moving onto the main courses, the Salmon Wellington with chicken mousse and wilted spinach was a slight departure from the more traditional beef preparation, while the Carnaroli Risotto featured rich flavors of roasted pumpkin and complemented the seared scallops.

Heritage Turkey

The headliner of the evening, however, was the Heritage Turkey. Glistening from hours in the oven, the warm, moist slices of freshly carved turkey were accompanied with chestnut stuffing and apple-rye chutney.

And then there were the amazing sides, most notably the Brussels sprouts with Asian pear, aged soy, and wild flower honey – just a wonderful preparation. I also enjoyed the applewood smoked mashed potatoes with crème fraiche and chives. The smokiness really enhanced the flavor of this otherwise staple side. Finishing off the trio of sides was the creamed kale with grated nutmeg – an always reliable green dusted with a hint of holiday spice.

Baked Alaska

My favorite course of the evening went to the kitchen’s holiday rendition of Basked Alaska. Gorgeously presented, the flourless chocolate cake was topped with freshly torched flavors of cinnamon, cappuccino, and vanilla. Each bite left me clamoring for more and was one of the best desserts I’ve had in quite some time.

If you’re looking to go out to dinner for this Christmas or New Year’s Eve, be sure to keep The Grill Room at Capella in mind when making your holiday reservations.

The Grill Room at Capella is located on 1050 31st Street NW in Georgetown.

The Grill Room on Urbanspoon

Stachowski Market and Deli

21 Nov

I don’t even know how to begin with this post other than saying I am completely in love with this place. Tucked away on a quiet corner of Georgetown, Stachowski Market & Deli is a meat-lovers dream.

Stachowski Market and DeliStachowski Market and DeliStachowski Market and Deli

When you step inside the market, a table of locally-grown produce is situated in the center of the room while two cases in the back of the house a plethora of locally-sourced meats, ranging from cocoa-rubbed capicola to fresh duck sausage to dry-aged steaks. My eyes lit up analyzing the variety of meats Stachowski had on display.

Sandwich Menu

On top of that, they also offer a deli counter serving up ten or so sandwiches. Based on a tip from DC sandwich guru Jack Kogod, I ordered the pastrami. Let me go on the record and say that this was the best pastrami sandwich of my life. I try to defer from using such hyperbole, but let me tell you, this sandwich was no joke.

Pastrami Sandwich

Featuring thick slices of smoky, juicy pastrami and sandwiched between two sliced of warm pumpernickel bread as well as a smear of spicy mustard, this mammoth of a sandwich was my lunch and dinner. Seriously, there is something wrong with you if you are able to finish this beast in one sitting. At the price of $11.99, you’re paying for two meals. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

Pastrami Sandwich

Yeah, thought so.

Meanwhile, Rachel ordered a more manageable sandwich with the Butcher Shop Dip, which was also $11.99. Packed with warm roast beef, provolone, hot peppers, jous, and served on a mini baguette, this sandwich was, just like the pastrami, enough for two people and just as enjoyable (though the pastrami gets a slight edge because, well, I just love pastrami – especially if it’s hot and smoky).

Butcher Shop Dip

On top of that, we also ordered two patties of their “smash and grill” turkey burgers to-go. We grilled them up on the grill pan the following evening and were mutually impressed by how fresh and flavorful they were. These were restaurant-quality turkey burgers and made for a great “home-cooked” meal. And for $6.99 per pound, it was a quality purchase.

On top of Stachowski’s sausage, steak, and charcuterie selections, they also offer prepared dinners which typically range from $13 to $16. Take, for example, “chiduckon” – chicken breast and duck breast wrapped in bacon. That pretty much sounds like the most amazing thing, ever.

So yeah, we’re big fans of this place and we have only been once. We can’t wait to go again.

Stachowski Market & Deli 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

A Wicked Dinner at Hook

30 Jun

Editor’s note: Today’s post was written prior to last night’s devastating fire at Hook and Tacklebox. Our hearts go out to the staff and owners and we hope for a speedy recovery and swift reopening.

While running through a list of restaurants to have a pre-theater meal at before seeing Wicked at the Kennedy Center last Thursday, Rachel had the brilliant idea of redeeming our Groupon we bought earlier this year for Hook and eat there instead.

Given its proximity to the theater as well as not having to be tied down to a prix-fixe menu, it was an ideal choice. Our 5:30pm reservation turned out to be absolutely unnecessary as we were evidently the first ones to be seated for dinner. Had we arrived earlier, we could have participated in their happy hour which featured dollar oysters (!!!) and $4 cocktails.

Bread Basket

When we were seated, we soon received a basket of warm, fresh bread. We have dined at Hook before and I simply love their bread basket. Between the focaccia squares, buttery biscuits, and garlic aioli spread, you’re in for a treat before you even receive your first course. Due to time restrictions, we kept our meal straightforward and went right for the entrees.

I ordered the yellowfin tuna while Rachel got the scallops. The tuna, which was served on a bed of lentils, bacon lardons, and a side of kale, was excellent. It was a sharp contrast from the mediocre piece of fish I had at Jake’s American Grille a few weeks ago. Granted Hook is more of an upscale establishment, but there was a substantial difference in quality between the two restaurants and it goes without saying: you get what you pay for.

Yellowfin Tuna

The tuna was flawlessly cooked and was so delicate that a knife was barely needed. The lentils brought a nice balance to the dish, but it was those amazing pieces of bacon lardoons that nearly stole the show. These thick chunks of pork were packed with flavor, so much so that I wish (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) the kitchen held back on the quantity. It was just a tad overpowering when you already have one piece of protein already sitting on the plate.

Rachel decided on the scallops, which came with a carrot puree and a carrot and peanut slaw in the middle. These were definitely a delight as they were some of the largest scallops she has ever seen on a plate. The carrot and ginger sauce was a perfect complement as it didn’t overwhelm the flavor of the beautiful scallops. The slaw added a nice crunch while overall she said they were the best scallops she has had since Corduroy, and that was one of her favorite dishes ever.


For dessert, we were torn between the passion fruit semifreddo and the Fluffer Nutter. Because we were already so full from our main course, we went with the former as it sounded like it would be on the lighter side. It turned out to be the right choice as it was sweet, satisfying, and not overly heavy.

We were genuinely amazed by the texture of the semifreddo – it was like a semi-frozen sorbet, but with a thicker consistency, almost like a mousse. The slice was situated above three pieces of white chocolate ganache sitting in caramel sauce which made this dish even more of a treat. Then you throw in the roasted macadamia nuts on top of that and you’re on cloud nine. It was a lovely combination of sweet and salty and was a perfect ending to a great meal.

Passion fruit semifreddo

Overall, we really enjoyed our dinner at Hook. Our waitress was cordial and helpful while every piece of food served was utterly delicious. The Groupon clearly helped as we saved $50 off our bill, but Hook has been consistent each time we have visited, discount or not. While it’s a schlep to get to Georgetown, it’s worth it if you’re looking for good seafood in the District.

Hook on Urbanspoon