Thursday, July 29, 2010
Ella's Pizza has a really nice warm vibe to it and it sits right on the line of Chinatown/Penn Quarter (which I really don't understand that whole stupid distinction). It is dimly lit and almost has four different sections but all with the same casual hang out vibe. however, you definitely notice the distinction as one section has the power red walls, one section has a calmer sea blue wall, another section has a standard eggshell white wall and then there is the large bar spanning a large part of the left side of the restaurant (upon entering). although the restaurant was in my opinion good for a few friends, rather then an intimate date, I found myself wanting to have a little bit more harmony in the decor theme. but that's just an opinion. we didn't make it to dinner until much later but they also apparently have a really nice happy hour featuring $5.00 7inch Pizzas, $1.00 off American Draughts, and 3.50/16.00 (glass/carafe) of sangria(which is good). I think that happy hour is the only time I would probably go back to Ella's. More on that.
Mo ordered the Gluten-Free Napoletana which has tomato sauce, capers, anchovies, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. For Mo, it is all about grading the crust and for her, it was a well-done Gluten-Free crust. It had a good crisp to it but the only really good thing about the whole pizza was the crust. The anchovies, basil and mozzarella were all very fresh but there was no seasoning on the pizza and the sauce was extremely bland. This is something that we would all criticize in our pizzas.
LB ordered the Melanzane which was topped with a tomato sauce, red onions, olives, yellow peppers, eggplant and goat cheese. I also eyed this pizza on the menu but once again, we were underwhelmed by their "Wood Fired" pizza. The ingredients were great but there was little to no seasoning on the pizza. Mo made an accurate comment that if you have to put red-pepper flakes, pepper, and salt on you pizza, then there is something wrong with the pizza.
I ordered the wild mushroom with spinach, tomato sauce and mild goat cheese and it was more of the same. Good ingredients, poor outcome. I love me some goat cheese so I tend to think that is an automatic winner but the spinach and mushrooms lacked any flavorful depth that really could make this pizza sing.
After having good pizza at il Canale, 2 Amys, Liberty Tree, and even Vapianos, I guess I would at least expect a nice tomato sauce. I clearly think that the Tomato sauce was the downfall of the pizza. Well, under-seasoning all around. The combinations that they have on their menu are really great and the ingredients are good, but those factors are unable to outweigh the lack of flavor. The crust on the non-gluten free pizza was fine but nothing to call home about. Ella's just get a different sauce (I mean, even TJ's Tomato Basil Marinara has better flavor) and get a little heavier handed on your seasoning, and you'll be fine.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
MK is located just south of dupont circle right around the corner (literally) from Penang and a slew of other tasty restaurants. the exterior and interior both don't look like much of anything with its red block letter awning at its exterior and it's basement interior. there is a very unique smell that the restaurant features and it is not pleasant but it is also not repulsive to the point that you want to leave or vom...it's just there. it is located in a basement, which i mentioned earlier and it is not necessarily a bad thing but it is weird because you feel like you are going into basement. For example, in other restaurants such as Vidalia, you go below ground in what would technically be a "basement" but you don't necessarily feel like it when you get inside. nevertheless, the interior is just simple and nothing to annoying or spectacular.
the couple that owns MK has a special place in my heart simply for the fact that they are originally from Ipok Perah, Malaysia but then moved to Melbourne! Australia for a significant amount of time before heading to DC. they are also super friendly and sweet and when you are seated not only do you have a simple paper menu with all of the dishes, but you are also handed a three ring binder with pictures of all of their item menus. kinda genius. pick the prettiest.
after falling in love with this stuff at Penang, I insisted that we start off with Roti Canai which is a flat layer Indian bread served with a bowl of Malaysian Curry Chicken. Clearly, I didn't eat the Curry Chicken sauce that it is served with it but I didn't need it because the deliciously flakiness of the bread with that buttery taste is just so delicious, it didn't need any accompaniment, in my opinion. however, hugdoll mentioned that the sauce was super delicious and one of the tastiest parts of the meal, if not the tastiest.
we also started with the Satay Tofu (pictured at the top) which are grilled triangular tofu marinated in various spices served with cucumber and fresh. onion. This had a very interesting flavor because the sauce that it was marinated in was sweet, with an almost honey flavor but the tofu itself was quite salty. I guess some would call this balance very good, which I guess in some aspects it is but it didn't really work as well as I would have liked. I think it was a little too sweet and sticky and the saltiness tried to balance it out but then it was too salty. I ate it all but Hugdoll wasn't that big of a fan; nevertheless, I enjoyed them decently enough to polish them off. I like the vision just not the execution.
