Tag Archives: fish

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

A Birthday Dinner at Crane and Turtle

28 May

Let’s cut straight to the chase: Last week’s dinner at Crane & Turtle was my favorite meal of the year thus far. And as much as I want to preface about how Rachel and I surprise each other for where we’re going to dinner on our respective birthdays, I figured out the destination of our reservation rather quickly as the both of us have been wanting to try  Paul Ruppert’s latest restaurant since it opened last year.

Nestled in a residential area of Petworth and located directly across the street from sister restaurant Petworth Citizen, chef Makoto Hamamura skillfully blends his Japanese heritage with his French training, which makes Crane & Turtle’s menu one of the most unique in the District. And with only 25 seats, it’s also one of the most intimate, too.

Big-eye tuna tataki

Take for instance our first course, the beautifully-presented big-eye tuna tataki. The tuna, which was smoked over hay, added a new dimension to the dish as the smokiness really added some flavor to the already high-quality slices of fish. Atop a satay sauce and garnished with pieces of socca, which is essentially a chickpea pancake, the combination of crunch and smoke really won us over after the first bite.

Warm bok choy salad

The warm bok choy salad was another departure from your typical appetizer. Accompanied with a blend of bamboo shoots and snow peas, fried shiitake mushrooms, and a mild ban ban ji sauce, the salad made for a terrific dish for a warm evening.

Szechuan-style duc

The highlight of the evening, however, was the Szechuan-style duck. The pan-roasted duck breast was perfectly cooked as the meat was wonderfully juicy and tender. The duck was paired with with pea shoots, braised yuba (also known as tofu skin), and was brought together by a flavorful dan dan sauce. Overall it was an exceptional entrée.

Pan Seared Maine Scallop

Rachel had the pan seared Maine scallops with asparagus, mores, red pearl onions, couscous, and sauce cardinal. Perfectly-seared scallops are generally good wherever you go, but the accompaniments really made the dish, especially the fresh spring vegetables.

Mount Fuji

As for dessert, our mutual affection towards molten chocolate cake led us to ordering the aptly-titled Mount Fuji. Complemented with salted caramel and coconut ice cream, the warm, gooey chocolate cake made for a delightful sweet and salty combination.

And then there’s the atmosphere, an element which deserves its own recognition. A good portion of that is attributed to none other than floor manager Elizabeth Parker, formerly of Rose’s Luxury. It’s no coincidence that Crane & Turtle shares some of Rose’s charm not only due to its intimacy but also because of its inviting, unpretentious vibe, and Ms. Parker plays a substantial role in that. In fact, she was not only our waiter but also crafted the featured rose menu as she oversees the restaurant’s beverage program. Some fun add-ons to the tab were reminiscent of Rose’s as well.

Receipt

Oh, and they take reservations! I can’t stress how important this is since we’re parents that need to plan ahead when hiring a babysitter for the evening. Considering how en vogue it is these days with some restaurants only offering first-come, first-serve seating, it’s refreshing to see Crane & Turtle buck this trend. You won’t find them on Open Table though; they are using a new service which can be found through their website.

Birthday at Crane & Turtle

Another great component of Crane & Turtle is their patio menu, which basically offers all of their small plates and appetizers out in the front and can accommodate a little more than a dozen guests at time. It’s certainly a more affordable way to experience the restaurant given that the majority of the entrees start at the mid-20s.

There’s no denying the fact that Crane & Turtle has quickly ascended up the charts as one of my favorite restaurants in the District after just one visit. Between the homey atmosphere, wonderful staff, and inventive cooking, Mr. Ruppert’s latest venture might be his best yet.

Crane and Turtle on Urbanspoon

A Long-Awaited Dinner at Le Diplomate

24 Feb

Considering that Rachel and I are the only ones  in the DC foodie blogosphere who still haven’t been to Stephen Starr’s bustling brasserie in the ever-growing 14th Street Corridor, we finally booked a reservation for Le Diplomate the week before Valentine’s Day. We decided to celebrate the holiday seven days early, as we wanted to avoid the trap of prix-fixe menus and overpaying for a meal, especially that we have also have to spend extra for a babysitter these days.

With repurposed materials being all the rage in new restaurants, the interior of Le Diplomate is absolutely stunning. You would never know that it was the site of a former laundromat, let alone open for a little under a year.  The moment you step inside, you’re instantly transported to a classic French bistro that looks like it’s been open for business for decades.

After a drink at the bar, we were seated at a lovely booth in the corner of the dining room. Great for couples, we had a view of the entire restaurant and watched as servers were jumping from table to table delivering some French classics like escargot and Onion Soup Gratinee.

Bread basket

While reviewing the menu, our server dropped off their famous bread basket. Overflowing with three different kinds of bread, ranging from sourdough to a classic French baguette to my favorite, cranberry walnut, it’s no wonder why Le Diplomate (along with Rose’s Luxury) features one of the best complimentary bread baskets in the District.

Mushroom Tart

For our appetizer, Rachel and I decided to split the mushroom tart after hearing such glowing recommendations from friends. Arriving to the table at room temperature, the buttery, flaky crust combined with the pioppini mushrooms and grated truffle pecorino made for an outstanding first course. Perfect to split between two people, it’s a great if not filling dish.

Steak frites

As for our entrees, considering that this was our first ever visit to Le Diplomate, I simply had to go with the traditional order of steak frites.  Prepared medium rare and served with two handfuls of crispy pommes frites, the pan-roasted hanger steak was topped with a hearty amount of maître d’ butter resulting in a smile to my face. There’s a reason why this is one of their bestsellers. If I wasn’t biting in the succulent, buttery steak I was dipping the crisp frites into the accompanying side of mayonnaise. You can’t go wrong with this dish.

Trout Amandine

Rachel, who already felt somewhat full after the mushroom tart, opted for a “lighter” entrée in the Trout Amandine. The filet was layered with almonds and sitting in a bed of haricots verts and cooked in a brown butter sauce. While the fish was nice and moist, the sauce had an overpowering flavor of vinegar that detracted from the overall taste of the dish, not to mention the overabundance of butter used. Not sure if it was a bad night in the kitchen, but it was slightly disappointing as Rachel regretted not ordering the Beef Bourguignon instead.

Despite the snafu, we had a lovely time as the atmosphere made for a romantic evening. The service was great if not a little rushed, but then again, we left at 10pm and people were STILL waiting for tables. One thing is for certain — Le Diplomate is a legitimate cash cow. No wonder we had to book a table a month in advance.

Le Diplomate on Urbanspoon

 

Cedar Restaurant

3 May

Cedar, which has been open since 2009, recently welcomed the addition of Chef Aaron McCloud to its kitchen last year. McCloud, who left the Inn at Perry Cabin for the Penn Quarter restaurant, has revived Cedar and its focus on “field and stream” cuisine. Rachel and I were invited to try McCloud’s cooking a few weeks ago, so we were curious to check out the game-animal focused menu. (Full disclosure — this meal was provided by the restaurant).

Seared tuna

Should you opt for a cocktail from the bar, I highly recommend the Presidential Pardon. Featuring applejack whiskey, apple cider, honey, and bitters, it was a refreshing libation before the amuse bouche of seared tuna arrived. Rachel ordered the Ideal Husband, which the waitress said was a signature drink and was actually based on a play that was shown recently right down the street from the restaurant. It was fruity but wasn’t too sweet, and great for a warm early spring evening.

Beets and bleu cheese salad

Cedar puts an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, but Chef McCloud takes things one step further by curing and smoking all his meats in-house as well. The freshness was highly evident after tasting their beets and bleu cheese salad. Featuring baby greens and pickled onions, this was one of the better beet salads I have come across in the District.

Lobster and white chocolate soup

Not to be outdone, Rachel opted for one of Cedar’s most famous appetizers, the lobster and white chocolate soup which featured roasted baby vegetables.

Mocha Cervena venison

For our entrees, the mocha Cervena venison caught my eye, and considering how infrequently I actually order venison, I went with my gut and ordered it. Topped with parsnips and accompanied with roasted garlic croquettes, the espresso jus gave the dish a subtle hint of coffee without overpowering the meat. Cooked medium rare, the venison was slightly dry, but such is the case when cooking with such a lean protein.

Saffron oil poached salmon

Rachel ordered the saffron oil poached salmon. Prepared with artichoke, pequillo pepper, olive custard, and picked fennel, the dish was artfully arranged.

Chocolate peanut butter pralineCherry Glen goat cheese mousseKey lime pie

Just like everything else at Cedar, the desserts are prepared in-house. We got to try a trio of confections, from the chocolate peanut butter praline with candied peanuts and chocolate ice cream to the Cherry Glen goat cheese mousse to McCloud’s creative take of key lime pie (a citrusy, refreshing panna cotta).

