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Everything posted by syzygy8

  1. As usual, I've waited a little to long to post, so the finer details on things have drifted from the gray matter. But, then again, no one has posted anything about Vermilion in over a year, so whatever I put would be an update. We really wanted to like Vermilion.....(you know where this is going!) It looks like it could be a charming restaurant from the outside. When we walked in, the front room looked quite nice. We don't know what was upstairs, but in the back was the bar, with televisions, and smoke-eaters that didn't work and that space became the bane of our visit to Vermilion. We were seated downstairs, not far from the staircase and the entrance to the bar area. The overworked hostess was a delight and we really felt for her trudging up and down those stairs in shoes and a skirt she never should have been wearing for such a job. When I told her it was too warm in the place, she was more than happy to pass the word along, as I think she was sweating her tail off but needed customers to raise that issue with the manager. Very quickly he worked to adjust the thermostat, which made a difference for a little while. He said if it's overworked, it could shut down completely...... We had a starter of risotto balls stuffed with fontina. Now, if you're used to having "mozzarella stix" this was a few steps up. A great alternative, if that's how you're looking at it. In fact, I'd love to sit down with a basket of these risotto balls while watching a football game. But I think when we had them we realized that the meals at Vermilion were not going to be as "advanced" as we were hoping or expecting they would be. My pork chop was a nice thick cut, but perhaps a bit overdone. Served with a fruity compote that was not overly sweet (which is a good thing) and some kind of bacon/mushroom/potato mixture. It was okay. I ordered a glass of wine to be served with my meal. By the time it arrived I was nearly 80% done with my chop. I sent it back. The server didn't seem to grasp why. The Mrs. had a halibut with a cucumber yogurt dill sauce, quite similar to tzatziki. Like my chop, it was okay. It came with a salad of greens with feta cheese and carmelized onion. The feta was far too overpowering. But what really killed this experience for us was that bar. Vermilion is not a restaurant. It's also not a bar. It really doesn't know what it wants to be. And that's the problem with it. There's nothing wrong with having a good bar/cocktail section that complements your dining area, but that doesn't happen at Vermilion. The first reason is the televisions tuned to ESPN. Sports bar, corner pub, standard bar/tavern/saloon...fine. But it attracts a crowd that's more interested in pounding down bottles of Bud and Lite and that just didn't fit for the experience we were anticipating. Then there was the smoke. It billowed. I can handle some smoke with my dinner drifting by now and then. And if I'm in a bar, I kind of expect it. (Not happy about it, but I understand where I am.) But if you're operating a restaurant, and you felt the need to put 3 smoke eaters in your bar, you better expect a problem. There was. Unless you like smoke with your food, DO NOT go to Vermilion. (Reseating was not an option). There was no soap in the women's rest room either, and my wife reported it to the hostess. Apologized and within moments was racing in there with a plastic jug to refill the dispenser. This woman was a winner. Then there was that server who neglected to be timely with my glass of wine. Later on, I asked for our check. Time kept on slippin', slippin', slippin'........into the future.....which was when I asked him where our check was. "Sure, I'll get that for you now." Somewhat excuseable if he was a little too busy, but we were able to watch lots of his downtime at the service bar behind the host stand. A little too absent minded. We went to Vermilion after sitting at the bar for the first time at Restaurant Eve. With our high hopes for Vermilion dashed by our visit, we were very happy to know that Eve stood ready for us in the future. Edited to add: Forgot something. Drink order came first. Vermilion, being tied in to the Daily Planet Wine Shop folks has a wine list that's mighty fine. And thereby the glass selection is far and away better than the standard pedestrian list you'll find at most restaurants, "we have chardonnay or pinot grigio." I ordered a glass of the Graham Beck sparkling wine from South Africa. I think it's the same wine they serve at Restaurant Eve, but for $2 less per glass. Anyway, the server (this was our first interaction with him) returned a short time later with a bottle of sparkling water. Uh, no.
  2. I was hoping to pay a visit tonight, but apparently they're not open on Sundays.
  3. +2. In fact the Mrs. is dining there right now for a work event. Nice work if you can get it, I guess.
