• 20Sep

    We tested out Strong Fit Meals‘ menu last week, and were pleasantly surprised. With menus called the “Lean Menu” and “Clean Menu,” our fear was that we would be sacrificing flavor in a quest for healthy food.

    We tried 5 items from the Clean Menu and one from the Lean Menu. The meals we sampled from the Clean menu were the Chicken Satay, Salmon, Beef Burger, Chicken  Fajitas, and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers. From the Lean Menu, we were given the Chicken Breast.

    The meals were definitely better than expected (of healthy cuisine), and were fresh, with the absolute standouts being the Chicken Satay and the Chicken Fajitas (with Cilantro Rice), which were both delicious. I will say that if I had found the Chicken Satay in a store, I would have passed it up since it has P28 powder which does not sound like an appetizing (or necessary) ingredient. And, they could work on the flavor and texture of the pickled cucumbers that were packaged with that dish. The Beef Burger is more like meatloaf (hello egg whites!) but is good, as long as you skip the low sugar ketchup (ick). The Chicken Breast with Green Beans was nice as well.

    I think I overheated the Salmon, so won’t critique it. Stuffed Peppers aren’t my thing in general, so I’ll skip talking about them.

    The Lean menu consists of lean proteins such as Grilled Chicken Breast, Grilled Steak, Tilapia, Salmon, and Ground Turkey. When ordering from the Lean Menu, you can select from various vegetables and starches as sides. This week’s Clean Menu includes Spicy Plum Chicken, Blackened Chicken, Turkey Enchilada Bake, Swedish Meatballs, and Peanut Chicken.

    This is definitely a good service for someone who wants healthy well-packaged and home delivered (to DC, Bethesda or Virginia) meals. I can see people bringing these meals to work for lunch.

    -JAY

  • 18Sep

    In the theme of “dress for the job you want to have,” Ashok Bajaj’s 701 Restaurant on Tuesday evening, September 13, ran with the idea of “create a menu for the season you want it to be.” Fall’s a-coming, even if we can’t quite tell yet. Talented chef Benjamin Lambert (who once worked at Restaurant Nora) is changing over his seasonal menu with sips and plates that have whiffs of sultry summer and gusts of hearty fall.

    “I took inspiration from dishes that I love to cook and eat,” he said. “And, of course, the upcoming fall season. I have a really wide range to create dishes that I’m passionate about.”

    At the bar, a seasoned mixologist poured not only red, white and rose wine (now popular in any season), but also two craft cocktails. The first is geographical in name: the 7th & Penn, with rye, aged rum, PX sherry, orange and angostura bitters. The second connects summer (gin) and fall (port), called the Douro Spritz, with saffron-infused gin, white port, housemade tonic, and soda.

    Small plates circulated the room, beginning with a Chilled Corn Soup in a shot glass, topped with bacon crumbles, cornbread streusel, and chili-lime sorbet. In the frozen theme, a Bluefin Tuna Tartare came topped with sushi rice ice cream, along with ponzu and wasabi oil. Our favorites: the delightful and hearty cauliflower shawarma, served over a tiny dollop of hummus, with golden raisins, tomatoes, and lavash; and the Smoked Duck Breast, served over a trio of sauces: black bean puree, salsa verde, and baby corn aioli.

    The evening finished with a sweet corn pudding and deconstructed s’mores: a fitting end to a warm evening.

    -ESC (Evan)

     

    Editor’s Note: Yes, one photo is upside down.

  • 12Sep

    The good news is, some of us are over-employed (that’s good, right?). Some of us have even moved away from the DC area. (You know who you are). 🙂

    But the bad news is a dry spell for the FUD at the moment. So, to counteract this terrible state of affairs, we are looking for…..

    A FEW NEW WRITERS!! Were you annoyed by a restaurant? Do you have some random recipes to share? Have you discovered the best wine, restaurant, or food truck in DC? Do you want to write a comparison article for a particular item or dish? Need some hipster cred? Writing experience for your resume? Articles for your Portfolio? Passionate about food? Then we want you for DCFüd. Send writing samples to jay@dcfud.com, along with few ideas you’d like to write about. It’ll be crazy!

    -JAY

    Permalink Filed under: Etc No Comments
  • 01Sep

    We recently dined at City Perch (in North Bethesda) for the first time. The restaurant shares a floor with a movie theater (which is part of the same company).

    We tried several of City Perch’s new menu items: Grilled Pork Chop, French Onion Soup, Tuscan Kale Salad, Apple Crisp, and Chocolate Donut. We also tried one of their classic options, the Roasted Long Island Duck, and two of their cocktails, the Norma Jean and the Illegalito.

    So, how were the food and drinks?

