Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Where to Eat: Two Chain Restaurants Worth Trying

Maybe it's because I grew up in a small city. Or maybe it's because my family has been in the restaurant business for as long as I can remember. Either way, I have an issue going to chain restaurants.*

I like knowing that the chef has carefully prepared his menu to reflect the ambiance and originality of his one and only unique restaurant. That I am experiencing something original, rather than sharing the same culinary experience as someone across town or across the country.

But, there are exceptions to every rule, and I've been proven wrong by the two quasi-chain restaurants in the D.C. area listed below.

Cava Mezze

Cava has three locations-- Clarendon, 8th Street SE, and Rockville-- and offers a large variety of Greek tapas. And by Greek tapas I mean delicious, mouthwatering dishes that you can share. The dim lighting, dark wood, and rustic design are sexy yet welcoming at the same time. It is the perfect atmosphere for a first date, a third date, or a date with your best friend.

One of my favorite dishes is the flaming cheese that the server lights on fire table side. I also recommend the dip tasting--- which includes small portions of hummus, tzatziki, roasted eggplant, feta, and grape leaves. The meat dishes are delicious and packed with flavor. The lamb meatballs and the chicken pitas are two of my favorites.

As for drinks, the wine menu is packed full of variety and options. A good friend of mine prefers the mojitos, which she says only takes two to get you to fall on your face when you walk out of the restaurant (and, yes, this actually happened to her-- and she has the scar on her face to prove it).

Capital Grille

Fact: I would eat a medium rare steak every single night for dinner if I could. But, alas, my waist line, cholesterol and wallet would not be happy. That said, when I do want a delicious piece of red meat, my favorite spot is Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The steaks are flavorful and always served to perfection. And the sides. Oh, the sides. Creamed spinach? Yum. Lobster mac and cheese? Yes, please. The other thing I love about Capital Grille (and all you judgers, get ready to start judging) is the clientele and overall feel. It's kind of cool to sit at a table next to a Congressman, or run into the Under-Secretary of some important department. Call me pretentious, but sometimes it's fun to be surrounded by all the wheelers and dealers in D.C. And you definitely get that experience at Capital Grille.

There you go-- two chain restaurants worth checking out, because no matter the location you will get a unique culinary experience.

* The only two chains that break this mold are: Ruby Tuesday's (salad bar) and Olive Garden (because, c'mon, it's Olive Garden).

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Where to Brunch: Jazz Brunches in D.C.

Want to feel peppy and great about life on this drizzly, gray day? Take a listen to this in your government-issue cubicle:
 

Something about that jazz, the harmonious blending of the trumpet, trombone, bass and clarinet really puts that bounce back in your step, doesn't it? Perhaps that's why jazz music is such an entertainment trend for the boozy brunches the District's hungover masses schlep themselves to each Sunday morning (OK, early afternoon).

And more than that, in addition to cheering you up the day after an alcohol downward spiral, D.C.'s jazz brunches seem to also offer some of the best brunch deals.

Here are a few jazz brunches you can check out this weekend:


Acadiana, 901 New York Ave. NW

Every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., this New Orleans-style restaurant features live jazz bands and a $29 three-course brunch menu with $2 blood orange mimosas or Cajun Marys. The service is impeccable, and while I've had hit-or-miss options during dinner at Acadiana, the brunch has been pretty spot on.

Louisiana Crawfish Etouffee (above) and Southern Shrimp & Grits

Acadiana also serves complimentary butter biscuits with this jalapeno cream cheese spread that is just TO DIE FOR. Sooooo good.


Beacon Bar & Grill, 1615 Rhode Island Ave. NW

A Beacon omelet
The price for the jazz brunch at this restaurant in the Beacon Hotel in Dupont Circle has slowly crept upwards over the last few years, but it's still a good deal: For $34.95 a person, you get access to a buffet with unlimited champagne, mimosas and bloody Marys. Not gonna lie: I got tanked with my grandparents here a few years back. Or, alongside my grandparents, rather; they're teetotalers.


Georgia Brown's, 950 15th St. NW

This is the most expensive option on the list at $40.95 per person and drinks NOT included, but there's a reason for that: You get access to a savory buffet, a sweet buffet AND they load you up with an entire entree. Most people end up taking that part home for dinner -- it's just too much in one sitting.

Brunch buffet offerings
Georgia Brown's has one of the best live jazz bands, too.


M Street Bar and Grill, 2033 M St. NW

M Street Bar and Grill has been a recent discovery for me, but I'm pretty impressed at the deal: From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can get unlimited mimosas, bellinis and champagne and a three-course brunch for $26.95 a person. The BF and I tried it out this weekend, and we were impressed/satiated.

Cinnamon-raisin French toast
The one thing I will say as a negative was that the jazz music was a woman with an electric keyboard playing elevator-music-style renditions of songs like "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," which was ridiculously cheesy, but whatever -- we stuffed ourselves and got tipsy regardless.

That's it! Hopefully this entry has made you think feel like this:



In brunch we trust,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Take a Day Trip From D.C.: Baltimore

This blog post is going to recommend something I would ordinarily eschew: traveling to Maryland. I normally keep my gallivanting confined to the District or Northern Virginia. I'm sure there are parts of Maryland that are lovely; I just haven't found them yet.

Well, I hadn't found them, that is. Or at least, I hadn't recognized that I'd found them, despite trip after trip up to Baltimore to visit my sister. But after spending a delightful day there this past weekend and having eaten some absolutely incredible meals there over the last few weeks, I'm changing my tune: Our sister city to the north is a phenomenal place to take an easy day trip from D.C.

FOR FOOD:

For a quick, cheap-but-filling meal, stop by Thairish, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it hole in the wall located on Charles Street in Baltimore's Mount Vernon Square neighborhood.



It's a family-run spot that's reminiscent of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi: No substitutions, no alterations, get in line and get out. But, oh man -- you will be glad you did. My notoriously picky/constantly upset to her stomach sister swears by their pad thai. When she took me there, I ordered the chicken panang and had my MIND BLOWN. The sauce was thicker than I'm generally used to, but so amazingly flavorful. And the chicken -- the CHICKEN!!! -- the chicken was more succulent and juicy than any chicken I've had in recent memory. And I eat a lot of chicken.

For a more expensive/nice meal, the recently opened Of Love and Regret will not let you down. I'll admit, the gastropub is located on a somewhat seedy-looking street in Baltimore's Canton neighborhood, but anytime something is billed as a "gastropub," nothing can stop me from chowing down there.


Additionally, what's super cool about this place is how uniquely Baltimorean it is: Of Love and Regret takes its name from a Belgian Saison Ale brewed by Stillwater Artisanal Ales, a Baltimore microbrewery whose entire catalog of tasty beer is featured on the restaurant's many taps.



The beer was amazing, and the food was even better. My dining compatriot (dare I say it: new boyfriend?) and I shared the duck confit mac n' cheese, and it rocked my face off!


FOR CULTURE:

While Baltimore doesn't boast the same bevy of tourist activities that D.C. does, it does have a few things worth seeing.

For starters, check out the USS Constellation, a warship that was commissioned in 1855, drydocked in 1894, and revamped and opened to the public many years later. It's now permanently docked in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.



The Constellation sailed during the Civil War, so for the amateur historians out there, it's definitely worth the $11 price of admission.

Also in the Inner Harbor is the National Aquarium, which is WAY BETTER than the D.C. aquarium, which is basically a glorified fish tank.


At nearly $30 a person, this is definitely a pricier thing to do in Baltimore, but certainly worth seeing.

Baltimore's only about an hour's drive from D.C. via 295 North, so it's a perfect place to go for a last-minute, unplanned trip. And if you don't have a car, you can still get there: Amtrak tickets from Union Station to Baltimore's Penn Station will run you about $30 round trip, and from there you can use the Charm City Circulator, which is FREE.

Happy Baltimoring, hon!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dueling Reviews: Appealing Kate and Capital Katie on Hank's Oyster Bar

Appealing Kate and Capital Katie hadn't seen each other in a while and were both craving a lady date, so they made plans to meet up at Hank's Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle for a night of cocktails, girl talk and, of course, oysters! These tandem reviews were the result of their lovely evening:

CAPITAL KATIE SAYS...

I had passed Hank's Oyster Bar's Q Street location countless times during my years in D.C., yet I'd never had an opportunity to suck down the slimy sea creatures there. So when Appealing Kate suggested it as a meeting point, I jumped on it.

I think we were both shocked at how nice the place actually is. From tables outside, it appears that it would have a casual -- dare I say "beachy"? -- feel.

On second thought, probably not beachy. But definitely casual.
But once inside the restaurant, it's just as much of an upscale gastropub as Lyon Hall or Boxcar Tavern. My one criticism aesthetically is that Hank's Oyster Bar is not entirely sure what it wants to be design-wise -- it has one back room that looks like it's straight out of a K Street Lounge, and an upstairs that has a nautical feel. There's no coherence from room to room.

