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August 2010

Must Haves: Blue Duck Tavern's Bone Marrow Appetizer

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Must Haves focuses on some of D.C.'s best dishes.

Last year, I predicted 2010 would be the year of offal. I was wrong. This has clearly been the year of cupcakes (really?) and food trucks.

I was on to something, though. Trotters have made their way onto charcuterie boards around the city, sweetbreads and foie gras are as popular as ever, and even my mother knows Chris Cosentino (though from his role on Chefs vs. City, not his evangelizing about offal, but still).

So it's no surprise (well, a little surprising) that something as primitive, as ethnic, as absolutely fantastic as bone marrow has made its way into the tony spaces of Blue Duck Tavern.

DSCN5502 Let's get this out of the way: cooked bone marrow looks like hell. If I were honest, it looks like a warm loogie. But the taste. Oh my, the taste. Some have described it as meat butter. That works for me. Bone marrow that's had time in the oven or a sauce is wonderfully rich and savory. It's the Cracker Jack treat in ossobuco, the poor man's foie gras. 

Whoever dreamed up the bone marrow appetizer at Blue Duck deserves a raise (and whoever took the ribeye with bone marrow sauce off the menu should be out on their ass). It's the only appetizer I've ever had that has dictated a return visit. Chef Brian McBride has put together an elegant American menu and I enjoy the nods to the purveyors his ingredients. The restaurant is beautiful, the staff is excellent and the bartenders make a good Negroni.

But when I think of Blue Duck Tavern, I don't think of any of that. I think of a $13 appetizer.

It's a complete contrast. The kitchen roasts two split bones until the bone marrow is rendered into a soft gelatinous state and serves it on a silver tray with a head of roasted garlic and a tiny coke spoon perfect for scooping. Despite the trappings, there's something inelegant about scooping warm bone tissue onto toast points. However, with bone marrow this is as nice as it gets.

The bone butter is wildly popular with other cultures, particularly in Asia. That's why Indian restaurants rough chop the bones in their dishes. The cooked marrow flavors their sauces and diners enjoy sucking the remnants out of nature's stiff straw. Sitting along the windows in Blue Duck's sunny lounge watching the West End go by, I can't imagine giving felatio to a femur, but if that was the way McBride served it ...

The offal revolution may have lost out to two chicks and a pastry, but as long as roasted bone marrow resides on Blue Duck's menu I will be perfectly happy being wrong.


Escape the Heat: Mediterranean Salad

Therm We're gonna cheat a little on the no-cook mandate, but the weather is cooling down, so can you handle about 15 minutes of stove work?  You can even prepare the ingredients in advance on a cool day or at night and store them in the fridge until later.

I can't expound the benefits of this salad enough.  While I have a healthy love for brown sugar Pop Tarts, a juicy NY strip, cheese of any kind and bacon, this recipe is my redemption.  It takes advantage of all the fresh tomatoes and basil in the markets right now and can serve as a complete, guilt-free meal.  It's also ultra-nutritious:  pack a container for lunch and I promise it will carry you through the mid-afternoon doldrums and give you the energy to get to the gym.

Lentils

Try to find French green lentils, also called lentilles de Puy and not to be confused with those bags of light Lentilsgreen lentils in the super.  This variety of lentil holds its shape when cooking, but if you have to use the light green ones, subtract a couple minutes cooking time and aim for al dente or you'll end up with a mushy salad.  I've had a difficult time finding them lately, but I refused to believe there was an area-wide run on French lentils, so a random stop at Rodman's turned up 17.5-oz. boxes of Roland Green Lentils.  (Can I take this moment here to express my love for all things Roland?  This company single-handedly provides a fix for multiple food addictions, many of them olive-related.  And also Rodman's, while I'm at it.  They are a foodie's version of a methadone clinic.)

How much do you use?  Simmer a cup of dry lentils for about 15-20 minutes.  Drain, cool for a few minutes and season them with a tablespoon of vinegar (white, red wine or balsamic...your pick, depending on your palate), salt and pepper.

Couscous

Use whole wheat couscous if you'd like to increase the healthfulness, regular couscous if it doesn't matter to you (or if that's all you can find).  About one cup, prepared according to directions.  You can cook this at the same time as the lentils.

By the way, you can find all the ingredients for this in Rodman's or Trader Joe's.  TJ's doesn't have French green lentils, but they do sell bags of pre-cooked black Beluga lentils, which can be subbed in with no problem (and no cooking!).TJ lentils

Dressing

Mash a garlic clove** with 1/4 tablespoon salt.  Whisk this with another 2 tablespoons of vinegar, about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  In a large bowl, stir together this dressing with the lentils and couscous.  **If raw garlic is too powerful, toast the clove in a dry pan on a medium-heat stove for a minute or two until lightly browned to tone down the flavor.

Additions

Tomatoes:  two cups of halved cherries, pears or grapes, or seeded and diced Romas, heirlooms or any garden variety tomato you can find.

Cheese, glorious cheese:  feta is the traditional choice.  I prefer goat feta because I like its tanginess but I've also used regular goat cheese (one that is on the firmer side).  Chop a 4-oz. chunk and add.

Greens:  basil, definitely, at least a cup.  Spinach and/or arugula are fantastic in this salad, too, and increase its nutritional value tremendously -- try a chopped cup of each or 2 cups of one.  Arugula_300 You could probably add mint, too, but there are so many strong flavors competing in this already that it might be overkill.

Pignolis, or pine nuts:  totally optional, but if you have them on hand, add a quarter cup.   Toast them first (with the garlic!) for a nuttier flavor, but watch carefully as they can turn from brown to burnt in a heartbeat.

Give everything a stir and let it chill for an hour or more.  It will last several days in your fridge...if you can keep it around that long.  Enjoy it as a side dish with any grilled protein or as a complete meal by itself.  Bring it to a potluck and you will be asked for the recipe.

Again, this recipe is highly customizable.  It's also a good vehicle for testing your palate, so taste frequently and adjust according to your own preferences, regardless of the amounts I provided, which are really just guidelines.  However, be cautious with salt, as the cheese will add its own, and with this recipe it's hard to undo the damage of too much salt.

Enjoy!


The Food Truck Debate: One More Day to Have Your Say on 24 DCMR 5

DCRA_MAIN_LOGO The Great DC Food Truck Crisis of 2010 is coming to a head, people! What crisis, you say? Well, you've no doubt noticed your lunch options have gotten dramatically more diverse over the past year or so, and your afternoons more colorfully populated with mustachioed curry-men and bright pink cupcake mobiles. That would be the food truckers, and thanks partially to the growth of social networking, their numbers have grown exponentially.

But with growth comes growing pains. Existing laws concerning street vending pertain almost exclusively to stationary food carts, like the ubiquitous hot-dog stand, with a few safety standards for old-school ice cream trucks. These laws were put on the books at a time when mobile vendors of entire meals were not even a consideration. As such, there has been more than a little bit of head-butting and confusion, as the vendors stretch the existing laws to their limits, and local residents and businesses deal with the consequences.

On June 25th, the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs proposed legislation to deal with the problem, and to formally codify food trucks in their present incarnation into the city statutes. As is customary, DCRA has published the proposed law, and has solicited input from the public. Originally, the intended cut-off date for comments was yesterday, but response has been so dramatic that we've been given an additional day to have our say!

If you have thoughts on the issue, you have until 5:00 PM TONIGHT to give the DCRA a piece of your mind. If you would like to read the legislation yourself, all 64 pages are available here for your perusal. I'll give you a moment...

Pretty exciting stuff, huh? I scanned the document myself, and found it to be mostly incomprehensible, as I am rather dim, and not a lawyer. Best I can tell, the law intends to designate zones where the trucks may operate freely in specific spaces assigned by lottery, demarcate areas where they are prohibited altogether, and to keep them mobile everywhere in between, stopping only when flagged, and staying only so long as there is a queue.

Most area food truckers are very much in favor of the legislation, and one group got together to set up yesontitle24.com, urging Washingtonians to speak up on the legislation's behalf -- take a look, and if you agree, there is a form letter you can send to lend some support.

Alternatively, the RAMW has some issues with the legislation, and has issued some suggested alterations, which you may see here. They make some reasonable requests to my mind, like a minimum distance from sidewalk cafes and active restaurants, and clarification of some of the vague language.

Whether you side with the truckers, the restaurants, or your own best interests, remember, you only have till 5:00 PM tonight to put in your two cents. All comments should be addressed to Mr. Helder Gil of the DCRA. His email address and the official DCRA posting notice are listed at the bottom of this column.

If you have any strong feelings yourself, and would like to sway fellow readers into action, please post a comment and let us know what you think! I am still undecided myself, and would appreciate the input.

OFFICIAL NOTICE RE: 24 DCMR 5 

Helder Gil, Legislative Affairs Specialist
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1100 Fourth Street, SW, Room 5164
Washington, D.C. 20024

helder.gil@dc.gov


Dr. Granville Moore's: Best Beer Bar is Belgium on H Street

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Every bar is the same: four walls, one roof and booze to drink. What differentiates one from another, importantly, is the atmosphere inside.

A good bar will have a good atmosphere. The beer, the liquor, the food, all that's secondary. The people around you and the people serving you will determine whether you stay or you go.

Then again, sometimes you go because you're an idiot.

Halloween 2008, my buddy Columbo and I walked up to Dr. Granville Moore's from my old apartment on Capitol Hill. The Belgian restaurant looked as it always does: the low ceilings of exposed timber, the knotty wood bar backed by elegant beer cabinets and chalkboards advertising food specials and beer. Amongst it all was a hive of people feasting on mussels and emptying glasses of golden ales and Flemish reds.

66020001 What I remember most, though, was our bartender. Decked out in a little pink cowgirl hat and little jean shorts, she asked if we liked whiskey. We said "Yes ma'am," unhesitatingly. With that, the three of us and a waiter hanging out behind the bar shared a round of American bourbon ... gratis.

I loved it. A generous moment with strangers, free whiskey, and those short shorts. Man, those short shorts. Without a doubt, it was the highlight of the evening. Then we made the biggest mistake of the night, we left. The night was too young, so after a few beers and food, we decided to check out a couple other places. Nothing was as good. We peaked early and the rest of the night was a slow let down.

On a recent Saturday night, my wife and I stopped in for a beer. The hectic energy of the Halloween night was replaced by families and twenty-somethings drinking quads and dining on the signature mussels and fries. We sat at the downstairs bar between a couple guys pouring over pints and a punch bowl of fries, and a 10-year-old girl and her family having dinner.

Both nights were great.

I know I rant about families and food in bars. I still prefer my drinking establishments to be drinking establishments, not family-friendly eateries. But this is what a pub looks like in Europe, at least the ones I've visited. The Belgian gastropub may have been designed with New Orleans in mind, but the creaky floors, tight spaces and dim lighting give the H Street restaurant an appropriately older feel. It may be in Northeast, but it feels like Antwerp.

66020019 Again, that's just the trappings. Disney can get the trappings right. What seals it for Granville Moore's is the people on either side of the bar. Three years in, the place remains one of the most popular destinations along the increasingly crowded Atlas corridor. Certainly, some of the folks filling the booths and bar stools are tourists and Food Network fans hoping for a pot of Chef Teddy Folkman's (left) blue cheese mussels and maybe a glimpse of the man himself. But the rest, the bulk, are a healthy mix of neighborhood regulars and beer enthusiasts.

Assisting them all is a hurried group of servers and bartenders who are happy to take the time to sherpa you through the beer list, steering the wary toward the safe (Stella Artois) or the adventurous toward something new (St. Louis Gueuze), all the while getting jostled in their tight confines.

Before D.C. fell hard for craft beer, it was infatuated with the Belgians. In 2004, Bart Vandaele opened D.C.'s first Belgian restaurant, Belga Café, on Barrack's Row. Three years later, Dr. Granville Moore's and Brasserie Beck followed suit. And then came Marvin, Et Voila, Sur la Place, and now Mussel Bar in Bethesda.

Clearly, there are a lot of places to spend your money on Trappist ales and croque monsieur, but there's no better place to do so than Dr. Granville Moore's. This is a bit if a surprise if you consider that with the exception of Marvin, it's the only Belgian restaurant that isn't owned or affiliated with someone from Belgium. Yet, it's easily the best Belgian beer bar of the lot.

Joe Englert is a prolific bar and restaurant owner, who's responsible for several places along H Street, including The Argonaut, Palace of Wonders, The Rock and Roll Hotel, The Red and the Black, The Pug, Sticky Rice, and the H Street Country Club.

Englert's managing partner in Granville Moore's, Chris Surrusco, built the original beer list and recruited his college buddy, Teddy Folkman, who was running the kitchen at Balducci's and had no experience with Belgian cuisine.

Keeping the theme going, Granville Moore's new beverage director, Matt LeBarron (sitting next to Teddy), grew up in Annapolis working in his parents' butcher shop. Aside from talking his father into stocking a few Belgian beers, LeBarron had no experience with Belgian beer before Granville Moore's. After working as a host and server for six months, LeBarron was given the keys to the beer cabinets and told to update the beverage program.

If you know anything about Belgian beer, you know that developing a beer list can be difficult. First, most people don't know much about Belgian beer. Second, there are hundreds of styles of beers produced by hundreds of breweries in a country about the size of Maryland. Add to that the growing number of American craft breweries that make Belgian-style beers and you have and bewildering variety of beers to build a list from.

66020011 So far, LeBarron's approach is to keep the core list of 40 or so bottles intact, keep the seven taps rotating at a break-neck pace (with the exception of Stella, the beers change multiple times per week) and add more than a dozen 750ml bottles and branch out into French ciders and meads. In the next several months, he hopes to double the bottle selection (a daunting challenge seeing that he already stores cases of beer in the dining room). LeBarron has instituted training classes for the staff and he's hosting beer dinners that bring Folkman out of the tiny kitchen and into the crowded dining room.

Above all else, though, LeBarron's job is to keep the customers happy. Case in point: if you don't like your beer, you can send it back, even the wine-bottle sized 750s. This doesn't mean much if you're dealing with a $3 Coors, but when it's a $16 Rochefort that's a nice touch. LeBarron said he'd rather replace the beer and eat the cost then have someone go away unhappy. And the thing about Belgian beers, it's easy to drop $20 on a beer you'll hate.

For example, just because you like the sweet clove flavors of a Delirium Tremens doesn't mean you'll enjoy the face-puckering qualities of a Monk's Café Flemish Sour. A Poperings Hommel farmhouse ale might look like a Gouden Carolus tripel, but it sure doesn't taste like it.

To minimize the buybacks, LeBarron and the bartenders will warn customers about what to expect, especially if someone is transitioning from a pint of Hoegaarden to a bottle of Duchesse de Bourgogne (they're very different). But if it's a sour you want, it's a sour you'll get.

Despite the complexity of Belgian beers and the proliferation of American craft beer bars in the area, Belgian restaurants are as popular as ever. On weekends, you can still face an hour wait for a table at Granville Moore's. Robert Wiedmaier, who opened the Belgian-themed Brasserie Beck in 2007, is drawing crowds to his newly opened Mussel Bar in Bethesda.

Folkman chalks up the popularity to the fact that the District is a city of transplants, many of whom are open to new experiences. D.C. residents are also a traveling bunch, so it's not unusual for someone to come into Granville Moore's looking for a beer or a meal they enjoyed in Brussels.

Whatever the reason, places like Granville Moore's and Belga Café set the stage for the American craft beer craze now thriving in D.C. Belgian beer gave us a foundation to build on, an identity. As with any trend, craft beer and Belgian beer will eventually surrender the floor to the next big thing. When that time comes, it will be the quality of the service, the loyalty of the regulars, the atmosphere that will keep a place like Granville Moore's alive.

As long as Folkman and LeBarron keep doing what they're doing, Granville Moore's will be just fine.

That's not to say there aren't a few things to nit pick.

66020013 First, LeBarron does need to expand the beer list. What they have is good, but with so many Belgian beers available, the list could be many times larger. I'm not suggesting adding 200 labels, but LeBarron needs to find room for another 40 to 60, even if that means Englert rents them some off-site storage. That would put them in the same range as Brasserie Beck, arguably their chief rival.

That expansion could include a few more Belgian-style beers made here in the states. Had LeBarron kept the beer list Belgian only, I'd be fine with it being Belgian only. But he opened it up to the Americans, so he should take the opportunity to further explore what's available. The handful of American offerings seems unduly small. Organizing them on their own beer list or chalkboard would also help customers differentiate between what's made in Belgium and what's inspired by Belgium.

And how about some signage out front? Obviously, Granville Moore's doesn't have a problem drawing customers, but I've walked by that beige row house numerous times without realizing it. I now use The Pug next door to let me know when I've arrived. I'm all for preserving Dr. Moore's legacy, but I think he'd be fine with dangling a shingle out front.

Score: 15 of 20 (beer: 6 of 8, atmosphere: 4 of 5, bartenders: 4 of 5, other elements 1 of 2)

The Best Beer Bars so far: The Black Squirrel (16 of 20)  Birreria Paradiso (17 of 20), The Galaxy Hut (16 of 20), Franklin's (14 of 20), and Rustico (16 of 20), Lost Dog Café (12 of 20). And don't miss our special feature on D.C.'s best German bars.

(Bonus!: New to Belgian beer and not sure what to order at Granville Moore's? LeBarron says you should consider a Houblon, a hoppy triple that he describes as "Belgian candy," a Saison Dupont, a cloudy gold farmhouse ale with a crisp, dry flavor, or the malty and robust Maredsous 8. If you don't like one of these, you don't like Belgian beer.)


Grilled Quail and Beer by Ferran Adria (hint: one is better than the other)

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There are a million recipes, but when it comes to weekend grilling, most of us fall back on the familiar: beef, chicken, pork and fish.

Even with the variety of ways to prepare these protean staples, they can get a little redundant. So every now and then it pays to branch out. In this case, I'm getting quail.

Unless you hunt, the only time most of us encounter quail is in white table cloth restaurants. They're a nice alternative to chicken, though due to the fact that they're all dark meat, quail are closer in flavor to duck (not quite as rich). What I especially like about quail, though, is that I don't have to share.

DSCN5522 There's just something about devouring an entire animal (and its friend) in a sitting. Staring down at the pile of bits and bones, whether they be fish or fowl, it's pleasing in a primitive sort of way. If you must, you can eat quail with a knife and fork, but the birds are small enough to necessitate getting your fingers dirty.

That's when you're really in the spirit of things. Pulling the meat from the bone as warm fat, olive oil and lemon season your fingers, it's a moment more backyard than brasserie. And that's why I decided to pick up a few of the small birds from Market Poultry.

The diminutive size of the birds also means you're not going to be spending all afternoon at the grill. But because of the haute connection, it's a dish that impresses.

I don't want to spend a whole lot of time messing with the quail, so I dress them simply with olive oil and grilled lemon. Like I said, the bird is all dark meat, which is rich and flavorful. Why get in the way of that?

Keeping with the Mediterranean theme, I served the quail with warm pita and tabouli salad, both of which I bought. Seriously, I'm keeping it simple.

DSCN5525 To accompany the meal, I picked up a bottle of Inedit, made by the Spanish brewery S.A. Damm for none other than famed Spanish chef Ferran Adrià. Adrià put molecular gastronomy on the map and his restaurant el Bulli has produced such chefs as Denmark's René Redzepi and our very own José Andrés.

Despite Adrià's culinary success, I was skeptical about the beer. Adrià is known for his skill in the kitchen, his culinary vision and his very exclusive restaurant in Catalonia, Spain. The only thing he exports to the world is talented chefs. The beer seems like something dreamed up by marketers and accountants to take advantage of the popularity of craft beer. It's made by a brewery that's best known for its popular lager, Estrella, and partially owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a corporate behemoth better known for hostile takeovers than quality beer.

Frankly, Adrià's beer seems like a gimmick, but I don't know for what. Is it meant to draw attention to a restaurant none of us will visit or a chef that none of us will meet? If you visit Inedit's Website (yes, it has it's own Website), you can find tasting notes, instructions on how to serve it (thus the white wine glass), and a series of incredibly pretentious videos in multiple languages.

On the other hand, the 750 ml bottle of Inedit was $10 at Whole Foods, so the price alone makes it worth trying.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that the beer wasn't a traditional light lager. The Spanish love beer, but they primarily drink pale lagers. Inedit is more of a witbier, equally refreshing in hot climates like Spain, but more popular in Belgium and the U.S. According to the fancy booklet tied to the bottle, the beer is a lager/wheat blend. The 4.8 percent beer pours a cloudy straw color. It's crisp, a little sweet, with a faint orange peel flavor. For a $10 beer, it's good.

DSCN5515 But that's the thing. It's just good. Why would one of the most respected chefs in the world go out of his way to put his name on a beer that's just ok? If it's a first step toward a few tapas joints in Barcelona, then I'm not sure I'd want such a pedestrian beer to be my flagship. In one of the promotional videos, Adrià says Inedit fills a need for a proper beer to accompany food. That's ridiculous, of course. The variety of traditional Eurpean and American craft beers being made today - including Belgian witte beers - more than fills whatever gap Adrià and S.A. Damm allege.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good beer. But when Ferran Adrià produces a beer, you expect something great. On the other hand, it's $10 a bottle, and that's the important thing. Ignore the self-important black and white photo on the dangling brochure, ignore the pedigree, and just enjoy a good beer at a good price. Because once you start thinking more about it, it only gets worse.

Grilled lemon quail
(Makes four servings)

DSCN5505 8 semi-boneless quail, two per person
1 lemon, halved
4 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pita bread
Tabouli salad (optional)

This is a very fast recipe. The birds take 10 minutes to cook, so you'll probably spend more time getting the grill ready.

DSCN5514 As you're heating up your grill, pull the quail out of refrigerator and season both sides of the birds with salt and pepper and two tablespoons of olive oil. Grill the birds directly over the hottest part of grill for five minutes per side with the lid down. Grill the lemon halves for the full 10 minutes slightly off the hot spot.

Remove, dress with the hot lemon juice, remaining olive oil and balsamic, and eat ... with your hands.


Recession Refreshment: Alandra Tinto e Branco

Whoa. Last week was a rough one for the ol' economy, huh? And things were looking so good for awhile there... Sorry your houses are worthless and your retirements' are shot and you don't have jobs, America. How about a cheap drink? Don't reach for the Night Train just yet; I got another pair of great ones for ya.

So I love Portuguese Wines. And fortunately for me, no one else does! For a country that has historically been in the top 10 by production and acreage under vine, Vinho Verde notwithstanding, Portugal is pretty poorly represented on American shelves. This is partly because of Port, of course; the vast amount of Portugal's exports consist of these big beautiful fortified wines. The Portuguese also consume an incredible amount of their own wine. When I was over there, it was pretty well impossible to find a bottle of wine that wasn't home grown. But really, the demand is just not there, which absolutely sucks for selection, but is a boon for pricing.

AlandraWHITE The large Portuguese wine firm Esperao produces a fine range of wines, and I just recently came across their value brand, Alandra, at Potomac Wine and Spirits. Alandra is apparently named for a Moorish princess, with whom a Portguese governor was in love, and the flowers she gave him when they parted ways forever.... or something. It's quite confusing. Esporao's website is really poorly translated, and this ancient, convoluted love story (you can read the rest here) is pretty much all the information they are willing to give up about these wines.

I tried Googling "Alandra," and all I got was an online hen-party shop in Great Britian ("Racing Willies"?! Ack!). Lets just assume that both the red and the white are made with the usual array of unpronouncable native varietals, and take the back label's word that they are "made with love and with yearning, smooth and eternal like the nameless flower which blooms every year in memory of an eternal love."

