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Request for mini reports week ending March 16

Hi everyone I'm going to take some initiative and ask for brief reports (or make them as long as you want) for the past week or so. This is not to discourage longer reports that are their own threads, but rather to encourage shorter reports so we'll get more of them and get them more frequently. If people like this format maybe we can make this a weekly thing. I'd love to hear about food experiences for both new and established places.

Please include locations along with the names. I'll post mine later today.

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  1. Red Hen, Bloomingdale, DC
    March 10
    I went for an early dinner (5:45 PM) with friends. The restaurant is adorable and cozy, well-lit and not too loud (though this was on a Monday evening).

    For appetizers we got the fried artichokes and the ricotta crostini with brown butter and honey. I liked the fried artichokes and probably could have ordered an entire bowl for myself! The crostini were just okay.

    My entree was the baked semolina gnocchi with hazelnut pesto-definitely recommend. A friend who got the same dish thought it was overpriced ($17) but I thought it was a good portion and great quality. Gnocchi was very light and the hazelnut flavor of the pesto not too overwhelming. Other friends liked their entrees: lamb sandwich and the rigatoni.

    My dessert was definitely the best of the three we got. I got the maple custard, yumm. I loved the toasted hazelnuts and their crunch. I didn't like the chocolate cake (gummy) or the pecan tart (dry).

    1. District Fishwife, Union Market, NoMA, DC
      March 15
      I went for lunch and got their fish and chips. Order came out extremely hot. Sizeable portions at $12.65 plus tax. I think this might be too much for 1 person if you're not particularly hungry. The fish was very fresh, but the breading was greasy and gummy; I expected better. The fries were delicious. Overall I would probably not go back to Union Market just for these fish and chips but would probably try them again with friends. The fried scallops looked tasty too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tarilyn

        Try the fish and chips at Bidwell Restaurant in Union Market. They are the best I've had in DC. Fresh cod with crunchy beer batter, perfectly cooked. Great fries with spicy ketchup. Delicious!

      2. Osteria Marzano, Springfield VA
        Overall: Good/OK

        Antipasti: Mussels with white wine, garlic, parsley: straightforward and simple but good, mussels tasted fresh

        Grilled rockfish with mashed potatoes: this special was the highlight of the night, fish and sauce were delicious

        Risotto with mussels, calamari, shrimp, scallops, clams: not good, the disappointment of the night, especially since it was a special and recommended by the waitress; under-seasoned and bland, aside from the two shrimp which were tasty; also the risotto seemed more like just rice, not the creamy texture of good risotto

        Tiramisu: served in a glass like a pudding or parfait which was different, but the flavors you would expect from a standard tiramisu; tasted good but nothing special

        Service was fine

        The two glasses of wine we had, including one not on the menu but recommended by the server, were good

        Bread before meal was generous and I liked the olive oil and pesto but the bread itself was nothing special

        1. Bangkok Noodle, Springfield VA
          Overall: Good, will definitely return

          Thanks to chowhound recommendations I went and tried this.

          Floating market soup:My first time trying it based on recommendations and I have to admit that the liver itself and liver flavor in the broth just isn't my thing. But I still ate a lot of it and I can see the appeal. It has a nice depth and richness of flavor.

          Pad Phed Pha: Very spicy hot, very good. We actually asked them to downgrade us from level 5 spiciness ("Chef's Special Hot") to level 3 spiciness ("Thai Hot"). It was still very hot -- and very good.

          Service was friendly, I look forward to returning.

          4 Replies
            1. re: KeithW

              Thanks for the review. I need to check it out. I looked up the location and can't remember seeing it in that area. Is it behind the Hard Rock Cafe or across the street?

              1. re: KeithW

                Thanks for this recommendation. We just gave it a try and loved it. This is the first Thai restaurant I've been to in this area that isn't either 1) too sweet or 2) so spicy that it overwhelms the flavors. We started with the Hoi Jaw and the calamari. Hoi Jaw was very good, nice dipping sauce, almost honey like and went well with the spiral carrots which seems to accompany everything. Calamari were thick rings, not typical small ones w/ tenticles, served with a spicy/sweet sauce and requisite carrots. Very tender, nice crunchy coating. We had the paradise soup which was excellent. I loved that you could taste all the flavors in the hot and sour broth before the heat took over. The also had the tilapia which was nice and crunchy and the sauce was great-- sweet/spicy/sour. It's a nice interior, too. I don't know how this place has flown under the radar for so long. So many things I want to try. We did the 2 and 3 rooster dishes but I do want to try one of the two 5 spice dishes. I asked the owner and he just smiled and said, "It is very spicy. Very, very spicy."

