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Washington DC Restaurant Week, 2004


bilrus
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Love it or hate it.  Customer or employee.  It's that time of year again.

List of participating restaurants and link to Open Table participants here:

DC Restaurant Week

Right. Thanks Bill, I forgot. Gives me enough time to purchase firearms.

Edited.. clarification: Before everyone here takes this personally, the Tools I refer to are those that usually never go out during the other 51 weeks in the year--whether they can afford to or not.

Oh Boy!!! Looks like the tools have been let out of the shed this week. Firearms? I disagree -- too quick and painless!

Edited by Minister of Drink (log)

"Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, 'I'm thirsty, not dirty' ". Joe E. Lewis

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Indeed, a fine lunch was had yesterday at Kinkead's with HillValley and roommate Mehdi (who should be joining soon!).

I started with the crispy cod cake, with potatoes and peas, in a butter/cream sauce. I must admit that when I go out I usually skip the appetizer to hold out for the main event, but this was very good in its role. The cake was light and fluffy, lightly seasoned, with a nice crust. The sauce was not too heavy, and had a pleasent slightly cheesy taste to it (Think Gruyere. Might have been a European-style butter.).

This was followed by an entree of grilled swordfish medallions, fried plantain, and roasted corn, served with a mild peppery sauce. I love swordfish, which I haven't had in some time, so this was wonderful for me. The fish was skillfully grilled which to me means not overdone, but with the right ammount of tasty char! The sauce was very good, too, peppery but with a hint of sweetness.

Dessert was at least as good as Hillvalley described it.

I couldn't bring myself to open the wine list, since I had to return to work after lunch, and saw no need to be tempted with what I couldn't have, so no comments there. Our waiter was nice, and gracefully dodged our inquiries into his feelings on restaurant week (He said 'not so bad', but seemed conflicted).

Tonight is dinner with visiting family at Sesto Senso.

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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So do we have a comprehensive list of who will be running their specials next week as well? So far I've heard Equinox, Tosca, Butterfield 9, and Corduroy will be doing it.

Also, a personal comment on RW dessert choices I'd like to see: the more fruit involved, the better.

Add Mendocino to that list of restaurants who are extending the Restaurant Week specials a second week.

And fresh berries with organic yogurt is a dessert option or a starter for lunch. And a fruit cobbler.

Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar

Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar

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Ahh. Back in the ample bosom of the main thread. Reunited ... and it feels so good.

The seven lunch schema fell apart yesterday, anyway, for the usual reason most solemn commitments go South -- a better offer came along. To whit, dinner on the sunken patio at Melrose. It was a beautiful evening and the two of us got to sit next to the fountain, which drowns out the noise of M St. so well it's easy to feel you're miles away from the city. Melrose is one of DC's most grown-up restaurants. Not in the same sense as the Prime Rib, which comes off as a gilded Big Hunt for the over-55 set, but in the calm competence and decorum that prevails from the smooth, smiling host, to the old school bar, to the gliding -- but not hovering -- service.

All of this sets the stage nicely for Brian McBride's cooking, which is just as polished, focused and restrained. It's not cheap, usually, with some entrees pushing up toward the $40 threshold, but his Restaurant Week menu is an absolute steal and if you can still get there, you'd be nuts to pass it up. (One word of caution, they're not doing the RW menu tomorrow night. Don't know if that means they'll extend for a day into next week.)

At any rate, we had the chilled cherry soup with cinnamon meringue and shallot kumquat marmalade (a rare bit of whimsy here) and the sauteed summer mushrooms with syrah and veal juice reduction over creamy garlic polenta, which was be-still-my-bleating-tastebuds good. The third appetiser choice is warm goat cheese wrapped in zucchini with herbs, greens and green onion vinaigrette. For entrees, I had the slow braised beef cheeks with baby turnips and braised summer cabbage, my companion got the shrimp ravioli with sweet corn, pepper and tomato in lemon grass beurre blanc. Both were of a size, and quality, that I would have felt they were good value even at the regular menu prices. For veggies, there is also a roulade of vegetables, silky tofu and asian herbs in a hot and sour broth. Desserts were a summer berry pudding with sweet vanilla cream, served in a margarita glass frosted with sugar icicles and garnished with a dark chocolate "straw", and frozen chocolate "tiramisu" cake and expresso ice cream. The other choice is frozen amaretto parfait with apricot sauce and pistachio biscotti.

The bill, then, for some of the best food I've eaten in a long while, a romantic outdoor setting, two cocktails, two big glasses of good cabernet and valet parking -- $105 before tip. Again, steal. Run, don't walk.

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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With some trepidation after the posts here, 5 of us went to Tosca last night. Forget what everyone else said, they were fabulous to us and we definitely tried their patience. I'll hit service first. This started as a party of 8 so we went for an earlier reservation (6:30) to avoid being lost in the crush. Yesterday morning two people backed out so I called to change the reservation. At around 4:30 another person had to bow out and I called to change again. They were incredibly polite about the multiple changes and thanked me profusely for calling. When I arrived at the restaurant they thanked me again for calling to tell them of our changes. One of our party was running late. So after 20 minutes we ordered a bottle of wine and began studying the menu. Our waiter did a great job walking us through the menu. We told him it was our first time at the place and they'd lured us in for Restaurant Week. Rather then scoff at needing a bargain to get us to dine there, he proceeded to tell us about the pre-theater dinner menu and that while more limited then the RW menu, it would allow us to enjoy a range of Tosca's offerings at reasonable prices. For those curious, it is offered from 5:30-7. After another 20 minutes with no sign of our 5th, we ordered. They never pushed us and allowed us to have a leisurely dinner. Then, just as we had finished our appetizers, our 5th showed up -- an hour late. No problem for our now waitress (the waiter we started with got sucked into handling a table of about 20 that was quite a handful -- the tradeoff to the new server was effortless). They brought our 5th her appetizer quickly (it helped that she ordered an easily assembled, non-cooked app), delayed our entrees a bit and caught everyone up. During dessert, the original waiter came back to chat with us. So forget your misgivings about service and go.

Now, the food. Mostly hits, but a few misses. And they were misses by comparison. The onion foccacia was quickly devoured and our bread basket refilled. A nice touch was the dish of mixed variety cherry, teardrop, and grape tomatos served with our bread. We had a lot of plates being handed around as everyone kept saying you have to try this. Appetizers included melon and prosciutto (with some peppery greens to nicely accent this very generous serving); grilled octopus; radicchio, pear, walnut and blue cheese salad in a nice tangy dressing; and a great twist on a caprese salad. This caprese won for presentation. They scooped out the top of a tomato and used it as a bowl for a ball of housemade mozzarella with basil oil swirled around it.

Mains -- a Mediterranean sea bass that I can't comment on since I don't like seafood but others seemed to enjoy. Two of us had raviolini filled with fresh tomato pulp and served with a creamy pesto. I ordered this after much deliberation thanks to bilrus' comment that he'd wished he'd ordered the pasta. This was a fabulous blend of summer flavors. Not over or undersauced and with a nice kick of garlic. The duck was OK. I thought the sauce was underspiced. The dish that, while good, was the biggest let down was the risotto with prosecco and rabbit sausage. This was a generous sized bowl of very good risotto with three tiny pieces of sausage. Not nearly enough sausage to adequately complement the risotto. I would have preferred a small surcharge and had more sausage. Actually, since the prices were listed on the menu there were several dishes that are normally $4-5 more expensive so they should have been able to provide more sausage.

Dessert -- I was the disadvantaged diner here. Two people ordered a fabulous chocolate cake with apricot puree and hazelnut gelato (although one came mysteriously without the gelato) and two people ordered the tomato tart with basil gelato (which sparked vigorous debate about how this dish, while great, was not dessert). So there was plenty of each dish to be sampled by all. I ordered the peach and blueberry struedel which was fabulous but since it was about a 6 bite serving once every at the table had their taste I was left with only 2 bites. And it was good. Note to self-- this sharing thing is overrated.