The 55-seat restaurant is one of the more intimate dining rooms we have encountered, and considering that the First Lady recently dined here, it’s no wonder Cedar has been picking up some buzz as of late.

Cedar is located at 822 E Street NW in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Cedar Restaurant 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

Spring is in the Air at Seasons 52

3 Apr

Last week, we had the opportunity to attend an event at Seasons 52 where they would be debuting their new spring menu. Brett and I have wanted to try this place since it first opened, so this provided to be a good introduction to the restaurant. While we were not seated in the main dining room as this was a private event, just from walking in, we could tell that the ambiance was very inviting. We even noticed a piano man at the bar by the entrance. Anyway, we could not wait to see what we would be trying that night.

Seasons 52

If you weren’t already aware, Seasons 52 is a chain operated by Darden Resaurants (their brands also include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Capital Grille) but the large space definitely didn’t have the atmosphere of one. Their whole concept is based on fresh, seasonal ingredients, and they change their menu four times a year. Also, nothing on the menu is more than 475 calories, and that includes their “mini indulgences” desserts.

We were able to try several items on the new spring menu, which ranged from starters to entrees to those decadent desserts, as well as wine pairings for each course. Let’s just say I stared at my wine while Brett indulged.

Plum tomato and artichoke & goat cheese flatbreads

We arrived a little late to the event but the servers were very accommodating and still let us try their well-known flatbreads to start. I particularly enjoyed the plum tomato flatbread, which included fresh basil, roasted garlic, and parmesan cheese. Someone detected a hint of lavender in there and they were right, as that was mixed into the crust. The artichoke and goat cheese flatbread was very light and perfect for spring.

Tomato and Haas avocado salad

Next came the tomato and Haas avocado salad. The server mentioned they use Haas avocados because they are available right at the start of spring and have a higher fat and taste content. I loved the combination of tomato, avocado, balsamic, and arugula, and would definitely come back and make a meal of that with the add-on of chicken or another protein.

Columbia River steelhead trout

For our entrees, we all shared the Columbia River steelhead trout, lamb t-bone chops, and spicy snow peas with shitake mushrooms. I really liked the trout, and had no idea that that particular type was part of the salmon family. It paired well with the spring vegetables, basmati rice, and lemongrass sauce. I’m sure it also balanced well with the recommended Botani Moscatel, but I digress.

Lamb t-bone chops

I know that Brett’s favorite was the lamb t-bone chops as he had three of them and couldn’t get enough. He commented how he generally doesn’t order lamb because it is so fatty and gamey, but these pieces of meat were incredibly lean and flavorful. Even more amazing were the truffle mashed potatoes that accompanied the chops. We all asked how it was possible for them to be low-fat, and they answered that the chef uses fat free sour cream instead of butter or cream. Amazing!

Spicy snow peas with shitake mushrooms

The snow peas were a nice side dish and we enjoyed the contrast of the crunchy peas together with the meaty mushrooms and almonds, but I don’t think I would call them spicy, more like sweet and savory. That dish was paired with the Lioco Indica Rose from Mendocino which we were told is 100% natural with no additives. This is a wine that is hard to obtain on the east coast, and we will definitely look for it when we are out on a trip to California in a few months.

"Mini indulgences" desserts

Finally, the desserts. We had heard about these small desserts, but until you see them all together it is hard to grasp just how many varieties and indulgences there really are. They had everything from mango cheesecake to rocky road to pecan pie. We tried several of them and I have to say that my favorite might have been the key lime pie, but the chocolate peanut butter was pretty amazing too. Bottom line – none of these are more than 300 calories, so indulge!

Their menu changes every 13 weeks, so you have plenty of time to check out some of these new items, plus some staples. I could definitely see us going back for the flatbreads and desserts alone. But I know Brett is still thinking about that lamb t-bone too, so a return trip is definitely on the horizon.

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

Stardust Cafe Sparkles in West Virginia

14 Feb

A few months ago, my coworker told me about this great special at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia where, during the offseason, local residents can book a two-night stay for a fraction of the price of a regular visit. Brett and I hadn’t heard much about the resort, but we decided to go as a nice winter getaway for the weekend.

