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Los Angeles Food Lover visiting DC This Weekend. Need Help Fine Tuning My Hit List!

Hi all,

I’m a Los Angeles resident who is going to D.C. with another guy friend (who also resides in LA) this coming weekend to visit a friend who is completing his masters at Georgetown. My friend at Georgetown has told me in the year he’s been there, the food scene in D.C. pales in comparison to Los Angeles. I think he might have gone to the wrong places since I’ve uncovered some interesting places in your neck of the woods thanks primarily to Steve, Joe H, and KtMoomau as references.

Los Angeles is known for its culinary diversity. Unfortunately for me though, because of this, it makes it difficult for me to be impressed. For instance, from my reading, Etete and Queen Makeda are highly recommended Ethiopian places, Rasika is supposedly a great spot for Indian food, and El Pollo Rico is supposedly a tremendous Peruvian place, but LA has these types of restaurants. It would be interesting to see if a DC ChowHounder has tried Mario’s in LA for Peruvian comparison purposes.

Also, although generally not considered “ethnic” these days, I’ve read that Makoto and Sushi Taro are highly esteemed when it comes to Japanese cuisine in the D.C. area but Los Angeles has Japanese restaurants that are Michelin star rated (RIP Michelin Los Angeles and Las Vegas 2010) like Urasawa, Sushi Zo, and Asanebo and other less publicized but superb restaurants like Hama Sushi, Nozawa, and Sushi Gen.

I already have a general idea of what restaurants I want to try. I’ll be eating three dinners and three lunches in your beloved area and I need help fine tuning my list to finalize one lunch and two dinners. I don’t necessarily need to try a tasting menu but if it’s truly worth it, I’m definitely game. The best tasting menu I’ve had so far was at Robuchon in Vegas, the second best at Providence in Los Angeles just to give readers an idea of what grade of food I’m expecting if I’m going to be spending tasting menu type of dollars.

I’m open to places unique to D.C. as well as places that are consistently on the money. I’m also going to have a ZIP car so transportation will not be an issue for me. In addition to the restaurant or experience you think I should try, if you guys could tell me what dish excels at the restaurant you’ve recommended like “Gnocchi at Palena”, I’d greatly appreciate it.

So far my hit list looks like this:

[Saturday]

Lunch 1 – Oohs and Aahs (Crab Cakes, Shrimp, Lemon Pepperwings and Greens)

Dinner 1 – ??? (I presently have reservations at Citronelle but at $190 a head for the tasting menu, I hope I’m not overlooking another better restaurants like CityZen, Marcels, Palena, 2941, Restaurant Eve, Inox. I don’t need to order the tasting menu but I heard Citronelle had a good tasting menu. Should I go a la carte instead at Citronelle or try another tasting menu at a different location? Any comments?)

[Sunday]

Lunch 2 – Café Atlantico Chef’s Dim Sum Tasting Menu

Dinner 2 – Central – (Fried Chicken / Corn Beef Sandwich/Lobster Burger)

[Monday]

Lunch 3 – ??? (Currently eyeing Restaurant Eve’s “Lickity Split” menu though)

Dinner 3 – ??? (I want this to be a steakhouse with amazing Ribeye. I’m hoping the ribeye will be better than at Maestros. I haven’t been to Del Frisco’s yet but I heard that is the only other Ribeye steak that can touch Maestros. (Yes, I know both are chains) Currently, I’m thinking of going with Ray’s the Steaks since it seems to be adored by local Chow Hounders. I understand the value for the food is a plus at Ray’s but my question is will it blow the other ribeyes at other steakhouses away such as at Capital Grille, Bourbon, and BLT? I’m a little hesitant about trying Charlie Palmer since Michael Voltaggio resigned as executive chef to join Volt but input would be appreciated. )

Snack 1 – Ray’s Hell Burger (if time permits)
Snack 2 – Pit Beef Sandwich at Pioneer (if time permits)

Options that I’ve eliminated -
1) Table 21 - They’re taking reservations for January 2011! Coincidentally, Bryan’s brother (Michael) is the executive chef at the Dining Room which has been on my go-to list as well in Los Angeles. Too bad I missed the boat on this one.
2) Komi – Missed the window of opportunity to obtain a rezzie.
3) Minibar – Missed the window of opportunity to obtain a rezzie. If you DC ChowHounders have a hard time getting a reservation, how can an “out-of-towner” coming in a few days have a real chance?
4) Prime – I don’t want to be required to wear a jacket for my meal.
5) The Source – I was very intrigued by the chatter but I’ve been to many Wolfgang’s restaurants and LA has plenty of asian fusion venues to go around.
6) Zaytinya – I’m already going to one of Ardes’ restaurant, Café Atlantico although I may consider this as an option for my Monday lunch. (Yes, I currently have two Michel Richard venues in my line-up.)
7) Other Ethnic Restaurants – Basically, besides Ooh and Aahs, I think LA has plenty of ethnic restaurants to occupy my curiosity.

===========================================

Sorry for my long post but I wanted to be as detailed as possible to get the best possible response. Thanks for all the past posts and comments regarding your area and thanks in advance for any comments to my specific post.

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Etete
1942 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Restaurant Eve
110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

CityZen Restaurant
1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

Palena
3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

Rasika Restaurant
633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Citronelle
3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Komi
1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

Zaytinya
701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Queen Makeda
Washington DC, Washington, DC

Sushi Taro
1503 17th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036

Capital Grille
601 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Las Vegas Restaurant
7091 Security Blvd Ste 102, Windsor Mill, MD 21244

Pollo Rico
7643 New Hampshire Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912

Inox
1800 Tysons Blvd., McLean, VA 22102

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  1. You're packing a ton of eating into a few days. That's great. I don't eat much in DC proper and I don't eat at many "fancy" establishments, but here are a few comments I hope are helpful....

    - I've not been to Mario's in LA, but from what I gathered in a quick online search it is a full scale Peruvian restaurant. El Pollo Rico is a one-dish specialist: the only thing they serve is spit-roasted Peruvian chicken with french fries and (bad) coleslaw. That's it. The chicken won't blow your mind but it's tasty and cheap and is the sort of meal that satisfies me way more than a five-times-as-expensive 3 course lunch. So if you haven't had Peruvian chicken on a spit done by a specialist then, yes, I would go there.

    - I'm sure LA has some great produce, but if you're into Farmers Markets I would hit one up on Saturday and get some fresh strawberries for a light breakfast---they are just starting to get good.

    - Ray's Hell Burger, in spite of its insane popularity, still seems to put out a great product. It's the best burger I've had and the first place I take out-of-towners to. I would upgrade that from snack to lunch status and go there for sure.

    -A trip to the Arlington area for Monday could be fun, as it would afford you the opportunity to get a solid lunch at a place like The Liberty Tavern or the aforementioned Ray's Hell Burger and also put you within striking distance for some sweet snacks at Bakeshop DC (cupcakes) and Arlington Confections (chocolates), which are right next door to each other in Clarendon. But a similar trip could be planned around Restaurant Eve and some Old Town spots too, I suppose. I would definitely get out of DC to check out some of the suburbs on Monday though.

    --You say you don't want any ethnic food, but does LA have Bolivian food? Saltenas are a fun local food around here that you might want to try if you haven't. And what's the Pakistani kabob situation in LA? Ravi Kabob in Arlington is quite good, and much loved on the board.

    1. Citronelle: It is not possible to order a la carte in the formal dining room. But you do not have to go for the tasting menu either. there is a 3-course menu. You can order a la carte in the Lounge, no reservations necessary plus it is not formal. All menus are posted on their website.
      You should do Citronelle in some form. I always tell people to get whatever soup they have, nobody puts more effort into soup than Michel Richard. And if they have the Strawberry Cocktail for dessert, get that.

      Pioneer Pit Beef is in Baltimore.

      The Lickety Split lunch at Eve is a great idea. And not just because it's a bargain.

      Central: Many people, including myself, seem to be disappointed in the lobster burger. Of Chowhound threads that disparage Central, it is usually mentioned as the culprit. I like the tuna burger much more. I don't think the corned beef is available for dinner. The macaroni and cheese is sinful, outrageous, and you shouldn't order it. But go ahead and order it.

      Oohs and Ahhs: don't forget the rice with gravy. Get the crabcake broiled. Cabbage is also a very good side. Sweet potatoes are the usual, so a good option if you are two or more.

      Basically, you have chosen very, very well. it looks like you have already scoured CHowhound for most other good options.

      Another option is Pimento Grill for Jamaican in Anacostia. Oxtail brown stew, chicken curry. Excellent homemade exotic juices. Another hole-in-the-wall / carry out with some seating. Quality is sky high. This is a real temple of gastronomy, very well disguised. Or if you want insanely good Jerk Chicken there is a shack in Lanham, Maryland called Just Jerk. Smoke pouring out of this place like crazy. Order dark meat spicy. Maybe you could hit this on the way to Baltimore for the ultimate one-two combo of great roadside shacks. Ok, now I've made myself hungry.

      -----
      Just Jerk
      9005 Lanham Severn Rd, Lanham, MD 20706

      Citronelle
      3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

      Pimento Grill Restaurant
      4405 Bowen Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019

      7 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        CoconutMilk and Steve, thanks for your quick responses.

        CoconutMilk – Based upon your description, I know exactly what El Pollo Rico is now. I agree Peruvian chicken can be more satiating than more expensive meals especially when a craving hits. LA has a place that specializes in spit-roasted Peruvian Chicken in our Koreatown area called Pollo A La Brasa. If that doesn’t exemplify LA’s diversity, Pollo A La Brasa has another store in a community filled with Japanese and Mexicans!

        I’m into farmers markets and yes, we have too many to count in the LA area. I’m not sure about the geography of the farmers market you’re referring to but I’d definitely stop by if it’s close to me since I’ll be doing all the touristy sightseeing during the weekend. I’ll also make sure I give the Hellburger a try.

        LA does have kabobs so I don’t think I’m going to want to try any on my trip. As for Bolivian food, I only know of one spot in LA for Bolivian food so if you know a place with good juicy saltenas, please let me know. Are there any good Sopa De Mani’s too? I’ve read that Luzmilla’s, La Caraquena, and Cecilia’s rank high when it comes to saltenas. I won't be able to do Tutto Bene as it’s supposedly only open during the weekends and I heard it changes into an Italian restaurant during the weekdays. Craziness.

        Steve – Citronelle’s website confused me. (http://www.citronelledc.com/cuisine/m...)