Add to this a couple of bottles of barbera, 3 dessert wines, a scotch, an espresso, and a tea and it came out to a meager $72 per person including a generous tip for the fabulous service. This place is near my office and I think I'll be eating pasta at the bar regularly now.

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Hillvalley and I had a terrific meal at Firefly yesterday, but I'm sure that comes as no surprise. They're offering their full menu at lunch, with minimal supplements for a few items.

Chef John was kind enough to send us some of his delicious summery pea soup to open with. It's cool, rich, not too creamy, and full of spring pea flavor. I enjoyed crunching down on the microgreens that garnished the top. We then split the fried oysters with chipotle tartar sauce ($3 supplement, worth every penny) and the housemade gravlax with crenshaw melon ($2 supplement). Even in the middle of the "no-oyster" months these oysters were great--crispy, salty, briny, and perfect with the kicked-up sauce. I'm always fond of the Wabeck way with gravlax, and the addition of two thin slices of melon and a showering of scallion put a nice summery spin on this favorite.

I ordered the chicken salad with brioche toast points for my entree. The salad was finely chopped, shot through with fennel seeds, textured instead of overly creamy. It came on a bed of greens with a sprinking of chopped summer tomato. I did not get a chance to sample Hillvalley's burger with brie and leeks, but I did manage to filch a couple of her excellent frites. (I love those little cone holders they put the frites into.)

Dessert for me was some coffee-toffee ice cream with a chocolate chip cookie. A simple and satisfying ending to a thoroughly enjoyable lunch. Thanks, John, and also thanks to our server with the hipster purple sunglasses who provided excellent service.

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For those of you who have not been to Corduroy- I have but one word of advice. GO! After hearing so much praise heaped on this place I had to give it a try. It exceeded our expectations.

No single dish was ground-breaking but the ingredients were all so fresh. The preparations were simple, and the flavors were pure. The "thai curry sauce" that accompanied my scallops had no curry taste but I wasn't going to complain because the scallops themselves were so perfect. The best scallops I've tasted in recent memory. The chocolate tart with caramelized bananas was a fantastic way to end the meal. I tasted one of my dining companion's peach tart and the fruit tasted fresh-picked.

You are not going here for the atmosphere. It looks like an average hotel dining room. But the food more than makes up for your uninspired surroundings.

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Forget Restaurant Week. I had one of my better DC meals of the last year last night at Yanyu.

My wife and I went with the five course tasting menu listed above and we went four and half for five.

1st Course - Lily Bulb Dumpling (Delicate egg white wrapped with minced chicken & Asian vegetables) - This was the half. This is a steamed (or poached ?) dumpling with a loose chicken/veg filling topped with a delicate egg-drop soup like sauce. Good flavors but not quite as hot as I would have liked.

2nd Course - Big Duck (yanyu signature item. Peking roast duck served with pancakes, scallions, cucumber and homemade plum sauce). This was as good as advertised by Sietsema et. al. The whole golden duck half is brought to the table then taken back to be carved. Each pancake had several nice slices of the tender meat and a shard of the crackling skin.

3rd course - Crab Cucumber Sunomono (Tossed with chef special sauce). I had no mental picture of what this would be, but it was a slaw made of finely julienned cucumber tossed with a light, sweet dressing, small pieces of crab and a bright red roe. This was a surprise highlight of the night.

4th course - Honey roasted Seabass (Roasted with bed of scallions, Shanghai style). The word on this is succulent. Maybe the most moist piece of fish I have had that was fully cooked. Simply served with a honey soy sauce and rice.

5th course - Crispy Garlic Shrimp (Jumbo shrimp flavored with garlic, spicy salt & pepper) A simple presentation of three large breaded and fried shrimp with some microgreens and fried garlic sprikled over the top. The breading was salty and flavorful.

The service was fine, although a little harried. All levels were full and we were near the entrance to the kitchen, so we probably so more activity than most other tables. But this is understandable, serving tasting menus to probably 30 or 40 tables.

We have only been to Yanyu once before, about four years ago and we really liked it then. I am kicking myself that I haven't made this a more regular experience. It won't be four years before I go again.

Bill Russell

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It's not that I don't like fruit, it was that i REALLY wanted the ice cream (I"ve had it before) and not a bowl of berries. I would have had a fruit pie/pastry but that wasn't offered. Anyways!

Last night had an outstanding dinner at Ceiba. Started with the wonderful black bean soup, then the "Crab Two ways" (soft shell and crab cake - both divine), then the chocolate cake. The dessert was OK, but I had had so much wine at that point that it really didn't matter that it wasn't mind-blowing! ha!

Can't wait for Yanyu tomorrow night. A friend is trying to convince me to go to lunch at Tosca for RW extention, but I'd rather do Corduroy. Can't do both because I am so busy :(

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Go to Corduroy (had a great RW meal there last year) next week. Go to Tosca for the pre-theater menu the following week and pretend RW has been extended again. I think it has become Restaurant Month in NY to counter the August slump.

Edited by laniloa (log)
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Go to Corduroy (had a great RW meal there last year) next week. Go to Tosca for the pre-theater menu the following week and pre-tend RW has been extended again. I think it has become Restaurant Month in NY to counter the August slump.

I think any restaurant slump in NY this August will come to a screetching halt when the republicans all show up for the their convention.

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Sesto Senso is going until the 7th, too.

I dined there last night, and really enjoyed it. I got there a few minutes late for my reservation, which I hate doing. "If I leave now, I'll have time for a Campari at the bar before the family gets there" turned into "Wow, I would have never imagined that it would have taken almost 50 minutes to get to Dupont from Crystal City". Thanks, Metro. Anyway, I was led to the table by the hostess, and presented with a basket of Italian bread, and a tasty herb foccacia, with olive oil in a bottle that may well have been ex-Galliano. Menus were brought over, and we had to ask to see the RW list. It didn't occur to me until later that mom and sister had been there, and presumably seated, for almost 10 minutes without menus or water.

Their RW week menu was small but well thought out, consisting of three apps and entrees, and two desserts.

Appetizers:

* Apple salad with baby greens, walnuts, and gorgonzola.

* Lightly breaded, grilled calamari. Breaded AND grilled.

Sister Kelli had this, and I sampled. Gives fried calamari a run for its money. Good with a squeeze of lime.

*Gaspacho with lime. They were out of this for the night, and substituted potato and cauliflower puree-type soup. I went for the soup, and while incredibly hot (to the soups credit this minor irritation decreased over time), was tasty. Plenty of good croutons!

Entrees:

* Veal with mushrooms. Might have been Marsala. I honestly don't remember. (I was going to bring a little pad, too!). I tried some of this, and it was good.

* Grilled tilapia with sauteed green and yellow beans. The fish without which no Restaurant Week menu would be complete! I had this, being on a bit of a seafood kick following Kinkead's. Good portion of fish here, well seasoned and grilled. What else can you ask for? Lots of beans, too, sauteed in a large quantity of oil or butter. Garlicky (The adjective without which no critique would be complete), but not oppressively so.

* Squash ravioli in light cream sauce. Kelli had this, and I sampled. Good, but could have used three or four more. The sweetness and richness of the squash was trying very hard to shine through, but didn't quite make it all the way.

Desserts:

* Tiarmisu. We've all had a good tiarmisu, more than likely. This example should compete well with others you may have had.

* Gelato trio. Pick three from a list. Very flavorful, especially the peach and hazelnut.

Service, I thought, was good, though Kelli disagreed but didn't have any specific complaints other than the earlier menu and waterlessness. There was no rush to turn over the table, and we were treated well despite not being huge spenders (Dinner for three, my Campari, and house pino gris all around). Our waiter appeard to give the table a wipe down almost as soon as I noticed that there was water glass condensation absolutely everywhere, which was a nice attentive touch.