Hugdoll ordered the Vegetarian Stir Fried Mix Noodle which is a Stir fried long thin rice noodle and egg noodle with cabbage, Chinese mushroom, Chinese spinach and crispy tofu sheet. This had good flavor but nothing too special. the balance of the dish was really on point with the sweet, salty, sour and then texture all in nice harmony but there was no unique kick to the dish or a wow factor. we both agreed that it was good, just not great.
I ordered the Mamak Mee Goreng which is a stir-fried spicy egg noodle with shrimp, tofu, bean sprout, egg, tomatoes and potatoes top with lettuce and crispy shallot. This spoke both to the vegetarian and pescatarian in me but I was pretty unimpressed by this dish. The dish did have good flavor but I did consider topping it with lettuce was almost an afterthought and really not needed, in my opinion. The main thing I felt was missing from this dish was a good sauce. If there was sauce present, it was pretty absent to me because I didn't really have throughout my dish at all. It is a little sad because the ingredients are good but it just didn't have the flavor that I was looking for and was accustomed to after my trip to Penang.
Overall, I had a decent experience at MK and I would be willing to try it again, but maybe try a dish where Curry is the main ingredient because then I would be sure to have some sort of seasoned sauce throughout the dish. The ingredients were good and some dishes were a success, just not as much of a success that I wanted this Washingtonian Top Cheap Eats and Top 100 Restaurant to be.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Unfortunately, as I reached Lounge 201 on one of many blisteringly hot DC summer days, I came to found that they are randomly closed for "special events" on mondays, none of which were actually occuring. weird. so sadly, i was unable to use my groupon, but with so many great places in such a close vicinity, we walked a little farther up Mass to a Capitol Mexican spot, La Loma.
La Loma sits in Capitol Hill on Mass just south of Stanton Square Park and just north of Union Station next to two other restaurants, Bistro Cacao and Cafe Berlin. I had previously been to La Loma before with BOOF buddy, ea, before BOOF officially began and really enjoyed myself. the best feature of these three restaurants are their large front outdoor patios. All three have very expansive outside seating and because it is in the front rather then in the back, it allows for a nice amount of people watching. however, the bushes are a little high in most areas so it limits outside people watching you eat. On summer evenings and afternoons, it can be one of the most pleseant places to be in DC with the hustle and bustle of the outdoor patios of each restaurant.
Nevertheless, as I mentioned before, it was really really really hot and humid outside (go figure DC), so we opted to sit inside in the nice air conditioning. sigh. The inside decor is very "traditionally mexican" (whatever that is supposed to mean) with bold color choices on the walls, a few cacti throughout but nothing too unexpected. we weren't really hungry so we just ordered the strawberry margaritas and the guacamole.
the margaritas were good and a perfect way to cool off on a hot hot summer day (did I mention that it was hot outside?), but not the best margaritas I have ever had and nothing to call home about. however, we did only start off with a half pitcher and we ended up ordering another half pitcher, so they had to have done something well.
the complimentary chips and salsa were decent, but the salsa was a little watery which I am not really a fan of because it makes it that more difficult to scoop the salsa on your chip. however, i could not stop eating the chips and salsa. the guacamole was nice and fresh but i do wish we would have been given a little bit more for all the chips that they put on the plate. the guacamole was served with a special more phyllo texture chip that was so good. i could just ate a bowl of those chips and been a happy camper. they should really make those chips the highlight of their restaurant because they were heavy enough to withhold the weight of the guac and not crumble but light and airy all at the same time.
all in all, i would maybe go back to la loma for a meal, especially because of its convenience. when I was there before, I am pretty certain that I had the Veggie fajitas which were tasty but nothing above average. there are plenty of things to do in the are (see, Cafe Berlin) but i would only recommend La Loma for a cheap bite, not necessarily for quality Mexican. Go to Casa Oaxaca for that.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
essentially, those are the lazy evenings, the "karri" evenings when I just need some meee time but i dont want to put in any effort of cooking anything. you have those nights. we all have those nights. sometimes, those are the best nights.
having been to Old Siam in Eastern Market on numerous occasions, I always enjoy the food here. It is located right on 8th street in the barracks row/eastern market neighborhood, one of my most favorite areas in the city. old siam also has a very nice happy hour and during the spring, summer and fall, the front outside patio is a really great spot.
i was not in the mood for trying something new so i just opted for the veggie pad thai. however, i have also had the Rama Tofu which is fried tofu stir-fried with yellow curry served on a bed of steamed spinach and topped with peanut sauce. Although the veggie pad thai is good and flavorful there is nothing extraordinarily spectacular about it. I personally would recommend one of their other curry dishes, such as the Rama Tofu because they offer more complex favors with a nice seasoning kick.
if you are lazier than I, I hear that Old Siam now offers delivery and they are also currently working on their web-based ordering. But really, Old Siam does have a pretty nice ambiance so I would also consider going to the restaurant, especially on a nice evening when you can head to Baskin Robins for a dessert afterwards. About the ambiance: The front room features the large granite topped bar with cooler blue colors and some red as well with dim lighting. The backroom has brighter lights with red walls but hardwood floors and tables adorn both rooms.
All in all, it is not the best Thai I have ever had but would I go back time and time again for takeout, absolutely.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Black Finn takes on the identity of an "American Saloon" but it simply plays to idea of a restaurant/bar vibe. When it initially opened up, it was purely filled with the young and professional crowd which was definitely to my liking, but as GW (yup, i'm going to trash my alma mater for a second) students got wind of this new place, it quickly became a location of numerous frat parties and everyone's friends winning "happy hours". essentially, it became too collegiate. The decor of the restaurant does not have anything too special going on, it has a front bar and a back bar, and it has slightly elevated seating on the left side of the restaurant to accommodate those who would like to sit down for dinner. The right side and the back of the restaurant also has booth tables and seating along with high stools and tables for the more casual drink and happy hour partakers.
the divide that this BlackFinn has between the two (the dining area and the bar area) is very nice, but because the happy hour crowd is quite large and loud, the restaurant area definitely does not take well to a more intimate dining experience with your sig other. nevertheless, the dining area does do well for large groups, such as we were, but it is a shame that if you sit for dinner, you are unable to get the great happy hour deals even during "happy hour".
to start off, i ordered the spinach artichoke dip which is essentially is a staple on any menu and one that i am always inclined to order. i also find that it it something that is hard to mess up. the spinach dip was done well but i was not overwhelmed by some special and amazing flavor.
the birthday girl, CaCoast, ordered the Beef Sliders which are three miniature beef burgers topped with melted American cheese and grilled onions and served on potato rolls with au jus on the side for dipping. she enjoyed these and said the meat was seasoned well. she also ordered a side of fries and we all really enjoyed the seasoning that was on them.
Coast's bf, NY Sports Fan, ordered the Grilled Buffalo Chicken Sandwich prepared in hot, medium or mild Buffalo sauce and served on a warm ciabatta roll with lettuce, tomato, red onion and a side of bleu cheese dressing. Not a fan of condiments, NY Sports Fan was pleased by this sandwich because it was not drowning in buffalo sauce as an afterthought. it was a nice balance of the sauce with the chicken because the grilled flavor still came through.
i ordered one of the summer specials which was a Grilled Portobello Pasta featuring whole wheat spaghetti, grilled portobello
mushroom, baby spinach, oven roasted tomatoes, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. I really quite enjoyed this dish and was happy to see something besides a salad and a veggie burger on the menu to satisfy this hungry vegetarian's appetite. my only recommendation is that the dish could have used a little more seasoning because I could barely taste the garlic coming through and the pasta was a little drier then i would have liked. a little bit more olive oil probably would have done the trick. however, to be able to see portobello on the menu as a center to a dish was really pleasing.
BOOF Buddy, England, had the Ultimate Bacon Cheddar
Twice the bacon, three times the cheese! A BlackFinn Burger topped with four slices of applewood-smoked bacon, three times the aged cheddar cheese, crispy fried onion strings and sliced dill pickles on a grilled bulky roll. England also enjoyed his burger and mentioned that it was cooked well and was very filling. Nothing too special in the burger but it was done well.
Our group was larger than this but critiquing the other half of the table was nearly impossible/a bit excessive. however, i think everyone pretty much had the same quality food with simple american flavors done well but nothing too special. my favorite part of BlackFinn is the happy hour not even because of the drink specials but because of the food specials. All of their pizzas are half off and the pizzas are all really really good. They are flatbread pizzas and two of the four are veggie friendly (the roasted vegetable and the marghertia). During happy hour, they end up being $5.00 which is a deal that you just can't beat.
Overall, I think BlackFinn will always remain a happy hour joint for me and not necessarily a sit down meal. Although there was nothing wrong with the food, there was not special about it and if I am going to sit down for a nice dinner, there are plenty of places that I think I would prefer to try.
*I may have gotten a few of these wrong but no biggie.
Monday, July 19, 2010
why did i not eat seafood for so long? it was not a conscious decision but really, i love seafood. note to self: never not eat seafood for that long again.
good buddy of BOOF, kka and I met up for dinner at one of my many groupons-to-use tacklebox. kka is a buddy that i don't see nearly enough but we we can catch up, it is always such a great time. we both loveee seafood so it ended up being the perfect choice and she had been to tacklebox before but I was an unfortunate first timer.
tacklebox is the sister restaurant to Hook and both are located adjacent to one another on the always bustling picture perfect M Street of Georgetown. tacklebox is the more casual of the two, fitted with picnic table seating and a walk up order service. they have a few meal options but both kka and I decided on the "Maine Meal" which comes with your choice of fish, two sides and one sauce. therefore, the meal definitely becomes a make your own sort of deal which is really nice, especially if you know what you are doing ;-).
for the fish, you can choose from it being cooked two ways: crispy or woodgrilled. Depending on how you want it cooked you can have the choice of shrimp, bay scallops, calamari, catfish, haddock, clam strips (all crispy), or bluefish, trout, tilapia, catfish, cheeseburger, calamari or chicken (wood-grilled).
for the sides you can choose from a sleuth of options: corn on the cob • asparagus • broccoli • side salad • coleslaw • cornbread muffin • mac & chease • mash potatoes • rice • house cut fries • sweet potato fries • portobello mushrooms • potato salad • hush puppies
and you also have your choice of sauce (which is served delightfully on the side): spicy marinara • classic tartar • lemon-garlic aioli • grilled lemons • cocktail • BBQ • Basil.
kka ordered the bluefish woodgrilled with sides of asparagus and broccoli. she opted for no sauce and she really enjoyed the flavor of the fish and the veggies were nice and fresh and so that was also a definite plus. they also had a bit of seasoning, so they weren't bland which was definitely also a plus. veggies need flavor too!
to start i ordered the crispy calamari (you can also have it grilled) and these had great flavor. after having really good calamari at Il Canale and decent calamari at Liberty Tree , I was hoping for more of the former. The calamari was very good, super fresh and had nice seasoning. it had a really good amount of kick but it was not overpowering and they were fried very nicely. i would definitely want to try other appetizers on their menu on a trip back.
for my "maine meal" i ordered the catfish wood-grilled with a side of sweet potato fries and broccoli. I also asked for the spicy marinara on the side. this ended up being really quite delicious. i really enjoyed the flavor of the wood-grill coming through the fish and i think by topping it with the spicy marinara, it gave it that nice kick to balance out the grilled flavor. the sweet potato fries were also delicious but it is hard find "bad" sweet potato fries. i am pretty certain that is an oxymoron. as i mentioned earlier, the broccoli was really good, fresh and well-seasoned.
a favorite thing about both Hook and Tacklebox is that they only use sustainable seafood and ingredients and locally grown produce. they get bonus points just for that. all in all, i would definitely head back to tacklebox again (even minus a groupon) to try out other things on the menu. the seafood is good, not the best i have EVER had but nevertheless it is cheap and good.
Things to do: Shop. plain and simple.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
le pain is an international restaurant of obvious french flair. it is a very nice restaurant/cafe to dine for breakfast or lunch and it is well known for it's "communal table" dining. i had previously been to both the georgetown and dupont circle locations (unfortunately, no international ones for me :-) ), but to hang out with BOOF buddy, kku, we decided to meet one morning for a sort of after breakfast snack at the bethesda location.
the bethesda location is located on bethesda row which is an adorable area that i had never really ventured to previously, but if I ever find myself back in DC living (which i pray i do), i definitely would want to spend some more time there. i am fairly certain that all le pain's pretty much have a similar set up with a large communal table in part of their restaurant with more individual tables set up around the restaurant and then the bakery/casing taking a large part of space also in the restaurant. the furniture is dominated by a lot of "unfinished wood", and although i really like the concept of the communal dining, i still feel that you just end up communicating with whoever you are with. nevertheless, it is an idea that i do like.
le pain uses mainly (if not all) organic ingredients in their meals and i have had breakfast there before and really enjoyed it. on this day, kku and I just enjoyed a couple of breakfast pastries. le pain is one of those places that it can be difficult to order because EVERYTHING in the pastry cases looks delicious. nevertheless, i just ordered a simple croissant (i know how boring), but it was delicious.
kku was a little but more adventurous and ordered this really tasty bread topped with a creme and strawberries. it was really really good. the creme wasn't that sweet and the strawberries were sweet with enough tart that you were not too overwhelmed. and the bread definitely had a nice pastry puff/croissant taste to it, so it was nice and had a bit of a crunch to balance out the texture.
all in all, a trip to le pain is always good and never disappointing. if you need something quick, i definitely recommend just grabbing a pastry and a coffee to go (coffee is good and strong), but if you have time to sit down...then definitely do that and order something of more substance. their omelettes are pretty tasty...just a thought.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
man o' man. if i would have known that making a fruit crumble were so simple, i would've been making these a long time ago.
however, it was special BOOF buddy, cr's "not birthday birthday" and i knew how much he loved rhubarb so i thought i would delve into the wonderful world of a fruit crumble. at a friend's party a few months back, i had endulged in a strawberry rhubarb crumble and was really taken back by the flavor because i had never had rhubarb before, so i was excited and nervous to take to this new ingredient.
the roughest part about making this dish was finding rhubarb. rhubarb is extremely seasonal peaking in the spring and a bit into the summer, and it is really almost nearly impossible to find it in stores (farmer's markets are your best bet). I had to call about 4 or 5 grocery stores to find one that carried it but I did! WIN.
thanks to Deb of Smitten Kitchen, I found this most perfectly easy Strawberry Rhubarb crumble recipe and made a couple of additions just for a little added flavor.
For the Topping:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (or turbinado sugar aka Sugar in the Raw-- that's what i used...maybe 6 packets?
Zest of one lemon
1/4 pound (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 quart strawberries plus a few extras, hulled, quartered
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1) Heat oven to 375.
2) Prepare topping: Combine flour, baking powder, sugar(s), lemon zest, and melted butter until large clumps begin to form.
3) Refrigerate until needed.
4) Prepare filling: Toss chopped rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep dish plate.
5) Remove topping from fridge and cover fruit thickly and evenly with the topping.
6) My addition: dust top with brown sugar and cinnamon- i think this added a nice additional flavor to the dish.
7) Bake until topping is golden brown in certain places and the fruit is bubbling underneath (40-50 minutes).
Recipe adapted from: http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/05/crumbling-crisp-convictions/
Thursday, July 15, 2010
on an impromptu friday evening, a few close buddies of BOOF including Sho, twinskii, their sig others (j$ and bl), and I all decided to head out to jazz in the sculpture garden, a friday evening favorite. after a few glasses of sangria, some brazilian jazz and a little too much DC heat and humidity, we all decided that we were starving and because this is Sho's former stomping ground, she recommended that we head to clyde's for a bite.
because Sho knew some members of the clyde's staff, my view of the restaurant will definitely be biased but i have always had a fond place for clyde's in my heart. clyde's is a DMV restaurant food chain and i have been to the locations in both georgetown and chinatown and had good experiences at both; however, this is a review for the chinatown location.
located right in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of chinatown, clyde's sits adjacent to the verizon center as a pronounced restaurant spanning two levels and with entrance from both the street and the cinemas. the restaurant is fitted with dim lights, varied artwork (a lot of european influences), dark brown tables and a mix of both hardwood floors and carpeting upstairs. there are three bars in the clydes in chinatown (two downstairs, one upstairs), so it never really gets too busy and too difficult to get a drink. nevertheless, because it is such a hot spot it does get busy for dinner but unless their is a big event going on at the verizon center (Caps game), you should always be able to get a seat for dinner with not too much of a wait.
clyde's features "traditional american" cuisine and with aussie buddy bl in town, it seemed like the perfect option.
to start off, i ordered the zucchini fritters. i love zucchini in any form so i was really excited to see it in the fried variety, in a restaurant! they were fried well, the seasoning was good and did not take away from the natural flavor of the zucchini. all in all, i was pleased.
BOOF buddy, twinskii, ordered the nachos which were topped with ground beef, cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream, sliced jalapenos and pic de gallo. she enjoyed them but nothing too special.
other BOOF buddy, j$, ordered the thai marinated steak salad which included mango, carrots, cucumber, toasted peanuts and chili lime dressing. the flavor was good and a very nice option as an entree salad.
you'll have to excuse my forgetfulness because i can't really remember what BOOF buddies bl and Sho ordered but I am pretty certain it was of the burger variety. I also do recall that BOOF buddy bl ordered some oysters on the half shell and he mentioned that they were good as well.
i ordered the grilled portobello topped with roasted peppers, zucchini, grilled red onions, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, pesto mayonnaise on toasted multigrain. the sandwich was very tasty and i think because it was topped with such great veggies but yet the sandwich could still be bitten into without being overwhelmed by too much stuff and too much flavor.
all in all with SUPER service to boot, i enjoyed my time at clydes. well, i always enjoy my time at clyde's. there is nothing too special and spectacular about the food and flavors that they produce but it is also a good and satisfying meal. perfect for a movie night or a pre/post-game meal.
