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Andale, 7th & D Streets NW


syzygy8
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Not much about Andale here or elsewhere.  What I have seen hasn't raved and hasn't panned.  It just seems to be there.  What do people think?  Am considering stopping in.

I would be suspicious of an American chef who spent 10 days in Mexico once and all of a sudden is a "Mexican" chef. That's just my opinion, of course.

Mark

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I ate at Andale once before it became Andale, I forget what it was called then, but remember it as a little more stylish. The meal was good--but not good enough to get me to go back, not special enough to crack into my favorites list.

However, and forgive me in advance for taking minor issue with your crack Mark, but talent is talent and inspiration is inspiration. A talented chef eats around, does their research, tastes, tests, infuses, rolls all these things around on their palate and with their creativity, and out comes a product. No length of time spent in a country means you're necessarily going to understand the country or the ingredients and come up with something interesting if the talent isn't there. And in this case I haven't been to Andale, so my reaction is more general.

In my case, you know I had to come up with a Mediterranean-inspired dessert program for Zaytinya. I cooked and read voraciously for months, ingested Wolfert and Roden and Kochilas, hopefully to start to get my own handle on Greek and Turkish ingredients and dishes. Some of my proudest moments have been the hugs I've gotten from Lebanese and Turkish diners, from the Abi-najm parents and children of the Lebanese Taverna family even, who had, say, my olive oil ice cream with pistachio or the anise and chocolate with cardamom and said I got it, I got their flavors in ways they didn't think possible and hadn't seen before. That what they were eating was familiar and right yet interesting and new for them in a new way.

If I've done my job as a pastry chef, not as a Greek chef or a Turkish chef, I get the hugs. It doesn't matter whether I've been to Greece or Turkey. And unfortunately I haven't yet but will one day. And hope to do an even better job of assimilating that inspiration when I return.

Just a thought.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Andale was known as The Mark before it became Andale. I ate there once and remember having one of the better vegetarian plates in town, which included a particularly special mushroom strudel that was also on the starter menu. I haven't been to Andale and so cannot comment.

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Steve,

(original post deleted). This is a topic that angers me. Allison Swope is not Mexican. You are not Greek or Turkish. Reading, studying, BAH. It is a cultural thing. You need to be immersed in the culture to understand it. MY OPINION.

Edited by Mark Sommelier (log)

Mark

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I just don't see that you have any reason to be angry--but then I'm not sure what the topic "is" that you're claiming to be angry about, Mark. But I want to, my gut tells me it could be interesting.

A hypothetical--chef closes restaurant with theme or inspiration A, reopens it with new theme or inpsiration B. It could be Andale, Greenwood or any number of other chefs around the country. The food is either interesting and good or it isn't--it either makes an interesting proposition and connects or it doesn't. A chef is not good because of where he worked--think padded resume with a French Laundry list of high profile places and then the person can't actually cook a lick--in my view he or she is good because of what he's learned, what's inside him, what he can do or create. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether some Slow Foodie is prepared to label what he does "authentic", no amount "immersion" means you understand anything, or whether that chef spent x years anywhere doing anything. Immersion is neither a prerequisite for ideas nor execution. The talent is there and the food reflects it or it isn't. Why--because what a chef does is personal and creative. And a chef with talent finds inspiration everywhere--absorbs everything, synthesizes everything, not just where they've been "immersed"--inspiration could come merely from reading a menu from Martin Berasategui or by immersing oneself in the Fiji Island culture--but it still comes back to how a chef processes that and makes it his own.

I have no problem with anyone finding fault with a chef's cooking, a chef's effort--but let it be based on taste and palate fist--not whether said chef has been immersed somewhere the requisite, nebulous, amount of time.

Of course, if anyone said I was Greek I'd be upset, I'm Czech. But that has nothing to do with what I do or how I create.

Whether you're Mexican, French, Spanish, Italian or Tahitian doesn't mean what you'll cook will be any more or less good, necessarily. Doesn't the only proof of "understanding" something take place in the mouth? Isn't that what you do when you taste wines from growing regions around the world that you've never visited and then try to pair them with a dish? Surely your appreciation could be enhanced by immersion in that wine growing region but is that immersion necessary for you to get a handle on those wines, appreciate them for what they present, identify characteristics, make comparisons with wines from other regions, and then swirl all of that around in your unique palate organizer and spit out a personal recommendation for a client?

I sense there's something, some resentment here, that you're not actually saying Mark, but am not sure why or even what it is. Is there a media issue here that's bothering you?

