DC Day

Adam and I haven’t had the best wedding anniversary celebrations. We went to Azumi for our first anniversary and had a memorably bad experience. We spent our second anniversary in the hospital last year when Maya was sick. The bar was low this year for our third anniversary but I’m happy to report we had an amazing day in DC to celebrate.

We dropped Maya at my in-laws and headed to the Georgetown waterfront where we parked our car for the day (only $13 in a garage). We started our day with brunch at Fiola Mare. After a couple of incredible meals at the original Fiola, we were very excited to try this location. We did the fixed price brunch – three courses + a brunch cocktail + fresh baked croissants. It was more food than necessary but so so good.

I’m not sure what was up but the service was really slow. Like insanely slow – people were complaining (rightly so). But we had nowhere to be and just relaxed and enjoyed.

I had a Bellini and burrata for my first course and Adam had a Bloody Mary and a smoked salmon dish. Then they brought out the croissants, warm, freshly baked with honey in the center. They were probably the best thing I put in my mouth all day and one of the best croissants I’ve ever had.

For our main courses, Adam had the crab spaghetti and I had a succulent crab roll on brioche bread. I wouldn’t expect a restaurant like that to have outstanding baked goods but they do!

By that point we were super full but managed to have a couple bites of dessert: zeppoli with a maple dipping sauce.

After that enormous meal, we needed to walk it off! We strolled through the main drag of Georgetown before walking up 30th Street to Tudor Place. We paid $3 to tour the gardens of the historic home and spent some time walking around the property. Georgetown has so many hidden gems and it was fun to explore the beautiful grounds.

From there we walked down Embassy Row to Dupont and visited the Phillips collection. We arrived at the museum thirty minutes before they closed and were delighted to learn that for the last half hour museum entry is free! We started on the top floor with the visiting Klee exhibit but preferred the impressionists on the second floor. They have some famous paintings (Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party) and some beautiful paintings by Van Gogh, Matisse and Kandinsky.

After plenty of walking and exploring, it was almost time to eat again! We walked through Dupont Circle, popped into Gap and then made our way to Iron Gate for dinner. I had a fantastic whiskey cocktail and we started with the feta chili spread with fennel crackers and an odd selection of crudités.

For out main meal we shared the mixed grill: quail, bison steak, ground lamb, cheese burger and pork sausage with pistachios. The meats were accompanied by smashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with raisins. Everything was delicious and we loved our cozy table in the back room by the fireplace.

After dinner we took a cab back to our car and made our way home after an exhausting but wonderful day in DC!

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Alma Cocina Latina

Saturday night, Adam and I headed into the city for a much needed date night (thanks Bubby for babysitting)! After hearing many good reviews, we were eager to finally try Alma Cocina Latina. We walked in for an early(ish) reservation and were told our table wasn’t quite ready which is usually a big pet peeve of ours. We grabbed drinks at the bar while we waited and I got a refreshing margarita with salt and red pepper on the rim. When our table was finally ready the host was very apologetic which I appreciated. I know restaurants get busy and can’t always anticipate when a table will turn over, but there is nothing worse than getting seated 30 minutes late without even an acknowledgement. Thank you for NOT being like that Alma Cocina!

Once we were seated we game planned our order. Everyone talks up the arepas (which are delish), but we were delighted to see the menu has so much more that just arepas. Our waiter also gave some helpful recommendations that we took into account. He did ask us to order our whole meal at once, which also usually bothers me, but the restaurant paced everything perfectly.

We tried a dish from each section of the menu which was fun! We started with the tostones del diablo – crispy, savory plantains with cheese and sauces. These were very tasty and plated beautifully. Per our waiter’s recommendation, these came out with the tartar del mar. The tartar was probably my favorite thing we ate. It was half salmon and half tuna with crispy quinoa and mango and pineapple purees. The mango flavor really came out and paired perfectly with the fresh, cool, raw fish.

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For our next course we had to try an arepa, the signature doughy Venezuelan dish, sort of a cross between a pita and a pancake, baked at Alma Cocina on a special cooktop behind a back bar. I was bummed to hear that they were out of the short rib option that evening but we decided instead to get one with chicken, steak, chorizo and egg. It was so good! Not as photogenic as some of the other dishes and you have to accept that it will be a little messy but it is well worth it.

Next, we shared two entrees: the crispy octopus and the polenta. I feel like it’s a sign that everyone is enjoying themselves when your entrees arrive and the guests at the tables on either side of you all lean in and ask what you ordered. I mean, look at that presentation, I get it. By this point in the meal, I was super full and couldn’t manage more than a bite or two of the entrees. Both were really good and unique. Adam brought the leftover polenta home and had it for breakfast the next morning!

If I had to rank the dishes I’d say:

Tartar

Arepa

Tostones

Polenta

Octopus

All were delicious and beautifully plated and I hope to make a return trip and try even more of their offerings!

Friday Five (Fave Local Meals of 2017)

Not to harp on the fact that we just had a baby, but we did. So 2017 was not a big year for leisurely dinners out with cocktails, wine and many courses. Typically convenience and quality time with babe trumped everything else. We did have a few memorable dinners though and I wanted to share them today….

Samos

Okay, nothing too glamorous to kick off this list, but Samos is delicious and was the last meal we had before becoming a family of three. Friday evening we went out to Samos at McHenry Row and devoured the amazing gyro, rice and Greek salad. By the wee hours of Saturday morning I was in labor and by 5 am we were heading to the hospital! After almost 24 hours of labor and nothing to eat or drink (thanks epidural!), that Samos felt like a way too distant memory. It was also our favorite carry out food to request when our friends generously offered to bring food by when Maya was an infant.

