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Everything posted by 8Track

  1. Friends and I had dinner last week at CityZen, the ultra-luxe spot helmed by Eric Ziebold. The four of us went for the tasting menu, paired with wines for each course -- plus a three "shot" dessert drink course that put us all over the edge. I am not a note taker at dinner, so can't post a detailed blow by blow here. Suffice it to say that the cooking is at a very high level. The space is gorgeous. IMHO its the best looking restaurant in D.C., in what is really a beautiful and gracious hotel. Get there early and have a drink on the patio of the hotel, which is unexpectedly serene. If you're planning on the tasting menu, don't eat lunch and come hungry. It really is an orgy of goodness. My one caveat is that this luxury does not come cheap. The fully Monty dinner, drinks, plus a round of champagne before hand, set us back $1000. Yes. That's three zeros. A new record for me. $125 for the tasting menu. $80 for the drinks accompanying, and add in champagne and tip. There you are. Thankfully, the valet parking is free.
  2. Oy. Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecy. Complain about the proliferation of posts on Ray's and trigger another five pages of debate on the subject! My goal was not to trash Ray's. I think Ray's is great. Rather, I was lamenting what I have noticed is a drop off in discussion about DC's many other fine restaurants. I check in every few days here for news of places I should visit, but see a lot of retreading old ground. I'm guilty of not starting new threads myself, so I pledge to try and do so more often. Tonight, I'm heading to CityZen, and will report back!
  3. I know this is sacrilege on this board, but isn't the unceasing attention about Ray's here getting a little ridiculous? This is the 16th flip of the thread, far exceeding places such as Maestro. Don't get me wrong. Ray's is great, but it's steak folks. We're not talking El Bulli.
  4. Harris Teeter has a wide variety of super hero and other specialty cakes. We got Spiderman in April. I'm confident that they will have Batman.
  5. Too many people automatically assume corporate sponsorship is bad, or dilutes the purity of the product. As though artists must suffer to produce good work. The minute they start making money, they are accused of selling out or compromising the integrity of the product. I am faced with this in my profession (law) all the time. If our client commissions an independent scientific study that winds up proving a particular point to our client's advantage, the inevitable retort by the opposition is this: "well, you can't believe it because it was sponsored by XYZ Corp." B.S. I say! With art, as in cooking, the proof is in the end product. If it is good, it is good. Now maybe you hate the Avocado Council because they favor the use of underpaid, undocumented farm workers. That would be a different point. But if they want to sponsor Chef Andres to put avocados in everything from cotton candy wrapping to Binaca dispensers, then they are paying him to showcase the ingredient in its best and most inventive possible light. Isn't that a good thing? If the customer hates it, then the sponsorship will fail and the relationship will end.
  6. I find all white interiors very threatening. You have to have perfect skin and very clean clothes.
  7. Speaking as a Hill resident myself, we love it. It's a truly walkable neighborhood, unlike some of the more affluent stretches of DC that are considered more "desirable." It still could use more good food places, including a good food market (which is on the way, apparently).
  8. Great news. Although it's somewhat sad to see Barolo go. I always enjoyed dinner there. Radicchio had declined considerably, although it was still a reliable option with kids.
  9. It's not likely that everyone will agree on how many stars, particularly given the imprecision of such a system. FWIW, I would award three stars. In my view, it surpasses the Sietsema two-star places I have been to. It could not reach a four in my book, because that's reserved for the whole package -- absolute first rate cooking, presentation and service. We might have two or three of those in the whole city. BlackSalt isn't intended to compete on that level. But, what it sets out to do, it does very very well. That is serve really great fish in a manner that enhances the fish, all in a fun and relaxed atrmosphere. It is no small feat to acquire and cook these raw materials well. I give them high marks for their ability to source the materials as well as to cook them. Maybe if we had more great casual restaurants like BlackSalt (San Francisco seems to be full of them), it would stand out less. I'd hope to see the day when that came about. Right now, we have polarization -- a large number of crummy and cheap restaurants, and a goodly number of froofy expense account places. That's why we get such a huge response on the BlackSalts and Fireflies. There's a huge middle, waiting to be served with great food in a relaxed atmosphere.
  10. 'zactly, and that's their number one problem. However, since it's the new year, they should be stocked up, post-assessment. My former roommate works over there...I'll see if I can find out what the deal is. It should be good to go for the weekend, though. ← I once made the grave mistake of seeing how far I could go down their list, drinking solely 21 ouncers. As I recall, I died on Black Mamba from Ivory Coast.
  11. In other words -- keep it nice, folks. In the spirit of constructive comment, here are some of my suggestions: 1. More restaurant reviews and more news about local food and eateries. Surely we have a large enough base of restaurants that we could have reviews of more than one per week in the Sunday Post? The Wednesday version could be a condensed format and Sunday reserved for more notable restaurants. In the same vein, a newsy regular column about local food happenings would inform the public and generate benefical buzz for the industry. 2. I would divide recipes into two categories -- one set that feature some central theme, technique or ingredient (sort of what is being done now), and one that simply features an inspiring dish or two from a local restaurant or by a local chef. 3. Back off the "easy" recipe stuff a little bit. I imagine that the Food section is generally read by people who really have an interest in food, and less by people who consider themselves too busy to eat well. I'm not saying it needs to be pitched at gastronomes, but it at least ought to appeal to that category in some portion. That's your core audience. 4. The wine column is a tough one. I think that there should be a mix of coverage of "splurge" wines and every day wines, with the latter category having more weight. Most people who are reading would appreciate a tip regarding a good, everyday wine. Those who have $50 or more to spend generally get their information from their wine merchant, a sommelier, a wine tasting, or a specialty magazine such as Wine Spectator. 5. Above all, the Food section ought to wave a flag for Washington food. It could, if done well, raise the profile of Washington's culinary environment. Fact is, we are a pretty good restaurant town (top five in the country, IMHO), although we don't ever get credit for it.
