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Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Night Flights: La Crema 2008 Pinot Noir, Monterey, CA

After a long day of exploring Los Angeles on our trip a couple weeks ago (editor's note: read our review of Jose Andres' The Bazaar), Kim, Official Dad of DCWD BCm and I needed some protein and a drink. We decided on Rock'n Fish, a steak and seafood restaurant that was within eyesight (sometimes we're just that easy) in LA LIVE, the centerpiece of LA's resurgent downtown area. We all started with the hard stuff, but when this bottle was hand-delivered to our table by the restaurant manager, Ricardo, we were all impressed. Kim shot me a look that said "write this down."

I was impressed by a lot of things with this wine. It turns out that this is one of Ricardo's personal favorites, so he wanted to personally open it and pour for us. It opened really nicely and it was nice to bond over wine with Kim, who really appreciated the transformation of the wine with the food (Kim's note: This is one of the only times I really, really enjoyed a red). What really drew me in was the earthy tones of this wine, lightened by vanilla and a buttery smoothness that I wasn't expecting. I have a soft spot in my heart for a good pinot noir, especially when they get interesting and stray from some of the sweetness. As we sipped with our entrees (steak and salmon), the initial bright cherry flavor deepened to more of a dried fruit, with a little wood. Mmmm.

It's always fun to experience the same wine in different ways. The change in this wine as it opened and as we paired it with our meal was really fun to taste, and this was a pinot that was accessible while a little complex, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Bar Review: 4 Cheers (out of 5)
Where to find it: Rock'n Fish, Los Angeles, CA, though available on order online, plus check in with your local liquor store. NOTE: saw this at Costco yesterday. Doesn't cheapen it for me at all.
Perfect for: Drinking, steak, salmon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

J.Paul's: April Beer Dinner

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Georgetown

The Setup


It was completely on a whim that I even attended this dinner. Normally beer is not a huge draw for me (editor's note: there's an understatement), but in the spirit of education, I agreed to join a group of friends at J.Paul's just hours after receiving the invitation. Sadly (or not), J.Paul's is one of those Georgetown restaurants that I completely ignore for the most part, so for my first--and let's not lie, probably last--time, this was an unusual experience.

The Vibe


J.Paul's is one of Georgetown's institutions. It looks like every other Clyde's knockoff on the M Street Strip, but with a little more window real estate to go with the booths and heavy wood paneling. The bar area is huge, and the bartenders obliging. Plenty of space--just what the area calls for. It's not my cup of tea, but it's totally appropriate for where it is. Even on a Tuesday night there was a full bar and a relatively full restaurant, and everyone was low key and casual, even in business formal. For a chill after work drink I get it.

The Food


To start, right after work I needed a martini, and I needed it badly. Luckily the bartender was more than happy to oblige my request for a wash of Grand Marnier, Stol-Bomb (half Stoli vodka, half Bombay Sapphire gin) straight up with a twist. Again, I am not beer's greatest fan so I wanted something I knew I like to start. I love a bartender who will give me exactly what I want without question.

The beer pairing was taking place upstairs where there was actually an interesting little private space. The centerpieces were creative, but poorly executed as the thin stemmed candles couldn't stay lit in the bottles they were held in. Otherwise the intimate setting really worked for this dinner. Executive Chef Tom Crenshaw spoke about the food while a Sam Adams rep commented on not only the flavors of the beer with the food, but the process of tasting and making beer.

The amuse bouche was a grilled peach slice topped with a shrimp with the tail on, bacon and a Banyuls vinaigrette served on an upside down bowl. The presentation was all sorts of wrong--the pile was toppling as the plates were set in front of us and for what should have been a bite or two it was made complicated by having to remove the tail from the shrimp. In theory all these flavors work well together, but the peach was out of season and I am always wary when there's bacon in the first dish of the night. Bacon, like truffle oil despite its glory, can mask anything bad (editor's note: true story--we love bacon here at DCWD), and I really wasn't sure what it was trying to hide. This was "paired" (and I use that phrase lightly here) with the house brew which was frankly a little too bitter with this plate. Not the best start to the meal.

To start we had a caramelized pork belly with braised cabbage with a house-smoked apple cider, an apple and fennel salad with a dijon mustard sauce. Again, great flavors, and this dish was ok, but paired with the Sam Adams Summer Ale, the spiciness turned into a soapy muddled flavor mess. The beer actually made this dish worse than it would have been, and I feel that the chef relied too heavily on the saltiness of the pork to carry the dish.

The second course was what I had been most excited about. It is rare to see dorade on a menu, and I always order it when I do; for those who don't know, it's a small white fish, with a snapper-like flavor. Here it was served with purple potatoes (always hilarious), salsify, jumbo lump crab meat, and blood orange segments and vinaigrette. I think it's a little late in the season for blood orange, and the bitterness was slightly unwelcome. The potatoes didn't really belong with this dish, other than as a starch, but didn't take anythingaway either. This dish was vehemently opposed by one of my dinner mates, and while I though the flavor combination was a little bit aggressive, the dorade was awesome and the crab (another winner along the lines of truffles and bacon) was a nice addition. The beer was a Sam Adams Light--bringing earthy tones that were fine on their own, but with the meal made everything taste dirty. Not a successful pairing, but okay in isolation.

The third course was a Virginia grass-fed strip steak on a yukon potato mash with bacon and a pale ale cheese sauce with haricots verts and carrots. This looked and felt like it had been sitting under a heat lamp for too long. The meat was really good and cooked well, but it was a little tough and cold on a solid mash. I don't fault them for using heat lamps to get this whole meal out at the same time, but you really can tell the difference between something that has been freshly seared and something that's been sitting for a while. The haricot verts were perfectly blanched, and the carrots were an okay accompaniment, but overall there was a little too much salt going on. The Boston Lager brought an interesting pine flavor to the meat that I didn't dislike, but I could have easily done without. And honestly, I couldn't even really taste the cheese sauce, which is unfortunate.

To be honest, I don't remember the beer pairing with the dessert, shame on me because it was the best pairing; I want to say it was the Imperial Stout. I have had stouts with chocolate desserts before, and I do think that they have a nice quality to them, but I'd rather have some port. The dessert was a chocolate and Guinness shooter with whipped cream and cayenne pepper that wasn't too spicy, thankfully. Alongside the shooter was an espresso pot de creme (overly refrigerated) and a beignet. I finished the pot de creme and the shooter, and it was a good ending to the underwhelming, but somewhat informative meal.

