Friday, March 28, 2014

Washington, DC: P.J. Clarke's Brunch and Bottomless Drinks

I'm back (woo, month end at work is hectic) with ANOTHER bottomless brunch…with a couple more brunch posts to follow….eek. I got another deal through Gilt City - in the DC area they sporadically offer bottomless brunch deals, which I in turn quickly snatch up. 
The deal was for P.J. Clarke's, so one Saturday morning I grabbed one of my girlfriends and we headed into the city. The internet recommends that you make a reservation but it wasn't to busy there when we went, although I am sure once it's warm it will be bustling-major bonus, brunch is on Saturdays AND Sundays. I have to say, I was absolutely in love with the interior-something about red checkered tablecloths just get me.  
The deal included an appetizer of Crisp Parmesan Tator Tots. These were not your typical (and delicious) Ore Ida tator tots, they were something more. I've never had a homemade version, but these were awesome. A perfect starter. 

Rosie and I decided to split two brunch dishes, Em's Breakfast Sandwich Egg Whites, Avocado, Grafton Cheddar, Tomato, Arugula, served with Buttered Home Fries and Grand Marnier French Toast Sliced Brioche, Fresh Fruit, Vanilla Creme. Both were delicious but Em's Breakfast Sandwich was the winner. The bread and combo of the toppings was spectacular. The home fries - I could have just eaten a plate of those and been happy. They were crispy and had caramelized onions, A+. The servings you are seeing below are half portions. 
What is brunch without bottomless drinks? P.J. Clarke's let you have 4 options for bottomless: Mimosa, Bellini, Bloody Mary & Buck's Fizz (gin fizz drink). Naturally I had to try one of each, I preferred the Bellinis or Mimosas. 
This place was great. Service was wonderful. We mentioned that we were going to split both of the brunch dishes and without asking the waiter had the kitchen split both dishes in half (so each dish you see above is half of what it would normally be). Along with that gesture the server was wonderful, friendly and funny without being to in our face. The food was also really good, I recommend Em's sandwich and the tots. Bottomless will cost you $18.84 and entrees will range on average from $11-$16.

Would I come back? Yes, the service and food would bring me back. 

1600 K Street NW
Washington, DC 
PJ Clarke's on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Washington DC: El Centro DF Bottomless Brunch

Another bottomless brunch post. Don't worry I don't go every weekend. This was a trip a few weeks ago for one of my besties birthdays. We decided to go for both bottomless food and drink at El Centro DF (owned by Richard Sandoval…I've also been to another restaurant of his for bottomless brunch, Zengo).
There were some good items, there were some ok and there were some meh. Our favorites were the chips + salsa, the guac, the quesadillas and the chile poblano. 
For bottomless drinks they offer Mimosas, Michaeladas, Agua Frescas and Bloody Marys. The aqua frescos are pretty boring compared to the other brunch drinks. I discovered a new favorite drink, the Michaelada - basically beer and tomato juice mixed with some other random things. Sounds weird when I describe it that way, but I kind of see it as a carbonated Bloody Mary minus the horseradish (which I hate, and why I never order Bloody Marys).
 As with other bottomless brunches (foodwise) the food is usually average with a few gems and this was exactly the case.
Would I come back? Yes. Michaeladas and guacamole call my name. 

1819 14th Street SW
Washington, DC
El Centro D.F. on Urbanspoon

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Washington DC: Acre 21 Brunch + Bottomless Mimosas

I am a sucker for bottomless brunches. I am an even bigger sucker for deals, particularly 2 for 1 bottomless brunches. When I saw the deal for brunch at Acre 121 I  quickly snatched it up, knowing I could easily get one of my bottomless brunch loving friends to join me. I convinced one of my girlfriends to get one too and we scheduled a double date with our men.
They have four different flavors of mimosas to choose from: orange, cranberry, pineapple and grapefruit-$6 for one or $15 for bottomless (bottomless is clearly the better deal).Naturally we had to try all flavors. The table was divided for favorites, the girls preferred grapefruit and the guys liked cranberry. I was impressed with their mimosas, a lot of places try and skimp you on the champagne, but not Acre 121, they had a perfect mix of champagne and juice.
I ordered my favorite, ultimate indulgent breakfast/brunch dish-Biscuits and Gravy $14. This was pretty good-better then a lot of versions. I really liked the addition of the green onions on top. It was a heavy dish and it would have been nice if they had something light on the side (like the fruit salad the sandwich waffle below offered).
The bf ordered the Farm Raised Hanger Steak and Eggs $18, grilled 9oz. steak, two eggs any style, home fries, with toast. Flavors were good on the steak but it was really fatty and chewy. The home fries had an interesting twist- they were a red beans and rice themed breakfast potatoes. 
My friend got the Waffle Sandwich $13 two eggs any style, ham and swiss on a Belgian waffle. As the picture shows, it's more of an open faced sandwich, or waffles with savory toppings. Either way it was really good. Ask for a side of Maple Syrup and drizzle some on top! 
Her BF ordered the Chicken Biscuit $13 deep fried chicken, fried egg, Applewood bacon, cheddar. This comes with a side so he picked the sausage. He enjoyed his dish. 
Because I love bacon we ordered a side of it $5. The bacon had good flavor but it was too chewy. The boys liked it. 
My bf is a bottomless pit, which really comes in handy when I don't finish my meals. Other times it's just crazy as he needs to order a ton of food to satisfy his hunger. He was still hungry so we ordered two desserts for the table to split, (during the brunch hours the only things available are the brunch dishes and desserts) the Apple Crisp Parfait $8 and the Carolina Crullers $7. Both desserts were kinda anti-climatic. The apple crisp was the better of the two, but it was really hard to eat. The Crullers had potential but they were way overcooked. 
None of the food knocked our socks off, but it was good.The service (especially the kitchen) was a little slow but they bring you out carafes of mimosas so that made the wait more manageable.
Would I come back? Yes, I would. Although I would not likely be back if I had to travel from anywhere besides DC or parts of VA super close to the city (unless I got another fabulous brunch deal). 

