Tag Archives: DC

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

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

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

LivingSocial Launches "Restaurants Plus", Offers Cashback to Diners

7 Dec

Rachel and I have used LivingSocial countless times, especially when it comes to restaurants, but now they have introduced a new feature entitled Restaurants Plus.

Restaurants Plus

Restaurants Plus gives diners the opportunity to earn cashback from over 140 participating restaurants in the Washington metropolitan area just by paying with their enrolled credit or debit card. There’s no voucher or pre-purchase required, making the transaction utterly seamless.

Let’s say you’re in the mood for pizza and want to earn cash back on your purchase. Simply use LivingSocial’s map tool, filter pizza locations, and viola! Now you’ve found 21 participating pizza joints that are offering 10%, 20%, or even 30% cashback when you pay with your registered card. There are some great restaurants already participating, such as Toro Toro, Kaz Sushi Bistro, Baby Wale, and Fat Pete’s Barbecue, just to name a few.

Diners simply register their credit or debit card with LivingSocial and then use said card to pay for meals at participating restaurants.

So head out and grab some sushi and sake at Kaz or order the faux ribeye at Baby Wale and get cash back from your meal this evening. Just be sure to register your card first!

[This blog post was sponsored by LivingSocial]

A Birthday Dinner at Momofoku CCDC

2 Dec

Whenever one of our birthdays rolls around, the normal course of action is to surprise the other with reservations for a restaurant we have never been to before. But given that the much-anticipated D.C. location of Momofoku suddenly opened a couple of weeks ago, I immediately jumped at the chance of securing a table for last Saturday night and had to tell her right away

And while David Chang’s latest venture offers limited reservations on their website, they also offer a few tables on OpenTable as well, the latter of which got us a table for four last Saturday evening much to my amazement. Given the fact that we need to hire a babysitter these days, this was a very ideal situation that was validated more so by the fact that the wait time for walk-ins was three hours. Yes, you read that right. Three hours!

Brisket buns

The four of us decided to share a variety of appetizers amongst the table before ordering their own entree. Without hesitation we kicked the meal off with an order of their brisket buns, arguably my favorite dish of the evening.  Topped with a creamy horseradish sauce, picked red onion, and cucumber and sandwiched by an incredibly warm and soft bun, the slow-roasted brisket was delightfully tender and flavorful.

Pork buns

The pork buns, stuffed with hoisin sauce, scallion, and cucumber, were nearly as good but the brisket variety was my preferred choice of the two.

Spicy cucumber

The spicy cucumber appetizer was a very good if not unique appetizer. The thick slices of cucumber were smothered in a spicy green sauce and topped with crushed peanuts, but the heat was mild enough that it didn’t overpower the dish. Kudos to Eater on the tip as it was a great suggestion that we never would have ordered otherwise.

Biscuit bites

The biscuit bites were another favorite amongst our party, and the creamy Szechuan honey butter definitely stole the show.

Kimchi

We also got an order of the kimchi but it was pretty standard stuff. Not bad but nothing out of the ordinary.

Kimchi stew

I opted for the kimchi stew for my main course as the ingredients really piqued my interest as opposed to the other ramen offerings. Served in a behemoth bowl, Chang uses a pork bone ramen broth that is accented with two-week old kimchi, generous slices of pork shoulder, roasted onions, and rice cakes. The stew had just the right amount of spice without going overboard, and while $19 is a bit steep, this could have easily been shared amongst two people.

Hozon ramen

Rachel ordered the hozon ramen which came with scallion, kale, and panisse. Being a vegetarian ramen, it was very different from the traditional types of noodle soups and even more so then any other vegetarian version. The broth is actually chickpea-based and is very earthy and rich while the noodles were pretty perfect. The other thing she didn’t love about it was the panisse, which was essentially like large pieces of dried bread or croutons on top. The problem was that there was so much of it that it got soggy and appeared to overwhelm the rest of the dish.

Crack pie

For dessert, we decided to share a slice of Milk Bar’s famous Crack Pie between the four of us. Suffice to say the pie was a bit of a letdown as the typically decadent pastry was a bit stiff and nearly required a knife to cut. Maybe we should have gotten the full pie instead, or perhaps we just got a bad piece.We also got a bunch of individually wrapped cookies to go because, well, it’s pretty damn impossible to leave the place without a compost or corn cookie.

Cookies

Overall both Rachel and I thought Momofoku was solid but not OMG YOU GUYS YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS. The hype machine has fueled the place for months (and yeah we’ll take partial responsibility for that) but it’s not the most amazing meal you’ll ever have and certainly not worth a three-hour wait! (I mean is any restaurant worth waiting that long for? No.)

And when you live a couple of miles down the road from Ren’s Ramen, it’s really hard to justify spending $18 on ramen that’s just not as good as the no-frills Wheaton shop for the expectation of the aforementioned kimchi stew. Where Momofoku really shines is with its terrific buns and small plates. At any rate, it’s nice to see David Chang return home after all these years. So yes go, but for goodness sake, make a reservation! Now pass me a corn cookie.

Momofuku CCDC Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sake Sipping Classes at KAZ Sushi Bistro

20 Oct

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not particularly well versed when it comes to sake, but that’s where Kaz Okochi, chef and owner of downtown staple KAZ Sushi Bistro, steps in.

Sake sipping class

Okochi, who has been working behind some of the District’s best sushi counters since the early 90’s, has started offering weekly sake tasting classes as a way to introduce his American audience to a beverage mostly associated with hot cups and sake bombs (both of which contain the cheap stuff).

Mozzarella cheese marinated in miso with blueberry

But Okochi wants his customers to experience the extensive range of cold sakes available, especially since the Japanese drink is widely accessible these days thanks to its rising popularity.

Sake

Back when Chef Kaz was working at Sushiko, it took him nearly a year to convince a D.C. distributor to carry it. In fact, not only did he find the one person in California that imports sake, he guaranteed to buy every bottle they got.

Sake can

Now there are nearly 400 sakes available in the states, and with sake breweries emphasizing exports, the beverage can now be found in several shops in the metropolitan area both in bottle and can formats.

Grilled fava bean

Kaz’s sake tasting class is more like a wine program than matching certain types of sake with food. “Sake can match with any Japanese food”, remarked Okochi, and after trying several varieties and complementing them with dishes such as grilled fava bean, fried pork skewers, and Japanese fried chicken wings, he’s absolutely right.

Sake

“I want the customers to learn the different kids of sake, and learn which ones they like.” And with sakes flavored with strawberry or aged in cedar, Kaz takes you on an amazing journey with a beverage that tastes wildly different from the next. And this is sake we’re talking about!

Fried pork skewer with miso and mustard

Kaz Sushi Bistro offers its sake tasting class every Monday in October. The $45 course includes gratuity and tax, making for an exceptional value given the broad range of sakes you’ll get to sample along with Kaz’s outstanding cooking.

Japanese pancake

The class is sold out the rest of the month, but don’t hesitate to sign up for the waitlist as there will most likely be more openings in the near future. Oh, and be sure to leave room for the sake kasu ice cream.

Sake kasu ice cream

Kaz Sushi Bistro is located at 1915 I Street NW, Washington D.C.