The Verdict


J.Pauls's isn't pretending to be anything that it's not, and I respect them for that. I don't have that much to say other than chalking the experience up to the circumstance. That said, I have no plans to return to J.Paul's, but I do think that once they hit their stride (and target audience) for these beer dinners, they will have more success with the pairings. Hopefully some interesting breweries will get on board, because I do think it's a worthwhile endeavor. You're not going to have a horrible meal at J. Paul's, but it will just be a meal, and one that you're likely to forget soon after.

Food Rating: **
(out of 5)
Date Rating:
1 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Frat House
Vibe:
Chatty
Cost:
$$$
(out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)
Pairing: If you do really find yourself at J.Paul's, it is the kind of place that you'll want a cigar afterwards. So buy a stogie at Georgetown Tobacco (3144 M St), find a park/scenic vista, and light one up (if your date is into it anyway).

J. Paul's on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Munchies: Homemade Kettle Corn

(editor's note: I'm sure CC will want us to note that this is part of a larger buildup until her attempt to make truffled popcorn. So until then, this will have to suffice)

This week’s Monday Munchie is my attempt at a homemade classic: kettle corn. You can get kettle corn just about anywhere, ranging from its origins at county fairs, to microwavable packs, to already popped-in bags in your supermarket. However, I stubbornly believe that everything is better homemade, so for those of you (editor's note: like me) that don't know a thing about kettle corn, here’s a quick and easy recipe:

Ingredients:
1. Popping corn
2. Vegetable oil
3. Salt
4. Sugar

Instructions:
· In a non-stick pot, heat up the vegetable oil until it starts to crackle.
· Add the popcorn (keep in mind that a little un-popped corn makes a lot of popcorn, so don’t overload the pot).
· As the corn starts to pop (and with the lid of the pot on), start swirling the pot around to evenly cook the popcorn.
· When all the corn has been popped, and while still hot, add salt and sugar to taste (My preferred ratio is about 1.5:1 salt to sugar)

Note: I know, I know, purists won’t consider this true kettle corn, as the sugar is not added while the corn is popping; but keep this in mind: sugar burns very fast, and can be fussy to work with. This recipe tastes just as good as the original stuff.

Taste Test: 2 Forks (out of 5)
Perfect For: A movie night spent with friends.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Night Flights: 1800 Tequila Sunrise

Editor's note: This is new contributor AP's first entry for the blog. You can read more about him in our About Us section.

This week, I thought I'd change things up for DCWD a bit, and feature a tequila drink. Tequila often gets a bad rep as the alcoholic college student's drink of choice. However, the good quality stuff (like my personal favorite 1800 Añejo) has subtle notes of copper and tastes distinctly like the oak barrels in which it is stored, making it more enjoyable as a sipper than a shot.


This week's drink is the familiar Tequila Sunrise, a cocktail equally suitable for a warm summer evening as a Sunday brunch, as its name would suggest. Made with grenadine (the pomegranate-flavored syrup which has become a cocktail staple) and topped off with orange juice, this drink is a refreshing summer alternative to seasonal beer.

So to those who have written tequila off, I urge you try it again. Stick to 100% agavé tequila (lower quality tequilas contain sugar instead of the traditional agavé plant), and you have a nice alternative to your everyday liquor cabinet, and the makings of an excellent cocktail.

Bar Review: 3 Cheers
Perfect For: A summer evening spent in the backyard
Where to Find it: All the ingredients can be found in your local liquor store.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

DCWD Travels: The Bazaar, LA

The Setup

Sometime in November, when CC and I decided on our trip to Los Angeles for Nationals, we both simultaneously had the same thought:

Bazaar.

CC and I are unabashed Jose Andres fans. We've both been to all of his restaurants (outside of the Jaleo outposts), and we love his infectious enthusiasm for food and innovation therein. Jose is one of those chefs that is even more excitable and irrepressibly engaging in real life than on TV, and the one time we got to meet him at a demo/book signing, we absolutely fell in love with him (though certainly, given how effervescent he is, it's hard to imagine how one could not like him). So when the chance came to finish the tour with his lone non-DC restaurant, we jumped at the chance. Joining us at this dinner were Official Father of DCWD BC, and Official Sister of DCWD The Squish.

The Vibe

The Bazaar is in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, and the inside is honestly just as chichi as one would expect given that location. The left side of the restaurant features two open kitchens, a modern color scheme of red and black, and lots of clean, straight lines. But as you move from left to right, the restaurant gets weirder from the patisserie (we'll get to that later), and then an actual Bazaar, which is perhaps coincidentally or ironically, bizarre (as in like, you can buy German-made giant stuffed animals that look like gummy bears for $80, or a set of wax candles shaped like Hermes and Aphrodite for $600).

The Food

Bazaar is like some mashup of minibar (shameless plug: read our minibar review!) and every other Jose Andres restaurant: avant-garde cuisine but presented in tapas/small plates form, but on some level, it's like a less exclusive minibar West. In fact, we saw some familiar dishes at Bazaar that we'd had before at minibar and Jaleo. But here's a rundown of what we ate in the order it came out, again in our conversational format:

K: The first dish that came out was called "Not your everyday Caprese," and was four one-bite portions that included a cherry tomato, a basil leaf, a small crouton, and the centerpiece of the dish, liquid mozzarella. A technique we'd seen before with minibar's "mojito," the mozzarella was created through spherification, encasing a liquid inside of a thin gel, so that when you popped the bubble with your tongue, it burst in your mouth. Eaten on a Chinese soup spoon, it was a perfect light start to the meal.

CC: This dish was recommended to us by our exuberant server, and I have to say, I am thankful that we took her advice. The "cheese" we had both in this dish and the "Feta-ccine" were indescribable--fresh and juicy and familiar, but totally foreign. Andres' play on recognizable foods is really what draws me to him. It's a fun brand of comfort food. Not as good as the mojito ball, but still the mozzarella spherification was a nifty way to start. And really, how can you go wrong with a caprese salad?

K: The second dish was a repeat of a minibar dish: the "Philly cheesesteak." Having been a mutual favorite at minibar, we encouraged BC and The Squish to try it as well. Each piece is a hollow bread crust, injected with liquid white cheddar, and topped with Wagyu beef carpaccio, cooked by blowtorch. This was enjoyed all around.

