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Ellen Ivy

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Everything posted by Ellen Ivy

  1. I am quite fond of the Vineyard in McLean. A tiny place, tough to find even though it is at a major intersection (Chain Bridge Road) - its just tucked into this tiny, grim little strip of shops. And parking - don't even bother with their tiny little lot. Just park on the street. But worth the hassle. Amazing selection, very knowledgeable people. We first went over there after hearing a discussion on WAMU about South African wines. My husband is South African and we've been finding it hard to find most of the good South African wines, including those discussed on the program. Then a few days later, I noticed that Jake Parrott had in his signature line something about "The Wild Grape" and when I clicked on his link, it took me to a site about South African wine. Turns out that they are importers, not retailers, but they directed me to the Vineyard, and ... well, let's just say that we spent way more than we'd intended to, but we don't regret it one bit. Now, I am not really sure about this, but maybe they moved because when I googled to get their address and URL to post here, the site I found http://www.thevineyardva.com/ says Come visit us! We are located in The Palladium at McLean 1445 Laughlin Avenue McLean, VA 22101 And says that they sell gift baskets and food - the place we visited was floor-to-ceiling, barely room to walk filled with wine. But looking at the list of South African wines, it must be the same place - as I'm recognizing the vineyards and vintners listed as among those we've purchased there and haven't been able to find elsewhere. So perhaps they've moved. Call before going over there.
  2. I only went back to 2005 but I don't think this place has been around more than a year: La Limena Ritchie Center Terrific Peruvian food, a few Cuban dishes. Great quality, great prices. Very casual. It is a pain in the neck to get into the Ritchie Center these days due to some road construction that seems to be taking forever. If you are coming from the north, you can turn directly into the parking lot. If you are coming from the south, you have to turn left onto Ritchie Parkway and search for an entrance into the shopping center. As I recall, you go to the first actual street, turn right, and then turn right again into the parking lot (where the 7-11 is).
  3. Mayorga's Bethesda location has been closed forever. It seems as though they were open for only a few days. A real shame. They have great coffee and pastries (in Silver Spring). I've never had a cup at Quartermaine that wasn't burnt to the point of undrinkable. Caribou has been reliable for reasonably good coffee. There's a place called Kudo Beans in the Chevy Chase Bank Building. Haven't tried it. If you are on the main campus, nothing in downtown Bethesda is all that close. If you are in one of the off-campus buildings in Bethesda, the options are limited.
  4. Willow is still in business. I've had two very nice meals there in the past six months. I always think that fish is the true test of a restaurant ... harder to make good fish than good beef, pork, etc. On both recent visits to Willow, I ordered fish and was served a silky piece of halibut, beautifully cooked. OK, halibut may be one of the easier fishes to prepare, but still...the salads were perfectly fresh and lightly dressed, the vegetables were fine, and the desserts very enjoyable. I have read the comments about Willow on other boards, including our local DC area board, and I haven't observed any of the flaws that others have (such as excessive use of lemon). I would definitely recommend it, though admittedly, it wouldn't be my first choice but that's only because there are so many new places I want to try before returning to other places. We don't live in that area, but I have to go over there for business occasionally, and I always try to use it as an excuse to have lunch or dinner there. FYI, here's their website: http://www.willowva.com/
  5. I'm guessing that you are doing standard tourist stuff like the museums. In that case, I highly, highly recommend the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian. Great, healthy food. Not as cheap as the overpriced junk food available at the other museums, but still reasonable, especially in light of the quality. The trick is to schedule your lunch stop early, before it gets crowded. BEFORE you pick up trays, wander around to the different stations to decide what you want. You can see why this won't work once it gets busy. Then pick up your trays and enjoy! Please avoid Phillips. It is absolutely dreadful. I wouldn't try Taqueria Nacionale with a big group like that UNLESS you call in advance so they can be prepared. Cosi is a chain, but it has fresh food and the sandwiches are made on delicious, freshly baked flatbread. At a good price. They are all over town.
