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December 2004

Heritage India - Dupont

So far, I've been to the Dupont location of Heritage India twice. Both times I've had some excellent Indian food that I've wanted to write about since the first time I went there a few weeks ago. I just haven't had any time.

To start with, the Dupont location of Heritage is not just another location for Heritage India with the same menu. The first way it is different is with the menu which features a tapas menu that takes up an entire page. Also, some of the entrees are different. In particular, there are a few prawn dishes, a couple new curries and kabobs. Our first night there, we were having a drink at the bar after our meal was over, and we saw the manager having the jumbo tandoori prawns. I haven't been brave enough to try them yet, but they're literally the size of a small lobster. The bartender said it was one of the restaurants specialties.

The second way this location of Heritage India is different from the others is in the area of service. As most of you know, and have commented, the service at the Glover Park location of Heritage India is lacking in some ways. It's almost like they know their food is good so they don't feel like they have to provide good service to go along with it. At the Dupont location, however, the wait staff is gracious and friendly. Your food comes out quick and if they make a mistake, they are quick to fix it. I've heard a few stories from people about rude service from the Glover Park location and I've experienced some myself. But, it's Heritage India and the food is awesome so we all continue to go back...

Also, the Dupont location has a drink menu...but I'd stay away from it. The drinks on it are entirely too sweet. Maybe they thought they needed to make the drinks sweet to compliment the spicy food, I don't know. Either way they're bad. I'm sure they added the drink menu to compete with Indique's drink menu, but there is some definite room for improvement (like the addition of a mango lassi drink like the one I had at Tallula a few weeks ago).

The first time Amy and I went to the Dupont location, we stayed away from any entrees and ordered competely off their tapas menu. The tapas menu features some dishes that I've only been able to get at the Indian Street Food Event earlier this year at Passage to India -- and some more. To start with, they have Pav Bhaji (spelled Pav Bhaji on the menu, but I swore it was spelled Pau Bhaji, but after searching online, it looks like it IS called pav bhaji). It's a spicy vegetable curry served on a few dinner rolls or hamburger buns. We've had this both times we've gone and it was nice and spicy both times. Also, we had some channa masala. It was served identically to the pav bhaji on dinner rolls - It was plenty spicy as well. Let's see, what else did we have...Oh right, the Frankie. The Frankie is much like a wrap that you would see at any chain restaurant around here, but it is made with Indian flat bread, peppers, onions, and Indian cheese, and then grilled. Very Good! It's also available with chicken I believe. Also, we had a spicy chicken curry atop of a polenta cake of all things. This is an interesting idea, and I see that they're working in a little fusion cooking here. The chicken curry is more like a spicy butter chicken than anything else and you can see the red chili floating in the sauce. It actually was pretty spicy and lit us up a bit. "Keep the water coming please!" Finally we ordered some papri chaat. This is something that you can get at Passage to India and Indique. I only discovered this dish at the Indian Street Food Event and have been ordering it at every restaurant I see it at since. You really can't go wrong with this dish unless you leave it sitting around and let it get soggy, but it has tasted pretty much the same anywhere I've ordered it.

If you stick to just ordering tapas, you can get away with a fairly reasonably priced trip to Heritage India - A nice change of pace from our past $100 or more checks. If I remember correctly, our the bill for our first trip ran us about $60 for two glasses of wine and 5 tapas. The tapas all run about $4 to $10. Heritage India (Dupont location only) also runs a special from 5 pm to 7 pm where the tapas are half price with drink specials as well.

Our second trip we actually ordered some entrees and started with some pav bhaji and some papri chaat as well. I tried moving away from ordering curries again and ordered the tandoori rockfish kabab. Unlike the Glover Park location, all entrees at the Dupont Circle location actually come with rice and daal now, a very welcome change in my opinion. (Of course they are probably just charging another dollar or two on every entree to make up for it.)  Any had her usual saag paneer and she loved it as usual. Also, my kabob was pretty good. In general, I like fish cooked more on the medium/medium rare side than well done, and the rockfish on this kabab was pretty well done. I guess there is not much of a choice when you are cooking a small amount of fish in a tandoor oven though. On a whole, most dishes at the Dupont location are, by default, spicier than those at the Glover Park location. This is a welcome change because I would always have to ask for the chef to make my food a little spicier at the Glover Park location. Our second trip's bill ran us about $85 and included a bottle of wine, two orders of bread, two entrees, two appetizers, and an order of rice pudding.

