Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alexandria Restaurant Week 2013: Geranio

I just start working in Old Town so I have been on the lookout for some good restaurants to try and it just so happens to be restaurant week so I invited a few girlfriends out to try Geranio with me.

The inside is super adorable, perfect ambiance for a date night or a special dinner.
They bring out bread and butter, the bread was warm and delicious. 
For the first course both Kristen and I ordered the Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta and Mushrooms in a Lemon Cream. When reading reviews for this place it was listed as one of the more popular items and it definitely lived up to and exceeded expectations. The actual gnocchi was perfectly cooked and textured while the sauce was creamy, yet light and flavorful. I highly recommend this dish. 
Nadia ordered the Tomato, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon Vinaigrette. Pretty basic salad and she enjoyed it.
For the second course both the girls ordered the Seared Shrimp Linguine with Garlic, Chilies, Tomatoes, Tarragon and Cream. Kristen said it was delicious, the shrimp was cooked well, and the sauce was flavored well and not too heavy.
I ordered the Cappellini with Smoked Chicken, Field Mushrooms, Spinach, Garlic XVOO. This was ok, I am not a big fan of thin noodles (I did not know cappellini was thin at the time of ordering) and compared to the rest of the dishes this entree did not provide any new or exciting flavors.
For the third course we all ordered the Grilled Atlantic Salmon with Mashed Potatoes, Pancetta, Roasted Garlic & Shallots in a Red Wine Sauce. The salmon was cooked perfectly and all of the flavors were amazing. The red wine sauce was spectacular, definitely worth sopping up with some bread if there is any sauce left.
For desserts we ordered the Tiramisu and Fresh Red Berries with Marsala Sabayon. Both delicious in their own ways depending on the type of dessert you are in the mood for.
I was really happy with all of the food choices and genuinely can't wait to come back here to try some of their other items (or get the salmon or gnocchi...worth a repeat performance). The service was also spectacular, they were very attentive and we ended up staying so late chatting and drinking wine we pretty much closed out the restaurant...whoops, but the point is they were nice with it and told us to stay as late as we wanted.

If you are looking for somewhere to go to for restaurant week (Alexandria's ends Sept 1) I would highly recommend this place, you might want to make a reservation, it was packed when we got there. Best portions I have seen on a menu for restaurant week, in fact they were too much to eat (I left my second dish pretty much untouched in preparation for the salmon).

722 King Street
Alexandria, VA
Geranio on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

DC Summer Restaurant Week 2013: Bistro Bistro in Dupont Circle

The end of the summer is here and that can only mean one good thing, DC summer restaurant week. This year I am only able to make it to two restaurants, the first being Bistro Bistro in Dupont Circle (I'm going to Ambar Sunday, pretty pumped). The inside of Bistro Bistro is adorable, quite a quaint restaurant. 
We started off our meal with some red wine and they brought out a roll with two dipping sauces. Both were not very good, most of the tables around us left theirs untouched. 
For restaurant week they let you choose an appetizer, an entree and dessert with champagne from a special menu. For my appetizer I chose the Avocado Mozzarella salad fresh avocado, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, olive oil. The mozzarella was fantastic but the tomato wasn't ripe the dish was lackluster. Carrie got the Moules Marseillaise Bouchot mussels steamed with garlic, fennel, tomatoes, saffron-shellfish broth. This dish was fantastic, the mussels were cooked perfectly and the sauce was very flavorful. 
For entrees I picked the Garlic Rosemary Lamb-chops marinated with a garlic, rosemary balsamic reduction served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. These were ok, the lamb could have been a lot more tender and the chops were so small it was hard to get a bite size piece without a little of fat on it. Carrie ordered the Linguini Bistro tossed with lobster meat, squid, scallops, mussels, shrimp & mushrooms in a lobster bisque sauce. Unfortunately most of this dish was overcooked (seafood + pasta) so it was hard to enjoy. 
For desserts we went with the Creme Brûlée and the Chocolate Soufflé  Both delicious desserts, probably the best part of the meal. Dessert also came with a glass of champagne. 
While the service and desserts were great the rest of the meal was not very good. I don't like it when restaurants don't feature dishes from their normal menu, and only a few choices available for restaurant week can be found on their menu. While I wouldn't be back for the food, I would come back for happy hour (4-7pm, mon-fri) as I love the way the inside of their restaurant looks and the drink specials are pretty good. 

