Archive | Logan Circle RSS feed for this section

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

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


Ghibellina a Welcome Addition to 14th Street

13 Jun

It’s been well documented how the restaurant scene on 14th Street has blown up over the last year or so. The Washington City Paper reported that no less than eight restaurants have opened up on the 14th Street corridor within the last month! Rachel and I learned first-hand how the demand for tables is sky-high no matter what day of the week it is.

For example, we ventured down to Logan Circle on a Tuesday evening to check out Ghibellina, the new Italian gastropub by the owners of Eastern Market’s outstanding Acqua Al 2. We were quickly taken aback as we found out the wait for a table of two would be one hour. And this was on a Tuesday!

I’m sure the same could be said for the bustling Le Diplomate, whose patios were filled to the brim with diners across the street eating al fresco in the warm, summer weather. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace was adjacent to Ghibellina, so we grabbed some barstools at their outdoor bar and had a few drinks while we waited for our table. Exactly sixty minutes later, the restaurant had called informing us our table was ready.

Salame Toscano

Unlike Acqua Al 2, Ghibellina’s menu is focused around small plates, featuring everything from salads to meats & cheeses to pizzas and pastas. Rachel and I started out the evening with their Salame Toscano, which featured salami sourced from California’s Fra ‘Mani. Topped with picked vegetables, this was a nice way to kick off our Tuscan meal.

Quadrello Di Bufala

Our next course was a cheese plate – Quadrello Di Bufala. This creamy buffalo milk cheese was accompanied with raisin walnut bread and fig jam. All three items really complemented one another as we spread the soft cheese across the bread and lightly topped it with the fig jam.

Insalata Ghibellina

Next was the Insalata Ghibellina, the restaurant’s signature salad. Featuring arugula, avocado, confit, tomatoes, Emmenthaler Swiss cheese, pine nuts, and pesto, this made for a light and refreshing dish given the summery weather. The ingredients really worked well together and we loved the subtle touch of pesto in the salad.


We moved onto the main courses with the carne portion of the menu. If there’s one item to order it’s definitely the Stracotto. The dish features a very generous portion of succulent pot roast prepared with white wine and tomato. This was my favorite dish of the evening as the beef was incredibly tender and flavorful, plus this was a perfect amount to split between two people.

Tortelli Di Patate Al Ragu

For the pasta course, we ordered the Tortelli Di Patate Al Ragu, which was basically potato-filled ravioli. Topped with a wonderful beef ragu and sprinkled with Parmesan, we had no problem finishing it off. Granted it was a little heavy, especially since we already had the Stracotto, but it was a still a great pasta selection.

Napoli pizza

Our final dish of the evening was their Napoli pizza. Prepared with tomatoes, anchovies, olives, oregano, garlic, and mozzarella, this pizza had some bite. It might have been just a tad too spicy for Rachel, but we both remarked how chewy the crust was while being soft and gooey in the middle. And yes, the pizza was uncut, which is how it should be since Ghibellina serves Neapolitan-style pies.

Overall, we had a lovely time at Ghibellina. We enjoyed everything we ordered, the plates came out in a timely fashion, and we never felt rushed despite how packed it was. If you’re looking for a casual Italian eatery with plenty of options to choose from, we cannot recommend Ghibellina enough.

Ghibellina on Urbanspoon

The Pig: Pork and Fork

31 Jul

It’s not often where the name of a restaurant instantly grabs my attention, but Logan Circle’s The Pig had me by the title alone. The newest member of the Eatwell DC family, it is also the group’s most distinct, separating itself from sister eateries Logan Tavern, The Heights, and Commissary.

Incorporating a nose-to-tail approach, The Pig’s menu is a carnivore’s dream. While stepping inside the restaurant, an aroma of barbecue drifts through the air across the 80-seat dining room. Chalkboards hanging up across the space inform diners where today’s ingredients are sourced, including the restaurant’s farm in La Plata where they grow their vegetables.