Why doesn't the standard of "it's either good or it isn't" apply here? Why the need to label a chef, define what a chef does or is allowed to do?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Is it not the case that in a great number of the restaurants in DC, of all cuisines, the hands doing a lot of the prepping and cooking are either Salvadoran or Mexican? They certainly seem to have mastered a lot more than papusas and frijoles.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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  • 2 months later...

The grandmother had been fooling around on the piano all afternoon, singing the songs of her times to herself in a falsetto, and she had stains of musk and tears on her eyelids. But when she lay down on her bed in her muslin nightgown, the bitterness of fond memories returned.

“Take advantage of tomorrow to wash the living room rug too,” she told Eréndira. “It hasn’t seen the sun since the days of all the noise.”

“Yes, Grandmother,” the girl answered.

She picked up a feather fan and began to fan the implacable matron, who recited the list of nighttime orders to her as she sank into sleep.

“Iron all the clothes before you go to bed so you can sleep with a clear conscience.”

“Yes, Grandmother.”

“Check the clothes closets carefully, because moths get hungrier on windy nights.”

“Yes, Grandmother.”

“With the time you have left, take the flowers out into the courtyard so they can get a breath of air.”

“Yes, Grandmother.”

“And feed the ostrich.”

She had fallen asleep but she was still giving orders, for it was from her that the granddaughter had inherited the ability to be alive still while sleeping. Eréndira left the room without making any noise and did the final chores of the night, still replying to the sleeping grandmother’s orders.

“Give the graves some water.”

“Yes, Grandmother.”

“And if the Amadises arrive, tell them not to come in,” the grandmother said, “because Porfirio Galan’s gang is waiting to kill them.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (from “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother”)

Andale was an afterthought on a night when all I wanted was beer, pizza and sleep. I was hell-bent on “eatin’ fer free” at Ella’s, taking advantage of their happy-hour special of free pizza, and getting home at a reasonable hour. So I walked into the bar around 6:45, a little over an hour before the Cheapskate Special was supposed to end, and there were about a half-dozen people sitting around. I ordered a beer, and after a few minutes, asked, “is there still happy hour pizza?” “The happy hour pizza? Yes, right behind you,” the bartender chirped. I turned around and looked at a small table with three 10-inch pizza serving plates on it, two of which were completely empty, and the third having a half of a cheese pizza on it. So I walked up, took a little plate the size of my hand, and scooped up three matchbox-sized pieces of cheese pizza, very much to my taste, which was ¼ of a pie. The cold cheese pizza at Ella’s is still much better than the piping-hot pizza at Matchbox (see below). I love it, and will happily order it again - I’ll be back, and I do hope that their freshly ordered pizza is better than the experience I had tonight. Over the next fifteen minutes, I nursed my three Lilliputian-sized pieces of cold pizza while drinking my beer, then a second pint of Yeungling ($3 at happy hour), all the while waiting for something fresh to arrive. Finally, after nothing happened, I asked for a menu and ordered a bruschetta with smoked salmon and ricotta (out of sheer courtesy for the house). After about 20 more minutes, I ordered a third beer and the bruschetta finally arrived, and it was simply awful. I won’t go into the details, but I ate one piece out of three and gently pushed it aside. I finished my third beer about 45 minutes into the “meal,” and quietly asked for the check as the bartender finally noticed that I didn’t eat my bruschetta despite the fact that there were only 3-4 people left at the bar. “You didn’t like it?” he asked. “Not so much,” I replied, desperately hoping he’d comp it or do something – anything so I could justify leaving him some extra money. It didn’t happen. This bartender was miserable: while I was there, the patrons were touristy, loud, obnoxious and rude, and for every false smile he gave to his customers, he’d turn around and scowl immediately afterwards (note to Ella’s: this is a small drawback of having mirrors behind your bar). Bottom line: the “happy hour” pizza at Ella’s is a promotion I suspect they either can’t or don’t want to honor. It’s false, and you shouldn’t even think of going there with the notion that you’ll chow down on the cheap.