Hank's upstairs
Hank's back room










But at the end of the day, none of that matters if the food and service are good, right? Hank's was packed the night we went, so our server was a little overworked, but was generally attentive/kind regardless. He was brutally honest with me when I asked about a drink called "the Corpse Reviver" ("It's AWFUL," he deadpanned), which I appreciated.

I ordered the lobster roll, which Appealing Kate assured me was Maine-authentic (served on a buttered up hotdog-type bun) and which was exquisitely flavorful. We also shared oysters, which our server was helpful enough to choose for us since we knew nothing about what we were ordering in that department. I'll be the first to admit I'm not an oyster connoisseur, but they tasted alright to me.

Would I go back? In a heartbeat!


APPEALING KATE SAYS...

Prior to Friday, I had not seen Katie in, gasp, two months, so I was really looking forward to catching up with my good friend. When she suggested that we find a place neither of had been before, I thought Hank's Oyster Bar might be fun to try.

As we walked in, I told Katie that when I mentioned to Matt from Third Date Cooking we were going to Hank's he gave it great reviews.  Katie responded "Oh, I'm sure we will like it then. I trust Matt's opinion." And, yes, I am mentioning this so that Matt will cook me dinner this weekend.

Hank's is modern yet comfortable. Sort of "fancy Malibu ocean side restaurant meets Cape Cod seafood shack." The combo works perfectly to create a cozy, eclectic, sophisticated space.

The place was packed. Luckily, we called ahead of time to add our name to the wait list, because when we arrived the hostess told the party of four in front of us it would be a two hour wait.

Katie and I ordered drinks at the bar while we waited for our table. We both ordered the Hanky Panky (strong, refreshing and delicious). The cute bartender was attentive and flirty.
Oysters

We were seated about 45 minutes later, and our server was friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. We decided to split an order of oysters, because, well, we were at Hank's Oyster Bar. We tried three different varieties.  They werrreeeee tasty.

For dinner, I ordered two appetizers--- the grilled crab cake and the tuna tartar. Both were in-friggin-credible. Katie ordered the lobster roll, and let me tell you---it sure did look exactly how a Maine lobster roll should look. Well done, Hanks, well done.


crab cake appetizer
Maine lobster roll and fries
We took a mini tour of the restaurant after dinner, because it has multiple dining rooms. Each was completely unique from the others. One is modern like a NYC lounge, one beachy and simple. The third (where we sat) felt like an open and airy New England dining room.

Overall, Hank's is a great spot with delicious food and friendly staff. The atmosphere creates the perfect locale for a romantic date, a group gathering, or a Friday night dinner with a good friend.

You should go there immediately. Just remember to call ahead because Hank's does not take reservations.


Have a great weekend!

 




Thursday, March 7, 2013

Places in D.C. You're Not Frequenting, But you TOTALLY Should Be

On a recent Saturday night, I was out with Jules and some of her friends for a U Street bar crawl. We traipsed up and down the street, waiting for a spot to reveal itself as the ideal place for booze, conversation and, of course, the menz. We eventually turned the corner onto 14th Street and spotted a line emerging from a bar, wending its way halfway down the block. We tiptoed closer to see where it led: El Centro D.F.

I was skeptical, but a million and one Washingtonians itching to get into this bar couldn't be wrong, could they? We joined the crowd waiting in the chilly winter air to get inside for margaritas.

And we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The line was moving SO slowly and the bar was letting so few people in that eventually, we just gave up! And the whole time, I couldn't help but think to myself: "What friggin' for?!?! My past experience here was utterly disappointing -- I can't imagine it's improved THAT MUCH!!!"

My theory is Richard Sandoval made a deal with the devil to make this a place where people are willing to sacrifice warmth and personal welfare in a 45-minute line for a chance to cross the threshold, but I have no way of proving that.

Instead, here's what I can do. I have recently discovered a few places that are ACTUALLY awesome, and yet there is NO ONE crowding them. Consider the following a list of places you're not going to, but you totally should be:


DELICIOUS SANDWICHES: SUNdeVICH, 1314 9th St. NW



The address is actually a little misleading -- SUNdeVICH is truly located in an alley off 9th Street in between N and O streets.

Every gourmet sandwich here is named after an international city and is based off the local flavors. For example, the Istanbul has ground beef and lamb, onions, tomato and tzatziki sauce. And holy shit, is it delicious.

