Bistro D’Oc

October 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

A couple weeks ago I visited the National Gallery for an assignment (btw, if you’re in the area, the Art of Power exhibit is definitely worth looking at) and ate at a Languedoc restaurant called Bistro D’Oc.

I don’t remember too many of the details, but the duck confit that I ordered had an extremely crisp exterior and there was just enough fat (yum) left over with really tender meat. And of course, anything with mushrooms and fried potatoes is going to be that much better than without them.

Emily ordered a basil, crepe-wrapped salmon that I wasn’t too crazy about, although the cream pepper sauce that it came with was out of this world – rich and filling on its own. Our creme brulee was a nice, light dessert and the lavendar flavor did a good job of cutting the sweetness of the custard.

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.

The Quans go to Washington

April 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

There’s only about 3 weeks left in the semester, and to help me through to the final stretch, my parents and youngest sister Jackie came down this past weekend to keep me company during my Easter break. At first I was a bit nervous since the weather didn’t look too good, but Friday, it was sunny and clear and we spent the entire day downtown at the National Mall and Smithsonian museums – American History, National Gallery (of course) and Natural History.

My parents left all the eating up to me, and I have to say I planned out a pretty damn good itinerary. We had a lovely light lunch at Teaism which was fast and cheap, but the bento boxes and other food were surprisingly fresh and tasty. Jackie really liked the mango lassi and the salty oat cookies (which I could eat with the tea alone), and I loved the little pot that the tea came in. The adjacent tea shop next doory wasn’t open at the time, but I think I might go back there to get a Mother’s Day gift or something. I could see how people go there day after day for lunch; there are so many different choices, so many possible combinations.

We started on campus, which was absolutely beautiful because all the tulips and flowers had already started blooming. Plus, mom and dad had to get the requisite shot of them in front of Healy Tower. My parents really enjoyed the National Gallery, especially the large rotunda on the second floor with the giant marble columns. I don’t think my mom realized that there were so many important paintings in DC, so she was pretty impressed with the Monets and Van Goghs housed upstairs. There was also a temporary orchid exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, so if you’re in DC during the next month or so, I’d recommend stopping by there as well. All Smithsonian museums have free admission! One reason why I really love going to school in DC. Free culture!

Finally, we had dinner back at Jaleo in Penn Quarter since my parents had never tried Spanish tapas before and Jaleo was one of the first restaurants that I had reviewed for The Hoya. I have always loved Jose Andres food since then, so I thought it would be a special treat for them to try a lot of his small dishes. Everything we ordered was delicious, especially the classic tuna salad ensaladilla rusa and the semolina cake for dessert, which had a lovely light texture, paired with the cinnamon ice cream.

So that concludes the first day while my family was down here. We spent the rest of the night at my mom’s college friend’s house in Fairfax, VA where a bunch of them got together and just drank cocktails and ate snacks while reminiscing about college life and passing along gossip about other classmates. The next day we went to Old Town Alexandria and had some of the best seafood of my life, but that’s for another day’s post.

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

A truly unbelievable experience

January 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

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.

An irrational but spending-savvy lunch

November 12, 2008 § 1 Comment

It’s currently 45 degrees outside in DC, and what did Erin and I decide to eat today for lunch? SweetGreen. Every Wednesday now, they’re handing out free small sweetflows with a salad, and since I only had three meals left at the dining hall this week, I thought it’d be wise to take advantage of the situation, even if it did result in a frozen tongue and numb fingers.

I went with the usual trio of toppings – strawberries, blueberries, and mangos – though I was seriously leaning towards the candied walnuts. Ah…decisions, decisions. Even though it was cold outside, I realized that I missed the tartiness of SweetGreen’s frozen yogurt as opposed to the fake Country Vanilla variety that’s served in our dining hall. A sweet treat that still made me feel healthy.

It was my first time trying a SweetGreen salad, and I inevitably opted for the Guacamole greens, mainly because it has a huge helping of avocado and I’m an avocado fiend.

Verdict: too much mesclun and not enough grilled chicken (I like my meat!), but the cilantro-lime-jalapeno vinaigrette was nice and tangy without being too overwhelming. I could have done without the tortilla chips though; they got really mushy and soggy after sitting with the avocado and vinaigrette as I made my to the bottom of the bowl. Have to say that SweetGreen trumps Chop’t, the Rosslyn version, in the salad-on-the-spot department though. Mainly because the server at Chop’t takes your chicken or choice of meat and minces it along with everything else using a mezzaluna, leaving you with…chicken string. Bleck

Some cooking and Leopold’s with next year’s roomies!

November 9, 2008 § Leave a comment

I did eventually get to using up the squash, mushrooms, and shallots by melting a little butter, throwing all of them into a saute pan, and adding salt and pepper. Quick, easy, comforting, and healthy (kinda? yes?) I would write out a recipe but it was incredibly simple and I don’t recall the measurements now. Just use however much looks good to you. Also cooked the potato gnocchi and ricotta tortellini that I had on hand from Dean and Deluca and doused it with some house vodka sauce. Erin, Lee, and I just grabbed a bunch of forks and ate off this one communal plate. No time for cute dinnerware when our stomachs were grumbling.

In other news, housing selection is complete and I’m living in a rooftop apartment next year with three other great girls! Rooftops at Georgetown are third or fourth level apartments that have a huge balcony that overlooks the Potomac River. And because it’s through the university, we don’t have to worry about utilities, long commutes, etc. Pretty sweet.

When we were deciding on the kind of housing we wanted to choose, we headed to Leopold’s. This time, I got the grilled chicken salad with field greens. It was a pretty standard dish and the chicken was a bit overcooked in my opinion, but everyone else seemed to enjoy their dishes. Jia got the roast chicken I had last time, Melissa had the mussels and frites, and Jenny got a salmon dish that looked huge and amazing. The fennel and basil oil combination got rave reviews.

We were all most looking forward to dessert though. Leopold’s has a huge pastry case filled with delectable treats – savory and sweet – and we spent about 15 minutes just ooing and aahing at all the choices. There were fruit tarts, giant brownies, MACARONS! [which I will try the next time I go] and breakfast items like croissants, danishes, etc. I purposely ordered the tea and cookies because I wanted something light, and even though I don’t know what they were – butter shortbreads, brittles, and some other things – each one was delicious and special, especially since I got to wash it down with some Citron tea. My friends were too busy sighing and eating to really say anything so…I’m going to assume their desserts tasted as good as they looked.

Mission for next time: macaron taste tasting. I only saw five flavors – raspberry, pistachio, chocolate, coffee, and either a lemon or coconut, but if they’re up to expectations, it doesn’t matter in the end. I just need to find somewhere that can give me that wonderful meringue-filling satisfaction.

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