Results tagged “Dining” from Big Money Tony
So in case you did not know, it is Restaurant Week in DC again. At $20.09 for lunch for $35.09 for dinner, diners can enjoy or sample select menus from participating establishments. But even at the discount rate, $35.09 is a lot to spend, though you get a 3 course meal.
The Sports Freak, a co-worker of his, and I went to Charlie Palmer's near the Capitol earlier in the week. None of us had dined there before, so it seemed like a good place to try. We got there about 15 minutes early so after letting them know we were there, we settled at the bar for a pre-dinner drink. Value is not what you expect there, as I ordered a vodka tonic that was more tonic than vodka and cost $10.
Dinner was better. After we placed our orders, we were given an amuse-bouche of tiny shrimp ceviche. Served in a metal "Asian soup spoon", there was the right balance of acid and seasonings. The tiny shrimp came in twos and marinated in lime juice and cilantro. Very good start. For appetizer, I had the cold Virginia Corn Soup. The cream based soup was light and refreshing. While they put a little Maryland blue crab in the middle, I think the soup would have done just as well without it. The others had heirloom tomato salads with goat cheese. Two big slices of tomato and a mix wild greens, they reported it to be good.
On to the main entrees. All three of us had the roasted beef sirloin. The sirloin itself was very good. Tender and flavorful, it was a good portion of meat. I had ordered mine medium and it might have been a bit on the rare side, but still good. The accompanying carmelized shallots were excellent, but how can carmelized onions not be good? The potatoes, not so much. Boulanger potatoes were sliced thin, but surprisingly tasted slightly raw, even though they seemed througly cooked. It could have used a little more salt as well. We also ordered a side of zuchinni and squash for the table. That was great was shavings of parmesean cheese on top.
Dessert was possibly the big let down of the meal. The Sports Freak and I both had the peach cobbler. Baked and served in a ramakin with a dollop of frozen vanilla custard, it was very runny. That might have been the downfall for the dessert as being baked in the small vessel instead a big batch made the crust finish quickly. The peaches were still very firm, almost as if they were just warmed or quickly boiled and the liquid never had a chance to bake out of the dish. The co-worker had ordered the Pennsylvania berry soup, which was a raspberry base served with panna cotta and sorbet. He said it was very good, but he is partial to raspberries.
In all, it was a very good meal. The restaurant decor is very bright and modern and you feel that it is very new, yet the service was established. It is in the bottom of a fairly new building which opened earlier in the decade. I would go back for Restaurant Week again, but would find it hard to go on the regular menu on my own dime. The pricing was very high, but for a special meal or business, it would be on my list of places to go.
When you think of subs you think of Domino's Pizza right? For months, I've seen the commercials on TV, most notably during sporting events. Then I needed the appropriate moment to actually try this. We have also considered the Pizza Hut pasta and that was tested as well. More on that later.
So The Sports Freak and I tried them. And you know what? Not bad. We ordered the Philly Cheese Steak, Chicken Parm, and Chicken Bacon Ranch. There was consideration for the Veggie, but why would you? 633 calories compared to the Philly Cheese Steak at 695.
The subs were delivered to us and they were still pretty warm. We each tried half of each sub, but probably only got through one whole sub plus a bit each. The Philly Cheese Steak was passable. Not as good as the real deal from Philadelphia, but better than many of the area cheese steak makers. Only possible lack in this was the amount of steak. I was surprised it turned out so well.
Chicken Parm was as expected. It can be screwed up, but it wasn't by Domino's. The chicken and sauce were flavorful and in the right balance. Not too much, not too little. The cheese was fine
The trailer for the group was Chicken Bacon Ranch. We ordered it without the ranch. I prefer ranch in my salad, not on my sandwich. It was kind of a throw-in because Domino's was offfering a 3 for deal. We could have gotten pizza, but opted against that. While it wasn't bad, I think the bacon could have been more crisp. The chicken seemed to work less well than in the Chicken Parm.
All three subs delivered on the oven toasted bread. Not overdone to become a rock, but enough to keep the ingredients in and not spill out. For fast/delivery food, I generally rate it only "re-orderable" or never again. These fall in the "re-orderable" category.
The Pizza Hut Pasta on the other hand, "never again". Like the blockbuster movie, maybe it's the hype and it wasn't really that bad. But if you are going to sell the pasta that can fool Italians, it better deliver in taste. It didn't. On a different day, the Sports Freak and I ordered the Lasagna and something else. Honestly can't remember the other one. Maybe it was the Chicken Alfredo? In any case, Chef Boyardee might give them a run for their money. What does Pizza Hut have going for them? It comes hot. OK, maybe I was harsh, but marketing it as it fools Italians, must mean they have no taste buds. Pass on these if you ever feel the need and make a simple pasta yourself at home. More satisfying and probably lower in sodium as I felt like I needed a gallon of water after that meal.
Jackson 20, just blocks off the water in Old Town Alexandria serves modern American cuisine. The Sports Freak and I decided to go there before the Maryland Duke Game last night. We chose Jackson 20 because they were offering extended Restaurant Week thorugh the end of the month.
Located inside the Hotel Monaco, the restaurant was very loud, even though it was not yet packed. The lighting was very dim to the point that the weather reports may have issued a visability warning in the establishment. While I did not measure, I felt that the chairs were a bit higher than at most places. Not like barstools, but higher than your normal dining chair. It's these little things that restaurants need to pay attention to to keep and gain more customers.