The Pig does not accept reservations and only sits parties if everyone is present, but the wait wasn’t bad for the four of us on a Friday evening. We put our name down and headed across the street at Churchkey for a few libations.

The Pig’s menu mainly revolves around small plates, but they also feature some entrees as well. We debated ordering a charcuterie plate, aptly titled The Pig Platter, but instead went right for the main event.

Braised Cheek

Our first dish was the braised cheek, a popular item amongst diners according to our waiter. After taking a bite, I could see why. Sitting atop a bed of stone grits, and topped with Spanish sofrito, the cheeks were delightfully tender. The texture was similar to that of brisket, and of course a knife was not necessary.

Charred Belly

Up next was the charred belly. As good as the braised cheeks were, the belly might have one-upped it by just a nose. Succulent and smoky, the fatty piece of belly was complemented with a rich celery root puree, watermelon jam, and pickled rind. Both dishes thus far were stellar, but the smokiness of the belly tipped the scales.

Heirloom tomato farm salad

We took a reprieve from the pork and ordered their heirloom tomato farm salad. Featuring tomatoes grown from their La Plata farm, the salad was complemented with basil-goat cheese mousse as well as olive oil-poached tomatoes. It was a light and refreshing course considering what lay ahead.

Buttermilk fried chicken

And that brings us to the buttermilk fried chicken. Listed as a supper item on the menu, this was indeed a full entrée that was split between the four of us. And just because it’s a protein other than pork doesn’t mean it’s an afterthought from the kitchen. In fact, the chicken was surprisingly one of the meal’s highlights.

Situated atop Thai chili gravy and collard greens, and complemented with a pair of herb biscuits, the chicken was crisp, juicy, and had a nice kick thanks to the gravy. For a place that specializes in all things pork, the fried chicken is a worthy contender.

Mac and cheese

Of course, one has to order mac and cheese at a place like this, and it did not disappoint. Featuring a truffle crust, it added a little crunch to the rich side dish and really went well together with the fried chicken.

Herb gnocchi

The herb gnocchi, which was prepared with truffled corn and topped with crisp pork belly, was another solid dish although it was a tad too salty.

Wild boar ragu

Just when we thought we had enough, we ordered the wild boar ragu as our final dish of the evening. Prepared with pappardelle and Pecorino cheese, the pasta was soft and delicate while the ragu added some heartiness to the dish. It was another hit amongst the table.

Overall, The Pig was a home run. Not only were the prices reasonable, but our waiter provided outstanding service – breaking down each dish with the ingredients used, how they’re prepared, as well as offering some helpful suggestions. We would definitely come back not only to explore more of the menu, but also to be surrounded by that enticing aroma. Oh, and to order more of that charred belly, too.

The Pig on Urbanspoon

Another Wonderful Evening at ChurchKey

5 Jan

Over the last year or so, ChurchKey has quickly become our favorite go-to bar in DC. Not only do we love the extensive and creative beer selection, but the bar fare cannot be beat. We already wrote about its sister establishment, Birch & Barley, so this review focuses on the upstairs and ever popular (and crowded) bar.

North Carolina pulled pork BBQ flatbreadWe decided to meet my good friend from high school and her husband at the Logan Circle establishment since they have never been before, and in our opinion, everyone must come to ChurchKey at least once.

We arrived a little after 7 on a Thursday night, so needless to say, it was difficult finding a table at first. We didn’t mind since we had no place to be the next day, so we were able to find a spot near one corner of the bar to get drinks and chat while eyeing tables.

It wasn’t too difficult to order drinks, just a little more pressure when trying to decide from the long list of options when you have to order quickly. I quickly found my drink of choice with the Edmund Fitzgerald from the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

After awhile, I glanced over to one of the tables to see what I thought was a man paying for his check, but no such luck. As I was walking away, I saw the table next to them and sensed that they were leaving. I quickly asked if we could take the table, and less than a minute later, we had our spot!

One of the many reasons it is so hard to find a table at ChurchKey is, once you do score one, you’re unlikely to leave it anytime soon.

