Archive | August, 2012

Brunch at Black Market Bistro

30 Aug

Last week we met up with a few friends for Sunday brunch at Black Market Bistro. Situated in the quaint neighborhood of Garrett Park, it is housed in the same building as the town’s post office.

It turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon, so we decided to dine on the Victorian-style house’s patio. While it is one of the many restaurants under the Black Restaurant Group, Black Market Bistro carries a certain charm given the surrounding area. Instead of being surrounded by busy streets or tall buildings, the picturesque homes and green lawns give off an old-fashioned vibe.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Black Market Bistro’s brunch menu keeps things simple, offering a handful of appetizers and entrees. I decided to go with the traditional buttermilk pancakes. Served with a side of fresh fruit, Chantilly cream, and maple syrup, the pancakes were light and fluffy.

Orange and vanilla bean French toast

Rachel ordered the orange and vanilla bean French toast. Served with the same set of sides as my pancakes, the French toast was moist and fluffy while the hint of vanilla and orange made it one of the best French toast dishes she’s had in some time.

Black Market Bistro is a terrific brunch spot, especially out on the patio during these last few weeks of summer. The prices are reasonable (both our dishes were $12 each) and the service was very good. Considering that dinner entrees are nearly twice as much, brunch at Black Market Bistro is an exceptional value.

Black Market Bistro on Urbanspoon

National Peach Month at Blue Duck Tavern

23 Aug

Prior to last week, Rachel and I have only been to Blue Duck Tavern once, and that was over three years ago. While it’s been a long hiatus between then and our most recent visit, the food has remained exceptional.

In what turned out to be one of those rare summer evenings where the humidity was nonexistent, we opted for dinner out in the restaurant’s patio that overlooks the corner of 24th and M Street.

Crispy fried veal sweetbreadsfried

August is also National Peach Month, and Blue Duck Tavern celebrated the harvest by offering a special appetizer – crispy fried veal sweetbreads. Featuring bourbon marinated peaches and roasted Path Valley Farm sweet peppers, the sweetbreads were delightfully crispy but not too heavy. The peaches complemented the veal and peppers and it was a nice contrast of sweet and savory. It was a very summery dish that was accentuated by the juicy peaches.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

We also shared an heirloom tomato salad which was prepared with aged goat cheese, basil, and olive oil croutons. Gorgeously presented, the colors alone were stunning let alone how refreshing the salad was. The slivers of goat cheese were strong but not overpowering at all.

12-hour roasted suckling pig

As for our main courses, I immediately went for the 12-hour roasted suckling pig. Accompanied with baby vegetables, mustard jus, and topped with what appeared to be homemade pork rinds, the pig was spectacular. A knife was not necessary as it was incredibly succulent. Now I know why it is one of Blue Duck Tavern’s most popular dishes.

Braised beef rib

Rachel ordered the braised beef rib with a housemade steak sauce. The beef itself was delicious and fork tender, a theme to our meal, but it was the sauce that took it to another level. Thank goodness Blue Duck’s dishes are presented family style since I was trying an equal amount of each entree.

BDT fries

Of course we had to get the BDT fries as one of our sides, which did not disappoint. They might be the best fries at a fine dining establishment in the entire District. The mustard aioli that accompanies them makes them a perfect side.

Dandelion greens grilled with fresh garlic and bacon

We decided to try the daily harvest vegetable, which were dandelion greens grilled with fresh garlic and bacon. It was definitely something different and we loved every bite. It was also a nice change of pace from ordinary vegetable sides such as spinach or broccoli.

Milk chocolate banana smores

We could not decide on which dessert to order since they all sounded appetizing, so in the end we tried the milk chocolate banana smores as well as the nectarine blackberry crumble. The former proved to be a little too sweet for our taste buds but the latter certainly made up for it, especially with the cornmeal crunch which added a nice texture to the dish.

Nectarine blackberry crumble

Despite not having been to Blue Duck Tavern in years, the kitchen has not lost a step. There’s a reason why it is considered one of the best restaurants in DC, and our most recent visit certainly validated that claim. On top of that, the service was top-notch. Our waitress was very helpful considering our patented indecisiveness on what to order, and she certainly steered us in the right direction in regards to the excellent braised beef rib. While summer is drawing to a close, be sure to enjoy their cucumber lemonade on the patio while you still can!

Blue Duck Tavern on Urbanspoon

Saturday Brunch at Woodberry Kitchen

14 Aug

Last weekend, Rachel and I went up to Baltimore for the day and headed up to Woodberry Kitchen for Saturday brunch. We have always wanted to dine at one of Baltimore’s finest establishments, so brunch was an affordable way to introduce ourselves to Chef Spike Gjerde’s cuisine.