The Alandra white pours a pale straw yellow with green accents. Lemon and lime notes dominate the nose, with a slightly grassy tinge, and a hint of something creamy. Lots of yellow fruit like apple, pear and pineapple on the front of this very lightly sweet, slightly effervescent wine, which has a surprisingly round and creamy texture. The finish is slightly woody and dry, with a nice acidic citrus zing.

AlandraRED The Alandra red has a beautiful deep, opaque garnet color. The nose is characteristically meaty and gamey, but also redolent of cinnamon and dried berries; very concentrated, and almost port-like. More concentrated berries on the palate with a bit of a musky note. The wine has a quite a bit of tannin considering its light frame, and plenty of tangy acid on the finish.

Both wines are unusually complex, particular given their respective prices, with the red running $5.99 a bottle, and the white an amazing $4.99! American's have grown accustomed to their cheap wines being fruity and sweet, but bland. If you want something a bit more interesting in your everyday drinker, check these iconoclasts out. I know they are carried by Potomac Wine and Spirits, but if you have a favorite local retailer, have them check out the importer Aidil Wines & Liquors, and see what they can do.


Escape the Heat: Ceviche

Therm People can be squeamish about fish.  I used to work in the seafood department of a supermarket and frequently fielded such head-shaking questions as, "Does it smell like fish?" or my favorite, from a woman standing in front of a tank of lively rainbow trout, "Are they fresh?"

Don't fear the fish.

The truth is fish are among the most versatile, healthy and easy to cook proteins available to us.  Grill it, fry it, poach it, flash-cook it -- it's quite hard to screw it up.  Hell, you can even stick it in the oven still frozen and have it turn out great.  But it's hot, it's humid, and it's DC, so we're all about no-heat meals right now.  Which brings us to the next Escape the Heat recipe:  Ceviche.

Technically, ceviche is not cooked, per se, because the process doesn't use heat.  But the citric acid marinade denatures the proteins in the fish enough to change the texture and appearance.  Read this for a brief but more comprehensive explanation of this process, along with some alternatives if you're still a little undecided about raw fish.  If you'd like to try ceviche professionally prepared before attempting it on your own, I highly recommend Oyamel, which serves some fantastic varieties.

Your basic components are fish, acid and seasonings:

Fish 

Use a firm fin- or shellfish, the freshest you can find.  Tuna, mahi mahi, snapper, grouper.  I like wild salmon, such as sockeye, sliced thin.  For shellfish, scallops, shrimp and crab all work well.  Or any combination of these.

Cut or slice the fish in bite-size pieces.  If the shrimp are small, shell and tail them and leave them whole.  Scallops may be sliced or chopped.  If you use a combination of fish, just make sure they're uniform in size, since they're all "cooking" together. Ceviche

Acid

Lime juice is key.  (Again with the limes!  I can't say it enough:  a well-stocked summer kitchen needs a lot of limes!)  Some people also use lemon and/or orange juice, or a combination of the three.  How much?  For about a pound of fish, you'll need at least a 1/4 cup of juice, maybe a little more.

Seasonings

Onions:  usually red, maybe shallots, too, if you like. One onion should do it.

Cilantro:  a good-sized handful, chopped, with stems.  Then add some more.

Jalapenos, one or two, minced, with the pith and seeds if you like heat, without if you don't.

Sea salt, to taste.

Other options:  tomatoes or tropical juicy fruit like pineapple, mango, papaya.  It's really hard to screw up the ratios, so if you feel like being more liberal with the onions or jalapenos, go for it.  The only ingredient you need to make sure you have enough of is the citrus juice.

Method

Mix the lime juice with the seasonings , or grind the seasonings first in a mortar and pestle (or my version:  a Pyrex measuring cup and the handle-end of a citrus reamer) if you want to really bring out the flavors before mixing them into the juice.  Spoon a little of the mixture in the bottom of a nonreactive baking dish (i.e. glass, ceramic or Pyrex), layer the fish on top and add the rest of the juice/seasonings.  If you're using a small dish, layer it like lasagna, alternating between fish and juice.  The fish does not need to be swimming in the marinade, or even completely covered, although you will need to turn it partway through the cooking time to ensure all fish has contact with the juice.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and store it in your fridge. 

So how long do you let it marinate?  It depends on the size of the fish, but a couple of hours will do it.  You'll notice a whitening of the fish as it "cooks," or in the case of already-white fish, an opaqueness will develop.

Do not let it sit for too long, however, because it is possible to overcook it, which renders it tough and chewy, just like if you used too much heat.

Serve it up!

Ceviche2The easiest method is to simply serve it in a bowl.  If you want to be authentic, toss in a handful of popped popcorn.   But ceviche also makes great tacos:  fill a corn taco shell with a little shredded cabbage or lettuce, sliced avocado, maybe some fresh corn, too?

Provide your version in the comments:  what's your favorite fish?  What ingredients do you use?  How do you like to serve it?


2010 Summer DC Restaurant Week Menus

Every DC Restaurant Week, we at DC Foodies take on the grueling task of gathering up all the restaurants' menus and posting them here to save our readers time and heartache. To this list of menus is as comprehensive as we can make it. We search through web sites, contact PR people and restaurant managers, and even call the restaurants directly if we have to. For some restaurants, we don't ever get a response or call back, but I think that says a lot for how eager some restaurants are to participate in DC Restaurant Week. 

(This list is not yet complete, but I want to get it up regardless so you all can start to make plans.) Keep checking back. I'll leave comments and post on Twitter/Facebook as I make updates. So be sure the follow/friend me!)

Click here to see which restaurants are extending DC Restaurant Week for Summer 2010. 

15 Ria - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

1789 - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu
Dessert Menu

1905 - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

2941 - Lunch Only
2941 is offering their Restaurant Week 
Download 2941 Restaurant Week August 16-20 for the entire month of August. 

701 Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
701 Restaurant's menus for lunch and dinner are on their web site at 701Restaurant.com. Click on "Events" and "Restaurant Week".

Acadiana - Lunch and Dinner
Acadiana's lunch and dinner menu can be found here for DC Restaurant Week.

Againn DC - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and dinner menus are 
here.

Ardeo - Dinner Only
Ardeo's dinner menu is available on their
web site
. Click on the Restaurant Week link on the home page to view it.