  4. It was, indeed, a busy Saturday night at Eve. The Mrs. and I brought along her parents and aunt to our first sit-down there. We immediately ordered our new best friends, the bloody mary and the martini, but the family members were a little hesitant, opting instead for a familiar glass of red wine, a Southern Comfort and ginger ale, and a nice glass of water. But after tasting our cocktails, they realized these were not the drinks they were expecting. It would also be the last time we shared tastes of anything! No one was getting a bite of my Bacon, Egg and Cheese salad. What a fun dish. I like how the individual flavors work separately when you begin that salad, but by the time the egg has managed to spread its shiny goodness throughout, there's much more of a team sport going on. Mrs. loved her corn chowder. I was seated too far away to steal a spoonful. The pork confit was a winner. I agree that it could have used some more vegetables with it. Something to serve as a different flavor point to accompany the fat. We had the Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc as our wine selection for the table, and I thought it did well to cut through the smoothness of that confit. For dessert, I opted first for a pint of Marstons. That really hit the spot. If it wasn't for those wonderful cocktails, I'd be downing pint after pint of this delicious ale. It would be nice if they could serve both the wine and the Marstons slightly warmer. Both were too cold to be enjoyed until they had time to warm up in my hands. While this is better than having them served too warm, I'd rather have them delivered just right. After the beer, the crepes. Perfectly crispy/chewy pancakes served alongside some powdered sugar, pear compote with cardamom, a small scoopful of DelRay Dreamery ice cream and another fruity selection....blackberry I think. About the only thing I would do to this dish is serve the sugar on the crepes and use the newly-opened plate space for a small ramekin of melted chocolate, or caramel or some other overly sweet thing that you could apply as much or as little as you like. The pears were quite good. My companions all ordered coffee....and with my pint gone...and the coffee smelling so good, I asked for a cup. The coffee tasted as good as it smelled. Everyone was very pleased with their meals and the service, including the little touches like black napkins for the women in black pants. I thought the service worked just as fast as it should have. At first I was concerned because when I made the reservation, only 5:30 was available and I was told that we'd have to leave by 7:45 for another party. By 8:00 there was no indication that we had to be moving along and we were able to pleasantly and comfortable continue our conversation over coffee while the servers (all of whom were tremendously nice and friendly) would continue to bring whatever we needed. Met Dustin Lara who was kind enough to share odds and ends about the restaurant with us, and encouraged us to try the tasting room next. We will.
  5. I don't recall who had posted it, but I remember someone saying that if you can marry a cocktail, they'd like to be married to the tomato-water bloody mary at Eve. I popped in with the Mrs. a little over a week ago and I think we both would be fine with inviting home the bloody mary and the pickled martini and have a little foursome. That's how we began an evening hitting a few Old Town places that Friday night and the bar at Eve was the absolute highlight. What was going to be a simple visit to check the place out for the first time and have a cocktail turned into a split order of seared scallops over heirloom tomatoes and basil with a 50-year old balsamic reduction. Each individual ingredient shined. That was followed by ordering the cheese plate. Out came a generous selection of Roncal, Tomme de Savoie and Great Hill Blue. I can't recall exactly what the dried fruit mixture was that just barely touched the blue cheese....but it gave just the perfect amount of sweetness to contrast with the pungent cheese. We visited on a whim, and didn't have reservations. If we did, we'd have stayed for dinner. Instead, we're going back in about an hour or so for our first sit down there. We're looking forward to it.
  6. I'm under the vague recollection that some high-paid national news reporter (i.e., several steps on the food chain below politician and one step up from pedophile) is married to said Chef. Leaving me to believe the dude can put out any old crap on a plate and it just doesn't matter. The bills get paid by the Mrs. Could New Mexico Ave really be that different? I mean, they're only a few miles away....and it's not like the Chef Geoff's empire stretches any farther than those two outlets, does it? I'll be happy to bring the heavy duty Reynolds Wrap for the solar launch if someone has a powerful enough slingshot.
  7. I can't think of any reason why I won't!!!!! I'm going to get a map this weekend and start marking off locations. I'll have to color code them by: Must do, Nice to do, If there's time, etc. Sounds like Club del Vino is definitely a Must do. I wish more of these places had websites.
  8. It was a 5 and 5 ones. Amazingly! I should also add that there was not one bit of evidence of snow peas in the dish whatsoever. There were peas....but more the size of shelled or snap peas.
  9. Thank you all for sharing some wonderful suggestions. I will definitely make use of them. Would any of these recommended places require reservations well in advance? As in I should make them now, 3 weeks ahead?
