Friday, June 27, 2014

Washington DC: The Front Page

I was recently invited to try the Front Page in Dupont Circle for dinner. At first thought, I was like "hey they serve food?" But that's a younger, much wilder April talking. The Front Page from my youth was often a starting point in the night for going out (Nightmare on M street anyone? Those were the days). Granted I am still young, but a little less wild and crazy. 

Anyways I jumped at the chance to try out the Front Page and wandered over one Friday night. The outdoor patio was super packed and busy while the inside was a little less so. Understandably as it was a beautiful night out. 

I started off my meal with a Caipirinha which was different then any other version that I have had before. It was made with tequila instead of rum, which surprised me with my first sip but I really enjoyed it. 
Smothered TotsTater tots topped with pulled pork or chili, sour cream, cheese, and green onions. These were pretty good, the only thing I wasnt a fan of was the pulled pork. Definitely not pulled pork, more like chunks/pieces. This is more of a happy hour/late night appetizer but after a week of going carb free I couldn't resist the call of tots. I met up with a few people after dinner and they actually ordered this with the chili and loved it.
Based off both the recommendation of our server and a manager, we decided to get the Blackened Chicken Fettuccine - Chicken and Andouille sausage in a Cajun cream sauce. We both really enjoyed this dish. The Cajun cream sauce was delicious and flavorful without being too heavy. Other recommendations were the steak dishes and the crab cakes - but as you can tell I was on a mission to eat as many carbs as possible.
The Heidenburger fresh ground sirloin, Swiss cheese, sautéed onions, coleslaw and Russian dressing. This burger had the potential to be amazing. It was good, but sloppily made and missing actual coleslaw -there were a few strands here or there. Had everything been put together this would have been an amazing burger. The combo of the cheese, russian dressing and coleslaw was on point. 
The Front Page has lot's of menu options for all sorts of budgets, whether you want something more casual (like a burger/sandwich) or sit down (like pasta or steak). Next time I go back, I definitely want to try one of their steaks. 

Would I come back? Yes, I would. I think it would be a great place to get happy hour on the porch (or at the bar if it's cold out) and then get a bite to eat. 

1333 New Hampshire
Washington, DC
Front Page on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Occoquan: Madigan's Waterfront

Taking advantage of the beautiful weather this past Saturday, Teddy and I wanted to do something outdoorsy and decided upon Fountainhead Park (more on that later). Afterwards we decided to head by to a nearby town (10-15 away), Occoquan, for a meal on the water at Madigan's Waterfront.
Once there, we were lucky enough to get sat at the first row of tables overlooking the water. 
To start off our meal we got the Crab Combo Sampler $13.95 which included crab avocado egg rolls, mini crab cakes and crap dip. The mini crab cakes stole the show, they were amazing -full of crab (instead of fillers) and fried. The crab and avocado egg rolls were ok, they were missing the avocado (if there was any it was not noticeable) and the crab dip was too liquidy and the chunks of crab were awkwardly portioned. 
We decided to split two meals, the Mad Burger $10.95 served with hickory smoked bacon and cheddar cheese and the Crab Cake Platter $22.95 which came with 2 crab cakes and a side. The burger was ok, a little bland but for $10 I am not going to complain. The crab cake platter was awesome. The crab cakes were perfect - I would have personally preferred a little more crispness on the outside, but flavor wise they were on point.
I am really glad I didn't read the yelp reviews before coming here. They were pretty bad, saying that service was horrible and food was hit or miss. I can't vouch that your experience will be like mine, but I am very picky and snobbish about my food (particularly when I eat any sort of seafood) and I was really impressed. We had an adorable server who was very attentive - our food runner had a very rough personality but we just laughed it off. 

Would I come back? I would -the view is nice, beer is cheap and the crab cakes were delicious.

201 Mill Street
Occoquan, VA
Madigan's Waterfront on Urbanspoon

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Get a free meal at Cafe Rio - VA/MD locations!

I have an awesome opportunity for those of you in the VA/MD area!! Have you ever heard of Cafe Rio?? It's a fast, casual Mexican restaurant that makes amazing quesadillas. They have lot's of other delicious food, but my favorite is the chicken quesadilla with a side of their AMAZING cilantro ranch dressing.

Great news, if you go to one of the locations below you have the opportunity to get a free meal....and dessert! 

Right now you have the chance to try them for FREE, all you have to do is fill out a little survey on site with your smart phone. 

Hurry though because only the first 40 people per location (participating locations listed below) get this great deal! Limit one free meal and dessert per person.

