Monday, July 28, 2014

Restaurant Revist: Lost Dog in North Arlington

I've been to Lost Dog a bunch of times over the past couple of years and I'm glad to say it is still a legit place to get some pizza or a sandwich. I must warn you, they do a have a menu that almost rivals the Cheesecake Factory's, making deciding what to order a challenge for those like myself. 

Sometimes the pizza can be a little to salty for my personal tastes but I still usually find it quite delicious. One of my favorites is the Greek Pizza without the olives (top right with olives). My favorite sandwich, and what I order 90% of the time, is the Irish Gyro (bottom left) which is served on a pita with roast beef, garlic mayo, feta, lettuce, tomato and onions. Spectacular. 

Jessie and I tried a few new things this time around. First was the Green Dog Dip (spinach and artichoke - top left) which was quite tasty. It's served with pita or tortilla chips - I recommend the chips. For pizza, we decided on The Kujo (bottom right)tomato sauce with pesto, artichoke hearts, grilled chicken breast, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. Another one to add to the list of delicious things here! 
If you haven't already, give Lost Dog a try! They have several locations making it more accessible to those in NOVA. 

Lost Dog Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Restaurant Revisit: Zaytinya

One of my old friends from a study abroad program in London awhile back (some fun posts here, here and here) is in town for an internship. As a fellow foodie, I knew I had to figure out an impressionable restaurant to meet at and decided upon Zaytinya.

The setup is shared plates, so if you go, expect to order quite a few to share for your table. I think four is enough for two people. It really depends on your hunger level. On certain days I could have gone with more plates but for this night it was enough. 

We started off our meal with some drinks, red wine for her and a Pom Fili for me (white wine, vodka, pomegranate) – I get this every time I go and I love it. 

Once seated every table receives pita and olive oil mixed with a pomegranate molasses – delicious.

Now on to the good stuff. Amy is a vegetarian so we stuck to that side of the menu which I was more than ok with. Veggies from Zaytinya are ALMOST enough to turn me vegetarian.  

Dolmades (grape leaves) – Perfect, not too briny. Definitely a favorite here. 
Bantijan Bil Laban (crispy fried eggplant) – My favorite dish here. I get it every time I come here.
Crispy Brussels Afelia – A dish that came highly recommended by our server and a few of Amy’s friends. They were delicious. I loved the crispy outer layer and the addition of the barberries.
Spanakopita – A classic dish with a twist. Instead of the normal triangles, it comes in a different shape. Basic, but good. 
Even though the restaurant was crazy packed service was on point. Our waiter was very animated and very knowledgable without being pushy or annoying. As always, the food is great - I highly recommend this place but I would make a reservation, I've never seen it slow. 

Would I come back? Yes! This is my 3rd/4th time back, I still love it! 

Past Visits: 
August 2011
April 2013

701 9th Street NW
Washington, DC
Zaytinya on Urbanspoon

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Washington DC: The Gryphon

You know when you have had the perfect day, where it ends with a smile? That just happened to be my day yesterday (and when it's a workday…a perfect day is even better). It started off with meeting the former White House Press Secretary and having a group workout sponsored by my company (during work hours!) ...yeah, sometimes I really like my job. The day ended with a visit to a new restaurant in Dupont Circle (only about a month old!) called The Gryphon - it may just be one of my new favorite restaurants in the area.
Before we get into the food, let's talk about the appearance of the actual restaurant. Located in Dupont Circle it's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the area. The Gryphon manages to stand out by being open and inviting to any passerby. The inside is slightly mysterious, yet very comfortable. 
The Gryphon was originally a sports bar, but soon after it originally opened it was shut down for renovations. When it reopened about a month ago, it became something magical - a steak and raw bar - and don't worry, they still have plenty of TVs if you are trying to catch a game! 

Once seated, they bring you out truffled potato chips. Wonderfully delicious - I have a weakness for things that have any sort of truffle involved. I really enjoyed how it wasn't the typical bread and butter, much lighter and a lot more fun. 
Over the course of the night we tried four drinks (2 each) the Artemis Vertue, The Gyphon, Sirens Call and Aphrodite's Kiss. The drink menu isn't online - but here is is below, along with the descriptions of the drinks we had below. 
The favorite of the night was the Artemis Vertue - light, refreshing and ready to make a gin lover out of those who avoid it, plus it was served in a mason jar - even better! You may hesitate over a $12 cocktail, but they were worth it - good quality liquor and ingredients really does make a difference. My only complaint is that I wish The Gryphon had a little more strawberry flavor to it.  Carrie loved the touch of Lavender in Aphrodite's Kiss.
The menu is set up to be shared tapa style divided into 3 sections: raw bar, shared plates and bigger plates of steak. Being that I can barely stomach fish, especially those that are rare we skipped that section of the menu. We stuck to a bunch of shared plates - selections below. 