CC: As Kim mentioned, this was probably my favorite dish at minibar. There was no way I was not going to order it, if only for the Cheez Whiz for grownups filling. Plus the padre has heard me rave about it so often...

K: Next was the dish that I was looking forward to the most, that came in with the most buzz: the cotton candy foie gras. The Squish, being a picky eater (what a disappointment), didn't order one, but the other three of us each ordered one. As weird as the combination sounds, it was absolutely wonderful: a light touch of sweetness that instantly melted, followed by the unctuous and umami of the foie. A knowing smile was exchanged between me and CC after this one.

CC: I did get stuck with the short end of the stick here (punny, I know). Mine was that wimpy one on the right, and I wish there had been a little more whipped sugar with my foie--basically I wanted more of the dish as a whole. It was such a tease, but I think that's what Andres does best: tease your tongue! Sugar with foie gras is such a classic combination, and this was a whimsical interpretation.

K: CC and I passed on the next dish, again a repeat from minibar: the "bagel and lox cone," a cone made of wonton wrapper filled with goat cheese and salmon roe. BC enjoyed it alright, but The Squish, who thought that the lox would be smoked salmon and not roe, made a face after eating this. Again, I love the Squish, but picky eaters, man. Disappointment.

CC: Loved it at minibar, and I wanted to share that with the fam, despite the Squish's disinclination to try new foods...to be honest she wasn't the best dining partner for a meal like this--something to take into consideration for future adventurous meals.

K: The next one was a late addition to the menu: the "feta-ccine" that CC alluded to before. This might sound innocuous enough, but I mean, it's a Jose Andres restaurant. So the fettuccine was in fact made from jellied feta water, and served with sun dried tomatoes and feta. The dish was good, but given some of the other amazing dishes of the night, this one certainly was cooler than it was tasty, if that makes any sense. Though it certainly didn't help that The Squish got the lion's share of the dish, since it was one she actually enjoyed.

CC: Funny, this was one of the more memorable dishes for me, probably because the minute it starts to get warm out I bust out feta salads in every form I can think of, so this dish was particularly friendly to my spring palate as well as my curious side. This was another of the server's suggestions as one of the specials for the evening, and I thought it was a really creative use of cheese again, as well as a cute play on words. The Squish and I rehashed this for the rest of the weekend (you might gather that there were few pleasantly memorable moments for her in the meal so she jumped on this one).

K: Shrimp to me is a crapshoot; you either nail it and it's amazing and flavorful, or you overcook it and it's chewy and rubbery and unappetizing. The sauteed shrimp in garlic and guindilla pepper was one of the former instances. CC and I agreed that it might have been the best shrimp we've ever had; butterflied, perfectly light and juicy. Loved it.

CC: In fact, this is the best shrimp that I've ever had. Jaleo features a similar garlic shrimp on the regular menu, but it's got nothing on this version. Seriously, it was perfect.

K: My conversion to the world of avocado has been slow but steady, as I start to realize how its creaminess pairs well with many things. The following dish was a great example of that continuing education. A tuna ceviche and avocado roll was exactly that, tuna ceviche and jicama wrapped by slivers of avocado, topped with micro cilantro, salt, and bread crunchies. This was absolutely amazing, refreshing and almost buttery in its texture.

CC: Still not into avocado. I try so hard to keep reintroducing myself to the foods I don't like to widen my scope (nuts, rice, avocado, and sashimi being the most prevalent in this list--I WANT to like sushi!!!), but avocado has not won me over yet. That said, I didn't hate this dish. I am still impressed with the presentation and how thinly they sliced and worked with that fruit, and I love tuna and cilantro, but this was only okay for me. Fresh and innovative, yes. Something I would try to recreate at home, no.

K: Which is sad city for her, because I am absolutely going to try and recreate this at home. Anyway, of course, with all these great courses, there had to be a downnote, and unfortunately, this was when it came, in the form of seared scallops in a romesco sauce. It wasn't that the scallops were poorly cooked; quite the opposite in fact, as they were some of the better scallops I've had in a while. But the romesco sauce was poorly paired, we thought, and took away from the scallops. At the very least, it confused us.

CC: I didn't even want to dip bread in this sauce. It didn't make sense. Scallops are so versatile, this could have been so great!

K: The next dish was one CC and I both zeroed in on when we saw the menu: Brussels sprouts with lemon puree, apricots, grapes, and topped with lemon foam. The Brussels sprouts were fresh and crunchy, but it wasn't until you took a bite of it with the lemon foam and more importantly the small cubed fruit below that all of the flavors coalesced, the bitter of the sprouts, the sour of the lemon, and the sweet of the fruits. Not as buttery as Brussels sprouts before, but just as enjoyable.

CC: I loved this. I'm really into Brussels sprouts anyway, and I like how these leaves were separated, not just balled up in the sprout; it really added to the texture play. And that foam was awesome. If you haven't picked up on my love affair with citrus, then this should solidify it. LEMON FOAM.

K: After a small pause, we moved onto to the last five dishes, all traditional tapas and savory in nature. The first was something I had ordered, braised Wagyu beef cheeks with clementines. This dish met most of my checklist for "WANT" status: odd cut of the meat, super high end ingredient, braising, and an interesting combination. Luckily for me, it didn't disappoint. The braise was perfect, giving the already tender meat that lovely stringy fall-apart texture. Combined with the sudden sweetness of the clementines, this was a highlight.

CC: I wish there had been more clementines on this dish--I wanted just a little more from it. The beef was good, the flavors were great, but this wasn't spectacular. After foie gras cotton candy lollipops, I want spectacular. And honestly, I didn't want the stringy beef; I wanted a meatier cut with this, so I guess this was bound to fail since I expected filet mignon instead of cheeks. Wah wah.

K: Apparently CC is illiterate. Second in our carne carnival was a lamb loin served in a cake-like formation, on top of black trumpet mushrooms and potatoes. This was nice, but in the grand scheme of things, sort of forgettable. Which probably is more of a reflection on the quality of the meal than the dish. Still, good flavor, especially because they made a point of cooking the lamb rare which was beautiful.

