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  1. And now for a crass question from the cheap seats... Mrs. BigWyoming and I are moving back to God's Country at the end of the month and as such we're hitting the places we always meant to visit but never did. Citronelle is #1 on the list. My question is if two people can reasonably get out of there for under $300. We don't want to shortchange ourselves with the experience, but with the move times are tight. Any thoughts?
  2. We all know 5 Guys is good when you just need to mainline some grease. But where do you go when you want to maybe sit and sip a glass of wine and tuck into a burger with toppings you have to sound out to pronounce correctly? I had a great wagyu burger at Sonoma earlier this week with pancetta and gorgonzola and a tasty glass of Montepulciano to wash it down. This followed an almost as good, but slightly overdone, "natural beef" burger at the Belga cafe. Where else can a burger lover expand his horizons in the D.C. area? I hear great things about the Colorado Kitchen, though I am a sworn enemy of all things Colorado. Any bars at the high end places have burgers that shouldn't be missed? And, by the by, what's the deal with this wagyu beef? If it is supposedly as good as kobe, wouldn't it be a crime against nature to grind it like ground round?
  3. Best cheap lunch in Chinatown for my money is at Capital-Q. Great sausage, pork and brisket. The smoked potatoes, baked beans and mac and cheese will all put a smile on your face and a bulge in your belly. Everytime I've been to Full Kee (admittedly only thrice) the place has been empty except for myself and it's kind of creeped me out. http://www.capitalqbbq.com/
  4. You guys are talking about the Griffin Tavern in Flint Hill, VA, right? Not some bizarro Griffin Tavern that I'm not aware of somewhere else that apparently sucks eggs? Is it the Inn? No. But in the times I've been there they served simple food that you could tell had some care put into it instead of the slap-dash hurried mish-mash that you get here in the big city. Also, they keep their keg beer damned cold. For a simple country person such as myself, that is a key point.
  5. In Flint Hill (sort of in between Front Royal and Little Washington) there's a little place called the Griffin Pub. It's in a perfect spot if you're ever out there touring any vineyards and tying on a good and healthy wine buzz. And Sweet Mary is it ever good. The place is sort of an homage to traditional pubs in England and the menu reflects that. Only way, way better. The burgers are hand formed and cooked to perfection. If you request pink in the middle, by God there will be pink. They're served on locally baked buns that are so soft and chewy I get sort of emotional when I get down to the last bite. Same goes for the chicken sandwiches which are trimmed of any nasty chicken fat and grilled just right. Bangers and mash are made with housemade sausages and homemade mashed potatoes. Guinness on tap? Oh yes. Several other brews from that area of the world as well but I forget their names. I've stopped by three times while cruising wine country and each time the food has been outrageously good and reasonably priced. By the by, Linden Vineyards out there is worth a trip. Great vino in a great setting.
  6. Me and the missus and some friends were lucky enough to attend a preview dinner last night at Sonoma. I hope the management won't mind if I share some thoughts. First, this place is going to kill like Anakin Skywalker when it opens. There is nothing like it within walking distance of the Capitol, especially on the House side, and I see it being a prime spot for business lunches and dinners for the crowd who don't necessarily want to drink beer out of mason jars at some of the other hill hangouts. The downstairs isn't completed yet and the walls aren't decorated but you can tell it's going to be a neat little space. I was surprised at how small, but I guess that's not necessarily bad. We didn't get to see the upstairs. The downstairs came off as upscale but appropriately casual. The bar is basically in the same place as it used to be, but instead of beer taps they've put in some new fangled system of wine taps. It looks like they had maybe 25 or 30 taps on hand to do wine by the glass. Very cool, and though they didn't have wine lists printed yet I think they had just about any kind of Italian varietal you could want. The food, offered from a preview of the casual menu, was very good. Certainly better than anything in the area from the Capitol up to Monmartre. In fact, I liked Sonoma better - though it might just be because I'd pick Italian over French if forced to at the point of a chef's knife. Without question better than anything I've had over on Eighth St.as well - acknowledging the fact that it's kind of like comparing apples and oranges since Sonoma isn't trying to serve bar food. I had a grilled apple salad with roasted pistachios and watercress (if the wine allows me to remember correctly) that was very good. First course was a little plate of small meatballs on a bed of uber-creamy polenta. Lots of veal in the meatballs, methinks. Very tender and good to the point that I threw a little temper tantrum when I saw the girlfriend's fork sneaking over. Third was a rib-eye (more like maybe a half a ribeye) that was nonetheless grilled perfectly and served with some really nice fried potatoes and poached garlic. Dessert was panna cotta with strawberries that was good but not grand. The pistachio ice cream was way better. And by that I mean that I was licking the plate. All in all, I came away very impressed and very optimistic. The Hill is in desperate need of exactly what I think Sonoma is looking to be. The staff was extremely knowledgeable when it came to wine (but you'd expect that from the Mendocino crew) and very polite and friendly. Once they get up and running (they said opening is probably middle of next week) I sense many a glass of wine and plate of meatballs will be enjoyed at the bar by the Hill crowd. And if the bar menu was any indication I look forward to seeing what they come up with upstairs. In short, for a preview dinner I give Sonoma 4 lightsabers out of 4. Strong with the Force is this one.
  7. Has anyone else who's dined at CityZen found the cheese guy to be a real horse's ass? At our dinner there, which on the whole was very good, he treated us like we were some sort of stinky rind to be passed over as quickly as possible. He had three cheeses that he was pushing very, very hard, no matter what we asked about the others on the cart. He ignored our questions about anything other than what he wanted to cut for us, and gave my girlfriend a hard time when she asked for fun if he had any goat gouda. "No," he said with disdain. "There is no such thing as goat gouda." Well, bullshit. I've had it before. The entire cheese service struck a discordant tone to me relative to the rest of the dinner. Whereas the servers for the other courses, and the sommelier, and the busboys, were unfailingly polite - the cheese guy stuck out as the one giant pimple on an otherwise very attractive face. I don't think I was just looking to be angry at the time, as I sometimes do, since I had just had a ribeye with a bone marrow vinaigrette that made me want to walk into the kitchen and propose to whoever made it. I think the guy was just a real life asshole cheese snob. And right or wrong, it's one of the major impressions I've taken away from the entire evening. Anyway, I'm curious if anyone thinks it was just an off night. And for those who are curious about the price of the restaurant - for four of us, two who had the chef's tasting with the full wine pairing, and two who had the three course option, also with the pairing, the bill was slightly north of $800 before the tip. So, yes, it is a good thing they'll validate your parking sticker for you.
  8. If it's the same Guapo's as in Shirlington it is seven different kinds of horrible. Every bad Mexican food cliche is there, from the salsa jarred in New York City to the piles and piles of greasy cheese melted over everything. Anita's, because it is the only place I've found in the Mid-Atlantic that makes green chili out of, gasp!, green chiles and not tomatillos holds a place that is near and dear to my heart. Damn it! Chile verde is not made with tomatillos. That's salsa verde! Dios mio!
  9. Last week I had a ribeye at CityZen that came with a bone marrow vinaigrette. It was Rich like Bill Gates. And Good like Superman. Bone marrow, beef, butter, joy.
  10. The future in-laws are coming in from Wyoming in a couple weeks and I need to impress. The father-in-law-to-be, an avid amateur chef of no mean talent, once said that one of his lifelong dreams is a dinner at the French Laundry, so I'm leaning toward Cityzen for obvious reasons. But with some of the recent talk about Cityzen still settling in, and the nothing but raves I hear about Palena, I'm torn. Can't do both as I can only afford two "nice" dinners during their stay and one of them is already reserved for a trip to Minibar. Assuming that money (up to but not including Inn type money) is no object, but that the need to impress and have fun is an object of not a little significance, what's my best bet for a grand finale? They'll be more into the food than the decor. Wine very important as much of it will likely be enjoyed. Stick with Cityzen? Citronelle? Palena? I'd like to stay in town so I'm passing on Maestro. Any place I'm forgetting? Thanks for any help. Pray for me.
  11. Am I completely insane for suggesting P.F. Chang's? I know, I know, chains are the devil. But that doesn't make the Mongolian Beef any less tasty... Kung Pao, spare ribs, cold beer, joy.
  12. Me and the missus stopped by Butterfield 9 on Friday night after catching a glimpse of Morgan Fairchild's boobies at the Warner and came away beaucoup impressed (with the food, not the boobies.) Butterfield was one of those places I never tried because it never seemed to get above the P.R. din created by the Andres juggernaut and Tom's chat. When the better half suggested it I made a face and protested loudly. This only re-confirmed what she has already established, which is that I am a fool who is stupid. My grilled quail starter with cheesy grits made me all emotional and, even though I tend to never order chicken these days, the roasted chicken breast with pine nuts and goat cheese made me glad I was feeling like something homey that evening. And on top of the food being better than what I've had recently at Ceiba, Atlantico and Andale, what really stood out for me was the service. I didn't catch the waiter's name, but he was cooler than a bucket of beer. Always prompt, friendly, funny, very helpful and knowledgeable without that holier than thou attitude that you can so often find when you ask a stupid question, which I am wont to do from time to time. And, while this might be controversial, I tend to like busboys who speak and understand English. Maybe that's not a big deal for some folks. As for me, I like to be able to ask the busboy for a new fork or knife if I need one without having to fumble around for my English to Spanish pocket dictionary. I don't know if it's just been around too long or if their p.r. people moonlight as circus clowns or what, but Butterfield ought to get more attention if you ask me. P.S. The producers of The Graduate should be boiled in poison oil for what they did to that movie.
  13. I had my first Tallula experience last night, and even though I went in very much wanting to hate it for having the nerve to replace the hallowed ground that was Whitey's I had to walk out with a smile on my face and my belt loosened to the last hole. If you're ever there and are in doubt about whether to order the short ribs or something else, go with the ribs. That is unless you're afraid of little things like saturated fat and cholesterol. But if you're a normal person go with the ribs and grits. It's a sort of smokey, cheesey, slightly spicy thing that caused me to suck on the bone until Ms. BigWyoming looked over and saw me and cursed me for gluttony. Baby burger is good, if slightly overcooked. Foie gras sandwich is a pass. Both too little foie gras and too much preserves. A good idea, though. The missus reports that the scallop ceviche was very good, if a little heavy on the serrano's, while I can report that the corn dog was so good I threatened to end our relationship when she reached over to steal the last bite. We finished with the cappuccino creme brulee. Mmm, frothy.... As a side note, we were told that we were seated next to a certain prominent Washington Post food critic who also allegedly ordered the spare ribs.
  14. Curse you, Rocks. Bud is not garbage. It is a fine American macrobrew, best enjoyed while sitting on a tailgate slapping at mosquitoes. Seashells, balloons, miniburgers, joy.
  15. Dry chicken - nice atmospehere. I was there a few months ago on a Friday night and had a good time. They often have live music in the form of a little jazz quartet or a guy who plays a guitar spanish style. On warm nights they open the front doors to let the breeze in and you get the feeling you just found a nice little neighborhood favorite. And then the food comes. I've only been once so this criticism really has no credibility but I found that the food, while good, wasn't quite up to what I expected for the price. It's not Maestro expensive by any means, but for the same kind of money I'd probably head to Cafe Atlantico or someplace like that. But if you live in the area like I do, and being able to walk down the street to a really cozy little family owned restaurant carries some value to you, then the Park Cafe is a can't miss. Just don't order the chicken breast.
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