It's like a flavor party in my mouth!
SUNdeVICH also features plenty of vegetarian options, so this is a place everyone can agree on. (Dare I say it? I like it better than Taylor Gourmet!)


BURLESQUE BRUNCH: SAX Restaurant and Lounge, 734 11th St. NW

A few weeks ago, I needed a last-minute brunch reservation, and SAX, which had a decent looking menu, had many available reservation spots on OpenTable. I noticed it advertised a burlesque brunch; I sort of figured that dancers would walk around, meeting and greeting diners in costume.

What came next blew my mind: The bar has a gigantic mirror behind it... which lights up every 20 minutes to reveal a stage, where burlesque dancers titillate and tease until the music stops.

I believe they were dancing to "Lady Marmalade"
I have been to several burlesque shows in D.C., and the dancers at SAX are by far the most polished/sexy. I can't say enough good things about the show.

And then, of course, the FOOD -- I had my birthday brunch there this past weekend and ordered the braised short rib, which is served on a bed of grits with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. It was INCREDIBLE -- the perfect blend of breakfast and lunch, sweet and savory.

Perhaps the most incredible thing, however, was how few people were dining there on Sunday. There were large swaths of tables with nobody at them. And for $30 prix fixe per person, the only thing more I can say about SAX is WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE NOT GOING HERE FOR BRUNCH?!


WINE TIME: The Tasting Room Wine Bar, 5330A Western Ave., Chevy Chase


The Gamma Girls got invited to a wine event at this charming little bar in Chevy Chase a few weeks ago, and I was so glad I went. It's low-lit, romantic and, as you can see, it comes with that fancy Enomatic machine that pours individual tastings of wine after you insert a prepaid card. (It's pretty much how I envision the Jetsons getting drunk.)

It's tucked away in a shopping center, so I can see how people would miss it/not realize it's there. But it seems to me like the perfect place for a first date.



There you go, folks, three different places at which you should become a regular. If nothing else, go once and throw some business their way. You'll have a good time, I promise!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where to Do Stripper Fitness in the District

 Like most typical Washingtonians, I run for exercise. I belong to a gym, but every once in a while the sight of a treadmill depresses me because it makes me feel a bit too much like this:

Round and round we go...
 
That's when I need to bust out of my routine. Work my muscles in a way I haven't worked them before. Make myself sexy, as well as sweaty. Do something... exotic.
 
I'm talking, of course, about stripper fitness, which in my definition boils down to workouts where you flex and contort your body like an exotic dancer to in order to burn the calories packed on from too many mimosas at brunch. And despite D.C. being a high-strung, career-driven, buttoned-up city, there are actually quite a few places to get your sexual swerve on:
 
 
 
JORDIN'S PARADISE, 1215 Connecticut Ave. NW, 4th floor
 
 
 
Jordin's Paradise offers a variety of pole-dancing classes as well as chair-dancing classes. I've taken the pole-dancing classes before, and trust me, they are TOUGH. Have you ever tried to support your entire weight by gripping your hands tightly on a metal pole? Your arms will BURN.
 
Most classes are in the $10-$25 range, and you can also purchase class packages at a discounted rate.
 
 
 
JOY OF MOTION DANCE CENTER, 1333 H St. NE (the Atlas Performing Arts Center)
 
The Joy of Motion Dance Center offers a variety of classes, but come 8 p.m. on Thursday nights, it's all about sexy dancing. The instructor -- a tall, hot, manly man -- actually teaches the class in spike heels, and students are encouraged to wear heels of their own. You really tone your ass when you're trying to maintain your balance in four-inch pumps. Believe that.
 
Drop-in classes are $17, and again, you can buy a dance class package.
 
 
THE P SPOT, 518 10th St. NE
 
Despite sounding like a new erogenous zone, The P Spot is another place that offers sexy fitness classes (and has the most unapologetically flashy, hot pink and black website ever. Seriously, I love them for their extensive use of the Alba font.).
 
Classes include pole dancing, stripping and something called "Bedroom Body." Awesome.
"Bedroom Body"
Hell, I'm all riled up now. Imma go out and get my sexy body on tonight!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Where to Surf and Turf in the District

I recently tried two new (to me) restaurants. One specializes in delicious red meat; the other is known for its fresh seafood. It was a tasty week, and I recommend checking out both places.

First up was turf at Medium Rare.

Upon entering, I thought "now this is my kind of place." Brick walls, simple tables, semi-open kitchen, big windows looking out onto the bustling Connecticut Avenue strip of Cleveland Park. All good things.

