Cleveland Park

Early Dino Dinner

I was happy to see that Dino is still pounding out good food when we dropped in for an early dinner on Friday night. It was a few months since we dropped in so I didn't mind ordering some of my usual favorites like the hearty Pappardelle ai Cinghiale, or Aglio (roasted garlic) which Amy refers to as Washington DC's Dish Most Worth Missing Out On A Goodnight Kiss, but we also tried a couple of the "newer" dishes like the three-cheese polenta with baccala (salt cod) and the Zucca Ripieno, a magnificent vegetarian dish that's basically a hollowed out squash filled with a hearty winter veggie hash. Oh, and it also came with the creamy three-cheese polenta on the side.

My favorite thing that night was not something we ate, but was the bottle of Marchese Dei Gresy Nebbiolo that we drank with dinner. Slightly spicy flavors were complimented by a nice smooth finish similar to that of a Pinot Noir. I find that whenever I delve deep into the wine book at Dino, I leave even more impressed with the wine selection.

A great meal at a great price with friendly service. What else can you ask for?

Palena - Epiphanies can be Motherf**kers

Thursday night, I think I finally got Palena.

For the first time while dining at Palena's more casual bar, I was completely fullfilled and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that my friend and I ordered the chicken and dessert. In my prior trips to Palena I always left hungry and wanting more.

Our dinner started out fairly uneventful.

Some wine and beer.

(complaint #1 - no beers on tap. Don't they call this Palena Bar?)

Bread and butter.

(complaint #2 - Is it so hard to leave butter out for a little bit before bringing it to the table? Major pet peeve of mine)

(end complaints)

Our first course consisted of the Palena fries and nettle gnocchi. As usual the gnocchi, on a bed of butter and cheese and mixed with fava beans, had its pillowy-soft texture which I crave daily and use as a basis for comparison whenever I eat gnocchi anywhere. The Palena fries were, well...fries. The fried lemon slices were especially good in the spicy "mayonnaise" that came with them on the side. When we were done, my friend and I were like, "Yeah, that was pretty good. Next course."

After a little wait, our entrees came out. My brined organic chicken looked like it had been tossed in a fire for 30 seconds and taken out. It had this charred (but not burnt) look to it and was fairly crispy on the outside. I smelled aromas that reminded me of the tandoori chicken that you'd find at an Indian restaurant -- but didn't look anything like it. However, it was 50x better than any chicken I'd ever tasted. Perhaps the tandoori chicken thought popped into my head because my friend and I were talking about Indian food just before the food was brought over to the table, but there are definitely Indian spices in this chicken -- cardamon, curry, etc. The moans coming from my mouth were enough to convince my vegetarian friend to try it himself.

I had just a little taste of my friend's pappardelle primavera (sans pancetta) to tell me that I should continue eating my chicken. While it was good, it didn't hold a candle to my chicken and I felt bad for my dining companion -- which brings me to my next point. Palena's menu (at least this version of the bar menu) isn't terribly vegetarian friendly. While I'm not one to usually sympathize with the plight of the dining vegetarian, I felt kind of bad for dragging my vegetarian friend to Palena. Perhaps this is an issue everywhere though.

(OK, maybe that's half a complaint as well)

Our meal still hadn't peaked. When it came time to order dessert, I knew we had to get some due to the pastry chef being Ann Amernick. One look at the menu and my friend and I knew we had to order the goat cheesecake. "Goat cheesecake??" I asked. I also ordered the espresso ice cream sandwiches.

They put the goat cheesecake down in front of my friend. Lucky bastard. The ice cream sandwiches were good and probably better than most desserts I've had, but the goat cheesecake was heavenly. It was topped with creamy lemon meringue which added a sweet yet tart flavor and complimented the goat cheese. The texture was perfect - not dry, lumpy, or too soft, but still smooth, creamy with just the right amount of cakiness. This was SOOO GOOD! And the meal reached it climax...wait for

Our server was very professional and courteous the entire time and despite the warning of the 45-minute wait for the chicken, I really didn't notice that our entrees took long to come out. My wine glass was kept full the entire time - every time our server came by, if my glass was empty, he'd notice and ask me if I wanted a refill.

Three glasses of white burgundy, two beers, gnocchi, fries, chicken, pappardelle, cheesecake, ice cream sandwiches and coffee cost us about $95 before tip. A seriously good value for the quality of food we ate. Sigh. I need to go back.

Two hours later, I returned home to Amy. The first thing she asked when I came in the door: "Where's my gnocchi?"

Whoops. I forgot! To the dog house with me.

On a related topic, there's an entire thread at on how to duplicate the top secret recipe of The Palena Chicken. I might need to join in myself.


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

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

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).

Dino - First Impressions

CinghaileDisclaimer: I have to admit, I want Dino to be good and therefore I might be slightly biased. This place is in my hood, and my hood needs a place like this with an adventurous menu and a decent wine list.

Before ever dining at Dino, I fell in love with the menu -- full of mouth-watering descriptions of small plates and the sense that one can spend the entire night eating with a few glasses of valpolicella. The first time I read the menu, it was 11 PM and despite having just eaten a huge meal, I found myself longing for the taste of some rich lasagnette or salty proscuitto. Like I said when I posted about the upcoming opening of Dino, the menu reminds me of the 2Amys wine bar, only with a much broader selection.

When I found out they were opening last Wednesday, I knew I had to be there opening night. It was lunchtime on Wednesday when I called Dino to try to make a reservation, only to find out that they only take reservations for parties of 6 or more. "Do you expect to be crowded tonight?" I asked.

"Well, one can only hope," said the voice on the other end of the line.

Lucky for me, there was only a short wait when we arrived around 7:30 PM -- just a mere 5 minutes. When we visited Dino again the following night (Thursday), there was no wait at all, but that time we didn't arrive until 9. Both nights the restaurant seemed hopping, but there wasn't that air of frenzy that you see at some newly-opened restaurants. The kitchen is open to the public and looks very calm and composed as well.

I tend to wait at least a month to try new places, mostly because the service tends to be so rough, that it makes it hard to enjoy your meal. This was not so at Dino, where I found the timing of the food to be well-paced and the service friendly and knowledgable. There are the inevitable kinks to work out, but nothing that made my meals unenjoyable.

I have to admit though -- my service might have been better than most. As soon as I sat down the first night, our server brought over two cocktails for our table (Amy reluctantly sent her's back) and said that they were compliments of "Finch." (If you don't get the reference, I'll give you a clue -- look for a certain post that Amy did back in the early days of DCFoodies). I wont go into the details here, but we'd been outed so I don't want to give anyone the sense that I had any anonymity.

CrostiniThe menu has many different sections, and just when you think you've read them all, you turn over that last page and you find a couple more. The crostini section (my favorite) contains a list of 7 types of crostini. Each crostini is $1.75, or you can get a plate of 5 for $8. If the topping for the artichoke crostini came in a jar, I'd buy a year's supply. The topping contained fresh-roasted artichokes, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and fresh basil, and the chunks of topping were soft, but  not overcooked. It was by far the best crostini. On its own, the chicken pate had a slightly bittersweet flavor to it, but with the dollop of (what I thought was) kiwi jam added to the top of the pate, it finished with a very slightly tart flavor to it. The blue cheese and anchovy on the Crostini alla Dino was a salty combination. I recommend eating it with a good red wine. Perhaps the Tomasso Bussola Valpolicello , which I found complimented it well. The last crostini on the menu, which Dino calls Fettunta, is actually not crostini, but bruschetta (toasted bread rubbed with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper). Oddly enough, what most people are used to ordering as bruschetta (usually with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese) is really crostini. During our first meal, we only ordered two crostini, which was just enough to make us really hungry.

OK. Enough about the crostini already. On to the Cicchetti.

Cicchetti, as defined by the Dino menu, are small snacks. There are five of them currently on the menu, each costing $4.75. My favorite of these are the Polipo alla Griglia (baby octopus, braised in red wine and grilled, and served with lemony chickpeas and olive oil). I ordered this dish with much reservation, because octopus tends to have a rubbery texture to it, but the technique that Chef  Johnny Neilsen uses to cook the octopus leaves them very tender. The combination of flavors, between the chickpeas, lemon, fresh tomatoes, olive oil and braised octopus, makes for a lovely combination. Another Cicchetti which we had a chance to try was the Saltimbocca which has nothing to do with veal saltimbocca, except for maybe that it contains ground veal. Quoting the menu:

Saltimbocca means "hops in the mouth." In Venice, what hops in the mouth are lightly braised meatballs in tomato sauce.

