OK, for those of you who are looking for restaurant reviews...This is not the post for you.
I am officially pathetic now. Last week, while Amy and I were in Miami, we decided that we wanted to get a dog. We got online (YES, how even more pathetic am I that I go online while I am on vacation in Miami) and started looking up breeds. One in particular that stood out was the Miniature Pinscher. So when we got home, we started looking for Miniature Pinscher puppies. We looked on the ASPCA web site and found a couple, but we kept getting rejected. For some reason these people think that you need a yard with a fence to own a dog - Effing discriminatory practices. Anyhow, I am very bitter, to say the least, about that. Finally, we got impatient and started looking in the classified ads for pups. We found a bunch. We came across a woman who shows dogs, but was not a breader. She was selling a little girl that was 16 weeks old. We went over to see her and fell in love immediately.
So we were trying to think of a name for our puppy, and we were totally stumped. I mean, we totally had to come up with a clever name, otherwise all our friends would think we were lame and stupid - nevermind PATHETIC. We threw around lots of names: Roxanne, Roxy, Leeloo (yes I am a sci-fi geek - ala Fifth Element) , Chula, etc., etc.
We had our puppy for a couple days and I was on my way to work when I got a call from Amy, "CEIBA!"
"Yes, I like that restaurant too. What about it?!"
"We should call her Ceiba!"
"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Yeah! Totally!"
And it stuck - And now you know why I am so lame. Because I am so into food, that I name my dog after a freakin' restaurant of all things.
So below are some pictures. Enjoy!
Ok, I've never been to Sam and Harry's before, but I will be this weekend. I just found out that they have been taking half off every bottle of wine on their menu on Friday and Saturday nights from July 4 until Labor Day. You only have two weekends left!
Sam & Harry's
1200 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Mon-Fri: 11:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Sat: 5:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Complimentary valet parking after 5:30 p.m.
On the 26th, the DC Society of Young Professionals will be hosting Taste of the Mediterranean at Cafe Ole, which is one of my favorite places to eat. It is $45 a person, and will contain samples of food from many different countries of the Europe and the Middle East. For more info, look here. I plan to be there since I live right around the corner.
Ok, I think I am officially addicted to Indian food.
Last weekend, I managed to eat 3 meals at Indian Restaurants in 36 hours. It started at lunch on Friday. I went to the buffet at Bombay Masala in Greenbelt. I have been there with my coworkers a number of times for the buffet. It costs $6.95 - a pretty good deal. They always have a good selection of dishes to choose from, and the Chana Masala is always a hit with everyone.
That night, we ordered take-away from Indique. We just didn't feel like going out. As usual, it was great. We tried the samosa chaat for the first time and we liked it a lot.
The next day, we were seeing Garden State and the Landmark Theater in Bethesda. We were trying to figure out where to eat. I realized that we had never been to Passage to India since we attended the Indian Street Food Event they hosted.
"Indian food again?!" I said.
"Hell yeah!" Amy replied.
So we ended up there. It was wonderful, and I plan to post a full review of our experience there.
We did not eat anymore Indian food that weekend.
Last week, Amy and I took a trip to Miami. It was really fun, although I was a bit disappointed by the cuisine down there. Our first night there, we wanted to try some Carribean food. I asked the concierge at our hotel, where the best place to go was. It was our anniversary, and price was no consideration. The concierge said that we should go to Yuca (we have a Yuca here in DC, but I don't think they are affiliated in any way). Listening to the concierge turned out to be a big mistake. Yuca, was OK, but in the end, we had a bill for close to $200 for one of the most mediocre meals we have ever had. I mean, when you go to a Nuevo Latino restaurant in Miami, and you find yourself wishing you were at Ceiba back in DC, it is not a good sign. Props to Christopher Clime for kicking some serious Miami ass. Now maybe our concierge just sucked and had no clue what constituted quality food, but after asking around to other people later in our trip, just about everyone mentioned Yuca. Oh well. I'm not even going to bother posting pictures because it is not worth the effort.
