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January 2006
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March 2006

February 2006

I'm new at this baby thing

So last night, Amy and I went out to dinner and we took Noah with us. I made a reservation for two like I usually do when I Amy and I take Noah to dinner, because I feel like a complete Ass making a reservation for three, when 1) I know damn well Noah isn't going to eat anything and 2) I'd hate for the restaurant to take up a table for four simply because we have Noah with us.

"Do you have a reservation?" the host says.

"Yes we do. [insert faux name here] for 2," Amy says.

The host looks at us. "But you're three."

Oh don't worry. We'll just stick him in the corner somewhere.

Actually, I only wish I responded with something that clever. I really just stood there confused, and with my mouth open, and I guess I kind of made an "uhhhhhhh" sound.

Amy chimed in with "You didn't make the reservation for 3??"

"Uhm, no! And it wasn't a problem the last time we ate here?"

The host, whose chakras I think we completely upset, thought I was talking to him, but responded quite congenially with "Don't worry, I'm just trying to find a solution here."

A solution to what? Please don't make a fuss over us. Just treat us like everyone else. I'll seriously balance Noah in his car seat on the top of my head if I have to.

(and for those of you who can't tell, the italics text is my inner monologue. Get it?)

Anyway, they ended up making room for us all at a table for two on the end, where we had plenty of room to put Noah. But if two people came into your restaurant with a baby that looked like this, wouldn't you go out of your way for them?

Noah_sleeping

Next time, I'll probably just tell them that we'll have a baby with us when I make the reservation.


Food and Wine Events

Saturday February 25th
TasteDC.com
Introduction to Italian Cooking: Veneto's Food and Wine Treasures at Pesto Ristorante
12:00PM to 2:30PM
$65 per person
details

Sunday February 26th
TasteDC.com
Introduction to Mezze Cooking Class at Tabaq Bistro
12:00PM to 2:30PM
$65 per person
details

Monday February 27th
Evening Star Cafe
Argentina's Up-and-Coming Wines Dinner featuring food paired with wines of Argentina
7:15 PM
$85 per person
details (scroll down)

Tuesday February 28th
Washington Wine Academy
A Study of Styles - Pinot Noir Tasting
7PM to 9PM at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City
$65 per person
details

Wednesday March 1
Chef Geoffs Downtown
10 Course Bonny Doon Wine Dinner
7:30 PM
$89 per person
Contact Reality Bent at (202) 316-9242 or email partydowntown@chefgeoff.com

Want your event listed here? Email jason@dcfoodies.com.


Pizzeria Paradiso

Recently, I've been working more at my real job's Georgetown office, which gives me the opportunity to eat at Pizzeria Paradiso's Georgetown location, a much roomier and less crowded space than its older sister in Dupont Circle.

Lunches here are calm and relaxing. There's rarely a wait (at least at the Georgetown location) and I find that it's a good place to stop and have a business lunch with coworkers. Service is prompt and usually congenial (and is anything but perfunctory), but try to get a table for dinner or lunch on the weekends, and you'll find it's a different story. I stopped by last Saturday and there was a very long wait so I had to find somewhere else to eat lunch.

The pizzas come in two sizes, 8 inch and 12 inch, and range in price of $9 to $11 for the 8-inch pizzas and $15 to $17 for the 12-inch pizzas. My favorites so far are the salty Bottarga, with an egg, garlic and of course, bottarga, and the Atomica, with tomatoes, salami, olives and black pepper flakes. As you all know, pizza for me is all about the crust, and while Pizzeria Paradiso's toppings are fresh and of a high quality, I find the crust is a bit dry and not as chewy as I would like. It's just personal taste though. For everyone that agrees with me, there's probably someone who prefers it that way.

There are a couple appetizers that I'd recommend you order. I love the tuna and white bean salad, which is covered in olive oil. The white beans are firm and not out of a can as far as I can tell, which means they are either getting them from a high-quality supplier or soaking the beans themselves. Also the milky-white mozzarella with sundried tomatoes and olive oil is always sure to please, even for the pickiest eater in your group.

It's also worth mentioning that on Tuesday nights, Pizzeria Paradisa has a special they call "Two for Two-sdays." The special is meant for two people and includes an antipasto plate with salad, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes and some charcuterie; a 12-inch pizza of choice, a dessert sampler, and a bottle of wine for $50. While your choices for the bottle of wine are limited to one of two bottles, either will go well with the pizza. Overall, it's a very good deal. The bottle of wine normally costs close to $30 by itself.

I haven't been too happy with the panini I've ordered. The marinated roast pork panino had more onion on it than roast pork -- I counted two slices of meat which wasn't quite what I was expecting. The bread was very thick as well, and when combined with the lack of meat, made it seem like I was eating a bread sandwich.

Just a little tidbit of knowledge for you. I did a little research on Panini and the proper ways to make them, and it turns out that a real panino (not panini which is the plural of panino) is made with grilled ciabatta bread. Perhaps the panino I had was made on Ciabatta bread, but it seemed a little thick to be Ciabatta to me.

The recently opened Birreria is a welcome addition to the Georgetown bar scene in my opinion. The bar has 18 taps and over 80 microbrews available, including (what I would say is my favorite that I've tried there so far) the J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale, which is matured in casks of either Calvados, Sherry, Port or Lagavulin casks for flavor. They also have a couple Rogue drafts on tap including Imperial Stout and Shakespeare Ale. If you come during happy hour from 4PM to 6:30PM weeknights, you can get $3 selected drafts and bottles, discount pizzas and antipasto plates. Hell, if it's a Monday or Tuesday, you might see me there...

Pizzaria Paradiso
Dupont Circle
2029 P Street NW
Washington, DC
(202) 223-1245   
Map

Georgetown
3282 M Street NW
Washington, DC
(202) 337-1245
Map

Hours:
Dupont Circle and Georgetown
Mon-Thurs: 11:30 am to 11:00 pm
Fri-Sat: 11:30 am to midnight
Sun: noon to 10:00 pm

Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Find a lot in somewhere that let's you park all night for $5. Street parking is hard to find.
Smoking:
Not Allowed.
Closest Metro:
Foggy Bottom
Reservations:
Not taken.
Baby-Friendly Rating: 3 out of 4 diapers.


I'm Gullible

Yesterday on Tom Seitsema's chat , I was duped. I didn't get a chance to read it until late last night. A little background first though.

First, Tom references some "Great Place for Seafood" that was slated to open on The Hill. Then, out of no where, some "chatter" writes in dropping a bomb about a supposed change in Dupont Circle relating to a "Great Place For Seafood", for Johnny or Komi, and was asking Tom what was with that rumor, to which Tom responds with...well, he didn't respond with anything, which made me assume (remember the saying about "ass out of your and me") that it was true.

Without reading anything else, I quickly email everyone I know "Hey, is this true?! What's up?!" I even email Mr. Monis himself to see what's going on.

After I'm done freaking out, I finish reading the chat. Later on in the chat, Tom admits that he's basically screwing with us all.

So the end of the story is, La Colline is closing (or closed already), Johnny's Half Shell is moving to where La Colline was in Cap Hill, and Johnny Monis and Komi aren't going anywhere or changing, which makes complete sense because they just invested all that money in their existing space remodeling it.

Oh, and if you got a spazzy email from late last night, please just attribute it to either the cheap wine I was drinking or the lack of sleep I've been getting. Either is fine, I don't care.


Hank's Oyster Bar

It's a Wednesday night and I'm sitting at the bar at Hank's Oyster Bar listening to The Dire Straits' Walk of Life. With my right hand, I'm feeding Noah his bottle and with my left, I'm eating fresh Kumamoto oysters. Life doesn't get much better than this.

We'd yet to be seated at our table, and I couldn't help but notice that the table behind me was having some problems with something cold that'd been delivered to their table. The only reason I noticed though, was because the floor manager, who'd treated us very nicely when we first came in the door, was apologizing for the mishap and was bringing over some complimentary appetizers to make up for the problems. Service isn't sacrificed at Hank's.

Hank's Oyster Bar gets very crowded. If you come after 7 on any night of the week, your in for at least a 30 minute wait. But that 30 minute wait can easily turn into 15 minutes or less with Hank's Oyster Bar's  "call ahead" policy. Call before you leave, and the host/hostess will put your name on the list, quickly turning that long wait into only a slight inconvenience.

I wonder how many people actually know about this policy -- I should've probably kept my mouth shut. Oh well...

With the name Hank's Oyster Bar, you'd expect the oysters to be good...and they are! I'd suggest a glass of the Muscadet or Viognier with them (there are many wines that go well with oysters), but the oysters are only one of many treats to get at Hank's. Take for instance, the not-too-heavily-creamy New England clam chowder, which on my first trip contained more potatoes than clams, but on my second trip had an abundance of clams. Or perhaps, you'd prefer the homemade mac and cheesy, which is fresh-baked to order, and don't forget the salty Old Bay seasoned fries.

On top of the regular menu, there are four fish specials available. Both times we went to Hank's, there was a sablefish on the menu, a chili-crusted fish (Rockfish or Mahi Mahi) or a white tuna. Chef Jamie Leeds rotates in specials depending on what fish she can get fresh that week and how well they are selling, but she tries have something new on the specials menu every day.

My first night there, I tried the sablefish which is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ginger and other seasoning for 24 hours. I thought the marinade gave a good contrasting flavor to the slightly fishy flavor of the sablefish. The second entree I had, which was anything but typical when you think of how fish is usually prepared, was a roasted monkfish with a mild marinara sauce and pancetta. The dense monkfish was lightly breaded, almost like you'd see the chicken in chicken parmesan prepared, but it wasn't dry or rubbery like I've had it elsewhere.

After both wonderful meals at Hank's, I was ready for some dessert, but there's no dessert menu, so I was glad I didn't save room. For those of you with a sweet tooth like me, you'll be happy to know that they bring out a little bit of bittersweet chocolate with your check which hits the spot quite well and is probably better for you than that creme brulee or bread pudding.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if Jamie Leads had a silent deal with Johnny Monis around the corner, because both times I was tempted to stop at Komi on the way home and grab some homemade donuts. Of course, you can always order some more oysters for dessert, which is probably what Jamie Leeds would prefer and I'm almost positive you won't regret.

Hank's Oyster Bar
1624 Q St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 462 HANK (4265)
Map

Hours:
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday 5:30 - 10:00pm
Wed, Thurs 5:30 - 11:00pm
Fri and Sat 5:30 - 11:00pm
Sat and Sunday Brunch 11:00 am - 3:00pm

Dress Code: Casual
Parking: This restaurant is in Dupont Circle. If you're lucky like I was, you can find someone pulling out the moment you're driving by on the same block as Hank's. If you're unlucky, you find a spot five blocks away.
Smoking:
Not Allowed.
Closest Metro:
Dupont Circle
Reservations:
Not taken, but take advantage of the call ahead policy. 
Baby-Friendly Rating: 2 out of 4 diapers. The restaurant is nice and loud, so if your baby starts crying, no one will hear them. However, if it's crowded, you'll have a long wait and you'll be outside in the cold with your baby because there's not a lot of room to wait inside.


Weekend Events

There are a few events happening this weekend. Hopefully, they haven't filled up already.

Saturday
If you become a member to Capitol Connoisseur, There is a Capitol Connoisseur Wine Tasting event happening at 600 Restaurant at the Watergate Hotel Saturday night at 4:30 PM. It costs $35 for members.

Vino Lovers is having an Italian food and wine event at Galileo Restaurant at 5 PM. Cost is $155 per person.

All This Month
The Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corporation is having its first Come Out and Play promotion which is focusing on DC Theaters and many DC restaurants including 701, 1789, Jaleo and Le Paradou are participating in the promotion as well with special pre-theater menus. Read more about it at http://www.washington.org/comeouttoplay/. It makes a perfect Valentines Day gift!


Women Chefs Turn Up The Heat

On March 7 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is sponsoring an event to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. The event will be held at the Ritz Carlton, West End, at 22nd and M St, NW. Many notable DC Area women chefs will be donating their time for the event, serving up tastings of their favorite dishes. The minimum contribution required to attend the event is $250 which isn't cheap, but it's all for a good cause. Here's the list of some of the chefs that will be participating:

Ann Amernick - Palena
Zoe Behrens - 1789
Barbara Black - BlackSalt
Naomi Gallego- Vidalia
Ruth Gresser - Pizzeria Paradiso
Jamie Leeds - Hank's Oyster Bar
Heather Martindale - Bistro Bis
Nora Pouillon - Restaurant Nora
Susan Kolman - Persimmon

For more information call (202) 331-1332 or email benefit@ovariancancer.org.