Birch & Barley bread plate

Once we were settled, we started making our food selections. We decided to share a few plates since everything looked great. Our friends hadn’t been before, so everything looked good to them, and while we have had the food here several times, there was nothing we wouldn’t try again.

To start, we ordered the disco fries, Arancini, the Birch & Barley bread plate, and, of course, the tots. Yes, it was a lot of fried slash potato things, but admit it, ChurchKey does fried food very well.

Disco fries, Arancini, and totsEverything was, as it has been in the past, delicious. Our only complaint was that the cheese found atop the disco fries was more in chunks rather than fully melted, but that might be because we got the sausage gravy (which was delectable) on the side.

The risotto balls were the perfect balance of creamy and crunchy, and went well with the acorn squash sauce. The bread plate is one of the reasons alone to go for dinner at Birch & Barley since you receive a complimentary version for twice the size. And the tots, well, good as always.

After some digesting, and more beers, naturally, we went for round two and got the North Carolina pulled pork BBQ flatbread as well as the grilled cheese with tomato soup dip. The flatbread was a nice combination with the meat and barbecue sauce with a tangy slaw. The meat was a little dry but the overall flavors went well together.

Grilled CheeseThe grilled cheese, on the other hand, was a little strange. Instead of the bread being grilled, it was instead made with a very dry ciabata bread with a cheese that didn’t quite mesh. It tasted better when dipped in the soup, but the “soup” was served in a very small ramekin, and was barely enough for half the sandwich. It was the only real miss of the night, but five out of six isn’t bad.

Suffice to say, it was yet another successful night at ChurchKey. We would have ordered dessert but, alas, we were stuffed. It’s too bad since I know how good the desserts at ChurchKey/Birch & Barley are. Ah well, there’s always next time.

Any chance we can get an outpost in Bethesda? I know…wishful thinking.

Churchkey on Urbanspoon

Christmas Eve Dinner at Estadio

28 Dec

We have been meaning to dine at Estadio for months now, and since there is always a wait on most evenings, on top of not of the fact that they do not take reservations for parties of six or less after 6pm, we thought Christmas Eve would be an opportune time to finally have dinner at the Logan Circle venue.

We arrived at the restaurant around 7pm and were joined by our friends Randi and Mike. Because of the holiday, we had no problem landing a table, not to mention a great parking spot!

Spice Grilled Chicken, Cabbage Slaw, Rice, Salsa LocaMike had recommended we start the night off with some of the Pintxos, skewered selections that were basically hor d’oeuvres. The chorizo, manchego and pistachio crusted quince was a delicious bite but it was the jamon-wrapped fig with bleu cheese that really stood out. It was so good that we had to order two more!

Since we ordered so many plates between the four of us that, giving a brief rundown on each would be the most efficient way to breakdown our meal:

Patatas Bravas: Simply delicious. The rich tomato garlic sauce was not too overpowering while the potatoes were cooked perfectly. I could have eaten another plate just by myself.

Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Parsley, Garlic: Another excellent vegetable dish. Flawless execution. Seasoned with garlic and parsley, these demonstrated how you serve mushrooms.

Scallops, Roasted Cauliflower & Salbitxada: I don’t know what was better – the impeccably cooked scallops or the accompany cauliflower! I think the scallops rivaled those found at Corduroy, but the tasty Salbitxada sauce gives Estadio the nudge. We asked the waiter if the kitchen could provide the cauliflower as a side, and the chef obliged! The waiter said it best: “Only because it’s Christmas…”

Patatas BravasRoasted Wild Mushrooms, Parsley, GarlicPintxos: chorizo, manchego & pistachio crusted quince and jamon-wrapped fig with bleu cheese

Sautéed Shrimp, Garlic, Parsley & Lemon: The shrimp was good but probably my least favorite dish of the night. The garlic was far too intense and completely masked the shrimp’s flavor. The sauce made for an excellent dip to the bread, however.