After our experience at Yuca, we decided to not ask the concierge where to go anymore and venture out on our own. We were staying at a little boutique hotel on 12th St and Ocean Dr. called Hotel Ocean. The second night we just started walking down Ocean Dr. Amy said one thing to me which indicated where we would eat, "I'm on vacation...And I want lobster!" Walking down Ocean Drive, just about everyone had lobster. This was our first time in Miami, and never before had we witnessed the show. Just about every restaurant had a host (or hostess...actually, most of the time it was a hostess with a low cut shirt and hotpants) that would try to sell you on their place and get you to come in. Honestly, I don't know why restaurants in DC don't do this in high traffic areas. I mean, if I owned a restaurant on M St., I would have my host out there showing people the menu and trying to get more people to come in. Anyway, we ended up going to this one restaurant called Fox Cafe. It actually took us a while to decide where we wanted to go and ended up walking past it two or three times, but the host was the main reason we came back. I ended up ordering a veal chop that was a little over done (I asked for it medium rare and it was medium well) and Amy, of course, got the Lobster (which was very good I have to say). Overall, the meal ended up costing us a little over $120. Quite a bargain compared to our other meals when you consider we had a bottle of champaigne and both ordered appetizers as well.
After we were done there, we went to a nightclub called Mango's...I forget what it was called exactly, but basically it is a tourist trap. I think Amy referred to it best when she called it a Hooteritas. It was pretty fun, cheesy, and we got totally loaded. They had dancing girls on the bar too (a lot like Coyote Ugly). I know, I know. I'm such a tourist.
The third night we were in Miami Beach, we decided to go to Emeril's. I had completely given up on finding decent local eatery. So we gave in and went to the most overrated place we could think of. To our surprise, we ended up having a wonderful night. No, Emeril was not there, but there was a chef there that kind of looked like him. The whole dinner was very typical of what you would expect from Emeril. A lot of dishes that are overseasoned and contain too many different ingredients to make them out. However, we really did enjoy all the food we had there.
For wine we decided to be a bit extravagant. The sommelier recommended a wine that was way out of our usual price range. We were ordering both fish and beef and I wanted a pinot noir. He suggested a wine from the Flowers Vineyard in Sonoma priced at $85. When I agreed, Amy's mouth hit the table and she started to shake. "Are you kidding me?!", she said. I think it was the most expensive bottle of wine we have ever ordered. We didn't regret it one bit though. You get what you pay for. We liked it so much that we bought a bottle of it at Calvert Woodley on Connecticut when we got home.
For appetizers, I had a crab cake (that was in no way as good as those of Jerry's Seafood, but also did not cost $30 a piece) and Amy had some spicy tuna wraps. I wished I had ordered them myself. The tuna was extremely fresh and buttery - it melted in your mouth. For entrees I had a special bacon wrapped grouper dish and Amy had the beef tenderloin. We were both pretty impressed with out dishes although mine was so overpowering with flavor that I could not finish it. Seriously, Emeril, I expect to be able to taste my grouper and not just heavy cream, bacon and mushrooms. We skipped dessert because we were so full, plus we had some wine left over so we just sat there a while and sipped it. At the end of it all, the bill was close to $230, which looking back was probably not quite worth it. We DID have a great time there though, and the service was absolutely perfect. Still, there are MUCH better restaurants that I would rather eat at in DC, but for Miami...it'll do.
Last month, I had a chance to try a bunch of great, new places. Thanks to Restaurant Week, the decisions I make here have become all the more harder. Dropping off the top 5 this month are Heritage India and Café Olé. Why? I think that Café Olé got on the list last month on an oversight by me. Not that it isn't good - It's a wonderful place to get a meal. I just wonder sometimes if it wasn't around the corner from me, that I would go there nearly as much. Also, when I was putting the list together for August, I literally jumped out of my skin when I realized that I had left Two Amy's off the list last month. Heritage India is great, but I already have an Indian restaurant on the list and right now I would definitely say that Indique is better than Heritage India.
Joining the list this month are 2 Amys (already explained that one) and Pesce. Now I hesitated to add Pesce to the list because I've still only had a chance to eat there once. However, after the emails I have received thanking me for writing my review of Pesce and how wonderful they think that place is, I couldn't help but give it the #5 spot.
Boy do I love Restaurant Week. It gives me a chance to eat at awesome restaurants like Ceiba at a nice little discount. Right off the bat, I am going to tell you all the our meal at Ceiba last week was one of the most wonderful culinary experiences we've had in a long time. Not only that, but Ceiba is the best run restaurant I have ever seen. It is literally a machine. No one, and I mean NO ONE, that I saw at the restaurant had a single complaint. Orders came out in a timely fashion. Everything was cooked perfectly. Service was polite and prompt. You couldn't ask any more of a restaurant. Props to the cooks, management, and servers for doing a great job at what is probably one of the busiest times of the year for a restaurant in this area.
Now for the recap of the night...
Amy and I had reservations at 8:00 and once again we decided to drive down and use the valet. This caused us problems again, but I will get to that later. :) When we walked in, we were immediately sat. As we walked through the lobby to our table, we could see the kitchen. Standing right there in plain view working on a dish was the head chef, Christopher Clime. Every table was full. Shortly thereafter, our waitress came over to greet us, handed us the menu and asked us if we wanted any water.
