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Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday Munchies: Bub and Pop's

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

The Setup


Lunchtime near the office for both me and Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas. Figuring we were right there, we decided to see what all the hullabaloo about Bub and Pop's was about.

The Vibe

A sandwich shop in the ground level of a rowhouse, this place is cozy. As in, they are maybe 15 seats in total, and around lunchtime - which is the only time they're open - this means that there will be a line to the door snaking through the room the entire time. Not exactly the kind of place you want to have a private conversation, but I mean, it's not exactly trying to be that place either. I'll say this: the staff are incredibly friendly for a place pushing as many sandwiches as they are.

The Food


Between the two of us, we order the bolognese parmesan - a ragu with meatballs, pork belly, italian sausage, along with arugala, caramelized onions, provolone, and pecorino; and the tuna melt, which comes with similar accoutrements. These are heart-stoppingly good sandwiches. They are rich and heavy, but in the same way that homemade things are - with the ragu specifically feeling like a particularly poignant grandmaternal thing of beauty, with flecks of meaty goodness popping up among stewed tomatoes. Sometimes, I feel like the mark of a good sandwich is when you can pull the halves apart and see the gooey innards stretch out; if by only that metric, these are great.

The Verdict


Eat your heart out, Subway. This is the real deal.

Food Rating: ****
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 1.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
 N/A
Vibe:
Energetic
Cost:
$
 (out of 5) (less than $25 for two)

Bub and Pop's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Chez Billy Sud

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Georgetown

The Setup


As seems to be some sort of tradition, we found ourselves needing a quick dinner before the Kennedy Center. So Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas and I hit up Chez Billy Sud for an in-and-out dinner.

The Vibe

Despite being relatively new to Georgetown, I guess you can't really escape the trappings of the neighborhood. What do I mean by that? Where Chez Billy (Nord? the Elder?) blends in with its Petworth neighbors - dark, exposed brick, imposing chandeliers - Sud takes its cues from the surrounding area and the townhouse it lives in. Which is to say, it's traditional fine-dining, with a bit of stuffiness. It being late winter early spring when we arrive, it's dark in the dining room; so where I could see the pale sea green walls and mirrors and post-colonial space being light and airy in the daytime, here it turns a little gloomy and gloamy. Which isn't bad, it just doesn't feel new or fresh. Something not helped by the very traditional four-tops that form two rows of tables, one a set of half-booths.

The Food


It also doesn't help that the menu could double as a page ripped from the Escoffier cookbook. Which ultimately is what makes the meal both good and bad. On the plus side, the restaurant's version of beef bourguignon and trout grenobloise are faithful, soulful, and wonderful. The former is delicate, with the mashed potatoes underneath serving as the real treat. The latter is similarly springy and bright. The downside? Both lean heavy on the oil and butter. I suppose it's French cooking after all, but it does trend a little greasy for us.

The Verdict


One of the better spots in Georgetown, though right now, that's a low bar to jump. Come if you want Le Dip without the crowds.


Food Rating: *** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
 Business
Bar Rating:
N/A
Vibe:
Calm
Cost:
$$$$
 (out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)


Ren's Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday Munchies: Ren's Ramen

Plaudits: Washington City Paper Young and Hungry Top 50 2010
Neighborhood: Wheaton

The Setup


Up in Wheaton and needing something to eat around the metro, a group of us headed over to Ren's Ramen.

The Vibe


Tucked in a strip mall in the middle of Maryland, Ren's is pretty much exactly what you think it'll be from that description. Spartan, brown and black, bright, and the kind of place you go to get in, get a bowl of warm soup, and get out. Maybe 20 seats in all, with nowhere to wait if there is one.

The Food


I remember years ago at this point, when I was collecting a database of the plaudits above, thinking, hey Ren's Ramen has a little buzz. So, in the wake of the ramen boom in the city, I was expecting big things from Ren's. We got... solid things? Fine things? The noodles here are Sapporo style, so more like Daikaya than Toki. And so that's the best way to grade this out: an enjoyable bowl, but probably a few notches below Daikaya.

If I had to put my finger on it, it's how straightforward the bowl is; compare that to the two contemporaries above, which provide bowls that intrigue and change and are nuanced. Ren's delivers ramen that is what it is. Put another way, it's the difference between the food at someplace like the Greek Spot or Greek Deli - which, honestly, are delicious in their own right - and the food at Komi. Polish and complexity count for something.

The Verdict

Not bad. Not worth going all the way out to Wheaton on its own.

Food Rating: ** 1/2 
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
N/A
Vibe:
Chatty
Cost:
$$
(out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)

Ren's Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato