Tag Archives: seafood

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

Fish Taco Taqueria

8 May

We’re big fans of Food Wine and Co. in downtown Bethesda, so when we heard the news that the owners as well as executive chef Michael Harr would be opening a taqueria in Cabin John, we obviously had to check it out.

Located in MacArthur Plaza, Fish Taco is a little more upscale than your typical taqueria given the locale, but the food is well worth the trip to this suburban alcove.

Fish Taco is a fast-casual format where diners order and pay for their tacos at the counter, then wait for their food to be served at their table. The menu, however, goes well beyond this Mexican staple. Offering an array of rice bowls, quesadillas, burritos, and salads, there’s enough variety for even the pickiest of eaters. There’s even a kids menu, which worked out well for our toddler who devoured his cheese quesadilla.

IMG_1059

Rachel and I started things off with their grilled corn on the cob, otherwise known as Elote. Topped with cojita cheese and situated in a bed of their signature sauce, the corn was sweet, crunchy, and downright delicious. Highly recommended dish.

IMG_1066

As for our entrees, I opted for the blackened tilapia tacos. Served on a flour tortilla, the tilapia wasn’t anything remarkable (it’s tilapia, after all), but topped with the kitchen’s chili lime mayo, crispy cabbage, mango pico, and cotija cheese, as well as a side of rice and beans, it made for an enjoyable if not filling meal.

Grilled mahi mahi tacos,

Rachel ordered the grilled mahi mahi tacos, and after having a bite of hers, I slightly preferred her dish over mine. Maybe it’s because mahi mahi is a more flavorful fish than tilapia, or that it’s a little firmer, but overall both tacos were just fine.

I should note that Fish Taco sells its tacos in pairs, so bear that in mind. And not that it’s a bad thing, but if you’re looking to sample a variety of tacos from Fish Taco, it’s probably best to come with a larger party so you can share them all.

The pricing is fair if not a tad pricey – it just depends on what you order. For example, their beef, pork, and chicken tacos range from seven to nine dollars, but if you’re opting for fish, those start at $10. But given the quality of the food, we didn’t have any qualms about our bill.

Overall we were very pleased with our meal at Fish Taco. It’s especially great during the spring and summer months as there is plenty of outdoor seating, not to mention it is super kid-friendly to boot.

Fish Taco 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

 

Rappahannock Oyster Bar

28 Feb

A few weeks ago, Rachel and I made our very first visit to DC’s Union Market. We came with one goal in mind: to have lunch at Rappahannock Oyster Bar. After hearing so much praise from friends and media alike, we were curious what all the buzz was about.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar has perhaps one of the largest vendor spaces in Union Market, complete with a separate dining area in addition to the bar that wraps around the kitchen, which is where we sat. From there, we had a great view of one of the chefs shucking oysters.

Oysters

Speaking of which, we ordered half a dozen oysters which included Rappahannock, Stingray, and Olde Salts. They were arranged, in that order, from sweet to briny and were accompanied with mignonette and cocktail sauce with fresh horseradish. Of course, the oysters were incredibly fresh, but they were just a precursor of what was to come.

Crab cake

And that brings us to the crab cake. I tend to typically stray from hyperbole, but the crab cake served at Rappahannock is perhaps the best in the District. I’m not kidding, this dish was perfect. The kitchen only uses lump and backfin meat, no filler. Served atop a bed of celeriac, the crab cake, which is ever so slightly crisp on the outside, is nearly the size of a softball. Topped with a dab of remoulade, the crabmeat was supremely fresh and just as juicy, a real treat. What’s more amazing was that it only cost $14. A pair of these would easily run over $30 at a restaurant, which makes this one incredible value.

Scallops

Realizing that one crab cake was not enough food to split amongst the two of us, we decided to also order the seared scallops. Once again, Rappahannock tremendously impressed us with this dish. The plate arrived with four large, excellently-cooked scallops that were beautifully arranged with roasted cauliflower and sitting on a bed of chutney. Just like the crab cake, it only cost $14, which is nearly incomprehensible given the size of the scallops as well as the fantastic preparation.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar is a welcome addition not only to the District, but to the already wonderful Union Market. And while it’s not the most convenient location, it’s worth the visit just for that amazing crab cake.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Crab Cakes at Faidley Seafood

26 Jun

As close as Baltimore is to our home in Bethesda, we don’t go there nearly as often as we’d like. I happened to be in Charm City for a work conference and we definitely had some good eats while we were there, from Boog’s BBQ at Camden Yards to Amicci’s in Little Italy to Pazo in Fells Point. But the one place I knew we had to go before we headed back was Faidley’s at Lexington Market for some crab cakes.

