Friday, August 31, 2012

Small Plates: 08.31.12

For Labor Day, why not throw a blue crab feast? 'Tis the season! [WaPo]

Daisuke Utagawa takes next step in creating Japanese restaurant/bar and names the bar. [Washingtonian]

Need advice on how to avoid bad restaurants, and Tyler Cowen isn't doing it for you? [Young & Hungry]

Pho 14 is set to open a new location in Adams Morgan in a few weeks. [PoP]

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pearl Dive Anniversary Party

"Pearl Dive Oyster Palace"
Happy First Birthday Pearl Dive! Hard to believe it's already been a year, but Pearl Dive / Black Jack are celebrating their first anniversary on September 20th. Courtesy of Borderstan:
Pre-sale tickets are priced at $150 and include unlimited fresh seafood (including oysters, of course!) with signature dishes from Pearl Dive’s menu, live music, and an open bar. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Food & Friends on behalf of the Black’s Family Foundation.
 I'm sure it will be a lot of fun.

Small Plates: 08.30.12

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, this one sells custom tonic. [Washingtonian]

The Bluejacket Brewpub is applying for a liquor license in Navy Yard. Can't wait! [PoP]

Apparently, if you go to Kangaroo Boxing Club, you should try the meat. [Tasting Table]

Rogue 24 is opening a 'gasto-bar' next door and metamorphosing. [Eater]

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Small Plates: 08.29.12

Firefly is closing on September 10 for a renovation that sounds pretty cool. [Washingtonian]

Baked and Wired has a flapcake cupcake. With bacon. [Serious Eats]

District Underground, in Adams Morgan, finally makes room for something decent. [PoP]

The early word on Izakaya Seki is generally good. I may have to go back. [Eater]

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Small Plates: 08.28.12

Former Masa 14 partner Ivan Iricanin opening Serbian restaurant Ambar in Capitol Hill. [WaPo]

It's the season for milkshakes! Here are five that are good. I can vouch for Tap 'n' Shake. [Serious Eats]

Tropicalia Dance Club is coming to 14th and U St, under Subway. [PoP]

New from DC Brau, Embers of the Deceased available at Churchkey and Pizza Paradiso. [WaPo]

Monday, August 27, 2012

Small Plates: 08.27.12

The Pig, in Logan Circle, has pig brain porchetta. Looks tasty! [Young & Hungry]

Georgetown Falafel and Koshary has closed, after being open just five months. [PoP]

The Pyongyang Gang, who pop up in the Blaguard, are cutting back to once a month. [Young & Hungry]

Boloco Burritoes should open downtown around October sometime. [PoP]

Friday, August 24, 2012

Small Plates: 08.24.12

Toledo Lounge should be opening with their new concept in about six weeks. [Washingtonian]

Little Serow is closed until September 5th for their 'summer break.' [PoP]

Luke's Lobster opened yesterday in Georgetown. It's their third location. [Young & Hungry]

Boston-based Boloco Burritos is opening a space downtown, hopefully in October. [PoP]

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Small Plates: 08.23.12

Protein Bar opened yesterday in Penn Quarter. [Washingtonian]

Costa Brava is bringing small plates to Bloomingdale. [Young & Hungry]

Uptown Tap House in Cleveland Park is now hiring. [PoP]

Tom Sietsema really doesn't like the decor at Bandolero. [Eater]

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Small Plates: 08.22.12

People are getting really worked up about the White House's beer recipe. [Washingtonian]

Room 11 expansion should be done mid-September. Word is, two people will be able to fit. [PoP]

Barack Obama was at Mintwood Place with 3 supporters on Monday. [Young & Hungry]

Here's a run-down of Washington's most iconic drinks. Don't bother with Round Robin. [Eater]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Small Plates: 08.21.12

Kangaroo Boxing Club is now offering weekend brunch. [PoP]

Pleasant Pops will open in Adams Morgan over Labor Day weekend. [New Columbia Heights]

Did you ever wonder why it's worth talking about recipes that don't work? [The Bitten Word]

Happy Hatch Pepper season! Here's where to find them. [WaPo]

Monday, August 20, 2012

Izakaya Seki

For quite some time, I've been looking forward to the opening of Izakaya Seki, a Japanese restaurant located near V St. and 12th NW. It finally opened a couple weeks ago, so my wife and I went down to check it out. It's definitely a cute little space; if they offered happy hour specials, I might swing by after work, and it look like it'd be nice for an early date. Downstairs, they have bar-style seating, and upstairs they have table seating.

The menu is small plates, and it's focused more on Japanese pub food rather than on sushi. In fact, there are only a few sushi dishes on their menu, and no rolls. On the other hand, they have a rather extensive list of sake and shochu, so there's that. We ordered the Sashimi Special, the Uni starter, the Kushikatsu (deep-fried pork belly), and the Kyona salad (arugula-based). We both agreed that the Kyona salad was the best of the dishes. It was fresh and bright, but the egg and tuna shavings gave it a nice savoriness as well. The pork belly, on the other hand, was the worst. Underneath all the breading, you could barely taste the pork belly, and it was seriously chewy. The sashimi and the uni were both above average, but somewhat expensive, even for the fairly large quantity you got. The selection was good, with tuna, octopus, squid, yellowtail, flounder, and shrimp. The octopus was a highlight, beautifully tender, and the shrimp melted in your mouth.

The service was attentive, if not especially knowledgeable. We both enjoyed it, and will probably go back since it's right in our neighborhood, but there are probably better places for izakaya-style eating in DC.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Small Plates: 08.17.12

Description of an encounter with a cocktail containing bean soup. [A Dash of Bitters]

Death of the liquid lunch, and why we should bring it back. Write drunk, edit sober. [The Dish]

TakeEatEasy still coming, no longer affiliated with Fast Gourmet. [PoP]

New Kam Fong has evil shark fin soup, it tastes terrible. [WaPo]

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Small Plates: 08.16.12

New Orleans Po' Boy Shop lives up to the hype, if you can get through the lines. [Young & Hungry]

Sweet Diablo, purveyor of diabetes-inducing cakes, opened yesterday at 19th and M. [PoP]

Penn Quarter's Amorini Panini expanding and adding a new location near Farragut. [Young & Hungry]

Millie's and Al's applies for the first patio seating on the west side of 18th in Adams Morgan. [PoP]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to Buy Wine: An Idiot's Guide

Blogger Keith Levenburg argues that, when you buy wine, you shouldn't buy what you like.
One of the mantras that experienced old hands like to repeat to new and learning collectors is, “Buy what you like.” This is absolutely terrible advice. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to end up with hundreds of bottles you won’t drink and can’t sell than to start out “buying what you like.”
Why? Because you are an idiot. Although, to be fair, this is mostly because your taste-buds are idiots. The more you taste wine, the more you'll learn to be able to tell the difference between good wines and bad. It's a matter of judgement, rather than a matter of taste.
When we decide we like a wine, we’ve done just that: we’ve decided it. It was an exercise in thinking—not only, and not even primarily, an exercise in tasting. We keep a mental checklist of what a good wine is supposed to offer, and we decide a wine is good when it manages to meet enough criteria on the list. And that means that the decision that we like the wine has very little to do with the way it tastes, and a lot to do with how we’ve populated that mental checklist.
It's a very good article, even if you haven't read too much Kant (thank God if you've avoided that fate). Check it out at his blog Cellar-Book.

Small Plates: 08.15.12

Today, in signs of the apocalypse, Cinnabon is offering a 'pizzabon'. [DCist]

Art and Soul is going to start doing monthly family style dinners September 8th. [PoP]

Still looking for a Restaurant Week place? You're probably out of luck. But here's a guide. [Washingtonian]

Daniel Delaney is doing serious texas-style barbecue in Brooklyn. [WaPo]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to Build a Home Bar, If You Really Like Chocolate

The Spirit, always helpful, brings you an article on how to update your home bar. Sadly, it's full of tips like this:
Vodka: If you have anything in a plastic bottle, discard it immediately. If you are old enough to have a home bar, you are old enough to buy vodka that doesn’t remind you of making vodka-soaked gummy bears in college.
Three to try:
Ketel One VodkaRussian Standard VodkaVan Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka (It’s always nice to have a flavored vodka in-house in case you get someone who has more of a sweet tooth when it comes to boozing).
First, vodka is boring, so you shouldn't spend money on anything more expensive than Stoli or Skyy. But it's good to have a bottle or two laying around. It occasionally comes in handy, and because it's so boring, it's good for infusion.  Second, if you want to get a flavored bottle of vodka, don't do chocolate! There are much better ways to add chocolate to your drinks. Personally, I'd recommend either lemon or vanilla for a flavored vodka.

But more generally, there are far too many sweet ingredients on their list. In addition to the chocolate vodka, there's a caramel apple liqueur and three (3!) types of honey liqueur. Honey liqueur should be the last liqueur you buy; that's what honey's for! I also think the advice to stock the five main kinds of spirit (vodka, rum, tequila, gin, and whiskey) dangerous if you don't have an unlimited budget. Take your favorite drink, and get what you need to make that. So if you really like Manhattans, get some rye and sweet vermouth. Then, later, when you want a margarita, you can add tequila and Cointreau. If you want to upgrade your bar, try new spirits. I love Rittenhouse Rye for my Manhattans, but every once in a while, I'll pick up a different rye to see how it works. This way, you can have a great bar without breaking the budget.

