Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lunch at Vidalia, Probably the Best Meal EVER

So let's delve into my personal life for a moment. The Friday of restaurant week was kind of a bad day. Personal drama and a heavy work load left me staring at my computer screen by 11 am in misery. Thankfully, Erin and I had lunch reservations at Vidalia at noon. So I showed up a bit early to prevent any breakdown from occurring within the office. I perused their wine list while waiting for Erin, but I wasn't really in the mood for a nice (midday appropriate) glass of wine. By the time Erin showed up, I was already sipping on a gin martini.

Our waiter came by shortly after we were sat. Except he wasn't really a waiter. I think he was the manager who was just filling in because they may have been short staffed. But this worked out to our advantage because the service was fantastic!

The very nice waiter/manager brings us our appetizers: poached duck egg and calamari stuffed with oyster sausage. They looked uber weird and gross. Stuff you'd never put in your mouth even when you were 11 and in 5th grade and that bully friend you always had dared you to eat it or she'd mock you until you died for being a coward. Just look:

There's so many white sacks of stuff on our plate, and they were all uncomfortable squishy to the touch. Totally icky right? But no. The icky white sacks (ok I'm going to stop using that terminology) were actually frickin' amazing. Maybe is was the booze we had already ingested on empty stomachs talking, but I loooooooved my calamari stuffed with oyster goo. And Erin loved her duck egg goo. Honestly it was the most amazing goo, you'll ever have. The sauce on her dish and the tomatoes and guacamole on my dish just complimented everything so perfectly. You'll never bite into something so gross looking and love it so much.

So then the entrees came. I got the pork belly because nothing fixes a bad day like a cube of fat.

Please don't remind me how it is a heart attack on a plate. I know. Dammit. I know. I just don't want to think about it. It was soooo good. Plus the beans sort of balanced it out, right? No? Pure fat is pure fat and there's no way around that, you say? Well whatever. At least the beans made it taste balanced. They were a good crisp texture counterpoint. Erin, in the spirit of sticking with what you know you like, got the head-on shrimp again, and of course loved it.

All would have been good had I not finished my first martini by now and started on my second one while Erin was getting dangerously near to the end of her julip. We were getting the it's-only-12:45-we-both-have-to-go-back-to-work-and-maybe-can't-stand-up-straight giggles. Which our waiter/manager thought was hysterical. Then the chef came out to check on the dinning room (we were seated right nearest to the kitchen) and thought we were equally as amusing as we took pictures and drooled over all our food. So the chef asked if he could take a picture of us. What does Erin do? Put the shrimp heads on her fingers, of course!

Now I really can't stop giggling! We're being absolutely ridiculous and loving it, and what's best is that everyone around us is just amused and not at all annoyed! This is exactly what I needed to cheer myself up after such a terrible morning, and we haven't even gotten to the best part of the meal yet: dessert!

The dessert list was really fabulous. I wanted to try everything, but the chef convinced us that if we liked, chocolate we should get the peanut butter and jelly and the whooper, even though Erin was leaning toward the sorbet. He is the chef though. You've got to figure he knows what he is talking about. So as we are waiting for our selected desserts to come out, guess what arrives in the meantime? The sorbet we had seriously contemplated getting and a round of champagne!!!

It was so flavorful and (thankfully) light! Not too sweet, but the bed of sauce it came in balanced out the sweetness factor. Overall it was a great summer dessert. Or a great dessert "appetizer" before your other desserts arrive!

The peanut butter and jelly was a chocolate and peanut butter mouse topped with a berry gelee, and the whooper were chocolate meringues with a light chocolate mousse. They were both as delicious as they were adorable. At this point Erin and I are about roll out of Vidalia, but before we go, we take the chef up on his offer to show Erin the fish heads. We ended up getting a tour of the kitchen and got to see all the behind the scenes action!

Their kitchen was amazingly well organized. There was someone assigned to just about every task you could think of. It was fun to see them working on some of the same dishes we had chosen, and even more fun to see some of the dishes we didn't get. There are definitely a handful of things I want to come back and try. I know the next time we go back to Vidalia, we won't have an experience like that, but the overall quality of the food was so outstanding, that I would return over and over even if the service was only average. Although I'd obvi prefer if it was always as phenomenal as it was that day! I walked in feeling miserable and left wondering what I had been so upset about in the first place. Vidalia gave an all around experience that I have yet to find at any other restaurant in DC.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lunch at Hook

On Thursday or restaurant week, I ventured out to Georgetown with Erin and my friend Uche from work. I was a little nervous because as much as I adore Uche, she is one of the pickiest eaters I have bothered to stay friends with. (Which is really a testament to how cool she is because normally I can't be bothered with people who are overly picky or unadventurous. Eating out is one of my favorite things to do, and they just ruin it.) Hook is predominantly seafood too, which is not Uche's forte, but everything turned out pretty well despite all that could have gone wrong.

