Thursday, December 22, 2011

Where to Eat and Drink: The Tea Edition

This post is for all the ladies in the house.  Unless you're more of a tea-and-finger-sandwiches kind of dude than the lager-and-nachos type, in which case, grab your pals and get thee to an afternoon tea.

What is afternoon tea, you ask?  In essence, it's an excuse to dress up and gossip with your friends while eating delicate crustless sandwiches and scones heavily loaded with cream.  And drink tea, naturally.

According to the Jefferson Hotel, this is a tradition that dates back to the 1830s, when Anne, Duchess of Bedford, invited others to join her for afternoons of light sandwiches and bitch fests about that slut who always comes to court in a too-tight corset.  I'm not really sure what the 1830s equivalent is of dishing with your friends about how your ex-boyfriend got fat, but I imagine it's something like that.  

This time of year can get hectic for many folks, which is all the more reason to find a few hours to devote to quality time with friends.  And with all the holiday merriment, it's nice to throw an occasional sober event into the mix.

I've had tea at several locations around D.C., and most recently at the Jefferson Hotel, which holds sessions in its lovely greenhouse room: has a fantastic summary of where you can go for tea in the D.C. area.  Next on my list are the Four Seasons and the National Cathedral, which apparently conducts a guided tour and tea session on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  I tell you, I'd sure go to synagogue a lot more if tea and scones were involved.

Prices vary across locations -- the Jefferson will run you $39 a person, which seems to be average -- but generally you will find the same offerings throughout: a generous pot of the tea of your choice, light sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and an assortment of pastries or other desserts.  In other words, it's enough food to constitute a legit lunch or dinner.

IF YOU GO: You'll need a reservation at nearly all locations.  Especially around the holidays, seats go fast, so be sure to call early.

WHAT TO WEAR: Anything but jeans.  Most ladies dress up at least a little bit, as teas are generally considered more formal affairs than, say, tequila shots atop the bar of Madhatter.  Ridiculous hats only required if you are a member of the royal party.

Feel free to bring them along to Madhatter, though.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where to Eat: Founding Farmers

As a resident of Georgetown, one my favorite spots I loved to hit up was Farmers and Fishers located on the Georgetown Waterfront. Sadly, after the flooding last spring, the restaurant closed its doors and is not scheduled to re-open until Spring 2012.

Luckily, its sister restaurant, Founding Farmers, is still a bustling busy restaurant in Foggy Bottom. But despite hearing lots of good things about it--- including that Travel and Leisure Magazine had rated it as one of the top 50 restaurants in the United States in 2009--- up until last week, I had never been.

It was a slow Tuesday when my friend, Matt, emailed me to see if I wanted to grab lunch. As someone who always tries to take advantage of the lunch hour on slow days at work (most days I work straight through lunch), I quickly accepted his invitation. We did not make reservations and when we showed up the place was packed. On a random Tuesday in December at 1pm. I always see that as a very good sign but was worried it would be a long wait for a table.

Community table at Founding Farmers
Luckily, we were seated quickly at a "community" table--- a long wooden table that can seat eight or so people. We were sat at one far end. The atmosphere was busy and warm and cozy as our server thoroughly explained the menu to us.

Founding Farmers is owned and operated by the North Dakota Farmers Union- meaning it is owned by real American farmers. Cool concept, huh? The restaurant prides itself on using only fresh produce, meat, and ingredients and almost all of the items they serve, including soda, are made in-house from scratch.

After the server explained the menu to us, we each ordered one of the house-made sodas. I tried the blood orange soda, and Matt had the homemade ginger ale.

Now, as someone who used to work the lunch hour shift at a restaurant, I know that most people do not have time to dilly dally. Service should be quick. So, it was a little disappointing when it took over twenty minutes for our sodas to arrive. It was even more disappointing when it took the server even longer to take our lunch order. But, then again, we were both pretty indecisive with what we wanted to order because everything looked delicious.

