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February 2005
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April 2005

March 2005


On Friday night at about 7 PM, Amy and I made a last minute decision to go out for dinner. We called around to a couple places to make reservations and we didn't have any luck. Finally, I was like, "I want Afghan!" Looking on The Post Dining Guide, I saw Tom S's review of Faryab in Bethesda. Overall, he said that the food was really good, but the service was lacking and inattentive. I figured we would try it anyway.

When going to a restaurant on Cordell Ave in Bethesda, you can save yourself a lot or time by skipping the overly crowded Cordell Ave parking garage and going one block further to Del Ray, where the lot us usually empty. After we parked, I was tempted to stop in and say hello to Chef Sudhir at Passage to India, but he was nowhere in sight when we walked by. Faryab only a few steps from my favorite Indian restaurant.

When we walked in Faryab, I noticed that the hosted was extremely friendly. She greeted us with a huge, "Welcome! Two for dinner?!" We were seated and immediately someone stopped by to see if we wanted something to drink. They have plenty of servers, expeditors, and bussers there to wait on you. Our waitress, a sweet, Asian woman with glasses that reminded me of the ones my grandmother used to wear, came over quickly after we sat down and asked us if we wanted something to drink. The manager was constantly walking around checking that everyone was happy as well. All around, the owners have hung Afghan artifacts and pictures. The atmosphere was a bit brighter than most restaurants I've been to lately and there was a lot of space so I didn't feel like I was right on top of the table next to us.

The menu at Faryab is very similar that of Afghan Grill in Adams Morgan except the list of appetizers was quite a bit larger and more interesting. One appetizer that we found particularly interesting was the deep fried, breaded sweet potatoes with small amounts of yogurt and meat sauces. The meat sauce reminded me of a stewed meat - it was slightly spicy and tasted like it had chili seasoning in it. I did note that there was more breading than sweet potato, but I didn't that mind too much. It was probably only five minutes after we ordered our appetizer that it appeared at our table.

The wine list was disappointingly small. There were only a few bottles each of red and white. The only wines available by glass were the house wines. Instead, I ordered a beer since I can't drink a whole bottle of wine on my own now that Amy is pregnant.

Shortly after we were done with out appetizer, the waitress came and took the plate away. Soon after that, our entrees came out. I'd ordered the Quabili Pallow which is a delicately seasoned lamb with spiced brown rice, raisins and shaved carrots. When they first brought it to the table, it looked like they'd forgotten the lamb and simply brought be a giant plate of rice. Once I put my fork in the rice though, I realized that there really was more lamb than rice on the plate. The moist, tender lamb was buried in the rice. The rice, seasoned with many spices, was a little dryer than I like. This was quickly forgotten when I mixed it with the shaved carrots and raisins.         

Amy had the chicken kabob (Kabob-e-Murgh) which I have to say tasted extremely good. I think I prefer the Afghan version of kabobs over any other ethnic food. Similar kabobs that you get at an Indian restaurant tend to be drier where the tandoor oven has a tendency to dry the meat out. The kabobs at Faryab, on the other hand, are cooked in a way that leaves the meat very tender and full of flavor. I asked the manager how they seasoned their kabobs and he said that they marinate them for 24 hours in olive oil, garlic, pepper, and tumeric (which explains the slightly yellow tint of the chicken).

On top of the two entrees, I ordered a side of Kadu which (if you remember from my review of Afghan Grill) is saut‚ed pumpkin. This is definitely one of the more interesting dishes you can order at an Afghan restaurant. The pumpkin at Faryab was kept slightly firm and wasn't overcooked, which I appreciated. I noticed that they must add a little sugar to the pumkin since it was a little on the sweeter side. Like our appetizer, the Kadu came with meat and yogurt sauces drizzled over it.

Our experience at Faryab was very pleasant. The service was amicable and smooth. I imagine that after Tom Sietsema's review, they made a conscious effort to change the vobe that their wait staff was exhibiting. All of the food was excellent. I'm looking forward to returning to try some of the other dishes I saw on the menu like their sambosas or Mantu - steamed dumplings filled with ground beef and onions, served with yogurt and meat sauces. Our check came to about $57 before tip, which was very reasonable considering the quality of the overall experience we had.

4917 Cordell Ave
Bethesda, MD
(301) 951-3484

Parking: Street parking available, no valet
Reservations: Taken although probably not needed
Smoking: not allowed
Amy's Bathroom Rating: Spotless
Nearest Metro: Bethesda

This Week In Reviews

Wow! I can't believe how long it's been since I did a "This Week In Reviews". I was reading around the different newspapers and DC Food Blogs so I figured I would write a quick recap of what I'd read.