It was definitely a relaxing trip and we were glad we went, but we were a little disappointed in the dining options. Two of the restaurants at the Greenbrier were closed for winter cleaning, so that left us with a stuffy formal dining room, an extremely pricey steakhouse, or a mediocre comfort food restaurant (Draper’s). After a dinner at Draper’s, we decided that there had to be more options, so off we went to explore the nearest town of Lewisburg. We decided to try Stardust Café because of its universal praise on TripAdvisor as well as its eclectic menu. Needless to say, we made the right choice.

Sesame Ahi Tuna

I should mention that Lewisburg is this cute little town with one main street. You’ll know you are close when you see a sign that says: “Lewisburg, Voted America’s Coolest Small Town!” We had made reservations earlier in the day, although it clearly wasn’t necessary as there were very few people in the restaurant. Granted, this was also a Monday night in January. The place was small, romantic, and just what we were looking for. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, and everything on the menu sounded appealing. Their philosophy to only use local and sustainable ingredients was definitely apparent throughout the menu. They also had a great drink list as well, as I got their concoction of a “wine fizzy” while Brett ordered a Rogue Mocha Porter.

Trust Me Salad

After eating a heavy chicken pot pie the day before, my eyes lit up at the description of the “Trust Me Salad”: fresh greens with local spring mix, tomatoes, red onion, chevre goat cheese, sprinkled with crunchy grains, nuts, seeds, and topped with avocado. I added shrimp to top it off and it was the perfect dish. They were right, you really had to trust them on how the ingredients go together, but they really did. Between the creamy avocado, goat cheese, and the crunch of the grains, I was a happy camper.

Brett’s ordered the seared sesame ahi tuna to which he immediately fell in love with. There must have been at least two dozen pieces of center-cut filet on the plate, beautifully arranged and flawlessly cooked. When one thinks of excellent fish preparations, land-locked West Virginia typically doesn’t come to mind, but this was one of the best tuna dishes we have come across. The attention to detail was a nice touch as even the wasabi was formed into miniature leaves.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

We were full but couldn’t pass up dessert as they are all made by the Crazy Baker, aka the owner’s twin brother. We had to try the sticky toffee pudding as they claimed it was his signature item. In one word: wow. We were blown away by how simple the dish looked yet how wonderful it tasted. Essentially a date cake topped with hot caramel sauce, we were scraping every last bit off the plate.

Grass-fed beef burger

We loved the food and atmosphere so much that we actually decided to come back and have lunch before we made our way back to Maryland. Between the local grass-fed burger and the curry chicken tacos, Stardust once again did not disappoint.

Chicken Curry Tacos

Granted, this may not be a place you would drive four-plus hours out of your way to go to, but if you are ever in the Lewisburg area of West Virginia, we highly recommend the Stardust Cafe. It’s a great place to go for Valentine’s Day, or any day of the year!

Stardust Cafe on Urbanspoon

An Evening at Obelisk

29 Dec

Over the past couple of years, I have gone all out for Rachel’s birthday when it comes to surprise dinners. Not only is it a great gift, but it’s also a fun way to try new restaurants as well as expand our palette. This time, however, I wanted to do something a little more romantic and intimate, but also dine at a restaurant we had never been to before. One destination instantly came to mind: Obelisk.

It’s amazing that after all these years that we had never to been to one of DC’s finest Italian restaurants up until last month. I felt it was an ideal destination given the intimacy (the dining room only hosts a handful of tables) as well as the universal praise. Oh, and compared to past birthdays, it was an incredible value.

Swiss chard stewed with wine and crostini

Obelisk features a prix-fixe menu – five courses for $75 per person. And while that may appear steep to some, between the quality and quantity of food, it is well worth the money.

Fennel and radish salad

After ordering a few glasses of wine and noshing on their delicious bread basket, we chose our primi, secondi, and dolci from the handwritten menu. However our first course, or antipasti, was completely predetermined by the kitchen.

Sardines topped with house made breadcrumbs

Our waitress soon brought over a variety of plates within minutes of each other, the first of which was their homemade burrata. My goodness was this delicious. Drizzled with olive oil, the cheese was creamy, delicate, and really got our taste buds flowing.

Salt cod frittata

Up next was a salt cod frittata that featured a pleasant balance of sweet and salty. Soon after, we received a fennel and radish salad, fresh-roasted sardines topped with house made breadcrumbs, and finally, swiss chard stewed with wine and crostini. While the burrata was our favorite of the antipasti course, the swiss chard was a close runner-up thanks in part to its savoriness.