These loosely-packed meatballs tasted very homemade, like I wish Mom used to make, but I've had better meatballs. The meat flavor was very mild -- I thought I tasted more pork and veal in them than beef. I could tell the sauce that they were served in was very recently made and didn't come out of a container in the walk-in that morning.

SmokedmozzWe've only had a chance to try one dish, the Scamorza (smoked mozzarella roasted and topped with tomatoes, roasted garlic and basil), from the Antipasti section of the menu, and it was wonderful. The smoked mozzarella didn't have that overly smoky flavor to it, but what made up for it was the roasted garlic that you could spread on the bruschetta that came with it.

I had a couple conversations with Dean Gold about the menu, and one thing he seems especially proud of is the proscuitto, which like the other meats, he orders directly from Italy. I had the priveledge of trying this 500-day-aged proscuitto, and I will admit, it was one of the better proscuittos I've ever tried. Dino's prosciutto isn't overly salty or fatty and it has a delightfully tender texture. I also had the chance to try some of the other meats, in the Affettati Misti, a combination of meats, cheese and a piece of the frittata (which is also found in the Cichetti section of the menu). Our plate came with mortadella, salami, and provolone, and more bruschetta on the side. The salami and mortadella were both very good -- both being some of the best I've ever tasted as well. Short of taking a trip to Italy myself, I wonder if I'll find better. All of the meat plates are available in two sizes, a piccolo for $12 or a grande for $18.

We have yet to be able to accurately try the cheese plates, or Formaggi, in all of their glory. Dean Gold is BIG on non-pasteurized (or raw milk) cheeses, which are a big no-no for pregnant women. I'll update this post later after Amy gives birth in late September. From what I've seen though, they look excellent and are served with chestnut honey, blackberry jam, and another condiment that I couldn't identify. I overheard Dean talking to the table next to ours about how the Tallegio they offer is the only raw-milk Tallegio available in the U.S, and they are the only place you can get it. Perhaps this is due to Dean's history as a buyer for the Whole Foods corporation.

If there's a dish on the menu that I don't like, it has to be the Sapori D'Estate, a summer bean and veggie soup with meat broth, speck, and a pesto crostini in the "Primi" section of the menu. The menu states that the soup has a touch of pesto in it -- my definition of "a touch" is a lot smaller than a heaping tablespoon. The pesto contained way too much garlic and overpowered the rest of the soup. About halfway through eating the soup, Amy stopped and stated, "If I keep eating this, I'm going to smell like garlic for the rest of the week."

Dishes from the Primi (main course) section of the menu definitely worth trying are the Lasagnette and the Pinci al Cinghiale (they're actually the only two I've tried so far). The lasagnette contains an veal and pork ragu, fonduta, and smoked veal bacon. To call the ragu "rich" is an understatement, but it's still wonderful. I'm going to have a very hard time not ordering this dish every time I eat at Dino. Keep in mind that the lasagna at Dino is not your typical lasagna that's cooked in a baking dish and served in a block. The only thing that technically made it lasagna is that it was made with lasagna noodles. Other than that, it looked just like any other pasta dish you'd eat.

Pinci al Cinghaile is a pasta dish with noodles similar to lasagna noodles, only not so wide. The Cinghaile is wild boar with onions and herbs. Unlike other wild boar that I've had recently, this is juicier and more flavorful. People use boar in dishes because it's leaner and a little gamier tasting than typical pork, but it can also have a tendency to be a bit dry. This was not the case with the boar at Dino. The mixture also contained fresh tomatoes, chives (or possibly spring onions) and shaved pecorino.

This is turning into a long post so I will try to wrap things up.

It's hard for me to give a fair review of the desserts, because by the time I got to them each night I was there, I was so full. The limoncello tiramisu, which I had the first night, is very, very sweet. I'd definitely recommend trying some coffee (without sugar) with it to tone down the sweetness. I made the mistake of having a glass of limoncello on top of the tiramisu, and I regretted it.

The second night, we had a chance to try a lot of different desserts because the maitre'd brought out dessert samplers to all the tables. One of which was the nutella panini, which upon taking a single bite, Amy grabbed the plate away so I couldn't get any. I'd definitely recommend getting this, because the little that I could pry away from Amy tasted delicious. A pinenut tart with thyme was also in the sampler. If you're looking for a dessert that's not too sweet, this should be your choice.

The wine list is another pride and joy of the owners. Right now, there are about 90 wines on the menu and Dean plans to grow it to about twice its size. A majority of the wines are from Italy and California -- most being priced between $20 and $40. Wine pricing follows a standard of suggested retail plus $10. Corkage is allowed for $10 a bottle as well.

