Top 5 Meals - December
Iron Chef America

Jan 2005 Restaurant Week Recap

Well, it's been a great week of food. This week was gluttony at its worst for me, and my waistline and my wallet are feeling the pains of it. It was worth it though. I had some much grander ideas of what I was going to do this RW, planning to go somewhere every night. However, reality set in when I went to make reservations. I was just so hugely busy at work, I was not going to be able to go out every night. So I ONLY ended up going to Saveur on Tuesday night, Corduroy on Wednesday night, TenPehn on Friday night, and Tarbard Inn on Saturday for lunch.

I had high hopes for Tuesday night at Saveur. Their online menu had a bunch of dishes that I was very eager to try. Too bad I missed the whole thing about it being a "Sample Menu". It turned out only a few of the dishes from their menu online were actually on the menu when we went. In January, they actually do Restaurant Month. For the whole month, they are offering a RW style, 3 course dinner for $35 (although for Restaurant Week, they were actually charging the correct $30.05). The problem was the available dishes were seriouly limited. If you look at their dinner menu online now, it's actually been updated since I looked at it when I was writing my Restaurant Week post the week before. However, their dinner menu used to look more like their lunch menu. To start with, there were only two desserts and both of them were uninteresting. You had a choice between an walnut parfait and an ice cream sandwich. Granted, the ice cream sandwich was made with brownies and vanilla ice cream, but seriously, those two desserts weren't the most appetizing I've ever heard. They were out of the ice cream sandwich anyway, so I reluctantly had the walnut parfait.  The one notable item in the Saveur experience, was the special appetizer I had -- sliced kangaroo loin. It was pefectly cooked medium rare and tender. Some of my slices had this one band of fat going right though them, but it was easy to eat around. There was this sauce the kangaroo was served with that I swore was based on Heinz 57 sauce. Either way though, it tasted great. Overall, Amy got the short straw in this meal. Her sea scallop taco salad was odd -- combining the flavors of bacon wrapped sea scallops with a sweet raspberry vinagrette. They just didn't go. The scallops were good, but she just ended up eating them on their own. For an entree she had the black angus filet. It was either a bad cut of meat, or it was not a real filet mignon. It was cooked medium rare like she asked, but there was just a lot of fat in the steak. I had the braised lamb shank. I thought it was pretty good, but missing something (spices, pepper, salt, anything). The meat was extremely tender and fell right off the bone when I poked it with a fork, but it didn't taste much better than something I'd made in my own crock pot at home.

Corduroy was awesome as expected. Their full regular menu was available (not the same menu as they have online, but their menu changes all the time, and they had comparable dishes available)  with some upcharges on certain more expensive items like the lobster salad or the strip loin steak.  The service was impeccable in my opinion. We waited just a little more than usual for our check, but I would rather wait for my check than be rushed out. Given how busy Corduroy was, I thought the whole staff did a great job. Our waiter was very knowledgeable. I pretty much gave my decision-making over to him since I was incapable of making one. He was also well-trained on the wine menu and was able to recommend a Pinot Noir to go with my scallops and Amy's strip loin. Amy ordered a "Buffalo Mozzarella Porcupine" -- piece of fresh mozzarella slightly warmed, served with crispy stings of a fried tempura-like batter and several sauces. It didn't sound nearly as incredible on the menu as it ended up tasting. The parmesan cauliflower soup I ordered tasted a little bland to me, but Amy thought it was better than I thought. I merely added some salt and pepper to it which made up for the lack of flavor. Entrees were even better than the first course. Amy's strip loin was perfectly cooked and a wonderful cut of meat. One of the better steaks she's had in a while, "but not the best", as she said. The best thing about her entree though, was not the steak, as much as the little 2"x2" square of scalloped potatoes it was served with. It's the little things that count. In a rare occurance that only happens when the moons of Venus and Saturn line up, Amy actually finished her entree, leaving only a single, leftover bite for me.  My scallops were perfect as well. There we no little crunches which I always fear I'll find. There were only four of them, but they tasted great. Served over mashed sweet potatoes and garlic butter, the combination of the three went well together. Desserts didn't disappoint either. Amy had a vanilla creme brulee which was a little to soft for her taste, but I thought it was perfect. I ordered a warm chocolate tarte with vanilla ice cream that tasted like the inside of a chocolate volcano cake.

I wasn't all that impressed with our meal at TenPenh. I mean, everything was pretty good, but nothing really blew me away. We went with our friends Mike and Jen, so we still had a really good time. Drinks from their drink menu were interesting, but expensive, all running at about $9 or more. I had a saketini which came with a baby octopus in it. Do yourself a favor and don't try to eat it. Tenpehn's attempts at Asian fusion are valiant. The fried pickled ginger panko crusted tuna I had for my entree was okay. I like my tuna extremely rare - practically cold in the middle. And it's tough to do so when you have to brown the outside crusting. One who likes their tuna a little closer to medium rare would probably love this dish. Mike and Amy ordered the Chinese Style Smoked Lobster which sounded better in theory than reality. The lobster is smoked, boiled, and then stir fried with crispy fried spinach and vegetables. The result -- a slightly overcooked lobster. Jen ordered the crispy whole fish, which we all ended up wishing we'd ordered. Served with a tamarind dipping sauce, it tasted so good on it's own that you didn't really need the dipping sauce. Desserts weren't eactly memorable -- at least in my opinion. I had a ginger cake that tasted like your average carrot cake. I love carrot cake so that was good, but I kind of expected something else. Amy and  Jen had a coffee tarte with cardamon ice cream and a mini cup of hot chocolate. They all agreed that the ice cream and hot chocolate were wonderful, overshadowing the coffee tarte. Not to be forgotten is the feng shui martini which was made with vodka and ice wine garnished with frozen grapes. It was very strong, but at $11.95, kind of expensive. Amy and Jen ordered a couple and really enjoyed them. At that price, I'd rather had some straight Grey Goose or Belvedere.