We weren't exactly sure how to dress for Ceiba. We visited their web site ahead of time which said, "Ceiba's dress code is upscale casual. We welcome well-dressed guests as well as those that are casually dressed. Cut-off jeans, halter tops, tank tops, baseball caps, t-shirts and flip-flops are not acceptable." So we dressed in our usual duds - I in my black Thomas Pink shirt that Amy bought me for my birthday and Amy in a cool outfit she had just picked up at Banana Republic. Wait a second, why am I going on about clothes...BACK TO THE FOOD!
Since it was Restaurant Week, a three-course dinner was only $30.04. The first course was a choice of shrimp cocktail ceviche, a list of soups, and the mixed greens salad. For the entree, you could order ANYTHING on the menu (including the specials). Talk about a deal! The entrees range from $18-27! Seriously, you're getting your moneys worth with the entree alone. For dessert, we had our choice of flan, chocolate Cuban coffee cake with coconut milk ice cream, and homemade sorbets. For the first course, I went with the shrimp cocktail and Amy chose the Cuban black bean soup. I had the hardest time choosing an entree. They all seemed sooooo good. Amy ended up choosing the special. It was a roasted tilapia with a polenta cake, fried spinach, crab and a brown butter sauce. I chose the seared scallops with black bean gnocchi and sweet corn sauce. For dessert we both went with the Cuban coffee cake.
Well, to keep it short, everything was incredible. I try not to throw out glowing reviews all the time, but ALL of the food was simply fantastic. My scallops were cooked just right. Amy's tilapia was flaky and tender. There were so many entrees on the menu that I want to go back and order too - Brazilian brazed pork shank, toasted corn crusted halibut, whole crispy red snapper vera cruz...the list goes on and on.
Dessert was just as good as the entree and first course. Pastry chef David Guas outdid himself with the Cuban coffee cake. It was nothing like any coffee cake I have eaten in the past and was more like a big chocolate brownie with hot fudge inside it. In any case, it was wonderful and sinful at the same time.
Oh, and I dare not forget to tell you about the Hemingway mojitos! They are my new favorite mojito in the DC metro area. Served with a fresh husk of sugar cane, it was one of the best mojitos I have ever had. They were so good that we went back to the bar after dinner for a couple more. And that...Is a whole other story (Beware. slightly foul language).
When it was all said and done, our bill came to about $125. It was well worth it. And since the Restaurant Week menu was on $60.08 for the two of us, you can imagine how may Hemingway mojitos we had (at $7 each). Somehow I am going to have to make room for Ceiba on my Top 5 List.
Oh, I nearly forgot about the valet. Well when we left, the valet brought us the wrong car. Anyway, not really relevant with respect to the rest of the night, but when you toss it in with out previous attempt at using the valet, it deserves a bit of a chuckle.
701 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20004
Dress Code: I already told you above in the article. Ok, I see you are lazy so I will just tell you. It's "upscale casual". Now, doesn't that just answer all your questions?
Mon-Fri: 11:30am–2:30pm;5:30 pm–11:00 pm
As I mentioned before, I made reservations for Yanyu for last Tuesday. Yanyu was the first of two restaurants that Amy and I tried for Restaurant Week. It is my favorite place to go during Restaurant Week because they aren't snooty about it. The portions are generous and no different than their normal menu. Also, the service is inpeccable. I've heard many stories about other restaurants treating the people that order off the "Restaurant Week" menu like second-class citizens.
Our reservation was at 8:15 and we were running behind. I didn't get home from work until 7, and Amy didn't arrive until about 15 minutes after that. By the time we were all ready, we ended up having to drive over, because the $5 valet is cheaper than a cab ride and there is no way that Amy was walking from Wisconson to Connecticut Ave in stilettos. :-) When I pulled up for the valet, though, there was no one in sight. I sat there for a little bit waiting. Now, for those of you familiar with this block on Connecticut Ave. you know that you can't just sit in front of Yanyu for long without a few cars piling up behind you. So I ended up having to circle the block...not once...not twice...but three times. The third time around, it was 8:20, and there was still no valet. Finally, I had Amy go in and tell the restaurant we were there, and I tried to find a spot on my own. I was really lucky. There was a spot only three blocks away on Porter Street.
The valet magically appeared the instant Amy entered the restaurant and asked her if she needed him to park the car. The car she was...not driving? What?