Argia's - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menu

Art and Soul - Lunch and Dinner
Art and Soul is extending restaurant week until the August 29th! Their 
menus are available here

Asia Nine - Lunch and Dinner
Details about what Asia Nine is offering for DC Restaurant Week are
on their web site. Asia Nine has extended DC Restaurant Week the from August 5 through August 29.

B. Smiths - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menu

Bangkok Joes - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menu

Bastille - Dinner Only
Basille is extending DC Restaurant Week an additional week until the 28th! Here is their 
menu

Bibiana - Lunch and Dinner
Bibiana's menus are posted on their web site
here.

Birch and Barley - Dinner Only
Birch and Barley
offers diners the option of adding three 6oz beer pairings to match each course, for an additional $16 per personTheir dinner menu is here. 

Bistro Bis - Lunch and Dinner
Bistro Bis has their menus posted on their web site. Click on "Menus" and select "Other Menus".

Bistro Bistro DC - Lunch and Dinner
Their menu is posted on their web site.

Bistrot Lepic - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

BlackSalt - Lunch Only
Lunch Menu

Bombay Club - Lunch and Dinner
Menu coming soon at
www.bombayclubdc.com.

Bourbon Steak - Lunch Only
Lunch Menu

Cafe Atlantico - Lunch and Dinner
Cafe Atlantico is extending Restaurant Week an additional week.
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Cafe Dupont - Lunch and Dinner
Cafe Dupont is extending their DC Restaurant Week offering until the 17th. Their menus are available 
here.

Cafe Du Parc - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch
Tomato Gazpacho, Micro Celery and Croutons or House-made Country Pâté, Pickled vegetables, Mustard and Country Bread or Organic Mixed Green, Balsamic Vinaigrette and Fresh herbs

Roasted Organic Chicken, Mashed Potato, Chicken jus or Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon, Summer vegetables, Tomato Basil Broth

Chocolate Éclair or Strawberry Tart

Dinner
Tomato Gazpacho, Micro Celery and Croutons Or House-made Country Pâté, Pickled vegetables, Mustard and Country Bread Or Crisp Romaine hearts, Shaved Parmesan, Caesar dressing

Roasted Hanger steak, Hand cut French fries, Lemon Parsley butter Or Pan seared Scallops, Fresh Tagliatelles, Wild mushrooms sauce

Apple Tart Or Pistachio Crème Brulee

Cafe Berlin - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menus are on their web site.

Cafe Milano - Lunch Only
Lunch menu is on their web site. Click on the menu link in the lower right side of the home page.

Cafe Promenade - Lunch and Dinner
Cafe Promenade has their menus posted on their web site, however, please notice that they're not validating parking during Restaurant Week and day parking is $25!

Cafe Soleil - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

The Caucus Room - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menu

Ceiba - Lunch and Dinner
Ceiba's lunch and dinner menu can be found 
here for DC Restaurant Week. For those of your that don't know, my dogs name is Ceiba too. 

Chef Geoff's Downtown and New Mexico Ave Locations, Lias - Lunch and Dinner
Chef Geoff's and Lia's offer their full menu for DC Restaurant Week. Their latest menus can be found on their web sites. 

Charlie Palmer Steak  - Lunch and Dinner
Please note that Charlie Palmer Steak is only participating in DC Restaurant Week the 17th through the 20th. Their menu for Restaurant Week is on their web site here.

Co Co. Sala - Dinner Only
Their extending an additional week until the 26th. Their dinner menu during DC Restaurant Week is
here.

Coeur de Lion - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

DC Coast - Lunch and Dinner
Visit the
DCCoast.com web site to see their menu. It's under the "Upcoming Events" link, and scroll to see the menu.

Dino - Dinner Only
As usual, Dino is participating in DC Restaurant Week for the entire month! Plus, they also are offering their "Wine Madness" program all month, where you can take 33% off all wines over $50. Take advantage of this deal! 
Their DC Restaurant Week menu will also include a trio of treats to start: crostino, soup shooter and devilled egg, plus a chocolate truffle and house infused grappa to finish.

District Grill - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Darlington House - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

Domaso Trattoria - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

Eatonville - Lunch and Dinner
According to their twitter feed, Eatonville is offering their full menu for DC Restaurant Week. Check it out on there web site.

Eola - Dinner Only
Eola's dinner menu is available on their web site.

Extra Virgin - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Fire and Sage - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Firefly - Lunch, Brunch, and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Brunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Fourth Estate at the National Press Club - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

Georgia Brown's - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

Geranio - Lunch and Dinner
Geranio is offering the same thing for Alexandia Restaurant Week (the following week) as it is for DC Restaurant Week.
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

The Greenhouse at the Jefferson - Lunch Only
Lunch Menu

The Grille at Morrison House - Dinner Only
Appetizer options include an 
heirloom tomato gazpacho with blue crab, watermelon, and cucumber, a salade du Marché with Path Valley greens, baby carrots, cucumber, radish, grilled asparagus, marinated grape tomatoes, brûleéd goat’s cheese, and herb vinaigrette and braised Kurobuta pork cheek, served with brown sugar bacon, charred frisée, and roasted shallots. Entrées feature bouillabaisse with cobia, clams, mussels, tomato-saffron water and saffron aioli, braised boneless beef short rib, with carrot purée, pea purée, braised Cipollini onion and carrots, braised veal breast with glazed root vegetables, pommes mousseline, and morel mushroom jus, steak frites with grilled flank steak, fries and Cashel blue cheese butter, and mussel frites with Maine blue mussels steamed in white wine with house cut fries. Dessert options feature a warm peach cake with crème fraîche, peach compote and caramel sauce, milk chocolate pot de crème, and summer squash made with grilled zucchini bread with sweet crème fraîche, mint purée, and strawberry compote. 

Grillfish DC - Lunch and Dinner
Grillfish is participating in DC Restaurant Week the entire month of August. The details of what they're offering is on their web site.

Harry's Tap Room - Lunch and Dinner
Harry's Tap Room in Clarendon is donating $5 for every dinner purchased during DC Restaurant Week to DC Central Kitchen.
Here is their menu.