Dino plans to change the menu seasonally. In the fall, most of the tomato dishes will be replaced with eggplant and peppers, and then root vegetables will be featured in the winter. The list of cheeses will also grow from the current list of 10 to 20. Perhaps they will have more pasteurized cheeses soon?

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

Hours: Dino opens at 5pm nightly. Last seating is       at 10:15pm Monday through Thursday, 10:30pm Friday and Saturday, 9:30pm       Sunday.
Dress Code: Casual - I wore shorts one night.
Smoking: Not allowed
Closest metro: Cleveland Park
Parking: None. You might be able to find parking in the area on the side streets. No Valet. I recommend taking a cab or the metro.
Reservations: Taken for parties of all sizes.
Amy's Bathroom rating: Very Clean and newly remodelled.

Indian Lunch

All that posting about the Indian Kabab Dinner made me starving for Indian Food, so I followed through on my plans to eat Indian for lunch. We ended up going to Indique and luckily the weather held off long enough for us to finish our lunch outside on the balcony with a nice view of Cleveland Park. I ended up having the Chicken Tikka Makhani, the Mini Dosa, and a couple glasses of Viognier and I can't think of a better lunch I could've had today. It was very  yummy! Check out the pix I took in my photo album.

Palena Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read about my other trips to Palena here.


Amy and I went to Bardeo Friday night. It was surprisingly uncrowded. I remember a time when we would walk past Bardeo on a Friday night at 8 PM and there would be a considerable wait for a table. The "swank" of the place has past.  I think people are flocking more to Palena's bar...and rightfully so.  I expected everyone to be in sportcoats and dress slacks like I used to see, but the restaurant is more casual now. There were people in jeans -- no t-shirts or anything. I was wearing a black sportcoat, a dressy pair of jeans, and some nice shoes. Amy was in some sexy stilettos and a dressy top and skirt.

When I think of Bardeo, I don't think of a tapas restaurant, but rather a wine bar. The wines are carefully chosen to pair well with the food. On the menu, below each item, there is a wine suggestion. Glasses of wine come in full glasses or quarter glasses, so you can taste a different wine with each tapas (is the singular of tapas - tapas or tapa? Eh, who cares.) you order. I chose to just get a glass of Bourdeux and Amy ordered a glass of Pinot Noir. Ever since Amy and I had that great Flowers Pinot Noir at Emeril's in Miami, we have really been into Pinot Noirs. (In fact, I think I am going to go uncork a bottle right now.) Anyway, back to Bardeo. Glasses of wine range from $7-$10 -- not exactly cheap, but their wine selection is way above average.

We decided to order a couple tapas and a flight of 3 cheeses. Don't ask me why they call it a flight. For the tapas, we ordered the antipasto and tortellini. The antipasto came with three types of meats - prosciutto, salami and one I could not identify. Either way it was good. The only thing I wished though, is that it came with some kind of cheese -- you know, mozzarella, pecorino, or something like that. For the $10.95 price tag, I would have at least expected that. I could buy a whole pound of proscuitto two doors down at Vace for that price. The tortellini was pretty average. It was served with parmesian cheese, cherry tomatoes, rapini and mushrooms and was a little undercooked. We were pretty underwhelmed by the tapas.

The cheese flight, on the other hand, was awesome! We got a mixture of sheep, cow, and goat's milk cheeses (they all had fancy names which I am failing to remember). The red wines we had ordered went quite well with them. We were ready to order more, but we decided to wait and order some dessert. Oh, I forgot to mention the best thing about the entire meal - the free (chicken?) paté. I never asked what it really was, but it tasted great and I finished it all with the bread that was on the table.

We asked the waitress what the best dessert was and she recommended apple and rasberry strudel. So we ordered that and some coffee to go with it. About this time, I noticed a considerable dropoff in the quality of our service. Things started to take a lot longer to come out and were timed really poorly. It took a while for the dessert to come out, which is sort of understandable since it was a warm dessert, but it took a really long time. When the dessert came out, the coffee hadn't arrived yet and took another 5 minutes for the waitress to bring it out to us. Who knows, maybe our waitress was distracted by something. She seemed to be talking to the manager for a while so maybe there were some restaurant issues going on. For their best dessert, the apple studel was pretty underwhelming. The pastry dough on the outside was soaked through and not very flaky. I didn't finish it, which is saying a lot.