        I looked at Citronelle’s Dinner A La Carte menu and automatically assumed patrons could order dishes “a la carte” but then I saw the small print on the lower left hand side of the website that states “Menu 105” which I’m guessing refers to what you mentioned, namely 3 courses for $105. Do you know if people can sit in the Lounge area and order from the A La Carte menu or the Promenade Gourmande menu? And if I end up eating at the Lounge, what dishes would you recommend?

        As for Central for Sunday night, now I’m not so sure about my pick. I thought the lobster burger was unique, hence the impetus to my selection, but if it’s not legitimate, $29 is a little pricey for something mediocre. I like tuna burgers but we have a ton of those in LA. I might have to switch up Sunday’s dinner now since I’ll most likely be dining at Citronelle on Saturday night.

        I did see that Pioneer Pit Beef is in Baltimore. My friend mentioned possibly going to B-More since HBO’s “The Wire” was filmed there. =) If we end up going there, I’m going to try to stop by Pioneer and Just Jerk. Pimento Grill is a possible third snack option. Good lord, I better pack sweats for this trip.

        Lastly, any comments on my steakhouse selection for ribeyes (Ray’s)?

        Let me organize my new questions since they seem a little cluttered above.

        1) Is there a close farmer’s market near Georgetown?
        2) Which place has the juiciest and most addicting saltenas?
        3) Do any of those Bolivian places also serve a good Sopa De Mani?
        4) Can I order items from ALL menus if I choose to sit at the Lounge area at Citronelle?
        5) What items in the Lounge area of Citronelle are exceptional?
        6) Since the lobster burger at Central is looking to be more of a flop choice than a top choice, I’m thinking of eating at a different restaurant since I’m going to be eating at Richard’s Citronelle the night before. Any a la carte recs?
        7) In regards to good ribeye steaks, is Ray’s the ideal place or does another steakhouse win in the ribeye department?

        Thanks again for your input. I am getting more and more excited about my trip.

        -----
        Just Jerk
        9005 Lanham Severn Rd, Lanham, MD 20706

        Citronelle
        3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

        Pimento Grill Restaurant
        4405 Bowen Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019

        Pollo Rico
        7643 New Hampshire Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912

        1. re: yakigyoza

          1. Dupont Circle's Farmer's market is not far.

          6.if you stick with Central for Sunday I love the "faux gras" and duck rillette app there. the fried chicken is also really good. as is the steak tartare. and they do serve some of the best bread in town (Ris' has pretty good bread too BTW)

          1. re: hill food

            Dupont Circle is by far the area's top Farmer's Market. Though our access to a variety of produce is not at the level of California.

            It looks like they no longer offer the duck rillettes on Central's online menu. They were great, as is the 'faux' gras. Central's bread service is ri-DIC-ulous.

            Coconut Milk's suggestion of a saltena makes for a great snack. Cecilia's and Luzmilla's make the juciest. Check both for hours.

            In the lounge at Citronelle, I'd go for the soup, the tuna napoleon, and the strawberry cocktail for dessert. The mushroom cigars and the escargot are also winners. Sauterne by the glass.

            -----
            Citronelle
            3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

          2. re: yakigyoza

            Saltenas may be a bit to out of the way to justify trying, and while I personally love them, they aren't everyone's cup of tea....

            I've only had the sopa de mani at La Caraquena and I thought it was flavorless. Luzmila's and Pike Pizza supposedly have good versions, though. If you really want to try saltenas you must do so between 11am-1pm, as they are typically made early and then sit around all day. Only La Caraquena cooks its saltenas to order, so it doesnt matter if you go there.

            Anyways, if you're hell bent on trying saltenas these are two options that would allow you to try more than one place:

            1) Go to Pike Pizza in Arlington for saltenas and a soup and then head two doors down to the Pan American bakery to get even more saltenas and a Bolivian pastry if you so choose.

            2) Go to La Caraquena in Falls Church for a light lunch of saltenas and arepas and go down the street (literally one minute) to Luzmila's for more saltenas and other stuff, or vice versa.

            1. re: Ethnicchowhead

              While saltenas are a stuffed bread, true, that's where the similarity ends....

              They are football shaped.
              The pastry is always baked, has a harder exterior but softer, breadier inside, is usually thicker.
              The filling is soupy. Will have chunks of meat (never ground), vegetables, olive, and hard-boiled egg. A proper saltena is dangerous to eat with the probability of burning liquid gushing down your chest.

              The version at La Caraquena probably has the best pastry I've had in this area. But the inside is not juicy, so it does not live up to my expectations.

            2. re: Steve

              Steve:

              FYI: Pimento Grill isn't in Anacostia. It's East of the River, but not in Anacostia. Definitely agree with you on the quality of Jamaican food though...I'm a huge fan of their jerk shrimp and their oxtails.

              -----
              Pimento Grill Restaurant
              4405 Bowen Rd SE, Washington, DC 20019

              1. re: thefabfoodie

                Thanks for the correction...Pimento Grill is in an area called Fort Dupont, a very green, leafy neighborhood across from Fort Dupont Park where they have a lot of nice summer concerts.

            3. Go to Palena's back room. It is wonderful. Rasika is superb modern Indian and you would not be disappointed there either.

              -----
              Palena
              3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

              Rasika Restaurant
              633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

              1. For your big dinner, having been to all the restaurants, except CityZen, I really think Palena is the way to go (the back room). This is why: Marcel's is amazingly prepared rich French-Belgian food. It may be my favorite restaurant in DC after Minibar. BUT I think there are a lot of nice high end French restaurants in a lot of areas. Although they might not be as traditional. The reason I like it is that it has traditional favorites and is not nouveau or modernizing the cuisine. And after oohs and ahhs you might want something not as rich and more balanced. Restaurant Eve- go for Lickety Split- very good and you will get a taste of what it is all about without the price tag. If you have room you can add a course and definitely get a cocktail as Todd Thrasher has a great reputation for a reason. 2941- not really very wow for me and you can find that food all over the place, plus it is a hike. Inox- I haven't been in ages now, but again I think you can find that caliber and preparation style elsewhere. Palena- as I recently said in another thread, is the closest thing DC has to a French Laundry. The chef chooses the freshest ingredients and perfects each dish before it goes out. The dishes have great balance and you know that someone has put a lot of care in perfecting each course. But definitely go for the back room, the cafe just isn't the same. Citronelle, I love, I really do and they have a lounge where you can order a la carte, but Central for me is a casual rendition that satisfies me about as much. The fun of Citronelle is experiencing the play of food something that looks like something, but really is something else, and the beautiful execution. And while that is a lot of fun, I think based just on food, I love Palena. But Citronelle is an experience...

                Ray's is wonderful. I think someone from LA would appreciate the vibe and the food. The crab bisque is really good too. I haven't been to BLT or Bourbon steak, so I cannot comment, but I really like the vibe and wine list at Ray's and the food isn't bad either. I think JoeH wrote a big review of Bourbon steak somewhere.

                I think you have a great list...

                -----
                Restaurant Eve
                110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                CityZen Restaurant
                1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                Palena
                3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                Citronelle
                3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                Inox
                1800 Tysons Blvd., McLean, VA 22102

                8 Replies
                1. re: ktmoomau

                  Your comments about Marcel's are clearly a case of your mileage may vary. Since Marcel's lets diners order anything on the menu to create individualized tasting menus, you've chosen to order rich dishes. Marcel's choices permit anyone who wants to to eat delicious lighter fare do so. If you take a look at the online menu, you'll see what I'm saying.

                  The first course lists Asparagus soup/venison sausage or Hamachi crudo or Lamb Tortellini. Two options are rich; one isn't. In the second course, the options include Iberico ham over poached egg with polenta or Prawns with cannellini bean ragout or diver scallops over baby spinach or skate with salsify and potato. In this course, one option is rich, but two aren't. The third course consists of fish choices exclusively. Not a one of those seems to be a rich preparation. The fourth and fifth courses consist of meat options exclusively, but there's no mandate a person has to order something from the fourth or fifth course. Even people who are going for the full seven-course tasting menu aren't obligated to choose something from the fourth or fifth courses. I routinely order multiple fish preparations from course three and no one gives me any static about my menu choices.

                  Bottom line: Marcel's food is as rich as each person chooses to make it. Any way, the cuisine is delicious and the service is some of the most professional in the city.

                  1. re: Indy 67

                    I don't really want to get in an argument about this because as I said above I really like Marcel's, it is one of my favorites. Perhaps it is just me, but I wouldn't order crudo from Marcel's that is a waste of what it does well- order crudo from a great fish restaurant or Japanese restaurant. And I don't consider soup with sausage light. Or fish with rich sauces like buerre blans or rich accompaniments, so maybe we have different definitions.

                    If you go to Marcel's you want to order what it does best things like the Boudin Blanc, and certainly the meat course for a total experience of what they do best. Do I love the place? Yes. But with all the other places the OP is eating I based my decision on the overall balance of his meals in total. It is my opinion. It is also my opinion that is difficult to eat light at Marcel's and get the total experience. But perhaps it is just me.

                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      First and foremost, thanks to all for the great comments and tips.

                      Secondly, I love the passion each person has towards their favorites spots but it’s really my fault for only having three days and nights to spend in the D.C. area. If I had more time, I wouldn’t be so flummoxed as to which options to choose and I’d be able to try all the commonly recommended places I’ve seen on this board. With that said, if the trip pans out well, I’m sure I’ll return to try more top CH picks.

                      Indy 67 – Thanks for your input about Marcels. That place was one of the contenders and I will definitely try it on a return trip.

                      hill food – Thanks for your dish recommendations. Although I prefer “foie” over “faux” (sorry animal rights activists) that might be because I’ve never tried a truly outstanding “faux” yet. It appears you and many others think very highly of the “faux gras” at Central but I’m not sure if it’s enough for me to keep Central on my hit list. Fried chicken at Central was definitely something I wanted to try as stated in my original post but I was thinking if I end up eating at Citronelle Lounge, I can order the fried chicken for $15 as a starter. Although it wouldn’t be the same as Central’s fried chicken entrée that comes with mashed potatoes, I’d at least be able to get an understanding of Richard's fried chicken preparation.

                      Steve – When you are referring to the bread service at Central, do you mean the complimentary sourdough bread or the cheese puffs? Also, although I haven’t had enough saltenas to make me even a pseudo-authority on them, from what my friends have told me and from what I’ve had in LA, the one critical requirement is that saltenas must be juicy. I’ve never done this but my friends have told me the correct way to eat saltenas is to bite off the top end and then tilt the “juicy version of an empanada” to sip the running juices. With that said, maybe a stewy saltenas can be quite good albeit not as authentic.

                      CoconutMilk – As strange as this sounds, I actually would drive far to have good saltenas. This is coming from a guy who drives 1.5 hours one way when I have a craving for Cajun pan roast in my area. Thank you for the tip about what time to try the saltenas with the exception of La Caraquena. If my friends are up to trying multiple saltenas venues, I’ll try La Caraquena with Luzmila’s. If I only have one choice, I’ll most likely go with either Luzmila or Cecilia’s depending upon logistical convenience.

                      Pool Boy and ktmoomau – Thanks for the Palena recommendations. You guys definitely share the same sentiments towards Palena’s backroom as the majority of other ChowHounders. The reason why I didn’t choose this restaurant originally was because:
                      1) Their new website is nonfunctional so I was unable to peruse their menu;
                      2) I tried contacting them via phone to request a faxed menu but was told their fax machine was inoperable;
                      3) An outdated menu I managed to find online showed that they served “Snake River Farms” beef. I’m a fan of Snake River Farms but I can find it in many restaurants throughout Los Angeles. For instance, Michael Mina is a huge user of Snake River Farms beef in his various venues along the West Coast.

                      However, since I am more convinced of sticking with Citronelle now (there is also speculative rumors about the future of Citronelle due to a potentially new Richard location in Virginia [ http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/bl... ] ) I’m strongly considering substituting Central for the backroom of Palena now since I’ll have tried some of Richard’s creations at Citronelle.

                      Oh and I called Citronelle to clarify my earlier question. I verified you cannot order items from the “A la carte” menu or the “Gourmande” menu if you are eating in the lounge area. AND, unlike what Yelp says, jackets are NOT required. Recommended but not required.

                      I called Palena today and asked about the prices of the backroom. For ChowHounders that don’t know already, 3 courses run $58, 4 courses run $67, and 5 courses goes for $76. Each diner can order a different set menu so you do not need menu uniformity. Additionally, the hostess told me that Chef Ruta actually doesn’t use Snake River Farms anymore. He now gets his grass fed only beef locally from a farm in Middleburg, VA which is an incentive plus in my book.

                      So here is my new revised itinerary which I had to edit since Citronelle is closed Sundays and Mondays:

                      [Saturday
                      ]Lunch 1 – Oohs and Aahs: Crab Cakes [broiled], Shrimp, Lemon Pepperwings, Rice w/ Gravy, and Greens
                      Dinner 1 – Citronelle Lounge: Fried Chicken, Parmesan-Bacon Soup, Tuna Napoleon “Nicoise”, Mushroom Cigars, MacCube [not recommended on CH but I want to try personally], Strawberry cocktail

                      [Sunday]
                      Lunch 2 – Café Atlantico: Chef’s Dim Sum Tasting Menu
                      Dinner 2 – Ray’s the Steak in Arlington [East River store is closed on Sundays: Ribeye

                      [Monday]
                      Lunch 3 – Restarant Eve: “Lickity Split” Menu
                      Dinner 3 – Palena’s Backroom: Tasting Menu

                      Snack 1 – Ray’s Hell Burger: Hellburger
                      Snack 2 – Pioneer Beef Pit: Pit Beef Sandwich at Pioneer (if going to B-More)
                      Snack 3 – Just Jerk: Jerk Chicken (if going to B-More)
                      Snack 4 – Luzmila: Saltenas / Sopa de Mani OR Cecilias: Saltenas (depending on logistics)
                      Snack 5 –Ben’s Chili Bowl: Chili (Not my choice but my friend at Georgetown really wants to try this place. I told him about what a lot of you said but he still wants to go for a “tasting.” I have a feeling it’s going to be just like Pink’s or Tito’s Tacos over in LA in regards to being an institutional but not anything more than that.)

                      I have two last questions:
                      1) In the lounge section of Citronelle, I have good recommended starters. Has anyone had any of the entrees? I’m interested in the Skate, Chateaubriand beef, or Richard’s signature Short Ribs.
                      2) Ktmoomau has responded by saying I’ll like Ray’s Steaks but are they known specifically for their ribeye steak?

                      Again, thank you to all those who have contributed. I hope my thread is helpful to other out-of-towners looking to try good D.C venues in a very limited amount of time.

                      -----
                      Just Jerk
                      9005 Lanham Severn Rd, Lanham, MD 20706

                      Palena
                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                      Citronelle
                      3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                      1. re: yakigyoza

                        Snack 5: although Pink's is actually better, the results of the chili dog from Ben's won't be "scaring the children" the next day....

                        and yeah, I have eaten foie with no apology - hey once every 5 years does not an industry support.

                        1. re: yakigyoza

                          If you want to research their ribeye is called the "cowboy cut" just fyi. I have never had it just because that is too much steak for me. But you can probably find a review of it either on here or on Don Rockwell.

                          1. re: yakigyoza

                            The fried chicken at the Lounge at Citronelle may not be the same preparation as at Central. When I had it once, it was more like an order of fancy Chicken McNuggets... and not much better than the original. I would not order it unless you ask the waiter what it's like. At the Lounge, you don't have to get a main course, you can stick with a variety of starters..... just a thought.

                            Biting off the tip is the thing to do with Saltenas. then you suck the soup out. But you have to keep going further, so you eat around the hole you created in a circle, constantly turning the saltena. You create an ever-widening hole all the time slurping out more and more soup. On my last saltena run, I shared a table with a Bolivian gentleman who said as a teenager he would get a round of saltenas with his friends and whoever first spilled soup ponied up for the next round.

                            -----
                            Citronelle
                            3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                            1. re: yakigyoza

                              A note on snack 1 - while I would not want to dissuade anyone from going to RHB, you should be aware that a Hellburger (10 oz of beef) is not most people's definitions of a snack - especially if you get cheese or a side.

                              I usually have to work at finishing my burger when I go there for a meal, and many can't finish it at one sitting.

                              1. re: yakigyoza

                                I saw your mention of Palena's website being lousy...it is and will be for a while more. But I am very glad to see that has not dissuaded you. Chef Ruta's food is stunningly good, and disarming as well -- there is no pretentiousness whatsoever.

                                I have menus from them going back years...it changes EVERY DAY. I kid you not. If there is anything on the menu that says 'made in house' 'house-made' or 'our own...' -- order it. If there is a consomme on the menu, order it. You will not be unsatisfied. My wife and I purposely order no menu item that is the same between us when we go -- EXCEPT for the consomme. Every variation I have had is hauntingly good.

                                -----
                                Palena
                                3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                        2. I would compare an LA Chowhound going to Ben's Chili Bowl with a DC Chowhound going to Philippe's........ let that be your guide.

                          -----
                          Ben's Chili Bowl
                          1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Steve

                            Ah, touche Steve, touche. That's funny you mention Philippe's since the same friend who wants to try Ben's loves Philippe's!

                            I'll call Citronelle tomorrow and inquire about the fried chicken because I saw Central's version of it and it truly does look like gourmet fried chicken, which is a like an oxymoron in itself. There are three guys attending dinner at Citronelle so I'm thinking we might need to order a couple of entrees too or maybe we'll go for a Hellburger afterwards.

                            ktmoomau - I've tried researching the ribeye aka "cowboy cut" on CH but didn't find much information. The few comments I found said the bone-in ribeye was slightly over 30 ounces (I typically like my non-filet steaks to be on the larger size although after finishing a 65 ouncer at a now closed Orange Country steakhouse that served New Zealand steak, I decided 30-40 ouncers work best for me) and people generally liked it. It appears there is more chatter about the 3 course special for $24 and Ray's Hanger steak. I'll try looking on Don Rockwells since I've never heard of that site before you mentioned it.

                            1. re: yakigyoza

                              Just want to say how impressed I am by your research and attention to detail, I hope you have an amazing trip.

                              Here's my 2 cents- please, please try the crab bisque at Ray's. It's probably my #1 favorite restaurant dish of all time. You can order a cup, which appears small, but it's very rich. FWIW- my husband has had the cowboy cut and loved it, sorry I can't articulate much more than that. It looked huge though.

                              Also, I loved the french fries at Citronell's lounge, if you have wiggle room in the menu.

                              Have fun!

                            2. re: Steve

                              Odd comparison to me. Totally different experiences. I would compare Ben's to it's rightful L.A. cousin, Pink's (from someone who ate at Pink's 30+ times).

                              1. re: biscuit

                                Actually I was comparing one historic crap food place to another. It was directed to the OP who I pretty much figured would 'get it.'

                                Although I do go to Ben's from time to time - it was even a Father's Day dinner for me one year - recently I've been purchasing my own hot half smokes from Canale's at Eastern Market. They are ten times better than what Ben's offers - plus I do a better job cooking them.

                                1. re: biscuit

                                  Pink's 30+ times and lived? hopefully this was spread over a good 60 years. (in 10 years I only went to Ben's about twice and I'm no snob) sorry I'm going OT, but I miss the early 90's nights in LA when all the non-designated drivers got sorta smashed across the street from Pink's at the Plaza and then snarfed hot dogs with random B-list celebrities and unless you're a political junkie, Ben's just doesn't live up.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    When I lived in L.A., for a number of years I was a production assistant (gopher!), driving all over the city, so it was an easy choice. I started eating there as a teenager and made a habit out of it. This was also before the long lines and overbearing menu selection, mind you.

                                    Span was more like 30 years, not 60. That then equates to about 1 a year over the long haul, so not bad. :)

                                    Now a bit later in life, I might go to a place like that a couple of times a year. In my 5 years in DC, I've been to Ben's maybe twice.

                                2. Thank you for the mention, yakigyoza, it is appreciated. I disagree with your friend: I believe that I've eaten my way through Southern CA (in fact I return in two weeks; this year as for the past 25 I'll spend at least 7 or 8 days there. I was also married in Malibu years ago) and overall prefer the restaurants here.

                                  You should continue trying to get into Komi; I would also call MiniBar everyday. Bazaar was founded on this experience; Cafe Atlantico is good but it is NOT one of the best restaurants in this area. Nor is 2941. Right now Osteria Mozza is better than any Italian here, Pizzaria Mozza is much better than Two Amy's or any other and L. A. Mexican blows away anything in the D. C. area. However Vietnamese (Present), Thai and Korean( here are at a minimum equal to anything in L. A. although Vegas' Lotus of Siam is superior to all. I was born here and have only eaten Ethiopean once twenty years ago and didn't like it.

                                  El Pollo Rico is not a Peruvian restaurant: they do one thing and only one thing well and that is their chicken. I believe it is the best spit cooked chicken I've had anywhere. Forget the sides. On my last visit they also had a good slice of house made rum cake, too.

                                  Why aren't you considering seafood? Kinkead's never receives a mention on here but it is a D. C. tradition; he is also one of the earliest Beard award winners dating to the '90's. Black Salt is also excellent. Don't discount another Beard winner, R. J. Cooper at Vidalia. Both of these (as Komi) are different from anything you'll find in the Southland certainly Orange county. By the way Cooper and Frank Ruta at Palena shared the mid Atlantic Beard award in the same year. If you can't get into Komi or Minibar you REALLY should be looking at the 24 course chef's table at Vidalia-if you can get a seat at that. It does not have the reputation it could having received little publicity but it is certainly one of America's best.

                                  The only overall experience here that would rival Robuchon (I was there in mid November) is Plume but while the presentation is similar the food doesn't match. Robuchon has several incredible dishes (i.e. a veal "roast") that are just among the best I have ever tasted. Still, we found Robuchon to be uneven, certainly for a prix fixe of $385 + wine, tax and tip. We did a six course tasting menu which was frighteningly expensive itself ($185-still a real investment!) but I believe that dinners like this or the $300 or so Chef's Table in Citronelle's kitchen have a very narrow market now. (Alex is only open four nights a week for one seating at the Wynn. Are you familiar with Guy Savoy's "$750 prix fixe "Krug Room" at Caesar's? While that price includes champagne it is PLUS wine, tax and tip. I could almost buy a Smart Car for what a party of six might spend there! I would guess that all meals are comped by the hotel for high rollers in an attempt to one up Robuchon, Gagnaire and Alex. I can also say that the Krug Room is one experience that I will never have...) CityZen doesn't receive as much attention on here (or Marcel's) that it should but don't forget that Ziebold was the Chef de Cuisine at the French Laundry for a number of years just before returning here.

                                  Ben's Chili Bowl has character and an incredible ambience. The food is OK but it won't compare in TASTE to L. A.'s best. Note that I am also a huge fan of In-n-Out Burger-it will be my first meal off of the plane!

                                  For myself I would pick from one of these for my first choice depending on availability: Vidalia's 24 course/taste Chef's Table, MiniBar and Komi. Note that all of these are lengthy experiences.

                                  Second "tier" in no particular order: Kinkead's, Black Salt, Vidalia, Palena, CityZen, Citronelle, Eve. Don't overlook Corduroy, Jeff Tunks (DC Coast and Acacia ((Note to those reading this in D. C.: he was the chef at the Windsor Court in New Orleans in the early '90's when this was considered along with Emeril's that city's best restaurant. There are reasons why Passion Fish is so good along with many of the dishes at several of his other restaurants.)) ).

                                  Instead of Central I would SIT OUTSIDE AT CAFE DU PARC ON PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE which is literally one of the great settings for a meal anywhere in the world. No, this is not a great restaurant but the experience is unlike no other anywhere. You also won't find an expereince like Bistro du Coin in Southern CA and
                                  Ray's HellBurger is unique in its own way. As someone else mentioned it is not a "snack." It IS a great hamburger, though. (Does Michael have duckfat fries, yet, anyone?)

                                  I like Cafe Atlantico and Rasika but I believe you need to temper your expectations at both. Because of the success of Bazaar you really should go to Atlantico but excepting MiniBar Jose' best may be in your city right now. Really, really persist for the top three I mentioned. They'll influence your opinion of our city.

                                  -----
                                  Cafe Atlantico
                                  405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                                  Ben's Chili Bowl
                                  1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                                  CityZen Restaurant
                                  1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                                  Palena
                                  3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                  Two Amys
                                  3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016

                                  Rasika Restaurant
                                  633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                                  Citronelle
                                  3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                  Komi
                                  1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                                  Vidalia
                                  1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                                  Kinkead's Restaurant
                                  2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1812

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Joe H

                                    Just to add that, while I do not recommend Cafe Atlantico for dinner, the Latina Dim Sum Brunch contains many dishes that have been on the menu at Minibar. You don't get the show, nor do you pay the price.

                                    -----
                                    Cafe Atlantico
                                    405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                                  2. Just chiming in with my deep appreciation to the OP and all the responses. I am an LA foodie who just moved here, literally yesterday. I live in the District, in NW within walking distance of Dupont. This discussion is supremely informative. Please carry on even after Yakigyoza's itinerary is settled. Gimme the dish(es)!

                                    1. Steve – You hit the nail on the head again. I just confirmed with Citronelle and the Fried Chicken starter is not the same as Central’s Fried Chicken Entree. I actually saw another blogger’s review of Central (he too went to both Richard restaurants in one recent trip) and the chicken looked sublime so I might just drop by, grab a couple of drinks, and eat Central's chicken as a snack.

                                      Oh and just to clarify for all those engaged in this thread, when I say snack, I do not suggest I’ll be devouring these snacks by myself. My friends and I will most likely split one pit beef sandwich, Hellburger, etc. Ideally, I want to do as much of a tasting tour of D.C. as possible so that’s why I have so many snacks listed on my itinerary. I'm a pig but not a hog.

                                      Joe H –Thanks for the detailed reply. You’ve given me a lot to think about for my return trip and I even called another restaurant today to see if they had an available dinner opening based upon your remarks.

                                      I’ve still been trying to contact Komi and MiniBar everyday but to no avail. I did however receive a call back from Table 21 and they thought I had inquired about May 2011! They confirmed they were booked solid so that venue definitely out for my trip. The reason why I was shooting for Table 21 was because I read you get 21 courses for $121 (not including pairings) which is a pretty good deal for a casual Chef’s Table type of feel. That’s a far cry from the Chef’s Table at Citronelle which would cost $350 per person. Also, I read if you have less than the required number of people at Table 21, the Chef’s table becomes communal versus Citronelle which requires 6-8 heads in attendance. I will concede Citronelle’s Chef Deshaies has guidance from Richard and more culinary experience overseas than Voltaggio but both have worked at 3 star rated Michelin restaurants in France. Bottom line, I couldn’t justify laying that kind of cash, especially since I’m paying for at least one, possibly two, dinners for my friend as a graduation gift. (Tangent note: When I tried the ‘pre-Voltaggio” Dining Room in Los Angeles two years ago headed by Chef Craig Strong at that time, a personalized Tasting menu for $350 was available in which Chef Strong would meet with patrons to discuss how to develop their menu for that night. Although a “collaborative menu” was definitely unique in my book, I couldn’t justify spending $350 on a meal. I have to be in the right state of mind. FYI, Chef Strong resigned voluntarily and is now the executive chef of Studio at Montage in Laguna Beach. The Dining Room received a Michelin star in both 2007 and 2008 under his guidance.)

                                      Going back to DC, I did see talk about Vidalia’s recent 24 course menu but there wasn’t enough chatter for me to come to any definitive conclusions. Have you been yet? When I was trying to research the matter further, I read that Chef Cooper supposedly designed his “24 Menu” after trying Voltaggio’s Table 21. He felt inspired and wanted to add 3 more dishes to his own Chef’s Table, “raising the ante” in a healthy competitive spirit. Thus, the advent of the “24 Menu.” One thing that did catch my eye was that Vidalia’s 24 course costs $150 per person which is not bad since it supposedly includes alcohol pairings. I called this afternoon to check if there were any openings this weekend and both Fridays and Saturdays (the only days 24 is offered) was completely booked. Naturally. Vidalia is open on Sundays but they do not do the 24 course service. I will definitely bookmark that restaurant for my next trip though.

                                      As for seafood, call me spoiled but I have a hard time finding really good seafood spots after dining at Providence and Sona. I did see Kinkead’s being mentioned quietly on CH but when I pulled up the menu, it reminded me of Water Grill in Los Angeles for whatever reason. I’m not a huge fan of Water Grill although they've received a Michelin star in 2008. I also saw ktmoomau mention Black Salt in one of her comments to a thread but that reminded me of some restaurants we have in San Diego, where I’ve lived at for five years. If I'm doing seafood, it will probably be on a tasting menu somewhere.

                                      Yes, the world famous Krug Room in Vegas. I had thought they closed that down though. Like you, there is no way I can justify spending $750 on one meal for one person, especially since the Krug liquor makes up 75% of the total cost of the meal. That is sheer insanity.

                                      Concerning Cityzen, Ziebold definitely has a rockstar pedicree since he is not only a Keller disciple but a devout follower with history tracing back to French Laundry and Per Se. That’s why I mentioned Cityzen in my original post. It wasn’t my top consideration because my impression was that other fellow ChowHounders thought it was good but nothing that made them want to return anytime soon. Additionally, what made me ultimately pass was the detailed review by Ulterior Epicure. I read more glowing reviews about Marcels, which is another restaurant I asked about in my original post. Coincidentally, another poster commented on Marcels and that now on my return trip hit list.

                                      After briefly looking at Café Du Parc, that’s a definite must try, especially if my girlfriend comes with me the second time around or if I happen to be flying solo for a bit this weekend. Thank you for that hidden gem as ambiance does matter with meals, depending on who you’re with.

                                      Oh and this may be better suited for the LA CH board, but when you mentioned liking Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza, have you tried Angelini Osteria yet? I tried both Mozza’s and was underwhelmed but maybe it was because I had such high expectations. When you take Silverton (James Beard pastry Chef recipient) and other big hitters like Batali and Bastianich coupled a Michelin star for Osteria and a Michelin Bib Gourmand acknowledgment for Pizzeria Mozza, I'm going to naturally expect to be amazed. I wasn't on both occasions but maybe they had two off nights. Ironically, one of my top 10 things to eat in LA is actually Nancy Silverton’s ex husband’s (Chef Mark Peel) signature dish at Campanile which is the Grilled Prime Rib. I was glad to see it get some love by Jonathan Gold in his “99 Things to eat in L.A. Before You Die” article in LA Weekly. ( http://www.laweekly.com/2010-02-26/ea... )

                                      Sorry for digressing there but thank you again for your input and have a great time in LA! Finally, thank you all for contributing and helping me fine tune my list. You've all piqued my curiosity more than I thought possible.

                                      -----
                                      Vidalia
                                      1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                                      Kinkead's Restaurant
                                      2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1812

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: yakigyoza

                                        Also, if you want to 'cut out the middleman' at Pioneer Pit Beef, just order a pound of beef. It's even better straight. At any rate, they will give you a slice to taste - let that be your guide.

                                        1. re: yakigyoza

                                          I am just one of many Chowhounders who is amazed at your great attention to
                                          detail, yakigyoza !! I bet it comes across in your place of employment, as well...
                                          (wherever you work , they are very lucky to have you around..)