Fuming, I made a beeline to Matchbox for miniburgers. I ordered six, along with a Chimay, and then out of a spirit of protest, decided to order pizza instead. I asked the bartender if I was too late to change my order, and he replied, ‘it’s been put in – do you want to change it?’ “If it isn’t any trouble,” I replied. He nodded politely and then sprinted up two flights of stairs. I apologized profusely when he came back down, saying I had no idea he’d have to do a manual cancel, and he was cool about it. While waiting for my pizza, I overheard someone at the end of the bar muttering something about being unfairly wedged in the corner at the bar at Citronelle earlier this evening. He then started talking about their talented chef, “Michael Herzig.” I said hello and chatted with him briefly - he was a line dog from Caucus Room, formerly the, erm, Executive Chef at Bourbon. He was a nice guy, I liked him, and he was the highlight of the evening up until this point.

Having had scarfed my pizza, I headed back down 7th Street and passed Andale. I thought to myself, mmmm, okay, one drink. I walked in and ordered a beer, then a glass of Arneis, and asked for a fried calamari because, well, why not. It arrived, and I was like, huh? Did you ever see The Tigger Movie, where Tigger was spending the entire time running around looking for his family, and at the end of the movie it turns out that Pooh and company were his real family, and he was with them the whole time? Well that’s exactly how I felt when the calamari came. Crusted in blue cornmeal, served with a serious mixed-green salad, man, it was good, and stopped me in my tracks. “Who is the chef here,” I asked. “Allison Swope,” the bartender (Chris) replied. “Allison Swope? I remember her from Santa Fe East.” It turns out that Efrain Velasco, a manager there, was at the bar with his charming friend, and they started noticing that I was caring about the food. I then asked for another small dish, whatever the kitchen felt like making, and they brought out a Coctel de Mariscos which is shrimp and scallops, steamed and tossed on three tortilla chips with tomatoes, chilies, lime, onion, cilantro and guacamole. After a Mezcal (from their impressive list), I asked for a dessert of their choice, and was brought a delicious pineapple upside-down cake with vanilla-coconut ice cream and lightly drizzled caramel sauce. It sounds busy, but it isn’t, and it was a terrific dessert – take my word on this one and try it. I thanked everyone, said my goodbyes, and continued homeward, happy and content.

-------------

Next-day thought: I hit Ella's during the last hour of the last day of a week filled with tourists and other people coming in to order ice water and mooch pizza. I suspect they were really looking forward to this week's happy hour being over, and I can't say I blame them.

Cheers,

Rocks.

P.S. A kind thought towards morela - I hope you feel better.

Edited by DonRocks (log)
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Did you ever see The Tigger Movie, where Tigger was spending the entire time running around looking for his family, and at the end of the movie it turns out that Pooh and company were his real family, and he was with them the whole time?

P.S. A kind thought towards morela - I hope you feel better 

I think I'm gonna rent that one tonight and have a man's drink to put me down.

Everyone, I was punched really hard by a thug trying to mug me in Adams Morgan last night. I'll be fine, but my gullet's all messed up. :sad:

Actually, it was quite a freighting experience and I'm lucky. Be safe.

Morela.

...

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Sorry to hear that morela. Hope you are feeling better soon.

Re: Ellas. The only time I went for the happy hour there were only about 15 minutes left in it, so we just ordered our own pizzas from the menu. I'm not sure how it's going to work out for them if word gets out that for the price of a beer you can gulp down all the pizza you want. But they really do make a nice pie.

Re: Rocks's eating habits. I've never heard of anyone this side of Steve "Fat Guy" Shaw putting away three meals in an evening.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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Everyone, I was punched really hard by a thug trying to mug me in Adams Morgan last night. I'll be fine, but my gullet's all messed up.

So sorry to hear about your scary experience, morela. I've had two AM incidents in two years so I can relate. First, my purse was stolen. Second, the wheels were stolen OFF MY CAR while I was parked at my boyfriend's house (he is moving in two days - hallelujah).

Interestingly enough, during my 6+ years in Manhattan, I was never a victim of a crime.

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I wound up having lunch at Andale on Saturday after discovering that Rosa Mexicano was closed. I've walked past the place a number of times but never went in. While the restaurant needs a facelift (chipped paint on the walls, pilled ultrasuede on the booths), the food was pretty decent. I had a sope con pollo which had a nice spicy guac but the chicken was just a touch dry. My friend had the ensalada de tomate verde with shrimp. She is from New Mexico and usually bitches about the caliber of Mexican food in DC. Her comment here was "not bad." What we both really enjoyed was the cornbread served when we were seated. Crispy crust with whole kernels -- more of a bread texture then muffin texture. It was relatively cheap and I'd go back.

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I've eaten at Andale about four times. It's one of the better places for Mexican food in town. Probably one of only two or three spots I know of within District borders that serves mole. And the margs are authentic. No bottled mix there. It deserves praise for being a laid back, quality establishment.