At the end of the meal, the check was about $75. Considering we only got the equivalent of three tapas, four glasses of wine, coffee and a dessert, I was not that impressed. I think my main problem with Bardeo is the price of the tapas. I can get better tapas at Café Olé for about $2-$3 cheaper and they are much better. That said, Bardeo has a much better wine selection than Café Olé. Basically if you could combine the food of Café Olé with the wine of Bardeo, you'd have a pretty kick @ss restaurant.  So in conclusion, If you go to Bardeo, order the cheese and wine. Stay away from the tapas (or at least the tortellini and antipasto).

3309 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 244-6550

Sun-Thu 5pm-11pm
Fri-Sat 5pm-1am

Dress Code: Business Casual
Reservations: Accepted
Closest Metro Stop: Cleveland Park

Logan Tavern, Sushi Sushi, and a little Indian

The last week has been pretty boring for me food wise. I haven't been eating out anywhere new. Work and my new dog have been keeping me busy. Mostly I've been eating out and around in my 'hood - Tenleytown. Cafe Ole has seen a lot of me and I have not been disappointed by them at all. I especially like that they bring out water for Ceiba when we come by. She is very appreciative.  We actually went there last night - AGAIN! All I have to say is you gotta try the polenta tartufo and ask for some pita chips with which to eat it.

Let's see where else have I been eating? Oh, I ate at Sushi Sushi on Thursday night and was kinda disappointed in their crab rolls. I mean, there is no excuse for the low quality crab meat they use there. Their crab meat is about as real as Michael Jackson's nose. I found myself wishing I was across the street at 2 Amys.

I had a great brunch with Amy and a friend of her's named Martha. I was not expecting much at all, because we were just stopping at some random place, but it really turned out to be the best breakfast food I have had around here in a while. The place was called Logan Tavern and is right on P st between 14th and 16th by the Whole Foods. I had a breakfast burrito, Amy had the Bacon and Eggs and Martha had a grilled cheese. I want to go back and get the grilled cheese because it looked so yummy. Martha thought it was good too :). My breakfast burrito was very fresh and I enjoyed it very much. Amy only had the eggs and bacon, but she ordered them over easy....AND THEY ACTUALLY CAME OUT OVER EASY! Imagine that?! The rest of the menu looked pretty interesting and I would have ordered some of them if I were not hung over from the night before (breakfast food it the best for hangovers). The arugula, peach and prosciutto salad looked good as well and the lump crap and avocado. Grilled scallops with balsamic glaze, baked Greek cheese with tomato sauce, grilled baby squid...all of them sound good, and those are only some of the appetizers. I think I will be heading back for dinner when I get back to Logan Circle.

Well, I think that is everything that has been going on in the last week or so in food. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that an Indian friend of mine from work made me some bhaji that turned out most excellent. He made us this huge container of it and we ended up eating it all in two nights. YUM. YUM. and YUM.



As I mentioned before, I made reservations for Yanyu for last Tuesday. Yanyu was the first of two restaurants that Amy and I tried for Restaurant Week. It is my favorite place to go during Restaurant Week because they aren't snooty about it. The portions are generous and no different than their normal menu. Also, the service is inpeccable. I've heard many stories about other restaurants treating the people that order off the "Restaurant Week" menu like second-class citizens.

Our reservation was at 8:15 and we were running behind. I didn't get home from work until 7, and Amy didn't arrive until about 15 minutes after that. By the time we were all ready, we ended up having to drive over, because the $5 valet is cheaper than a cab ride and there is no way that Amy was walking from Wisconson to Connecticut Ave in stilettos. :-) When I pulled up for the valet, though, there was no one in sight. I sat there for a little bit waiting. Now, for those of you familiar with this block on Connecticut Ave. you know that you can't just sit in front of Yanyu for long without a few cars piling up behind you. So I ended up having to circle the block...not once...not twice...but three times. The third time around, it was 8:20, and there was still no valet. Finally, I had Amy go in and tell the restaurant we were there, and I tried to find a spot on my own. I was really lucky. There was a spot only three blocks away on Porter Street.

The valet magically appeared the instant Amy entered the restaurant and asked her if she needed him to park the car. The car she was...not driving?  What?