Only after we were seated and had ordered a bottle of cozy Cabernet, did I realized that there was no menu. Just steak. And french fries. And wine.  Yup, true story.

source. mediumrarerestaurant.com
The server asked us how we wanted our steak prepared. We both said medium rare (so predicable). Then salads were served. Then the steak and frites came out. Everything was delicious. The meat was cooked perfectly and was tender and flavorful. The french fries were thin and crispy. Then, halfway through the meal, a second serving of each was delivered. 

I didn't know what to do when the second round arrived, because I was already quite full. But, of course, I ate a few more bites, because it was really, really tasty.  We skipped dessert because we were stuffed, but everything we did eat was delicious, and I already want to go back again.

Note: I hear that Medium Rare has a great patio.  I know, I know, that sounds totally unappealing right now, but fast forward a few months...and it will be the perfect spot for some al fresco dining.

The very next night we went to Sea Catch Restaurant and Raw Bar for some surf. 

I'd been to lunch at Sea Catch many of times. Sitting outside on the balcony overlooking the canal in Georgetown? Pretty much the best spot in all of D.C. for some mid-day dining. 

source: seacatchrestaurant.com
Neither my date nor I had been for dinner before. As we were led to our table, past the stone fireplace, the long wooden bar, and exposed brick walls, I thought that it had a somewhat similar feel to Medium Rare. But when we reached the back dining room, it seemed somewhat dated.

That said, we were sat in a very nice corner booth where we got to cozy up next to each other.

We each ordered salads to start.  Both were fine. For dinner, I ordered the salmon. It was cooked to perfection.  My dinner date ordered the tuna.  It was a bit overcooked, but had some really great flavor.  We ordered a nice bottle of savignon blanc to go with our fish, and the service was great. The maitre d' even checked in on us halfway through dinner to see how everything was. Again, there was no room for dessert. Instead, we opted to grab after dinner drinks next door at Bodega, another quality venue.

There you go. Two spots. One for carnivores. One for fish lovers. Both great.

Happy Thursday!



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where to Go for Last-Minute Valentine's Day Plans in D.C.!

Valentine's Day. Ahhh, l'amour.


OK, OK, so that was just a joke. We really aren't that bitter here at Doing the District -- here's a Valentine's Day card just for you, our beloved readers, to prove it:


A holiday of any ilk in D.C. brings plenty of ways to celebrate, so here are a few suggestions if you're scrambling for some last-minute Valentine's Day plans:




FOR THE SINGLES:

Ladies, would you like to meet a hot, hard-bodied man in uniform? I'll answer that for you: Yes, yes you do. And the Marines of Barracks Row are up for the challenge, offering a Valentine's Day charity event at the Ugly Mug: The 3rd annual "Meet a Marine" auction!

The men will be out in full force starting at 8 p.m., so don't be late! And, after all, it's benefitting the USO of the Metro area, so it's for a good cause.

If you'd rather the night be all about girl power, check out female folk duo The Sweater Set for their Valentine's Day Sweater Set Serenade show at Barracks Row art gallery The Fridge.

The Sweater Set

I personally love their sound -- sweet, smooth, Ingrid Michaelson-like music. It's perfect for a night of feeling the love for your girlfriends -- or if you just checking out local artists (they're D.C.-based!).

The Washingtonian is also offering an opportunity for singles to mix and mingle with their "Singles Soiree: An Anti-Valentine's Day Party" at Penn Social. Spending $15 at the door gets you a night of games, two free drinks, free appetizers, music, dancing, a Washingtonian goodie bag and more!




FOR THE COUPLED UP:

The Spirit of Washington
If you like boats as much as I do, The Spirit of Washington is offering a way to be extra romantic with your main squeeze: A Valentine's Day boat cruise on the Potomac. For $99, you'll get a three-hour cruise with a buffet, dancing and champagne toast, and there are more options for an even swankier evening.

The Crime and Punishment Museum is also offering a pretty awesome sounding evening with a special Valentine's Day exhibit. The "Crimes of Passion" evening will allow you to be handcuffed to your special someone (fuzzy handcuffs are apparently $1 extra) for an exclusive tour of the museum, where along the way there will be extra bits of info about crimes of passion. This exhibit is going to be offered on Friday and Saturday too, so you can still check it out later if you don't want to do it on actual Valentine's Day.

(And if you'd like those handcuffs to be just the start of your wild Valentine's Day night, be sure to check out Samantha's post on D.C.'s sex toy shops. Just sayin'.)

