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August 2004

July 2004

Simpsons and Lagavulin

People, how lame am I tonight? Amy is out of town this weekend visiting with her family. So do I make plans with my friends to have a guy's night out? Nope. I should be at Camelot tonight or something. Oh, who am I kidding? That is so not my style.

So now I am sitting here, eating Chinese takout from Mr. Chen's (OK. So my situation's not that bad. Mmmmm. Mr. Chen's is GOOD chinese), drinking Lagavulin, and watching my TiVoed Simpsons reruns. Seriously, I need start making plans ahead of time.

Oh, for those of you who don't know what Lagavulin is....Lagavulin is my FAVORITE scotch. You can read more about it here. It has a very smokey and complex flavor. If you drink it straght up, it's knock you on your ass, so I usually add a little water or ice and it goes down real smooth.

Restaurants I want to try

I really want to try the following restaurants. Some of them I've been told are good. Others I just drive by a lot and I am curious about them. Either way, I've got a lot of dining out to do!

Ginger Cove
Restaurant Eve
Trattoria Liliana
Cafe Atlantico
Bombay Club
Rays the Steaks


Starting tomorrow, a large list of restaurants will be participating in Restaurant Week. As you know from my previous post, DC restaurants do this about 2 times a year to encourage people to come into the city. This time, I have reservations at the following restaurants:

Tuesday - Yanyu
The last time I went to this restaurant was on Restaurant Week with a couple friends of mine. Yanyu did such a wonderful job last time that I chose to go back again. If I remember correctly, we had the duck which is a specialty of theirs.

Thursday - Ceiba
I've been wanting to try Ceiba for a while now, but I've never had the chance to get over to 14th St to try it. When I saw that they were participating in Restaurant Week, I jumped at the chance.

I've never written about either of these restaurants before, but if you want to see what other people are saying about them, you can follow the links below.

Washington Post

Washington Post

Ben's Chili Bowl

Oh right. This is sooo original. Reviewing Ben's Chili Bowl are you Jason? Well, yes. I am.

So Amy and I went to the Carbon Leaf concert Saturday night.  Carbon Leaf was completely inspiring and sounded better than ever. You can read more about the concert on Amy's site .  Now on to the FOOD!

wiiiine1Prior to the concert, where we drank a whole bottle of wine that our friends had given us. The fact that the wine bottle is in the trash is no indication to how good the wine was. Rather it is an indicator of how incredible the whole night was. After finishing the wine at about 9PM we left for the concert. We probably had about 2 beers each there and we were surprisingly sober thoughout the whole concert (I remember every detail).

Afterwards the concert, I had a craving for some cheese fries. Believe it or not, I've lived in DC for three years and never eaten at Ben's Chili Bowl. I'd always heard from other people that it was overrated. Boy  were they wrong! It was around 2:30AM when the concert ended. On the way there Amy asked, "Do you think they are still open?" I replied, "Of course they are! These guys are THE institution of drunken, comfort munchies." I was trying to sound like the expert, but in reality I didn't have a clue. I was praying they were open because I was STARVING!! When we arrived, of course they were open AND there was a line. It was not too long, but there still was a line. Coincidentally, we recognized the guy in front of us. He was this complete TOOL that pushed his way through us to get closer to the stage. It's a long story, but at the concert he was with a girl and now he was alone. What a shame. :)

Unsure of what to order, we just went with a large chili and cheese fries. After we ordered we went over and sat at the counter and they brought the food to us shortly thereafter. The styrofoam plates and plastic forks were perfect. All I can say is that I could have eaten three helpings of the cheese fries. We dumped a bunch of chili on the cheese fries and dug in. About 5 minutes later when we have finished up the fries and chili, we were ready to order more, but something told us that we would regret the next morning. We decided to hold off.

On the way out there was this cranky woman that as we walked by yelled, "DON'T TOUCH ME. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T TOUCH ME!!" We happily obliged.

Overall I wouldn't have expected anything else from Ben's Chili Bowl. It was the ultimate DC "Foodie" experience. I'll be going back again, that's for sure.

Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20009
(202) 667-0909

Dress Code: hehe, what do you think?
Mon-Thu 6 AM-2 AM
Fri-Sat 6 AM-4 AM
Sun 12-8 PM

Jerry's Seafood - Not to be confused with Jerry's Subs

Today for lunch, I went to Jerry's Seafood with a co-worker named Ken and a contractor that was visiting us from India. Ken wanted to treat the contractor to a real local-style meal other than Micky-Ds or Unos (which is about as good as it gets when you work in Largo). So what else was there to try but Maryland crab! I had bever been to Jerry's and had only heard people talk about how incredible the crab cakes were there. The general message from everyone was that Jerry's was a little pricey, but well worth it.

Ken drove, cause I had no freakin clue how to get there. When we arrived, we looked around at the strip mall. We saw a drive-up liquor store, chinese takeout, and...wait for it...wait for it...a Taste Freeze? I didn't think any of them were around anymore. The place looked like a dive. No, wait, I mean a strip club. I litterally expected to start hearing thumping music as we approached. However, when we opened the front door, we saw a large, loud dining room full of people. EVERYONE had a crab cake in front of them.

We actually ended up being seated in the "overflow" room. In order to get there, we had to walk back outside the restaurant and next door. They had obviously just opened this section of the restaurant because you could still smell the fresh paint.

Now when people talk about an expensive lunch I think of around $15. When the waitress brought us the menus, I did a double take. The cheapest crab cake on the menu was $25. Who the hell do these guys think they are? Citronelle? We all pretty much looked at each other at the same time and went, "You OK with this?" We even threw around the idea of getting the contractor to expense it on his account. Eh, that would have been unethical. Anyway, ethics aside, we decided to stay despite the fact that it was the most any of us would ever spend on lunch.

As far as the crab cakes are concerned, there are three kinds available for lunch (I imagine the dinner menu is completely different, and even more expensive) - The Crab Bomb, The Baby Bomb, and the regular crab cake. The Crab Bomb is 10 oz. of lump crab meat mixed with mayo and Old Bay Seasoning. The Baby Bomb is the same, but only 6 oz. The regular crab cake is 4 oz. with a slightly lesser quality crab meat. I guess it is not 100% lump crab meat. You know, they must mix some of the crab guts in or something.  Crab cakes aren't the only thing on the menu. They had some regular fish as well, but we didn't care much about that.

We all ordered the Baby Bomb. About 30 minutes later, our food came out. It seemed like a really long time to wait, but the wait ended up to be worth it. This was by far THE BOMB. I've never had a crab cake as good as the one I had today. They broil the crab cakes there and will fry them on request. The crab was ideal. It was very tender and juicy and there was no sign of shell anywhere in it. I don't know about you, but there is nothing worse than having to pick shell out of your mouth when eating a crab cake. I could go on all night, praising this crab cake, but you all might start to think I've lost my mind a little.

At the end of it all, the bill came to a little over $80 for the three of us. I'm still trying to figure out if it was worth it. However, I'd say that Jerry's Seafood is a "Got To At Least Try It Once" restaurant. Oh, and our contractor friend from India seemed to enjoy himself.

Jerry's Seafood
9364 Lanhan-Severn Rd
Seabrook, MD 20706
(301) 577-0333

Dress Code: Casual
Mon-Fri: 11-2:30
Tue-Thu: 5-8
Fri: 5-9:30
Sat: 11:30-9:30
Sun: 1-5

Upcoming Events Rundown

There are several interesting, and not-so-interesting events coming up in the DC Metro area. Here is a rundown of them.

7/17 Tailgating For Wine Snobs (like myself) - The Washington Wine Academy is hosting a tailgate party prior to the DC United game...oops, I mean soccer match. I didn't know that people drank wine while tailgating, but this is probably for all you soccer moms out there taking your kids to the game.

7/18 Bethesda Culinary Dine-Around - Amy and I will actually be attending this event ourselves. Six restaurants, 2 dishes each including Cafe Europa, Tel Aviv Cafe, Frascati, Tia Queta, Rock Bottom Brewery (not sure where this one came from), and (last but not least) Grapeseed. For the full menu, go here.

