Old Glory BBQ

April 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Georgetown has a good number of decent brunch options ranging from the classics at Clyde’s to Hook’s more modern takes on Eggs Benedict and French toast. Yesterday, Ameya came down from UMD and we finally went to Old Glory BBQ to partake in their whole hog brunch buffet with all the fixings.

Unfortunately, because we got there much later in the day, the roast pork was a bit dry (though saved by the tasty rub) and the once crackly skin was inedible. However, the delicious sides redeemed the disappointing pork. I helped myself to tons of home fries, sausage and gravy, and something that resembled grits. At $14.95 for the entire meal, it was a good deal overall, but next time I know I’d be better off ordering the hand sliced brisket with two sides.

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Chinese New Year 2010

February 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

I always get really homesick when it’s Chinese New Year. Usually we have some family friends come over and we all sit down to eat a huge meal of roast duck, roast pork, dumplings, etc. This year, in addition to celebrating the beginning of the Year of the Tiger away from home, I also had to deal with yet another date-less Valentine’s Day. womp womp.

No matter. To console myself, I made a menu of a bunch of delicious Chinese dishes that would at least make me feel like I was at home and with Jia’s help, we made a truly amazing dinner. Chinese-style eggs and tomato, hoisin glazed eggplant, pork and scallion dumplings (with even the skins made from scratch!), sesame noodles with chicken and cucumber, and the piece de resistance…Chinese BBQ spare ribs.

The big success of the night was definitely the ribs. In the Chinatown in New York, there’s always this one particular roast meats shop that our family visits to pick up spare ribs, roast pork, and roast duck, and I never thought I’d be able to replicate those flavors in my own kitchen. On Saturday night, I came back from a party a little tipsy but somehow managed to remember to create the hoisin-soy-honey marinade, which just goes to show that food is always a number one priority for me. So even with the ever-present danger that I’d drunkenly slice off my fingers while mincing garlic, the ribs made it to the fridge to marinate over night.

The next day, after fretting over the pork and setting off the fire alarm in our apartment, I finally pulled those babies out of the oven. They had that beautiful charred but glossy outer coating, and the meat on the bone was perfectly tender and succulent. They were a huge success with everyone and now, they’ll probably be my go-to barbecue recipe.

So, our 3 1/2 hours of cooking yesterday really paid off, especially since there are plenty of tasty leftovers in the fridge.  Even though we weren’t with family and didn’t do the traditional exchange of New Year’s greetings and red envelopes, we still got a taste of home.

Restaurant Weekend

January 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

This past weekend was filled with so much good food, and there was quite a variety of it too. We had dimsum at China Garden, hearty Italian at Filomena, where I only managed to finish half of my entree and dessert (two meals in one!), and a light breakfast at Leopold’s Kafe down in Cady Alley.

Sunday morning, Ameya imed me asking to go to dimsum at China Garden, but because it was already 1 PM, I was a little reluctant since it would take him a while to drive down from UMD and get us to the restaurant. What ensued was probably the fastest sit-down restaurant meal of my entire life.

When we got there at 2:15 (because parking took a while as well), the cart ladies swarmed us, trying to finish off all the steamers they still had before they had to pack stuff away. So, in about 20 minutes, Ameya, Varun, and I devoured about 12 dimsum dishes – dumplings, har gao, egg tarts and all – and paid our check at around 2:35. In a way, it was a meal of perfect efficiency.

Restaurant Week at Filomena is probably one of the best promotions during that entire week. We had four courses of soup, appetizer, main course, and dessert (as well as a complimentary sambuca or amaretto), and the portions were absolutely huge! I went last year as well so I was able to plan my eating strategy more accordingly, and saved enough food for an entire extra meal the next day.

Everything – the homemade gnochhi, the delicious rigatoni in vodka sauce, the chocolate mousse cake and the raspberries n’ cream dessert – was so frikkin’ delicious and perfect for the cold day we were having. And as usual, the restaurant was decked out in decorations for the next closest holiday, which meant there were paper doves and shiny plastic red hearts hanging from the ceiling everywhere! So cheezy, but still cute.

The next day, we stopped at Leopold’s Kafe for breakfast/brunch and luckily, we got there before it became packed with patrons. I opted for the fresh grapefruit juice with the most amazing and flaky almond croissant I think I have ever had (my plate was completely covered in crumbs) and giant roasted baby red potatoes with caramelized onions seasoned with fresh thyme.

A perfect balance between the sweetness of the pastry and the savory heaviness of the potatoes. If I had to choose one brunch spot to go to for the rest of my time at Georgetown, it would be Leopold’s, hands down. The service is so friendly, the atmosphere is sleek and chic, and the food is amazing, especially the breakfast options. The giant pastry case near the bar isn’t a bad thing either.

