• 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.

  • 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

  • 13Jun

    Lhommage July 2016 DCFBHH

    DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at L’Hommage, July 6th, 6pm-8pm

    L’Hommage serves classic French bistro fare in a large, inviting space with an attached French bakery. It’s in the same restaurant family as Ottoman Taverna (last month’s happy hour), Alba Osteria, Al Dente and Bistro Atelier. Happy hour specials include mussels, sliders and other appetizers plus discounts on wine and well drinks.

    Address: 450 K Street NW (between 4th and 5th; close to Gallery Place and Judiciary Square Metro)

    Host: Andrew of Cook In / Dine Out.

    RSVP here.
  • 10Jun

    Savor splashed down in DC last weekend, combining great beer from throughout the USA with dishes the Brewer’s Association’s Executive Chef, Adam Dulye created for the 2016 show. Adam was one of the four speakers for the salon (class), Developing the SAVOR Menu. The speakers at the salon were: (from L to R) Steve Bradt of Free State Brewing Company, Steve Wildy of the Vetri Family of Restaurants, Kyle Mendenhall of Backcountry Gourmet on PBS, and Adam Dulye.

    Whenever possible, Adam starts by sampling the beer he wants to pair and then creating an appropriate dish to serve with it. But, sometimes the brew in question is being released at (or created for) the show and Adam has a phone conversation where the brewers describe a beer to him that they haven’t actual tried, which makes creating a appropriate pairing more difficult.

    Attendees left with Savor’s 2016 collaboration beer:

    Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Maine) and Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Oregon) teamed up to brew Pettygrove’s Chance, combining delicate Oregon and Maine malts and fermenting with a farmhouse yeast.”

    Below are images of some of my favorite brews and pairings of the evening:

    -JAY

    Permalink Filed under: Drinks, Etc Tags: , No Comments
  • 18May

    meridian pintEugene of DC Life Magazine is this month’s Host. The happy hour will be on June 1st from 6pm to 8pm and the venue is the lower level of Meridian Pint. Feel free to stay for trivia night, which begins at 8pm. Please RSVP on the event page.

    Thanks again to everyone who attended last month’s happy hour at the brand new Turkish restaurant, Ottoman Taverna. It was a fun evening.

    -JAY

     

     

  • 10May

    Last week Ottoman Taverna both opened and was the venue for the May DC Food Blogger Happy Hour (DCFBHH). Above are some of  the highlights from the half price happy hour menu (4pm-7pm, presumably Monday-Friday).

    The fig liqueur is soon to be featured in a cocktail. The pomegranate liqueur is featured in the Turkish sangria, which also contains an anise component (which isn’t mentioned in the drink’s description). I very much enjoyed the sangria, but I do like anise.

     

    I’m definitely returning to Ottoman Taverna soon to order more 1/2 price happy hour small plates and Turkish sangria.

    -JAY

  • 28Apr

    From: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/going-out-guide/wp/2016/04/26/ottoman-taverna-is-a-native-sons-ode-to-turkish-cuisine/

    Ottoman Taverna: Wednesday May 4th, 6-8pm.

    This new Turkish restaurant (really it is Ottoman cuisine) will open 2 days before our Happy Hour (it’s already fully built and permitted). I is located at 425 I Street, NW, Suite #107, Washington, DC 20001, located between K & I on 4th Street), which is next to (the opposite corner of) Alba Osteria.

  • 18Apr

    Mezcal: it’s not your frat-boy tequila. Ancient, yet new on the American bar scene, it’s tequila’s stylish post-hipster, more adult cousin. Mezcal’s not sloshing about in shot glasses hidden behind a curtain of overpowering lime, but proudly shining, served neat (see: fine scotch) to showcase a depth and range of flavor unencountered in other agave-based spirits.

    As we know, mezcal and tequila are made from agave, a wide-ranging succulent in Mexico. The major difference between the two is the production method. The piña, or heart of the agave plant, is removed. It’s then roasted, slowly, underground. It’s buried in the earth, covered by hot stones – creating the signature smokiness. The resultant mash gets a special treatment; it is crushed by a stone pulled by a donkey. Then comes the distillation. Tequila, meanwhile, is baked, or more often, industrially processed, leaving in astringent flavors. Finally, mezcals traditionally comes from Oaxaca, where the agave plant is most common. However, like with fine wines (and Scotch), the terroir truly comes out in mezcals. The highly specific local soil imbues the plant with unique flavors, which is why mezcals are really a small-batch liquor.


    This is true for El Silencio, carried at just a few select restaurants and bars across the country, including the one at the Four Seasons in Georgetown. El Silencio is an artisanal mezcal, produced in San Baltazar Guelavila, Oaxaca. The family-run business is now nine generations strong. According to the website, El Silencio uses only “carefully selected 10-12 year old agaves… and the production does not involve any additives or industrial processes.”