Having the whole parking situation behind us was good. I arrived back at Yanyu just in time for them to be ready to seat us. To my surprise, we were seated upstairs like I had asked when I made the reservation at OpenTable. Our waitress greeted us instantly once we were seated, asked us if we wanted some water or anything to drink and then gave us the menu for Restaurant Week. There were two different menus. One was a menu tasting menu where you had a chance to try a small version of every dish on the menu that night. The other (which both Amy and I chose) was a three-course meal where you had anywhere from 1 to 3 choices per course. The latter was more appealing to us because one of the dishes that night was a shrimp dish. I don't care for shrimp, and Amy is just outright allergic. If she eats it, it'll be a long night for both of us.
You also had the option for a wine pairing for an extra $10 which we went for. The pairing came with a glass of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir. Both glasses were half glasses of wine and I did not find that they really paired well with the food (i.e. the red Noir with seafood courses). The wines on their own were wonderful though.
For our first course, I chose the seared tuna. It was cooked properly - just barely seared and completely rare in the middle. It was served in a ginger-soy sauce with cucumbers and seaweed. I liked this dish, but I was not overwelmed by it. Amy ordered the Lily Bulb Dumpling which was egg white wrapped with minced chicken and vegetables. I actually liked Amy's dumpling a lot better than my tuna.
Now the second course is what we come to Yanyu for...the Big Duck. This is their signature dish. Basically, they roast a duck, cut it up fresh right in front of you, and serve it on pancakes with cucumber, scallions, and the best little plum sauce you've ever tasted. I'm not talking that crappy, corn syrup based, runny sauce you get at the grocery store. This plum sauce is homemade, thick, and contains sesame seeds. The combination of all this is a wonderful little handful that you rollup and eat like a small taco. The way they cook the duck at Yanyu makes it come out very tender. Amy usually hates duck because it can come out gamy and chewy. Amy loves Big Duck though. (Oh, come on. Get you sick little minds out of the gutter!) We asked the waitress if we just ordered the Big Duck, how many servings would it be. That night we received two small pancakes. Each pancake had about two generous slices of duck on it. WE WANTED MORE!!! The waitress said that if we ordered just a whole duck, it would yield about 10-12 servings. I think Amy and I will just order one of them next time for ourselves.
For final course, we both ordered the sea bass. It was a choice between that and the crispy garlic shrimp. The sea bass was cooked in a honey glazed sauce. Mine was cooked perfectly medium. Amy's, however, had been cooked a little too long and was a tad chewy. She still enjoyed it though.
Although dessert was not included in the Restaurant Week menu, we ordered it anyway, opting for the ginger creme brulee. We are normally not people to order creme brulee, but the other dessert choices didn't sound interesting to us. This wasn't the best dessert we've ever had, but we enjoyed it. It wasn't terribly sweet like creme brulee usually is. It was also served with citrus fruit so it had a tart flavor as well.
Yanyu is a pretty upscale. It is not formal, but you won't find people wearing jeans or shorts. There was one guy who came in while we were eating that was dressed like Rodney Dangerfield on the golf course in Caddyshack, but he was an exception.
In the end, the bill came to around $130 after tip. It was not exactly what I was expecting to spend during Restaurant Week and when I got the bill, I was like "Huh? How did that happen? There must be a mistake here." But after I added up everything, it made sense. Was it worth the price tag on the meal? I don't know...the Big Duck was REALLY good though.
3435 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Dress Code: Business Casual
Sun 5:30-10:30 pm
Tue-Thu 5:30-10:30 pm
Fri-Sat 5:30-11 pm
Last week I was SOOOO busy. Between eating out and work, I barely had any time to post. Luckily though, I now have a ton of reviews to post! In recap, I ate at the following places last week:
Monday - Uhm...I can't remember that far back.
Tueday - Yanyu - Great as usual. A complete review is coming soon.
Wednesday - Bombay Bistro - I ended up driving out to Rockville to meet Amy for dinner. She was working late again. The owners of this restaurant are the same as the people that own Indique. Is it any surprise that the meal was everything I had hoped it would be? I had the Lamb Korma and Amy had the Vegetarian Thali. Both were excellent!
Thursday - Ceiba - I think I have a new top 5 restaurant people! I was very impressed with this place. It was one of the most organized restaurants I have ever been to. And the food...Let's just say that you want to read my rundown of the night when I post it.
Friday - Yes. I. Jason Storch. Cooked - but then we ended up going out to Five afterwards. There was a totally lame crowd there. The $10 cover is a ripoff when you are paying $7-10 per drink.
Saturday - Cosi for lunch and Chipotle for dinner
Overall it was a great week in food. I look forward to telling you all about it.