Hook Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Hudson Restaurant - Lunch, Brunch, Dinner
Lunch Menu
Brunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Ici Urban Bistro - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner menus

Indigo Landing - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menus

Indique - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

Indique Heights - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

J&G Steakhouses - Lunch and Dinner
J&G is extending restaurant week until the 29th! Their menu is not posted yet.

Jackson 20 - Lunch and Dinner
Offering their fill 
Lunch and Dinner Menu. They're participating in Alexandria Restaurant Week as well, which is the following week. 

J. Gilbert's Wood Fired Steaks and Seafood - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menus

Juniper Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch
Juniper Salad - Baby Arugula, Proscuito, Local Figs, Organic Tomatoes, Sherry Vinaigrette
Courtyard Chopped Salad - Mixed Greens, Tomato, Cucumber, Tarragon and Local Peach Dressing
Chesapeake Bay Crab Chowder - Yukon Gold Potatoes, Old Bay Cracker

Arugula, Vidalia Onion and Potato Quiche - Appalachian Cheese, Courtyard Chopped Salad
Grilled Organic Chicken Club Sandwich - Aged Cheddar, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Sun Dried Tomato Mayonnaise
Locally Caught Rockfish and Vegetable Ciopppino - Humingbird Farms Tomatoes, Taggliatelle Pasta, Fennel

Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sundae
Iced Raspberry Cheesecake
Apricot Crisp, Honey Praline Ice Cream

Dinner
Soup of the Day - Inspired by Neighborhood Farmer’s Market Offerings
Juniper Salad - Baby Arugula, Proscuito, Local Figs, Organic Tomatoes , Sherry Vinaigrette
Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella - Courtyard Basil, Fennel Seed Crisp, Grape Reduction

Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes - Corn and Potato Succotash, Organic Mache, Mustard and Dill Aioli
Pancetta Wrapped Organic Chicken Breast - Iroquois Corn Cake, Charred Local Peppers and Sweet Corn
Pineland Farms Natural Beef Short Rib - New Garlic Whipped Potatoes, Courtyard Herb Pesto, Watercress Salad

Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sundae
Iced Raspberry Cheesecake
Apricot Crisp, Honey Praline Ice Cream

Kellari DC - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

Kemble Park Tavern - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

La Bergerie - Lunch and Dinner
La Bergerie is also participating in Alexandria Restaurant Week, the week following DC Restaurant Weekwith the same menus.  
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

La Chaumiere - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

La Tasca - Lunch and Dinner
La Tasca does unlimited tapas during Restaurant Week. 

La Porta's - Lunch and Dinner
La Porta's is extending DC Restaurant Week until August 29th. No word yet on the menu they are offering to diners.

La Sandia - Lunch and Dinner
La Sandia is offering their full menu for lunch and dinner.
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Lavandou - Lunch and Dinner
Lavandou is extending DC restaurant week until August 29th.  Their menus are on their web site now.

Lebanese Taverna DC and Tysons - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

The Liberty Tavern - Lunch and Dinner
Liberty Tavern is offering their full menu. See their latest menus on their web site.

Lima - Dinner Only
Lima is offering their full menu for 

Logan Tavern - Dinner Only
Logan Tavern is participating the entire month of August. Details of what their offering for DC Restaurant week are here.

Masa 14 - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

Marrakesh Palace - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menus are on their web site

Me Jana - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menus

Mie N Yu - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menus are available on their web site here.

Mio - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

The Monocle Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Morrison-Clark Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Mortons - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Nage - Lunch and Dinner
Nage is doing DC Restaurant Week the entire month of August. Details about what they're offering can be found on their web site.

New Heights Restaurant - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

Neyla - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu

Occidental Grill - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu

Odeon Cafe - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner menus are on their web site.

Open Kitchen - Dinner Only

Appetizers

Summer Vegetable Soup Refreshed with Pistou and Shaved Truffles or 

Herb and Garlic Mussels, or 

Tomato, Zucchini, Cheese and Herb Tart

Entrees

Bouillabaisse or 

Grilled Lamb Chops with Garlic Jus and Ratatouille or 

Risotto with Wild Mushrooms, Leeks and Truffles or St

uffed Chicken Wallet 

Desserts

Cantaloupe Carpaccio, Pistachio Crusted Goat Cheese and Port Syrup or 

Salt-Crusted Pineapple with Fresh Ginger Ice Cream and an Orange, Vanilla, Grand Marnier Syrup or 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart

Oval Room - Lunch and Dinner
Oval Room has their menu posted on their web site. Click on "Events" and then "Restaurant Week August 2010".

Oya - Lunch and Dinner
Oya's menu for DC Restaurant Week is on their web site here.

Oyamel - Lunch and Dinner
Oyamel is extending DC Restaurant Week an additional week until August 29th.
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Panache Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner menus are posted on their web site.

PassionFish - Lunch and Dinner
PassionFish's lunch and dinner menu can be found 
here for DC Restaurant Week.

Perry's - Dinner Only
Perry's is extending DC Restaurant Week until August 31. Details about there menu can be found on their web site here.

Pesce - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Poste - Lunch and Dinner
Guests can choose from seasonal menu items like heirloom tomato gazpacho with dijon mustard ice cream, marcona almond and heirloom carrot salad with golden raisins and verjus, summer vegetable crepês with faro, corn, chanterelles, summer bean salad, goat cheese, and wood grilled capretto with Anson Mills polenta, sweet corn, and chanterelles. Dessert features a house-made market cobbler with choice of nectarine or blueberry and crème fraîche sorbet.

Primi Piatti - Lunch and Dinner
Primi Piatti tell me they're extending through the end of August. 
Lunch and Dinner Menus.

PS 7's - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Redwood - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Restaurant 3 - Lunch and Dinner
Restaurant 3 is offering their full menu for lunch and dinner and extending until August 29th.

Ris - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner menus are on their web site here.

Ristorante Piccolo - Lunch and Dinner
Extending DC Restaurant Week until August 29th. 
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Rosa Mexicano - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Sam and Harry's - Lunch and Dinner
Sam and Harry's is participating in lunch and dinner. For Dinner, you have three choices ranging in cost from $35.10 to $55.10. Their menus are
here.

SEI Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menu

Sonoma - Lunch and Dinner
Sonoma is offering their full menu with a few exclusions. Their menu can be found here. Sonoma is also extending DC Restaurant Week until August 26th.

Sou'Wester - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Stone's Throw Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Tagolio Pizzeria & Enoteca - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menus

Tallula - Dinner Only
Tallula is offering their full menu for DC Restaurant Week. Guests can order anything from the "Firsts," "Salads," or appetizer portion of "Pasta" as their first course. For the second course, they can order any of the entrees or full portions of pasta, and any dessert for the third course. The only dishes excluded from the promotion are the cheeses, charcuteries and sides. See their current menu 
here and here.

Teatro Goldoni - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner Menus

TenPenh - Lunch and Dinner
TenPenh's lunch and dinner menu can be found
here for DC Restaurant Week.

Tony & Joe's Seafood Place - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner menus

Tosca - Dinner Only
Tosca is always a good choice for Restaurant Week. They always offer their full menu and they're one of the better Italian restaurants in the city. Check out their menu here.

Trummers on Main - Dinner Only
Dinner menu is on their web site here. 

Tuscana West - Lunch and Dinner
Extending DC Restaurant Week until August 29th. 
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Urbana - Lunch and Dinner
Offering their full lunch and dinner menus. Check their latest menus on their
web site.

Vermilion - Lunch, Brunch, Dinner
Lunch Menu
Brunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Vidalia - Lunch and Dinner
Vidalia has their menus posted on their web site. Click on "Menus" and select "Other Menus".

Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Vinoteca Wine Bar - Dinner Only
Vinoteca is also offering a wine pairing with their Restaurant Week menu for $25.
Dinner Menu

Wildfire Tysons - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

Willow - Lunch and Dinner
Willow is extending Restaurant Week until August 28th. They're lunch and dinner menus are on their web site.

Zaytinya - Lunch and Dinner
Extending DC Restaurant Week an extra week until August 29th.
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu 

Zengo - Lunch and Dinner
For lunch, Zengo is offering one of their Bento Boxes. See the list here.
For dinner, Zengo is offering their full regular menu. See their menu here.

Zentan - Dinner Only
Dinner Menu 

Zest - Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner menus are here.


Restaurants Extending DC Restaurant Week for Summer 2010

For those of you that waited too long to make your restaurant week reservations, you'll be happy to know that many restaurants extend DC Restaurant Week for an additional week or even participate the entire month! Here is the list of extensions that we have so far. We'll be updating this as more information comes in. Make sure you pay attention to this list when you're making reservations! We also post the menus of the restaurants that participate in DC Restaurant Week (Coming Soon!) so you don't run into any surprises when you arrive at the restaurant and find out they're only offering a small selection of their menu. To Happy dining everyone!! 

2941 - Offering their lunch menu the entire month of August.

Dino - Offering their full menu for Restaurant Week the entire month of August and "Wine Madness" where you can take 33% off any wine over $50. 

Adour at the St. Regis - August 17 to August 28

Art and Soul - August 16 through August 29

Asia Nine - August 5 through August 29

Bombay Club - August 16 through August 29

Cafe Atlantico - August 16 through August 29

Cafe Dupont - August 16 through August 27

Cafe Saint Ex - August 16 through August 29

Cedar Restaurant - August 16 through August 28

Co Co. Sala - August 16 through August 26

Grillfish DC - Entire month of August

J&G Steakhouses - August 16 through August 29

La Bergerie - August 16 through 29th

La Porta's - August 16 through August 29

Lavendou - August 16 through August 29

Lima - August 16 through August 29

Logan Tavern - Entire month of August.

Nage - Entire Month of August

Occidental Grill and Seafood - August 16 through 26

Oyamel - August 16 through 29

Perry's - August 16 through 31

Policy - August 16 to August 29

Primi Piatti - August 16 through August 31

Restaurant 3 - August 16 through August 29

Ristorante Piccolo - August 16 through August 29

Sonoma - August 16 through August 26

Sushi-Ko - August 16 through August 29 

Trummer's on Main - August 16 through 26

Tuscana West - August 16 through August 29

Willow - August 16th through August 28

Zaytinya - August 16 through August 29

Zola - August 16 through August 29


Must Haves: Lost Dog's Surf 'N Turf Sandwich

DSCN5475
Must Haves focuses on some of D.C.'s best dishes.

If I'm hungry in Arlington, there's a 50-50 chance I'm heading over to Lost Dog. If I'm hungry in Lost Dog, it's damn near certain that I'm ordering the Surf 'N Turf.

The name alone is enticing enough to order the sandwich. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, bad about the idea of eating beef and seafood (screw peas and carrots, this is the perfect pairing). These days, the classic high-end meal has been replaced by fussy tasting menus and foamed foie gras, but in our great steak houses surf and turf remains a throw-back luxury. Let's face it, if you're ordering The Palm's 24 ounce rib eye with a side of lobster tail, things are going well for you.

DSCN5482 The Lost Dog's take on the surf and turf is nearly as good at a fraction of the price. The steak is replaced by roast beef and lump crab meat fills in for the lobster, but we're still talking about a roast beef and lump crab meat sandwich. Lost Dog tops the whole thing with a plank of brie, and I always tack on spinach and tomatoes (I like spinach and tomatoes, and the vegetables makes me feel better about the brie and mayo ... and waffle fries).

The sandwich is then rolled though the oven so it shows up hot and crusty. A liberal dousing of Tabasco and I'm good to go.

The Lost Dog has 52 sandwiches, 31 pizzas, 13 salads and a handful of soups and appetizers on its crowded menu. In the dozen years I've been going to Lost Dog, I've covered much of the menu and most of it's good (cheese pizzas and veggie sandwiches just don't do it for me). But from the many, I have found the one: the Surf 'N Turf sandwich.

(While you're there, order a beer with your Surf 'N Turf. After all, the Lost Dog is one of D.C.'s best beer bars.)