I am happily running a solid two out of two wins for RW week trips, with at least one more in the works. Thread seems to have quieted down...hope everybody else is doing well!

-- C.S.

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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Just finished a nice lunch at Charlie Palmer Steak - although, since their RW lunch menu is a little gimmicky, I ended up ordering off the regular menu.

Their prix-fixe choices are the "Kerry menu" (littleneck clam, leek and white corn broth with cucumber linguini, kataifi-wrapped cod with greens and a veal jus, and "Boston cream pie" in quotes), and the "Bush menu" (heirloom tomato and piquillo pepper gazpacho, chipotle-marinated hanger steak with polenta and a tomatillo salsa, and "Key lime pie," also in quotes).

What I ended up with was the clam/leek/roasted corn broth, a hanger steak with grilled vegetables and a potato tart filled with caramelized onion, and coconut panna cotta with kataifi-wrapped caramelized bananas, along with a glass of the 2001 Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling. Due to some sort of computer snafu, which I understand and am entirely in favor of, I wasn't charged for the soup, ended up getting a larger-than-intended portion of hanger steak, and wasn't charged for the wine either, thus ending up with pretty much what I would have paid for the Restaurant Week menu with the appropriate wine pairing. :biggrin:

As far as the food goes, I'd order any of what I got again. The soup was mostly roasted white corn and corn juice, with just enough of the clam and leek to give it a little extra flavor. The cucumber linguini was basically just a garnish, but it looked pretty. The hangar steak was perfectly cooked - I asked for medium rare, I got exactly medium rare - and they serve it simply, with just pan juices, a little sprinkle of sea salt, and an assortment of 5 Dijon mustards. The panna cotta tasted like pretty much every other decent panna cotta, but the kataifi-wrapped bananas were particularly excellent - crunchy on the outside, caramel-and-banana-y on the inside.

Last year, they ended up extending the Restaurant Week lunch special through the rest of the year; I didn't ask specifics, but it would make sense for them to continue the Kerry vs. Bush deal through November at the least.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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Signatures

801 Penn

Great evening of food and wine at Signatures. The regular menu had the RW week menu incorporated into it. We opted to start (not a part of the RW menu) with toro sushi and a bottle of Krug champagne. If we stopped there, I would have been just as happy. Fatty tuna and champagne are an awesome pairing.

Soft-shall crab tempura, picked beets and a wasabi type sauce. Elegant presenatation and the crab was crispy and hot.

Bison tenderloin, short rib risotto, carmelized shallot and prociutto jus. Buffalo is not so great overcooked and the restaurant cooked all three a perfect medium rare. Enjoyed thoroughly.

Dessert was a vanilla ice cream & banana popsicle dipped in chocolate and served with sweet cherries and something else on the side along with a couple of breaded deep fried bananas. I'm not much of dessert person so this was ok.

We were disappointed that they did not offer a cheese course, which we would have ordered in addition to the RW food. But then again, we were pleased to get very fresh sushi in non-Japanese restuarant.

All in all, a good place to go if you're up by the Hill. Good service too, and no attitude about us bringing our own wines (although we ordered the Krug off the wine list). Also they offer 5 course tasting menus for $58 a 7 course tasting menu for $78, and "tell us when to stop" tasting menu for $123.

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Hillvalley and I had a terrific meal at Firefly yesterday, but I'm sure that comes as no surprise. They're offering their full menu at lunch, with minimal supplements for a few items.

Chef John was kind enough to send us some of his delicious summery pea soup to open with. It's cool, rich, not too creamy, and full of spring pea flavor. I enjoyed crunching down on the microgreens that garnished the top. We then split the fried oysters with chipotle tartar sauce ($3 supplement, worth every penny) and the housemade gravlax with crenshaw melon ($2 supplement). Even in the middle of the "no-oyster" months these oysters were great--crispy, salty, briny, and perfect with the kicked-up sauce. I'm always fond of the Wabeck way with gravlax, and the addition of two thin slices of melon and a showering of scallion put a nice summery spin on this favorite.