I finally settled on the soup of the day, bacon butternut squash. That's right- bacon and butternut squash. Aka, it sounded like heaven. I also ordered the Farmer's Salad- baby lettuce, avocado, dates, tomatoes, red grapes, almonds, and parmesan cheese in a champagne vinaigrette.

Matt ordered the shaved pork sandwich- roasted pork loin, country cured ham, swiss cheese, citrus pickled onions, red peppers, and dijon mustard on ciabatta- and a side of kale. Check out his blog, Third Date Cooking, to learn more about his obsession with kale.

We were chat chatting away about the different holiday parties we had each attended the prior weekend, when we realized that it had been a loooonnnggg time since we had placed our order. Our food did eventually come out, but the wait was exceptionally long.

We dove right in and I was immediately disappointed to find that my soup was only lukewarm. Meaning our food probably sat in the kitchen way longer than it should have. But, the flavors were awesome--- and the salad was packed full of fresh veggies and goodness. As for Matt's sandwich? He said it was great and ate every last bite. He did say that the kale was a little bland and needed something more. But he is a tough critic when it comes to kale.

Bacon Butternut Squash Soup

Farmers Salad

Shaved Pork Sandwich and side of kale

While the service was not the best, and probably the reason why my soup was not hot, the food and the atmosphere made up for it. I have already decided that I want to go back and try this place out for dinner as soon as possible. It seems like the perfect cozy type of restaurant for the cold winter months ahead. I already envision myself sitting at one of the smaller, intimate wooden tables on the second floor, sipping a nice glass of malbec and nibbling on appetizers while the snow is falling outside on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Where to Brunch: LevelOne Update- Now with EVEN MORE AWESOME

So, remember when I blogged about my fabulously gay disco brunch at the fabulously gay LevelOne in the fabulously gay Dupont Circle?

To recap: My first experience there was delicious and awesome... if not particularly disco. As far as I could tell, the only thing vaguely "disco" about it was the music. In fact, I even made a somewhat snarky comment via photo caption:

The "disco" part is because they play disco music over the speakers. Yeah, I thought it was a stretch, too.
Fast forward to this past Saturday, when I made a point to drop in on my new gay BFFs and their decadent truffle fries. Apparently, my review was posted to LevelOne's Facebook page. The manager read it, heard my criticisms about the brunch's lack of disco, and enacted a new decree:  Let all servers button up their bell bottoms, let mirror balls be hung, and let disco reign truly supreme.



The place is decorated, and all the servers have to dress up in disco gear from here on out!

Now THIS is what a "disco brunch" should be! I LOVED it!!! It brought the brunch experience to this whole new level.

And even though the servers weren't, um, exactly thrilled about the new changes...

Taking a break without their wigs and looking unhappy
... all I have to say is, dear manager, you've done good.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where to Eat: Rasika

This past Sunday I went to dinner with three of my girlfriends to celebrate one of their upcoming graduations from graduate school. The four of us decided on the date weeks ago, and one of the girls suggested we try Rasika in Penn Quarter. I happily agreed because I always like to check out new places, but I knew basically nothing about it. Turns out it is considered one of the best Indian restaurants in the District. Who knew?

And it definitely held up to that standard during our visit on Sunday night.

Everything about the place was simply perfect. And I can be a tough critic.

The decor has a modern yet extremely warm and cozy atmosphere. It is elegant with crystal beads hanging from the ceiling, but simple with wooden tables and plain place settings. Before we were even shown to our table, I knew that I would be writing this review and recommending it as the perfect atmosphere for a nice dinner out with girlfriends, a cozy intimate date night, or a fun place to take your parents when they come into town.

After we were seated, we decided it was a good night to share a bottle of wine. Our server quickly brought over the sommelier who listened to what we wanted and recommended a great bottle of pinot noir. Then the server went through the menu with us -- explaining dishes and making recommendations. He was extremely knowledgeable and it was wonderful to have a server take the time to thoughtfully guide us through the menu.

We decided to share a bunch of different dishes, which is what the restaurant recommends that patrons do anyway. For starters we had the lamb kathi roll and the palak chaat. The lamb roll was excellent -- tender lamb wrapped in a pita type roll and served with a spicy green curry sauce. And the palak chaat -- which is crunchy spinach mixed with a variety of spices and veggies -- was probably one of the most deliciously flavorful dishes I have eaten in a long time. If you decided to try this restaurant, you must order this dish.

Palak Chaat (crunch spinach) = amazing

For our entrees we split the chicken makhani, the chicken tikka masali, the dal malchani, and the kabuli gosht. Each dish came family style with rice and naan. Every dish had incredible flavors. The meat dishes were tender. The spices had the right amount of intensity, but not overwhelming or over the top.

We were so stuffed that we skipped dessert but I already want to go back and get drinks and dessert in the lounge area. Desserts like chocolate samosa and coconut creme caramel? Yes, please.

And the atmosphere is perfect for this kind of year. Rasika is an elegant yet super cozy place to warm up from the chilly weather. In fact, all you men out there -- read The Singleship's recommendation for ice skating at the Sculpture Garden and then after head to Rasika for drinks and dessert. Your date will be uber impressed.

Now I just need to find a cute guy that wants to take me... hmmm...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Two Winter Date Ideas

I really love this time of year, aside from the fact that it's considerably more challenging for me to dress myself when multiple layers are involved.  Though every season in D.C. offers something special- apple cider and orange leaves in the fall, cherry blossoms and wine festivals in the spring, disgusting, soul-killing humidity in the summer- there is something about winter that makes the act of dating just a little bit more electrifying.  Everything is lit up in a sparkly glow, the mood is festive, and holiday events are around every corner.  (Okay, technically, winter doesn't start for a few more weeks, but I'm not one to split hairs over things like "dates" and "facts").

Sassy Marmalade suggested both of the following activities in her "What to do if you're in D.C." Thanksgiving Edition post, and I thought they were such fantastic ideas for dates that they could use another mention.

WINTER DATE #1: ZooLights at the Smithsonian National Zoo

ZooLights is a fun, no-pressure activity.  You literally just walk around and ooh and ahh over sparkly objects.

It's also equally appropriate for a first, fifth, or fiftieth date.  It's a nice change of pace for established couples looking for something different to do, and it takes the pressure off those just getting to know each other by adding structure and providing an easy topic of conversation.

Not only that, it's completely free, so if you spent all your savings buying shiny new things on Cyber Monday, you can save a few bucks by hitting up ZooLights.  Just make sure you treat your date to a hot chocolate afterward to avoid the appearance that you are a broke Kevin Federline type.  

From now through December 11, ZooLights runs from 5-9 P.M.Friday through Sundays nights.
From December 11-January 1, ZooLights runs every night except for Dec 24, 25 and 31.

WINTER DATE #2: Ice-Skating at the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden 

I will caveat this suggestion with the following plea: for the love of all that is holy, please do not suggest ice-skating for a first date.  It's too much of a time commitment and you might be putting your date on the spot by suggesting something unfamiliar.  If it were me, I would want to do a fun activity like ice-skating on a third date, when I knew I liked the person enough that I could get over the embarrassment of falling on my ass in front of him.

As with ZooLights, you avoid the pressure for constant conversation, and there's no better way to get hands-on with your date than precariously gliding on ice amid equally uncoordinated strangers.  One time, I went ice-skating with a guy, and made it the whole way without falling.  Until the very end, when I slipped while standing still and holding on to the ledge of the rink.  Nancy Kerrigan, right here.  The point is, despite my clumsiness, it was a lot of fun and one of the most memorable dates I've had thus far.  Though not as cheap as ZooLights, admission plus skate rental will only run you about $11 a person.