Small Plates: 08.14.12

Todd and Ellen Gray, of Equinox, are pitching a reality show concept called re-cre-ate. [Washingtonian]

Filibuster bourbon is launching in the district; party at the Passenger Wednesday, September 12. [PoP]

Rock 'n' Roll themed bar TNT, in Eamonn's, has a fascinating cocktail list. [Young & Hungry]

DC got yet another brewery recently, 3 Stars. Take a look inside. [Eater]

Monday, August 13, 2012

Do you have questions about martinis?

Do you have questions about martinis? Or do you want to learn more about them? Check out this amazing Martini FAQ. It has everything you could want to know about Martinis. Though it doesn't come down as hard as I'd like on so-called vodka martinis, it has a great explanation of stirring versus shaking. It's definitely worth checking out.

h/t: Daring Fireball

Small Plates: 08.13.12

Z Burger might open this week, but they're still working on the patio license. [New Columbia Heights]

Funky Fresh Foodie Fest features food trucks and beer and the Half and M fairgrounds. [Washingtonian]

DC Beer Week started yesterday. Check out some of the events going on around town! [Borderstan]

Check out some pictures of the Satellite Room, coming to the space behind 9:30 Club. [PoP]

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Good Corque

I like, though sometimes the recipes seem less than entirely useful. But today I got a recipe for a drink I wanted to try: The Good Cork. One problem though -- it called for Red Breast Irish Whisky. We don't have Red Breast, and I wasn't sure what would make a good substitution for a single malt Irish Whiskey. I thought about bourbon, but I eventually decided on brandy. My wife made a similar cocktail, but subbed in scotch. We both liked mine better, but disagreed on whether it was because mine was less sweet or more sweet.

I like this drink both because it's tasty, and because it admits easily of substitutions. You could easily use any brown liquor instead of the Irish Whiskey,  and any herbal liqueur instead of the Benedictine. (I think Green Chartreuse might be especially interesting). The mezcal in this version gives it a smoky backbone, while the brandy lends a nice sweetness to balance the smoke. Recipe after the jump.

Small Plates: 08.10.12

New restaurant from owners of Lincoln, Teddy, coming to 1200 19th St. I sense a theme. [PoP]

Dodge City has Sausage Sundays; they offer a variety of dogs for $8. [Young & Hungry]

Satellite Room, located right behind the 9:30 club, is looking fantastic! [PoP]

Pound the Hill, a restaurant that's a coffee shop by day, wine bar/restaurant by night, is in trouble. [Eater]

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Czech Friend

I tried this drink twice, first as part of my spurt of becherovka cocktails, and then later with a few changes. It's basically a twist on the Old Pal, with the ingredients lightened up to allow the Becherovka to shine through. The first version was good, if a little simple. There was lots of cinnamon, enough that I thought it needed something to cut the cinnamon, maybe something sour. So the second time, I added a couple dashes of lemon bitters. The lemon bitters definitely help make this cocktail. There are definite cinnamon flavors still, but they don't overwhelm the rest of the drink. It's not robust enough to be a winter warmer, but it's a nice drink for a summer night. Recipe after the jump.

Burgers with Cantaloupe Salsa

Thinking ahead for once, I realized that I was going to want to have something pretty easy for dinner on Sunday. We haven't had burgers at home yet this summer, so that sounded like a pretty good option, though it left open the question of what to have for a vegetable. There was a cantaloupe in our CSA this week, and so I thought, why not use that to make a salsa to put on the burgers? The sweetness of the cantaloupe should go well with the spiciness of the peppers and the beefiness of the burgers. Poking around the internet, it turns out I wasn't the first person to think of this, and I found a good recipe to use as a base.

About 40 minutes before cooking time, I took the ground beef out of the fridge, shaped it, and seasoned it with some salt and pepper. I want to shape the ground beef into patties while it's still cold, since the beef resists my manipulations somewhat, and so maintains a bit more texture. But, it should be room temperature when I throw it on the grill, so that it cooks evenly. Seasoning it early helps the seasonings seep throughout the meat, and the salt helps structure the proteins. I was fortunate enough to have a wife who made the salsa the night before, so once the patties were shaped, I just had to pour the coals into the chimney to get ready to cook.

The hamburgers turned out well, with a nice crust but juicy and meaty on the inside. I was a bit nervous about how it would pair with the salsa, but it went really well together. The salsa was just nicely sweet and a little spicy, so with each bite, you got a bit of juicy spicy sweetness. If I had to do it again, I might spice the burger with some allspice or some cajun spices, but this works quite well with just some salt and pepper.

Small Plates: 08.09.12

A 'real' New York Jewish deli, DGS, is making progress in their space in Dupont. [PoP]

New Heights, home of the best bar in Cleveland Park, is hosting a crab boil. [The Plate]

Awesome restaurateur Ashok Bajaj will be opening a restaurant in the old Zola space. [Young & Hungry]

Next door to Mr. Bajaj's new place? Another Shake Shack. The tourists are excited. [Eater]

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I found my Mojo!