Faidley Seafood

As my colleagues and I walked into Lexington Market, we were overwhelmed by all of the vendor stalls. We asked an officer to point us in the right direction and we were quickly shown to the star of the show, Faidley’s. What we saw wasn’t just one stall but a whole corner of the market, complete with a raw bar, an area for cooked meats, and then the crown jewel of crab soup, fish and chips, and of course, crab cakes. You can order a regular crab cake, one with backfin meat, or an all lump crab cake. Obviously, we got the all lump version, which was the size of a baseball when it arrived.

All lump crab cake

On top of the awesomeness of the crab cake itself, when we arrived, the first thing we noticed was a camera crew. Sure enough, there was Andrew Zimmern from The Travel Channel! We were definitely a little star-struck and watched as he ordered both a fish and chips and crab cake platter. According to Zimmern, he was definitely impressed with the crab cake (which he was told was the best ever by both Michael Symon and Adam Richman), but wasn’t sure if it was the best he’s ever had.

Andrew Zimmern!

Well, I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Zimmern as I was in heaven with each bite. All lump meat, no filler, and a rich buttery flavor – it was just perfect. I have definitely had my share of crab cakes while living in the DC area the last 10 or so years, and this one takes the cake, hands down. It was so good that I had to order two more to go so Brett could try one for himself and that I could enjoy the crab cake awesomeness one more time. Now that I finally know that crab cake heaven is only a 40 minute drive away, we will definitely be back again soon. I can already envision this being our mandatory pit stop on road trips to and from New Jersey.

Faidley Seafood 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

Eleven Madison Park

22 Mar

A couple of weeks ago, we went to New York City for the weekend to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Why NYC, you ask? Well, we wanted to be tourists for a change. Seeing as how we have friends and relatives around the area, we have never stayed in Manhattan, at a hotel, just the two of us. Instead of trying to make the last bus to Jersey or catching a late train back to Queens, we were on our own schedule, absorbing the sights and sounds of the Big Apple like we had never visited before. We saw a show on Broadway (Memphis – which was outstanding), walked the entire length of the High Line, and frolicked around Central Park… the whole nine yards.

And then of course, there was the food. I surprised Rachel that Saturday night with dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants – Eleven Madison Park. One of the toughest tables in NYC, their reservation system is very similar to that of Minibar: you can only make a reservation exactly 30 days to the date starting at 9am (Jose Andres’ phone line opens an hour later, but I digress).

However, Eleven Madison Park also takes reservations not only by phone but also via OpenTable, which made things a lot easier. While vigorously pressing the F5 key, I grabbed whatever slot was available. As soon as the clock struck 9, a 6:15pm table for two soon showed up. I clicked, and it was booked. Certainly beats hitting the redial button 100 times. Patting myself on the back, I had to keep our reservation a secret for an entire month.

Fast forward to March 3rd. We grab a cab from the hotel and make our way down towards Madison Square Park. Rachel still has no idea where we’re going, and when we arrive, she admits she has never heard of it before. Nonetheless, the friendly host greets us at the door, takes our coats, and congratulates us on our anniversary while showing us to our table.

The sommelier then comes over and hands me their wine list while providing Rachel a menu of “soft cocktails”. You see, Rachel is… well, you guessed it (surprise!), and I gave the restaurant a heads-up when I originally made the reservation. We were already wowed by the service with that gesture, and we hadn’t even ordered anything yet.

Then comes their fascinating menu concept – the meal is set up as a four-course tasting menu, but the menu lists 16 main ingredients arranged in four rows of four. Diners choose one main ingredient from each row which represents that course, and each dish revolves around said ingredient. For example, the first row had a choice of hamachi, octopus, fois gras, and sunchoke. Needless to say, but we have never seen anything like this before. No descriptions, just the name of the ingredient.

Black and White Cookie Box

And despite that the menu lists only four courses, the restaurant also provides an array of amuse bouches and small plates along the way. For instance, the meal started out with the kitchen’s take on a New York staple, the black and white cookie, served in a wrapped box. This rendition, however, was savory and comprised of parmesan and black truffle. From there on out, we knew we were in for a memorable evening.

Savory Black and White Cookie

We then received a cup of smoked apple-thyme tea accompanied with a sunny side up quail egg on toasted brioche with applewood smoked bacon.

