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Everything posted by dinwiddie

  1. One of the best things about Urban Burger is that they will cook your burger the way you want it. Like it really rare, that is how you will get it. Want it charred to a crisp, they may wince, but it will come out charred to a crisp.
  2. Chef John Wabeck is leaving in a couple of weeks so a group of my wine geek friends wanted to make sure we had one more dinner before he left. As usual, he provided us with a fantastic meal. As one of our group doesn not eat meat, and another seafood, the meals in parenthesis were what they got instead of what the rest of us had. Attending were: T-Rep, Winoman, norm herring, Jake (dinwiddie jr.), Pool Boy and myself. Dinner constisted of Charred Eggplant and Tomato Soup, Scallion Creme Fraiche Petit Caesar Salad; Fried Green Totatoes, Smoked Chili Caesar Dressing Seared Maine Scallops, Spiced Lentil Ragout, Onion Chutney Eastern Shore Fritto Misto consisting of fried oysters, fried gerkin, and hushpuppy with a wonderful dipping sauce Colorado Lamb Carpaccio with Three Bean Salad, Old Balsamic, Parmesan Reggiano (Scottish Smoked Salmon with Sweet-n-Sour Rubarb, Peppered Strawberry Salsa) Sautted Chesapeake Soft Shell Crab with Potato-Cucumber Raita and Vindaloo Oil (Grilled Organic Cornish Game Hen with Bacon-Studded Japonica Rice and Red Chili Salsa) Grilled Meyer Ranch NY Steak with Feta Potato Gratin, Baby Fennel and Olives (Steamed Atlantic Snapper with Tomato Toast, Baby Fennel, Spanish Garlic Sauce) Cheese: Blue d'Auvergne, Tomme de Savoie, Garrotxa, Malvarosa, Ardrahan, Epoisses, Valencey, Paddo Classico Araretti Stuffed Peaches, Amaretto-Raspberry Puree The wines that John paired the food to were: 2000 Rochioli RRV Pinot Noir Feminine, nose of roses, sour cherry, smokiness, faint sweetness, fresh jam. Showed very well in the first half of the evening. 2002 Rivers Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Nori Sweet with a slightly caramel nose. Some leatheriness, red raspberry, opened up unbelievable as the evening progressed. 2004 Kosta Browne 4-Barrel Pinot Noir Thick with a dark brown sugaryness at first, slight eucalyptus and chocolate. My son described tasting Chinese pork cahrsiu. I will admit it, I'm a K-B whore, I loved this wine. But if you are not a fan of the big CA PNs, this is not the wine for you. 2003 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauv. Slightly flinty with a red dust note. Lots of fruit. Showing much better than the 2001 at this time. I really enjoyed this wine. 2000 Casanova di Neri Bbrunello Wonderful nose when opened. Leather and licorice, very dry with a beefy note, a little lead pencil. This showed well early, but faded a bit in the middle before coming back with a meaty and minerally back-end. 1997 Valdicava Brunello Iodine, blue cheese, roasted nuts (butter and earth), kind of chalky. Serious funk at first, but it blew off after a long long while and had this roasted buttery nut element that was wonderful. 2001 Paul Hobbs To Kalon Cabernet Sauv. My wine of the night. Zaftig, with tastes of cherry pits, faint dill. A really nice wine, quite large but it had a good core holding things all together and in balance. 2002 Radio Coteau la Neblina Pinot Noir We shouldn't have inserted this wine here after having the Hobbs, but it was opened on a whim. Sweet, almost cotton candy next to what we'd just finished drinking. It probably should have gone early in the line up. 2003 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguet Sauternes Orange peel, lemon oil, cream. Really, really nice.
  3. When it comes to Five Guys, they were a great place to get burgers when there were only about five restaurants. However, they have exploed in their expansion, now have over 100, as far as NY, and they are inconsistent. I've had a great burger at the DC store, and a horrible one at the Aspen Hill store. The next time it was just the opposite.
  4. Judging from the buzz that results whenever anyone opens a new burger place, there is a demand for burgers in the DC area. I have never been a big fan of Five-Guys, mainly because as noted in in the sidebar to the article, they are too inconsistent. Of the places described, I've only eaten at Z-Burger and Urban Burger. (Disclaimer, my son works at both Urban BBQ and Urban Burger, so I've tried their burgers many times.) It should also be noted that Michael Landrum of Ray's the Steaks, has opened a place called Butcher Burgers right (known on the street as Ray's Hell-Burger) down the street from Ray's the Steaks that serves only burgers, and 10 ouncers at that. Everyone seems to be very excited about it.
  5. A group of us got together for a Northern Rhone (mostly) Night dinner last weekend. Great company, great food (in spite of the hail storm that knocked out the power in the afternoon before we all gathered) and great wine. As we were standing around the grill finishing off the beef and the appetizers we finished off a 2005 Francois Blanchard "Violoncelite" Cab Franc. Young and still pretty tannic, but it will be very good in a couple of years. We started with a really garlicy gazpacho and paired it with: NV Jacquesson Brut Champagne Cuvee No. 732. - Grapefruit and apple, with a medium finish. 1996 Lanson Gold Label Brut Champagne - Really pale gold color. Nose of lemon, green apple and a little yeast. Subtle, then a rush of grapefruit, lemon, sour apple, caramel and toasted vanilla. Complex with a long finish We moved to a strawberry/almond salad with a poppy seed dressing and mini crabcakes paired with: 1996 Grans-Fassian Riesling Auslese Piesporter Goldtropfchen. - Tropical fruit, light minerality, not too sweet, with a definite honey and melon flavor and a lemony finish. 