Gabriella Boston of The Washington Times reviewed my favorite Indian restaurant -- Passage to India. I think she agrees with me that the new menu is a welcomed change to the DC area Indian food scene.

Chef and owner Sudhir Seth, who opened the restaurant a little more than a year ago, thought it time to go beyond the usual tandoori and tikka masalas and decided to include such exotic, tasty treats as salli boti jardaloo, a lamb stew with apricots and straw potatoes. It's a dish that mixes the flavors of the Middle East with those of India.

It looks like Indian food was a theme this week among the newspapers. Bruce Starr of the Washington Blade reviewed Curry Club in Georgetown (well actually Glover Park).  My own experience ordering delivery from Curry Club was less than eventful. I really should probably try actually eating at the restaurant itself. Bruce seemed to like his meal there:

For my entrée I chose the Curry Club’s signature Beef Vindaloo, tender simmered morsels in a Massala of chiles, mustard seed, and an array of other seasonings. The first bite was … let’s just say spicy hot would be an understatement. But with the help of some mild rice, I ventured forward and found layers of new flavors beneath the heat.

Continueing with the Indian theme, Tom Sietsema at the Post gives two stars to IndeBlue, the new French Indian fusion restaurant in Penn Quarter.

IndeBleu, which debuted in Penn Quarter in December, is many things, none of them ordinary.

I Hate Brocolli talks about digestive problems as well as his trip to Tia Queta in Bethesda, which has some of the best chicken wings I've ever had outside of Hooters and Hard Times Cafe. And YES. I did say that Hooters has good wings!

DCFud talks about York Castle Ice Cream in Silver Spring, which supposedly has a kick ass empenada. Ice cream and empenadas? What else can you ask for?

Pupusas at Costa del Sol

Saturday for lunch, Amy and I stopped by Bethesda for a quick lunch. We happened by a Salvadoran place called Costa Del Sol. We remembered eating their pupusas at Taste of Bethesda last year and Amy was having a real craving for them. Costa del Sol is just a small restaurant on Fairmont Ave. Decor is very plain and there is pretty much no ambiance -- but honestly, I couldn't give a crap. What did matter is that we ordered some chicharron pupusas (pork and cheese) and chicken tamales and they were outstanding. The filling was spicy which made up for the fact that the marinated cabbage was fairly plain. Overall, I'd say that Costa del Sol's pupusas competed with those of Samantha's which we all know and love. As well, the tamales we excellent and actually were made with large chunks of potatoe. I don't have much else to report about Costa del Sol except that it is extremely reasonable as far as prices go. Both me and Amy had to pupusas and a chicken tamale and we got out of there for less than $12. If your in the area you should definitly stop by. I certainly plan to.

Click here to see where Costa del Sol is located.

Cashion's Eat Place

Cashion's Eat Place. The name sounds rather deceptive doesn't it? The name makes you think of some soul food place that serves you buffet style. However, Ann Cashion and John Fulchino's French-American restaurant in Adams Morgan is anything but that. Saturday night when we dined there, we had the luxury of sitting in the window. Every five minutes, someone would walk up in jeans and a t-shirt looking for a quick bite to eat. When they took one look at the menu, their eyes popped out of their heads and they quickly did a 180 in the other direction. We first went to Cashion's when we first moved to DC, before Ann Cashion won her James Beard Award. I was happy to see that the restaurant hasn't changed much.

Saturday morning, I called to make the reservation because I was too absent-minded to call the night before or any other time in advance. I got their answering service, but it turned out that you could leave a message to make a reservation, so I did. The answering service said "If you'd like to make a reservation, please leave you name, phone number, the number of people in your party and the time you'd like to make your reservation after the beep and we'll call you to confirm."

My response was, "Hello, my name is Jason Storch. I'd like to make a reservation for anywhere from 7 to 9:30 pm. Thank you." And then I hung up.

Instantly, Amy said, "Uh...did you forget something?"


"You didn't say how many people you wanted the reservation for," she barked.

"Oh, shit."

Anyway, I called them back again and left a new message with the full information that they had requested in the first place. Later, someone from the restaurant called me back as promised I also remembered to leave my phone number the second time). They didn't have anything the times I wanted though. I had a choice of anywhere from 5 to 6 PM or 10 PM. Damn. We chose 5:45. I later found out at that if you want your choice of times on Saturday night, you have to call by Tuesday.

Before I get to the meal, let me tell you about one thing. The $5 valet doesn't start until...well, until sometime after we arrived at 5:45. It probably started at 6, but Cashion's web site mentioned nothing of a start time for the valet. Anyway, I was driving around Adams Morgan for about 20 minutes trying to find a spot.