Grade: B+/B (A for service C+ for food)
Monday, July 12, 2010
it's like reliving every lunch in grade school, except better. sandwiches.
although sandwiches are definitely equally a big kid as a little kid meal, i definitely have the fondest sandwich memories from my childhood. nevertheless, as a veg, i have found that many times the most veggie friendly non-salad thing you can find on a menu, is a sandwich, so they have grown to become a very significant part of my life. moreover, there has been some sort of sandwich explosion throughout america as most restaurants, cafes and even sandwich specialty shops (ie Panera, Cosi, Corner Bakery, Au Bon Pain) have taken the average BLT, Ham & Cheese, and PB&J to new heights.
not to be out done, the district has recently seen the entry of a Philly Style Sandwich shop, Taylor's. Taylor's first sprouted up in DC on H Street (yup, H street) back in 2007 when two young philly natives were looking for the same italian style deli hoagie that they were accustomed to. however, they could not find their childhood love in DC, so they decided to start their own. they recognized that H street Corridor/Atlas District was on the up and up, so that is where they decided to open their sandwich chain and has seen tremendous success since. in the past year or so, they opened their second location in Mt. Vernon Square/Convention Center and they are soon to open their third location in Bethesda.
everyone who enters Taylor's has been known to be overwhelmed by the numerous options of a sandwich almost every kind a way. their menu is divided into hoagies, chicken cutlet sandwiches, veggie sandwiches, pastina and fritto (essentially a couple of appetizers). the hoagies and the chicken cutlet sandwiches definitely dominate this meat heavy menu, but as a vegetarian I do appreciate that they have four veggie sandwiches on their menu. however, it really would be easy for them to have a few more with similar flavors that are highlighted already on their menu. they also have a few pastina options which are pasta salads with veggies and you can also add chicken to them. that also offers a nice veggie option, but every good veg knows how to make their own pasta salad, so there is nothing special about that. furthermore, although i do understand that this is a sandwich shop, a few regular salads would be welcomed here because a half salad/half sandwich is always a great lunch (sans some of the carbs). also, best buddy of BOOF, Mo, is unable to partake in any of the deliciousness that Taylor's has to offer simply for the fact that there is NOTHING that is gluten free on the menu. the only gluten free thing is the fountain soda (which is SUPERB, especially the cream soda), but really? they should definitely improve upon this major issue in their menu. also, a soup in the wintertime would also be a well-welcomed addition.
since i am on the swing of mentioning the not so good things first, i will continue to mention that despite the fresh ingredients, good seasoning, nice sizes and delicious fountain soda, that special bread that they have shipped in every day from philly is really quite hard. perhaps that is the way that the philly hoagie bread is supposed to be and although the bread tastes good, it is so hard to bite through which definitely takes away from the sandwich.
onto the good things: taylor's has a very great feel to it and you definitely feel comfortable when you walk in. for the H street location, they have a large clear retractable door and during the warm days and warm evenings, the whole front of he store is walk in. they have limited seating in the front but it's comfortable but they also have a lot more seating on the back porch. all the guys working are super nice and the rapid rate at which they turn out sandwiches is super great.
as briefly mentioned before, despite the tough bread, the sandwiches are really good. the ingredients are fresh and they definitely take different ingredients and put them together in a very tasty way. i have tried all of the veggie sandwiches at taylors and i think that both the christian street (Portobella Mushrooms, Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, Goat Cheese) and spring garden (broccoli rabe and sharp provolone) are my top two. they both have a really great and fresh flavor with the nice balance between sharp, savory and a touch of sweet. moreover, although i have nothing against iceberg lettuce, i am a firm believer that iceberg lettuce has no place in specialty sandwich shop. either romaine, baby spinach or arugula, PLEASE and preferably spinach or arugula. iceberg lettuce belongs on a cheeseburger or in a salad but not on a specialty sandwich.
nevertheless because i lived around the corner from taylor's, i maybe only at their once but i always took took it home which was very convenient. another plus to taylor is that they deliver without a lot of DC, so even if you don't live close to any of the locations, you should be able to get taylor's right to your doorstep. :-)
Additional Note: ALWAYS order the 12 inch. even if you can't eat the twelve inch in one sitting ( i never can), it is always the perfect meal for lunch the next day.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
ah yes. for close buddy of BOOF's, Sho's, final happy hour, the other treat I decided to make besides the White Chocolate Lemon Truffles, I also decided to make something peanut buttery and delicious. Or at least, I was going to attempt to.