For appetizers I got the pesto calamari with mashed new potatoes, and Uche and Erin and got the Caledonia shrimp with heads on. The heads kind of grossed Uche out, but overall she liked her shrimp. Erin, on the other hand, was not at all grossed out about the head. She was all about sucking the head meat out of those suckers. It's not the prettiest picture, let me tell you, but there's something endearing about Erin throwing down like she's picking shrimp at a backyard BBQ when really she's at a trendy Georgetown restaurant.

For the main course Uche got the grass fed hamburger which she really like. (Thank goodness there was a non-seafood option!) I got the Mahi-Mahi with garlic yoghurt and caper berries. Sadly for me, I definitely got the worst of the meals. The fish was pretty dry. Without the yoghurt or the capers, it would have been incredibly bland. Erin got the Arctic Char which came in a tomato/zucchini ragout. It was awesome! It was so succulent and flavorful. A million times better prepared than my fish. Bonus points for amazing service, though, because as I was telling Erin how sucky my fish was in comparison, the waiter overheard me. He came over and politely interrupted our conversation to ask if he could bring me a new dish for lunch. I was so embarrassed because the meal wasn't bad enough that I wasn't going to eat it. In fact I had already eaten half of it, and I had no intention of complaining about it. The waiter insisted, though, that he would have a new meal prepared for me immediately if I wanted. Although, I declined, I did appreciate how concerned he was that I had a good experience.

We all got their house-made s'mores for dessert. The s'mores were homemade marshmallows and a ridiculously rich chocolate torte on a crunchy graham cracker cookie. Uche of course thought it was all too chocolately. (She would.) But in reality, it was definitely the best part of the meal. I was so glad I didn't have the kitchen recook my meal because I would have never had room in my tummy to lick every last crumb off my plate. The marshmallows were so fluffy and light. They perfectly balanced with the rich, dense torte.

I guess in the end liking 2 out of 3 of my choices wasn't too bad. Plus Uche managed to be reasonably happy with all of her food, which is infinitely better than the outcome of our last restaurant week meal together. Erin was just happy as lark the whole time. So overall Hook wasn't too shabby, and with such great service I'd definitely go back. Plus the view from the second floor is amazing. When I'm in the mood for some good Georgetown watching (And when am I not? It's the perfect mix of nerdy tourists and trendy DC-ites.), I will definitely stake out a spot on their 2nd floor right by the window, and I'll order the Arctic Char!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And so Restaurant Week Begins... Lunch at Kinkead's

For 2 weeks a year, I lose all guilt about eating a ridiculous amount of food and just wear outfits with lots of room for stomach expansion. Those weeks are restaurant week in the winter and summer. Now that the summer week is upon us, I am in full indulgence mode. I scheduled lunches for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday this week. (I probably would have done Wednesday too, but I volunteer on Wednesdays at lunch. Plus, let's be honest. If I had 3 course lunches for 5 days in a row, I might need a lap band next week.) Erin and I started it all off with lunch at Kinkead's on Monday.

When we first walked in, there was quite a bit of confusion about our reservation (which we made ages ago, the day after the restaurant list came out actually). We almost judged the whole place terribly and left because they seemed like they weren't going to seat us, but finally they got their shit together. Although when they did finally seat us, the dinning room we were in was completely empty (and never filled up), which made me even more angry that their host putzed around about seating us because it wasn't like they were completely booked. Even if they had lost our reservation, there was no need to make a big to-do about seating us. Uuuuuug. Anyways...

Our waiter came and was (fortunately for Kindkead's review) fabulous: very polite, perfect level attentive, and not bad on the eyes. Another plus for the review was our appetizers as they were even more delicious than our waiter. I started with a cheese ravioli, stuffed with one kind of cheese and topped with 2 other kinds and a house made tomato basil sauce. Not the most inventive dish ever but very flavorful.