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would be suspicious of an American chef who spent 10 days in Mexico once and all of a sudden is a "Mexican" chef. That's just my opinion, of course.

Mark, are you from France? Otherwise you know nothing about wine -- according to your logic...

You know... If I didn't know better, I'd say taking a potshot at someone for something they said in a thread three months ago was just TRYING to stir up trouble.

If you want to start a thread about what makes a cook's food "authentic" and how that does or does not differ from "good," I think it'd be fascinating. This thread's for discussing Andale. I hear it's nice; how 'bout you?

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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I would be suspicious of an American chef who spent 10 days in Mexico once and all of a sudden is a "Mexican" chef. That's just my opinion, of course.

Mark, are you from France? Otherwise you know nothing about wine -- according to your logic...

You know... If I didn't know better, I'd say taking a potshot at someone for something they said in a thread three months ago was just TRYING to stir up trouble.

If you want to start a thread about what makes a cook's food "authentic" and how that does or does not differ from "good," I think it'd be fascinating. This thread's for discussing Andale. I hear it's nice; how 'bout you?

Sorry, I didn't inspect the date before making the post. Then again I am not expected to know anything about time since I am not from Switzerland.

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I would be suspicious of an American chef who spent 10 days in Mexico once and all of a sudden is a "Mexican" chef. That's just my opinion, of course.

Mark, are you from France? Otherwise you know nothing about wine -- according to your logic...

No, according to Mark's logic, he would know nothing about wine if he spent 10 days in France, came home, and started making "French" wine.

:hmmm:

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I would be suspicious of an American chef who spent 10 days in Mexico once and all of a sudden is a "Mexican" chef. That's just my opinion, of course.

Mark, are you from France? Otherwise you know nothing about wine -- according to your logic...

You know... If I didn't know better, I'd say taking a potshot at someone for something they said in a thread three months ago was just TRYING to stir up trouble.

If you want to start a thread about what makes a cook's food "authentic" and how that does or does not differ from "good," I think it'd be fascinating. This thread's for discussing Andale. I hear it's nice; how 'bout you?

Sorry, I didn't inspect the date before making the post. Then again I am not expected to know anything about time since I am not from Switzerland.

As for your argument about Mark being from France, Allison has still to prepare the food (or at the very least direct the kitchen in preparing it), the more local knowledge the better (in my opinion). Granted there are exceptions to that, especially in this case (I know Allison, she's a great lady and a great cook), and many of my friends from Mexico have high praise for Andale. As for Mark knowing nothing about French wine becasue he's not from France is a ridiulous statement. Mark didn't make the wine. Two foodstuffs that couldn't be more different in the context of your argument.

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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  • 1 month later...

eMullet:

Man, standing behind bar, waving and shouting over a four-person-deep wall through a digital megaphone-with-subwoofer raised to his mouth: “Dude!”

Bartender: <turns towards man and cups ear>

Man: “Dude! What’s in my toasted pumpkin seed dip?”

Bartender: “What?”

Man: “WHAT’S IN MY DIP?”

Bartender: “One pomegranate margarita, coming right up!”

Man: “Cool.”

-------------

eGullet:

Man, sitting at bar.

Bartender, extending hand: “My name’s Johnny.”

Man: “Hey Johnny my name’s Don. Can I look at a wine list?”

Bartender: “Sure. All bottles are half-priced tonight [Monday] with an entrée.”

Man: You mean if I get this bottle of Alceno it will be $12 for the whole bottle?”

Bartender: “Yes, if you order an entrée with it.”

Man: “I’d like that, and also to order a few other things …”

Bartender: “Alright Don, take your time and let me know.”

Man: “Dude, what’s in the toasted pumpkin seed dip?”

Bartender: “It’s made with roasted tomatoes, Habanero chiles and cilantro, but the chef here emphasizes flavor over heat when using peppers, so it won’t blow you away. It comes with homemade corn tortillas.”