OK. Now onto the food. Amy's not drinking, so I had to choose from the wines by the glass. Most of the glasses ranged from $8 to $9. I did take a quick look at the wines by the bottle. For a restaurant where the entrees range from $20 to $30, I would've expected the wines by the bottle to be more expensive than they were. There were many in the $30 to $40 range.

Amy began her meal with a roasted beet, goat cheese, and walnut salad. Amy loved the beets. For some reason she said the beets were soothing. I loath beets. I'm not sure what it is about them...the texture, the flavor, the fact that they turn your tongue red...I.LOATH.THEM. I did, however, like the goat cheese which I spread on the bread they gave us. I started with a goat cheese and leek tarte, which tasted really strong, and creamier than I expected. A word for any vegetarians out there (Not that Cashion's Eat Place is vegetarian friendly at all), but there were two pieces of bacon on the tarte, which was not mentioned on the menu.

I wasn't all that crazy about my entree -- organic beef short ribs on top of risotto with fava beans, peas and caramelized onions. The short ribs were tender and would have been great on their own, but the sauce ruined it. It made the dish more like a stew. The short ribs were swimming in the sauce which was extremely over-powering. Thinking back, it serves me right for ordering beef short ribs which aren't the finest quality of meat by definition. Frankly, I'm sick of seeing every restaurant with short ribs on their menu. I should've ordered the bison filet or the lamb roast which I would've enjoyed much more.

Luckily for me, Amy didn't finish half of her Mediterranean Dorade. If you're unfamiliar with what dorade is (like we were when Amy ordered it), here is a fact sheet on the fish. The fish was roasted to perfection and cooked very simply (unlike my short ribs) with some grilled veggies, black olives and lemon. The fish tasted like and had the consistency of salmon, with a slighly meaty texture.

After our entrees, neither of us had much room for dessert, but we ordered some anyway because you always want to order dessert at Cashion's. We opted for the chocolate hazelnut terrine which our waiter recommended. I was expecting  a slightly larger piece of cake than what appeared, but since I wasn't very hungry, I didn't mind. On the side there were hazelnuts covered with hardened caramel, basically like a hazelnut brittle. The chopped hazelnut layer in the cake had cinnamon in it as well with cut the sweetness of the chocolate. It was all VERY good!

Service was excellent -- Attentive, but not over-attentive -- Friendly, but not too friendly. Our food came out perfectly timed. At no point in our meal did I look around wondering where something was. Like I said, perfect. Cashion's does a nice job of keeping the reservations spread out and not overloading the servers and the kitchen staff, unlike some other restaurants that we've been to lately.

Our bill came to about $100 for two appetizers, two entrees, two glasses of wine, a dessert and a cup of coffee. Overall, I was pretty pleased with our visit to Cashion's Eat Place and we'll probably go back again soon.

Cashions Eat Place
1819 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 797-1819

Dress Code: Casual to Business Casual
Parking: None - Good Luck finding a spot in Adams Morgan. I ended up parking illegally. Valet available for $5, just be patient.
Nearest Metro: Woodly Park.
Reservations: Taken
Amy's Bathroom Rating: Immaculate.

Top 5 Restaurants

OK. This month, I am back to having an overall top 5 restaurants because quite honestly, I just don't have 5 great meals to put in a Top 5 Meals post. So here they are, my top 5 favorite restaurants to eat at in Washington, DC.

1) Komi - I've said it before and I'll say it again - Best Restaurant in DC. I'd eat here every night if I could afford it.
2) 2 Amys - It's not just for pie eaters anymore. venture out a bit and order off the bar menu and you won't regret it.
3) Passage To India - Chef Sudhir's recent revamp of his restaurants menu makes Passage to India the top choice for Indian food.
4) Spezie - For the money, I'd say that Spezie your best bet for  Italian in the DC.
5) Samantha's - I'm eating at Samantha's pretty much every weekend now.

Margarita and Tequila Class

Ooh, ooh, ooh. I just found out about this event on Gayot's Restaurant News. Andale is having  Margarita and Tequila classes on...doh! today, April 9th, and May 14th from 3 to 4:30 PM. I wonder if it's too late to sign up for the one today. Hosted by Chris Cunningham, Andale's Tequila expert, students will learn how to be a tequila connoisseur and make the perfect margarita. You'll also be able to sample mexican treats as you sample the tequila. Classes cost $30 per person. I think I hear some Jimmy Buffet playing somewhere...

For full info, go to Andale's web site.