The food fared better. The RW menu here was advertised as off the regular menu. Except they did not note that the two steak entrees would incur a $10 upcharge. Our server did mention that to us. The appetizers were hits and misses. TSF had the scallops. He noted they were good, but didn't elborate. I had the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. That was very good, with little binder if any. It was flaky and moist. The seasonal slaw that was with it was less successful. Some of the vegatables were soaking in the vinegar a little too long and created a pickling effect. If that was the intent of it, I would say the chef needs to rethink that.
For our entrees, TSF had the sirlion and I ordered the buttermilk fried chicken. The sirlion was huge. Again, TSF reported it was good, but it was a little rarer than he prefers. My chicken was excellent. It was a skinless chicken breast breaded lightly and fried to be crispy outside, but moist inside. It was served on a bed of kale with a side of whipped sweet potatoes. I am not a sweet potatoe fan, but the whip was pretty good. It was not too sweet, which is usually my fear of these dishes. To give some "home comfort", it had a toasted marshmallow on top. The kale was a bit bitter. I'm not sure how to put it, but it did not seem to work out right. I think it might have worked better in soup than as a side to the meal. Our major disapointment with the entrees is that it took nearly half an hour after we finished our appetizers for the entrees to be served to us. But they were still hot, so it was not that it was sitting out there waiting to be served to us.
Dessert was probably the biggest issue. We both ordered the cranberry bread pudding with a scoop of ice cream. The ice cream was smooth and creamy, but TSF has this thing about ice cream. He says his close friends "know algebra and do not eat ice cream in the winter". More on that story will be provided another day. However, we made an exception because it's Restaurant Week. Ice cream was not the problem. The bread pudding was. It was nicely put together and flavorful. But "The ginormous bread pudding...a single bachelor sitting on the couch with a big plate full of bread pudding sitting atop his belly with a big glass of milk." I put it in this perspective. You get home after a long day at work and don't feel like cooking. There are four portions of bread pudding left in your fridge and you decide to have them for dinner. I should have gotten a picture of it, but take your standard size building brick and split it slightly uneven in two parts. The bigger "half" is what we got..each.
While Jackson 20 has good meals, the regular pricing seems a bit high. I won't go out of my way to go back there, but if I'm in the neighborhood, I would not have a problem stopping in for one plate.
On Saturday, The Sports Freak and I attended the Maryland North Carolina basketball game and was elated that our Terps won in overtime. While we wanted to stay and watch the storming of the court, we had early reservations at Cafe Atlantico for Restaurant Week, so we had to leave College Park quickly to get to Penn Quarter.
Just making it in time, we parked and got in the restaurant. Years ago, I worked around the corner from Jose Andres' restaurant, so I have sampled Cafe Atlantico's lunch menu before, but never dinner. TSF had never been there. Wow what a treat.
As part of Restaurant Week, they offered a $35.09 3 course dinner. In a great effort to entice diners, they placed the RW menu next to the regular menu. So many establishments miss this opportunity by printing the RW menu on a separate sheet of paper. Benefit for Cafe Atlantico, as the "Bacon and Eggs" caught the attention of TSF. I agreed to split it with him as RW offers a appetizer along with it. The "Bacon and Eggs" were simply amazing. I good portion of pork belly with Eggs 63 ("runny") on a bed of lentils were excellent. As the plate was delivered to our table, the aroma reminded me of Chinese pork belly. Perfectly cooked and seasoned, it was just a bit crisp on the outside and tender inside. It was one of the best dishes of the evening, so much so, that TSF said he would order that "for himself" next time.
The RW menu held up as well. I ordered the tuna ceviche. It was good and tasted a bit creamy with the coconut milk that surrounded it. I love avocado and the sliced half added to the dish. My only complaint to this dish might be that the tuna was lacking in quantity, but the quality and taste were great. TSF had the butternut squash soup and he reported it was fine, but he it wasn't his favorite dish.
The entree we both had was the Braised Beef Short Ribs. The meat was tender and well cooked. It was great, but there is almost an injustice to it as the accompanying butternut squash, spinach and mushrooms were so good, I kept going for those instead of the short ribs. The "moat" of potato espuma the entree was served in was great as well. Mashed potatoes are always a favorite, but the espuma may have topped the list.
We both ended the meal with the Warm Chocolate Cake. I am not usually a fan of dessert, preferring fruit or berries, but this was very good. The cake was as advertised, nice and warm, with the molten center. On the side, banana espuma and sliced banana lime salad, all good.
The only thing that I did not fully enjoy was the mojito I ordered. It was overpowering with the mint and light on the sugar. The mint made it nearly bitter and while I do not like too much sugar, it felt that there was not enough in it. Maybe that is just my taste, but it was not undrinkable, just not the way I enjoy mine.
Now the biggest problem going to Cafe Atlantico is being in the same building as Minibar. So close to the famed tasting menu with the small dining area, essentially a "bar" with only six seats. I want to go there, but my regular dining companions are not up for such an experience. So if anyone wants to accompany me, please let me know. I'd like to know I can use the reservation before trying to obtain it. For Cafe Atlantico, on our way out, the maitre d' informed us that RW would be continuing at their establishment for this week as well, so I might go there again.