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Jan 18, 2008 10:42 AM

Iowan Reporting Back

Thanks first to all the DC hounds who provided guidance on my first ever RW ventures. I had a great trip, and ate very well! My itinerary did change a little, due to colleague dinners and work, but I had a very positive experience overall.

Friday night, I took the advice of Elyssa and DCLindsey and canceled my Oya reservation in favor of dinner at the bar at Montsouris. After a long day traveling, the hangar steak, fries and salad in the warm bustling atmosphere really hit the spot. And the creme brulee for dessert was a lovely rendition - good crunchy/crackly sugar layer and slightly cool vanilla custard. Nothing revelatory, but perfectly satisfying. With a glass of wine and tip, my bill was right around $50.

Saturday night was my solo night at Dino. I had a wonderful server who really took the time to talk to me and steer me through my dinner. I don't think that the RW deal was a great value for me, because I ended up with an app, half pasta and cheese course, but it may have saved me a few dollars. For my app, I chose the three cheese polenta with roasted mushrooms. Truly some of the most hearty, comforting food I've ever had. Perfectly creamy polenta, the gorgonzola was noticeable but not overwhelming. The mushrooms were meaty, garlicky and just plain good. I had the half portion of wild boar pappardelle pasta, which went nicely with my comfort theme. This was my first wild boar experience, and I really enjoyed it - the sauce had large chunks of meat, golden raisins, carrots, onions and tomatoes. The raisins really added a nice dimension to the flavor of the sauce and the pappardelle was nicely chewy. I ended with two cheeses - the blue and Castelmagno - my server also brought me a glass of white, which was a perfect complement. It really was a perfect ending to the meal.

Sunday was a colleague/business dinner at Firefly after a VERY long day of work and with decidedly non-chowish dinner companions. I chose Firefly after one of my colleagues suggested Ruth's Chris. I really hate to eat at chains when traveling, and knew Firefly would have something for everyone. There were two orders of scallops (one mine, and one ordered without either the black-eyed peas or celery root mashers, but with plain fries) one order of roasted chicken and one burger. As my colleagues are not sharers, I only tasted my entree, but the scallops (three large) were cooked perfectly and the black-eyed peas were an interesting and tasty side. I ordered the pear sorbet and salty oat cookie for dessert, and loved the cookie. The pear sorbet was a little grainy and didn't have much flavor, pear or otherwise.

Monday was another solo dinner, this time at Ceiba. I originally had a 9:00 reservation, but was done with work early so called to see if I could move it up. The hostess was super friendly, and encouraged me to come in at my convenience (especially after I mentioned I'd be fine at the bar). I got there about 8:00 and the bar was full, but they graciously and happily sat me in the dining room. I waited about 10 minutes for my server, and he was as disinterested in me as the hostess was friendly. He did answer my questions, and made some recs for me, but never really looked at me or checked back at all. The food was wonderful, though! I started with the Peruvian ceviche, which was perfect chunks of fresh fish with cilantro and peppers. I really, really loved this (we just don't get fish like this in Iowa). I had the seared yellowfin for my entree and again, really loved the play of the rich buttery fish, the crunchy, vinegary asparagus cilantro slaw and the purple potatoes. The combo made for perfect bites with a variety of textures and flavors in each one. I thought the crab stuffed pepper on the side was tasty, but unnecessary. For dessert, I had the guava nectar cake (I fell in love with guava after a trip to Belize) which was paired with a delicious cream cheese panna cotta. I thought the cake was a little dense and dry, but loved the guava nectar poured over top and the panna cotta. I also had my first "real" mojito and really enjoyed the subtle mintiness - it went very well with the ceviche.

They brought a little dish of caramel almond popcorn with the check, but I was too full to really enjoy it (and I LOVE popcorn in any form). As I was leaving, the host asked me how everything was. I told him it was wonderful, but I was disappointed that I was too full for the popcorn. He told me to wait a second and promptly came back with a bag full for me to take home! Again, the service here was warm, friendly and accommodating - all except my actual waiter! Even the food runners were sweet and stopped to chat for a minute after delivering each course. All in all, it was a great meal, and I'll definitely bring my husband when we return to DC.

Finally, Tuesday night I was supposed to eat at Tosca at 9:00. Unfortunately, work again lasted much too long and I ended up grabbing a pizza at Pizzeria Paradiso, just a block from my hotel. I carried out the margherita pizza, stopped at the little grocery store for a couple bottles of beer, and headed back to my room. Not what I originally had in mind, but it fit the bill!

I love DC, and can't wait to get back and try some of the places I missed on this trip. Thanks again for all of your help and advice!


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  1. Thank you for following up on your visit. It something that should happen more often on this board. Though I have to admit I am a bit biased when it came to following your thread as I am a former IowaStater. I'm glad that DC left a favorable impression on you regardless of that sour waiter you had at Ceiba. Next time you come back, visit Ben's Chili Bowl. Talk about guilty pleasures.

    I also have to throw in that Pizzeria Paradisio was one of the first restaurants I visited here while going to school in Iowa. Talk about the disappointment that I felt knowing that there was nothing like it back at school.

    1. What a substantive followup! Must echo botnot -- it's really fun to read such things, and I wish there were more of them on the boards.

      Too bad you didn't get to sample Tosca, but hopefully you will during your next visit. I think it's time I finally try Dino. I'm inspired by your account.

      1. Thanks for reporting back Iowagirl. It sounds like you had a nice dinning experience in DC and your reviews were very helpful.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Elyssa

          Thanks for reading my long, drawn out review/recap. I really had fun planning, re-planning and flying by the seat of my pants! With all of the helpful comments and reviews, I was pretty sure I'd do well.

          And I forgot to mention that I had breakfast at Teaism on Wed morning before heading home. The cilantro scrambled eggs were really, really good as was the ginger scone. And I bought a salty oat cookie for the plane - oh yum!

          1. re: iowagirl

            Thanks for your excellent and extensive report. and how exactly did you survive eating ONLY ONE salty oat cookie? ;-)

            1. re: Geoff

              Agree, it's good to hear the feedback. It's amazing, isn't it, that some people would travel to another city and want to eat at a chain. You clearly qualify for Chowhound status. (P.S. I've had bad luck at Tosca -- I know others haven't but I've been there at least 4 times -- and would pick Pizzeria Paradisio over it, so IMO you lucked out.)