From now until mid-March, the rink is open from Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.- 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 10 a.m.- 11 p.m, and Sundays from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where to Eat: Toki Underground

The Saturday night after Thanksgiving, my roommate, Lauren, and I decided that we were finally hungry for the first time in two days. We also decided that we wanted to go out for dinner because the city would be quiet with everyone else out of town. But where to go? Lauren suggested ramen noodles at Toki Underground because the place is usually packed, so hopefully we could get in without waiting.

At first I was a bit skeptical to go out for ramen noodles. Ramen noodles reminded me of college. And while college was a friggin blast, I like to pretend think that my taste is more refined now. But, always up to try something new, I agreed to her idea.

Toki Underground is on H Street NE. H Street is in many ways the new place to hang out in D.C. And for good reason. A densely populated bar scene without the chaos and skanky girls of Adams Morgan? Yes, please. With lots of different venue types to choose from? Yes, yes, please. And men with beards everytime I turn around? God, just writing this makes me want to head over there right now.
There are chill, laid back places with big couches and dim lights like Smith Commons. There are bars with games like H Street Country Club and Star and Shamrock. There are divey bars like The Pug and Red Palace. There are places to dance like Little Miss Whiskey's. And then there are all the new restaurants popping up left and right.

Toki Underground is one of those restaurants. It opened over a year ago and has been packed ever since. Toki serves traditional Taiwanese ramen noodles and dumplings. And I am so glad that I checked it out.

But remember that wait we were hoping to avoid? Yeah, even on Thanksgiving weekend it was packed. A table for two was a 55 minute wait. But Toki offers a nice service. The hosts adds your name and phone number to the wait list and will call you when your table is ready. So, we skipped across the street for pre-dinner drinks at Smith Commons. When the host called, we just walked back across the street and were seated immediately. Pretty cool if you ask me.

The space is small and cozy. This is a photo of the bar area.

The restaurant does not have tables though. Instead, there are high countertops that run around the perimeter of the restaurant with bar stools for seating. Interesting use of the small, cozy space and it also allowed us to meet (and flirt) with the two guys sitting next to us. And, yup, both had beards.

The menu is small. And our server, although very serious, was extremely knowledgeable and described the various dishes to us.

We decided on the pork dumplings and the seafood dumplings to start. And then for our entrees, I ordered the Curry Chicken Hakata and my roommate ordered the Toki Hakata Classic.

Pork Dumplings

Both variations of the dumplings were good, but the pork definitely had more flavor and would be what I would order if when I go back. As we nibbled on the dumplings and chatted with our new friends, rap music played in the background (while I cannot remember the exact song, my notes say it was a song that had "suck my dick" in the lyrics) . By the time our main course arrived, the music had changed to opera. And while our server was serious and had a very "down to business" attitude, the manager who came by to see if everything was okay was in a flannel shirt and had a typical H Street hipster look to him.

Curry Chicken Hakata
The noodles were delicious. Lots of flavor and nothing like those ramen noodles I ate in college. And at $10 a pop? So, so worth it.

The entire experience was eclectic, unique and awesome. I encourage you all to check it out. Just plan to wait a while. The wait is not only worth it, but with so many bar options in the area it makes the night more fun. Then, after dinner you can do what I did: Head to H Street Country Club for drinks and then onto Little Miss Whiskey's for late night dancing and bad decisions.

And there you go, just like that, I created a perfect night out for you. Have fun!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Where NOT to Eat: Lost Society

I have been to Lost Society three times. The first was a first date. We sat on the rooftop and sipped cocktails in the late August heat. It was a cool crowd and I fell in love with the rooftop atmosphere. Bustling U Street down below. Open air. Eclectic decor. Nice, friendly bartender. Tall, attractive, bearded date. All good things.
Third floor bar leading out to the rooftop
The next time I went for an impromptu dinner with Katie. We sat outside on the rooftop and each ordered a steak. The steaks were...forgettable. I honestly do not remember them at all. The server was wonderful and extremely friendly but when she told us that they were all out of the wines by the glass (on a Friday night!!) and did not offer any alternatives, we thought it was lame. Also, Katie wanted to order a specialty cocktail and she was told that "cocktails could not be ordered on the rooftop, only in the main dining room." WTF?