So my final judgment is that the Dupont location of Heritage India is a welcome addition to the DC Indian food scene. All I need now is an Indian restaurant to open within walking distance of my place I'll be all set.

Heritage India - Dupont Location
1337 Connecticut Ave
Washington, DC
(202) 331-1414

Glover Park Location
2400 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC
(202) 333-3120

Valet Parking: Yes
Dress Code: Casual ( little more on the business casual side though, especially at the Glover Park location)
I'm trying to find the Dupont Locations hours of operation. I will post them when I find them.
Reservations: Taken

Tallula - First Impressions

A couple Wednesdays ago, Amy and I went to Tallula with our friends Mike and Jen. Although two weeks ago is quite awhile in Foodie time, it still remains fresh in my memory. The decision to go to Tallula that night was a long deliberated decision. We hadn't originally planned to go to Tallula, but were thinking we'd go to Thai Square. Amy and I have never been there and Mike and Jen swear by it. Another option was Ray's The Steaks, but I was terribly absentminded about making the reservation. When I called on Tuesday...uh...yeah, what else was I expecting -- completely booked the entire week. On the other hand, I'd been talking with Melissa via email out going to Tallula. The day we were supposed to go out, Jen emails me and suggests that we go to Tallula. We're there!

Of course, after we decided to go there, I started perusing their menu (which I have to say is one of the more tantilizing menus in the area right now) and IMing with Amy about it.  Of course you've all read about that already. Any place that had fried green tomatoes on the menu is all right in my book. I emailed Melissa asking her if I should make a reservation, but she said that Tallula did not take reservations unless you were a party of 7 or more. Bummer, there's only four of us. But Melissa said that on a Wednesday night, the restaurant should be able to handle us.

So when we arrived...45 minute wait. Crap. And let me tell you, when they say 45 minutes, they MEAN 45 minutes. But when it came down to it, I was glad we had to wait. We ended up sitting down at the bar area, which is really a restaurant in itself. There are these little booths that are separated by sheer curtains with small tables and ottomans surrounding them to sit on. The bartender came and gave us the menus. There were two bartenders covering the entire bar -- tables and all. They were also responsible for making drinks for the restaurant. To say the least, they seemed a little overloaded, but were handling it in style. The drink menu peaked our interest.  Drinks range from $7 to $9, which I thought was pretty reasonable for a place like this. Other similar restaurants will have a flat $10 drink price. We'll see how long it takes Tallula to do the same. The Wimbledon was a hit with Amy and Jen, but not because of any reference to the movie or tennis. The drink contains vodka, champagne, strawberry puree, honey, and is topped off with a pop rocks rim. This is probably as girly a drink as you can get anywhere. Mike and I, on the other hand, opted for the Old Fashioned, which turned out to be rather good. I also had a Tallula lassi later - Just think of a mango lassi from an Indian restaurant made with Bacardi Vanilla. Very good! Also, I have to admit that the Wimbledon was very good as well even if it was extremely girly. ;-)

We decided that we would have some food while we were waiting as well. On Tallula's menu, you'll find a "two-biter menu". Items on the menu are priced per piece and obviously each piece is meant to be eaten in two bites (duuuuuuuh). We ordered a few items off the menu including a couple foie gras finger sandwiches, "steak and cheese", citrus and vodka cured salmon, and corn dogs. We were waiting a while for the food to come and we started getting into a discussion about foie gras and whether it was right to eat it considering how they actually make it.

At some point someone asked "I wonder why it's taking so long?" to which Mike replied, "They're probably back there force0feeding the bird right now."

Amy then added, "Take it bitch!" And we all laughed hysterically.

(No seriously, animal cruelty is no laughing matter. I'm going to go donate money right now to PETA...)

I'll now jump to the part where I tell you that the beer-battered corn dog is totally kick-ass. Amy and I ended up ordering a couple more later with dinner. You could hate everything else at Tallula, but you'd have to go back for the corn dog. Of course, they don't use a real hot dog, but rather homemade chorizo sausage. YUM. Amy and Mike thought the foie gras sandwiches were ok, but had too much blackberry preserves and not enough foie gras. We commented to the bartender about this, and he told us that other people had just complained about there not being enough preserves. Guess you can't win either way. I rather liked the "steak and cheese" --  made on a cracker with steak tartare --  it was not your everyday steak and cheese. Billy Penn is rolling over in his grave. (If you're from Philly you'll get that.)

(Wow, this is the longest God-damn post ever. When is he going to get to the actual meal?)

After exactly 45 minutes of waiting, two or three drinks each, a bunch of two biters, and guilt over animal cruelty, we were seated. Rather than ordering wine, we just ordered another round of drinks. I was already fairly familiar with the menu, but I took one last look before I decided what I wanted. The waiter informed us that they were out of the rib-eye (which has actually since been changed to a t-bone), so that was out.  The braised shortribs sounded really good, but I was hesitant to order them since the ones we'd had at Komi a few nights prior were so good. I ended up ordering the roasted duck breast, Amy and Jen both went straight for the shortribs, and Mike, the butternut squash ravioli. For appetizers, we ordered some more of the two biters, crabcakes, and tuna tartare. Of course, they were out of the fried green tomatoes which was one of the main reason I wanted to go there. Our entire table was fairly upset. Sad, I know.

Once again, our food and drinks took a while to come out. I'm sure that since the restaurant is so new that the kitchen and bar are working out the kinks. Plus, since they were so crowded on a Wednesday night (probably unexpectedly so), the bar was understaffed. It's been a couple weeks so I'm be interested to see how they're faring now. Service on a whole was excellent - gracious and apologetic for the wait. Of course, we were in no hurry, so we just talked for a while.

One other thing worth mentioning is the wine list, of which Tallula highly prides itself. I was happy to see many wines in the $20 - $30 range. Glasses of wine come in half and full glasses and aren't just the cheaper wines. Prices for a glasse of wine range from $5 - $22 with, half glasses being about half the cost of a full.

By the time our food came out, we were pretty hungry again. Of course, we ordered more corn dogs because we couldn't get enough of them earlier. As well, we had the baby burgers. With caramelized onions and truffle butter, they were interesting. I don't have much to compare Tallulas "baby burgers" to because I haven't had anyone elses. (Tiny food is becoming trendy. I know Matchbox has had their "mini-burgers" for a while now and they have been a hit.) The beef had good flavor I think, but it was hard to taste over the stong onion flavor. We had the citrus-cured salmon as well, but while writing this, I couldn't recall anything except for the fact that I was thinking about a similar dish we'd had a Komi and how I thought Komi's execution was a little better.  Jen really enjoyed her crab cake with its roasted peppers and fresh crab meat. I tried it as well and agreed with her. I have to say the addition of coriander to the creme fraiche was good. I've promised myself that I won't ever order another crab cake unless I'm at the Maryland shore or at Jerry's. I'm just bound to be disappointed if I do. 

Shortly after we were finished with our apps, our entrees came out. Amy and Jen's shortribs looked outstanding. There was a lot more beef on the plate than I expected. The cheddar grits and green tomato salsa were a nice addition. Amy, our resident grit expert, gave her thumbs up sign of approval. The grits were a little larger than usual, which was a nice change and they had the perfect amount of cheddar cheese. The shortribs were all right. Amy really liked them, but I didn't find that they were as good as those we'd had at Komi a few weeks ago. Mainly, I thought that the cut of meat was fatty. Maybe it was because it was a Wednesday and the cuts of meat they had left we not the best. That was really the only thing that was wrong with the dish though.

Mike was just staring at his plate of 10 ravioli. He was doing math in his head and then blurted out, "These are some pretty damn expensive ravioli. They're like $1.50 each!". Just about every time we eat out with Mike and Jen, Mike ends up ordering a dish that is smaller than everyone else's and leaves him hungry at the end of the night. This is usually where my critics will speak up and mention that it is quality and not quantity that defines a meal and I shouldn't critique a meal by the size of the dish and blah, blah, blah. And in this case, I'll say that I agree with them. I tried the ravioli myself and I thought it tasted rather good and was well worth the $15 for the dish. It was a similar size to the ravioli dish we love at Spezie and around the same cost. NOT as good though...