-------------

The red wine is brought out, from what is obviously a cellar or temperature-controlled area, and is presented and poured in a high-quality wine glass. It (the Alceno) was just as it was described to be, and just as I had hoped: a good, minerally, medium-bodied table wine without oak and without pretense - the single best bottle of $12 wine I’ve ever had at any restaurant in America (it’s listed on the menu at $24). Don’t look for fireworks here; look for correctness and character, along with proper wine service. The dip, listed on the menu as Zicil-P'ak, arrives, and it was honest and very good, though I was tempted to reach for the salt shaker. Then the entrée of Pescado en Tikin Xik : Sushi grade Tuna marinated with Achiote, garlic, Mexican Oregano and saour orange juice, Pan seared medium rare, Served also with housemade corn tortillas, pickled red onions, chiltomate salsa and fresh avocado . On his March 3rd chat, Tom Sietsema implied that the small dishes at Andale are stronger than the main courses, and this would be consistent with my experience. Although this tuna dish was well-presented, correct and perfectly tasty, there was a certain spark missing and I’m not certain what it was – it didn’t have quite the depth that I had hoped based on the menu description. Still, it bears emphasis that Ms. Swope stresses subtlety of flavor and nuance rather than simple spice and heat. This is food to enjoy with fine wine, not necessarily beer. Then came the Chile Relleno which was the one disaster of the evening: sitting in a pool of epazote oil, it the chile itself had been lightly egg-battered and fried, but it too had been drenched in oil. Given that it was stuffed with a fair amount of melted cheese, it left the entire plate gooey and oily, and it just wasn’t worth eating. I had become simpatico enough with Johnny the bartender where I went ahead and mentioned this to him, and he thoughtfully listened to my comments - and when I got the check, he had removed it from my bill even though I told him that wasn’t necessary. (Incidentally, Johnny also works at Fin, and he assures me that the dishes at Fin have taken a substantial turn for the better in recent weeks after they got a new chef. He knows what he’s doing, and I take him seriously when he says this.) “Next time you come, you should try our specials,” he said. “Lemme have one now!” I replied, and I’m glad I did. The Tortita de Jaiba is a crabcake consisting of crabmeat and corn, and bound together by a scallop mouse, served with plantains and a chile spiked butter sauce. I liked it more than the dessert of cheesecake with candied pecans sitting in a small pool of caramel sauce simply because that dessert came across to me as simply too sweet, although there’s no question the quality of both the cheesecake and caramel was there.

Andale is on the northeastern corner of 7th and D, and Rosa Mexicano is on the southeastern corner of 7th and F – a mere 1 ½ blocks from one another. Towards the end of my meal, there was only one other person at the bar at Andale, although they were packed with people when I arrived during the tail end of happy hour. When I left to walk back towards my car, I stopped into Rosa Mexicano, and counted 46 people at the bar, some of whom were having dinner. Until these numbers flip-flop, I’m happy to continue emphasizing that while Rosa Mexicano may be great fun for a drink and some guacamole (I like Rosa’s guacamole more than I do Andale’s, by the way), it’s a much better choice to take that ninety-second walk south on 7th Street, and enjoy your meal at Andale, especially on Monday evenings when the amazing half-price wine deal runs for the entire evening. Andale is good, honest food, conscientiously conceived and fairly executed. Can I mention once again that the entire wine list is half-price on Monday evenings when you order a meal? That is amazing! And it’s a really good list, too!

Of course, you could always cross 7th Street and walk into Poste, but that's for another thread...

Cheers!

Rocks.

Edited by DonRocks (log)
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In the wasteland that is Mexican food in DC Andale is a real oasis.

Not a hugely verdant one, but one that is the goal if I decide that I just have to have Mexican food. Not the EL Salvadorian/Mexican "South of The Border fusion" cuisine that infest the area around my house in SS, not Tex-Mex, but real straight forward Mexican.

The last time I was there was before RM (the new place whose name it seems has become restauranta non grata around here) opened. Even then I was amazed at how empty it was on a Friday night. It's not a huge space, but if memory serves me right no more than half the tables were filled.

Hearing about the crowds that follow the path of least resistance to RM instead of taking the back roads to Andale makes me feel bad for my fellow travelers.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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The last time I was there was before RM (the new place whose name it seems has become restauranta non grata around here) opened. Even then I was amazed at how empty it was on a Friday night. It's not a huge space, but if memory serves me right no more than half the tables were filled.

I ate there last Friday evening and it was full around 7-7:30, then began to empty a bit. (I averted my gaze when I walked by Rosa Mexicano so as not to have a ventworm fly into my eye). :wacko:

The food was very solid. Had the ceviche which was very good and the Chuleta Manchamanteles which was tender and served with really yummy sweet potatoes, but very disappointingly dry and flavorless plaintain. The blue agave margarita was excellent.

Andale also has a very nice selection of wines by the glass.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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