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June 2004

This Week In Reviews

The following are new reviews published this week and a quick summary of them. I take no responsibility for their taste. :) I'll try to do this once a week for the convenience of my readers.

June 25th - Café MoZu from the Washington Blade
I have no idea who wrote this review. There is no credit that I can find on the article. I also checked the masthead link and there is no food/dining writer. Overall it is a pretty positive review, although the author seemed pretty distracted by the furniture and decor rather than the food. They hated the decor - Loved the food.

"Veteran chef Hidemasa Yamamoto’s snazzy concoctions and striking views of the Potomac make for a memorable dining experience at Café MoZu in the Mandarin Hotel."

June 24th - Scott Haring writes about Jerry's Seafood in The Washington Times
I've actually heard many good things about this place myself. It is located in Beltsville not far from where I work. Scott Haring given them a really positive review. Score one for Scott.

"The wonderful jumbo lump crabmeat that Jerry's uses comes from Venezuela, not the Chesapeake Bay, according to co-owner Philip Gainey. However, it tasted every bit as good as crabmeat from the Bay. You won't be able to tell a difference in the "Eastern Shore-style" preparation of the food."

C.C. Gachet of the Old Town Crier reviews Cieba
The crew over at eGullet only has great things to say about this place. I, myself, haven't ever had the pleasure of eating at this place (sob, sob) but it is on my top 5 to try in the District.

"Though none of us braved the restaurant’s signature queso fundido – Oaxacan cheese melted and mixed with grilled skirt steak and poblano chilies - rest assured I made a mental note to try that on my next visit."

Note: I would have included reviews from The Washington Post, but their entertainment guide was on the fritz and I could not access any of their reviews. Tom Sietsema's featured review this week is China Star. This is another restaurant that the forums at eGullet are praising.

If there are any new reviews that I missed, please let me know. That's what the comments are for. :)

Taj of India: What happened??

Saturday night, Amy and I were trying to decide where to go for dinner. We suddenly realized that we have not been to Taj of India in Georgetown in a while. It had actually been over a month. Amy wanted Indian food and we were going to see The Terminal at the theater in Georgetown, so it was a perfect choice. Either they were having a really rough night, or the restaurant has just gone down hill. First of all, the staff was completely different from the past times we went to Taj. The old staff used to recognize us when we came by, but the new staff was obviously new and barely trained. I think this included the cook. The tandoori paneer appetizer we ordered too forever to come and was burnt. The cook had obviously left it in the oven way too long. For an entree, I ordered the chicken tikka makhani. For those of you who don't know, chicken tikka is pieces of boneless chicken cooked in the tandoor. It too was overcooked. Luckily, it was edible cause it was drenched in sauce. I don't think this will be the last time we go to Taj of India, but if we have another similiar experience, I doubt we'll be returning.


Early this year, Cities "closed for remodelling". When it reopened, it had a new name, look and menu. The swanky feel that once was Cities has been replaced by the retro-casual environment of LeftBank. The owner, Sahir Erozan, refers to the new environment as a wired bistro lounge. Translation: Retro-looking cafeteria tables, pleather booths, and funky lighting. But who gives a crap about that? On to the food.

The menu changed completely, which is no surprise. You now have a choice of four menus: Garden, Ocean, Farm, and Sushi. The Garden menu contains all vegetarian/vegan dishes, the Ocean menu is all seafood, and the Farm menu, naturally, is for all us carnivores. All of the menus were surprisingly friendly to the fad diets (one of which, I am still on -- sort of). As far as price goes, there were no entrees over $15 and the appetizers all ranged between $5 and $9. There was one appetizer that was only $1, but I wondered if it was a typo. The wine list was nothing to write home to mommy about, but was reasonably priced.

We were seated at a six person cafeteria-style table. All of the tables are large. If there are only two of you, you'll be sharing the table with someone.

Continue reading "LeftBank" »

Palena: Was It Really?

(Today’s post written by special guest star, Mrs.DCFoodie, aka Amalah.)

In a burst of non-creativity, I took Jason to Palena for his birthday last night. I’d been hoping to take him to Laboratorio del Galileo or the Minibar at Café Atlantico, but I didn’t get my act together soon enough to get a reservation. So for a Tuesday night, we decided to stay close to home and go back to Palena.

We’d been there once before: Jason took me there to celebrate after my college finals were over. And we were extremely impressed. The food was delicious, the service was attentive and our courses were nicely spaced. (Palena's menu is price fixe and you can order three, four or five courses for $50, $57 or $64, respectively. We chose the four-course option.)

So I copied his idea and made a reservation for 8:30. We arrived early to check out the wine-bar portion of the restaurant (which serves a separate, more casual menu) and told the hostess we were fine with having a drink at the bar before she sat us.

And the trouble began immediately.

Continue reading "Palena: Was It Really?" »

And the award for most improved service goes to...


I had a late dinner there last night with Amy. We arrived around 9:30 and there was still a wait for a table. Big surprise.  We sat down for a drink at the bar and just as we finished our drinks, they called us.

There was something different from the start. Shortly after we were seated, someone came by to give us water and ask us if we wanted a drink. The best thing, though, is that the drinks actually arrived before our food. In the past we would have gotten our drinks after the main course has been served. Our appetizer came out shortly after our drinks. Oh, and get this: Someone actually asked me if I wanted another drink --  an event that never happened before at Indique.

It seems like Indique (click for my original review) has instituted the captain system and hired a bunch of new people. In previous trips to Indique, we had always noticed that there just weren't enough people on the floor to take care of all the tables. This time, however, we saw a full staff of food expeditors, head waiters, secondary waiters, bus people, and a person who did nothing but walk around and fill water glasses.  These were all welcome changes to what was an otherwise perfect restaurant. I hope the change is permanent.

Who knows, though, it might have only been better because we were there so late.

Bistrot Lepic

Last Saturday, Amy and I went for a walk. We started by walking to that Starbucks down the street from us, and then down to the second hand furniture store.  Finally, we walked to the Cathedral to see if anyone had put out any homemade tributes to President Reagan. There were none. :( After that we were going to head back, but it was such a beautiful day, we decided to keep walking down Wisconson. Anyway, I'll jump to the point by saying we walked all the way to Georgetown. On the way there, we passed Bistrot Lepic. Now, I've heard a bunch of good things about this place. I've almost never heard anyone say anything bad about it, but I had never bothered to check out the menu. A number of dishes looked pretty interesting - Chilled Asparagus Soup with Crabmeat, Salmon Tartare, Tuna with a Chick Pea Crepe. All of which were dishes that were ok for me to eat on my new diet. 

Continue reading "Bistrot Lepic" »

Fan Mail

Dear DCFoodies,
My friend says that she HATES curry and can't eat spicy food. I couldn’t get her to an Indian restaurant to save her life. What do I do?

I know people like this as well. They suffer from picky eaters disease. Slip her some curry in her lunch some day. Assuming she is not allergic and you don’t have to rush her to the hospital shortly thereafter, continue to do this everyday, adding more and more as the days continue. Soon, she will be addicted like the rest of us.

Dear DCFoodies,
I've been reading your site, and from what I can tell, you have absolutely no culinary training. Am I accurate in this statement?

G. How could you tell?

Honestly, I'm a Software Engineer. I’ve never written professionally or taken any cooking classes. I do however, eat out ALL THE TIME and I love food. I think you will find that when I write about my experiences at restaurants, I don't bother to write much about the décor or ambiance. There are three things that I care about in a restaurant. Quality of food. Service. Value. Anything else is just a distraction.