Burrata

After finishing our quintet of plates, it was time to move onto the primi course. Rachel ordered the butternut squash ravioli. Meanwhile, I went in a completely different direction and ordered the lentil soup after the waitress remarked how much she loved the house ground sausage that’s in it. Well, it turned out she was absolutely right – the meat was outstanding. It also wasn’t your typical lentil soup since the beans were pureed, resulting in a much thicker consistency. It practically felt like comfort food considering how cold it was outside. It’s not often I opt for soups for a first course, but I’m really glad I took the waitresses’ advice in this case.

Lentil Soup

Rachel’s butternut squash ravioli literally melted in her mouth. She savored each bite and reluctantly gave me some to try, which I agreed were incredibly light while at the same time rich in flavor.

Butternut squash ravioli

For our main/secondi course, I went with the roasted duck breast. Cooked medium-rare, the duck was tender, succulent, and generously portioned. I often forget how fatty duck is, and given the size of the portion, there’s a considerable amount of fat to work around. Nonetheless, I have to tip my hat to the kitchen on the execution of the dish. It was wonderfully juicy, full of flavor, and cooked at exactly the right temperature.

Roasted Duck Breast

Rachel had the grouper which was lightly seared with artichoke, pork belly, and onions. The fish was superbly cooked and even I agreed how well the artichokes and pork went with the fish, and I’m not even a fish person. To put it succinctly, I would have ordered this dish for myself.

Grouper

Following our excellent entrees, we then moved onto the cheese (formaggi) course. We received three different varieties of cheeses as well as a side of sour cherries. I’m not going to lie, we forgot to take notes at this point in the meal (blogger fail), but to my recollection, we had Pipe Dream Farm’s goat cheese, Bonrus (a soft sheep’s milk cheese), and Pecorino (a harder sheep’s milk cheese). Again, I am not entirely sure if these were the exact cheeses we received, but the sour cherries were a nice accompaniment.

Cheese Course

We had finally reached the dolci part of the evening, and given how much food we had consumed up until this point, it was a good thing that this was our final course! Naturally, it did not disappoint. I went with the chocolate cake accompanied with a mint crème anglaise. I, like others I’m sure, love the combination of mint and chocolate and this dessert absolutely nailed it. The chocolate cake was wading in a small layer of anglaise which contained just the right amount of mintiness. An excellent dish all around.

Chocolate cake accompanied with mint crème anglaise

Rachel didn’t want to get the same dessert as me, so she got the pear polenta tart with basil ice cream. This was the only dish she was a slightly disappointed with as it was tasty but didn’t really wow her. She felt she should have ordered the chocolate cake after she tried a bite of mine, but what is the fun in that?

Pear polenta tart with basil ice cream

We had an exceptional meal at Obelisk and I was very glad we ended up going here this year for Rachel’s birthday. The service was pleasant, helpful, and we never felt rushed. We were even more amazed that we received so much food for just $75 per person. While DC is in the midst of opening more restaurants than ever before, it’s good to know that Obelisk has proven that they are still one of the very best in the city.

Petits fours

Obelisk on Urbanspoon

Fishnet - From Corduroy to College Park

9 Dec

When I first read on Don Rockwell that Ferhat Yalcin, the former general manager of Corduroy (and one of our favorite restaurants), would be opening a casual restaurant in College Park, I was very intrigued.

The concept: a casual seafood venue offering grilled and fried fish sandwiches, entrees, and homemade sides. Fishnet officially opened its doors on 11/11/11, making it the easiest opening date to remember.

Hake Sandwich and Spicy Aioli

Situated in what used to house Berwyn Café, Fishnet is located on Berwyn Road in College Park, a few short blocks from the major thoroughfare of Route 1 and walking distance from the University of Maryland. It’s a great location since it’s completely separated from the congestion of downtown College Park, and even more importantly, street parking is easy to come by (no meters!).

Stepping inside, the setup is rather simple. You order your meal after reviewing the blackboard menu, pay the cashier, and then they’ll bring it over to your table when it’s ready. Think of it as a no-frills Tacklebox but with much better food.

Ale-8-One and Boylan's

Fishnet offers a handful of fresh fish selections that can be grilled or deep-fried, plus you have your choice of homemade sauces.  All sandwiches are served on ciabatta with baby greens and tomato. They also offer other items such as a beef burger, fish tacos, falafel, and lobster rolls. Housemade sides range from French fries (hand-cut daily) to coleslaw to potato salad.