 

Rasika

Adam and I had a belated anniversary celebration with dinner in DC at Rasika. It had been on our list for years but we had somehow never ended up there so we were super excited to try it. We love Tom Sietsema, the Washington Post food critic and so were sure to check out his review before we went. Following Tom’s recommendation, we started with the malai palak – incredibly flavorful and delicious crispy spinach. For our entrees we had the chicken tikka masala and the black cod. The chicken is my go to Indian meal order and it was of course fabulous but the real star was the cod. It. was. so. so. so. good.

 

Peter’s Inn

Currently closed after a late December fire (but with plans to reopen!), Peter’s Inn has been a favorite of Adam’s family for years. We ventured in for a birthday dinner last November and started things off with a tasty ahi tuna and seaweed salad appetizer. For our entrees Adam had the filet with mashed potatoes and root vegetables and I had scallops with butternut squash risotto and applewood smoke bacon. This was such a wonderfully rich dish full of fall flavors. We love that the small menu at Peter’s is always changing but consistently full of creative and appealing options.

 

Jaleo

Another DC standout, I have been going to Jaleo since high school for the amazing Spanish tapas by Chef Jose Andres (my favorite outspoken liberal chef who is working tirelessly to feed the people of Puerto Rico after the hurricane). I shared about our amazing meal at his restaurant The Bazaar in Miami a few years ago. We headed to Jaleo for an early lunch which meant a mimosa and bloody mary were out drinks of choice. We had the patatas bravas because I can’t go to Jaleo and not get these perfectly cooked potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli. From there we tried several new-to-me dishes: a sandwich of ibérico ham and Manchego cheese, stewed vegetables topped with quail eggs and, per the recommendation of the table next to us, rabbit confit with apricot puree. Everything was fabulous and I might include the egg dish as part of my usual rotation going forward (along with the sauteed spinach and chicken with green sauce).

 

Brendali

My family has a long-lasting tradition of eating Italian food on Christmas Eve. This year we took a walk through the festive holiday market in the Inner Harbor before walking into Fed Hill for an early dinner at Brendali. We knew that this no frills spot would be perfect for dinner out with an eleven month old! We started by splitting a house salad and fried calamari and for my entree I had the fettucine bianco – a filling dish with old bay cream sauce, shrimp and scallops. There were A LOT of leftovers. Maya loved being out for dinner and ate her share of penne with marinara. After dinner we popped into Berries by Quicha for a sweet treat before heading home. It was a great Christmas Eve!

 

Indian Food in Fed Hill

So a few weekends ago I did that thing that I usually try to avoid: I ate out for every single meal. I know. The $$$ and the calories! But it’s okay because everything I had was really, really good.

Saturday lunchtime I met up with Jeanette to walk into Fed Hill hoping to try the new Indian restaurant, Himalayan Bistro. It was tough to tell at first glance that the restaurant was open as the door is set back in an alcove and looked like it had a big lock on it, but we persisted and the place was in fact open for business! When we sat down, it felt a little bit like we were the first people to ever eat there, but by the time we left several other tables were full (we’re just trendsetters like that).

You can order a la carte off the menu, but we opted for the buffet ($12 on the weekend) since we like to try a little bit of everything. We recognized most of the usual Indian buffet standbys: chicken tikka masala, palak paneer, dal, biryani, fish and veggie pakora. All of the dishes I tried were tasty and paired perfectly with some naan, salad and cooling raita yogurt sauce.

We polished off our first plates and got seconds of our favorites – that means you chicken masala! We ended our meal with gulab jamun – those sweet, syrup-soaked donut balls (gross description for a great food). We both seriously enjoyed are meals and are definitely happy to have a good Indian food option in Fed Hill.

The rest of my meals that weekend were equally good: dinners at Sobo Cafe and DBGB in DC and a bridal shower brunch at Donna’s. Pictured below you’ll see some highlights – the brussels sprouts flatbread with goat cheese at Sobo, a pork and a lamb sausage for sharing at DBGB, and roasted veggies + roast beef from Donna’s brunch buffet.

 

Have you tried Himalyan Bistro yet? What did you think? 

Ray’s: the Steaks

A couple of weekends ago we ventured across state lines to Virginia to see family. It was a long(ish) drive but worth it because they bribed us with the promise of a good steal. And they delivered.

I had been to Ray’s: the Classics and to Ray’s Hell Burger, two of the three restaurants originally started by restaurateur Michael Landrum, but had never before ventured to Ray’s: the Steaks. When we arrived, our party of nine was seated at a large table in a private space off the dining room. It was a little warm in there, but otherwise was really nice to have a room to ourselves.

We started with a round of drinks and I shared a bottle of pink cava with my mom and cousin. We were afraid it would be too sweet, but it was perfectly crisp and bubbly. After the important stuff was taken care of, we moved onto salads.

I had the wedge salad because wedge salads are decadent and fantastic and usually all I want at a steak place. This one did not disappoint, it was huge and had a bit of a kick to it which gave it a little something extra. I ended up sharing with my mom because well, look at the size of it.

rays the steaks ny strip

Next it was time for the pièce de résistance, the meat! Most people at the table got the filet (which they said was fab), but I’m not much of a filet girl  and went for the NY Strip. I got the classic cut with none of the offered sauces or preparations (thought I was tempted by the brandy mushroom cream sauce). It. was. delicious. Perfectly cooked and obviously a really high quality cut of meat. Their meals come with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach for the table which is a nice touch since so many steakhouses charge for those a la carte. I ended up bringing home half my steak and the remaining sides and had more than enough food for another meal.

There are plenty of tasty steak places in Baltimore (hello Prime Rib my love), but if you find yourself in Arlington, Ray’s: the Steaks is highly recommended!