We started off with something light (needed to get some ruffage in) - the Kale Salad $8.50 Balsamic Dressing, Sunflower Seeds, Currants, Dried Pineapple, Aged Gouda. The salad was light, delicious and packed full of flavor - a perfect start. The kale wasn't bitter at all and would be a perfect dish to get you to start liking kale if you avoid it. My only complaint is that I wish the kale was cut into smaller pieces, having to cut a salad is inconvenient (or you could just shove the big bite in your mouth, whatever works).
Next, based off the recommendation of our waiter as a daring dish (because I wouldn't try any of the raw bar selection), was the Roasted Bone Marrow $7.50 Shallot Mustard Jam, Baguette. This was quite an experience, a first for me and I was quite proud that I managed to eat it. Bone marrow has a fattier texture so it's not for the weak stomached. This is a "do it yourself" type of dish. You have to scrape the bone marrow out and spread it on the bread. Fun for the first time...or if you are a bone marrow lover. 
Now on to the fun part, steak! We each picked a steak dish to share. I went with the Wet Aged Hanger $13.50 Szechuan Peppercorn, Coriander, Ginger Scallion Sauce that our server recommended (the GM told me this dish is the staff favorite) and Carrie chose the Wet Aged Bistro Filet $12.50 Fried Brussel Sprouts, Speck Ham, Bearnaise SauceThese dishes are what made me fall in love with The Gryphon, two completely different yet ridiculously delicious ways of eating steak. The scallion sauce on the first steak made it a lighter, fresher dish (if steak can be light and fresh?). I never thought I would enjoy Bearnaise on a steak but it worked surprisingly well, paired with the fried brussels and crispy ham, it really made for a lovely combo.  
Our server suggested that we try the Mac N Cheese $8.50 Smoked Gouda, Gruyere, CheddarA delicious and cheesy combo, the panko on top was the kicker that brought this dish from good to great. 
We ended the meal with the Bread Pudding. This has never been my favorite dessert but it came recommended so I decided to try it out. Still not my favorite dessert but I really enjoyed this dish. 
This meal was perfection - one I will definitely be coming back to for a repeat performance. A perfect restaurant for a date night or a girls/boys/foodie night. Getting a few things and splitting makes for a fun dining experience and everything I tried tonight I wouldn't hesitate to order again. In fact I have already made plans to come back and brunch here with a few friends later this month! 

If you work in the area, they have an awesome lunch special - $12.50 for 1/2 sandwich, a salad and french fries, a best of both worlds sort of deal - you no longer have to choose between french fries and salad.

Bottomless brunch always gets me - and The Gryphon just happens to offer it - $14.50 for their bottomless brunch bar (if you order food, if not it's $20) - which has about 9 different drinks you can choose from. The food is similar to dinner, a social bites offering with a few more breakfast dishes thrown in the mix. 

If you go, tell them I sent you! 

Would I come back? I think we've covered that, I am dying to try more of their steak dishes! 

1337 Connecticut Ave
Washington, DC
The Gryphon on Urbanspoon

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I was invited to The Gryphon on the house, but was not compensated in any way for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Eating at the Wineries along the Cayuga Wine Trail

Being the wine lovers that we are, during a recent trip to Cayuga Lake, Carrie and I decided to spend a good part of our visit along the Cayuga Wine Trail. 

For those of you who are not familiar with Cayuga Lake, it is part of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Along with being a totally gorgeous area with lot's of outdoorsy things to do, it is also a HUGE wine area. There are about 15 wineries/distilleries/breweries around Cayuga Lake, and a whole bunch more surrounding the other Finger Lakes. 

Seeing that we were trying all this wine, we wanted to make sure that we had some food to break up each day. There are 4 wineries along the Cayuga Wine trail on the western side of the lake that have restaurants and we managed to hit 3/4 of them.

Although this post is dedicated solely on where to eat while you are vising all the lovely wineries, I plan to do a more in depth review and talk about what I think is the best way to split up the wineries (if you have the time of course...if not, I will highlight some of my must visit wineries).