    The shredded duck was delicious. The dried out duck leg was more of a garnish, but the BBQ sauce and rest of the duck were spot on. The duck was served with Chinese Butter Buns (whipped trickling springs butter + sea salt), something I haven’t heard of, but they had a nice texture and worked well with the dish.

    The pork chop was tender and well executed, and was served with tasty Brussels sprouts. It was odd that they served me an item on the bone with a butter knife, since a steak knife would have been more appropriate (easier to use).

    The French Onion Soup and Tuscan Kale salad were good as well. I haven’t had French Onion Soup that included beef previously, but it was a good combination.

    The Norma Jean (Strawberry Vodka lemonade) and Illegalito (lovechild of a passion fruit mojito and a fresh piña colada) were both cocktails we would order again. We actually attempted to order a piña colada, since they already were making a similar cocktail, but were told it was not possible.

    The last three images above are dishes I took pictures of, even though we did not try them.

    This is a great restaurant that is serving some wonderful dishes, but some work needs to be done on the dessert menu. It is interesting that the waiter tried to steer both of us towards the Chocolate Donut, but we insisted on trying two different desserts.

    The Chocolate Donut could have had better texture, and in the menu, it was not clear that it is filled with warm chocolate. The accompanying macadamie tuile was excellent and the ice cream pairing (chocolate mint) worked.

    The apples in the Apple Crisp were under cooked and under seasoned (cinnamon, brown sugar, or ginger would help) and the crisp topping wasn’t crisp or substantial (it is usually like a crust when I order it in other restaurants) or flavored. The bland apple crisp was paired with crème fraîche ice cream when a flavored ice cream could have helped substantially by bringing contracting flavors. That particular ice cream flavor may pair well with a more flavored dessert.

    We are definitely looking forward to trying more dishes at City Perch, since the entrees were delicious and well-executed.

    -JAY

  • 26Aug

    One part laid-back Latin lounge, one part energetic izakaya, a dash of trendy U Street cocktail bar, shaken and poured into a new and stunning two-level space. Welcome to Sakerum.
    The name is a clear combination of inspiration across two distinct, but here united, cultures. The interior, the food, and the drink all reflects this unity. Inside, interweaving international textiles back up unique wall décor and statement pieces,  including a golden bird cage. And in a direct nod to the name, diners will find patterns inspired by rice and sugarcane throughout the space. The open-air upstairs space is now complete with a retractable rooftop.

    Owner Stephanos Andreou said “I’m just all about people. I Mixtress Gina Chersevani shakes it upwanted something less serious, more fun, and both sophisticated and a touch mysterious. I was inspired to blend Latin and Japanese cuisines because I have always believed that though their perspectives are quite different, their flavors complement each other very well. I was also excited to bring this unique concept to a city like Washington where I was unable to find another restaurant like this before.”

    Officially opened on August 22, the kitchen is helmed by Chef Khan Gayabazar, who crafts contemporary sushi, sashimi, and other dishes that cross Pacific trade and national barriers. Take the Mar y Tierra Roll – sushi made with lobster tail and tableside-scorched Miyazaki Wagyu beef, or the Yaki Tako, sweet and tender lightly grilled octopus kissed with lemon oil paired with a just-spicy-enough orange-mango salsa that provides a perfectly complementary bite.

    Meanwhile, as for the liquor, talented Gina Chersevani of Buffalo & Bergen heads up the bar program as beverage manager, where she coordinates the crafting of equally alluring and creative cocktails. The “Pirates Creed,” for example, has rum, coconut, pineapple, yuzu, and nutmeg. Of course, she includes the featured spirits in her drinks, as well as housemade sugarcane juice, made from a machine right behind the upstairs bar (ask for a taste!).

    At the opening party on Tuesday, August 23, Mixtress Gina debuted her cheeky tiki cocktail menu. Guests were greeted at the door with the “Welcome to the Bamba… Baby,” a warming concoction of red wine and bitters with berry, grapefruit, and lime. In a Caribbean take on a Manhattan, there’s the “I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so,” with rum instead of whiskey, and the addition of amaro sfumato and both orange and Angostura bitters. These are served at the mood-lit downstairs space, izakaya-style, snug up against the sushi bar and booths made both for boisterous groups and perhaps a canoodle.

    The upstairs bar, meanwhile, goes full-on Latin lounge, with everything from the aforementioned sugarcane juicer to a frozen-drink maker. Slushie-style drinks are slung by bartenders in sleek copper cups adorned by shaved ice and sprigs of mint. Andreou said, “One of my favorite parts of the restaurant is the retractable rooftop on the second floor. It’s a gorgeous space that we can control the atmosphere around, and the small details, like the greenery and plants, make the area feel luxe and spacious.”