The duck I ordered was good. The preparation was good with the duck confit and cranberry glace with the sweet complimenting the slightly gamey flavor that duck has. The duck was cooked a quite perfect medium rare, but slightly fatty. I wasn't blown away by this dish, but it was satifying.

We chose to skip dessert because we were pretty full after all the food we had eaten. Plus, it was getting late. It was already 10:15 and we had arrived at the restaurant at 8:00. The bill for the four of us was about $150 which didn't include the drinks and food we'd had at the bar before sitting down at our table.  All in all, it was pretty reasonable for four people. If we hadn't spent so much time at the bar, we wouldn't have spent nearly as much. I'll be going back for more corn dogs and to try the fried green tomatoes. Also, I was *this close* to ordering the pork chop, so I'll have to try that next time -- or maybe the scallops. I'm not sure. Tallula offers a lot of promise and could probably become one of the better restaurants in the area once they've worked out all the kinks. I can see us going there again, especially since it is literally around the corner from Mike and Jen.

2761 Washington Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22201

Parking on location and on the street.
Valet: None
Dinner: Sun-Thurs, 5:30-10:00pm, Fri-Sat: 5:30-11:00pm
Brunch: Fri-Sun only, 11:30am-2:30pm
Dress Code: Business Casual (but a nice pair of jeans will be ok)
Reservations: Taken for parties of 7 or more

Restaurant Week

Wow! Where the hell have I been? Thanks for DCist for pointing out that there is another Restaurant Week coming up Jan 10 through the 16th. For those of you who are new to the area and unfamiliar with Restaurant Week, you can read my previous posts about my experiences. Trust me, it's not something you want to miss out on. You'll be able to find out which restaurants are participating here. Also, OpenTable usually hosts a page that highlights the restaurants that participate. I'll update when they bring it online. Happy dining everyone!

Update: OpenTable has the Restaurant Week page up.

I've been so busy lately

Ugh. I've been so busy with work lately. It's employee evaluation time and the Christmas buying season so my work load is like triple what it usually is. If I haven't been responding to your comments or emails, I hope you understand. I'm trying to get caught up this weekend. Real quick though, these are some posts that I have coming soon:

1) My recent trip to Tallula.
2) Passage to India's new menu
3) Heritage India's Dupont location.

Restaurants Open New Years Eve

New Years Eve is going to be quite a spectacle this year. Whether you are going to one of the big events downtown, or just sitting at home watching the ball drop on TV, you should definitely try to get out to one of these restaurants for a wonderful meal. Happy New Year everyone!

Cafe Atlantico
I've actually never been to Cafe Atlantico. Shame. However, I think you'll agree after looking at their New Years Eve menu that it's not something you'll want to miss. Call 202.393.0812 for reservations.

As you all know, I named my dog after this place, so obviously I like it. On New Years Eve this year, they are offering a three course prix fixe menu for $30 to $60 per person depending on your entree selection. For more information see my previous post on Ceiba or call 202.393.3983.

David Greggory
On New Years Eve, David Greggory will have a buffet at 9:30 PM. Their regular menu will be available from 5:30 pm to 7:30. $78 per person. Call 202.872.8700 for reservations.

Even though I've had a couple bad experiences at Equinox, the good still far outway the bad. For New Years, Chef Todd Gray will be having 4 and 6 course dinners at $90 and $120 respectively. Dinners with wine pairings are available for $125 and $170. The full menu and details can be found here. Call 202.331.8118.

The Ritz-Carlton's restaurant will be having a three course meal with dessert with two seatings. The first seating will be from 5:30pm to 7pm and is $75 a person. The second seatings start from 8pm to 11 pm and include a champaigne toast and live entertainment for $120. For the menu, go to their web site or call 202.912.4110 for more information. 

If you can afford it, you don't want to miss Roberto Donna's fine Italian cuisine. The first seating will be from 5:30 - 8:00pm and will only include his usual a la carte menu. From 8:30pm on he will be featuring a prix fixe, 6-course dinner with dessert for $145.00 per person. I don't know if it includes a wine pairing or not. Call 202.293.7191 for reservations.