CC: Meh. Our starters were much more exciting than these meat dishes. I also thought the lamb was only okay, and I didn't really think it worked well flavor-wise or texture-wise. It just seemed kind of thrown together, if immaculately presented.

K: Next were two vegetarian dishes in this savory streak, the first a reimagination of a dish that we'd seen before at Jaleo, and one that was listed on my latest appearance on Metrocurean's Five Bites: sauteed spinach with apple, pine nuts, and raisins. This iteration though was presented differently, the spinach wrapped into cylinders and topped with the rest. Still, the dish retained the same clean and full-flavored taste as I always remembered it.

CC: I thought this was a fun preparation with the cylinders, though otherwise not particularly inventive. Great flavor combination, but nothing about it said bizarre to me. Also I'm not that into pine nuts.

K: The second to last dinner course was another in the line of Jaleo familiars: piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese. Goat cheese is one of my weak spots, and so this has always been right up my alley. The creaminess and the fullness of the goat cheese matched perfectly with the soft fleshiness of the peeled and grilled peppers. Again, another favorite, classic and simple but just what I wanted.

CC
: I also love this dish at Jaleo, but I think it's better there. Maybe it was the peppers, but this was a little more bland than what I had come to expect. It was nice to end on the veggies after all that meat though, which weighed down what was an otherwise lighter meal.

K: The last course was yet another Jaleo-esque dish: beef hanger steak with a piquillo pepper confit. Tender and juicy, but like the lamb loin, in the midst of such a mindblowing meal, the traditional tapas sort of fell by the wayside compared to the modern ones. On some level I feel that, on any other night or in any other restaurant, this would probably have been a clear winner.

CC: I might have had too much wine by this point, but I don't even remember eating this.

K: At this point, we were ready to move onto dessert, when we were told that dessert was served in a completely different part of the restaurant: the aforementioned patisserie. Whereas the restaurant was black and red, the patisserie was decidedly princess-esque and baby pink.

CC: They actually host tea parties in the patisserie, which would be really fun. The real sweet treats were intermingled with candles made to look like cakes and lacy lollipops. It was kind of fun to experience the other side of the restaurant, but I think the idea of relocating a meal is a little odd and cumbersome.

K: The first dessert was a chocolate mousse of some sort. Frankly, this dessert was obviously our least favorite, because CC and I had a hard time remembering exactly what it is. I'm also pretty sure it was my call to order it too, which is personally embarrassing. But after the dinner, I'll take some misses on dessert, I guess. Though luckily the other ones made up for it.

CC: This pudding thing was the least memorable.

K: The second dessert was a preparation we first saw at minibar; a ball of coconut meringue which had been solidified by liquid nitrogen. It was presented on seared bananas and a mango sauce. I actually really loved it, mostly because of the playfulness involved with eating it, having to crack it with your spoon.

CC: This mushroom cloud of citrusy meringue was a lot of fun to look at, crack apart, and eat! This was definitely a winner, embracing the coconut and bananas and cold crunchy/creaminess of the cloud while not feeling overly acidic and tropical--thanks again to a server suggestion.

K: The last dessert we picked was a chocolate cake. Again without the benefit of my notebook or a souvenir menu from the patisserie (we of course asked for the dinner menu, because we're both shameless, and I'm a packrat with mementos), I can't remember exactly what was special about this particular cake. All I know is it was the Squish's choice, so it probably was pretty standard, and that's what I remember about it. It was straightforward.

CC: My family and I believe that no meal is complete without dessert, and that dessert must include chocolate. Win.

K: Lastly, we had seen the drink menu, but had abstained in favor of wine with dinner, but we just had to sample one of the drinks, all of which seemed to incorporate some crazy avant-garde technique. Of course, being who we are, we went with the most ostentatious one, the caipirinha which was prepared using liquid nitrogen off a special cart by a specific guy. On some level, we weren't even allowed to have him come over, but we talked the patisserie waiter into making it happen.

To say it was a mad scientist presentation doesn't do it justice; smoke everywhere as the bespectacled man behind the rolling cart furiously whips out what turns out to be the drink pictured at right. It was beautifully prepared, I almost didn't want to drink it. But drink it we did. Or at least, try to. It being frozen, it was more like a caipirinha icee. This would have been fine, but the process seemed to zap the background flavor of the drink and leave behind the straight kick-you-in-the-face aspect of the cachaca. You just got the feeling that you were sipping straight alcohol when you chipped away at it. The flowers were a nice touch though, but presentation wise, and while eating.

CC: Sadly, this drink disappointed me. It was all show and I liked that (as Kim said, they also were very accommodating by bringing the drink cart to the dessert side, apparently not a common thing). I love caipirinhas, but this liquid nitrogen mixed cocktail tasted like alcohol shaved ice. At least it was pretty...

K: So that's our trip to the Bazaar. Fanciful, beautiful presentations, absolutely revelational preparations and tastes and combinations. But what else is there to expect from Jose Andres? Instantly in my top 5 meals all-time, though sadly no real place for it on this blog, with its DC focus. But we're here to share food experiences, and record our food diary, so if you ever find yourself out in LA, go to the Bazaar.

CC: Honestly, when it comes down to it, the play on the Bazaar/bizarre highlights the spectacle and the playfulness. It's fun and fanciful, and extraordinary at points, but where it is most successful is in those modern exciting dishes.

K: Thanks for reading! Hopefully we'll get to travel more soon!

The Bazaar By Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Corduroy

Plaudits: Washingtonian 2010 #20, Washingtonian 2009 #19, Washingtonian 2008 #17, Washington Post's Top 50 Restaurants 2009
Neighborhood: Mt. Vernon Square, 14th Street

The Setup
Official Parents of DCWD DV and MV don't often grace me with their presence these days, though that was relatively true even during my undergrad years here in DC (my roommate throughout college Official Friend of DCWD Rajistan famously saw my parents only once the first two and a half years he'd known me, when he glimpsed DV pulling away after dropping me off with my bags junior year). But needing to come down to drop off a bike, I told them that now that I was a real person, dinner was my treat. I gave them a bunch of options, and we settled on Corduroy (thanks for the suggestions/advice to Twitter followers @iEatDC, @I_Flip_for_Food, @CapitalSpice, and @dclovesfood).