Needless to say, we finished our steaks and got the hellz out of there and onto more "drinking friendly establishments." Like Maddy's in Dupont Circle, where we flirted with the bouncer. And Russia House where we got hit on by 24 year olds. But that is a story for another time.

The most recent time I went to Lost Society was about a month ago for a date. I was excited to try the place out for a full meal now that it had been open for about six months (and hopefully had worked out the kinks) and relax after a long week at work.

And full meal it was. My date had bought a gilt city coupon that included dinner for two--- two cocktails, two appetizers, two steaks, and a dessert.

We arrived and the hostess led us to our table. Having only ever been to the rooftop, I was looking forward to sitting in the main dining room. I envisioned over stuffed booths. Dim lights. Cozy, intimate seating areas. I was wrong. Way wrong.

Look at our teeny tiny table! Barely had room for all the dishes.
We were sat at a small round table in the bar/ lounge area. Now, I know for a fact that my date made reservations days in advance, so why would they stick us in the lounge area??? It was loud and the table was cramped and small. And instead of being able to look across the table at each other, the chairs were positioned looking INTO the bar. Not to mention that the lighting was terrible. We felt like there was a spotlight on us the whole time. The entire thing was sort of awkward. But, both being optimistic people, we made the most of it.

Tuna tartar at Lost Society

We both ordered drinks off the specialty cocktail list- I had the cosmopolitan and my date had the Manhattan. Both were fine.

Then we ordered appetizers- the steamed mussels and the tuna tartar. Both were, ehhhhh. The tuna had excellent presentation but it lacked flavor. The mussels, while not bad, were nothing to write home about. And half of them did not open up--- if you are a mussel eater, you know that's a bad sign.

Next we ordered our main entrees. I ordered the 10 oz. filet, my date ordered the 14oz. bone in strip, and we got a side of broccolini. Again, nothing was wrong with this course but nothing was spectacular. I do remember my steak being cooked perfectly (medium rare) and having decent flavor. But as someone who loves steak, when you have a good one, you remember it. And I don't remember much about mine at Lost Society. And, I ordered a glass of Cabernet with my steak, which the server brought TEN MINUTES after I was served the steak. Not cool.

Finally, dessert. At this point, we were stuffed, so we really only ordered dessert because it was part of the package. We decided on the upside down cake. Again, forgettable.

All of that being said, we both agreed that we while nothing was horrible, nothing, including the food, service and table, were anything more than average.

Later that night, while sipping drinks* at Russia House after dinner, we decided that we were having just as much fun drinking vodka, listening to live music, and sitting close to one another as we did at dinner. Just another lesson learned for this girl- It's not where you go that matters. It's who you're with. And I may not have had a great dinner like I was hoping for at Lost Society. But the quality time with my date? I definitely got that.

My recommendation: Lost Society is a great place to go for drinks or for some late night dancing. But skip the dinner.

*next time you go to Russia House try ordering vodka and apple juice.  I know, sounds weird.  But it's beyond delicious.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Where to Work

For some reason, I have always been more successful at getting work done outside of my apartment than in it.  By venturing out, I have more incentive to limit the amount of time I waste staring off into space or surfing the Internet for things like how to fishtail braid hair because I just want to get back to a place where I can walk around in mismatched pajamas and no one will judge me.

As I sit here, procrastinating on a super uninteresting final paper, I thought it might be helpful to pull together a list of places that make doing work just a little less painful.  

The library

Before you roll your eyes and let out a loud duh, I want to add that I included this because I think a lot of folks, myself included, tend to underutilize D.C.’s libraries.  Part of the reason is because there are a plethora of options that offer more festive environments, like cafes that entice with snacks and coffee- or wine, whatever, I’m not judging- which makes the work process a lot less painful.  But the library is really the place to go when you need to get down to business, and the recently renovated libraries like the ones in Petworth and Tenleytown are surprisingly bright and inviting.  I like the library for times I require silence, like when trying to cram information into my brain prior to an exam, but usually choose one of the options below for tasks like paper writing or research.