1721 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC
Bistro Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Washington DC: Pulpo

I was recently invited to try out Pulpo's (octopus in Spanish) reinvented menu by new Executive Chef Billy Klein. Pulpo is a tapas bar (small plates, meant for sharing) which is one of my favorite types of restaurants because you get to try multiple dishes. 

We started off our meal with a couple of small bites, Blistered Padron Peppers and Marcona Almonds. We both thought the peppers had a bit of an asparagus taste to them, but they were delicious and a very cool concept. These would both be great options for some happy hour munchies. 
One of the new things Chef Billy introduced to the menu are gazpacho's featuring in season fruits and veggies. The two that are currently featured are asparagus served with a soft boiled egg and black caviar and watermelon served with fresh made ricotta on top. Both were incredible, flavorful and the freshness of the produce shined. Both of us agreed that the watermelon was one of our favorite dishes of the night. 
We tried my all time favorite tapa, Patatas Bravas. Potatoes covered in a spicy tomato sauce (just a kick, not super spicy) with a garlic aioli on top. 
They currently offer 4 different types of sliders and we tried 3 of them. From left to right, Lamb Merguez, Pork Belly and Octopus (?!?!?!). The Lamb Merguez was my favorite, perfecly spiced. The Pork Belly was served with some sort of fruit compote that paired deliciously. Ahh, the Octopus, it was not bad, but I just don't really like seafood. It was made similarly to a crabcake so it was a very eater-friendly and if you are texturally challenged like I am, this is the perfect form to try octopus.

I tried a flight of their sangrias: white, rose & red. All of them were great, I was really happy with all three of these, the red being my favorite. My friend tried one of their speciality cocktails, Picasso which was good but packed a huge punch.
We ended our meal with Tres Leches 2.0, a unique version of Tres Leches cake created by Chef Billy that was a combination of angel food cake, goat cheese milk frosting, cow's milk dulce de leche, sheeps milk foam, crumble, blueberries. This was extremely original, rich and delicious. I especially loved the addition of the blueberries. A perfect and delicious ending to a meal, I recommend sharing it between 2-4 people as it is a heavier dessert. 
I was extremely impressed with the menu of Pulpo. We tried a small portion of what the menu offered, but it was all innovative without being too intimidating...I mean I tried caviar (served with the asparagus gazpacho) and octopus (served in slider form) for the first time.

If you haven't made a decision on where to go for restaurant week, need a fun place for date night or just like really good food Pulpo is the place to be, I look forward to a return trip to try the rest of their menu. 

3407 Conneticut Ave NW
Washington, DC
Pulpo on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Georgetown: Nick's Riverside Grill & Kayaking at the Key Bridge Boathouse

Sunday was a beautiful day so Teddy and I decided to head to Georgetown for lunch at Nick's Riverside Grill and kayaking at the Key Bridge Boat House afterwards. 

Teddy ordered the Crab Cake Sandwich. This was decent, would have preferred a little more crab but the overall flavor was good. 
I ordered Nick's Burger grilled Tasso ham, caramelized onion, cheddar cheese & basil aioli. I thought this was pretty lack luster, all I could taste on the burger was char and none of the toppings were able to cover that taste up. Teddy ended up eating this for me (along with his crabcake) by drenching it in ketchup.
I was not a big fan of the food here and the service was kind of spotty, but I feel people come here more for the environment then food or service. If you want to sit outside on a hot day with a cold beer, staring out at the water and people then this is the place for you.

3050 K St NW
Washington, DC
Nick's Riverside Grill on Urbanspoon

After lunch we walked over to the Key Bridge Boathouse. For $15 an hour (kayaking, paddle boarding or canoeing) it's a steal and you can go two different directions on the river, one towards the Monuments and the other direction. We chose the other direction because I'd never been that way before. It was a nice, woodsy way and an all around good time. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Washington DC: Hill Country Barbecue Market

This past Sunday was call for a celebration as this girl got a new job! Very excited to be moving on to the next step of my life so my mom and Jeff took me out to dinner at Hill Country BBQ for congratulations. 