The Vibe

Corduroy sits in a otherwise unnoticeable townhouse on 9th St; in fact, my parents and I almost walked clear past it as we chatted in the nice spring weather. Corduroy is split level, with a sizable bar/lounge area on the second floor (or at least, I think so, I was headed for the bathroom to wash up), and the main seating on the first floor. Concentrating more on catching up with my parents than on the scenery, I can't describe in the usual detail on the decor.

But despite our dress (I told my parents I was going to wear my normal button down and jeans, so we all went with the nice jeans look), they put us in the beautiful window seat, which let in the natural light throughout our early dinner. As for the other seating, I did catch a glimpse of some four and two-tops, all lined up single file along the wall with half booth-seating, as well as some more free standing four-tops in the back. Like I said, I didn't pay attention too much, but I will say this. It was a beautiful setting, and was certainly a pleasant experience. Had I been on a date like a few of the couples in the restaurant (though I guess the occasional dinner with my parents is just as much an interview as a first date), I would have been pleased. Though not the best place, certainly worth it.

The other point I will make is the service. I've famously stated that to me, service is one of those things that I'll only talk about when it's exceptionally good or exceptionally bad; good service to me at white-cloth "aspire-to-be-great" restaurants (which, perhaps regrettably, has been the primary domain of this blog) is an expectation, not a bonus. That being said, our server at Corduroy was fantastic. Despite my parents doing the whole "we're parents" act the whole time ("our son says this is for our anniversary"), she was gracious and patient ("oh what anniversary is it?), and did a particularly excellent job explaining all the dishes and their preparation. My favorite part was that when she would come to check on us, she asked not "how are we enjoying the food?" like most people do, but instead "so how do we like the flavors on these dishes?" It would have been easy for her to take a glance at us (early reservation, dressed more on the casual end than some others that night) and write us off (I wouldn't have blamed her), but she was cheery and attentive and funny. Bonus.

The Food

Appetizers

This being one of the first times that I've ever bought my parents a meal, and definitely the first time it was for dinner, I told them to go for the gold on the menu. As an aperitif of sorts, my parents split the lemongrass cocktail (Hangar one Buddha's Hand vodka, ginger, and lemongrass syrup), and I got myself a Cherry Sling (Bombay Sapphire, orange juice, lemon juice, homemade cherry juice). I won't get into too much detail or post a picture of mine (saving it for a FNF maybe), other than to point out that my dad pulled the "Buddha's Hand vodka? Oh we have to have that." These are my parents. Wouldn't trade them for anyone.

As for actual appetizers, DV ordered the lamb and arugala salad, which came with pieces of seared lamb tenderloin and chunks of lamb sausage, with a pretty delicious vinaigrette (I admit to not paying attention when our server explained it). The one complaint we had about it was that the lamb pieces were few and far between, only three to the whole plate (though the pieces we did have were melt-in-your mouth good).

MV got a wild mushroom blintz. Frankly, I thought hers was the least impressive of all of them (probably my anti-vegetarian food bias shining through), but it was pretty tasty nonetheless. It was fried like one would expect an egg roll to be like. Good, but given how good the meal was, sort of unmemorable.

For my part, I got the duck egg and leg salad, a fun mnemonic to say and an even better dish to eat. The egg portion was poached, and placed on top of the salad, which was made of frisee, shitake mushrooms, and the eponymous leg meat (as well as a creamy dressing, again I did a poor job of paying attention to those details). I'm not a salad-for-an-appetizer person, but the duck sucked me in (which it famously does, see: 2941), and I'm glad that it did. Smooth and savory like a soup, but with the crisp that comes with frisee. And don't get me started on how much I love when I get mopping up poached/overeasy egg yolk; when the server told me the recommended eating method was to break the egg over the salad, I had to stop myself from saying, "Way ahead of you already." Lovely dish and absolutely recommended.

Entrees

One of the impressive parts of the meal was the server's recitation of the numerous changes to the menu we were presented (three additional appetizers, two additional entrees, and a variation to an entree). Her clarity and detail sold us on two of them. DV got the substitution for the sea bass, which was a seared fluke served with a side of potatoes and chives topped with frisee. The fish was crisp and flaked apart in the right way; not the best fish I've ever had but a very good one at that.

The other entree that our server talked us into was a venison loin, seared, with a side of chestnut potatoes as well as mushrooms and bok choy. I'll put aside the mushrooms and bok choy, which were frankly sort of throwaway in terms of fit (I mean I love bok choy as much as the next guy, but really?), to concentrate on how well the venison was cooked. I always like it when a chef brings out the best parts of the ingredients. For venison this is that it can be tender but still retains some gaminess to it. This venison steak was the epitome of that. But really, the winner were the chestnut potatoes. Buttery and nutty at the same time, if I had a bowl of it, I think I would have eaten the whole thing by itself.

For the third entree, MV ordered off the menu and went with the pork belly, braised and served with a savoy cabbage and vegetable mix. MV, bless her heart, doesn't share the same affinity for eating meat fat as I do; call me gross, but that's where I think a great deal of the flavor is, especially on something as fatty as pork belly. But despite the fact that she cut the fat off of her pork belly and I didn't, we both agreed that it compared favorably with some of the Vietnamese pork belly we've had, though it was a tad oversalted.

Desserts
Somehow I talked my parents into some wine and some dessert (I think the fact that I was paying, and pushing it on them helped). DV and MV had the mango tart tatin and house vanilla ice cream, while I went with the pistachio bread pudding and housemade maple ice cream. All of us agreed that the mango tart was a little too sweet, which was a shame. But my bread pudding? Unbelievable. Official Co-Writer of DCWD CC makes fun of me all the time for my love of bread pudding, labeling it as a commoner's dessert (her standards for dessert are even more impossibly high than for food in general). But I guess it's because we never had it at home, that it seems sort of exotic. Add in a flavor that I absolutely adore (pistachio, mmmmm), and some really solid ice cream, and it makes for a great gooey wonderful dessert.

The Verdict

The questions I have to ask about this meal: Did I have high expectations? Yes. What did I need out of this meal? I needed it to be an upscale and visually pleasing dining space. I needed it to be a pleasant experience for me to catch up with my parents. Check and check (3.5 for the space, an extra bump for the great service). I needed the food to be good with some great, and maybe even exceptional dishes. Check and double check (the duck salad, the pistachio bread pudding, I would absolutely love to have again). Would I recommend this to anyone for a date night out? Absolutely.