The morning after our night out with Mike and Jen, we decided to go to Tabard Inn. Do yourself a favor and don't try to drive and find a parking spot in that neighborhood like we did. It's a short walk from the Dupont Circle metro. We spent forever trying to find a parking spot in that neighborhood. The restaurant at the Tabard Inn is not very large. It's in a small room in the rear of the first floor of the inn. There were no tables available, so we just sat at the bar. (If you want to sit at a table, I suggest that you make a reservation. ESPECIALLY FOR BRUNCH. Not to give away the rest of this review, but we liked our meal so much at Tabard Inn that we tried to return again today (Sunday) for their brunch. I called at 9 AM to make a reservation, and they were completely booked.) The full menu wasn't available, but you had plenty of choices. I tried a new beer - Sam Smith's Organic Lager. Very good. For appetizers, we both ended up ordering a fresh mozzarella salad that was fantastic. It was made with slices of fresh mozzarella served with basil, kalamata olive confit, olive oil, and marinated roasted red peppers. Mmmmm. It was heaven. I love a good fresh mozzarella salad!

It was hard to believe it, but the entrees we ordered were even better. I was in the mood for hangover food so I ordered the poached eggs with ham, home fries and hollandaise sauce over a muffin. I know in Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain says he never orders hollandaise sauce at a restaurant because it's a hot bed for bacteria, but Anthony, it's worth ordering at Tabard Inn. Amy ordered a tart with leeks, roasted peppers, potatoes, chives, fontina cheese and spinach. She thoroughly enjoyed it. When I tasted it, I thought it was very good as well. It was a very popular choice since shortly after Amy ordered, it was 86ed. Desserts were pretty good. I had a white chocolate tangerine cheese cake with raspberry creme frache. It was a little too sweet for my taste. The raspberry frache overpowered the rest of the dessert. Amy liked her vanilla creme brulee better than the same dish at Corduroy. We hung out at the bar for a little while after our meal was over and talked with the bartender who was very friendly.

Overall, what was my favorite meal?

Well, it was a close tie between Corduroy and Tabard Inn.



I have to agree with your review of Ten Penh - good food but not great and if not for the RW deal, probably overpriced. Which was SO disappointing because I love DC Coast(last RW) and Ceiba, where I had an excellent RW lunch earlier in the week. I'm going to pass on Ten Penh in the future and definitely return as often as possible to Ceiba and I know you guys love it too. You are right it just rocks. Now I just need an excuse to check out Cordoroy.


I'm glad you agree Keith. I've never been to DC Coast. My friend Jen loves that place as well. Definitely try out Corduroy. It was a good time. Though, if you haven't tried Komi yet I would go there first.


I've had the Buffalo Mozzarella Porcupine at Corduroy and can atest to it being delicious. Great restaurant overall even if it is kind of hidden.


Corduroy for lunch was great, Ceiba for dinner was lovely, though the menu was limited--the conch chowder was amazing, the desserts so-so (I wanted the churros!), Zola was fantastic and our favorite stop. Finally, Ella's had the best deal--2 pizzas, 2 appetizers, 2 deserts for $30. Went with another couple and had 4 great pizzas--the homemade ice cream was delicious.


Actually, the Tabard Inn restaurant is made up of several small rooms - one outside in a walled courtyard/garden, and a few cozy indoor rooms (i think some with fireplaces.) It is definitely worth going for brunch, especially with visiting family (or friends, I suppose.) The menu is innovative while still based in the traditional, so its a good pick for my not-as-adventurous grandparents or boyfriend's parents. I've never been for any other meals, but I've heard they aren't as delicioso as brunch-o.


Gotta disagree with you on the TenPenh lobster dish. I have had it three times and am equally impressed each time. The lobster was never overcooked and the fried spinach adds an interesting, unexpected texture to the dish. I will aggree with you about the deserts - they are definitely lacking. In fact, the deserts really are bland and white-noise compared to their other impressive offerings. Again you are correct with the over-priced tourist drinks, ie sakatini et al.
Ceiba, onb the other hand, is always a good pick. I have entertained there over a dozen times and am never disappointed. If you get a chance, try the ceviche` or the molten cheese lava appetizer. They are both superb. One major recommendation I would encourage everyone to try is the Montes Alpha M wine. It is one of their more expensive bottles, but it turns a great meal into an extraordinary occasion. Allow the wine 15-20 minutes to open up and show it's true colors, then yowy-zowy watch-out. For a pre-meal drink, I advocate the mojito. This is one of a handful of restaurants in the US that actually uses a machine at the bar that extracts the syrup from real sugar cane to make the drinks. It is a "true" mojito. I only wish the owners of these two restaurants would open up a fourth.


Had brunch at the Tabard Inn Sunday for the first time. The rum spiced apple cider was excellent and the bloody mary mix average but just the right amount of alcohol. I tried the smoked salmon and trout dish and it was just okay, it was fish overload and little too fishy tasting. I couldn't really taste the smokiness on the salmon. The dish would be better as a shared appetizer. I probably should have ordered something else, I had food envy as I looked around at other dishes that looked awesome.

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