I ordered the chicken salad with brioche toast points for my entree. The salad was finely chopped, shot through with fennel seeds, textured instead of overly creamy. It came on a bed of greens with a sprinking of chopped summer tomato. I did not get a chance to sample Hillvalley's burger with brie and leeks, but I did manage to filch a couple of her excellent frites. (I love those little cone holders they put the frites into.)

Dessert for me was some coffee-toffee ice cream with a chocolate chip cookie. A simple and satisfying ending to a thoroughly enjoyable lunch. Thanks, John, and also thanks to our server with the hipster purple sunglasses who provided excellent service.

I too want to extend my thanks to Chef John for a fabulous meal. It was great to finally meet you and expereince your restaurant.

Malawry summed up the appetizers and soup perfectly. I would only add that the pea soup was perfect for a warm day.

Mal, next time ask for a bite of hamburger! I would have gladly shared. It was cooked to a perfect rare and topped with brie and leeks. Excellent combination. The creaminess of the brie melted perfectly into the juicy meat. Thinly sliced red onion added the perfect bite.

And those frites. Can I come just for the frites? They were perfect. The paper cone absorbed the tiny amounts of leftover grease so the frites were crisp and full of flavor. There were so many that if Mal had not eaten her share I would have had to force her to!

For dessert I had a banana chocolate chip milk shake. I am a very picky milkshake drinker and this one met my expectations. Thick enough that the straw stands up, but not so thick that it is hard to drink. The only think I would consider adding is some Kahluha :wink:

Our waiter was fantastic and the runner who called me Madame completed the whole experience. I can't wait to go back.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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Lunch today at Signatures and I agree with BBQformeanytime, it's good. For one thing, apart from the decent Restaurant Week menu, every Friday lunch is half off all bottles of wine on the list* -- and you can't beat that with a stick. We got a nice 2002 Mulderbosch Chardonnay at $23.50, which is pretty close to retail. For vittles, we had the warm goat cheese tart and duck spring roll, followed by the seared salmon and pan fried rigatoni and rounded off with a creme brulee and a rich mascarpone and fig cake. The cooking was assured and the service was friendly. A lot of the other patrons were eating some pretty good looking sushi from the separate sushi bar and, while I can't speak to the quality, I can pass on that that is also half off on Tuesdays if you are anywhere near Navy Memorial and need a fish fix. Now, about that $123 all you can eat tasting menu...

*Edited to add: I'm not actually sure about the $2,200 Petrus.

Edited by iamthestretch (log)

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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Lots of praise here already for Yanyu, but I'd add that their RW lunch is a winner, too. Today we had the Firefly Calamari, crisp and spicy and served with a honeyed dipping sauce, and a succulent crab wonton, followed up by the compulsory second course of a novel cold duck salad with melon, carrot, pickle, seaweed, peanuts, chili oil and more. Entrees were a lobster pad thai with plenty of the good stuff and an Asian seafood curry stuffed with scallops, crab claws, fat shrimp and two of the biggest mussels I've ever seen. (4-inch green and black tigerstripe shells. Presume an Asian variety?) Both main courses could easily have fed both of us on their own, and there were a lot of people leaving the scene with doggie bags. Their airy front room was packed, and the upstairs section was steadily filling up as we left around 1:30 p.m. A super value this week and worth the trip to the uptight side of the park any other time. (Little 16th St. Heights joke. We're digging in around Dasto, you Woodley wussies. Come and get it.)

Edited by iamthestretch (log)

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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All right. I guess everybody else was off at Ray's last night, although, looking at Opentable, a lot of restaurants were booked solid for the final night of Restaurant Week so there must be some other reports still forthcoming. As it happened, my curry-craving, pregnant partner and I got dressed up and headed downtown for dinner at The Bombay Club.