I know that one of Sho's favorite desserts are brownies, so I definitely wanted to play up to that but do something a little different then just a classic brownie (even though they are very delicious). I am definitely believer that a little peanut butter goes a long way ;-) so I got to tastespotting and searching for a good peanut butter brownie recipe. there were many options to choose from but I wanted the peanut butter to be the highlight of the brownie, and not just a light swirl as an afterthought. Thus, I was prepared to make a more "blondie" brownie and also because I am a firm believer that making things in muffin/cupcake pans makes it so much easier to divide, I decide that I was definitely going to down the more cupcake "path" in making these.
Recipe adapted from: http://bunsinmyoven.com/2010/05/05/peanut-butter-brownies/
- 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 36 mini peanut butter cups (Reese’s are the best!)
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 ) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease Muffin/Cupcake Pan
2) In large mixing bowl, beat together sugar, peanut butter, regular butter, vanilla and eggs for 3-5 minutes until well blended.
3) Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and continue to mix for another few minutes
4) Stir in chocolate chips for a minute or so
5) Pour mix into cupcake pan
6) Cook for about 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean
7) Remove from oven and immediately press peanut butter cups into the top of the brownie cupcakes.
8) Allow to cool and enjoy and Share!
Additional Notes: From what I gathered, everyone enjoyed these little treats. I feel like somewhere along the line, the eggs might not even be that necessary because peanut butter is such a binding agent. You can clearly not put these in a muffin/cupcake pan and just bake them similarly in a 9x13 pan. :-)
Saturday, July 10, 2010
yes. yes. yes.
i was certain that this day would never come. ever. in life. but then it did. and all was right and perfect in the world and german bier poured from taps freely with fluency like they've been doing it for the past three months.
if we went through all the failed attempts that numerous buds and I have tried to make it to the bier garten, we would be here for a long time so I will spare you the details.
playing for the 3rd place game (yes, unfortunate i know), BOOF buddies Sho, Cr and L, finally made our way to and IN the biergarten haus on H street to see the Germany vs. Uruguay game. Yes. H Street. I'm just telling you to get here if you haven't already. i'll just leave it at that. although there was still a lot of people in the beer garden, it was not overwhelmingly packed; however, i arrived probably 1/2 hour before the game was slated to start and there was a long wait to sit outside so we opted not to.
i had the pleasure of attending the german beer garden with my favorite german, so i had both my personal opinions and then the opinions of my german. from the exterior of the building with its white walls, dark brown trim and german flags flying from the roof, you know exactly what you are entering in to. upon entering in the on the first floor, the biergarten is very true without with its decor theme throughout the second floor and also outside. Although I just that this was a "stereotype", it was brought to my attention, as we were being stared down with the various stuffed animals on the walls, its accuracy to the German culture that most germans do have a stuffed animal mantle piece in their home. kind of a shocker. Nevertheless, the biergarten is outfitted in dark brown tables, chairs with white washed walls and blue drapery. The light is dim and natural and the you definitely feel a large amount of warmth upon entering the establishment.
despite not sitting outdoors, the outdoor is so great. everything about the space is perfect for every season. long large dark brown wooden tables which span the length of the outdoor patio which gives the whole experience a very "communal" feel. furthermore, it has sun/rain umbrellas throughout the patio and during the world cup (probably most large events), they had a large blue tent over the entire area to protect from rain. They also had a huge projection screen set up which was a very nice touch for world cup watching. moreover, the beer garden features not one, not two but three full bars. one downstairs, one upstairs and one outside which limits the annoying inability to retrieve a drink in a quick and timely fashion.
i have never been to a beer garden so i was unsure of what to expect but i really enjoyed it. most beers ring true to german traditions by coming in a 1/2Liter or Liter mug (so big, so so big) but I also saw some "Boots" around. side note: according to my german, the "boot" is not german at all. nevertheless, drinking from it is definitely a good time and an experience, so you should probably just do it. Additionally, aside from the TWELVE beers they have on tap, one of the beers remaining true to german tradition also comes in a 0.2L glass.
with the german beginning to feel a little germany in the states, we allowed him to pick the drinks for the day, and I should have probably written them down because I don't really recall which was which (i will edit later with the names) but they were all delicious. the drink i do recall is the summer special, Radler, which is a specialty that takes a german pilsner and adds lemon lime soda. it is really delicious with the perfect balance between a nice sweet/sour/spritzy flavor with the nice hops of a beer.