Erin got the lamb sausage with some rice and veggies, and it was awesome. The dish had lots of flavors that all went very well together and was the perfect level spicy. (Sorry I can't remember details very well. I should have written this post much sooner after eating at Kinkead's. I have had too many other meals - accompanied with a glass or 2 of wine - since then to remember every last thing.)

Then we both got the salmon for our main dish. It came with fennel, both sauteed and fried, and tomatoes on a bed of light cream sauce. It was good but not amazing. There were more sides than there was salmon, and although I liked the tomatoes and fennel and salad, I ordered the salmon to eat salmon. The filet was pitifully small, and no amount of fennel was going to make up for that.

The only good thing the salmon leaving something to be desired was that I had plenty of room left for dessert, which turned out to be my favorite part of the meal. I got a mulberry cobbler a la mode. Oooooomyyyyygoooooood. It was awesome. The berry concoction was bittersweet, which complimented the ice cream and cookie crust perfectly. The more I think about it, the more I think I could go for one right now actually... mmm... berrylicious...

Erin got the apricot creme brulee. (Of course. She always gets the creme brulee.) Unlike other flavored creme brulees that I've had, this one actually had chunks of fruit in it. Erin cleaned her creme brulee cup. So I guess the aficionado thought it was passable, but I wasn't crazy about the idea of a creme brulee having chunks of anything in it. It simply made me appreciate my mini cobbler that much more.

I'm not sure how our experience stacks up against a meal at Kinkead's any other time of the year. I did come across a review on Yelp that trashed their restaurant week meals in comparison to their normal meals. I can't speak to that, but I would hope that for their normal prices their seafood portions are much larger. Did anyone else hit up Kinkead's during restaurant week and have thoughts on the subject?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Some hot chicks have been distracting me

I know my posting as been sporadic. (When you hear that word, can you honestly think of anything other than Britney Murphy in Clueless? Let's slip into Clueless mode for a second. Indulge me in a trip down 90's memory lane...) Anyways I hope to be talkin' to you, not sporadically, from here on out. It's just that lately I got distracted by these way cute chicks. They were total Betties. Had some great stems on them. I mean you tell me if these ladies wouldn't distract you too...

Way too cute to resist, right? So I had to go back to my parents house and play with these ladies before they grew up! And they grow up so fast, you know? Then once I get home there is so many other things to get distracted by: playing with the kitties, picking blackberries, sleeping in the hammock. Well you all understand how that can just fill up a girl's day? But I promise to be better. (Don't I always? This time I mean it though!) Plus now that restaurant week is in full swing, I have lots to share. So really, let's see each other not sporadically.

Mmm yummy... This is what I am eating this week when not at a restaurant week meal!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The British are coming... in the form of Commonwealth Gastropub

Jamie Leeds (the woman behind Hank's Oyter Bar and now the brand new Commonwealth Gastropub) has certainly accomplished her goal of a neighborhood pub. The place was so packed at the soft opening that Erin and I went to last Wednesday, that I would have sworn the whole neighborhood was indeed in attendance. I even ran into 3 people that I knew, which never happens to me. I am nowhere close to cool enough to be one of those people with acquaintances around every bend, but I guess the Gastropub is just one of those places where everyone knows your name.

The downside of this, though, was that the service was slow and the staff seemed completely frazzled, but I will give our bartender and the (very cute) host their credit. They were trying their best to keep up with everything, and no matter how crazy it got and how many people were asking for something (aka me asking for beer samples because I am indecisive and annoying), they remained patient and more pleasant than I would have if the situation was reversed. Bonus points: once we finally got our order in, the food came out at a reasonable pace and all together. I was pretty starved so this was good news. If the food had come out slowly in bits and pieces like it did when we went to Sticky Rice right after it opened, I would have probably eaten Erin's left arm off.

As for how all the food tasted? Well definitely an improvement from Erin's left arm, but not the best food ever. I had the beef and pork "pasty" (silly British word for pot pie type thing). Erin had the fish and chips, and we split the "bubble and squeak" (silly British term for potato, carrot, and cabbage-y cake thing... No clue why they call it bubble and squeak. Neither it nor us bubbled or squeaked.) It was all good, but not great. Basically it tasted exactly like what I remembered British pub food tasting like. The only thing that wowed me was their tiny side salad. I am normally not into the foliage that comes on the sides of my plates, but serendipitously I munched on it that night. Whatever they dressed it with was amazing. If I went back, I'd get a salad with that dressing instead of another "pasty" (and something other than a bubble and squeak... maybe something with a less ridiculous name).