Americana Vineyards and Crystal Lake Cafe
I have been here for lunch before and the food was amazing. This trip the food was still good...but service was quite bad. Maybe it was a fluke but both Carrie and I were not happy with it. Anyways, we got the Biscuits and Gravy (holy moly this was spectacular...if i ever go back I will ask them to hold the eggs and add another biscuit if possible) and the Lamb Burger. As it was brunch, we had to order some mimosas, which were delicious. For brunch they bring you out a mini chocolate chip scone with butter and jam.

4637 East Covert Road
Interlaken, NY
The Crystal Lake Cafe on Urbanspoon

Knapp Winery and Restaurant
Carrie and I both ordered the lunch combo...soup and 1/2 sandwich. I got the french onion soup and the philly cheesesteak wrap. The wrap was delicious, the cheese in it was amazing, however the french onion soup was very weird, way to light if that makes sense and not french oniony enough. Carrie got the soup de joir of the day which was a potato garlic soup and the cubano. Her soup was excellent and the cubano was decent. 

2770 Ernsberger Road
Romulus, NY
Knapp Winery & Vineyard Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Cayuga Ridge Estate: The Copper Oven
Out of all the winery restaurants on the Cayuga Wine Trail, The Copper Oven is the most casual and laid back. Although it's advertised as pizza, it's really flatbread. Although it being just a flatbread, it was delicious and hit the spot. I got the barbecue chicken and was very happy with my choice. The menu rotates every month so make sure to check out the website. They also serve beer here, so it's a great place to appease the non-wine drinkers that you likely will drag alone with you to a tasting.  

6800 State Route 89
Ovid, NY
The Copper Oven on Urbanspoon

The only winery/restaurant that we missed on this trip was the Thirsty Owl. As it was a holiday weekend, the restaurant was super packed and we didn't want to wait 45 minutes for a table. Next trip up I will definitely go and give you all and update! 

Also worth noting is that Toro Winery (new to the wine trail, it's not even on the map yet!) doesn't have a restaurant but they have a couple of tapas/hotdogs/etc. that you can order and a very casual environment. A good place to bring kids and let them run outside while you enjoy some tapas and wine.

Stay tuned for more about the Cayuga Wine Trail later this week!! 

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

DC: Floriana Brunch

It's been awhile since I've done a brunch post - such a slacker. I spotted a Gilt City ad for bottomless brunch at Floriana and jumped at the chance to go. 

Floriana is located in Dupont Circle, away from the fuss and buss of the actual circle. The restaurant is a converted Row House which gives it a lot of character but also makes it a little cramped. We chose to sit on the outdoor porch, which was adorable and equally cramped. 
Part of the deal was bottomless beneigts, which were pumpkin jalapeƱo flavored with a side of maple bacon butter - I believe the regular price is around $6 for a serving. This was a really original combo, a nice addition to the brunch. 
For my entree I chose the Steak and Potatoes. It was served with a chimichurri-like sauce which was delicious. My steak was way over cooked - I asked for medium rare but received medium well. I didn't feel like sending it back so I ate it as is. The chimichurri helped make up for the overdoneness. Ironically I thought the potatoes were a little underdone. Although it was overcooked I still enjoyed it but probably would have really liked it if it was cooked to my preferred temperature. 
My friend ordered Eggs Purgatory (except on the actual menu it's in Italian). It was a sunny side up egg in a spicy tomato sauce with fancy toasted bread. I really liked this twist to an egg dish and the bread and tomato sauce were really good. 
The most disappointing thing about this brunch were the mimosas. The champagne was pretty much nonexistent. I have had quite a few mimosas in my day and these were like a 4/10.  If there was just a little more bubbly that score would have been knocked up a few points.

I always like to ask the servers what they recommend even if I don't go with their choices -it really shows that they know and like the menu. Our server recommended the steak (which I ordered) and the smoked salmon benedict. Service was attentive, food was a little slow coming out, but nothing too bad. Brunch was busy but not super packed.

Would I come back? Maybe, not for bottomless brunch unless there was another deal. They definitely have some other appealing dishes that I would be tempted to try out if I wasn't in the mood for mimosas. 

1602 17th Street Northwest
Washington, DC
Floriana on Urbanspoon

Other bottomless brunches I enjoy…
PJ Clarkes …great food and drinks
Acre 121 …little far into DC for those who live in NOVA, but the mimosas…delicious
El Centro …all you can eat and drink

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