As I've mentioned before, if you want a classic sandwich, the Rolling Ficelle is probably your best bet, at least among food trucks. But sometimes you want something with a bit more character, and that's where the Mojo sandwich truck comes in. They serve four types chivito sandwiches: pork, chicken, beef, or vegetarian. The classic comes with mojo sauce, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, and an egg but you can also upgrade to the Canadian, which adds ham, or the Special, which adds avocado.

The first time I tried the truck, I got the special. That's a lot of sandwich, and to be honest, more sandwich than I need, so lately I've been getting just the classic, which is more than enough. The sandwiches come on a nice soft Italian loaf, toasted on the inside to give it just a bit of crispiness. What really makes the sandwiches shine is the quality of the ingredients. The bread is soft, but sturdy enough for even the special sandwiches. The pork is tender and juicy, with enough crispy bits to give the sandwich some texture. The tomatoes are meaty, and the egg and cheese give a good creaminess. The mojo sauce adds some tang, but there's not so much that it overwhelms the other ingredients (or gets all over your pants). In the middle of a long day, the Mojo sandwiches really hit the spot.

Small Plates: 08.08.12

Second Caucus Room will be opening in Georgetown. [Washingtonian]

Owner of Modern Liquors to open "Filibuster" distillery. [Young & Hungry]

Uptown Taphouse, including 'expedition raw bar', coming to former 4 Ps spot. [PoP]

Bernard the Basil Plant is missing. [PoP]

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Small Plates: 08.07.12

Kangaroo Boxing Club has a really satisfying looking "Veg 'n Egg" vegetarian entree. [Young & Hungry]

Ben's Chili Bowl is planning on beginning construction in the Atlas District this fall. [PoP]

Tacos el Chilango, on V St. and 11th, is now open and serving delicious tacos. [Young & Hungry]

In other Mexican food news, Lime Fresh Grill is opening soon and now hiring. [New Columbia Heights]

Monday, August 6, 2012

Small Plates: 08.06.12

The owner of the Guards is selling the business, says he want to pass the torch to a new generation. [WaPo]

The Martin Luther King Jr. Library is thinking about using food trucks to lure people. [Young & Hungry]

Ever wonder just how old the taco is? Tacos al pastor date back to about 1905. [Yglesias]

When drinking wine, you may need to warm up your whites and cool down your reds. [Daily Dish]

Friday, August 3, 2012

Small Plates: 08.03.12

Photo by shadowfall, on flickr.
The owner of Mala Tang, in Arlington, return from China with new and tasty recipes. [Young & Hungry]

MeatCrafters, a Maryland charcuterie company, is expanding to sell to restaurants. [WaPo]

There's still some good soft-shell crab. Am I the only one who thought it was a spring thing? [Washingtonian]

The Spot on H is planning on bringing some more live jazz to H St. [PoP]

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fire and Rice

Fire and Rice is a relatively new food truck specializing in Korean meat bowls. They've been operating since June, 2012, but this was the first time I've seen them. It's actually been a while since I've had Bulgogi, and so I was excited to try theirs, and see how it compared to Yellow Vendor. In a nutshell, it compared well, but wasn't quite as heart-warming.

In addition to the beef, they have pork and chicken dishes, but I'm most familiar with bulgogi, so that's what I went with. There are all sorts of vegetables piled in the bowl as well as rice. The meat looked pale and gray at first, but this was just because there was no sauce on it; the sauces were next to the order window, perhaps inconveniently located in front of the menu. There were two sauces, one a slightly spicy peanut sauce, and the other a spicy tomato-based sauce. I applied the sauces liberally to my bowl before digging in.

The flavor was unsubtle and spicy, pretty much what I'm looking for in this sort of dish. The vegetables gave it a broader variety of flavors than Yellow Vendor's, without overwhelming the meat the way Japchae does. However, Yellow Vendor tastes richer and has more umami, which is probably the most important thing. But in any case, even if it's not my favorite, Fire and Rice is more than good enough for return visits.

Small Plates: 08.02.12

Photo by Stef Niko, on flickr
Boardroom "Vintage game room with jukebox" bar coming along nicely. [PoP]

Rowley has an interesting post on making real marshmallow syrup. [Rowley's Whiskey Forge]

Former florist shop at 20th and I is going to become an East Indian restaurant. [PoP]

There are now tacos at 11th and V St. They look tasty. [Urban Daddy]

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Small Plates: 08.01.12

The Guards closed last night, hopefully temporarily. [WaPo]

DineInFresh, a dinner delivery service, debuted yesterday. [Washingtonian]

Doner Bistro coming to Adams Morgan. Yay! [PoP]