  6. Despite the heat and humidity, we love DC in August. Everyone is gone. We have this great city to ourselves. No lines. Just walk in anywhere. Though admittedly, if I were you I would still make reservations since you will just be visiting and don't want to miss out on the places you choose, or have to schlep around in the heat to find alternatives. You didn't say what kind of food you like. If fish, then try Hook in Georgetown. Just got 2.5 stars from the Washington Post critic, and coming from him, that's quite good. If you like classic Belgian mussels and frites, then Brasserie Beck. I join Busboy and Heather in endorsing Palena, but it isn't cheap, even for burgers. But worth every penny. I think before anyone can really give you more specific recs, you need to give an idea of preferences, price range, and neighborhoods. Will you have a car? Where are you going to stay?
  7. I'm definitely in the minority here. We tried it twice and both times, we left wondering, "what are we missing?" It wasn't bad. It was better than average. Nothing wrong, in particular, just not worthy of the raves it garnered. A nice meal. That's all. Not worth driving 75 miles. We found the atmosphere to be cloying and cutesy and too, too much.
  8. All that, and you never managed to find Kellogg's All-Bran...WITH EXTRA FIBER? This one has 13 g of fiber per serving. One bowl is half your daily fiber requirements. Add a tbsp of psyllium (ours has the incredibly awful name: Colon Cleanse) and you are well on your way to certifiable health nut. Actually the Kellogg's All-Bran Buds aren't bad, but they have too much sugar. So we do the extra fiber, with the psyllium, and a few ground almonds for flavor. You get used to it. I can't believe our parents let us eat that garbage. I can't believe parents today - who know or should know far more than our parents knew - let their kids eat that garbage. They freak out over Alar, trans-fat, and bisphenol, but they feed their kids poison for breakfast every day.
  9. I am sorry, but that is NOT the meaning of life ! You should be able to have 1 cookie per day without having to worry about if other people think you are fat............. ← This is a joke, right? Or do you have some rare genetic mutation that no one else in the female population has? ONE cookie per day? That would be hard enough with, say Oreos or Chips Ahoy (actually one Chips Ahoy would be one too many) but with Pepperidge Farms? Oh wait, I see now that you actually meant ONE BAG per day...right? I see that no one else replied to this comment. I think they are either all in complete and utter shock or realize that it was a joke and are still laughing. Ellen
  10. I haven't been on egullet for a long time, as I live in DC and prefer a local board that we have here. However, I am originally from NJ and still visit the parents, who live in the OFF (Old Folks Farms) in Central NJ. They took us out for our 10th wedding anniversary about 2 weeks ago, and we chose Stage Left. I had a mixed experience. The negatives were mostly about the logistics. It was a bitterly cold night, and here we were with two elderly people. They waltzed us through a cozy interior room with plenty of empty tables, to the room where the wine is stored. A nice room in warm weather, perhaps, but very cold that night. My mother asked that they turn off the overhead fans, but they said that the fans were drawing the heat up. Well, the room never warmed up. Worse - much worse - they allow people to exit that room through the door to the street. Blasts of cold air all through the evening. SHOULD. NOT. BE. ALLOWED. Food - the mixed green salads were very good but skimpy (we split one, but even as one plate, it would have been skimpy). It was billed as a green bean salad. We each had two tiny green beans on our plate, under a bed of very fresh mixed greens and a very nice, light vinaigrette. Bread - sourdough or pecan raisin - was excellent in terms of flavor. Only very, very slightly dry in both cases. We also shared the venison with the pomegranate reduction, which was fantastic. I had been looking forward to - and saving my monthly "food indulgence" for the famed bread pudding with hibiscus sauce or the equally famed blueberry financier. To my great disappointment, neither was available. We shared a dish that featured apples fixed three ways. Nothing memorable. Tiny little portions - again, even if not shared, these were tiny portions. Now, we are both very careful about food intake - quantity and quality, so the small portions weren't a problem for us. And we are in the habit of sharing because in most restaurants, the portions are huge. But for most people, the portion size would be an issue. The real issue in terms of the portion size is price. We have lots of pricey restaurants here in the DC but they are good value for the money. We felt that Stage Left was overpriced - especially the wine - their markups are obscene. This place could never survive in a more competitive environment. The food is good, but there is an apparent lack of concern for the diner's comfort and the value is just not there. By the way - I tried reading the egullet and chowhound reviews before we chose this place. Most were very short on detail, which makes it hard to know anything about the restaurant. I encourage egulleteers to make their posts more detail-rich.
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