And if you happen to go to the one by Falls Church, do like I do and go to Target and then Cafe Rio and contemplate your multiple purchases over a tasty meal. 
Here's what you do:

Upon arriving to the restaurant and observing the atmosphere, pull up the following survey link on your own mobile device and answer a few questions about your first impressions of the restaurant's atmosphere.

1st half –

Once you see the "Thank you for taking our survey page" Jump in line and order a meal of your choice ON US! Just show that "thank you" page to the person at the register.

Now, we'd like to hear your thoughts about the ordering / dining experience.

2nd half –

Come show the "Thank you" page to the person at the register for your free dessert to stay or to go.

Bring your mobile device to any of the following 7 locations in the D.C. area:

1.    Falls Church
            6108 Arlington Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22044

2.    Burke
6003 Burke Centre Pkwy
Burke, VA 22015

3.    Chantilly
13057 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy
Fairfax, VA 22033

4.    Manassas
7803 Sudley Road
Manassas, VA 20109

5.    Annapolis
2188 Annapolis Mall Road
Annapolis, MD 21401

6.    Germantown
20680 Seneca Meadows Pkwy
Germantown, MD 20876

7.    Waldorf
3082 Festival Way
Waldorf, MD 20601

Congrats Carrie!!! I will be emailing you for details!!! Thanks for entering :)

Now here's the bonus! I am also giving away a giftcard to my readers. All you have to do is be following me on facebook (link below) and comment on this post what you want to try or if you have tried something - what's your favorite! I will pick a winner by a random number generator next Wednesday and mail the giftcard out to you Thursday! 
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Although I was compensated for this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Gnocchi with Asparagus and Pesto

Without doubt one of my favorite channels has to be Food Network. It is the first channel I go to when I first turn on my tv and the only one I have memorized besides basic cable. I recently discovered a new "talk show" on food network called The Kitchen...and I love it. This recipe is inspired from a dish that Geoffrey Zakarian (Iron Chef winner and judge on Chopped) created, except I switched up the vegetables and used a store bought pesto. 

Even though a main component of this dish is potato pasta it was fresh, flavorful and light - the perfect spring/summer dish. 

You'll notice below that the I put the serving size between 2-4 people. If it is the main dish it will serve 2 people some very comfortable portions. If you serving as a side, it will serve 4 nicely - I recommend some grilled chicken seasoned with a little salt, pepper and zest from the lemon you will use in the recipe below.  


Ingredients (serves 2-4)
1 bunch of asparagus (when it's cooked and cut, it's about 2 cups)
1 17.6oz package of gnocchi (or 3 cups cooked)
1 shallot - chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup pesto
1 Tablespoon Butter 
Juice from 1 Lemon
2 1/2 Tablespoons EVOO
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees while you are prepping the rest of the ingredients. 
2. Once oven is preheated, on a baking sheet put the asparagus, drizzle 1 Tablespoon of the EVOO and a couple of shakes of salt and pepper. Mix around with your hands and then put in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until asparagus starts to get a little wrinkly. 
3. When the water is at a boil, put in the gnocchi and cook as directed on your package. 
4. Once gnocchi is cooked, in a medium pan heat up the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Place the shallot and the gnocchi and cook until the gnocchi is slightly toasted (a light brown color). Anywhere from 5-10 minutes should do it. 
5. When the gnocchi begins to color, put in the asparagus, lemon juice, butter and pesto. Cook for an addition 2 minutes. 
6. Divide between plates and grate fresh Parmesan over to taste. 
7. Enjoy :)

-I used store bought Pesto, if that's the route you choose (instead of homemade) I suggest you buy some out of the refrigerated section. I got mine from Whole Foods - Severino Classic Pesto and it was fantastic. Bad pesto could really break this recipe.
-A great addition to this recipe would be bacon, definitely adding it next go around.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Old Town Alexandria: Bread and Chocolate, Old Town Deli and Flat Iron Steak and Saloon

I wanted to fit all of my lunch ventures in Old Town to one week so you get 3 mini reviews today. 

Bread and Chocolate. My friend and I decided to split two sandwiches, the French Dip and the California Croissant (turkey, sun-dried tomato pesto and avocado). The French Dip was good - very flavorful, I'd come back and get it. The California Croissant was a letdown. At a french bakery you expect quality baked goods and the croissant was not very appetizing. 
Would I come back? Yes, if I was in the area. I wouldn't walk the ~mile from my office to eat here, but if I were a couple of minutes away I would. 