All the cool kids go to Tryst in Adams Morgan, which is on the opposite end of the spectrum as the library.  It’s open late and it’s loud and it’s funky.  Sorry, I just channeled my grandfather for a second.  The problem with Tryst is that it is always hard to get a good seat.  There is a never a time of day when Tryst is sparsely populated, but then again, that’s part of its appeal.  But don’t worry, I have a good backup option for you should you arrive to a sea of hipster paper-writers with nary a spot to spare.


Less than a block away from Tryst, Snap is a nice medium between the aforementioned hot spot  and the library.  It stays fairly quiet, there's Wi-Fi, I’ve never had trouble getting a table, and there are plentiful outlets.  Plus, crepes and bubble tea!  Any place that heavily features Nutella on the menu can do no wrong by me.    

Whole Foods

I could write odes upon odes to the Whole Foods prepared food bar, but I will spare you.  So when I realized recently that Whole Foods has Wi-Fi, I decided I’d make it my go-to spot from then on.  However, that dream was shattered when I learned they kick you off their Internet after you’ve been on for two hours.  How rude.  Therefore, Whole Foods is best for those times when you plan to really half-ass your stuff and get it done in under two hours.  

The Portrait Gallery

The Portrait Gallery in Chinatown has a really lovely indoor courtyard that offers Wi-Fi, ample space for work, and a cafe.  It’s bright and airy and just the right noise level.  

The downside is, being a museum, it closes at 6:30 pm.  If it didn’t, this would probably be my number one recommendation.  

Panera, Cosi, Au Bon Pain, Starbucks

These are all essentially the same place.  You can count on them for Wi-Fi, quick food, and a variety of coffee drinks.  There’s at least one on every block, they’re reliable and convenient, and they have varying degrees of ambiance.  Be warned, though, that like Whole Foods, certain locations have two hour limits.  Jerks!  What, I can’t nurse my $2.00 coffee and take up your table space for five hours?  Okay, that actually seems fair.     

Baked and Wired

I added this because going to Baked and Wired in Georgetown is a great excuse for shoving an over-sized and delicious cupcake into your mouth.  But the space there is very limited, so I’d only recommend going here to camp out if you have a backup option in mind.  

Anyone have any other recommendations for good places to work?  Share them below!   

Monday, November 28, 2011

Where NOT to Eat: (Meat)Balls

**Editor's note: Since the posting of this entry, Meatballs has closed.

I have never in my life been so disappointed by balls in my mouth.

(And, ladies, we know how disappointing balls can be, AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT??? HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR!!!)

All sophomoric jokes aside, the much-ballyhooed Michel Richard homage to the spaghetti topper has a brilliant marketing ploy:


Plaster your restaurant with the word "BALLS" in ELEVENTY-MILLION-point font and watch 30-year-old customers with 14-year-old mindsets come streaming in from far and wide. It's a can't-lose proposition! (That's not the first time I've heard THAT today! ZING!)

Unfortunately, as Sassy Marmalade, our friend Ally and I found out after dining at Penn Quarter's newest that's-what-she-said joke last week, you can lead the ladies to the 'balls and you can dress up the 'balls all you want, but one time tonguing them is more than enough. Trust me.

For starters, I was less than impressed with the layout of the place as a whole. Everyone keeps throwing around Chef Richard's name, as if the Meatballs joint is going to be magically imbued with all of Central's lusciousness. Nope -- it looks more like a dirty Chipotle:

You stand in that line and order off this menu on the wall:

Is it just me or is "Pick your balls" less than appetizing?

You can choose a variety of different meats, sauces, sides and add-ons. When we went, the three of us all got the "Platter," which meant our meatballs were served over polenta, with our choice of sauce and with a side. I got the chicken balls, Sassy got the "classic" (read: cow meat) and Ally got a combination.