Their RW dinner menu was extensive, with 5 or 6 choices from the usual menu for each course and kulcha, naan and rice thrown in. I'm no expert on Indian food, but thought the meal was a cut above most of the competition and probably on a par with Heritage India, our usual stop for a curry fix. We ended up getting the Sev Puri, sort of puffed wheat crackers stuffed with curds and topped with chickpea balls, chutneys and fine, crispy fried noodles, and a spicy vegetable samosa. That was followed by a good chicken tikka -- with big, juicy chunks of chicken in a tangy sauce packing plenty of afterburn -- and perfectly cooked tandoori salmon marinated in yoghurt and herbs. For dessert, we had the rice kheer, a liquid rice pudding with raisins and nuts that I found a little bland, and the gulab jamun, two soft dumplings saturated with a honeyed syrup. Mmm.

Apart from good food, The Bombay Club also has its civilized atmosphere to recommend it. They ask gents to wear jackets, and most apparently do, but aren't stuffy enough to make a point of it. The old-school waiters were also very nice to two tables near us with well-behaved young children and the pianist kept his repertoire of standards down to a discreet background level. If my old Dad, who spent a mercifully uneventful WWII in India waiting for a Japanese invasion that never came and trying to teach Pathan tribesmen to play rugby, were around to enjoy it, I'm sure it would rather remind him of the officers' mess back at HQ. Jolly good, what?

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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Ohhhhhh... Tosca, we're better for having met ye.

Paid a visit last night for their restaurant week extension. To be honest, for most of the other places I've been to during this and restaurant weeks past, I knew I'd like them, so they didn't really have to win me over. But not knowing what to expect from Tosca, I was happily surprised. I was cautious after seeing one reviewer's tale of a "comically bad" experience, but was then encouraged my more positive reviews.

They were soooo flexible with their menu. It has four sections -- appetizers, pasta, entrees, and dessert. They let you mix and match pretty much any way you wanted, as long as dessert came last. You could start with an app, move to a pasta, then dessert. Or, you could have a main course instead of the pasta. But to my table's surprise, you could start with a pasta, move to a main course, then finish with a dessert. And only one item on the menu contained an upcharge -- an appetizer that involved foie gras. In fact, the steak entree a friend ordered was $28 alone on the menu, and there was no extra cost for it.

Our service was perfect. We had a younger waitress who was very personable. They even looked past the fact that one of my inconsiderate friends was wearing a collarless short sleeve shirt with flip flops.

The food was outstanding. I started with the grilled octopus, chantarelles, and sea urchin sauce (mostly out of curiosity, as the chef's special duck ravioli was also calling my name). I followed with the copper river salmon with swiss chard and sweet corn foam. Normally I'd go for a more interesting fish, like the sea bass (a companion had it -- oustanding). But I can't get enough of the copper river, and being a corn lover, the foam sealed the deal.

For dessert, my wish for a fruity concoction was satisfied with their peach and blueberry struedel.

Friends, Tosca has a new customer. And with their $32 pre-theater menu, I think I'll be back sooner rather than later. (It's pretty much the same deal as the RW menu, just with fewer choices -- meaning their everyday deal is better than many places' restaurant week offerings!)

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I forgot to post about my nice brunch at Bistro Bis on Saturday. The menu offered broad selection of brunch/lunch options about 8 for each course.

We opted for a frisee salad with a warm vinagrette and meaty chuncks of bacon and a salmon and scallop terrine served with lightly dressed greens as our first courses. For our entrees we did a hazelnut battered French Toast with apples and cinammon cream and a Quiche Lorraine which was the highlight - creamy, loaded with bacon in a delicate crust. It was a little on the small side but was as rich as could be. Dessert was a standard, but simple and delicious creme brulee and an intensely flavorful passionfruit and white chocolate mousse.

This was my first time at the restaurant and I'm looking forward to going back. The feel was refined, but not stuffy or fancy. I like that.

Bill Russell

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