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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Eat the Rich

Plaudits: Bon Appetit 2014 50 Best New Restaurants in America (with Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency)
Neighborhood: Shaw/U Street

The Setup


After years circling around it, Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas and I finally made it to Eat the Rich together, bringing along Official Brother of DCWD Phee with us.

The Vibe

Much like its Drink Company brethren, Eat the Rich is a small sliver of a restaurant, though in layout, it has more in common with Mockingbird Hill than Southern Efficiency: to wit, it features a bar to one side, with bar railing seating opposite, and a row of bench tables in a small dining room in the back. Here, it trades in the cleaner, typical restaurant decor for something a little more rustic and rural: shiny and silver and sheetmetal; it's probably the most fun decor of the three. And much like its neighbors, it's seemingly in a state of being comfortably full: not full enough to not warrant going in to check it out, but not empty enough to easily find a seat, especially on this late Thursday night.

The Food


Having already taken a taste at Southern Efficiency, we are only looking for some nibbles. So we order the trout hash: a mix of smoked trout, sweet potatoes, onions, and smoked egg. This was awesome, and perfect for the fall weather outside. Deep, salty, smoky; about the only complaint we might have had was the portion size.

I suppose you can't leave here without sampling the oysters, and luckily enough for us, our trip carries over into oyster happy hour. As one could reasonably expect for a Rappahannock-owned establishment, the oysters are delicious: pure, sweet, slippery, wonderful.

The Verdict


Not quite as good as Southern Efficiency, but close.

Food Rating: ****
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 3.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Party in the USA
Vibe:
Energetic to Noisy
Cost:
$$$
(out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)

Eat the Rich on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Virtue Feed and Grain

Plaudits: Washington Post 2011 Fall Dining Guide
Neighborhood: Alexandria

The Setup


Meeting up with some friends and some of their friends in Alexandria for dinner, Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas and I had ourselves a Sunday night dinner at Virtue Feed and Grain.

The Vibe

Perhaps the best thing that Virtue Feed and Grain has going for it is the space itself: a former stable that has been remade as a modern rustic tavern space. If the best of Pinterest sneezed itself all over a two-story barn space, that's what this would look like. On the first floor, a row of half-booths separates the bar area from the dining space, which consists of a row of long tables along the aforementioned half-booth, and another row of twos and fours along the windows.

The second floor is a much more open space, more bar and lounge than dining area, with squares of couches and candles amid low rafters and strung lights (perhaps a feature done up for the Christmas season, but certainly not out of place the rest of the year). This is the kind of space that if you rented it out for a wedding, you would certainly not be the first place. It's that pretty.

The Food


I order the fish and grits, which replaces the traditional shrimp with a mix of red snapper, clams, and crawfish. The cheesy/buttery flavor is also subbed out here, replaced with a tomato sauce base; in some ways, it might be more apt to describe it as a bouillabaisse that subbed out a side of bread and half its broth for grits. Either way, it's a passable bite but one without interesting spice; it lacks the punchy flavor of either inspiration, with the broth thin and without any of the richness one might otherwise expect.

Texas's bison burger elicits similar shrugs. For the promise of the marsala onion compote or herbed goat cheese, it's just a burger: not particularly juicy or daring. Like the fish and grits, if you lower your expectations to pub food, it's at least a different take. It's no more satisfactory than the classics however.

Perhaps the most interesting thing we taste is a sip of the soup of the day that the server brings out for someone else to try: tortilla soup. Maybe we should've gotten that.

The Verdict


The ambiance belies the food. Though what ambiance it is. Otherwise, it's just straightforward pub food.

Food Rating: ** 1/2
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Quiet Drinks
Vibe:
Chatty
Cost:
$$$
(out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)

Virtue Feed & Grain on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 23, 2015

Date Ideas: Hill's Kitchen

And now for something completely different:

It's been more than a year since we got married, but one of the nicer gifts we were given was a gift certificate to a cooking class at Hill's Kitchen. For years, I'd been thinking about one of the knife skills classes, but just never gotten around to it. Now with a gift certificate in hand, I was... actually second guessing myself. There were a lot of options to choose from! Plus Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas is already a little more handy than I am with a chef's knife, so instead we signed up for the pasta making class.

We can't emphasize enough how fun the class is. Classes are seemingly restricted to 12 or so spots, so unlike other larger spaces, you're not jockeying for a view or for attention. The demonstration space is brilliant and just large enough, and the teacher is engaging. Most importantly, the instruction is simple enough that (and this happens more than I'd like to admit) we were able to recreate the steps without heavy use of the handout about a week later without incident.

Spaces fill up fast, but if you're looking for a fun, hands-on, collaborative food date in DC, we can't recommend the classes at Hill's Kitchen enough.