Eating on M and the Waterfront

December 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

A couple weeks ago, a friend from high school visited, and we head to Clyde’s for weekend brunch. I ate there earlier in the year and wasn’t really impressed with the food (my hanger steak that I ordered was a little dry). My impression didn’t really improve when we ordered to share a large fruit salad and got one of the ugliest piles of fruit I think I’d ever seen. None of it was fresh: the grapes had that over-ripe flavor and oozy texture and the melon was so hard and not sweet at all. Clyde’s fruit salad: FAIL.

But, they did redeem themselves with the pumpkin spice pancakes. The batter is made of whole wheat and oatmeal, which is probably why they’re still so fluffy even with the pumpkin weighing it down. They also included pecans, which added a good bit of crunch. Drowned in real Vermont maple syrup and accompanied with almost-entirely crisp bacon, and I was a happy camper. I only tried Jimmy’s potatoes (which I didn’t really think compared to my patatas bravas and rosemary roasted potatoes), but his Eggs Benedict looked delicious and he seemed pretty satisfied with his choice.

Afterwards, we hung out at the National Mall and went to the Museum of Natural History. I’ve been there at least 10 times through my Georgetown years, but this time they had the annual National Geographic Photo Exhibit up and some of those pictures just blow my mind. The patience and fearlessness some of these people have – there was a really close-up photo of a shark ripping some poor, inferior sea creature to pieces, no detailed spared. It didn’t even look real to me because it was so close. Oh yeah, we also saw an albino squirrel running around the trees getting picked on by the normal colored squirrels. Damn.

This past week, I also went with Amy to Agraria/Farmers and Fishers. I don’t really know what to call it anymore. Last year, when I considered going for Restaurant Week, it was called Agraria and it was actually one of those really fancy, tasting menu places where it was impossible to get a reservation. When I looked it up again this year, it was called Farmers and Fishers and the prices fit much more comfortably within my budget. I think it was bought by the same people who own Founding Farmers (a place located in the IMF building that emphasizes local and sustainable eating), and now you get to eat a hearty, American meal on the Georgetown waterfront.

One of the things they’re famous for is the fresh squeezed juices and homemade sodas. The lemonade I ordered was wonderfully tart and sweet, and I liked the little bit of pulp that they left. We then shared a Maryland Crab dip and ciabatta bread as an appetizer. Gooey, rich, fatty. It was so tasty, but I definitely regretted eating so much of it later. My entree was a HUGE pork shank, crispy on the outside and almost completely tender on the inside. Some parts were a bit tougher but the fact that the entire shank was seasoned perfectly made up for that oversight. Amy’s mahi-mahi was flaky and delicate and the pesto that topped it added the right amount of zing.

It was snowing/raining by the time we were walking back (the first snow of the season!) and it was really nice to just chill for the rest of the evening. Because the snow put us in such a holiday mood, we watched Love Actually, drank hot chocolate, and made paper snowflakes and green and red paper chains to decorate the apartment, like the elementary school kids that we are.

My final fall semester at Georgetown is almost over. Wow.

Georgetown Clyde’s and a Two Week Hiatus

September 13, 2009 § Leave a comment

This past week Amy and I went to Clyde’s on M. street for dinner. Our original intention was to try Old Glory Barbecue since I was really craving some pulled pork and cornbread, but when we got there, it turned out there was a wedding reception going on for the rest of the evening.

I’d never been to Clyde’s before, despite the fact that it’s a classic. When you enter the restaurant, you can see why it’s a Georgetown favorite – the wood paneling, the old-school aviation decor and the long bars. We were seated in a nice area in the back where there were sky lights, so I didn’t have to do anything with the point and shoot I brought along, even though the tables were a bit cramped.

Amy and I ordered the grilled pizza – mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil pesto and chanterelle mushrooms – as an appetizer which turned out to be surprisingly good. The exterior of the crust was really crispy while the interior still doughy soft and there was definitely a good glug of extra virgin olive oil in that pesto.

My entree was the chili-lime hanger steak with roasted corn, pico de gallo, and black beans. Though there could’ve been a bit more seasoning with the salad, the meat was perfectly pink and not stringy at all, which is usually a problem. Amy’s grilled shrimp looked HUGE and delicious, although I didn’t get to try any because I already had my own food to contend with.

Verdict: Clyde’s is good, but not great. The ambience certainly gives the restaurant extra points, but I’m going to have to try their brunch before on deciding how I feel about the place.

Also, just wanted to mention that I’ll be taking a two week hiatus from posting. I’m taking the LSAT on September 26 and it’s SERIOUSLY crunchtime for me. People keep asking why I’m taking it so early as a junior, but truth be told, I’ll be graduating a year early (this coming May to be exact) and applying this fall. I have no idea what’s gonna happen after I take the test (who knows, I might even have to take it again >.<) and I don’t even want to think about it right now.

See you in two weeks! I’ll probably cook/bake/grill/fry something to celebrate afterwards.

Easter Brunch at Hook

April 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

I think my first visit to Hook is responsible for my current obsession with all kinds of seafood. I’ve loved sushi for a long time, but there really aren’t enough restaurants that serve delicious, sustainable fish like Hook. According to the Washingtonian, they also supposedly have some of the best brunch in DC, so for Easter, my floormate Alan and I decided to stop by and get our fill of seafood.

The first time I went to Hook with Amy, it was for dinner and we were seated at the long table across the bar since we didn’t have any reservations. This time around, the restaurant was airy and filled with light, and Alan and I were seated a cute little alcove, from where we could actually see the cooks working in the kitchen.

For appetizers, Alan got the almond scones (he wanted to compare them to Leopold’s and Poupon, I think) and I got one of Hook’s signature dishes, the grilled calamari with walnut-pesto and some smashed potatoes to which I didn’t really pay attention. That single dish is now the one that I find myself craving the most often. Actually, I had it at the Tackle Box, the more casual, lobster-shack inspired sister restaurant of Hook, with Amy yesterday.

My seared barramundi was tasty and light. One of things I love most about Hook is that all the fish has this wonderful crust on the outside that’s perfectly seasoned, and the fish just flakes at the touch of a fork. Also, the vegetables and sides, like lentils or black eyed peas, that accompany each of these dishes are something that I would never really crave or want, but everything comes together so beautifully that I wish there was some way for me to reproduce the taste. Which I probably can’t.

After brunch, Alan and I walked to Baked and Wired since he had never tried their cupcakes before, and I managed to persuade him to sample the red velvet while I exercised all my willpower and stuck with a good macchiato. I think I may have made another B & W convert in him.

Tapas at Bodega

February 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

Julia and Ameya were in town, and instead of getting dimsum at China Garden like we usually do, we tried the tapas at Bodega.  They did have a Restaurant Week menu for lunch and dinner, but we decided to just order 3 tapas dishes each since we didn’t really like the appetizers or desserts. And what a smart decision on our part.  Usually with tapas places, I expect some hits and misses. Even with Jaleo, there were some tapas that I didn’t really like.  Bodega is another story, and even though I definitely liked some dishes more than others, each one had something to give.

The decor inside is very beautiful – the walls in the main dining area are covered in Spanish motifs and the lounge, where we were sitting, has a lovely little fireplace.  I didn’t really care much for the number of skulls hanging on the walls, but to each his own.  Our waiter was extremely helpful with recommendations (and amazingly quick with the bread refills), and we ordered a variety of seafood, vegetable, grain, and meat tapas.
Standouts were the shrimp in garlic sauce [spicy and tender with a sauce perfect for bread dipping], the shrimp with creamy saffron rice [ohmygaaaaaah, I loved the rice so much and pretty much ate all of it myself] and the seared tuna with caramellized onions [the crust on the fish was unbelievable, yet the inside wasn’t too cooked].  The lambchops were unfortunately a bit dry but the sauce was rich enough that I could overlook it, and the artichokes had a rather sour flavor.
Bodega’s a relatively new place on M Street, but it’s already made a very good impression on me.  They also serve paellas which I plan on trying next time and at one point in my Georgetown career, I hope that I get to try all their tapas dishes.  Here’s to a taste of Spain only a ten minute walk from campus.

Bodega Spanish Tapas and Lounge

3116 M Street, Washington, DC 20007
202.333.4733

Paolo’s and Restaurant Week Part I

February 20, 2009 § 1 Comment

Winter in DC usually means I’m holed up in my dorm room on weekends watching crappy chick flicks or catching up on LOST. A couple weeks ago, Jia and I had had enough, and we decided to organize a girls’ night out at Paolo’s Ristorante on Wisconsin. We’d walked past a dozen times before, and with a sudden craving for some decent Italian food, we caved.

I went with two appetizers, the duck gnocchi and eggplant fritters, while my friends chose between the pizzas and specials. The duck gnocchi was a bit disappointing. I was really excited after reading the delicious sounding description, but the duck confit was tough and dry, and even though the gnocchi was pillowy, the arugula and biscotti crumbs had no business being in the dish. If the duck had been cooked better, the two alone would have been heavenly enough. The eggplant, on the other hand, was satisfactory. The cheese was molten hot and the sauce had a really nice tang, so I didn’t complain too much.

Everyone else said their food was fine, but I was too busy eating my food to care.  Though I did choose not to order dessert, Jia and Tracy split the largest slice of tiramisu that I have ever seen in my life, and Melissa’s mandarin orange creme brulee was huge as well. We walked out of Paolo’s considerably stuffed and had to walk around M street before finally heading back to campus.

What got me even more excited, however, was DC Restaurant Week. I didn’t realize it until a couple days ago because school was, yet again, bringing me to full panic, but Amy and I decided that we had to go somewhere after almost a year of talking about eating out together. I tried finding reservations on Opentable.com, called Hook, Agraria, and other good restaurants in the area, but everywhere told me that they were booked from 6-9 tonight. In a desperate action, we decided that we’d walk around M street until some place took us in, or we’d go to Bangkok Joe’s since we knew they weren’t doing RW and would therefore most likely have a table open.

We didn’t have to walk too far. At Hook, there weren’t any individual tables available, but we sat at the end of a long table near the bar where there was full service.  Hook is a restaurant very well known for its sustainable seafood, so it only made sense to order as much fish as we could. Appetizers were tuna tartare and an amped up clam chowder, but the entrees were the star of the show. My arctic char was no short of amazing – grilled so the skin was deliciously salty and crispy with the creamy celeriac puree to balance it – and Amy’s sablefish was light and airy but packed with the flavor of the ocean.

Desserts were amazing as well, and at this point, while I was taking photos, a chic woman came up to our end of the table and asked why I had a camera. Her name was Bethany Umbel, owner of Hook, and at that moment, she had been talking with Heather Chittum, the pastry chef who’d actually been named one of the “Top 5 Pastry Chefs in the Nation” and worked with Michel Richard at the famous Citronelle. I think they were both a bit on edge about me taking photos of the pastries (maybe they thought I was stealing presentation ideas?), but when they realized I was just an innocent food blogger, they eased up and sincerely said that they hoped we’d enjoyed the meal.It was a truly lovely dinner, and when I came back to the room to see how much the dishes originally would’ve cost me, I was shocked that the price tag would’ve been $61 without tax and tip. A serious bargain considering we only paid 35. Usually I’d say eating seafood exclusively isn’t my thing, but this was definitely a dinner to remember and I can’t wait until I go to Hook again.

Paolo’s Ristorante
1303 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC
202.333.7353.

Hook
http://www.hookdc.com
3241 M Street, Washington DC 20007
202.625.4488

Birthday at Bangkok Joe’s

December 10, 2008 § Leave a comment

This year, I celebrated my birthday with dinner at Bangkok Joe’s.  Even though it was down on K Street and snowing by the time we left campus [we opted for a cab], once we got to the waterfront it was extremely easy to find.

Bangkok Joe’s is nowhere near your casual Thai restaurant – the decor inside was extremely classy and dimly lit – but the food comes out amazingly quickly. Erin and Lee had to leave at around 8:00 and ordered their food while we waited for friends from University of Maryland to arrive, and they got their food in about 15 minutes. They definitely could have ordered with the rest of us and still made their party afterwards.

The food was delicious.  Joe’s is more of a dumpling bar than entree-oriented, so we orderd appetizers for the table as a sampling.  Pork and crab shumai, fried calamari [because I can never resist anything dipped in batter and submerged in boiling oil], giant chicken dumplings, and others. I really liked the calamari here but the shumai wasn’t that amazing.  I think I still prefer the dimsum ones at China Garden.

The entrees were served in these beautiful white noodle bowls that were rather deceiving when it came to serving size. I was full before I even finished half of my drunken noodles but ate them anyway.  I don’t know why I love them so much, but the balance between spicy and sweet is always an excellent combination. And for some reason, the chicken tasted really good too. The only gripe we had [mostly Ameya] was that due to the asymmetricity [?] of the bowls, we couldn’t reach over and steal some noodles from the person sitting across the table as stealthily.

The highlight of the dinner was definitely dessert. My favorite was the fried roti dough with taro paste inside and ice cream on top.  It was so simple yet everything came together so well and I loved the subtle sweetness of the dough itself. The other desserts were a flourless chocolate cake with berries and rum chocolate sauce and mango sticky rice, a classic.

We will definitely be returning to Bangkok Joe’s in the future but with a focus on the dumplings. I saw peking duck dumplings, a variety of different rolls, and other items that sounded delicious but I couldn’t fit everything in my stomach at the time.

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