Dino

What can I say about Dino that hasn’t already been said on this site or elsewhere? Probably not much. However, my initial review of Dino was so glowing, just about anyone who reads it is bound to be disappointed after eating there. So here is a little follow up review with the highlights of the menu that’s a little more grounded. 

My favorite things to get at Dino by far are the wine, meat and cheese. While I wish Dino would put more cheese on the place and less fruit and accompaniments, the cheese selection is probably one of the best in the city. If you go you MUST order the Gorgonzola. It’s by far one of the best I’ve tasted. It’s not too salty, slightly creamy but also firm enough to eat by itself, and just pungent enough to require you to take a sip of Rosso as a finisher. The blue at the bottom of the list (I forget its name) is also a must have.

The giant wine list (that’s brought out on a clipboard of all things) is intimidating at times, but very reasonably priced with many incredible tasting wines in the $30 range. The owner Dean, who’s responsible for the wine list, has a $10 to $15 markup over market price policy, so you’re not going to get that 200% markup like you’ll get at most restaurants. I have to remind myself each time I go to Dino that ordering by glass is not the most economical of ways to order wine, but it’s hard not to order glasses with all the choices you have. I just want to try as many as possible.

One of our favorite things to order at Dino is the marinated grilled artichokes. Just try them, you’ll see why. At only $3.50, they’re probably the best bargain on the menu. Also, the braised baby octopus will always please. It’s very tender and flavorful. 

The pastas had a rough start at Dino. Every other time I visited when they first opened, I would go from loving my pasta course to wondering if the timer they were using to cook it was running on old batteries. But things have seemed to level out quite well, and I always order some pasta now. Recent trips, I’ve had the polenta (Ok, so that’s not really pasta) with herbs, butter, cheese and a wild mushroom ragu. We gave a tiny bit of this to Noah, and his eyes nearly popped out of his head! And I can’t forget to mention the lasagnette, which you can’t go wrong and might be the world’s most perfect pasta dish.

For entrees, you must order the whole roasted fish! It’s done very simply with olive oil and lemon and comes out nice and flakey. This is the way I like fish prepared. Other than that, the juicy rotisserie chicken and peppery pork tenderloin will also give you a memorable meal. Entrees are on the cheap side comparatively to other restaurants ranging from $16 to $24. 

I wouldn’t say that the desserts are the highlight of the menu at Dino. However, the recent addition of the biscotti with Vin Santo, a traditional Italian treat, is a nice warming end to a meal. The orange-flavored tiramisu doesn’t pander enough to my traditional taste buds I guess. Whenever I eat it, I find myself wishing it was just a regular tiramisu. And, while Amy loves the Nutella panini, I find it dry and bland. Many people I know go crazy when you mention the Nutella panini though, so I am probably in the minority on this one. I would rather order more of that wondrous gorgonzola for dessert!

I should also mention that Dino has an early bird menu that’s available from 5 PM to 6:30 PM, Sunday through Thursday. You get a choice of a selection of appetizers (which includes a few half portions of their pasta courses including the polenta), a choice of a selection of entrees, and a choice of  a selection of desserts, all for $24 a person. This is quite a deal if you ask me. The menu also contains a “Wine Madness” section that includes a selection of wines at up to 30% off their normal prices. 

Overall, Dino is a neighborhood gem in an area full of mediocra restaurants that are kept in business by the Uptown theater (except for the much more expensive Palena or Indique, which is very good as well, but that’s only if your in the mood for Indian food.) Unlike the other restaurants in the area, Dino is worth going out of your way to eat at, as I do so many times a month.

Noah_dino_1 Noah_dino2

Dino
3435 Connecticut Avenue
Washington DC 20008
Map
(202) 686-2966

Hours:
Dinner: 5 PM to a 10:15PM last seating Monday through Thursday, 10:30pm Friday and Saturday, 9:30pm Sunday.
Lunch:  Served Friday and Saturday, 12 PM to 3 PM, Sunday (brunch) 11 AM – 3 PM.

Dress Code: Casual
Parking: LOL!
Smoking: Not Allowed.
Closest Metro: Cleveland Park Metro
Reservations: Now taken for parties of all sizes.
Baby-Friendly Rating:
3 out of 4 diapers. They are quite baby friendly and the restaurant is loud enough to drown out any of your baby's crying. The downstairs bathroom is also quite large for diaper changing, although there’s no changing table (the reason it’s not a 4 out of 4).