  12. Jeff was in the kitchen the night we went. He came out to say hello and work the room.
  13. My wife and I ate at BlackSalt last Friday night and did the tasting menu: 7 courses with wines to match. I can't begin to describe it all, but I can tell you this -- this was the best overall dining experience I have had in Washington in the last two years. I won't lie and say that the cooking matches Citronelle or Maestro, but it is not intended to do so. What it does, is deliver handsomely on impeccably fresh fish, handled with care, served with aplomb by an energetic wait staff. Each dish was accompanied by thoughtfully picked wines, priced incredibly fairly. The place is bustling and fun, and the food is top notch. Everyone working there seems totally enthusiastic about the concept and the product. We left the restaurant with a warm glow -- and that wasn't just the wine talking (although I did feel it the next morning). There are too few restaurants like this in D.C.! Go now. Right away.
  14. I have found them at Whole Foods on Wisconsin -- both fresh and dried.
  15. I thought about Old Ebbitt, although they are kind of a zoo. Les Halles seems like a good idea. My Dad is big on steaks.
  16. This is a tricky one. My aging parents are coming into town on Wednesday evening. They are, as we are, somewhat tense about the whole thing. Long story, but suffice it to say that we could use Kissinger at the table. Here's the guest list: My wife and me, and our two small kids who are well behaved, but who can only sit still for so long and who have limited food preferences (and a little baby) One older brother who's a crazy maverick, but a nice guy. Two parents, 77 and 65. Dad is not terribly adventurous with the palate. Mom a little more so. These are northeasterner, Republican, WASPY folk, so they at least know what good food is, even if they don't eat it. The good news, everyone drinks. Well, except the kids of course. And we'll need a lot of that to break the ice. We live on the Hill, so I'd rather not schlep up to upper NW or into Virginia. So where would you bring a group like this. It can't be too fancy or stuffy, because my parents will be embarrassed if we spend a lot. Someplace noisy and informal seems right. Not a hole in the wall though. La tasca, maybe?
  17. You will have a very fine steak at CP's. I have eaten very well there. It is quite hoity toity, and very expensive, however. It is definitely "high end" in the sense that you pay for the whole experience, not just the food. Very striking decor and high rent address. I do recall thinking the price tab was little out of whack for the caliber of the food, however. They have a tremendous wine list. Up near the top of DC.
  18. Cesare, I think it's great that you run kids camps every so often at the restaurant. So many American kids are taught to be afraid of food, which is reinforced by the fact that kids menus everywhere have nothing but burgers, chicken fingers and french fries. I have a couple of questions for you. First, how have the kids camps been going? At what age do you think it's appropriate to enroll your child in the camp? Second, what recommendations do you have for getting children who are afraid of trying new foods to do so? Third, and finally, do you see a new interest in good food among young people in the US? I sense that times are changing ...
  19. I don't think BC was ever that good to start with, but I agree. These restaurants are always bustling, so I don;t know how one can say there is no nightlife. If you build it, they will come. As for rents, how is it that we keep getting new dry cleaners if rents are so steep? Are those businesses so profitable? I had great hopes that the old McDonald's space next to Remingtons might be transformed into a cool eatery. Alas, I learn that it is to be a Mattress Discounters.
  20. The Hill is indeed a disappointment for food. There are a bunch of really poor, underachieving places that are nonetheless packed. Look at Marty's, Tortilla Coast, Bullfeathers, Radicchio, Tunnicliffs, Taverna Greek Isles, Thai Roma (I could go on and on). Why offer Kobe Beef, when gristle will do? Despite the bleak scene that it currently is, it has improved dramatically since even three or four years ago. At least we now have a few bright lights, like Montmartre and Barolo (when it's on). I'll claim Bistro Bis and Charlie Palmers for the Hill too, even though that's arguable.
  21. DC Chophouse is kind to kids. As is Legal Seafood.
  22. Busara has a really nice garden, which is isolated from the street. The late lamented Tahoga used to have a great one as well. Haven't seen who's in that space in a while -- do they still have the garden? If you're not picky about food, Iron Gate has a great patio -- very medieval. Straits of Malaya has a lovely rooftop.
  23. True true. Jaleo was a pioneer, although it was located next to the Shakespeare, and the then-famous Insect Club. That area had at the time a somewhat dangerous city feel to it, which made it an adventure to go there. Not too unlike heading down towards the lower east side for clubbing in NY used to be. You would feel like you either might get killed, or stumble across gorgeous people pulling up in limos and strutting through velvet ropes into some club. Ok, I exagerrate. DC did have the "might get killed" aspect down, but the glamour of the second part was never like NY. I'm not sure you could say that about Crystal City, unless the pocket protectors and plastic badges of government workers make one tingle. Always struck me as more of a TGIFridays neighborhood.
  24. It's interesting that they choose to locate it in the (culinary) wasteland that is Crystal City. Anyone have any insight as to their thinking on that? Steve?
  25. Never been there for dinner, but they have a fun jazz brunch. Don't expect good service, but it's a trip back in time.
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