Food Rating: **** 1/2 (out of 5)
Date Rating: 4 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Bar Rating: Classy Crowd
Vibe: Calm
Cost:
$$$$
(out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)
Pairing: The Historical Society of Washington, more commonly known to people (or at least me anyway) as the stoic building in the middle of the big mess of the intersection of Mass Ave and New York Ave, is one of those hidden places with decent exhibits, but more importantly, nice people-watching space from the benches and the grass.

Corduroy on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Munchies: Baked Brie with Raspberries

This week's Monday Munchie comes from something I saw Official Friends of DCWD Baboon and G do for a dinner party we all went to together: baked brie.

Maybe it was dumb of me to think so in the first place, but when they brought the materials for the dish to the aforementioned gathering, my first thought was, "Won't the cheese just melt into liquid?" No, in fact the cheese doesn't melt, but in fact becomes a wonderful gooey and delicious appetizer. I have to say that my first attempt (for a dinner party of my own) at it was pretty successful (which is to say it tasted good, and no one died), though I did a pretty uneven job getting the rind off the brie.

Here's the recipe:
  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 1 13.2-ounce Baby Brie cheese (about 6 to 7 inches in diameter)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Stir preserves, berries and rosemary in small bowl to blend. Season berry mixture with pepper. Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to 12-inch square. Cut top rind off cheese; discard rind. Place cheese, rindless side up, in center of pastry. Spoon raspberry mixture onto cheese. Fold pastry on 2 opposite sides over cheese. Brush remaining 2 sides of pastry with glaze. Fold over cheese; press seams to seal. Brush pastry with glaze; place on baking sheet.

Bake cheese until pastry is deep golden brown (top of pastry may split open), about 30 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes.

The result:

Taste Test: 3 Forks (out of 5)
Perfect for: Dinner parties

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Night Flights: Espiral Vinho Verde

Sometimes, you just need some cheap table wine, something that constantly sits on your table in a pinch. For me, that something is the Espiral Vinho Verde.

Vinho verde, which literally means "green wine" in Portuguese, is a variety of white wine from the Minho region in the north of Portugal. This particular brand is fruity, light, and refreshing, and pairs well both as a dinner wine and a dessert wine (at least to my untrained taste buds, CC will probably disagree). The best part? The wine retails for $4 at Trader Joe's.

Low price? Clean taste? Versatile? The very definition of a solid table wine.

Bar Review: ** 1/2 (out of 5)
Where to find it: Trader Joe's
Perfect for: Table wine

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Masa 14

Plaudits: 2010 RAMMY Nominee - Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
Neighborhood: U Street

The Setup

"Are you a blogger?"

That's the question that the waiter poses to me after I ask to hold onto my menu a little bit longer. In the last four months of food blogging, I've toted around a small black notebook to scribble down notes which I do surreptitiously; despite my flagrant penchant for self-promotion in other aspects of my life, with this blog still in its nascent stages, I'm loathe to draw attention to myself. The notebook itself is less a product of excessive note-taking than of my curiously poor memory.

Back to the scene. Having someone finally outright ask me, I sheepishly tell him the truth. His response? "Would you like a copy of the menu?"

Interesting.

Anyway, this particular trip to Masa 14 grew out of Official Friend of DCWD Hannah's request that we have another catchup session, particularly if it was a dinner for the blog. Hannah lives up the 14th St corridor, so she suggested Masa 14, which just opened up a couple months ago.

The Vibe

Masa 14 is a joint venture between Zengo's Richard Sandoval and Kaz Okochi of Kaz Sushi Bistro, and takes the former's Latin-Asian fusion and puts it in the small plates format. I personally love small plates; it's my preferred dinner style for dates because it encourages conversation and is a food adventure in the myriad of tastes you'll get. That was an automatic plus.

Masa 14's decor is modern and decidedly chic, a point reinforced by the DJ booth set into the wall next to the host stand. Upon entering the restaurant, you're faced with a giant set of stairs in the center of the room; our waiter told us this would lead to the eventual rooftop seating, which hadn't opened just yet. To the right side of the room is the bar, which is huge and extends the length of the dining space. Bar seating is also plentiful, with a number of seats around two long high tables. On the left side of the dining area is the booth seating, which is niched into the wall and overhung by a light-colored wooden box frame. Otherwise, the seats are four-tops and two-tops (which are pretty much right on top of one another).

The color scheme is black, red, dark brown, and light tan, points that are emphasized by the aforementioned wooden box, the individual red lamps that overhang each table, and the tan wood accents around the restaurant. Finally, hammering home the modern theme are the exposed brick walls, and the exposed ceiling and vents. Overall, this decor is nothing I haven't seen before, but it was nice.

Back to the service. I'd heard that the service is a crapshoot bordering on awful, so I was expecting the worst. Maybe it was in light of that decidedly low bar, or maybe we just lucked out, but between the offering of the menu, and the waiter's nice suggestions (Bell's Oberon when I asked for an Allagash White, answering our questions about our choices, quick when we needed him to be quick, slow at dessert when we wanted to stay and keep talking), we had a better than average service experience with a decently friendly and certainly attentive waiter. Heck, maybe the blogger question determined the service; enough bad blog postings and a new restaurant is bound to make some changes. I'm not gonna complain.

The Food

As per usual for small plates, Hannah and I went with the tried and true "three dishes per person" rule. Also as normal, I let her pick all six within bounds: no soups, no vegetarian dishes, avoid the salads.

First out was the shrimp ceviche, cured in yuzu and served with a salsa of melon, orange, tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro, and serrano chilies. The ceviche was good, refreshing with the shrimp being particularly tender. I was mildly impressed with it.

Second was the tuna sashimi flatbread topped with a wasabi aioli, arugala, capers, yuzu, and red onion. This dish suffered slightly from a law I have called the McGriddle rule, essentially the food version of the econ theory of diminishing returns: the first bite is the most amazing bite you've ever tasted, but each bite afterwards is increasingly worse until the last one is almost unbearable. Now, this wasn't that shocking, but it definitely had its swings. The first bite was nice, like the midpoint between sushi and bagels and lox. But the more I ate it, the more I realized how aggressive the wasabi aioli was, and how crazy acidic it was. Good idea, maybe a little tweaking needed in practice.