                                          I got some great input on Chowhound, regarding my "BURGER & BEEF RIB" quest...
                                          Matchbox in Chinatown area of DC has some real good sliders, & a casual, but hip atmosphere...

                                          That CENTRAL fried chicken sounds yummy! I will add it to my list...
                                          I wonder if it's as good as Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles in L.A...
                                          (I had a few stints of living in L.A., and loved that joint!)

                                          Chef Geoff's was recommended to me , (wwwchefgeoff.com), with locations by Tysons Corner Mall, and in Wash DC.... (it was a burger rec, but they have a real creative, varied menu...

                                          I may take another trip to DC this weekend from Atlantic City...
                                          perhaps I'll run into you eating that fried chicken!

                                          I'd love to hear about good RIBEYES in Wash, DC , as well...

                                          1. re: ellen4441

                                            FWIW I personally believe that a Michelin star in the U. S. is not equivalent to a Michelin star in Europe, certainly a three Michelin star experience here vs. there. The three Michelin stars that Robuchon has in Vegas have nothing in common with the three Michelin stars he had in Paris in the '90's before he "retired." While the Vegas restaurant attempts to recreate his Parisian excellence ("chef of the century") it falls, for me, short. Robuchon, in Paris in the '90's, was one of the best dining experiences of my life. Vegas has moments, only moments.

                                            I've been to the Water Grill and prefer Kinkead's. Mozza has the best pizza crust I've ever had anywhere. .Also a phenominal frozen pie for dessert. You are also seriously underestimating RJ Cooper. Table 21 had empty seats most nights for months. At some point Bryan Voltaggio's exposure on national television helped fill it eventually leading to the incredible lead time for a reservation. Enzo Forgione had his chef's table at Teatro Goldoni for more than a year; it received very little publicity yet was the single best dining experience in the D. C. area. Most people on here never experienced Combal O in Italy to compare but he did several courses as well as this ground breaking Italian version of El Bulli. Still, I never saw a writeup of it mentioning the similarities; perhaps a bit of exposure and he would still be at Goldoni with a year's wait for a seat. He was THAT good. I remember when MiniBar started, when Komi was a pizzaria and when Michel was in Malibu. I also remember Locanda Veneta which was absolutely superb. Serious question: if you have the $350 tasting menu at Citronelle's chef's table will Michel be in the kitchen? If you have the 24 course tasting menu at Vidalia who will be serving you? The Beard award winning Cooper? (Yes.) There is much to be said when the chef is in the kitchen when you are there. Your experience at MiniBAR is also going to be "flavored" by which side of the counter you sit at. One of the two is outgoing, personable and really adds to the overall experience. The other is far more restrained and less enthusiastic as well as less passionate about what he serves you. For me this makes a difference. Komi also has several of the best, most stoked servers you will ever meet who want to share everything that Johnny Monis prepares with the world. This kind of passion makes a huge difference.

                                            Again, keep calling Vidalia, Komi and MiniBar. Not for your next trip but for this. And Ziebold, before the French Laundry, was at Vidalia.

                                            -----
                                            Citronelle
                                            3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                            Komi
                                            1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                                            Vidalia
                                            1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                                            Kinkead's Restaurant
                                            2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1812

                                            Teatro Goldoni
                                            1909 K St., NW, Washington, DC 20006

                                            1. re: Joe H

                                              Steve – Thanks for the last minute tip. I’ll probably want to try the sandwich but I’ll see if I can sample a thin slice to taste by itself. I take it back. I guess I AM going to turn into a hog.

                                              Ellen4441 – Thanks for your kind words and suggestions as well. I have such a limited amount of time in D.C. that I wanted to make the most out of my trip. Nothing is more disappointing that going to a specific restaurant only to find it is closed that day or it has stopped serving you the very dish you went there for.

                                              Joe H – I agree Michelin star ratings in the U.S. do not hold as much weight as they do in Europe but that’s because the Michelin Guide is very new to the states (5 years) compared to its history in Europe. Las Vegas and Los Angeles are the newest additions and Michelin suspended both cities for 2010.

                                              I haven’t tried Robuchon’s Paris restaurant in the 90’s but I can imagine it would be THE quintessential platinum standard. Most tasting menus I’ve had these days have mindblowing moments interspersed with “Wow that didn’t really work” moments and that does include Robuchon in Vegas. So far though, that was the best I've had though.

                                              As for Mozza, I agree the crust is tremendous but that’s because Nancy Silverton is a master of her bakery craft evident through the successful opening, distribution, and selling of her La Brea Bakery. She even learned from the authority of artisan bread himself, Michel Suas, so I’m with you on the crust comment. My disappointment centered more the pasta dishes (at Osteria) and the toppings and cheese on that great crust at Pizzeria. I thought the pizzas were good but just too overhyped. I remember being much happier with my pie at Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix) although I’m not sure which is better since I had Bianco years before I tried Mozza. Pizza is such a personal food that people will always have diverging opinions. However, I’m clearly in the minority as most of my friends in LA love and fanatically defend both Mozza venues.

                                              I’ve never heard of Enzo Forgione as my knowledge of chefs is not as expansive as I’d like it to be. Additionally, I've also never been to Europe so I know I’m missing out on some great food. However, I have lived in Tokyo for a year and a half and I have to say that the restaurants, creativity, and quality of ingredients are nothing short of amazing. There is major fanatical food behavior there and as a result, I think their creations blows the States away in every regard.

                                              Back onto the DC topic, I wasn’t expecting Michel to be at Citronelle for his Chef’s Table but if he was, that would be worth the hefty ransom. And yes, I read that Chef Cooper is always present at his 24 course service so that combined with the $150 price tag which includes libations motivated me to call Vidalia earlier today to see if they had any last minute cancellations. I also read that Chef Voltaggio is supposedly in his kitchen as well for the Chef’s Table and at $121, that price point didn’t look bad either. I know he got network media and that has led to his popularity but people seem to like the fact that he and his brother aren't afraid to take risks, even if that means the dish falls short.

                                              I had no idea Ziebold worked at Vidalia before French Laundry. I just looked him up now and it says he also worked at Spago. Talk about an overachiever.

                                              I’ll continue to check MiniBar, Komi, and Vidalia (Not Volt since I can’t reach a live person) for last minute cancellations but if nothing opens up, I’m not going to fret since I’m more than happy with my current itinerary.

                                              I love your passion Joe! Keep helping your fellow DC ChowHounders find that perfect meal, preferably one that is less known to the masses.

                                              1. re: yakigyoza

                                                All I can say is that this is a lot of to do over lunch and dinner. I can pack away food, but the LA Chowhound better walk from place to place (which isn't that out of the question) or he's going to come back with extra baggage. Forget Ben's as it is just okay. Phillippe's is way way better. Good luck with the trip.

                                                1. re: ChewFun

                                                  "Phillippe's is way way better."

                                                  Wow, talk about damnation.....

                                                2. re: yakigyoza

                                                  Komi from exactly two years ago:
                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5180...
                                                  Enzo's Chef's Table at Teatro Goldoni from 18 months ago:
                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5818...
                                                  Volt's Table 21 when it had empty seats every night; in fact some nights there was nobody at it.
                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6352...

                                                  -----
                                                  Komi
                                                  1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                                                  Teatro Goldoni
                                                  1909 K St., NW, Washington, DC 20006

                                                  1. re: yakigyoza

                                                    I'll be spending a week in DC from 5/15 to 5/21, many lunches and snacks for sure, but my dinner reservations are as stands.
                                                    5/15 - Vidalia 24
                                                    5/16 - Inn at Little Washington
                                                    5/17 - Restaurant Eve Tasting Room
                                                    5/18 - CityZen
                                                    5/19 - Komi
                                                    5/20 - Citronelle
                                                    5/21 - Table 21 at Volt.

                                                    I'll (as usual) report back with pictures and details (well, no pictures at Komi) so it'll at least be there as a reference point for any return visits. The DC board has been super helpful in my plans, as well.

                                                    -----
                                                    Restaurant Eve
                                                    110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                                                    CityZen Restaurant
                                                    1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                                                    Citronelle
                                                    3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                    Komi
                                                    1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                                                    Vidalia
                                                    1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                                                    Tasting Room
                                                    101 N Market St, Frederick, MD 21701

                                                    1. re: uhockey

                                                      Wow! That is an all-star dinner lineup!

                                                        1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                          Non-drinker - thank goodness. :-) Lipids are in check. :-D

                                                          1. re: uhockey

                                                            I was thinking more of all the back-to-back rich meals. Some wine might be actually be beneficial. In any case, that is a very prodigious eating schedule. I am in awe.

                                                      1. re: uhockey

                                                        uhockey, really, really interested in your thoughts when you return.

                                                        1. re: Joe H

                                                          I'll post all my words here with cross-links to the blog for pictures. Planning in advance paid off big time and the only reservation we failed on was minibar (called every friggin day starting at 9:50 and never once made it through - though we are #1 on the waitlist for 05/18.) Volt was lucky - called and told them any day during the week and someone had just cancelled on 05/21.

                                              2. ChewFun – Yes, I plan on gaining five pounds on this trip so I packed a larger pair of jeans. As much as I’d like to, I can’t avoid going to Ben’s since my friend really wants to try it. I’ve set the bar low though so I think I’ll be okay.

                                                Uhockey – Your list is crazy! I’m sure I’m echoing everyone reading this thread but I can’t wait to hear about your impressions of those restaurants since you’ll be trying all in such a short period of time. It’ll give me more ammunition for my repeat trip. Also, not being an oenophile isn’t just good for your liver, it’s good for your wallet too, especially with that stacked list!

                                                Joe H – Thanks for the cross links to your reviews. Have you tried Vidalia 24 yet? I read someone else's blog with captured pictures but I couldn't find a review from you on CH. From what I gather from your posts, you thought Table 21 and Enzo’s now defunct Chefs Table at Teatro Goldoni were both better than both Komi and the Chefs Table at the Inn at Little Washington. (When I looked up Enzo after you told me about him, I read he’s currently on the hunt for a new venue in DC so I’ll be sure to check back on DC CH to see if you post a review when you try his new restaurant.)

                                                Not taking anything away from Komi and Minibar, since Teatro Goldoni is no longer offering Enzo’s Chef’s Table, does that mean you consider Vidalia 24 and Table 21 as your two top Chef Table picks in your area?

                                                For those engaged in this thread, a superficial comparison of the two Chef’s Table just discussed:

                                                Vidalia 24
                                                Cost: $150, includes beverage pairings
                                                Availability: Fridays and Saturdays @ 7:30 pm
                                                Location of Seating: Wine Bar
                                                Seats: Up to 8
                                                Selling Point: Food presented and served by Chef Cooper

                                                Table 21
                                                Cost: $121, not including beverage pairings
                                                Availability: Wed – Friday @ 7:00 pm / Sat – Sun @ 5:30 pm & 8:30 pm
                                                Location of Seating: Inside the Kitchen
                                                Seats: Up to 8
                                                Selling Point: Patrons are situated in the actual kitchen

                                                AND, I tried calling all said restaurants again today and there were no last minute cancellations. I'll have to live vicariously through uHockey for the time being but I'm still very excited about my eating tour this weekend.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: yakigyoza

                                                  " does that mean you consider Vidalia 24 and Table 21 as your two top Chef Table picks in your area?'

                                                  Yes, and it will be interesting to hear uhockey's thoughts but I also believe that the
                                                  $350 per person (that's plus tax and tip which is damn near $1000 for two for dinner!!!) for Citronelle or the $179 + tax + tip + kitchen table suppliment for the Inn (which after three trips/anniversaries/celebrations that didn't work we gave up on ). This is an awful lot of money for a celebratory evening. I still haven't forgotten being seated in their version off "Siberia." Our last visit was over $500 for the two of us and we had a simply awful experience which I posted on here. But it wasn't the only one. Actually one of three dating to the '80's. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1680...
                                                  I'm sorry but regardless of the talent of Patrick O'Connell with three incredibly expensive attempts for a celebratory dinner we have given up. Seven years and we still haven't returned. And, we won't. At $500+ dollars there is no margin for error. There are also the memories of the evenings that would have been better spent elsewhere.

                                                  The reputation of the Inn is fine: it just hasn't helped us at all. In fact we've ruined several significant birthdays and an anniversary there.

                                                  1. re: Joe H

                                                    It is interesting to hear you mention this -

                                                    For myself this trip to DC is a celebration of my finishing residency - going with family and celebrating with different folks at different restaurants (thankfully most of the bill being footed by them) and we decided as a whole group to do one meal together - at The Inn....and given their reputation I have to say their customer service has been the least hospitable of any. Not "bad," but having done epic extended menus at Per Se and The French Laundry, and also having amazing customer service at Guy Savoy, Providence, L2O, and Alinea I certainly expected more.

                                                    On the other hand, Anne Marler at Komi, Ashley Pique' at Eve, Jacqueline Herrera at Vidalia, and especially Jean-Jacques Retourne at Citronelle have been super helpful in providing menus, information, and exemplary service both via E-mail and Phone. Given the fact that my aunt, with whom I'm dining at Citronelle, is a rather unadventurous eater they even allowed for the crafting of customized tasting menus.

                                                    -----
                                                    Citronelle
                                                    3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                    Komi
                                                    1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                                                    Vidalia
                                                    1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                                                  2. re: yakigyoza

                                                    Tasting menus are fun....but they do get tiresome. I wonder if Tasting Menus have jumped the shark already.

                                                    Anyway, I swear, I still think you should do what you can to make it to Palena's back room. Here's a snippet of just one of the courses I had there this past fall.....

                                                    Fall Consomme (Flavorful clear broth with matsutake and maitake mushrooms, wood pigeon raviolini and slivers of foie gras)
                                                    There are many things that I am a sucker for when I see a given thing on a menu. Sweetbreads, octopus (particularly smoked, or grilled, or both), frog legs and lot more. But one of the things on the top of this list is ANY consomme from Palena. Any. I was blown away by my first such experience and I have almost without fail ordered this whenever I see it on the menu at Palena. I almost didn't order this because my wife wanted to try it (particularly because of the mushrooms) and we have a general rule where we try never to both order the very same dish at any restaurant, but especially so at Palena. But I am so glad that we both ordered our own bowls (yes we went for 5 courses each, oof!). This iteration was nothing short of heavenly. I have no idea how Chef Ruta and his team figure out how to pack so much flavor in something so simple as a clear broth, but he does it every time. You can see all of the ingredients in the list, but what is missing are the various veggie bits in there, green beans, little tiny soybeans (I think), various green leafy bits and other herbs I am sure. But what is so hard, even in a regular non-soup type dish is to create the textural play between all of the elements and he nailed it again. They must have folks sitting back there figuring out what element to add to the broth precisely when and in what order so as to have everything completed cooking to the right point so that when you eat it, everything is precisely as it should be. He's a mad genius. And the aroma. I am HAUNTED by that aroma. It visits me in my dreams from time to time, very often the night I am sleeping off another Palena-fest. My gosh this is desert island good. This is my last meal before the electrocute me good.

                                                    -----
                                                    Palena
                                                    3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                                    1. re: uhockey

                                                      Palena is the real deal and is widely recommended.

                                                      http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/res...

                                                      -----
                                                      Palena
                                                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                                      1. re: Pool Boy

                                                        c'mon Pool Boy, don't be so coy, tell us what you really think...</smirk>

                                                    2. As a former lifelong Angeleno (40+ years) and DC resident for nearly 5 now, hopefully I can add some relevant, albeit, pared-down perspective.

                                                      Ooh's and Aah's - Great choice! Can't think of an L.A. equivalent, having been to several soul food spots there, but this is a standout by any standard. Keep in mind it's a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, but I have a sense that won't deter you, and shouldn't any real food lover. Crab cakes indeed! Also blackened Catfish, greens. You can't go wrong.

                                                      Citronelle - Creative and interesting, but ultimately I think over-hyped. My meal there simply didn't taste as good as I'd hoped, the wait staff was snooty and the bill very, very high for the lackluster experience. Central, on the other hand, was wonderful and far more satisfying.

                                                      Atlantico - Solid, good dining. Haven't tried the Dim Sum, but it's on my list. And oh, Minibar, how I'd love to go. You could also get a slice of Jose Andres' other charms at Jaleo, but you could do just as well skipping this altogether and going to Bazaar when you return to L.A. For me, it's all about going to places that are one-of-a-kind and Andres' templates are repeatable.

                                                      Eve is not to be missed. Lickety Split is eating at a bar table or squeezing in at the bar itself, but the food won't disappoint. Eamonn's, down the street, is a straight-up, authentic Fish and Chips joint and probably the best in the country. You'd do fine with either. Note: You'll be in Alexandria, a good hop from DC.

                                                      Ray's is fantastic. The check will leave you with sticker shock of the unexpected pleasant variety. Cuts are superb, moist and of high quality. Perhaps not the best steak in town, but a solid one. Free sides of mashed and spinach don't hurt. And the bread, the bread!

                                                      Hell Burger beats any burger in L.A. (although I've yet to make it to Father's Office). It's succulent and sublime. Gruyere Au Poivre! Wow. I want one now!

                                                      Not been to Table 21, but do make it to the Dining Room at the Langham when you return. You will be knocked out. Michael's star shines blindingly bright.

                                                      Zaytinya is good, but there are places in L.A. that are comparable and better. Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine abounds back home. You'll be fine skipping it.

                                                      Never been to The Source, but it would be hard to top Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills. One of my top ten all-time best dining experiences. Beyond belief.

                                                      Hope that gives you some additional ammo to chew on. Have a great trip and report back (especially on the Dim Sum lunch).

                                                      -----
                                                      Eamonns
                                                      728 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: biscuit

                                                        Between the original Spago and CUT, plus Chinois down in Santa Monica I don't think an Angeleno would be at all bad off missing The Source. Spago truly was a superb meal and at lunch it is a veritable bargain.

                                                        1. re: biscuit

                                                          biscuit -

                                                          I just realized I didn't respond to you. It appears you and I may have similar tastes based upon your comments. I unfortunately did not get to try a Hell Burger but I will the next time around. I personally think Father's Office is a little overhyped but it truly depends on how to like to eat your burgers. If you love blue cheese and caramelized onions with your burger, you'll most likely be a huge fan of Father's Office. I prefer the more pure and traditional taste of burgers so I like Westside Tavern more. If you ever visit LA again, try should try those two places to compare for yourself but they are essentially very different in composition. You may also wish to try the burgers at Umami Burger or Larchmont Grill which I haven't had a chance to try yet but have heard some good things about, moreso Larchmont Grill since Umami seems to have a lot more mixed reviews from my picky friends.

                                                          As for the Dining Room, I still want to go there but between you and me (and the other ChowHounders reading this) rumor is Michael might be looking for a new home already. He might have been merely entertaining an offer by being diplomatic but he recently met with a fairly large hotel group.

                                                        2. Hey guys - I was able to eat at all of the lunches and dinners and some of the snack places. I also ate at a couple of other places due to time (early in the morning) or because of my other friends' preferences.

                                                          I'll update in more detail when I have a chance in the next few days. Overall, I must say my impression has been positive and I can't wait to go back.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                            1. re: yakigyoza

                                                              Glad you enjoyed!! We certainly all gave you enough "food for thought" on here!
                                                              Looking forward to those more details, when you are recuperated from your L.A. to DC
                                                              adventure!!

                                                              AGREED about your desire to return to Wash. DC...
                                                              I went last month, and loved it so much, that I went again may 16th-18th..
                                                              and am going back for the DC Bbq fest June 27th...
                                                              and again for the Nationals-Phillies baseball game in August!

                                                              we'll be here when you're ready to report here again, yakigyoza!

                                                              1. re: ellen4441

                                                                DC BBQ fest has lots of really attrocious bbq. Really bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. One vendor had a good jerk chicken. There is a Famous Dave's, but why wait in the heat when you can just go to Famous Dave's.

                                                                Going to hear Chuck Brown is the only real reason to go.

                                                                -----
                                                                Famous Dave's
                                                                10500 Owings Mills Blvd, Owings Mills, MD 21117

                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                  I'm agreed on the BBQ festival. It's horrible and a total waste of time - and I think they charge $10 for the privilege of entering the hallowed ground. There is no "people's choice" award there - meaning that you cannot taste the entries in the festival. For $10 you get to queue up to buy a $10 BBQ sandwich from Famous Dave's or other mediocre vendors -- or you can wait in line for an hour or so in the blazing sun in order to get free samples of supermarket items offered by Safeway - lunch meat, etc. They fooled me once with this "BBQ Festival" but they will never fool me again.

                                                                  1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                    I third that. The BBQ festival is a joke because you can't taste the offerings from the participants. A joke!

                                                                2. re: ellen4441

                                                                  Ellen4441 -

                                                                  You're lucky that you get to visit so frequently! Let us know your ventures as well.