Having the whole parking situation behind us was good. I arrived back at Yanyu just in time for them to be ready to seat us. To my surprise, we were seated upstairs like I had asked when I made the reservation at OpenTable.  Our waitress greeted us instantly once we were seated, asked us if we wanted some water or anything to drink and then gave us the menu for Restaurant Week.  There were two different menus. One was a menu tasting menu where you had a chance to try a small version of every dish on the menu that night. The other (which both Amy and I chose) was a three-course meal where you had anywhere from 1 to 3 choices per course. The latter was more appealing to us because one of the dishes that night was a shrimp dish. I don't care for shrimp, and Amy is just outright allergic. If she eats it, it'll be a long night for both of us.

You also had the option for a wine pairing for an extra $10 which we went for. The pairing came with a glass of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir. Both glasses were half glasses of wine and I did not find that they really paired well with the food (i.e. the red Noir with seafood courses). The wines on their own were wonderful though.

For our first course, I chose the seared tuna. It was cooked properly - just barely seared and completely rare in the middle. It was served in a ginger-soy sauce with cucumbers and seaweed. I liked this dish, but I was not overwelmed by it. Amy ordered the Lily Bulb Dumpling which was  egg white wrapped with minced chicken and vegetables. I actually liked Amy's dumpling a lot better than my tuna.

Now the second course is what we come to Yanyu for...the Big Duck. This is their signature dish. Basically, they roast a duck, cut it up fresh right in front of you, and serve it on pancakes with cucumber, scallions, and the best little plum sauce you've ever tasted. I'm not talking that crappy, corn syrup based, runny sauce you get at the grocery store. This plum sauce is homemade, thick, and contains sesame seeds. The combination of all this is a wonderful little handful that you rollup and eat like a small taco. The way they cook the duck at Yanyu makes it come out very tender. Amy usually hates duck because it can come out gamy and chewy. Amy loves Big Duck though. (Oh, come on. Get you sick little minds out of the gutter!) We asked the waitress if we just ordered the Big Duck, how many servings would it be. That night we received two small pancakes. Each pancake had about two generous slices of duck on it. WE WANTED MORE!!! The waitress said that if we ordered just a whole duck, it would yield about 10-12 servings. I think Amy and I will just order one of them next time for ourselves.

For final course, we both ordered the sea bass. It was a choice between that and the crispy garlic shrimp. The sea bass was cooked in a honey glazed sauce. Mine was cooked perfectly medium. Amy's, however, had been cooked a little too long and was a tad chewy. She still enjoyed it though.

Although dessert was not included in the Restaurant Week menu, we ordered it anyway, opting for the ginger creme brulee. We are normally not people to order creme brulee, but the other dessert choices didn't sound interesting to us.  This wasn't the best dessert we've ever had, but we enjoyed it. It wasn't terribly sweet like creme brulee usually is. It was also served with citrus fruit so it had a tart flavor as well.

Yanyu is a pretty upscale. It is not formal, but you won't find people wearing jeans or shorts.  There was one guy who came in while we were eating that was dressed like Rodney Dangerfield on the golf course in Caddyshack, but he was an exception.

In the end, the bill came to around $130 after tip. It was not exactly what I was expecting to spend during Restaurant Week and when I got the bill, I was like "Huh? How did that happen? There must be a mistake here." But after I added up everything, it made sense.  Was it worth the price tag on the meal? I don't know...the Big Duck was REALLY good though.

3435 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 686-6968

Dress Code: Business Casual
Sun 5:30-10:30 pm
Tue-Thu 5:30-10:30 pm
Fri-Sat 5:30-11 pm

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Washington Post

Palena: Was It Really?

(Today’s post written by special guest star, Mrs.DCFoodie, aka Amalah.)

In a burst of non-creativity, I took Jason to Palena for his birthday last night. I’d been hoping to take him to Laboratorio del Galileo or the Minibar at Café Atlantico, but I didn’t get my act together soon enough to get a reservation. So for a Tuesday night, we decided to stay close to home and go back to Palena.

We’d been there once before: Jason took me there to celebrate after my college finals were over. And we were extremely impressed. The food was delicious, the service was attentive and our courses were nicely spaced. (Palena's menu is price fixe and you can order three, four or five courses for $50, $57 or $64, respectively. We chose the four-course option.)

So I copied his idea and made a reservation for 8:30. We arrived early to check out the wine-bar portion of the restaurant (which serves a separate, more casual menu) and told the hostess we were fine with having a drink at the bar before she sat us.

And the trouble began immediately.

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