The third of our seafood plates was a bowl of mussels, steamed in a chipotle-miso broth and served with ginger, scallion, and bacon chunks. I always love me some mussels, and these did not disappoint. The miso taste was mild, with the strongest flavor coming from the ginger. Not the greatest mussels I've ever had by any means (see: Brasserie Beck and Granville Moore's), but certainly very good ones.

From there, there was a tangible pause as Hannah and I moved into the meat courses. The first dish to come out were the wagyu beef and pork meatballs, served with cotija cheese, scallion, in a smoked tomato yuzu sauce. I guess I kind of got sucked in by the wagyu beef, and so I had pretty high expectations. Unfortunately, the meatballs were just kind of average and nothing super special, other than the considerable heat that the tomato yuzu sauce had. For her part, Hannah actually really liked the meatballs, and said they were some of the best she'd ever had (though she admitted her foodie credentials weren't as solid as mine).

The last two dishes came at the same time: bulgulgi sopes, and glazed pork riblets. The sopes were perhaps the most truly fusion dish of the night, with traditional thick tortilla sopes topped with Korean barbecue style skirt steak and kimchi, as well as huitlacoche (for my affair with huitlacoche, see: minibar and Oyamel) cotija cheese, and apples. Hannah didn't particularly care for the hard dryness of the sopes, but I actually really liked this dish, probably perhaps because it was actual fusion.

Despite my upbringing, I actually don't do heat very well. And so, the riblets were not my favorite thing. The five spice glaze was actually decently strong (at least to me anyway, but like I said, I'm kind of a wimp), and the meat was tender. I just didn't enjoy it as much as some of the other dishes.

In addition to our meal, Hannah and I also sampled some of the drinks. Masa 14 prides itself on its tequila selection; the tequila list comes like a wine list, and is almost twice as long as the wine list at Masa 14. For her part, Hannah got the Corzo Margarita (Corzo tequila, agave nectar, and lime juice), as well as the Patron Paloma (Patron, lime juice, grapefruit soda), while I got the Mojito MASA (Patron, Bacardi, mint, lime, orange, agave nectar) and the aforementioned Bell's Oberon. The drinks were okay, but nothing special; in fact the Paloma was just weird, like a gin and tonic but with tequila instead.

Somehow, our waiter convinced to have dessert as well, which Hannah and I narrowed down to two: a rum-soaked spice cake served with "Szechuan" strawberries, and chai ice cream, and a choco flan, served with dulce de leche and peanut brittle. Each had its own merit: the spice cake was nice and light, with the chai flavor coming through the best, and the strawberries tasting like those Asian gummies we used to have throughout my childhood (I guess that's what makes them Szechuan?). The flan was the midpoint between the two distinct styles of flan: firm like the Hispanic variety, but still sweet like Asian flan. The spice cake was better, but it convinced Hannah to take back her dislike of flan, so that was good.

The Verdict

I guess with my love of small plates, and my general excitement for Latin-Asian fusion, I wanted more out of the meal. But I can't take away that it was a solid to good meal, with some nice highlights (though some minor disappointments). Would I go back? Probably. And given the restaurant is still new and feeling out its space and developing its menu, this meal was a good foot forward.

Food Rating: *** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Classy Crowd
Vibe: Energetic to Noisy
Cost:
$$$
(out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)
Pairing: The Black Cat, DC's favorite music venue not named the 9:30 Club is literally a block away. Most of the stuff on the schedule in the near future is real "next-level," but Talib Kweli, as well as personal favorite from my teenage years Thursday are both on the docket.

Masa 14 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Proof

Plaudits: Washingtonian 2010 #27, Washingtonian 2009 #59, Washingtonian 2008 #83, Washington City Paper's Young and Hungry's 2009 Top 50 Restaurants, 2010 RAMMY Nominee - Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year, Wine Program of the Year, 2009 RAMMY Nominee - Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
Neighborhood: Chinatown

The Setup

Ever since Official Friend of DCWD T-Cher found out I wrote a food blog, she wanted in for a dinner, and her choice was firm all the way through: Proof. I'd heard a lot of good things about Proof, and certainly had walked by it enough times, but after a month of going back and forth, we finally settled on a Tuesday night dinner at the Chinatown wine bar.

The Vibe

Proof's decor is rustic, which was pleasant given the early evening dinner time that T-Cher and I decided on. The dining room is one continuous space with multiple interruptions and appendages like wine rack walls. Still, because of this, the space is all in view of the large windows, which doesn't offer the greatest view, but allows the dusk to peek in nicely. Granted, I'm sure this is true of a lot of places, but this time, I actually noticed it.

The decor of Proof is dominated by brown and ecru, with the occassional accent of white, orange, and yellow. Along with the exposed brick walls, this accounted for the earthy feel of the restaurant. The seating is varied, with high-backed couches and four-tops in the middle (something I had seen before at J&G Steakhouse), more four-tops along the edges of the restaurant with yellow woven chairs, and two-tops cramped on top of each other with brown leather chairs. Other than that, the restaurant takes its name seriously; the space is full of bottles, hanging glasses, and the back of the business card has a chart listing the best years for different types of wine.

The only other part of note is the bar, which is small but funky, with an illuminated back which only serves to accentuate the myriad of bottles. I can't say I gave it more than a cursory glance, but my impression of the bar was that it was racks on top of racks, as if they tried to cram twice as much alcohol as the typical restaurant into half the space. Along with that, as I stood outside waiting for T-Cher, I got the impression from the number of people who entered and quickly exited that there wasn't much for space at the bar during the after-work hour.

The Food

It didn't help that the two-top was particularly small and cramped (which itself gave me agita, since T-Cher and I are particularly, let's say, effervescent people, and the older couple next to us didn't seem to appreciate it), but between the tome-like wine menu, the regular menu, the by-the-glass menu, and the place settings, it took a juggling act just to order and keep everything in order.

T-Cher wasn't feeling particularly hungry, so she ordered the warm hen-of-the-woods mushroom quiche, topped with sliced radish and green beans off the first course menu. According to her, it was light and fluffy and certainly good, but not anything memorable. For her, there was nothing exotic or otherwise unlike other quiches she'd had, but it was well-made and the ingredients were nice and fresh.

