January 2011


Brunch at Glover Park’s gluttonous southern restaurant Kitchen may just save your life. Or at least your Sunday.

The following advice is highly scientific.

Step 1:  Spicy bloody mary

Though it may pain you to even fathom the idea, the potent combo of salty tomato juice, spice, and just the right amount of vodka will ease you back into your former self. Kitchen’s version arrives in a mason jar, which just serves to remind you that you are in the trenches and making yourself feel better is your job.

Steps 2 and 3 after the jump.

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Image by Brooke Hatfield

In just its second year, the Washington chapter of Meat Week is all over the Internets this week.  Captain Jenelle Dennis (aka BabeBQ) has done a great job of spreading the gospel of ‘cue, and it looks like turnout for this year’s Meat Week will far surpass last year’s.

Want to see what others are saying about Meat Week?  Check it out:

Washington Business Journal
Washington Examiner’s Take 5
Washington Post’s All We Can Eat blog – Jim Shahin’s “Smoke Signals” column
NBC Washington
Northern Virginia Magazine’s Gut Check blog
UrbanDaddy
City’s Best
TBD.com
Girl Meets Food
Kevin’s BBQ Joints (blog)
Zagat Buzz

But enough about us – this update is really about you, or at least it is if you’re thinking about joining us for any of the Meat Week festivities.  We figured you might want to know when to show up each night, not just where.  And as the title of this post suggests, we wanted to encourage you to email Jenelle sooner rather than later if you’re interested in attending either (or both) of the Meat Week Sneak Peek events.

Details after the jump. (more…)

Just when you thought it was safe to hit the salad bar, Meat Week comes roaring back into Washington ready for round two.  Last year, Snowmageddon forced the cancellation of the final two Meat Week events in our area, leaving hungry carnivores unable to enjoy scheduled outings to Branded ’72 in Rockville and Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish on Rhode Island Avenue.  Some folks might have taken that as a sign, a warning from on high to repent and change their ways.

Not us.

This Sunday, DC Meat Week will once again provide carnivores with seven nights of barbecued deliciousness at some of the area’s best ‘cue joints.  And for the second year in a row, Meat Week will be one of your first opportunities to check out a highly-anticipated newcomer to the DC BBQ scene.  Some of the venues have stayed the same (we HAD to kick things off at Urban Bar-B-Que again, and you know we wanted take a second run at Mr. P’s), and a couple of recent additions have been added to the list as well.

Perhaps the biggest change in DC’s Meat Week chapter is who’s running the show.  I’ve passed the Captain’s hat to Jenelle Dennis, aka BabeBQ, though I’ll be staying on as First Mate along with David Gootzit.  Jenelle brings an impressive barbecue pedigree to the role – she’s a KCBS Certified Barbecue Judge and one of the architects of the Snackadium.  Seriously impressive.

Check out the full line-up of venues for this year’s Meat Week after the jump, and pay special attention to Tuesday and Wednesday nights: they’re RSVP-required sneak-peeks at two of the best things that are about to happen to the DC barbecue scene. (more…)

When David Guas struck out on his own from the Passion Hospitality Group, he called his venture DamGoodSweet.  After a visit to the Courthouse Farmers’ Market in Arlington this past weekend, we stopped into Bayou Bakery and found out exactly what the phrase means firsthand.  Guas’ new take on the community coffeehouse is an impressive rendition of the flavors and spirit of New Orleans cuisine.  Damn good sweet, indeed.

Bayou Bakery opened in late November last year after a ton of anticipation.  The location is ideal: at the corner of 15th Street and North Courthouse Road, Bayou can cater to the courthouse crowd on weekdays and the market crowd on Saturdays, with a healthy neighborhood following in the evening.  Demand has been high enough to warrant Sunday hours, as well – they just started this past weekend.  When we arrived seating was at a premium, though a brisk carry-out business made it possible for us to order and grab a table right away.

But what to get that would give us a good feel for the place in short order?  We settled on a few NOLA favorites and a couple of unexpected treats.  Check them out with us after the jump.

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Work travel is overrated. It sounded glam when I was in college and a recent grad. Traipsing around new cities on the company dime? Sign me up! Now I know it’s more of a tease than anything else. Multiple day trips to Manhattan for my last job got me little more than nose prints on the high rise window as I thought of all the fun things I wasn’t doing.

But some work trips? So worth it. Like skipping down the Las Vegas strip while attending CES (that’s the Consumer Electronics Show).  I was lucky to get to travel with my work friend KentuckyFrench who has an adventurous palate and masochistic liver.

China Poblano
The Cosmopolitan boasts one of the newest restaurants, from hometown chef Jose Andres: China Poblano. I had high hopes when we sat down at China Poblano, an intriguing mix of Mexican and Chinese food. The interior was energetic and the idea of fusing two distinct cuisines with, presumably, so little in common may have been a misfire in the hands of any chef but Andres.

My expectation of fusion put the carro ahead of the burro. I hoped for a mad scientist approach to plates with both unfamiliar and favorite flavors intermingling. Instead, at first glance, the menu offered one half Chinese food and one half Mexican food with each side keeping its foot firmly in traditional territory. I was worried this was less of a fusion experiment and more of an upscale KenTacoHut compromise: separate menus, one roof.

Digging a little deeper into the menu, KentuckyFrench and I unearthed promising crossover items. Like Jaleo, China Poblano focuses on shareable small plates. Once we singled out our targets, KentuckyFrench and I ordered with courage, ready for something unexpected. And if that failed, we always had the salt air margaritas to lick our wounds.

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If you’re looking to quickly stand out on the Washington dining scene, Italian cuisine may not be the best way to go.  Even before the restaurant boom of the past fifteen years, DC has had its share of quality Italian chefs and restaurants: Roberto Donna and his various incarnations of Galileo, the “pasta mamas” of Filomena and Fabio Trabocchi’s Maestro are just a few that readily spring to mind.  The field is even more crowded today, with newcomers like Casa Nonna, Carmine’s and Roberto Donna’s newest Galileo competing with long-time favorites.

Ari Gejdenson and Ralph Lee knew all that – they both grew up in the area before making their separate ways to Florence.  They have since returned, bringing with them Acqua al 2 (the 2 is pronounced in Italian as “du-ay”).    This is the second American outpost of the Florentine original – the first was in San Diego, naturally – and it’s a welcome addition to the restaurant options around Eastern Market.  I recently had a chance to check them out with a coworker and a friend who is already well on her way to becoming a regular despite the fact that the restaurant has barely been open six months.

Mural painted on the wall outside the window

We knew we wanted to experience a broad range of dishes – apparently Acqua al 2 knew it, as well.  The first few items on their menu are assaggi, sampler platters featuring varieties of pasta, steaks, and even desserts.  The Assaggio di Primi gave us a chance to try five of their vegetarian pasta options in portions scalable to fit the number of diners in our party.  All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.

Details on the dishes we tasted after the jump. (more…)

When a restaurant routinely appears among the top 20 of Washingtonian’s best restaurant lists,  it can hardly be called “under the radar.”  Even so, it seems like 2941 frequently fades into the background when DC diners are thinking about places to celebrate a special occasion with a high-end meal.  We’ve had a few in-the-know friends recommend it, but it just doesn’t come up among suggestions as often as you might expect.

from 2941 website

Maybe it’s the location – 2941 is just inside the Beltway in the Falls Church/Tysons Corner/Mclean area.  It’s not Metro accessible, and it’s even off the beaten path relative to most of what you think of when you think of Tysons.  But it’s precisely that remove that made 2941 a great choice for a recent birthday dinner.

The setting feels like a rural retreat once you get past the fact that it’s located inside an office building.  Couple that with attentive, helpful service and a tasting menu that is changing almost constantly to reflect the season’s bounty and you’ve got the makings of a fuss-free gourmet getaway.

More on the food and everything else that makes 2941 such a good time after the jump. (more…)

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