    Chersevani told us that she “didn’t know much about sake when I started the project a couple years ago, but my passion for unique spirits means now that we have an list of rums, sakes, and other liquors that you’re not going to find at any other bar. It’s been an incredible learning process.” She also gave us the scoop on her Wednesday-only Sake Bamba parties, where she’ll serve unique sakes in limited quantities, giving her the opportunity to showcase the spirit and let different iterations shine that she’d be unable to do so on other nights.
    Passed small bites wandered through the dense crowd during the event, including sushi rolls and chicken with mojo sauce. The party lasted well into the evening as the lights got low and the music turned up. Surely a good sign for this exciting space.

    -ESC

    Sakerum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 23Aug

    We recently tried out Mezze Box‘s service (after meeting Johnny (the owner) at the August DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at Esencias Panamenas in Petworth). The menu changes weekly and the meals are delivered to your home. This week’s menu included okra, which unfortunately Mezze Box ran out of earlier in the day. We tried the above (pictured) dishes.

    Our favorite dishes were the Grape Leaves, Baba Ganouj, and Chicken & Rice. The Kafta & Vegetables was good as well and I’d like to see the eggplant from that dish again (even on its own).

    The pita was local (Wooden Bakery in Vienna) and was good.

    A Lebanese friend said the lentil dish was just ok (I wasn’t crazy about it but am not a big lentil fan), but she raved about the grape leaves. She liked the chicken and rice dish and said that it usually includes almonds or pine nuts.

    It’s a shame dessert isn’t included.

    I definitely recommend Mezze Box since the food was fresh and tasty, and the menu changes weekly. Plus, the food is delivered to your home.

    -JAY

    Disclosure: From time to time, we are given free items, meals, or entry to events.

    Editor’s Note:

    Below are some highlights from the August DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at Esencias Panamenas:

    Permalink Filed under: Etc No Comments
  • 12Aug

     

    Summer humidity has gotten us all crabby. This time, though, it’s not a bad thing. In the cool, sophisticated confines of Bar Dupont, guests can get their hands dirty taking part in a time-honored Mid-Atlantic tradition. In a great location right on Dupont Circle, Bar Dupont opened its patio to crab experts and neophytes on August 6, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. – and will do it again August 20. It’s a do-not-miss event for anyone who likes a little adventure mixed with some fantastically prepared crabs and sides.

    The Crab Fest features three important elements. The first is Capital Crab Company, which brings in live (yes, live) blue crabs to cook on the spot. They lay down the butcher paper, provide the sauces (vinegar, Old Bay, butter) and the mallets. And then they’ll give and you the crabs, and you’ll get to get messy. There’s no better fun than prying open a salty, spiced leg, giving it an elbow-greased tap with a mallet, and scooping out the sweetest, most tender crab meat this side of the Chesapeake. Claws away.

    IMG_5033JPGThe second element is RAR Brewing, which provides cans of a West Coast-style IPA called  the Nanticoke Nectar, which has bold and fresh citrus (especially grapefruit) notes. RAR will also serve Groove City, a German style Hefeweizen, with just a touch of sweetness and wheat flavor . Bar Dupont, of course, will be serving seasonal craft cocktails from the bar for purchase.

    Finally, a Southern folk-rock band will serenade your other senses with fantastic music throughout the entire afternoon.

    Michael from Capital Crab Company put it well. He told us, “We love events like these; it’s a great experience. We started small, cooking crabs from the truck, but putting on events right in the heart of DC is meaningful, really bringing crabs to the people. We get the crabs right from the source, so we say it’s ‘from port to table.’ Hanging with the public is just so much fun.”

    The Crab Feast includes all-you-can-eat crab, sides, and beer. Otherwise, you can also pick up crab cake sandwiches, shrimp, and crab mac ‘n’ cheese and order sides like hush puppies and coleslaw. Other drink options include fresh-squeezed lemonade and a Southern-inspired whiskey sweet tea. And to really wake up the senses – an Old Bay Bloody Mary; it pairs well, indeed. See you August 20!

    -ESC (Evan)

  • 31Jul

    John Shields is author of Chesapeake Bay Cooking, host of the PBS series Coastal Cooking, and owner of Gertrude’s in Baltimore (which is soon to open a second location). John hosted a crab and beer dinner a few days ago, where he lead guests through the technique of opening their own steamed Maryland Blue Crab. Wildfire Executive Chef Moreno Espinoza designed and executed the several dishes that followed the crab picking and showcased crab in a variety of uses, each paired with a beer from Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewing.

    I was impressed with each of the courses and the beer pairings. The crab was fresh and delicious. My favorite dish of the evening was the crab tostada. This was my first time sampling Union Craft Brewing’s beer; Wildfire picked a great brewery to partner with, as usual.