As for me, I was feeling more up to a full meal, so I went with the pan roasted veal sweetbreads, with sauteed watercress, celery root, and bacon in a black pepper caramel jus. I'm not a sweetbread expert or anything (though I'll order it almost every time I see it on a menu), but these were some of the best I've ever had. They maintained that pate-like texture and savoriness I love so much about them, which worked well with the saltiness of watercress and bacon. A real exceptional dish (though I guess you have to like sweetbreads to enjoy it).

For my main course, I thought about going for the pork and duck ragout (my love of duck on any menu is well-known, see: 2941) but right before our waiter came, I saw that the tasting menu featured the sablefish, and that it had a romesco sauce. So on a lark, I went with that instead. The sablefish was sherry-glazed, and served on top of sauteed spinach, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, raisins, with the aforementioned smoky romesco sauce. My love of perfectly-cooked fish has also been discussed ad nauseam (see: Hook, Rasika) and this particular fish did not disappoint. Dancing between sweet and spicy from the romesco, it was wonderful and really was a treat; the spinach, pumpkin seeds, and raisins gave the whole dish an earthiness and a soul. The only downside was the chickpeas, which were a little undercooked and thus a little hard. They were the one wah wah in an otherwise great dish.

As for the wine, there's a really wide variety of by-the-glass selections, which was expected, but the highlight was the 2 oz. option, which T-Cher and I took advantage of, sampling a shiraz mix, and a tempranillo on the first round. I'm never really looking for more than a taste and a complement in wine, so this was perfect. I didn't make note of what we had for round two (I'm pretty sure I had a Greek white, but that's as close as I can remember), but all in all the wine was good.

I wasn't really feeling dessert, but after only her appetizer, T-Cher went and ordered one anyway: a grilled banana served with banana bread, peanut brittle, and coconut sorbet. I only had a small bite, but T-Cher's opinion was that it was "delicious and exciting, because there were so many flavors and textures going on."

The Verdict

It's weird; I guess I didn't have high expectations going into Proof for whatever reason. I'd heard a lot of good buzz about it, but I wasn't as super-excited as I've been for other restaurants. And yet, I had a truly great meal here in a dining area that had several places that would be nice for a date (though there are certainly others that aren't ideal). A chickpea malfunction away from being exceptional, but I would definitely recommend Proof to anybody.

Food Rating: **** 1/2 (out of 5)
Date Rating: 4 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Bar Rating: Classy Crowd
Vibe: Chatty
Cost:
$$$$
(out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)
Pairing: For such a classy night, keep it classy by seeing a show at the Harman Center for the Arts/Shakespeare Theater. Tickets are sort of pricey, but once in a while there are some great deals.

Proof on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Good Stuff Eatery

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

The Setup

The last stop on our self-proclaimed Burger Cup (see: BGR, Ray's, and Rogue States), Good Stuff Eatery is Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn's burger place on Capitol Hill. I wasn't in a particular rush to get there, but Official Friend of DCWD Chi (who we might remember is a recent convert to pescatarianism) was excited for the restaurant's "Vegetarians are People Too" burger. This initiative stirred us to get Official Friends of DCWD Wills and Runner to come with us to grab some Good Stuff.

The Vibe

Good Stuff sits in a small two-story townhouse on Pennsylvania Ave. The first floor is essentially just the kitchen and order counter, with a few lunch counter seats in the window nook, while the second floor is all seating. Still, with the small seating, Good Stuff is best when the weather is nice, because the outdoor patio seating is pretty sizable (a space that will only expand when Good Stuff's sister restaurant We The Pizza opens up soon). The decor of the place is dominated by white, black, and red, with a distressed grey wood floor and the restaurant's mission statement plastered everywhere, from the walls to the plaque outside.

The Food

I've spoken about the metric for burgers in this quest before: the burger patty itself, the toppings/varieties, and the peripherals (fries, condiments, drinks). Runner decided to pass on the burgers (I don't know what the opposite of a foodie is, but she might be it; she's a health nut and is super conscious about what she eats; she joined us for the moral support, and to run the four miles to Capitol Hill with me), but the rest of each got a burger and milkshake. Wills went with the simple Farmhouse Bacon Cheese and the special Bananas Foster milkshake, Chi as I said before got the Vegetarians Are People Too (Portobello with Muenster/Cheddar coated in panko) and the Black and White (cookies and cream), and I went with the Spike's Sunny Side (Egg, Cheese, Maple Bacon, Brioche Bun) and the D-Lechable Leche (dulce de leche).

I've been to Good Stuff before, but trying the vegetarian burger was part of my reason to go back. It might have been the size (it was a little smaller than I expected), and it had probably been oversold to me, but I was a little disappointed in it. I just wanted it to be a little bit more of everything: cheesier, juicier, crispier. As for mine, I was warned about the number of napkins I would need, but even then it was a little bit of a sloppy eat. Still, put an egg on a burger and I am there, and this burger was no exception. It was the perfect midday, post-run burger.

As for the peripherals, this is where Good Stuff probably shines the most. The Village Fries, covered in thyme, rosemary, and cracked pepper, are frustratingly small, and almost impossible to dip. But when you do get a chance to dip them into one of Good Stuff's four housemade mayos (mango, Old Bay, Sriracha, and chipotle), they are fantastic. Even better are the milkshakes; they are absolutely to die for. All three were beyond phenomenal; Chi went so far as to say it was "the best milkshake I've ever had on this coast." The flavors of mine and Wills were on point, tasting exactly like their namesakes, and just as delicious. I don't know who crafts the milkshakes, but they should be knighted.

The Verdict

So here's the $64,000 question: where do you put it on the Burger scale? Again, I'd say solidly second, slotting just behind Ray's, but ahead of BGR and Rogue States. But if we change the question to say "What burger place is the best meal?" then with the milkshakes and the condiments, Good Stuff pulls way out in front. So if the patio is open, and you're in the mood for a great but lowkey meal, Good Stuff is the way to go.

Food Rating: **** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: N/A
Vibe: Chatty
Cost:
$$
(out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Pairing: This is probably more because I'm dumb, and Capitol Hill isn't my neighborhood, but I didn't realize how nice the Capitol Reflecting Pool is, until Runner and I ran by it on the way to Good Stuff. On a sunny day like we've been having recently, it might be a little tourist trappy, but otherwise I can think of worse things than sitting on the edge of the pool, looking out onto the mall with Good Stuff burger and milkshake in hand.

Good Stuff Eatery on Urbanspoon