Mom, Jeff & I ordered the BBQ platter $27 ($20 on Sundays) and it came with Brisket, 2 beef ribs, 2 pork ribs and 1/4 of a chicken. The brisket was delicious (I recommend spending and extra $2 for the moist), the winner of the meats. Everything else was pretty good, although the ribs were a little to fatty for me. This combo was huge, I would recommend it for 2 people. Teddy ordered the Short Rib special of the night (not pictured) and he said the rub was amazing but it was a very fatty meat. 
We all got a couple of sides. The Mac & Cheese was amazing, cheesy and pretty perfect. We also got a cucumber salad, coleslaw & baked beans which were all good. My mom really wanted to try the chile deviled eggs but she said they were kinda of a let down.
Overall this place was pretty good. It's not my favorite BBQ but then again I don't like bones in my meat so the only thing I really enjoyed here (besides the amazing mac and cheese) was the brisket. Everyone else liked their meals though. This place can get pretty packed at night so you may want to make a reservation. 

410 7th Street NW
Washington, DC
Hill Country Barbecue Market on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 2, 2013

Old Town Alexandria Waterfront: Virtue: Feed and Grain

The other day my friend and I decided to have a progressive dinner around Old Town Alexandria. A progressive dinner is where you have each course of your meal at a different restaurant. Our first stop of the night was at this place which must not be named. After walking around for awhile we decided to stop at Virtue Feed and Grain near the waterfront. 

A word of advice to those who do a progressive dinner....carb heavy items are not the best choice, you will fill up quickly (neither were the fried items we ordered below...did not plan this meal out well).

We continued the meal was some more tasty beverages.
Then we got an order of fried pickles. The breading on these was great but I personally do not like fried spears, I prefer the chips. 
We also got an order of wings, very good. Crispy and buffalo sauce goodness.
We sat at the bar and the bartenders were awesome, the perfect amount of social and very attentive. The appetizers were delicious and based on their quality, I would love to come back and try the dinner (plus I eyed the dinners that people had around me and they looked awesome)

106 S Union Street
Alexandria, VA
Virtue Feed & Grain on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Falls Church: La Caraquena Latin American Cuisine

For June's dining club we decided to head over to La Caraquena Latin American Cuisine in Falls Church. My friend Jessie saw it on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and she has been dying to try it ever since. 

Being the lushes that we are, a few of us decided to order some drinks while we waited for everyone else to get there. Plain Margarita, Mango Margarita and a Passion-fruit sort of drink. All delicious and packed a punch. 
The table decided to split an order of the plantains for an appetizer which were a little soggy, but overall the flavor was really good. 
I ordered one of the arepas that Guy tried, Reina pepeada chicken salad blend made of avocado and mayo. The table loved this but unfortunately I was not a fan because of the mayonnaise flavor. If you like avocados and mayonnaise this would be a heavenly dish for you.
Carries also got an arepa, JP's Favorite which consisted of seasoned thin slices of steak  sauteed onions, tomatoes and cilantro. This was delicious, all of the flavors went together perfectly.
Lili tried the Sopa de frijoles (black bean soup pretty much) Latin style soup with Spanish sausage topped with Latin white cheese, micro cilantro and garlic croutons. She liked the soup but she has had better. 
Megan got a chicken sandwich, El Sabrosa, wheat berry crown roll spiced up with a homemade chipotle tartar sauce and filled with thin grilled slices of chicken breast, Gouda cheese and fresh avocado slices. There was a lot of flavors on the sandwich but they all went together well.
Jessie got a chicken dish, Pollo La Caraquena Latin-style baked chicken served with black beans and white rice. The sauce on this was fantastic. It was savory and rich (but not so much that you could only eat a few bites) with a kick to it.
We all split the Quatro Leches Cake (thats not an error...4 MILKS instead of 3). A heavenly, moist and flavorful cake. Jessie thought it was important to quote "It's so good I'd eat it off the floor," a little Miranda action from SATC??
Overall this restaurant was pretty good, worth a visit. They serve unique food, but it's a little pricey. I liked it, I just didn't love it, but I recommend trying it out at least once! Although some of my friends want to come back just for the quatro leches cake :)

I would strongly suggest making reservations as the restaurant gets super packed around 6:30-7:00. Parking is also weird, but there is street parking all around and a motel you can park in if there is space. 

300 W Broad Street
Falls Church, VA
La Caraqueña Latin American Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Other dining club visits
Satay Sarinah
Four Sisters
Rus Uz