Those mashed up looking green things on the side of my plate are actually the really really delicious salad.

Also if you are into taking a bunch of shots that you are probably going to regret, Gastropub appears to be able accommodate that. Erin and I had one of them all... haha noooo. We only had the bottom row.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

PS7's, my consolation prize for Acandiana being a big jerk

Last Monday, Erin and I tried for another Monday Play Day lunch. I really really really really really wanted to go to Acadiana. I must have looked at their menu online about a bajillion times now, and after I tasted their frothy, amazing Ramos Fizz, I have been dying to go back and have a ton more. Unfortunately, I had to go into work and take care of some things that didn't get taken care of anyway.. aaaarg... don't get me started. So Erin and I missed their 2 deadline for the kitchen closing. Then I walked over to Proof and their kitchen closed at 2 as well. What is the deal with taking a break between lunch and dinner? You have servers and cooks there. You might as well make me some food and make a little more money. Not everyone can fit into your neat, little lunch times. Some of us live outside the box!

Ok aaaaaanyways back to the story... finally we pop unto PS7's as we on the verge of giving up. Low and behold, they agree to feed us! So be forewarned that in this restaurant review is already skewed just by the sheer fact that these people agreed to feed hungry girls. That being said, the food was legitimately frickin' amazing and the service was top notch. I hadn't heard a ton about this place, and so I was totally caught off guard by how much I loved every moment.

This was their special appetizer of the day. It was house cured Atlantic salmon salad with a dill sauce, some green healthy stuff, and delicious pine nuts. It was so pine nutty! Mmmmm yummy nuts... drool... (*wipes chin off and clean up keyboard*). I really love it when a restaurant doesn't skimp on the pine nuts. I know they are not a cheap filler food. So I appreciate it when my dish is over flowing with them.

Erin got the 4 in 1 (not the most inventive name but definitely the best deal on the whole menu). For $20 she got a small cup of their carrot and ginger soup, a half portion of their Sarah salad (walnuts, pearl onions, blue cheese, cherries, etc.), pan seared scallops, and their house made donuts. She could barely eat it all. (Actually she didn't eat it all. Her dinning companion may have stolen a donut... For the sake of Search for J Street and the review.)

This is what I got. It was called the "hot brown," which translated into a creamy, cheesy, turkey-y, cheesy, tomato-y, cheesy, bacon-y, cheesy hot mess. (Insert Chris Farley voice here as I say...) O my freaking God. It was so good, I can't put it into words. You have to go and try it. Unless you aren't a fan of amazingly good food. Then I guess you could skip it. You know if you're just the type of person who likes bland, run of the mill sandwiches, this might not be for you. If you happen to love fantastic food, though, I'd recommend making lunch reservations immediately. I can't wait to get back to PS'7, maybe for dinner, and try more things off their menu. If the food is anything like this past experience, it just might qualify as a religious experience.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Eastern Market Hat Lady

I'm so mad at myself that I really haven't taken advantage of Eastern Market this summer like I did last summer. I used to get all my produce from there (mmmm heirloom tomatoes), and I was always trying some new gourmet sausage from one of the meaty, delicious vendors (chicken, red wine, garlic, and spinach.... mmmm so good). This summer I have been sadly neglectful of all the good stuff at Eastern Market, and when I stopped by with my friend Steph last weekend, I realized that there was a lot more than fabulous food I was missing out on...

Hats! Fabulous hats! This woman had hats in every color. I wanted one so badly, but they were handmade somewhere in the Caribbean. So she was charging $45 a pop. Not that$45 is ridiculous amount of money, but I'll pass for the moment. Because after I spend $45 on a fabulous hat, I'm going to need to shell out more money doing something fabulous that justifies playing around in a fabulous hat. Maybe after my sugar daddy comes along and wants to take me to polo matches and high teas, I'll splurge. So if there are any polo-match-attending-high-tea-drinking sugar daddies out there reading, give me a call and you could potentially have this hat topped lady on your arm for such events!

Also there was a cute little purse stand too. I'd seen it a million times, but never really stopped before. Steph wanted to pick up something. So I poked around while she was looking at the clutches and found a great one of my own for only $10! The stand looks a bit yuppy from the outset, but I swear they have some great (and not obnoxiously pink plaidy) prints. Now to get a ridiculous, matching hat...