Chicken meatballs with red pepper sauce over polenta with some assorted vegetables and cheeses.

Let's start with praise: The polenta part of it was delicious. Ally said something along the lines of wanting "to marry it and have little polenta babies." I'd call that a pretty solid endorsement. And the sauce was OK, as well as the vegetables.

But WTF -- my meatballs were crusty on the outside, a telltale sign of overcooking. In fact, the meatballs were the least-delicious part of the entire meal... and when your restaurant is touting its "BALLS" in the aforementioned eleventy-million-point font, they probably ought to be goddamn delicious.

And even more upsetting, the three of us looked up at one point and went, "hey, weren't we supposed to get a side? We never got our sides!" Again, if you're a restaurant that has JUST OPENED, you probably shouldn't be forgetting what you're supposed to be serving.

So the place was disheveled-looking, they never served our sides, and the meatballs were blah. But the piece-de-resistance came next: a kitchen worker came through the main restaurant carrying a trash bag to throw outside. To pass my chair, he lifted said trash bag over my head... AND DRIPPED DIRTY, DISGUSTING TRASH WATER ALL OVER ME.

Holy fuck, I wanted to puke!!! And when Sassy Marmalade called the manager over to say, "Hey, that dude just dripped trash water all over her," the manager responded in a nonchalant manner and said that if the foul liquid didn't come out of my coat, I should bring it back to him and he'd have it cleaned.

Hrmph. No apology, no exchange of a business card, no offer of a coupon. When you fuck up as a restaurant, aren't you supposed to offer a coupon? He should have said, "oh I'm so sorry, here's $15, the next time you come back the meal's on us." That would have engendered goodwill in me and perhaps made me a repeat customer. But no -- all I got was blank stares and a trash water coat.

It got even worse when we went to leave the restaurant -- the manager made the poor kitchen worker chase after me on the street and apologize to me. I managed to eke out an "Um, it's OK," because, really, what are you supposed to say in that situation? Forcing this poor guy to throw himself on his sword didn't make me feel better; it just made me feel awkward. And there was STILL NO OFFER OF A COUPON.

Bottom line, Michel Richard's Balls can suck mine. I'm fairly certain this place won't be open very long.

**UPDATE: This place is now closed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Where to Eat Thanksgiving Dinner

Can't get out of the D.C.-area for the holiday? Apartment too small to cook a big dinner with all the fixin's? Or are you just that terrible in the kitchen that no one would want to eat your food anyway?

If you think you're going to have to settle for Chinese takeout and drowning your sorrows in a bottle of wine by yourself, think again. Lucky for you, there are some places open today that will cook up your turkey for you, and you won't even have to do the dishes afterward!

And, in my humble opinion, the king of them all?


Located at 529 23rd St. S in Arlington's Crystal City, this is the sports pub to end all sports pubs.

But it's in Virginia, some of you D.C. people may be whining. If I have to cross a river, I don't want to go!

Trust me, Crystal City Sports Pub will make your Metro ride over the river and through the woods worth it. It has THREE FLOORS of giant-screen TVs to cover all your Thanksgiving football-related needs:


So what about the food? The food in general is pretty awesome for a sports pub, but then they take it to a whole other level for Thanksgiving. The past two years running, I've eaten CCSP's Thanksgiving ham-and-turkey combo meal, and I've been just as satiated and satisfied as I'd have been had I spent the holiday with my family (don't tell my mom that, though).

And at $10.99, it's a deal you just can't beat. Click here for the full Thanksgiving offerings.

Still not convinced you should trek to Virginia, or interested in eating somewhere a little fancier for the holiday? There are a bunch of nice restaurants in D.C. proper offering a Thanksgiving special. Click here to visit OpenTable to make your reservation!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Where to Brunch: LevelOne

It seemed a brunch organized by our friend K was doomed to fail: Up until last Sunday, K had been trying for weeks to corral a bunch of us girls over to LevelOne in Dupont Circle for its patented "Disco Brunch." But conflicting schedules, visiting friends and, in my case, a traumatic fight with my mother thwarted our plans every time.