For a classier evening, the Phillips Collection is showing a Valentine's Day dance trilogy called "Angels, Demons, Savages." There will be a 6:30 p.m. tour, a 7 p.m. show and specialty cocktails available at the cafe on that day only.

Angels, Demons, Savages

And of course, if you'd rather just go out to dinner, there are still plenty of places offering reservations and prix-fixe deals. Check them out by clicking here.


Happy Valentine's Day -- just to reiterate, we really do love all of you!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Play Review: Good People at Arena Stage

It's no secret that Boston is my favorite city. I love the Revolutionary War, and the Red Sox; heck, even the Patriots are my back-up team when the Redskins fail to make the playoffs. Unsurprisingly, Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite movies. Vintage Ben Affleck and Matt Damon... *sigh*


Good People, now playing at Arena Stage, reminds me of why I love Good Will Hunting so much. Set mainly on the south side of Boston, Good People focuses on the life of Margaret Walsh (played by Johanna Day), a struggling single mother. Equal parts thought provoking and comical, Good People brings difficult topics to the spotlight, and does it well. Throughout the play, I was either laughing at well-delivered and well-timed one liners or eerily silent and enthralled at the dialogue.

I left the theater mesmerized, and telling everyone I knew to go see this play. Upon further research, I am not surprised that Johanna Day is a Tony-nominated actress; she really brought Margie to life and I wanted to help this woman, or at the very least, give her a hug. While minor, what is most impressive to me is Johanna's wicked awesome accent; she never slips.

This poingnant drama will not disappoint; in fact, the New York Drama Critics' Circle named it best play during its run on Broadway. My play-date for the evening, John Michael, is a trained actor, and he was beyond impressed with Good People. I am by no means an expert critic, so him sharing my opinion cemented my opinion of this PHENOMENAL play.

If you are looking for a great date night, or are like me and just appreciate a great play, go purchase tickets to Good People immediately. It is playing at Arena Stage's Kreeger Theater now through March 10.

Happy Viewing,

 



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Final D.C. Restaurant Week recommendations

Catching up?  Check out the week's earlier posts for Restaurant Week recommendations from Capital Katie, Appealing Kate and Red, White and Bourbon 

Since I'm the token vegetarian among the Gamma Girls, you'll probably not be shocked to see that my post on Restaurant Week highlights the best veggie-friendly options among participating venues.

Restaurant Week can be a little frustrating for those who don't eat meat or have dietary restrictions.  Set menus mean limited choices, and because vegetarian dishes tend to be cheaper than the rest, oftentimes you leave feeling dissatisfied with your meal or like you didn't get a great deal.  $35 for a salad, vegetable plate "entrée" and scoop of sorbet?  Cool, why don't I just toss my wallet in the Potomac while I'm at it?

But while some establishments may not cater to vegetarians, a good number of them do.  And I've done some research on which have the best veggie options so you don't have to.

Nage, 1600 Rhode Island Ave NW

The menu at Nage is based in French and East Coast American cooking, but with a palette of global flavors. Among the veggie options on the Restaurant Week menu, you'll find potato leek soup and eggplant and potato moussaka. Your carnivorous friends will be happy too; other entrées feature Chesapeake crabcakes, beef bourguignon, and more.

Poste, 555 8th Street NW

Poste is normally quite pricey (even veggie entrées run close to $30), so it's an ideal spot to try for Restaurant Week.  Like Nage, there are tasty options for both vegetarians and carnivores, but I'm most intrigued by the desserts: choose from the banana moon pie, “Hostess” apple pie, or chocolate pot de crème served with Oreo crumble and Chantilly cream.

2941 Restaurant2941 Fairview Park Drive

The food at 2941 is inventive and fun: the Restaurant Week veggie entrée, for example, is yellow corn ravioli with patty pan squash, popcorn foam, and jalapeño.  I don't eat fish, but if I did, I'd definitely check out the first course "Drunken Watermelon" with vodka, shrimp, calamari, mint, basil, and crushed black pepper (the veggie first course is a more standard option of heirloom tomato salad).

Acacia Bistro, 4340 Connecticut Avenue NW 

Acacia is one of the few establishments in the Van Ness neighborhood of D.C. that counts as a real restaurant- sorry, Quiznos and Potbellys- and lucky for nearby residents, it's a good one.  The dimly lit but festive wine bar is serving up arugula salad or white bean soup for its Restaurant Week first course, and handmade fettuccine pasta for its veggie main course.

That's all for us on Restaurant Week.  Happy dining!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Capital Katie's D.C. Restaurant Week recommendations

Oh haiiiii, it's still D.C. Restaurant Week! I quite enjoy food, so without further ado, here are a few places that made my tummy happy during past Restaurant Weeks:

Vidalia, 1990 M St. NW

Vidalia specializes in classy Southern fare, and the Restaurant Week service I received was impeccable. The shrimp n' grits are worth the price of admission on a regular night, but when you get an appetizer and dessert, too? Done and done.

Bastille, 1201 N. Royal St. Alexandria, VA

I have previously written about Bastille, suggesting it as a place your mother might like to try when she visits. But I first discovered the charming French restaurant with my then-boyfriend during Restaurant Week 2007. The coq au vin is delectable, and, since this isn't a highly trafficked retaurant, the service quality remains high.

PassionFish, 11960 Democracy Drive, Reston, VA

Holy moly, PassionFish! There are very few spots wherein I've had to turn to my dining compatriots and say, "This chocolate cake is actually physically turning me on," and PassionFish is one of them. (I suppose the name is apropos? Well, the "passion" part. Not sure about the "fish.") Again, it's not highly trafficked because, well, let's face it, driving to Reston kind of sucks, so you will be sure to get everything you want and more out of the dinner experience.


Now, a few to AVOID:

Kellari Taverna, 1700 K St. NW

Ugh. We had the shittiest waiter ever at Kellari Taverna during Restaurant Week a few years ago. And the food, which is Greek and therefore should be delicious, was bland and unappealing.

Capital Grille, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

My Restaurant Week steak at Capital Grille was so completely overcooked that I almost couldn't eat it. At a place where cooking a steak should be second nature, this is unacceptable.


With that, go out, make Restaurant Week reservations, and don't come back until you look like this:


(I have been waiting for forever to use that GIF, you guys. Thank you for humoring me.)


 


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Appealing Kate's Recommendations: Where to Eat for Restaurant Week

I fully planned on preparing an in-depth post about all my favorite places to go during restaurant week. But anyone who knows me personally knows that I've not only started started a new job (that I love) but that said job is all consuming. As a result, it is having a serious impact on my motivation to write blog posts after work.

Basically, all I have motivation for when I get home each week night is to dive into my sweatpants, pour a glass of wine, lay on the couch for approximately two hours, and then go to bed. Write a blog post? Way too much work. Yes, I sound like an old, boring person.

That said, I do have plans to partake in restaurant week this weekend with a handsome man. When he asked me where I would want to go, I did find what little energy I had to research a few places and came up with a list...which I will share with you.

The secret to restaurant week is scoping out the more expensive restaurants. For instance, Front Page, I adore you for your burgers and Guiness' drafts on Monday nights, but why in the love of god would I want to go for restaurant week?

The first fancy schmancy place I immediately thought of was 1789. It is one of the best restaurants in D.C., not only for the food but also the historic ambiance. Sadly, it did not have any reservations available until 10pm each night. The other place that I've been dying to try is Restaurant Nora. Unfortunately, it is not participating in restaurant week.

So, I did more research and the three places that still have availability and also are prime spots to check out on restaurant week are:

Sea Catch in Georgetown

Urbana in Dupont Circle

The Caucus Room in the West End

Those are my recommendations. Stay tuned all week for the rest of the Gamma Girls' restaurant week recommendations.


Happy dining!

Kate

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Most Bang for Your Buck: Where to Eat for Restaurant Week

I am not going to lie to you, Restaurant Week generally produces an eye roll, followed by an, "Ugh" met with some other annoyed gestures and overall, "I'm really just so over for Restaurant Week" conversation.

Source
When I first moved to D.C. the idea of $35 dollar dinner THRILLED me. I made plans for a few lunches, some more dinners, and was all sorts of Kimmy-K excited about getting my friends together.

Source
Then, my naive self realized, the service is bad, the menu is dismal, and the atmosphere is generally less than thrilling. But, yes there is a but, that was before I figured out the system to Restaurant Week, and some places are better than others. So while my enthusiasm isn't as unbridled, I am also not as snobby about Restaurant Week either. (Somewhere my sister is reading this and saying Thank you Jesus, she's not a horrid wench).

Hands down THE BEST place to check out for Restaurant Week in D.C. is Filomena in Georgetown. Not only is it preferred by all sorts of D.C. famous (Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush) but "REAL" celebrities too, check out the gallery here. Heck, even the Travel Channel profiled this "pasta paradise."