                                                                3. re: yakigyoza

                                                                  I made all my goal reservations - lunch and dinner both - and I think DC may rival NYC and Chicago for my favorite food city. I'll start a new thread when I start getting reviews up.

                                                                4. DC Trip Synopsis:

                                                                  Overall, I enjoyed the eateries I ventured out to and I will vouch that D.C. does indeed have a great restaurant scene, especially since there are many places I still want to try. The good news is that I was able to eat at all the lunch and dinner venues I had originally planned on trying. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and rain on Monday, I didn’t go to B-More and I wasn’t able to eat the snacks I had wanted to try. However, I was able to try some other places due to situational reasons. Sorry for the delay of this post as I wanted to provide as detailed of a review as possible with pictures versus being more cavalier with this. Please excuse some of my photos as well as I had to use an ISO 800 setting with exposures anywhere from +1.00 to +1.50 to avoid having my flash turned on. The end result was that some shots were much more grainy and blurry than I would have liked. Thank you again to all the local ChowHounders that helped me configure my eating itinerary. I will be seeking your wisdom and opinions again in the near future when I return to DC.

                                                                  1. Friday Late Dinner - Oegadgib (Annandale, VA)

                                                                    This is a Korean BBQ place that serves All You Can Eat (AYCE) meals for $15.99 per person and also a Shabu Shabu option for $18.99, which I found a little strange since I’ve never seen this type of option before. I found out later DC has a tendency to have a plethora of Asian fused cuisines like Thai/Japanese, Chinese/Japanese, etc.

                                                                    Obviously, going to an AYCE restaurant means the type of quality meats will be drastically different from the premium meats at non-AYCE Korean BBQ restaurants but compared to other AYCE Korean BBQ restaurants I’ve been to, Oegadgib is above average. The Banchan (side dishes) were decent, the Egg Souffle was better than most AYCE places, as was the Chadol (thinly sliced beef brisket). The other beef cuts were average and the pork was below average. All in all though, for $15.99 per person, you really can’t complain. Although I’m not sure about the hours of operations on other days, Oegadgib closes at 2:00 am on Fridays which was a plus since our flight was delayed by an hour and we arrived late.

                                                                    1. Saturday Lunch - Oohhs & Aahhs (Washington DC)

                                                                      My friends and I ordered the Crab Cake (broiled) and the Grilled Shrimp combo with Collard Greens and Rice with Gravy for $26.95. You can order the Crab Cake by itself for $21.95. I’ve had better grilled shrimp, collard greens, and rice with gravy but the crab cake truly did hit the spot. Most crab cakes have more filler and less crab meat but Oohhs & Aahhs packs in the crab in their cakes. My friend who originally wanted to take me to B-More’s Market to try the crab cakes told me Oohhs & Aahhs served better crab cakes than the ones he had in B-More. You can dine upstairs as we did but I saw a lot of people take the food to go.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Oohhs & Aahhs
                                                                      1005 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                       
                                                                       
                                                                       
                                                                      1. Saturday Dinner #1 - Citronelle (Washington DC)

                                                                        I wanted to try both of Michel Richard’s restaurants so we opted to try the food in the Lounge of Citronelle. My friends and I tried:

                                                                        Mushroom Cigars ($10) – This was a delectable appetizer as it reminded me of an open-ended thin eggroll stuffed with chopped mushroom.

                                                                        Tuna Nicoise ($18) – I’m not sure why they call it “nicoise” as it looked like a tuna napoleon to me. The egg on top of the napoleon is actually mozzarella (egg white) and yellow tomato confit (yolk). This reminded me of LA’s Patina type of plating.

                                                                        Split Pea Soup ($12) – I was at first a little disappointed with the soup selection since Citronelle’s online menu advertised another soup when I viewed it. However, for a split pea soup, this was definitely prepared well. The consistency wasn’t too viscous as many split peas can be. Also, the taste of pea wasn’t overwhelming which is another good indicator. I wouldn’t order it again but I’m glad I got to try it.

                                                                        Sablefish ($30) – The sablefish is broiled and had a hint of miso glaze. The surprise of this dish was that it came in a dark red hue. At first, I wasn’t sure where the fish was as it literally resembled a giant beet-like object. The fish was tender and although I’ve had a better prepared sablefish before, this was definitely prepared well.

                                                                        Chateaubriand ($36) – This was the disappointing dish of the night. The meat was slightly under-flavored, wasn’t cooked evenly (yes I understand it can be difficult to cook such a thick cut of beef), and the accompanying demi glace didn’t help the dish in my opinion. This was by far the weakest dish my friends and I ordered. After taking one bite of the steak, I regretted not trying the 72 hour braised Short Rib dish but I’ve had a LOT of short ribs in my life and I wasn’t too enthusiastic about paying $70 for one short rib dish.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Citronelle
                                                                        3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                        1. Saturday Dinner #2 - Central (Washington DC)

                                                                          This place was about a 10 minute taxi ride from Citronelle. The first thing that stood out was the many “macro” focused shots of their dishes presented in slideshow fashion on their hanging televisions. My friends and I sat at the bar and I tried:

                                                                          Fried Chicken ($21) – When this dish came out, I first thought of KFC’s double down chicken sandwich minus the sauce and cheese between the two pieces of chicken. (Richard would flinch if he heard of this comparison) The batter of the chicken reminded me of the special panko that high end Tonkatsu restaurants in Japan employ which provides an outstanding batter compared to other batters that use regular bread crumbs. The chicken was definitely a well prepared dish although I’m not sure I would be able to finish both chicken pieces since it would ultimately be pretty heavy. The mashed potatoes and accompanying chicken gravy was above average as well. [As strange as this sounds, the best mashed potatoes I’ve had to date were at Robuchon in Vegas and Campanile in Los Angeles, both different in their ways but so, so good.] My suggestion is to go with a friend and share the fried chicken dish and another dish of your choice.

                                                                          Michel’s Chocolate Bar ($8) – Yes, the famous single Kit Kat Bar I saw so many others rave about. I liked this dessert a lot due to the different plays on textures. After you bit into the chocolate bar, the light crunchiness texture remained with each successive bite. It also wasn’t overly decadent or sweet which is a plus in my book. The Chocolate Bar is served with home-made ice cream which was also good.

                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                          1. Saturday / Sunday Midnight Meal - The Diner (Washington DC)

                                                                            Before you ask why on earth I would go to a diner in DC, it was 5:00 am and my friend and I were hungry after a long night of festivities. Since I hadn’t researched any early morning restaurants, we asked around and the Diner came recommended. As with most diners, the food more purposeful than gourmet. My friend and I had:

                                                                            Buffalo Wings ($7.99) – Standard run of the mill buffalo wings.

                                                                            Mac & Cheese ($3.75) – This was pretty bad Mac & Cheese. The pasta was too soggy, it was tasteless, and the cook seemed very skimpy on the cheese.

                                                                            Nelli Omelet ($9.99) – This was your standard meat omelet. It served its purpose and was better than omelets found at your chain diners (IHOP, Denny’s, etc) but that’s about it.

                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                            1. Sunday Brunch - Café Atlantico (Washington DC)

                                                                              My friend and I tried the $35 Latin Dim Sum tasting menu. For the most part, I enjoyed this meal. Sure, there were some dishes I wasn’t too thrilled about but that happens in about any tasting menu due to personal preferences. I’m not sure which dishes are the “staple” dishes and which change but our 14 course consisted of:

                                                                              Mango-anchovy ravioli – The pasta is made out of mango.
                                                                              Mango-lime oil Kushi oysters topped with Chive
                                                                              Tuna Coconut Ceviche Wrapped with Jicama Topped with Corn Nuts
                                                                              Endive with Queso Fresco Espuma Topped with Walnuts and Mandarin Oranges
                                                                              Potato and Vanilla Mousse with Oil and American Cavier
                                                                              Hot and Cold Foie Gras and Corn Soup
                                                                              Conch Fritters with Juicy Interior
                                                                              Mushrooms Topped with a “Perfectly Cooked Egg” (aka Egg 63)
                                                                              Carne Asada
                                                                              Pineapple Unagi (eel) topped with Quinoa Nuggets with Avocado Puree
                                                                              Coconut Ginger Flavored Rice, topped with Crispy Rice and Scallions
                                                                              Black Beans with Fried Egg With Tortilla Chips
                                                                              Pork Belly Glazed with Passionfruit Oil
                                                                              French Toast Grilled Cheese Sandwich

                                                                              The highlights of the meal for me were the Kushi oysters (which surprised me since I don’t really enjoy oysters my other friends tend to), the Potato and Vanilla Mousse, the Mushrooms/Egg 63 since this was the first time I’ve tried Eggs cooked at the supposed perfect 63 degrees, and the Tuna Coconut Ceviche due to the various play in textures. I wasn’t a fan of the mango anchovy ravioli even though the chef gets creative points for using a mango skin for the pasta, the Carne Asada which I thought was average at best, the Pineapple Unagi most likely because like Uni, you have to be extremely vigilant about the complementary ingredients, the Pork Belly which was subpar in my opinion, or the French Toast Grilled Cheese Sandwich since salty and sweet doesn’t always play well like it does in Thai food, especially when using cheese. Overall though, I would definitely come back again to try this menu, especially if the tasting menu had new items since $35 is such a great deal.

                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: yakigyoza

                                                                                Glad you enjoyed that one - moreso than I, for sure. To be honest, I liked Bazaar MUCH better than Atlantico.

                                                                                1. re: uhockey

                                                                                  uhockey-

                                                                                  Bazaar has its great moments but also many, many misses. In any case, my dining at Cafe Atlantico was for Sunday brunch.

                                                                                  If you're comparing Atlantico to the old Brunch Tasting Menu at Bazaar, I'd still rather take Atlantico which gives you 14 courses for $35 while the old Bazaar Tasting Menu Brunch only gives you 6-8 courses for $40. Since ALL tasting menu have hits and misses, I'd rather stick with a menu that can give you more interpretations versus less to even up the odds. They stopped serving brunch at the Bazaar early this year and moved brunch to Tres which I haven't been to yet so I'm not sure how the menu is there. I'm pretty sure the menu is different though. Perhaps the brunch there will evolve into something more like Atlantico but I doubt it.

                                                                                  If you're referring to the tasting menu at Bazaar during dinner, that's a different story and a completely different comparison. If we're going to talk about dining at an Andres restaurant in LA for dinner however, I'd pick the 22 course at Saam over the tasting menu at the Bazaar every single time.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Cafe Atlantico
                                                                                  405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                                                                                  1. re: yakigyoza

                                                                                    Flavor for flavor, I'm comparing ~20 selections at Atlantico's Dim Sum Brunch and ~20 selections in the early everning at Bazaar.