2003 Christoffel Riesling Auslese ** Treppchen - Flavors of apple, lemon, and itrus. Still very young. As pancetta wrapped asparagus started coming off the grill, we started into the cheese plate with which we enjoyed a 1983 Delas Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette - lots of sediment that completely caked around the entire bottle but still great. Nose of cranberry, sour cherry and loam. Cherry and grilled red pepper with mature tannins and a medium finish. Dinner of a grilled beef loin in a shallot/shiitake port reduction sauce, mixed roast potatoes, and a delicious truffled orzo followed with two flights consisting of: Flight #1 1998 Guigal Cote-Rotie Brune et Blonde - Nose of cherry, loam, pepper, smoked meats and spices. Still youthful with layers of dark red fruits, spice and peppers. Medium tannins and good acidity. Wonderful wine. Wish I had more of these in the cellar, but alas, this was my last. 1995 Chapoutier Saint-Joseph Les Granits - Loam, ground pepper and cherry. Nice balance. 1997 Jean-Michel Gerin Cote-Rotie Les Grandes Places - Very elegant wine. Sour cherry, blueberry, smoky wood flavors. One of my favorites of the night. Flight #2 1995 Rene Rostaing Cote-Rotie La Landonne - Grass, leather, cherry. Soft tannins and nice finish. 1999 Domaine de Monteillet Cote-Rotie Fortis - Cherry, blackberry, loam, and a touch of red pepper. 2000 Domaine Michel Ogier Cote-Rotie - Really, really young. Ripe cherry, blackberry, cedar, tobacco, spice on the nose. Complex with medium tannins. We continued with a couple of Hermitages 2000 E. Guigal Hermitage (corked unfortunately) 2001 Domaine Belle Hermitage - Red and black cherry, blackberry, spice and pepper notes as well as smoked meats. Good structure, light acidity, not as balanced as the previous wines. For dessert we continued with crustini and stilton and a soft rind proprietary cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. We then had a wonderful La Bete Noir with a raspberry sauce to enjoy with a 1983 Cockburn Vintage Port. - Probably need a couple more hours in the decanter as it was fairly hot, but nice flavors of cherry, chocolate, and tobacco. Coffee to finish ensured that we all made it home safe and sound.
  6. Apparently it isn't just you, but I'm with BrentKulman, I like fresh ground pepper on my salad and I don't necessarily need a pepper mill on my table. Besides, as Toliver said, it is an anti theft thing. I can't count how many salt and pepper shakers left the restaurant each week when worked in one.
  7. Ditto, I ate there Friday night and it is as good or better than before, which is saying something.
  8. On the spur of the moment a couple of weeks ago we decided we wanted to go out to dinner. I got on OpenTable and made a reservation at Mrs. K's Toll House in Silver Spring, someplace I had never been. The restaurant has been there since 1930 (as a restaurant, it was a toll house in the early 1900's) and I don't know how I've not managed to go there at least once in the last 25 years. Our trip started on a sour note, the people who entered the parking lot in front of us parked in the last handicapped parking space (they did not have handicapped plates or a placard) forcing us to find a place further away (my wife recently broke an ankle and has a temporary placard while she is healing). However, when we entered the restaurant things got much better. The house is lovely, and larger than one would think. (there is also a lovely patio and gardens that are used in the summer). We were shown to a very nice table and given the menus and wine list. And what a wine list, it is huge, abet fairly expensive (but it is Montgomery County) but has wines in all ranges. There were 5 or 6 vintages of Ridge Monte Bello available (outside my price range unfortunately) as well as several pages of Bordeauxs and a 1979 Petrus, which did not have a price (but obviously well outside the price I was looking for) It was difficult choosing. After deciding that we would order a glass of Pinot Grigio for my wife to go with her fish, and a bottle of a red for the steaks my son and I were having, I settled on a 2001 Worthy Sophie's Cuvee, but the server came back and said they couldn't find it, but did I want the 2004. I declined and asked for the list again and ordered a 2003 Chateau la Nerthe CNdP. About 10 minutes later the server came back with two bottles in his hand and again said they could not find that vintage. He had called the owner and was told to offer us our choice, at the price of the la Nerthe. He then presented a 1999 Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve and a 1999 Louis Latour Château Corton Grancey to choose from. I was sorely tempted to take the Mondavi, but knew my wife would much prefer a Pinot Noir (she does not like Cabernet) so I chose the Corton. It was fantastic, as only properly aged Burgundy can be. Lots of sweet ripe cherry, casis and plums with fine, well integrated tannins and a fairly long finish. Needless to say, we all loved it. Dinner was quite good too. I started with a grilled Mediterranean octopus salad, then had the New York strip steak served with a wild mushroom cognac cream sauce. For dessert a wonderful bread pudding with whiskey cream. My son started with a grilled portobello mushroom with roquefort cheese and a raspberry vinaigrette. It was followed by a 23 oz. cowboy steak (servered very rare, as requested) and for dessert a huge piece of absolutely fantastic cheesecake. My wife started with the shrimp and scallop ceviche, which unfortunately was fairly bland, needing more spice, but then had a wonderful blackened rockfish. For dessert she had a butterscotch sundae that she pronounced as wonderful. Coffee and espresso ended the meal. Service was fantastic, friendly, discrete, and efficient. When dinner was over, the manager gave my son and I a tour of the wine cellar (pretty cool, and huge, but overflowing with cases of wine since they just got a shipment, which might explain not being able to find things) and apologized for not having the wine we had first ordered. (Like I was going to complain, I got a wine that cost three times as much for the same price, and was fantastic to boot.) All in all, a very good meal, with the added bonus of getting a much better wine than I had originally ordered for a third of the wine list price. We will return.
  9. Glad you liked Beck's, it is one of my favorite places in DC. Great food and great service, and if you are a fan of Belgian beer, THE place to go.
  10. It depends on your town, and the restaurant. Here in DC, many "expense account" restaurants are not as busy on Friday or Saturday as they are during the week because everyone who was here for business has left town on Friday. On the other hand, my wife and I regularly eat out locally any day of the week, but are more likely to take the trip downtown (we live in the burbs, I work downtown, she works out in the burbs, both of us are senior level Feds) on Saturday. It is just too much hassle for to get home from downtown, then turn around and go back, when both of us have to get up early to go to work.
  11. Note that it just applies to children under the age of 10. Considering the number of restaurants in DisneyWorld, this is not a problem for me. However, as a parent (even thought my son is now in college) I always felt that it was my responsibility to make sure that my child knew how to behave approriately in restaurants. We started taking him with us out to eat at a very young age, and he learned very quickly that if he acted up or was loud, he was out of there right then. We eat out often, and he has been welcome in some of the finest restaurants in the city (we live in Washington DC) since he was 5. In fact he was well known to several hosts and chefs, mainly because he had such an eclectic palate. Nothing like an 8 yo regularly ordering escargot to impress a server.
  12. Many years ago when my son was 6 yo (he is in college now) we were eating at a very nice restaurant at the beach. A table of 6 next to us was full of guys who had just come off the golf course, had consumed a little too much alcohol, and were very loud and occasionally profane. My son waved over the host and asked somewhat loudly "could we move to another table, those men don't know how to use their inside voices and it is ruining our dinner." The table got very quiet (unfortunately there wasn't another table available) for the rest of the evening. As they were leaving, one of the men came to our table and very sheepishly apologized to my son for their behavior. Out of the mouth of babes.....
  13. RW experiences depend on a couple of things. First, those restaurants that have prices that are normally quite a bit more than what it is for RW tend to have limited menus and scaled back portions or quality. After all, it is difficult to provide a three course meal for $30.08 when your normal entrees are in the $30 plus range. However, the good ones make sure that what is offered is high quality and shows off the talents of the chef. I've been to quite a few here in DC that do just that. On the other hand, some places, especially those who do a land office business normally, tend to be somewhat less. The other restaurant type is the one where a three course meal would normally cost around $40 so they can make sure to offer the entire menu (sometimes with a minor upcharge for the more expensive entrees) and still offer the same quality as is the norm. I tend to avoid RW, mainly because I eat out often anyway (and since my wife also has a good job) as I can afford to go almost anywhere I want when it isn't RW. If I do RW I tend to do lunch with folks from the office (I take the folks who work for me out once during RW for lunch and pick up the tab) and we go to where they choose. This way, we get to try some places that would normally be beyond what they would want to spend themselves.
  14. I'd definitely go to Brasserie Beck. If you are into wine, Dino, just one METRO stop above where you will be has the best, and best priced, list of Italian wines in DC, and the food isn't bad either. If you are alone, eat at the bar and have a great time. Palena is a must, but it is very popular, with good reason. The back room takes reservations, but is more expensive and formal. The Cafe in front doesn't, is less formal, and excellent. I'd also consider going for some Ethiopian food. Etete, Dukem, or Queen Makeda are all good choices. If you like tapas, Jaleo or Zyatinya, both near Gallery Place METRO are excellent choices.
  15. Joe, I think tj's comment was more because he does not buy "popular wine" and is not usually interested in buying a case of the wines that Total or Corridor sell (and he lives near Corridor). It is true that if you want to buy the ordinary bottle of wine by the case, Total is the place to go, but they seldom have what I want. I've also found that by establishing a relationship with a good wine shop, that sells the kinds of wines I'm interested in, I get just as good a discount. Hey, if you want a tool, you can go to a good hardware store, or you can go to Sears. I'd rather go to the hardware store. It isn't just price, it is also the service.
  16. dinwiddie

    Reality Wine Cellars

    I have one of the rooms in the downstairs of our house (we have a split foyer house) that stays fairly cool in the summer. It has racks and boxes, and a VinoTemp 500 that was my wife's B'day present to me a couple of years ago. The best stuff goes into the vinotemp (which is lucky if it will hold 350 bottles, not 500) and the rest is in racks in the coolest part of the room, near the air conditioning vent(which gets sealed and blocked off during the winter so it doesn't pump heat into the room.)
  17. I really wish Mark and Gove were still making this wine, I'd buy it by the case. Crisp and powerful, not at all oaky, with notes of grapefruit and walnuts(?) that was truely spectacular. Wonderful nose, and lovely golden color. One of the other folks at dinner described it as falling somewhere between a chablis - with its crispness and purity and a Cali Chardonay - with its complexity.
  18. dinwiddie

    Wine Tag: M

    With dinner last night: 1999 Marimar Torres Pinot Noir Don Miguel Vineyard And with coffee afterwards: 2004 Malivoire Gewürztraminer Icewine
  19. I think that Zin is the California "official wine", Pinot Noir is probably what is most notable in terms of increase in planting and new wines (the Sideways effect??), but Cabernet and Chardonney are still the flagship wines. Even the best Pinot Noirs do not go for the price or have the cache that the best Cabernets have.
  20. I wouldn't limit myself to Napa. There are fantastic wines coming from Sonoma that are the equal of Napa. And the wines coming from the Santa Rita Hills are in some ways superior, especially the Pinot Noirs and Syrahs. One winery I'd recommend you contact is Stefania Winery. They are producing some wonderful Cabernets and Syrah and just started producing a great Chard.
  21. I haven't been a server in over 30 years, so when I was paying in cash was more common than using a credit card. However, the reason many servers ask is not about the tip, but rather about getting to the register/station/whatever. If you are not expecting anything back, they can put off haveing to ring it up for a little while if there is a bottle neck at the register. Many restaurants make all the checks go thru one station and if there are several checks being processed and the server doesn't have to get your change back to you right away, they can process the credit cards and return them and process yours when they have more time. As a guest, I normally pay in cash (or leave the tip in cash) and if I don't expect change back I tell the server that when they pick it up.
  22. For high end restaurants with good wine lists, Marcel's is a good suggestion but their wine list is fairly expensive.. Citronelle is considered the best fine dining restaurant in DC and the wine list there can be very expensive, but there are plenty of choices for a reasonable price, ask Mark Slater for a recommendation, he is a fantastic sommelier. Taberna del Alabardero can also be very romantic, has great food, and a very interesting list. It can be expensive however, but the by the glass selection is excellent and David Bueno will be glad to help you find a great bottle to go with your meal at a reasonable price. I'd also suggest Corduroy for excellent food and a very good and well priced wine list. While CityZen and Le Paradou might meet your food requirements, their wine lists are way overpriced and offer little that is reasonable.
  23. My wife, son and I went to the Greystone Grill in Rockville (33 Maryland Ave, in the new Rockville downtown) Saturday night after the movies. Admittedly it was late, about 9:30, but our experience was not one to make me want to return. Things started well, the place has the right look for a modern steakhouse/grill, stone hearths, a good mix of banquettes and tables and lots of glass and steel. The server, an nice young man who was just trying too hard, offered to give us a tour of the menu (like I needed that) and there was a very reasonable (for Montgomery County) wine list. I even noticed the wine lockers and asked about them. For $1500 (a year) you can have your own wine locker and they will store and serve your wine for you when you come in, but you have to fill it with wine that you can buy in Montgomery County, so that is a major waste of money. They offer a fairly nice selection of wines by the glass too and you can order a trio of three ounce pours of any of the by the glass wines for $13. The bread was piping hot and very good, and came out quickly. But things went down hill from there. I ordered the trio of wines, a Pinot Grigio to go with my appetizer, and Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon to go with the steak I ordered. Unfortunately, it didn't show up until after the appetizers were done and gone, and I even tried to eat them slowly to give them time to get the wine to me. For appetizers I ordered the Crispy Cheese and Smoked Salmon, described on the menu as Haloumie cheese layered with smoked salmon and pesto. Served with horseradish scented creme fraiche. Actually it was some salmon between two layers of cheese, lightly breaded and deep fried. While it wasn't awful, it was pretty weak and much less interesting than it sounded. My son had the Greystone Skewers, strips of beef, marinated, grilled and drizzled with peanut sauce. It was actually quite good. My wife ordered the Calamari Rockefeller, which turned out to be fairly good, but not exciting fried calamari. For entrees, my wife ordered the Mango and Mandarin Salad. It came with blackend shrimp, fresh blueberrys and raspberrys, Mandarin oranges, on top of greens tossed with a Champagne vinaigrette, finished with sliced Brie cheese, sliced red onions and toasted almonds. She specifically asked for the vinaigrette to be served on the side. When the salad came, it was dressed (overdressed in fact, a constant problem with the salads here) and had to be sent back to be done correctly. However, when the properly served salad came out, she pronounced it to be very good. I ordered the Flatiron Steak. I ordered it medium rare, and it came Rare, but I didn't complain since I really prefer it to the rare side anyway. It was quite good. The entrees come with a side and a salad. I got the Greystone salad, greens, candied cashews and crumbled Maytag bleu cheese tossed with raspberry viniagrette. It was tasty, very fresh, and very overdressed with the viniagrette. (Word of warning, ask for the dressing on the side and send it back if it doesn't come that way unless you like your salads soaked in dressing.) I ordered the sauteéed mushrooms as my side, but when the steak came, it was with the Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. I pointed out I had ordered a different side and my server brought me a bowl of the mushrooms. He shouldn't have bothered, the potatoes were better, as the mushrooms were simply white button mushrooms that had been quartered and sauteed in some herbs and were very ordinary and unexciting. My son ordered the 12 ounce Fillet. It came cooked rare as he asked but he thought it was ordinary and lacked any ommpf; but that the steamed broccoli was quite good, served with a roasted red pepper butter sauce. He also ordered the wedge salad, but thought the Maytag blue cheese dressing didn't taste any better than what he got out of a bottle from Kraft. One thing I do have to give them complements for, the wine glasses are real, decent sized, more than acceptable to a wine geek like me, wine glasses. (They looked like Spiegelaus, but I can't say for sure.) At least they take wine service seriously. And the "Innkeepers private cellar selections" were better than found in many places in Montgomery. So bottom line, the steaks are pretty good, but not great, and pricy. Sides are hit and miss, salads are not bad, but overdressed, and the service was poor. Entire dinner before any tip, $125 for the three of us, and that was without dessert. If I was one of the young professionals who are buying all those condos around there, I might be willing to eat here, because it is a nice space, and seems to have a very nice bar. But there are plenty of places where I can get better service, good steaks, and good wine for less. I think they are trying too hard and just don't get it yet. If they straighten out the service problems, and quit trying to be as pretentious as they are, they might be worth going to on a semi regular basis, but I don't know if I'm going to give them the chance to change my mind. I certainly wouldn't make a trip to go there.
  24. dinwiddie

    Wine Tag: M

    Gordo , you have expensive taste ...nice... john ← Only when it's on sale my friend ← Here on the east coast you can't even find it, much less on sale. Since when did SNQ go on sale.
  25. dinwiddie

    Wine Tag: M

    2000 Château Colombier-Monpelou Nice wine for the price, good color, a wine with finesse and grace. 2003 Martinelli Chardonnay Charles Ranch Outstanding wine. Creamy, tastes of peaches citrus. Absolutely wonderful with grilled shrimp.
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