Our next amuse bouche was a mackerel and scallop crudo. Unfortunately for Rachel, she was unable to have it since she obviously has to avoid raw fish, but the waitress was very accommodating and offered to bring her a cooked version of it. She returned with a new plate within a matter of minutes, leaving Rachel and I very much impressed by the outstanding service.

Mackerel and scallop crudo

Our fourth and final amuse was perhaps the most impressive – frozen Greek yogurt lollipops with curried lentils, as well as a plate of panisse (chickpea fritters) with yogurt. Yes you read that correctly, frozen Greek yogurt lollipops!

Frozen Greek yogurt lollipops with curried lentils, panisse (chickpea fritters) with yogurt

We were then served a pair of their croissant rolls, which were accompanied by fresh cow’s milk and goat’s milk butter. The goat’s milk butter was irresistible as we both kept spreading it across the warm, flaky rolls. They reminded us of the ones you can find at Fiola.

After a wonderful array of small plates, we then began our first course. Rachel ordered the octopus, which was poached and prepared with chorizo, onions, and lemon.

Octopus

I went with the hamachi, which was marinated with horseradish and peppercress. It was a lovely piece of yellowtail.

Hamachi

For our second course, Rachel ordered the lobster. The beautifully presented plate featured poached knuckle and claw meat with Meyer lemon beurre blanc and was accompanied with charred leek, leek puree, charred bay leaf, and dehydrated squid ink. The lobster was impeccably poached in the lemon sauce and each bite was heavenly. Amazingly, the charred bay leaf had the flavor of toasted bread.

Lobster

I, on the other hand, decided to be a little adventurous and opted with… a vegetable? Seeing as how I typically stick to proteins, I’m very much a fan of potatoes and felt that the kitchen could wow me with such a simple ingredient. The plate featured several smoked miniature potatoes on a bed of potato puree, topped with bacon crumbles and black truffle shavings. It was good, but I was definitely eyeing Rachel’s lobster for a good duration.

Potato

It was then onto our main course. Rachel ordered the rabbit, which was prepared two ways: loin wrapped in pancetta, and rabbit rillette. It was accompanied with mustard seed au jus, endive, and fried tapioca balls. Now Rachel isn’t one to normally order something like rabbit, but she thought she’d try something different, and it was certainly of the most unique dishes she had.

Rabbit

I ordered the beef, which turned out to be a 55-day dry aged rib eye. It was an exceptional piece of steak, prepared medium-rare and delightfully tender. Lightly drizzled with sorrel sauce and served with picked mushrooms, it wasn’t the largest cut of beef but it was satisfying nonetheless.

55-day dry aged rib eye

Just when it couldn’t get any better, our next course was the restaurant’s take on another New York classic — egg cream. Prepared tableside, our waitress mixed whole milk infused with cacao nibs, orange syrup, and seltzer poured from a classic soda siphon. We loved every second of it.

Egg cream

Then came the deconstructed New York cheesecake. Prepared with goat cheese and situated in a glass with blood orange sorbet while topped with vanilla “snow”, this dessert was simple divine. Oh, and we hadn’t even got to our actual dessert course yet.

Deconstructed New York cheesecake

Speaking of which, that came next. I ordered the chocolate dessert, which was a combination of sweet and salty. It featured crunchy mounds of chocolate atop of layer of crème, lightly drizzled with olive oil.

Chocolate Dessert

Rachel went with their renowned “milk and honey” dessert, which featured milk sorbet with a honey center, dehydrated milk foam, and milk snow.

Milk Dessert

Our waitress soon came by pouring me a glass of cognac, leaving the bottle at the table in case I wanted to refill it. Yeah, they left us alone with the entire bottle! The restaurant was probably fortunate in that I’m not a huge fan of cognac, so the bottle was left untouched, but still, that’s one incredible gesture. And of course they one-upped themselves by serving Rachel a glass of sparkling cider so she wouldn’t feel left out.

Cognac

And to top things off, the meal ultimately concluded with black and white cookies, but this time they were actually sweet, prepared with vanilla, chocolate, and lemon. A fitting end to a fabulous meal.

Sweet Black and White Cookies

Just when we thought we were done, they not only handed us a jar of granola to take home for breakfast, but also gave us a box of chocolates with a “Happy Anniversary” insert placed inside. Talk about leaving your customers with an everlasting impression. Chef Daniel Humm even stopped by our table to say hello. The staff at Eleven Madison Park went above and beyond and truly made our anniversary a memorable one. If you’re ever in the city for a special occasion, Eleven Madison Park is highly recommended.

Chocolate Box

Eleven Madison Park on Urbanspoon

New Years Eve Dinner at Ardeo

13 Jan

New Years Eve is perhaps the most overrated holiday of the year, so instead of dropping over $100 on one of those silly “open-bar” parties where the venues are overcrowded and short-staffed, we opted to go out with a few of our close friends for dinner instead. We ultimately decided on Ardeo which offered a four-course prix-fixe menu for a reasonable price of $65.

New Years Eve Menu

Rachel and I haven’t dined at Ardeo since 2008, and it’s received quite the makeover since our last visit. Because we had a party of ten, we were seated at their “community table” – a long table which made conversation with the entire community just a tad difficult. I won’t blame that on Ardeo though, a round 10-top is typically found at banquet halls, not restaurants.

Anyway, the amuse bouche for the table was a beef tartar accompanied with egg “caviar” and black truffle. I liked the execution of the egg caviar, very clever.

Beef tartar accompanied with egg "caviar" and black truffle

Diners had six options to choose from for their first course, so naturally I went with the beef carpaccio. And yes, while I’m aware I just had the beef tartar moments ago, I’m a glutton for all things beef, so this decision was rather easy. The four thinly-sliced pieces of beef were topped with a couple of 63 degree quail eggs as well as pickled brown beech mushrooms. Lovely presentation and a solid first course dish.

Beef Carpaccio

Rachel ordered the gnocchi salad, which was prepared with spinach salad, crisp gnocchi, braised fennel, and truffle vinaigrette. She thought it was a great first course. The gnocchi were a little different than what she is typically used to in that they were longer pieces, but they weren’t too heavy and you could definitely taste the truffle oil.

Gnocchi salad

For our main course, I ordered the seven hour braised leg of suckling pig. I haven’t had suckling pig since my 30th birthday at Komi, and while the grilled barrel-cut rib-eye caught my eye, I simply could not do a trifecta of beef in one sitting (… or could I?).

Back on topic, the pork was accompanied with cheddar grits, black-eyed peas, redeye gravy, and peanuts. It slightly reminded me of the Kalula pork we had in Hawaii, except the meat at Ardeo was dry in some areas and not as rich in flavor as its Pacific counterpart. It’s also a shame there that wasn’t any crispy skin included, but again, that’s Komi’s fault for taking this dish to the next level. I probably would have enjoyed Ardeo’s rendition more had Johnny Monis not completely spoiled me with his exquisite preparation.

Seven hour braised leg of suckling pig

Rachel’s entrée was the Day Boat Scallops with a butternut puree, spaghetti squash, bacon, and a lobster emulsion.  The scallops were charred nicely on one side, but as our friend Keith mentioned who had also got the same dish, they may have been better if they were seared on both sides. The best part may have been the butternut squash puree as dipping the scallops in it made them taste even better. The spaghetti squash added a nice texture to the dish, but she couldn’t really taste any lobster in the emulsion.

Day Boat Scallops

For dessert, each patron received a trio of desserts. The first was a chocolate bonbon stuffed with vanilla ice cream and then dusted with more chocolate, the next was a coffee mousse, and the third was a chocolate-pistachio tart with salted caramel and a milk chocolate glaze. The tart was my personal favorite while Rachel favored the mousse.

Trio of desserts

Because it’s not New Years Eve without some bubbly, our waiter came by with some complimentary glasses of champagne to close out the meal. While the service was slow at times, I have to tip my hat to the manager. When one of our friends thought her cod was overcooked, the manager sincerely apologized and asked if she would like to order a different entrée. Within minutes, she received a freshly-grilled rib-eye and was very pleased with it. Now that’s excellent customer service.

When we received the bill, gratuity was not included which I felt was a little peculiar. Because we were such a large party, it’s often typical that restaurants include gratuity at a predetermined percentage, but apparently this was not the case for us. No matter, it just made splitting the check a little more time-consuming.

Overall, we had a great New Years Even dinner at Ardeo. Everyone had an enjoyable time and was satisfied with their meal. While restaurants are typically more expensive during the holiday, I felt that $65 was a fair price considering the quality and quantity of food we received throughout the night. I wouldn’t mind going back in the near future just to order from their regular dinner menu let alone their champagne brunch.

Ardeo+Bardeo 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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