If you would rather eat dinner at your place, Galileo also offers a to go menu.

Passage To India
Passage to India will be having three separate three-course dinners on New Years Eve - seafood, lamb/chicken and vegetarian. They all will feature dishes off of Chef Sudhir Seth's new menu which contains dishes from each region of India. Prices rance from $45 to $55. For more info in Passage to India, see my previous post about the restaurant, or call 301.656.3373. Their full New Years Eve menu can be found here as well.

Last but not least, my favorite Italian restaurant is having their wonderful a la carte menu from 5:30 to 8pm on New Years Eve. From 9:15 on, Enzo will be having a special "prezzo fisso", 5-course dinner for $75.00 per person. The meal will include
dancing, a live DJ, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Sounds like a lot of fun to me. For more information on Spezie, see my last post on them.

At OpenTable, you can find other restaurants open on New Years Eve that I did not include in this post .  Feel free to leave a comment if there is a restaurant you don't think I should've left out.

For it having only been open for a couple weeks when I went, I was pretty impressed with what I saw at Talula. If it weren't for the fact that I live all the way over in NW, I might be there on New Years Eve myself.
Melissa says, "Tallula's going outside the box a bit...for $55 you get a massive cocktail party, champagne toast at midnight and drink specials. Check out the site for menu items and reservation info". Sounds like a good time to me.

Also, see this article at the Post.

Restaurants Open Christmas

OK, here it is - My post about restaurants that are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Honestly, there are a lot of restaurants that stay open on Christmas Eve, but not Christmas Day. If you have a favorite restaurant that you like, you should call them to see what there hours are.  These are the ones I know that are running special dinners.

Featuring a special four course Christmas Eve tasting menu with creamy chestnut soup with lobster, egg fettucine, mushroom crusted "beef wellington", and donut holes. $75 pp or $105 pp with the wine pairing. For full details, see the Equinox web site or call (202) 331-8118. You should call for their hours because they are not posted on their web site.

Three course dinner featuring oysters, quail, roasted chestnut and apple soup, spinach, walnut and warm bacon salad, stuffed pork loin, poached salmon, and beef tenderloin. Full details here.
Open 5:30 pm - 9 pm. Call (212) 912-4110.

Galileo is not having a special menu, but they do have a "to go" menu. The way it works is that you call in your order a week in advance, schedule your pickup time, and come get your dinner. If you live near Galileo, you can even have the meal delivered. For Christmas Eve, the package includes roasted shrimp, cresperelle filled with fonduta cheese, roasted rack of veal, and bread pudding. Preparation instructions, bread and cookies are included as well. Pricing is per person at $80 pp for 1 to 3 people, $75 pp for 4 to 6 people and $70 pp for 7+ people. You can get the full information at Roberto Donna's web site.

And that's it. Sadly there wasn't much information on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day out there. As well, you can also look on OpenTable for a full list of restaurants open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.


So my company's holiday party was last night - at Morton's. Of course, I was not invited this year because, well, I am not a director yet. I'm only a lowly senior I said, snubbed. But,  it turned out to be a good thing. I went to Heritage India's Dupont location and had a great night there with Amy. We ordered a bunch of their tapas including pav bhaji (Yes! Pav bhaji!). As it turned out I was only a block away from where the company party was...guess I should've stopped in to say hi afterwards. ;)

Moving further along with the theme of being snubbed, a certain someone who said they'd hook me up with a reservation on Amy's birthday never got back to me, and now it's too late to make a reservation at Minibar...Grrr. Really, I'm not that bitter. As it turns out, though, I think we're going to postpone Amy's big birthday celebration to New Years and go to the DC101 New Years Party because Carbon Leaf is playing at it and we LOVE them. We'll still go out for dinner on her birthday, but we wont make such an event out of it. Right now we're thinking about returning to Ceiba, Komi or Restaurant Eve.

Palena Bar

For a long time now, I've been hearing about Palena's bar menu. The overall message has been that I needed have a glass of wine there and try the cheeseburger. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Palena's bar, there is an area out front at Palena by the bar. It consists of small tables and a casual atmosphere with a "cheaper" menu. Roberto Donna has done something similar at Galileo with Osteria del Galileo.