we also ordered a couple of snacks and at this point, the menu was pretty simple but now they have continued to add to the the entire menu (breakfast, lunch and dinner), so they now offer a much larger variety.
we started off with the pretzels which were more like little pretzel rolls and they were ok. i wish they had a great deal of a fresh baked warmth taste rather then the cool sogginess that pretzels quickly take on.
cr also ordered wurstplatten (sausage platter with sauerkraut, pretzels and pommes). we all tasted the pommes (fries) and they were cooked really well with a nice seasoning. cr enjoyed the the bratwurst but did not feel like it was anything special. the sauerkraut was also good enough but nothing that knocks your socks off.
furthermore, aside from the twelve draft beers, there is a huge beer menu of probably upwards of 30 types of bottled german beer...just stupendous.
all in all, i FINALLY really enjoyed my trip to the beer garden and would definitely go back. a lot. they are continually making improvements with expanding their menu for all meals, to adding various events during the weeknights like trivia night on tuesday. the biggest negative was the ONE women's bathroom they had available. apparently, there were more bathrooms being constructed at that time out back on the patio, but really? one indoor bathroom? that was kinda poor planning. nevertheless, i hope to be back because this place definitely has the possibility of becoming the place to be in DC.
Grade: B+ (Beer gets an A but food gets a C+)
Friday, July 9, 2010
perfect summer snack.
what the district has been experiencing this summer is not just heat. yes, within what feels like seconds of walking out of your door in the morning you are met with a wave of hot air. yummy. nothing like a hot wave of air to wake you up in the morning...i'm sure it packs a better punch then folgers. but yes, withiin walking out of your door in the morning and that single drop of prespiration begins to form on your forehead, all you think of is man...i wan't some ice cream...at 7:30 in the morning.
although i really can't help you get ice cream or a cold delicious dessert at 7:30 in the morning (try some dunkin donuts iced coffee), I can definitely point you to very good options from noon-10pm.
rita's water ice (italian ice) is a chain water ice shop that has been popping up all over the dc metro area (nova and southern MD included). i had been to the Rita's over by dupont before, but I was so thrilled to hear that eventually a Rita's was coming to the wonderous H street. yes, back to H street we go.
rita's could not have opened at a better time with summer in FULL swing and H street in desperate need of a ice cream/water ice spot with semi regular hours (there is philadelphia water ice but it is more of a really tasty late night joint). rita's is definitely the best post-dinner spot for a quick and tasty dessert to cool off during the very warm evenings. it can definitely be between dinner and a night out in H street or just a nice night cap to your evening.
best buddy of BOOF, Mo and I have made ourselves rita's regulars. the first week that rita's was open they were giving away free water ice which is just unbelievable. now, they are back to regular business but despite being open for only a few weeks, they definitely have gotten their feet under them. tons of people can come through rita's at a time but they keep the flow moving quickly and although my biggest complaint that there is not really enough seating (both inside and outside), the quick pace works for the type of establishment they are. furthermore, the rita's workers are extremely nice and essentially will give you unlimited taste tests especially when it is not that busy.
Mo (please don't hate me for posting this picture) loves the custard and although I am not too much of a custard person it is definitely growing on me. the water ice is always delicious and there are always such good and fresh flavors that you can never get bored. the best flavor i have tasted from rita's is the passionfruit but i also had the blood orange the other day which was also really good. Mo tells me that the wild blackcherry is also really good and I took a glimpse of the mango and it just looked scrumptious but I had resist.
i've kinda have fallen in love with the blendini which is custard, water ice and either pretzels, oreos, m&ms, cookies, or nilla wafers mixed in. it is so good. it is like a pseudo healthier version of DQ Blizzard...especially if you get the fat free custard (which I do and you can't even tell the difference).
another great thing is that Rita's will pack whatever flavor you like that day in a Quart Container for a measly $5 or $6 dollars, if I am not mistaken. ooh and the other day we went and they had raspberry lemonade advertised and because it was such a big hit, it was unfortunately sold out. i am now determined to get back there when it is available. nommmmm.
overall, there is something for everyone at rita's. in a district where cupcakes rock the block and fro yo is usually the summer treat of choice, rita's is definitely a different but delectable option.
The H street location really needs to get some sort of outside seating. that could potentially bump them into A status. for sure.
Also: Rita's is diabetic/health friendly with Sugar Free flavors and a slew of "Slendini" options! go RITA's GO!