1400 Irving Street NW
Washington, DC
Acre 121 on Urbanspoon
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Monday, March 10, 2014

"The Italian", an Italian Sub Inspired Pizza

I remember the moment clearly, my first bite of an Italian sub. It was from Jersey Mike's - I was bringing the boyfriend dinner and I wasn't very hungry so I ordered one of their ginormous subs and figured I would eat a quarter of it (their largest subs are not halved but sliced into quarters! How intense is that?) Since then I have been switching between my old faithful (turkey) and Italian at most sandwich shops.  The rich flavors of the Italian sub literally ignited a creative streak as I began developing ideas on Italian-inspired dishes to try in the near future ( FYI: Stuffed Italian Chicken is definitely in the works-stay tuned!).
For those who have yet to be graced by the gloriousness of the Italian Sub it basically takes all of the popular Italian lunch meats and put them on one sandwich. The sandwich normally houses salami, prosciutto, capicola or mortadella. Other meats such as pepperoni, ham and bologna can be substituted. Then you can add such toppings as provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, seasoning and my personal favorite, peppers (the hot kind!) to complete this mouth watering flavor bomb.
For this particular pie I chose to use pepperoni, ham and salami. Then I used a combo of mozzarella and provolone. Topped it off with some hot peppers and Italian seasoning. I am not a fan of meat at all on pizza but this combo was ridiculously delicious. One of my new favorite pies! 
With no further ado I present this wonderfully meaty, spicy pizza. As the Italians would say, "Buon Appetito!"

Ingredients - makes 2 pizzas
Pizza dough (I'll be posting a recipe for mine once I perfect it)
2/3 cup pizza sauce
4 cup bag of mozzarella
1/4 lb salami (from the deli)
1/4 lb ham (from the deli)
1/4 lb provolone (from the deli)
1/4 lb cup pepperoni (from the deli)
Hot Peppers (optional but recommended)
Italian Seasoning (few pinches)

1. If using a pizza stone, preheat oven to 475. If you aren't, follow the instructions on the dough you bought to preheat the oven. 
2. Roll dough to preferred shape. Spread on sauce and mozzarella. Rip/cut the provolone into strips and place on top of the mozzarella (I used about 4 slices per pie-I got mine from the deli)
3. Next place the meat on, whatever order you prefer. Then comes the hot peppers, however many that your spice level can handle. I used a few spoonfuls of peppers from Pot Belly (make sure to drain the oil off first if the peppers are in oil). Sprinkle on some Italian Seasoning-a few pinches. 
4. If using a pizza stone, cook 8-10 minutes or follow instructions on your dough package. Pizza is done when the edges turn golden. 
-I never use exact measurements for pizza, and like most pizza recipes it won't mess things up if you switch the amounts around
-I used salami, ham and pepperoni….aka the cheaper meats (what some pages on the Internet say). I wanted to see if this worked, and boy did it. You can easily use the fancier meats i.e. prosciutto, capicola or mortadella. 
-I used hot peppers from Pot Belly but you could easily use banana peppers (mild of hot), jalapenos or even red pepper flakes to give it a kick. 
-I made this pizza twice, the first time cutting up the meat into strips before I put it on, and the second time just leaving it whole. The boyfriend and I both agreed that the flavor and enjoyment of the pizza was better when you cut it into strips. You don't have to worry about taking a bite and all the toppings coming off. 
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Alexandria: The Butcher Block

One of the best (and worst) things about working in a city is the plethora of food options within walking distance of my office. My favorite place the past 6 months has been the Butcher Block, which my coworkers all refer to as "April's sandwich shop." I have gone enough that a couple of the workers know my order, which is naturally when I have to switch it up. I can't be too predictable.
The Butcher Block is not only a deli, but a butcher (obviously), wine and cheese shop. As far as their deli goes they seem to have a couple of regular sandwiches and then they rotate a few others around. I have tried most of them and my favorites are the Brabo Turkey (minus the dijonaise),the roast beef (when it's rare, they also seem to rotate the flavorings of this sandwich but not as often as the others) and the caprese (part of the rotating menu). I am not a fan of the Grinder or the Sweet and Salty (way to much sweet, not enough salty). My last visit they had a new vegetarian sandwich with roasted veggies and goat cheese, yum! They also rotate their chicken salads, I've seen Jerk chicken salad and Thai chicken salad-very creative, I love it. 
Not only having quality meats and veggies, but freshly baked and amazing bread. Most sandwiches are $9, but they recently upped the grinder to $11. For an additional $3 you can make it a combo with chips and a drink.  
If you couldn't tell by the photos above I have definitely become a regular here. They are super friendly and if you have questions, make sure to ask! I always ask which bread they use if I am trying a new sandwich because I like certain ones better and often switch them out. It is a little pricey, especially when there is a subway a couple steps away, but it is so worth it. Give it a try and treat yourself!
Would I come back? Yes, I go at least once every two weeks...once a week if I am bad and don't pack my lunches.  
1600 King Street
Alexandria, VA
The Butcher's Block on Urbanspoon

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