However, had we known just how amazing brunch was going to be, I'm sure we all would have cleared our hectic social calendars in short order. You see, LevelOne is not just another brunch location; LevelOne is the brunch place to see and seen for all the fabulous gay men of D.C.

Most people are more familiar with Cobalt, the gay dance club upstairs:

LevelOne (17th and R NW) at night, when the music's pumpin' upstairs at Cobalt.

Given that the upstairs is a sweaty, sweaty dance club, I wasn't expecting much out of the food, regardless of how good the menu options looked:

The "disco" part is because they play disco music over the speakers. Yeah, I thought it was a stretch, too.

But LevelOne, much like its fabulous gay patrons, came dressed to impress. Our server quickly brought us mimosas -- and trust me, by "bottomless," they mean bottomless. I'm not sure any of us ever had an empty glass the entire time we were there.

The grits were delectably creamy, and the hash browns were perfectly salty with rosemary. My smoked salmon eggs benedict was out of this world, and the rest of the food was completely satiating as well.

But, regardless of how fat we stuffed ourselves with mimosas and eggs and sausage and truffle fries (which we got as an appetizer, and which were heavenly), perhaps what was most enjoyable about our brunch experience was the other patrons.

Seriously, there is no other way to describe what we encountered but fabulous and fierce! Our table was pretty much the only one with women; everywhere else was a sea of skinny jeans, deep V-neck sweaters and gauzy, loopy scarves. I have never been called "bitch" so much in my life (example: "I'll see you bitches on the street and be like, 'Hey, girl, remember the time we got fucked up?'"), and I loved it.

I also learned what a "power bottom" is, so there's that.

In the end, we stayed drinking mimosas and making new friends until nearly 4 p.m. And we can't wait to go back!

Mabel enjoyed Sunday brunch, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where to Eat: Java Green

Word on the street is that Farragut-area cafe Java Green is for sale.

Which worries me, because Java Green is my most beloved of all the small vegetarian cafes in D.C.  Okay, there's not exactly a lot of competition for this title, but still.

Whenever I have reason to be in Farragut, I find myself drawn to Java Green like a moth to a flame, or like Lindsay Lohan to some meth.  D.C. is a very vegetarian-friendly city, but it's still a rare experience to find oneself faced with an entirely veggie menu of sandwiches, noodles, salads, and more.  The Smoked Turkey wrap is my favorite (the turkey, obviously, is not from an actual turkey), and the "Temptation" runs a close second.  I don't even like tempeh, but somehow Java Green has made it delicious.

There's a full coffee, smoothie and juice bar as well, and an enticing selection of brownies and other treats.  For a small place that houses only a handful of tables inside, it really packs in the goodness.      

In the past year or two, Java Green has reduced their prices to quite reasonable levels -- most of the sandwiches, for example, are only $6.50.  They were previously a bit much to stomach -- pun unintended, because I hate puns almost as much as the entire world hates the Kardashians -- but it never seemed to deter folks from lining up outside during lunch hours.  Obviously, lower prices are a welcomed change, but perhaps this hasn't drawn in as many new customers as Java Green had hoped.

The bigger issue, in my opinion, is that it takes too long for them to prepare the food.  There's just no way they will ever be able to assemble their items as quickly as their lunchtime counterparts at Au Bon Pain and Cosi.  Though the food at Java Green earns raves from veggies and meat-eaters alike, not everyone is willing to spend an extra few minutes of their free time staring blankly at the wall.  But, a tip!  Orders can actually be called in ahead of time, so you can spend that time reading about Pippa being dumped or stalking your ex on Facebook instead.  

Who knows what will become of Java Green?  All I know is I'll be stopping by as much as possible while it's still the reliably delicious restaurant that I love, and stuffing my face accordingly.