                                                                              2. Sunday MidDay Snack- Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries (Washington DC)

                                                                                My friend told me that this place was considered the “In N Out” of the East Coast and although I read about the debate on CH about this matter, I would probably have to equate Five Guys closer to Habit Burger in Los Angeles, which also is compared to In N out. I don’t think there will ever be anything that matches or comes even close to In N Out simply because nobody has been able to duplicate the special Thousand Island spread sauce in the In N Out burgers. At Five Guys, I ordered the Little Cheeseburger as this was my snack and I liked how you could choose 16 different types of toppings for free. The burger was good and I can see how some people would crave it if they wanted a fast food burger AND if they didn’t have an In N Out close by.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Five Guys Famous Burgers
                                                                                6541 Backlick Rd, Springfield, VA 22150

                                                                                East Coast Cafe
                                                                                44 Calvert St, Annapolis, MD 21401

                                                                                 
                                                                                1. Sunday Dinner - Ray’s the Steaks (Arlington, VA)

                                                                                  Although we had reservations, there was no wait on a Sunday night. We came in about an hour before closing. I ordered the Cowboy cut which is a bone-in 32 ounces Ribeye for $33.99. My friend opted for the smaller 14 ounce Ribeye cut for $27.99. He knew he couldn’t finish the Cowboy but for just $6 more dollars you get so much more meat per additional dollar. My other friend ordered the 16 ounce New York steak for $28.99.

                                                                                  All steaks were requested to be prepared Medium Rare and I have to admit Ray’s knows how to cook their steaks. All of our steaks were cooked perfectly and although I’ve had better Ribeyes before, I was more than content with my steak. I tried my friend’s New York cut as well and for a New York cut, it was executed well. I personally prefer the full robust flavor of Ribeye cuts and if you have the same preference, this place will satiate your cravings.

                                                                                  I also tried the Crab Bisque ($7.99) which was good as everyone on CH said. The soup is hearty and is just watery enough for it to be considered a bisque and not a stew. Although I don’t know if I would have random cravings for this bisque, I could definitely see how it could hit the spot on a cold winter day.

                                                                                  The sides which came with the steak were forgettable but you don’t go to Ray’s for their sides and maybe that is why the sides are free. You go to Ray’s mainly for their beef. This was a more than acceptable steak restaurant.

                                                                                   
                                                                                   
                                                                                  1. Monday Lunch - Restaurant Eve (Alexandria, VA)

                                                                                    Two friends and I chose to go for lunch to catch the Lickity Split menu where you can choose any two items for $13.50. The bartender (better classified as a mixologist) was our server and after perusing the bar which looked like a mini chemistry lab, we had to try some of Todd Thrasher’s signature cocktails. We ordered the Bitter Beginning, the Black Bass, and the Lemony Laurel which were $12 per drink. The drinks were all well made well but my favorite by far was the Lemony Laurel. It has a Citrus Vodka base with roasted lemons, Galliano, and is served with a bay leaf. It is a seasonal summer drink and our mixologist/server told us the laborious process of making this drink which was surprising. If this drink is available, you should definitely try it.

                                                                                    The complimentary bread is supposedly made at Restaurant Eve so that was a nice touch. For lunch, I ordered the Soup Du Jour and Salad. The Soup Du Jour that day fortuitously happened to be the Lobster Bisque which blew my mind. You could taste the essence of Lobster clearly but not blatantly and the smooth and creamy texture of the bisque was spot on. What I also loved was that the bisque was whipped with a hand or immersion blender to give a very frothy upper layer that resembles the froth in cappuccinos. Some diners may wish or want their bisques to be thicker or more viscous so Restaurant Eve’s Lobster Bisque may not be your cup of tea (or soup to be technical). However, I prefer most of my soups to be more on the watery-side versus the thick-side since I don’t like flour or starch to be driving ingredients in my soup. This soup was truly divine.

                                                                                    The salad was mixed greens with red bell peppers, green peppers dressed with oil/vinegar accompanied by a chopped chorizo sausage. It was fresh, light, and simple.

                                                                                    I also tried my friends’ risotto and pulled pork sandwich. The risotto was above average (probably the weakest dish I tried) and the pulled pork sandwich was served on an open-faced bread and was very good as well.

                                                                                    Lastly, we tried the Banana Bread Pudding with Caramel Crème Brulee and Salted Pecan Brittle for $12. Although I like bananas, I’m not a huge banana bread fan. However, I could eat this dessert every week. It is that good. The essence of banana is not too invasive and the crème brulee complemented the dish. Our mixologist/server later informed us that Restaurant Eve’s pastry chef worked as a pastry chef at French Laundry for a year which made sense given the masterpiece we consumed.

                                                                                    The lunch, dessert, and drinks were such pleasant surprises that I will definitely return to Restaurant Even on my return trip to try more of their dishes (most likely their tasting menu) and definitely more drinks and desserts. I absolutely recommend the Lickity Split menu since it gives patrons a preview of the details Restaurant Eve employs with their dishes.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Restaurant Eve
                                                                                    110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                                                                                     
                                                                                     
                                                                                     
                                                                                     
                                                                                     
                                                                                     
                                                                                     
                                                                                    1. Monday Dinner - Palena (Washington DC)

                                                                                      My last dinner was at Palena for the tasting menu in the back room. However, much to my disappointment, Palena does not have a tasting menu on Mondays. When I had called earlier to make reservations a week earlier, I was told by the hostess they did have the tasting menu available on Monday and also that the tasting menu was the only option available if I opted to sit in the back room. Since Palena’s website was currently nonfunctional when I was researching this, I was at the mercy of whoever I spoke to over the phone and naturally felt assured after speaking to the hostess.

                                                                                      Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Monday evenings is a special night where they combine the tasting menu with the café menu. I suspect Mondays are also the nights Chef Ruta is absent since I was not impressed with the food at all. Given the lack of options, my friends and I ordered:

                                                                                      Plate of Cheese
                                                                                      Charcuterie (Cappocolla, Duck Pate, Goose Breast)
                                                                                      Raviolis with Sausage, Morels, Swiss Cheese, And Butter Air
                                                                                      Meatballs
                                                                                      Halibut
                                                                                      Rockfish with Artichokes and Morels

                                                                                      Nothing besides the morel mushroom stood out to me. For instance, the rockfish was on the bland side and perhaps Ruta’s intent was to eat the fish with the flavorful morels since that was the only way I could counter balance the blandness of the fish. The halibut was cooked well but again, nothing spectacular that drove the dish home for me. It was just slightly above average in my book. I’m not sure if I would want to return to Palena for their tasting menu but in all fairness, if Chef Ruta was indeed absent that night, the dishes I had would not be representative of what so many ChowHounders had raved about. I was just upset that I had been told over the phone a tasting menu would be available that night when it really wasn’t.

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                                                                                      Palena
                                                                                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: yakigyoza

                                                                                        Ah sorry to hear your experience was less than stellar. I am pretty sure Chef Ruta is not there on Mondays. The back room is where the changes by the day menu happens. But, it also happens in the cafe front part -- on any night BUT Monday nights. If you ever pop back, I'd encourage you to give it another try. And the 'fry' plate in the front of the house is awesome, as are the chicken and the burger. His gnocchi is also quite good.

                                                                                        1. re: Pool Boy

                                                                                          Pool Boy - I will most likely give this place another try but only after I try some other restaurants on my return trip. I was about to order the burger on Monday as that was also available but I tried to choose more from the backroom menu. Maybe for patrons frequenting Palena on Monday nights, the key is to order more from the Cafe Menu?

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                                                                                          Palena
                                                                                          3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                                                                          1. re: yakigyoza

                                                                                            Glad you're still open to try them again. Since the back menu changes daily, it is a toss up if there will be consomme on the menu, but if it is ever on the menu, order it - you will be quite happy if you do.

                                                                                            As for Mondays, it is my understanding that *only* the Cafe menu is available. Normally, the folks seated in the cafe can order from the cafe menu or the back room, as long as it is not a Monday. This is just hearsay on my part, because I am ashamed to admit that I have not been there on a Monday (yet!). So, what they do may have changed.... And, if you hit the cafe ever again, I would very much recommend both the fry plate and the chicken (even above the burger - but both are excellent).

                                                                                        2. re: yakigyoza

                                                                                          So glad I made the choices I made instead. :-)

                                                                                        3. Monday / Tuesday Midnight Snack - Jackey Café (Washington DC)

                                                                                          Since my friend and I had to catch an early flight on Tuesday morning, we decided to go out and explore the town’s nightlife again. After mingling with the locals, we got hungry and had to find another late night spot that could serve us at 2:30 am. We ventured off to Jackey Café and ordered:

                                                                                          West Lake Style Beef Soup - $6.95
                                                                                          Wonton Noodle Soup - $5.95
                                                                                          Rice Noodle, Fu Chow Style - $8.95
                                                                                          Shredded Squid Chill Style - $16.95

                                                                                          Of all the dishes, I enjoyed the Noodles prepared Fu Chow Style the most since it was flavorful and not heavy. The West Lake Style Beef Soup was my second favorite but it pales in comparison to the west lake soups we have in Los Angeles. While Jackey Café doesn’t even compare to the many Los Angeles late night Chinese cafes, the food here was purposeful and did the intended job.

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                                                                                          Jackey Cafe
                                                                                          611 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                                           
                                                                                           
                                                                                           
                                                                                           
                                                                                           
                                                                                          1. uhockey - I can't wait to read your impressions of that all star restaurant week you had lined up in DC.

                                                                                            1. Thanks so much for reporting back to us.

                                                                                              I can't stand under-flavored beef (what's the point?), so it's good to know to avoid the chateuabriand at Citronelle. The tuna dish is a "Tuna Napoleon Nicoise".

                                                                                              Sounds like Eve was your clear winner. They also have a Bistro which is probably more indicative of the type of food as the Lickety Split lunch. The Tasting Room is a whole 'nother thing.

                                                                                              I wouldn't have chosen Oedgajib. I went with a group of CHowhounds and was unimpressed. We avoided the AYCE for the reasons you stated, but nothing about the place impressed us.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                Steve-

                                                                                                Ah, that makes sense then. I thought Richards was trying to be uber creative on his take of a classic tuna nicoise.

                                                                                                In regards to Oedgajib, due to the time, we were limited to choosing restaurants that were still open. It was a tossup between Honey Pig (which we have in LA), Yechon, and Oedgajib.