Now for Restaurant Week, the menu is a bit abbreviated, but the portions are beyond GENEROUS and the three course meal comes with complimentary bread, soup, and if memory serves me correct, a shot of delicious booze post-dessert.



My second pick, Tallula (dinner only) comes highly recommended for Restaurant Week. While I've had the (beyond amazing) food during regular business hours, my roommate was highly complimentary of not only the food she ate during Restaurant Week, but the service as well. Now, this is in Virginia, so some of our DTD readers may not want to venture all the way out here, but I tell you this, you won't be disappointed.
 
Source
Speaking of disappointed, I warn you to avoid PS 7's AT ALL COSTS. This was hands down the worst Restaurant Week experience I've ever had... and it was at lunch. Looking at the full restaurant week participation list, I don't think they are included this year, but just in case I'm missing something, I give you this fair warning.

For a full list of restaurants participating this year, click here.

Happy Restaurant Week, let us know your favorite places to eat in the comments below!

 

Friday, February 1, 2013

What to Do in the District This Weekend

One month of 2013 down, 11 more to go! This weekend brings us the beginning of February, the Super Bowl, and a whole host of other awesome things to do despite the frost in the air. So, grab your parkas, boots and mittens and get out and about in D.C.


FRIDAY

Two years of beer: Local beer purveyor Port City Brewing Company is celebrating its two-year anniversary on Friday with the release of TWO, a limited edition Smoked Imperial Porter, which will be on tap starting at 3 p.m. There will be food specials, and a band will play from 7-9 p.m.



3950 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria, Va.

View Doctor Who: Every Friday, the Black Cat hosts a happy hour from 7-8 p.m. to view an episode of "Doctor Who" and serve drink specials.

1811 14th St. NW

Meat Week peak: This week is D.C.'s Meat Week, and in honor of that fact, LivingSocial is hosting a Meat Week BBQ Food Truck Face-Off at their 918 F Street events space. For $49, you'll get entry to the event, tastings of eight meats and eight sides (two from each truck!), and three PBRs. Sounds AWESOME to me!



918 F St. NW



SATURDAY

Go ape for crepes: The Hillwood Estate, which I've written about before as a great place to take your mother, is making an offer this weekend that no one in his right mind would refuse: They are teaming up with the Alliance Francaise de Washington to bring you La Chandeleur, or "crepe day"! For $15 admission, you can take part in a crepe feast and participate in French storytelling, games and art activities. Crepes!



4155 Linnean Ave. NW

Mardi Gras madness: Fat Tuesday isn't actually until Feb. 12, but Big Easy restaurant Bayou is hosting a Mardi Gras Masquerade to benefit the Johns Hopkins Center for Cervical Dysplasia. You can still purchase a last minute ticket for $85 that will get you four hours of an open bar, New Orleans-style food and dancing to live music from the Lloyd Dobbler Effect.

2519 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Fear the Laughter: Feel like your abs just don't hurt enough? District Comedy is sure to have you laughing enough to change that with their "Fear the Laughter" comedy showcase at the Barking Dog in College Park. The cost of admission is $10, and trust me, you won't be disappointed by headliner David Tveite, who is seriously the funniest non-famous comedian I have ever seen in my entire life. Got a few friends? Email pat@districtcomedy.com for group discounts.



7416 Baltimore Ave., College Park, Md.



SUPER BOWL SUNDAY

Let's not lie -- everything I'm going to tell you about for Sunday involves the Ravens vs. 49ers.



All-night wine happy hour at Vinoteca: What?! A wine-fueled Super Bowl?! Yes, it's true -- if you're of the classy sort and would prefer to sip a Bordeaux over a Bud Light, you can watch the Super Bowl at U Street wine spot Vinoteca and enjoy a selection of 15 wines for $5 a glass and specials on a variety of their small plates.

1940 11th St. NW

"Eat for Free, Drink for Almost Free" at Jack Rose: From 6-10 p.m., Jack Rose Dining Saloon will be serving up complimentary bar food and $5 pints, hot punch and whiskey.

2007 18th St. NW

Bet on your team: Cause, the new philanthro-pub in the U Street Corridor, will be serving Baltimore-and San Francisco-inspired dishes as well as a selection of beers from the two cities. Additionally, if you arrive before 5 p.m., you can bet on your team and if you win, you get 25 percent off your final tab.

1926 9th St. NW

Those are the ones that sounded coolest to me, but that said, most bars are having specials of some ilk for the game, so you're sure to have a good time no matter where you go.

Enjoy your weekend!