                1. re: chowser

                  Glad you liked it. Sorry I missed your earlier question about location.

              2. Society Fair, Arlington (new Columbia Pike location @ Penrose)
                Still have fish and chips available off the old Eamonn's menu but no choices on fish or sauce. Good basic lunch though. Sandwich selection much more limited (and less interesting) than the OT location. Had ham and swiss, was slightly over-toasted.
                Was looking forward to having the shop slightly closer to me than OT but will probably still drive the extra ten minutes to visit the original for a better menu and more market selection.

                1. Central
                  Had the fried chicken. Makes me thankful KFC exists so that it inspired Michel Richard to produce his own take on fried chicken. Still one of my favorite poultry dishes around. Lunch companion had the fish tacos. Interesting take on them (looking rather like a temaki cone) with fish and shellfish inside, but would not satisfy my desire for "fish tacos" if that was something I was specifically in the mood for. Finished with macarons -- delicious, and amazingly the strawberry with black sesame seed displaced my usual favorite passionfruit.

                  1. Luke's Lobster and Olivia Macaron in Georgetown. Got a lobster roll. Eye-poppingly good.

                    Olivia Macaron: All very good, but some truly exceptional: cassis, rose, lemon.

                    Vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting at Fraiche Cupcakery in Bethesda. Thick frosting was good (mercifully not sweet) but the cake was nothing special.

                    Ridiculous long lines down the block are still the rule at Georgetown Cupcakes, BTW.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Steve

                      Thanks for the note on Fraiche Cupcakery. I was intrigued but probably won't go out of my way for it anymore.

                    2. I like this idea BUT here's the problem. If I'm trying to find info about a given restaurant, I won't search by date. I'll search for that restaurant.

                      Given the hit-or-miss that is the CH search function, I'm not sure that these mini reports will come up reliably. Maybe folks could double-post - once here and once again in the most recent thread for that particular restaurant?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Just Visiting

                        FYI, if you do a search, any mention will come up in that search. Does not have to be a thread specifically about that restaurant or type of food.

                        1. re: Just Visiting

                          Wow I never realized how bad the CH search function is. As a test I tried searching for restaurants mentioned in this thread and found that sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. I couldn't discern any pattern as to why some searches were successful and and others weren't, although maybe (just maybe) using the entire name of the restaurant helps. But it's surprisingly inconsistent.

                          Maybe this type of weekly mini review thread amounts to a tradeoff between getting a higher volume of reports vs. getting reliable searchable results -- that is, if using the name of the restaurant in the thread topic name makes the search more reliable.

                        2. Max's Kosher in Wheaton
                          Falafel Sandwich - twice in one week and both times they were wonderful, but the first one was especially good - perfect distribution. I get everything on them. I guess it does matter who makes them.

                          Haven Pizzeria Napoletana (Bethesda, Wisconsin Ave)
                          A White Clam Pizza and a Margherita Pizza - did not like either of these- crust dry and tasteless - clam topping had taste, but not good. The Margherita had bad, bad, bad tomatoes and dull everything else. The Mediterranean Salad was edible and for me the best part of the meal. The waiter was not rude, but not nice either and there were only a few customers.

                          Yia Yia's Kitchen - Greek in Beltsvile, Baltimore Ave
                          Chicken Slouvlaki Sandwich - good (not great). it was missing something in the tzatziki, I think. Why they put a few fries on the sandwich I don't know. The chicken (white meat) was good and not dried out. The staff was very nice.

                          1. GBD:
                            Had a mindblowing nutella donut (huge, yeasty, amazing) and a damn good cup of coffee for a reasonable price.

                            El Rey:
                            This the new taco place on U Street made of shipping containers. The tacos at this place are terrible, they smear aioli all over all of them even though it's only described in some of the taco descriptions on the menu. Very irritating. The meat and tortillas (you can choose corn or wheat) are fine, inconsistent on my 2 visits (carnitas on this visit was burnt and cuminy). I went on a Tuesday night with friends last week, and we had to order at the bar because we couldn't snag a table with waiter service. We spent an ungodly amount of time trying to place our order. The staff were really stretched thin.