7/22 Bring yer kilts: VA Scottish Games and Gathering of the Clans - I'm not Scottish, but this sounds like a lot of fun. Scottish culture out the wazoo. Booths, food (ok maybe not so much fun, bring on the hagas), music, antique cars, dog shows, and dancing competitions.

The biggest sign of insanity is...

How boring am I? I came home from work today. Amy was already home and I was starving. We had the usual conversation.

"What do you want to do for dinner?"

"I don't know. What do you want to do?"

I was trying to stay on the cheaper side tonight, because our credit card bill broke the bank this month (too much eating out!). Somehow, we ended up on our way back to Adams Morgan and LeftBank.

They say the biggest sign of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over and expecting a different outcome. HELLO?! Don't you remember a couple weekends ago -- the $90 check, average entrees and mediocre service?  Yeah, yeah, but the melon and prosciutto...hmm, that was good.

But this time seemed different. Our waitress, Natalie, was the perkiest waitress we've ever had. She knew every dish on the menu and, unlike the waiter we had last time, actually gave us a sushi menu.  On top of that, she was able to rattle off the entire tea-infused martini menu. Our previous waiter didn't even know they had them. When they were out of something that we ordered (the salmon napoleon), she recommended the fried calamari (it was her favorite) which turned out to be wonderful.

We did learn one lesson from our last visit. We stayed away from the entrees and ordered five first courses. Natalie even said it was a good idea to order that way. All of the dishes were great - tuna tartare, melon and prosciutto, sausage and lentil ragu, grilled asparagus salad...oh, and the calamari.

I was feeling really good about this meal...then the waitress brought the check. It came to about $95. Wait, wasn't I trying to do a cheap meal tonight?

Just like last time, the culprit was the alcohol. Those tea-infused martinis were $10 each, and then we let Natalie talk us into several glasses of wine.  They were out of the wine we requested, but were offering a more expensive wine by the glass for $7. Four glasses later, we were presented with a $38 liquor bill.

Ouch. Again.

Nirvana...I'm still unenlightened

Last night, Amy and I made a trip with one of her blogging friends and his wife to Nirvana. We had never been to Nirvana before. However, several people had told me that Nirvana was one of the top Indian restaurants in DC, so I thought taking our friends there was a sure thing.

I'll start with the positives first. The appetizer platter we ordered was pretty good. It came with with amiri khaman (steamed lentil cakes), khandvi (chick pea flour pinwheels), khasta kachori (fried puffed pastry with chutneys), and aloo tikki (potato patties with peas and coconut). I especially liked the aloo tikki. Sadly, the appetizer platter was the only real highlight of the meal.

Two of us ordered tomoto-based curries. They tasted like someone had mixed canned tomato paste and sugar with vegetables and cheese. I swore I was eating a bad vodka sauce at a mediocre Italian restaurant. There was no sign of fresh tomato at all in the sauce. I ordered undhio which was something I had never seen at an Indian restaurant and sounded interesting. The menu said that undhio contained seasonal fresh vegetables (potatoes, peas, onions, peppers) and chick pea dumplings simmered in a spicy sauce. Pretty much the only accurate part of that statement was the spicy part. The potatoes were overcooked and dry and the peas were undercooked and hard. I didn't finish it.

At the risk of making a lot of people upset, I have to say that Nirvana was really average and none of us were really impressed with the food. I was really confused. I have talked to many people that really love this place. Tom Seitsema of the Post even gave it a really positive review as well. The only thing I can think of is that people have only been to Nirvana at lunch time for their buffet and have not eaten there for dinner. Either that, or Nirvana was really having a bad night.

At the end of the meal, I asked everyone, "So. What did you think?"

Everyone responded, "Eh," and shrugged their shoulders.

P is for Pesce

First off, I want to dedicate this post to Morela at eGullet whose post convinced me to try this place.