Opposite to the register, there’s a refrigerator housing a variety of Boylan’s sodas as well as Ale-8-One, a Kentucky-based ginger ale that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the area. Fishnet also carries some rare Italian sodas such as Spuma and Cedrata as well (again, also new to me).

Fishnet MenuDrink Menu

I went with the grilled hake and spicy aioli, as I prefer a milder, flakier fish, along with a Boylan’s cola. I held off on the fries thanks in part to some willpower, but after glancing at someone’s overflowing cup, I immediately regretted that decision.

As for the sandwich, it was simply excellent. The hake was nicely grilled, moist, and full of flavor. The spicy aioli added a pleasant kick to the sandwich and really complemented the fish. The fresh ciabatta was able to soak up the juices and keep the sandwich intact without getting too soggy.

Fishnet is a wonderful addition to the dining-deprived area of College Park. Between the fresh ingredients and great execution, I only wish this place existed when we went to Maryland. I can’t wait to go back with Rachel since she’s more of a fish fan than myself, plus I’ll have some justification for splitting an order of fries next time around.

Fishnet is located on 5010 Berwyn Road in Berwyn neighborhood of College Park, MD.

Fishnet on Urbanspoon

Persimmon: A Bethesda Bistro

26 Oct

I am very fortunate that my parents live only a few hours away up in New Jersey, and whenever they come to visit, they like to see new things in the DC area and go out to fun restaurants. Last week, they visited for my mom’s birthday and I decided that we should go somewhere in Bethesda that has a great reputation for quality food: Persimmon.

We have eaten at Persimmon several times for lunch but only during Restaurant Week. This was our first dinner experience off the regular menu, and we have to admit, we had some high expectations. Tucked away on the edge of Bethesda along Wisconsin Avenue, it is easy to miss this unassuming restaurant. However, year after year, it earns high marks both from critics and diners, so off we went to see for ourselves.

Smoked trout spring rolls

The only tricky thing about eating out with my parents is that my mom is strictly kosher and only eats fish when dining out, so I always make sure beforehand that there is enough on the menu for her to choose from. Unfortunately, there weren’t as many options as I had hoped for, but in the end, my mom enjoyed her meal as we all did.

To start, we ordered a bottle of Bex Riesling. I had first learned about this label from my friend Lisa and we really enjoyed it as a light and crisp wine. We all shared the smoked trout spring rolls and the roasted beet salad as starters.

Roasted beet salad

The spring rolls were accompanied with hoisin barbecue and peanut sauce and paired well with the trout due to the appetizer’s smokiness. It was a dish that I wasn’t sure would work from the description, but it definitely did. Meanwhile, the beet salad consisted of roasted beets, arugula, blue cheese, apples, walnuts and a lemon poppy seed vinaigrette. It was a beautiful fall salad and a nice starter to the meal.

Seared Beef Tenderloin

For our entrees, my mom ordered the salmon, which was served with artichokes, mushrooms, and a basil risotto. The salmon was perfectly cooked while the risotto was so delicious that it could have been a meal in itself. My dad got the beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes, spinach, and fried onions. It seemed like a very conventional dish on paper but that didn’t mean my dad did not devour his plate.

Pan-seared rockfish

I went with the pan-seared rockfish, which was accompanied with shrimp, zucchini, exotic mushrooms, crispy polenta cake, and a lobster beurre blanc sauce. There was a lot going on in this dish, but somehow it all worked. I really enjoyed the rockfish and it was fun mixing all the flavors together in the dish. The sauce was very salty, but overall, I really liked all the components both apart as well as together.

Sautéed lump crab cakes

Brett went with the sautéed lump crab cakes with bacon mashed potatoes, roasted corn hash and a sweet corn sauce. While it was an adequately-sized portion, the crab cakes were rather ordinary as they had a bland flavor and lacked the lump meat consistency that we’ve found at other restaurants (see Jerry’s Seafood). On the flipside, he really liked the roasted corn hash and sauce as it was a nice complement to the crab meat.

While we were very stuffed at this point, my dad ordered a crème brulee for my mom, which we all happily shared. All in all, it was a terrific meal that did not disappoint. We also noticed that Persimmon offers a sunset dinner special that features a three-course menu for only $30. The only caveat? It’s offered Sunday through Wednesday from 5pm to 6pm. We’ll definitely have to take advantage of that deal at some point. We have also been eying their brunch for some time, and if our dinner was any indication, it will definitely be on our list to visit again soon.

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