  10. So real-life restaurant reviewers typically make several visits to a restaurant before pronouncing judgment. I am not a real-life reviewer, simply a consumer spending my hard- earned money and am therefore entitled to visit a restaurant once, dub it “Casa Crapola,” and never visit again. Basically, a One Hit Wonder. In most cases, I alert restaurant staff when I’m unhappy about something and see how it’s handled and that often paves the way for a future return. But in some cases that’s impractical: “Those curtains are vile. You must change them!” Or it’s not even worth the bother because of a combination of things. Or the complaints are about things that are so basic that if they can’t get them right without you mentioning it to them they’ve got serious issues. Or you just don’t feel like it, because you shouldn’t have to. Today I visited Chef Geoff’s Downtown for lunch, and it falls into the latter categories. The hostess looked befuddled when I, as a party of one, requested to be seated for lunch today at nearly 1:30 p.m. Plenty of available space. For some reason though, the welcome was less than welcoming. Music. They were blasting Bruce Springsteen. I’d expect that in a bar/tavern, or even some restaurants without tablecloths! Sometimes music in the restaurant can set a mood, particularly if it’s light and in the background. Or sometimes, District Chophouse as an example with its ‘40s music, it’s trying to set a scene. But this was none of that. I ordered Snow Pea Fusilli: Defined on the menu as tomatoes, onions, summer sprouts, asiago, and pea coulis. The quantity of things wrong with this dish probably exceeded the quantity of ingredients. To name a few, the pasta was overdone, boiled to death. The vegetables (save for the grape tomatoes) were over done, sautéed to death. There were cucumber slices (or were they zucchini? I couldn’t tell) that were just shy of wilted mush. They had only enough structural integrity left to allow me to tell that it had been a green vegetable at one time. The dish was sauced to death with a cloying sweet and acidic vinegar mixture that overwhelmed and overpowered everything (save the grape tomatoes which had enough of its own flavorful acid to fight through this mess). The asiago cheese on this dish looked like it had come from one of those plastic containers of shredded (as opposed to grated) parmesan at the supermarket. The closest approximation I can suggest for this dish is: Visit your local supermarket. Go to the prepared foods section. Get the plastic container of “Pasta Primavera” or something similar. Nuke it until just warm. This is a true approximation and not an exaggeration. This is where I should have spoken up. But my server came to ask how everything was only one forkful after another server delivered it to my table. Only enough time for me to say, “I don’t like it” and not explain why I don’t like it, which is essential for me to send something back. So I nodded while I chewed. She didn’t return again until it was clear that I had eaten all I was going to eat. I declined the coffee and dessert offer. When it came time for the check ($19.47 including tax and an iced tea), and I left $30 so I can have proper change to leave a tip. She brought $10 back to me instead of $10.53. I would understand this (rather small) oversight if the place was busy and she was swamped, but at this time I was the only customer there. Your mileage may vary, but I can’t think of any redeeming qualities that would make me want to return or consider another chance for them. After all, I paid $20 for that experience and boy do I feel taken. Perhaps it’s because I’m spoiled knowing what a $9 chicken can taste like! The place gave me an “aura of bad feeling.” I can safely say I will not return there. Chef Geoff’s. My One Hit Wonder for today. Best of luck to ye.
  11. Another picnic option on the Mall is to grab a bench in the Butterfly Garden next to the Museum of Natural History. Walk south on the west side of 9th Street from Constitution Ave towards the Mall. Not many people, great tree cover and smells from the foliage. And if you're baseball fans, be sure to go into that museum to see the Baseball as America exhibit. Lots of stuff on tour from Cooperstown, and it's the best exhibit of its type you'll ever see outside of the Hall of Fame. If you're here at all on a weekday another option for sandwich carryout would be Breadline. I think the Dean & Deluca carryout on E street is only open weekdays also, otherwise you'll have to do the pickup at the main store in Georgetown. Although not local, and are more in the lines of guilty pleasures, are Chipotle and Potbelly sandwiches which are near the Mall and could make an inexpensive to-go picnic. John Harvard's brewhouse (sted Hancock) is right next to the Warner Theatre at the corner of 13th Street and E Street. The entrance is down some steps. Rocks is right about the beer. Edited to add: Don't forget the quality gelato for dessert at either the American History, Natural History or National Gallery of Art museums.
