Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tysons Corner: Seasons 52

Seasons 52 is a restaurant that boasts a menu of each item being 475 calories or less, changing seasonally to bring the freshest ingredients to your table. Located on the bottom level at Tysons Corner Center, this is a great alternative to all those fast food options. This was my second visit and I was able to go outside of my box to try a few new items. 

I've had the chance to try two of their flat breads - one seasonal, the Braised Short Rib and Cheddar $10.95 pickled beet/red onion confetti/horseradish sour cream/micro cilantro (photo shown below) and one that is year round, the Roasted Roma Tomato $8.75 mozzarella/Parmesan/basil. Both were extremely delicious and the perfect light appetizer that packs a good flavor punch but doesn't stuff you before your entree. It's important to note that these are not really flat breads, they are more of a think cracker-like texture. 
Both visits I ordered the Crisp Romaine and Baby Kale Cesar Salad $7.95. This is a great salad if you are hesitant about kale as baby kale is not quite as intense and bitter as adult/fully matured(?) kale. The dressing is delicious - the way a Cesar dressing should taste and the salad is appropriately dressed (not drenched). Teddy ordered the Warm Harvest Mushrooms and Arugula Salad $8.25 with a truffle dressing. He really liked this and I enjoyed the truffle dressing and overall woodsyness of the salad. Sam ordered the seasonally chili and really liked it. (all photos above)
For my entree I ordered the Red Mole Braised Beef Tacos $9.75 jalapeño-lime slaw/
guacamole/pickled red onion. The beef was seasoned and cooked really well and the jalapeño slaw was not very spicy. Teddy ordered the Signature Burger $9.75 which came with a side of bread and butter pickles - he enjoyed his meal. Sam ordered the Crispy “Banh Mi” $10.50 chili-glazed Maple Leaf Farms duck/vegetable-pear confetti/cilantro/mint. While he enjoyed it, he wished there was a little more duck and the gingery taste was not his favorite. However, we traded a taco for a part of the sandwich sandwich and I really enjoyed it. 

I have also tried their sushi (California roll I believe) and some random veggie sides, both delicious. 

Service has always been on point and they let you try a a sip of the wine before committing to a glass. That paired with delicious/mostly good for you food will keep me coming back. I was stuffed after my meal, and I definitely didn't need part of an app, a salad AND tacos.

Would I come back? Yes, I really like Seasons 52, dare I say more then True Food Kitchen

Tysons Corner Center
Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Barracks Row: Bottomless Brunch at Ambar

Well I am back on the bottomless brunch train, with 2 brunches the past two weekends and a couple more planned for the next two months. After the disappointment two weeks ago at Medium Rare (review coming soon) Ambar was a breath of fresh air. 

Ambar is part of the Richard Sandoval restaurant group featuring Southeastern European (Balkan) cuisine. I've been here for restaurant week and happy hour and was very pleased with both experiences so I thought it was finally time to take the plunge for brunch. 

Brunch at Ambar consists of bottomless plates and cocktails (oj mimosa, peach mimosa, bloody mary). Not being a bloody fan I can't vouch for that - but the oj mimosa was our favorite. 

We tried A LOT of small plates but I am only going to highlight my favorites.
1.Steak and Eggs (sirloin with chimichurri and potatoes) the steak was cooked just like I requested (medium rare) - and not chewy at all - chimichurri paired wonderfully and helped make the dish not as heavy. 
2.Balkan Scrambled Eggs (red and yellow peppers, onions, cheese) seasoned to perfection and texture of the eggs was on point - not too dry, not too moist.
3.Eggs Benedict (english muffin, ajvar, prosciutto, kajmak sauce) the eggs were perfectly poached. I will admit I was not a fan of the red pepper sauce that came on it but that is just a personal taste.  
4. Cinnamon Sweet Sourdough with Nutella - this was probably one of our favorites, fried dough in cinnamon sugar with nutella to dip, need I say more?
5. Strawberry Waffle with Nutella and Whipped Cream - the waffle was wonderful, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside - then you add nutella and strawberries - more perfection
6. Roasted Mushroom Crepe (red pepper emulsion / bechamel / gouda) - admittedly I didn't like this, but the other two girls said if you liked mushrooms then this is a good dish. 
7. Cheese Pie (cucumber yogurt / ajvar emulsion) - another dish that was a favorite of the girls, they loved the crispy pastry with the cheese. 
It's important to note that the Balkan Salad (tomatoes, peppers, onions, cheese) was a delicious, nice fresh addition to brunch. The service was great, most of the food items we got were very good and the drinks were flowing. For a couple of dishes we requested them to come without the potatoes (or eggs from the steak and eggs dish) because we were getting full and didn't want to waste food - they were very accommodating. Bottomless Brunch at it's best. 

Would I come back? Yes, I was very impressed with the food and service. I've been here on three separate occasions and never had any complaints. 

523 8th Street SE
Washington DC
Barracks Row - closest metro: Eastern Markey
Ambar on Urbanspoon

Other trips to Ambar
Happy Hour
Other Bottomless Brunches I enjoy
PJ Clarkes
El Centro (another Richard Sandoval restaurant!)
Acre 121

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Arlington: Dama Pastry and Restaurant

Last month for Daring Diners we decided to check out Dama Pastry and Restaurant, an Ethiopian restaurant in Arlington – right down the road from the Air Force Memorial. 

While I have had Ethiopian a few times, I thought it would be a very big cultural leap for a few of my friends to try out. We chose this restaurant because they had a bakery attached to it – best decision EVER (and I will devote a separate post to it).

One of things that I personally think is the biggest hurdle/difference in Ethiopian food is the way it is served. Often food is served on a big spongy/sourdoughy like tortilla called injera. This is probably what keeps me away from Ethiopian food as I am not a huge fan of the tortilla. Served on injera, injera is also the “utensil” you use to eat the food.
We started off with a ginger tea – which was just hot water infused with ginger and a tea packet. Who knew water and ginger would taste so good together – will be using this technique at home.
3/5 of us ordered the veggie platter which came with 5 different vegetable dishes. One of the girls ordered Doro Watt, which was very unique - it came with a chili like sauce, two drumsticks and two boiled eggs. Although we really were not sure what the chili like substance was - it was quite tasty. The other ordered Awaze Tibs - cubed beef in spices - flavored well and very plentiful - she had leftovers for the next day.
If you like Ethiopian food then you will like this place. If you are looking to try something way outside of your box, this is definitely the cuisine to try. 

Would I come back? I am still not a huge fan of Ethiopian food. That being said, the bakery portion of this visit – I will definitely be back in the very near future, a piece of delicious cake for UNDER $5…yes please! 

1503 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA
Dama Ethiopian on Urbanspoon

Other Ethiopian Restaurants visited
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