Grilled Octopus, Potato Caper Salad, Pimenton: Some of the best octopus we have had, and we were in Greece six months ago! Between the charred flavor and Pimenton seasoning, Estadio hit it out of the park with this plate.

Sherry Glazed Black Cod, Smoky Romesco: Incredible. Cooked to perfection. Melted in your mouth. Need I say more?

Spice Grilled Chicken, Cabbage Slaw, Rice, Salsa Loca: Our final dish of the night. There were a lot of components to this plate between the dark-meat chicken, cabbage, rice, and salsa. The chicken, however, tasted great and while it wasn’t my favorite item by any means, it was certainly one of the most creative.

Sautéed Shrimp, Garlic, Parsley & LemonScallops, Roasted Cauliflower & SalbitxadaGrilled Octopus, Potato Caper Salad, Pimenton

Overall, Estadio was fantastic. It never felt like the kitchen/waitstaff was bombarding you with plates, something we have encountered at similar venues such as at Jaleo, while the service was cordial and pleasant.

I can see why there is always a wait for this place: it’s one of the best tapas restaurants in the entire District. Special thanks to Don Rockwell for the recommendation!

Estadio on Urbanspoon

A Decadent Brunch at Birch and Barley

27 Oct

Rachel and I have been fans of Birch & Barley, as well as its upstairs counterpart ChurchKey, since it opened last year. The food has been outstanding while the beer selection clearly speaks for itself, yet we’ve heard rave reviews regarding their brunch for some time and have been dying to try it.

So, what better way to celebrate Rachel completing the Army 10 Miler that morning than eating at a venue that offers toffee-bacon donuts? We felt it was due time to see what all the Sunday afternoon hype was all about.

Their infamous special is called the Boozy Brunch, which for $30 includes donut holes, two drinks, any entree, and unlimited coffee or tea. This is quite a deal, but considering it was still early and we knew that we would be drinking later that day to watch some football, we ultimately passed on the offer. We did get some tasty Bloody Mary’s and mimosas though.

Freshly Fried DonutsWe started our meal off with a plate of their freshly-fried donuts which ranged from lemon-poppy glazed to bittersweet chocolate to the aforementioned toffee-bacon. All of them were delicious, but the bacon donut might have been our favorite given how well the sweet and salty combination worked. Everything tastes better with bacon, right?

One strange thing that happened was that several of us ordered coffee, and it seemed that the coffee that our friends Jim and Livya received was brewed without using a coffee filter as the bottom of the cups were full of grinds. We pointed it out to the waiter and he apologized and seemed embarrassed by it, and quickly replaced the coffees with fresh ones.

House-Brined Corned Beef HashFor our entrées, I went with the house-brined corned beef hash. Topped with fried duck eggs, the corned beef was succulent yet was lacking a kick. In my opinion, it really needed some spice to bring out the flavor. I’m not one to ask for hot sauce, but I was nearly compelled to which was rather unfortunate.

On the other hand, the duck eggs were fantastic. The egg whites were not runny at all, and because duck eggs are larger than your typical chicken egg, the presentation nearly covered the entire plate of hash! These could honestly be a meal in themselves, and then when you factor in all the corned beef hash below it, you have yourselves quite a meal.

Rachel ordered what seemed to be their signature brunch offering,  chicken and waffles.  Brett had this dish at nearby Marvin a few years ago for dinner, and it does seem like a heavy meal to start the day off with, but she simply could not resist. After running 10 miles in a great time (under 90 minutes!), she felt she deserved it.

Chicken and WafflesAnd it was quite the reward indeed. A full waffle cut into four pieces with lightly drizzled syrup and pecans on top, next to three boneless pieces of perfectly fried chicken. It was a completely indulgent and delicious dish. She made sure to eat every forkful with a piece of chicken and waffle together, and it was the perfect combination of sugar and salt.

We were stuffed after that and didn’t eat much the rest of the day. Many hours later, we were still thinking how good our dishes were, and if only we lived slightly closer to this beloved establishment.

Birch & Barley on Urbanspoon