Early Saturday night, we walked down to Cleveland Park to visit Palena at around 6 pm. We had to wait briefly for a table, but only for about 10 minutes. While we were waiting at the bar, we had a glass of wine and perused the menu. Everything on the menu was $10 - even the plate of french fries. "$10 for a plate of french fries?" I asked Amy. "Those'd better be some damn, good french fries for $10." Some dishes were more than $10, but only a few. There's also the regular, prix fixe menu off which you have the option of ordering a la carte. Prices range from $10-$16 for appetizers and salads and $20-$30 for entrees. The gnocchi at Palena is some of the best I've ever had and I was happy to see they still have it. This time, it was being served with butternut squash...seems like a popular ingredient this time of the year.

Once we were seated, we ordered right away since we were pretty hungry. We decided to share an order of fries and each get a cheeseburger - and of course I ordered the gnocchi. Nothing very eventful happened while we were waiting for our food. We continued to order glasses of wine until the food started to come.

Soon our appetizers came out. My gnocchi was absolute perfection as usual, but Amy's french fries were...well, they were french fries. I'm not sure where anyone gets off charging $10 for an order of fries. Not that I was counting, but there were more onion rings than fries. I'd rather have some of Cafe Deluxe's shoestring fries than the fries at Palena in all honesty. I was glad I was eating my gnocchi and not the french fries. Amy was pretty disappointed. She was expecting something a little more.

Then the burgers came and I quickly realized that I should've ordered some more gnocchi. A $10 cheeseburger is the oldest cliche in dining, and I fell for it. Worst of all, this cheeseburger only came with some fancy mayo on the bun. No lettuce, tomato, onion. There were a few tiny mushrooms - and of all things...beets??? Enough said.

For dessert, we had the cheese selection which included gorgonzola, goats milk and a parmesian-like hard cheese. On the side, it came with a few slices of date bread and fig jam. The gorgonzola cheese was pretty strong - a little too strong for my liking, but that's just gorgonzola cheese. The goats milk was alright, but I found myself wishing I was at 2 Amy's having their goat's milk cheese. The goat's milk cheese at Palena was a little too dry and crumbly for me. My favorite was the hard cheese which I had no problem eating on it's own without the bread or jam.

When the check came, I was pretty unimpressed. for $87 we'd had 3 glasses of wine, a small bowl of pasta, fries and 2 burgers. I'd recommend skipping the burgers, hot dogs and other items like that and ordering off the a la carte menu. You'll enjoy it more and it wont cost you that much more.

Read about my other trips to Palena here.

Plans for tonight

I'm headed to Tallula in Arlington tonight. It just opened last week. In anticipation for the dinner, I had this IM conversation with Amy about 5 minutes ago. I thought it was pretty funny. Just shows you how into food we are...

jasewyndu: hey
jasewyndu: you leaving soon?
amystorch: yes
jasewyndu: ok
jasewyndu: I'm looking forward to tonight
jasewyndu: that restaurant article in the Post got me excited
amystorch: i hope it's good
jasewyndu: yeah
jasewyndu: well if it is not, I can pan it ;)
jasewyndu: well actually not. I'd be a shmuck if I did
jasewyndu: cause it just opened
amystorch: yeah, you gotta give restaurants time
amystorch: what's the dress code?
jasewyndu: oh
jasewyndu: not sure
jasewyndu: looks kind of swanky
jasewyndu: hmm
jasewyndu: see a menu item that is kinda familiar?
jasewyndu: can't wait to try the fried green tomatoes!
jasewyndu: I like the finger friendly 2 biters
jasewyndu: cheese and cured meat pairings!
jasewyndu: oh wow, the brunch menu has biscuits and gravy
amystorch: oh man
amystorch: this is going to be so hard
amystorch: i want like, everything
jasewyndu: I KNOW
amystorch: gah!
jasewyndu: I'm so posting this IM conversation!
amystorch: Scotch Eggs
amystorch: housemade chorizo sausage, home fries
jasewyndu: YUM
jasewyndu: This place better be good. if if sucks I'll be so disappointed
amystorch: I want like, seven courses