Of course, getting to this restaurant isn’t the easiest of tasks as it’s tucked away in a 19th century foundry in the Hampden neighborhood. Good thing we had a GPS, otherwise we would have easily gotten lost trying to find the place. Complimentary valet parking is provided, and after quickly surveying the narrow road for street parking, it’s probably your best bet.

Once stepping inside, the rustic interior and friendly staff reminds you why Baltimore is nicknamed Charm City: Woodberry Kitchen simply oozes it. Just a few steps from our table was an enormous grandfather clock sitting adjacent to a shelf housing all sort of pickled items in glass jars.

Tilghman Island Crab Pot

We started the meal off with French press coffee for the entire table while Rachel got a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice. On top of that, we ordered the Tilghman Island Crab Pot to split amongst the four of us. The restaurant’s rendition of crab dib, it was prepared with lump crabmeat, cream cheese, and sherry poured on top and accompanied with a variety of toast points. As anticipated, it was a very savory appetizer. Rich and creamy, the pot was scraped clean by our party (okay, maybe just me).

Morning Flatbread

For our entrees, I ordered the Morning Flatbread. This morning’s rendition featured potato, Hawks Hill cheddar, farm egg, and some of the most delicious barbecue pork shoulder I have ever come across. I’ve been to countless BBQ places across the country, but the tender pork found on this flatbread was without a doubt some of the best. Spreading the egg yolk across the flatbread gave the dish a nice consistency, and it was especially hard to put the fork down if one of the slices featured a piece of succulent pork atop it.

Egg in a Hole

Rachel ordered the Egg in a Hole, which was essentially Pullman toast with a circle cut out and an egg cooked inside, served with heirloom tomatoes, squash and their blossoms, and rocket. The dish is served best with the egg runny, and even though Rachel couldn’t have it that way since we still have a bun in the oven, she loved the rich buttery toast and the accompanying vegetables which were fresh and tasted like they were just picked from the garden.

Brunch at Woodberry Kitchen was a fantastic experience – between the excellent food and service, we would love to return for dinner down the road. And if that pork shoulder is listed on the menu on our next visit, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will be ordering it.

Woodberry Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Summertime Dining at Agora

3 Aug

A few weeks ago we had dinner at Agora in Dupont Circle, known for their Mediterranean meze. We’ve been to Agora before, specifically for brunch, but this was our first time having dinner at the Turkish restaurant.

After enjoying some taramosalata (cured roe spread) and ezme (tomato and pepper salad) paired up with the restaurant’s piping hot, fresh pita bread, we had their beautifully arranged beet & orange salad.

Beet & orange salad.

Comprised of beets, lemon mashed potatoes, blood oranges, onion, and a smattering of light vinaigrette, it was a light and refreshing salad that’s fitting for a hot, summer evening.


The highlight for the two of us, however, was their mücver – better knows as zucchini pancakes. Prepared with shredded zucchini, mint, dill scallions, and Manchego cheese, they transported us back to Greece where we honeymooned. The restaurant’s recipe was without a doubt the closest thing resembling the zucchini pancakes we had in Athens, and it’s a dish I would order every time when dining at Agora.


Up next was pan-seared turbot, a meaty Mediterranean flatfish. Tender and flaky, the turbot was excellently prepared by the kitchen. The Jerusalem artichokes really complemented the dish and gave the plate a summery feel to it.

Lamb tenderloin

While the turbot was a reprieve from the dog days of summer, the lamb tenderloin reminded us of the impending autumn. This can be accredited to the butternut squash puree that accompanied the succulent lamb. Prepared with fresh mint, toasted hazelnut, and a sour cherry sauce, this seemed like a dish more suitable for the fall. Nonetheless, it was very, very good.


For dessert, we tried not one but two selections. Up first was Kadayif, a traditional Turkish pastry. It was comprised of disks of shredded phyllo dough layered with vanilla milk pudding, then topped with honey and pistachios.

Aegean Delight

The second, and my favorite of the two, was the Aegean Delight – apricots stuffed with walnuts over mascarpone cheese, and then topped with caramel sauce and pistachios.

Each visit to Agora has been an enjoyable experience, and our most recent meal there was no exception. The kitchen has proven to be reliably consistent — same goes for the service.  In fact, we’re already looking forward to ordering our next dish of mücver.

Agora Restaurant on Urbanspoon