    At the bar, master mixologist Torrence T. Swain poured us El Silencio’s two options: Joven and Espadín. Joven is an “ensamble” mezcal, a blend of three different agave plants: espadin, Mexicano, and tobasiche. This double-distilled blend is quite smooth, very different from what might be first expected. The nose is full of floral and vegetal notes, like jasmine and cucumber. The flavor is full of tea and lemon, and ends with a light, white pepper finish in the back of the throat. Joven is something of a welcome mat for mezcal, not too forceful, turning the page on mezcal drinking to provide context that it can be complex and intricate. It’s a perfect mezcal for sipping on a veranda, shaded from a hot tropical sun after a day in the agave fields.
    Espadín, as might be expected, is 100% espadín agave. It’s even smaller batch than Joven, from highly specific agave plants. “It’s ready to do the heavy lifting in a cocktail.” Strong and bold, it’s quite assertive on the palate with a significant bite. The nose is strongly vegetal, and flavor notes feature leather and earth, with a black pepper finish. It’s a more concentrated flavor, better for a mixologist to play with.

    And thus our mixologist tour guide took us down cocktail lane. We landed at the Conejo Loco (“crazy rabbit”), so named because of the mezcal spirit’s origin story related to a rabbit goddess. The mezcal, already a bit smoky, receives a shock of spice, infused with Fresno pepper. An addition of pomegranate juice adds sweetness, a squeeze of lime for citrus, and most spectacularly, it’s served with a sprig of rosemary, which adds an aromatic herbal element. Certainly a great way to use this spirit.

    Finally, we got a sneak peak of Ocho Cientos Blanco Sotol, also from Mexico. However, instead of agave, it’s handcrafted from the Sotol plant, also called desert spoon in English. It’s native to Chihuahua in the far north of Mexico and tastes nothing like tequila or mezcal. Incredibly smooth, intense, earthy, and herby. Salud!

    – ESC

    Permalink Filed under: Drinks Tags: , No Comments
  • 08Apr

    What better time than during the DMV’s most famous season – cherry blossoms! – than to celebrate the Best of the District of Columbia? Washington City Paper took over the cavernous DC Armory in Southeast to fete the 2016 winners, announced to the public during the event. WCP is decidedly nonpartisan, making sure everyone gets a voice in the system. Plus, proceeds from the event went to two great charities: Brainfood and World Beats & Life.

    Spraypainting DC pride

    Spraypainting DC pride

    Voting winners were divided between Staff Picks and the Reader Poll. Readers were able to choose faves in standard categories like Best Brewery (Right Proper), Sports Bar (Nellie’s), Movie Theater (E Street), and Lifestyle Blog (Popville), as well as some unique options: Tea Shop (Calabash Tea & Tonic), Local Instagram (Taylor Gourmet), and Place to Take a Tinder Date (McClellan’s Retreat). The Staff Picks are more eclectic: Best Bar and Restaurant for Punk-Rock Parents (Slash Run); Best Old Reliable Gay Bar (Number Nine), Best New (Old) Museum (National Museum of Women in the Arts), and Best Place to Catch a Glimpse of FLOTUS (SoulCycle).

    At a cocktail-attire party, it’s tough to get on a bike, but there was certainly plenty of food and drink to be had to help celebrate. In homage to what has been the opposite of a media darling of late, the DC Metro, each grouping of restaurants was set up around Metro station signs (“let’s go to Ballston!” was probably something said for the very first time by many partygoers).

    Tons of Tunes were enjoyed all evening long

    Tons of tasteful tunes were enjoyed all evening long.

    Mixologists played with lots of whiskeys, coming off winter, but also plenty of gin, hopeful for spring soon. And as would be appropriate, restaurants made efforts to source specifically from DC breweries and distilleries. Highlights included a tropical rum negroni from Don Ciccio & Figli, The Royal’s fruity sling using Catoctin Creek liquor, and a wistful whiskey cocktail by The Gibson called Memories. Waking up the palate was the thoughtful Gina Chersevani of Buffalo & Bergen, serving Bloody Marys overstuffed with pickled veggies as well as to mini-bagels topped with caviar and crème fraiche.

    On the main stage, The Dupont Brass Band gave the crowd some serious funk. Later in the evening, Batala Washington broke it down on drums, celebrating Afro-Brazilian culture, playing sensual samba and reggae music on a chilly early-April evening. Other entertainment came in the form of cornhole and life-sized Jenga courtesy of United Social Sports, making sure that the crowd stayed lively and athletic while throwing back craft cocktails and finely plated small bites.

    Dessert came in the form of heavenly doughnuts, cookies, and Harper Macaw’s sea-salt-and-coconut chocolate bark – but also another kind of bark: Wagtime enthralled the crowd with an absolutely adorable doggie playspace. Never has celebrated all the greatest in DC ever been so “ruff.”

    -ESC

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