Pesce is a small restaurant right off Dupont Circle on P street. You could walk right by it and never know you missed it if it weren't for the chalkboard out front with the menu. Inside, there is no foyer or greeting area. You walk up the ramp and the tables are right there. We walked up to the bar where the hostess greeted us and sat us at a table. We came at 9:30, right as the dinner crowd was finishing, and a bunch of tables had just opened up. Everything -- from the art on the walls to the folk-art on the dishes -- had a fish on it, which gave the restaurant a bit of camp value. It went well with the casual atmosphere.

chalkboardAt Pesce, there is no printed menu. Instead, the menu is a few chalkboards that have that days specials written on them. All of the fish is brought in fresh and the menu changes often. Last night, we had the choice of wild salmon, mahi mahi, marlin, and cod. There were also a bunch of pasta dishes. One in particuliar that sounded really interesting was the tuna bolognese with rigatoni. There was a wide variety of appetizers, ranging from something as simple as a caesar salad to a smoked trout salad, crab cakes, grilled calamari, and mussels.

saladI chose to start with the smoked trout salad, just because it sounded so different from anything I had eaten in a long time. It was cashews (I love cashews), arugula (I think it was arugula), mandarin oranges, shaved fennel, gorgonzola cheese and trout (of course). Finally, it was drizzled with a light citrus dressing. This was a wonderful combination of flavors. Below are before and after photos. As you can tell, it was horrible. "Bring me another please!"salad-after
Amy decided on the tomato and mozzarella salad, which she admittedly felt very boring for ordering.  However, after taking one bite she said to me, "Seriously, I know this sounds weird, but this is the best tomato and mozzarella salad I've ever had."

For the main course, Amy went with the salmon dish and I went with the cod. Amy's salmon was served with a black lentil ragu and beet salad. On the other hand, the cod was served with a lobster sauce, mashed potatoes and aparagus. Both of our fish were cooked to perfection, broiled skin side up. Fish ideally is cooked medium (that is unless it is tuna - then it should be RARE). When I first decided to order cod, I was like, "Am I seriously ordering cod?" I mean, cod is usually served fried because it has NO flavor. However, the cod that came with my dish was very fresh and flakey. I've had cod before that was almost chewy, but this was anything but that.

The portions are generous. Amy's salmon was a large chunk of fish. Similarly, I was given a very nice sized piece of cod. The salads were very large as well.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the wine list, which was extremely reasonable! The bottle we ordered, a French chardonnay, only cost $20 (check for the chalkboard of wine specials). I like French chardonnays a lot more than ones from California. They are a much less oaky.

One thing I found quite funny was that our waiter was extremely preoccupied with a couple of women sitting at the table in the middle of the restaurant. I actually think that the waiter was the manager, because he said that the owner's daughter gives him a hard time for putting "Sweetie Pie's Favorite" on the dessert menu about her favorite cheesecake. Anyway, the two women seemed to know everyone at the restaurant, so they must have been friends of the owner or something, but every chance he got, he went over and chatted with them.

We decided to go with Sweetie Pie's recommendation. Best. Cheesecake. EVER!. It is now our favorite as well.

The bill came to about $100. Given that we ordered three courses of food, a bottle of wine, and coffee, I think it was well worth it for how delicious it all tasted. We'll most definitely be going back. If Pesce can repeat the performance last night, I will most likely be adding it to my top 5 list.

2016 P St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 466-3474

Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm
Mon-Thu 5:30-10 pm
Fri-Sat 5:30-10:30 pm
Sun 5-9:30 pm

Closest Metro Stop: Dupont Circle
Dress Code: Casual

Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week is July 26th through August 1st. See participating restaurants here.

For those of you that don't know what restaurant week is a week where participating restaurants offer a prix-fix menu - Lunch is $20 and dinner is $30. You have to be careful with restaurant week. Some restaurants menus are extremely limited or the size of the servings are really small. When you think about it though, you can't really blame the restaurant for slimming down the menu a bit.

An exception was last year, when I went to Yanyu and had a great meal. There were many options on the menu and the $30 included some of their most popular dishes. The service was excellent as well. I have heard many people complain about the treatment they received because they ordered the restaurant week menu, but Yanyu gave us excellent service.

One thing to remember is that when you make the reservation, try to mention that you will be eating the restaurant week menu.