    If you are interested in attending one of Wildfire’s themed dinners (such as wine, beer, scotch, martinis, etc.), check this event page. The upcoming Port City Brewing beer dinner is on August 26th and the Glenfiddich Scotch dinner is on September 16th.

    -JAY

    Wildfire Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 20Jul
    Jinya

    The Mosaic District in Merrifeild, VA is quickly growing into the next hot spot in Northern VA and where hot spots go, foodies are not far behind.  The popular Vietnamese restaurant, Four Sisters, was one of the first brave restaurant owners to venture into this newly constructed area and others quickly followed.  And now it’s brought us a little piece of LA trendiness.

    JINYA is a popular chain ramen bar that has been spreading across the U.S. and now is in our backyard and soon to open a second location in downtown DC.

    I’m a bit of a skeptic with all of these new ramen restaurants popping up in the area lately but JINYA has a good variety of tasty ramen choices  and a great line up of accompanying appetizers.

    Tonkotsu Black was my favorite of all the Ramen choices because it had a nice bold flavor and you could tell that Jinya had taken special care in preparing the broth.  I was also oddly drawn to their Spicy Creamy Vegan.  I’m by no means a vegetarian but I wouldn’t have been able to tell that this wasn’t the normal pork-based ramen soup since they seasoned it so well.  And don’t forget it’s a bar too.  They have a fully tended bar with some very unique specialty drinks that you won’t want to pass up.  You’ll find something spicy and even exotic flavors you’ve haven’t previously tried and they don’t go easy on the liquor!

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    I’m an appetizer lover so I was fixated on their number of appetizer choices for a ramen bar.  The JINYA Bun was my favorite.  I’m a lover of Chinese roast pork buns (char sui bao – 叉燒包) and JINYA’s does not disappoint.  But it also doesn’t taste like your traditional pork buns either.  It has a thicker BBQ sauce giving it more of a tangy kick rather than the typical sweetness.  Their Tokoyaki (Octopus Ball) is also another popular item.  The ball itself was very good; however, it sits in too much sauce, so the bun seemed to be drowning.

    Great food and great atmosphere.  It’s definitely a spot to hit up after work or with friends on the weekend.

    -ADT

    ——————-

    Editor’s Notes: I ate at Jinya last week and want to add a few things. Jinya is one of several local ramen joints (Including Reren Lamen in Chinatown and Gaijin in Arlington) that makes they own noodles, which is a good thing. I was impressed with Jinyas ramen including the toppings, broth, noodles, and variety. I will definitely return to work my way through the menu.

    I will say that this is a young, busy (there was a line outside at 5pm on a week night), high energy (in staff and ambient sound) restaurant, which combined with dim lighting and white on black menus (I was tempted to use a flashlight app to read the menu) … takes a little getting used to.

    -JAY

  • 07Jul

    Serepeh chicken skewerBarbadian Seasoned Pork Chicken Choila with Alu Achaar Duck Pate wrapped in Bacon

    One of the quickest ways to understand the heart and soul of any country is through the unique cuisine of the nation, and on Wednesday the 26th May guests at the Embassy Chef Challenge were transported around the world in 18 countries (and plenty more dishes). The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center played host to the international cook off that saw chefs grill, chop, fry, bake, steam and sauté the best fare and their finest produce in a bid to take home the title.

    In suave evening attire, the VIP guest reception offered early comers a sample of appetizers from 12 of the 18 countries, and the stage was set for the battle of the chefs to begin, with opening address paying homage to the international community that makes up Washington.

    Sampling stations were set for guests to then enjoy what each Embassy Chef had to offer. South African chef Zodwa Sikakane served Magwinya, (known as ‘fatcake’, a type of deep fried bread) stuffed with eggs and served with Chakalaka (a fiery vegetable relish).

    The patience of the guests was tested as they waited for the mouthwatering food to be prepared, usually taking a minute as chefs prepared more small bites for the ever growing crowd. This was made more bearable as distraction came in the form of non-stop entertainment throughout the evening including performances from Russian violinist Rafael Jardov and Fairfax Chinese Dance Troupe amongst others.

    As the eating continued, guest were able to vote on their favorite dishes, with votes going towards the People’s Choice awards, ultimately won by the Philippines Chef Claude Tayag with his Bringhe (seafood rice) dish. It was the first time that the Philippines have entered the competition, and Tayag proudly said that “Filipino cuisine is meant to be shared.”

    The Judge’s Choice went to Chef Creig Greenbridge of Barbados who won over the panel with his dish of Barbadian seasoned pork with tamarind-ginger rum sour.

     

    -EWL

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