Old Town Deli. A deli (with greek specialities!) that delivers? Sign me up. I ordered the schwarma salad and my friend got the Athenian Chicken. Despite the small container, the salad was jam packed and delicious. 
Would I come back? Yes, I have my eye on the gyro. Nom.

Flat Iron Steak and Saloon. I was really excited to try this place but unfortunately it was a let down. We got the two steak sandwiches on the menu - the French Dip and the Chipotle Steak. The meat was bland and nothing was very good-not bad, but not good. The french dip was much better at Bread and Chocolate.
Would I come back? Probably not, but never say never. 

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Old Town Alexandria: Nando's Peri Peri

Nando's is one of my favorite places to eat lunch. I am obsessed with their peri peri sauce (which you can buy at the restaurant…and now grocery stores!). I have a couple of coworkers who also love this place and always request that I bring them back some when I venture to the other end of Old Town (King and Washington Street~10-15 walk from my office)

I have tried a lot of things from Nando's, but my favorite is the Chicken Breast Wrap (minus the sweet chili jam - I'm not a fan of sweetness it adds). The tangy yogurt with the hot sauce of the chicken, crunchy lettuce and the wrap make this a perfect lunch dish. They have a Butterflied Chicken Breast - good for those like me who don't like bones in their meat as well as bone in wings/breasts/legs. My friend has tried lot's of their sandwiches/wraps trying to find "the one" and she has settled upon their Chicken Breast Sandwich (not shown below). Bottom line - their sauce is delicious, you just need to find the best way you like to get it into your belly. 

As far as sides go, their french fries rock - when I'm feeling healthier I usually will just go for a mixed greens salad. I've had their garlic bread, and coleslaw, both ok options. 
While I love Nando's, if you happen to come across this place and it looks really busy, pick somewhere else. They do not handle large lunch rushes well at all, I have found out the hard way several times. The plates are sloppy, the waits are ridiculously long and the fries have often been undercooked. That being said…if it's a normal crowd, everything is good to go.

What's great is they have a frequent buyer/eaters card. Ask for one at the counter and they offer lot's of free/tasty things - definitely one of the best "frequent" cards I have come across.  

Would I come back? YES, My name is April and I'm an addict…to Nando's. 

702 King Street
Alexandria, VA
Nando's Peri-Peri on Urbanspoon

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Old Town Alexandria: Sweet Fire Donna's

I have been super slacking on my blog posts the past couple of months…who would have thought when I got a new job I would actually have to work all day instead of being able to blog (crazy I know…actually having to work at work). Recently a new follower with nice things to say and lots of friends asking me what's up with my blog have given me motivation to get going again. 

I thought I would kick off this week with a theme of where to eat lunch in Old Town Alexandria - the area where I work. 

I'm always on a mission to try new things in the area because there are a million choices and I always seem to stick to my usuals (Whole Foods, Nando's or the Butcher Block).  Yelp is often a place I randomly scroll through when I am bored and I stumbled upon a new restaurant to the area, Sweet Fire Donna's and, hello..BBQ and great reviews - lunch decision made for the day. This place isn't on the main street/main area of Old Town, but it's pretty close. 
They have a couple of different meat choices - I usually get the pulled pork but I have also had the brisket which is a favorite of many of my coworkers. 
They offer 4 different barbecue sauces. All of them were good except for the Honey Chipotle which I thought was way to sweet - my favorite is the Caroline Treet Mustard. 
If you order a platter, it automatically comes with Cornbread which is amazing-it was moist and super delicious, turning me from a corn bread hater to a lover. My favorite sides are the Bourbon Pepperjack Creamed Corn (does anyone else think of The Adventures of Pete and Pete when they think of creamed corn?), the Fiery Macaroni and Cheese and the Coleslaw (it wasn't super mayoey and they threw in a few other veggies which was a nice twist). I have also tried the Collared Greens, the Baked Beans and the Potato Salad (the only thing I don't like - it's kinda of boring and bland).
They also have a happy hour. 
The line moves quickly making it a perfect place to get lunch during the week. The barbecue is very good for the NOVA area and they have some standout sides ( the cornbread and creamed corn). I highly recommend this place for lunch or a quick dinner. 

Would I come back? Yes, in fact after I discovered this place I had several lunch dates in the following weeks and we even decided to cater from here for a work function. 

510 John Carlyle Street
Alexandria, VA
Sweet Fire Donna's on Urbanspoon

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