  12. I went in on Thursday, and it was very busy. I find it incredibly appealing to have all within a few blocks a cheese shop, a wine store, a bakery, etc. Then with the DelRay farmers market...... a nice way to shop! The message below is posted on behalf Jill at Cheesetique, answering some of our questions: ******************************************************* Hello, eGullet members. This is Jill Erber, owner of Cheesetique in Del Ray. First, can I just say how cool it is to see a thread about the shop on eGullet? Second, I’d like to address some of the questions in your posts because they are all things that have been issues for me while designing the store. If they're going to be retailing artisanal and high-quality industrial cheeses, cutting them to order, etc., then how is this different than Formaggio Kitchen in Boston or Artisanal in New York? This is not so different from Formaggio Kitchen in Boston (except that your commute to Cheesetique is much shorter). In fact, I was just at FK and their selection is lovely – well chosen and beautifully presented. I very much agree with their approach – it is better to have a smaller selection of cheeses that changes frequently that to overwhelm visitors with a selection of 400 cheeses. The most important thing is to offer interesting, hard-to-find selections and teach people how to choose and appreciate them. For those of you that have visited Cheesetique already, you know that our selection is not immense, but it is varied – and will continue to change daily. Also, all of our cheeses are cut and weighed to order (after being tasted by the customer to make sure he/she likes them). Something that does differentiate us from other cheese shops is the level of education that we provide – lots of information in the shop about choosing, serving, storing, etc. Also, our focus is on the cheese – FK offers prepared foods, wines, and a full gourmet market. (this is not a bad thing – their stuff is YUMMY!) Yet it disturbs me that they say they're going to be sourcing the finest cheeses from around the world, but aren't going to be importing them when they're young (and subsequently aging them in-house.) This seems like almost a deal-breaker, and sends up the Red Flag From Hell should they want to compete on the national stage. There are a number of reasons that in-house aging is impossible right now. First, the city’s health codes prohibit the storage of cheese at a temperature that is required for aging. Our cheeses must be kept quite cold, which would not allow for proper maturing of the cheeses. Second, even if health codes weren’t an issue, properly aging cheeses is an expensive and equipment-intensive process. As a small, self-funded start-up, such a setup was out of my reach. What I try to do as an alternative is select cheeses that are perfect for serving as they are. For instance, when my UK cheeses arrive from Neal’s Yard in a couple weeks, they will have already been aged to perfection so they are ready to enjoy. Regarding the “national stage”, that hadn’t even crossed my mind yet – I live in Del Ray and my shop is in Del Ray. Any future expansion would require lots of re-thinking on many levels. But let's say we're talking about the introduction here of a shop like Artisanal (I've not been to FK to comment), is a Del Ray location one that will see enough traffic to support such a high-end operation? I'd think it would be crying out for a location within the District. My quick answer is: YES! If the first few days are any indication, this is the perfect shop in the perfect location for lots of folks. We have been busy non-stop since the moment the doors opened. In fact, the popularity of the shop has been more than I anticipated (as my currently- low inventory can attest to). I will be fully restocked on Tuesday because I have sold out of so many things and am low on many others. You are correct, though – DC residents would support a shop like this – and they do. Many of my customers so far have come from the DC and Maryland. Thank you all again for your interest – I hope to see each of you at Cheesetique soon. Just bear with me as I get my footing… Jill
  13. Please add more suggestions, folks! I'm going to Argentina for the first time in a few weeks...one of the main purposes is eating and drinking! We'll definitely check out many of the recommendations.
  14. Each time I go upstate to visit the inlaws, the Mrs. knows a visit to Cafe Capriccio is in order. I think next time I might change the regulation and try Erlowest. It looks fantastic. Thanks for the great insight, Doc.
  15. The owner's answer to your second question begs a third question, based on his(her?) answer to your first. If they're going to be retailing artisanal and high-quality industrial cheeses, cutting them to order, etc., then how is this different than Formaggio Kitchen in Boston or Artisanal in New York? This is merely a request for clarification, since if this place is anything even close to those two, I'll be darkening their door so often that they may as well begin calling me The Shadow. Yet it disturbs me that they say they're going to be sourcing the finest cheeses from around the world, but aren't going to be importing them when they're young (and subsequently aging them in-house.) This seems like almost a deal-breaker, and sends up the Red Flag From Hell should they want to compete on the national stage. Eagerly, Rocks. Don, It is a she. I think you raise some superb points. But I do believe that she'll need to find that success and support initially to support investment in on-site aging. I don't even know if Dean and Deluca or Arrowine are even doing that locally. Whole Foods surely isn't, and their knowledge is lacking. But let's say we're talking about the introduction here of a shop like Artisanal (I've not been to FK to comment), is a Del Ray location one that will see enough traffic to support such a high-end operation? I'd think it would be crying out for a location within the District. Any way you cut the cheese, though, they better have a big door because there will, indeed, be a very large shadow hanging there!
  16. I had put some questions to the owner a couple of weeks ago. Here's the transcript: What other retailers are you basing your store on? - Honestly, there's no other retailer that does exactly what I will be doing, namely, focusing almost exclusively on specialty cheeses. There is one shop in Chicago that I visited and I would say that is the closest model. Certainly, the education and experimentation at Cheesetique is a new thing. Are you going to have strictly artisanal and specialty cheeses? In other words, if you can find it at Giant or Harris Teeter, it won't be anywhere near your door, right? - Yes, I am focusing on artisanal and specialty cheeses (though some very fine cheeses are industrial-made in Europe, so there will be some of those as well). I will pay a lot of attention to American artisanal and farmstead cheeses. Very exciting stuff! But no, nothing pre-cut and pre-wrapped. Everything will be cut-to-order. Are you thinking of doing cheese "courses" (as in learning about cheese?) like you find so many of the wine folks doing? - I will offer cheese classes and tastings within the shop - the schedule will soon be available online. Also, I will be doing private cheese tastings for parties, etc. I have already done some cheese courses for local restaurants and I have participated in their wine dinners - lots of fun. And one of the main ideas at Cheesetique is to taste before you buy. Will you be doing your own aging? - Technically, I will not be aging the cheeses. The facilities required to do the cheeses justice are just a bit out of my reach for now. Anyway, my Sept. 2 plan is: 1) Leave work 2) Cheesetique 3) Evening Star 4) Dreamery 5) Smile
  17. syzygy8


    The Mrs. and I ate there about two months ago. It was perfectly decent, but so uninspiring that we both agreed we wouldn't return. It's been so long since we were there, but the examples of the lack of inspiration include the wine list. Very tame. Very pedestrian. Nothing that makes you want to jump out of your seat. I recall choosing a sparkling wine by the glass, perhaps Columbia Crest, which was their best offering. The meals were the same. There was no harmony between the fish and its counterpart sides on the plate. I'm sorry I'm not more helpful, but it's just been too long since I was there. It surely won't kill you if you go, but you'll likely walk out saying...ho hum. In an aside, I tried to do a search here on Fin before we went, but because it only has three letters, the egullet system wouldn't allow the search.
  18. Elvis was in fact the first time that the public had any opportunity to have actual input into a stamp issue. It was the first time Americans voted for a particular image on a stamp. I think you're absolutely right about Julia's influence being just a powerful as Elvis's. But instead of fellow musicians, think of fellow chefs. Instead of music lovers/record buyers, think of restaurant goers and anyone who cooks a meal at home. There's no doubt in my mind she's stamp-worthy. Just as sure as Tom Seaver was a first year entrant to Cooperstown! And I think the idea of expanding it to other Americans defining our culinary culture is a superb idea. If they can make stamps for four obscure American sculptors/blues singers/hairstylists/whathaveyou, there's plenty of room for a block of stamps for 4 to 10 American culinary influences. 14 thousand members is a good head start for a ten year plan. I'm happy to help you run with it.
  19. I am frequently at the Museum of American History for work. Very frequently. Today there were bouquets of roses being left for her there. Thank God no one decided to leave scallops or turkeys! If you're in the DC area, and you're like me, do not forget to visit the exhibit this weekend. Read all of the signs. See all of the pictures. Watch the video. You're looking at her real life kitchen. As she built it with Paul. As it was when she shot her last few television series. Trust me. The feeling is overwhelming to be there now and understanding what this woman meant to every home in America. In fact, when I compare it to the recent hoop-de-do for Reagan......I just don't get it. Sure, Reagan had an effect on every American's life in a distant way. Julia struck us all in a different way. You may not have known her influence, but there's a strong reason why you're not eating meat loaf tonight. If not for her, odds are good it would be on your plate. Her imprint is there, but you probably don't know her influence. Then add in the contribution she and Paul made to the defense of this country in the OSS. The US Postal Service requires that, aside from a deceased president, ten years must pass before a civilian may be honored on a postage stamp. May I suggest that we begin here and now, on e-gullet, to build that list of petitioners in support of a postage stamp of Julia Child? Jason, would you find some way to make e-gullet the collective source so that petition could be made to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee that a Julia Child commemorative stamp be issued in 2014?
  20. Does anyone have any suggestions for further out, into Garrett County? Particularly looking for something around Deep Creek Lake. I've considered the Deer Park Inn, which has been there for years and seems to be of quality, but I'm wondering if anyone else has experience there, or elsewhere that they can recommend.
  21. I'm anxious to hear. Where along Lake George is it?
  22. There used to be a Seoul House in Colonie, smack dab between Albany and Schenectady. It was great and, to my knowledge, the only Korean place in the Capital District at that time. They served a tea made from corn. Wonderful stuff. They closed about 1994 or so and were replaced by some Russian restaurant that we never went to. I wonder if they moved to Rochester in '94 and opened up there?
  23. I've always found the place to be over-rated. Although I do like sampling their wine list, I much prefer Jaleo and Atlantico for food. Am excited for the opening of Oyamel, which still is claiming to be open in October. Interesting that its website says it's opening in Washington (instead of Arlington/Crystal City).
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