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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Garrison

Plaudits: Washingtonian
Neighborhood: Eastern Market

The Setup


It's my birthday! Or at least it was when we ate here. Knowing my affection for new restaurants with buzz, Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas and I head over to Garrison for a dinner date.

The Vibe

Quiet, intimate, relaxed but upscale... at least that's what Garrison is going for. In practice, they get only one out of three. Two-tops are stacked on top of one another along with side of the thin strip of a dining area - as in, we are basically a part of the best friends' dinner and third date that are happening alongside of us. If you're lucky, you'll be seated in the front window or the full booths opposite us, though the steady din from the open kitchen in the back is always there. The one thing that is achieved is the most intentional part of the design: a clean trim decor that fits in well with its contemporaries.

The Food


At this point, we can probably be talked into anything, and in a way, we are. A first round of shared appetizers brings a fluke crudo, lightly finished with some lemon and fennel. This is by far the best thing we eat all night: a delicate dish with a light touch, some welcome acid and fresh fish proving to be a palate pleaser.

The other two first round dishes are... fine? A fennel gratin has interesting hints of red pepper and pernod, but it's also super watery which takes a nice chunk of enjoyment out of the dish texturally - certainly it makes the gratin part pretty secondary. A special of sweetbreads is passable, but has an odd, I-can't-put-my-finger-on-what-but-something-is-different feel to them, that makes it pedestrian.

The entrees basically run the same course. Texas's sweet potato tortellini has the mouthfeel of chewy gnocchi, something its meh sage brown butter sauce can't save, with a flavor profile so singular that the last bite bears diminished interest. My bison hanger steak is better, but just feels a little bland; an uninspired pierogi side certainly doesn't help.

We have some dessert - baked hot chocolate with bourbon ice cream, and a warm date pudding with prune and armagnac ice cream - but they are in a very real way, forgettable.

The Verdict


We're not often contrarian in this space, but this is definitely a time we will be; in fact, we spent a decent chunk of the meal debating just how good what we'd eaten was, with the contention that one of us was being blinded by the hype - okay, it was me. But with the passage of time, and the birthday goggles off, we can say this: we just don't get what everyone else is seeing here.

Food Rating: ** 1/2 
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
 Smart Casual
Bar Rating:
Classy Crowd
Vibe:
Chatty
Cost:
$$$$
(out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)


Garrison Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Munchies: Copycat Co

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: H Street NE

The Setup


Needing a quick bite to eat on the way back from the bars, I pop into Copycat Co.

The Vibe

Two floors with wildly different set-ups: this write up is about the downstairs dumpling bar, rather than the drinks upstairs (that'll have to wait for another time). Having traveled through parts of the Pacific Rim, this set-up is a familiar one: a long thin kitchen with a few bar rail seats, decorated with bright cartoon characters. The kind of place you pop in for late night.

The Food


Hoping for a sample of everything, I order a beef bao, and a trio of pork and shrimp and chives dumplings. Here's where the travel deficit enters in. Are these decent fried dumplings and steamed buns? Sure. Do they hit the spot that I need at 12am? Probably. Are they by-any-stretch-of-the-imagination the best I've ever had? Or even comparable to the same late night snacks in other cities? Maybe not.

The Verdict


Late night pick-me-up and take-me-out, but nothing mindblowing.

Food Rating: ** 1/2 
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
 Hipster Hangout
Vibe:
Chatty
Cost:
$
 (out of 5) (less than $25 for two)


Copycat Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Vendetta

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: H Street NE

The Setup


Quick nosh and drink around H Street? Why not Vendetta, I suppose?

The Vibe

Take a dive bar, plaster it over with a thin layer of updates, and drop a bocce court in the middle of it. I can't help but feel like I'm in one of those stereotypical roadhouse bars from a movie, bathed as it is in a red-orange light and a sizable din. It's lovable, but to the left of Blackjack on the bocce-bar spectrum (where Vinoteca is all the way to the right). Not even some exposed brick or framed art deco posters can shake me of that feel.

The Food

I order two things to supplement my dinner: pimento mac and cheese balls, and a trio of meatball sliders topped with gouda. The best way to describe it all is a tad forlorn: the mac and cheese balls are dense, chewy, and lack any telltale kick, while the meatball sliders are missing any sort of panache, even with a surplus of tepid marinara.

The Verdict


Sort of typical and derivative bar food.

Food Rating: **
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Party in the USA
Vibe:
Noisy
Cost:
$$
(out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)


Vendetta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato