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Restaurant Week, January 10th-16th, 2005


Kanishka
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Ceiba last night.

Place almost completely full, I would say 95%, but no impression of frenzy was left. The menu choices are: pick an appetizer from two soups, shrimp cocktail or mixed greens, and any entree on the list (with surcharges for the ribeye and the lobster.) Three desserts that they tell you about without giving you the menu.

Started with conch chowder with rum and sherry. Very nice but I think I would have enjoyed it more in colder weather. Interesting plating: first comes the bowl with crusted conch balls at bottom, then they pour on the broth, which has a stew-like texture with bits of veggies, and finally, you are issued with two wee pitchers of rum and sherry to spike your stuff as you wish.

Main: sea scallops, sweet corn sauce, spinach and black bean gnocchi. This was a very good dish, and the scallops particularly were cooked right and very juicy, almost raw but warm in the middle, which is the way I like it. Salt/herb dusting also worked very well on the scallops. I wasn't able to detect any taste of corn in the sauce, though, but all the elements worked well together. The gnocchi were not of the bean variety, but rather actual gnocchi scattered in between black beans. Perhaps there is a comma missing in the description.

Dessert was blah, chocolate cake with a scoop of ice cream and creme anglais. My friend had a bread pudding, which tasted unusually light.

Our server was a bit harried and I was surprised that they wanted us to order dessert with the rest of the meal. I admit that my service expectations for the restaurant week are lowered, so I am easy to please.

I wonder what the place is like on a regular night.

Liked the decor of the room, was pleased that deuce tables are not extremely close together. Also, am curious how the big plants in the windows are kept so damn symmetrical.

Edited by Nadya (log)

Resident Twizzlebum

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Thanks for posting the menu, mhberk! As for the service at Vidalia, I guess I should clarify. Yes, it was a while since I've been. The server was friendly and efficient with all the other tables except ours. I don't know why it was - due to all of us being young (maybe he thought we wouldn't tip?), and/or being women and/or our ethnic backgrounds. Don't know and would like to think he was just flakin' out but his service to the other tables didn't confirm that. *shrug*

I'm hoping my Saturday night outing to Vidalia (6:30pm - look for a four top with one girl dressed in all black) will be a good experience. I like RW b/c I can try these great restaurants while sticking to my meger budget! Woo hoo for RW!

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I went for a post-prandial walk and stopped in for a spot o' wine at Kinkeads yesterday and also perused the RW menu (lunch only). Today I went for lunch. The menu features three apps: Lobster/something bisque, salad, ravioli. Three main events: Cod cakes, parmesan crusted swordfish, crusted salmon (don't know with what). Two desserts: chocolate souffle w/vanila ice cream and raspberry cheesecake. I had the bisque, swordfish, and souffle + 1/2 glass Mosel, 1 glass Muscadet, and then more Mosel. And as Pepys would say now to bed.... ZZZZZZ

Edited to rewrite on the basis of actually dining

Edited by FunJohnny (log)

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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Thanks for posting the menu, mhberk!  As for the service at Vidalia, I guess I should clarify.  Yes, it was a while since I've been.  The server was friendly and efficient with all the other tables except ours.  I don't know why it was - due to all of us being young (maybe he thought we wouldn't tip?), and/or being women and/or our ethnic backgrounds.  Don't know and would like to think he was just flakin' out but his service to the other tables didn't confirm that.  *shrug*

I'm hoping my Saturday night outing to Vidalia (6:30pm - look for a four top with one girl dressed in all black) will be a good experience.  I like RW b/c I can try these great restaurants while sticking to my meger budget!  Woo hoo for RW!

You weren’t the only one that has spoken negatively about the their service. I have heard and read it other places as well. It is very possible that my expectations of the service were so low, that I may have been pleasantly surprised in return. This could’ve, in turn, caused me to view the service better than it actually was (I am constantly doing this with movies when I hear a great or terrible review). It’s also possible that I had one of the few teams that actually performed well. My waiter said that he had been there for almost 3 years. His busboy (who looked to be 15) kept our water glasses full and knew to serve on the left and clear on the right (or is it the other way around?). My waiter’s name was Joseph (an African-American gentleman). And I just called Vidalia and they said that he is the only “Joseph” that works there. You might want to call ahead see if you can get sat in his section.

I hope that you enjoy your meal Saturday night (I'll be arriving at Ceiba right around the same time)! If I were to do it again, I would’ve probably chosen other selections for my courses (not to say that what I had was bad). Just to let you know, the dinner for the two of us (including one $12 glass of wine) came to $105 before tip. I would’ve been just as happy ordering items where I didn’t have to “add” additional $$$ to get. I had heard so much about the shrimp and grits, that I HAD to try it. BTW, I would suggest the Lemon Chess Tart for dessert. My Pecan Tart was too sweet. Their menu might change from night to night (the menus are printed daily), but you can see a more detailed sample of their menu

here.

(Sitting for lamb chops)

Lamb: Ple-e-e-se Li-i-i-sa I thought you lo-o-o-oved me, lo-o-o-oved me

Marge: Whats Wrong Lisa? Cant get enough lamb chops?

Lisa: I can't eat this, I can't eat a poor little lamb.

Homer: Lisa get a hold yourself, that is lamb, not A lamb.

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BTW, I would suggest the Lemon Chess Tart for dessert.  My Pecan Tart was too sweet. 

Last time I was there my wife had the Pecan pie and I had the Lemon Chess pie and we thought both were way too sweet. And we both really like sweet desserts.

Bill Russell

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Cool beans, thanks for the tips, guys! I appreciate the link to Vidalia's menu site. I dislike overly sweet desserts so I'll stick with the trio of sorbets/ice cream. Personally, I don't like how Vidalia does its add ons but hey, I guess they can get away with it.

Did they offer the popovers in the bread basket? I remember Tom writing about the popovers.

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Hey everyone,

I'm heading to Le Lavandou tonight in Cleveland Park and was wondering if anyone here has experienced it during RW and have any recommendations on not to be missed items? Or just rec's in general? I can't seem to find a RW menu online so I'm not sure how limited it may be. Thanks for any help.

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Did they offer the popovers in the bread basket?  I remember Tom writing about the popovers.

Gastro,

They did not have popovers (atleast not last night). They DID have their cornbread (which I must have had about 5 or 6 pieces - which is why I couldn't finish my dessert :sad: ) and some kind of onion bread.

If you like popovers, you HAVE to go to Normandie Farm for brunch!

(Sitting for lamb chops)

Lamb: Ple-e-e-se Li-i-i-sa I thought you lo-o-o-oved me, lo-o-o-oved me

Marge: Whats Wrong Lisa? Cant get enough lamb chops?

Lisa: I can't eat this, I can't eat a poor little lamb.

Homer: Lisa get a hold yourself, that is lamb, not A lamb.

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Aiiieee! No popovers! *gasp!* What's a girl to do? Ai, me.

Ah, yes, I've been to Normandie Farm for tea. Was sorely disappointed. (Parents weren't pleased either). Their popovers were kinda crusty and a bit too hard. If you're familar with the Rockville, MD area, do you remember Phineas' Steakhouse on the Pike? They had the BEST popovers. Too bad they went outta business.

Anyone done brunch at Bistro Bis? Worth going? Is it fancy dress on Sundays?

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Anyone done brunch at Bistro Bis?  Worth going?  Is it fancy dress on Sundays?

We don't have a dress code, but most folks will be in some manner of smart casual.

Also, it is on both Saturday and Sunday.

Resident Twizzlebum

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Ah, yes, I've been to Normandie Farm for tea.  Was sorely disappointed.  (Parents weren't pleased either). Their popovers were kinda crusty and a bit too hard.  If you're familar with the Rockville, MD area, do you remember Phineas' Steakhouse on the Pike?  They had the BEST popovers.  Too bad they went outta business.

I've only been to Normandie Farm for brunch and usually get the popovers as they come out of the oven. Other than that, I have had no other experiences/pleasures with popovers (I guess I don't know what I'm missing).

I'm somewhat familiar with Rockville. But since I live in Columbia, I usually have to live vicariously through the posters here when it comes to restaurants. I DO make "destination" trips to the DC/Montgomery Co. area, but I don't remember Phineas.

(Sitting for lamb chops)

Lamb: Ple-e-e-se Li-i-i-sa I thought you lo-o-o-oved me, lo-o-o-oved me

Marge: Whats Wrong Lisa? Cant get enough lamb chops?

Lisa: I can't eat this, I can't eat a poor little lamb.

Homer: Lisa get a hold yourself, that is lamb, not A lamb.

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Anyone done brunch at Bistro Bis?  Worth going?  Is it fancy dress on Sundays?

We don't have a dress code, but most folks will be in some manner of smart casual.

Also, it is on both Saturday and Sunday.

Rock on, thanks!

BTW, I called Saveur re: RW and they have a brunch menu as well, should anyone be interested.

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Aiiieee!  No popovers!  *gasp!*  What's a girl to do?  Ai, me.

Ah, yes, I've been to Normandie Farm for tea.  Was sorely disappointed.  (Parents weren't pleased either). Their popovers were kinda crusty and a bit too hard.  If you're familar with the Rockville, MD area, do you remember Phineas' Steakhouse on the Pike?  They had the BEST popovers.  Too bad they went outta business.

Anyone done brunch at Bistro Bis?  Worth going?  Is it fancy dress on Sundays?

We did Bistro Bis brunch last RW. It was good enough to get us to return for dinner a few weeks later, but I never feel like brunches are as good a value as dinners, RW or not. And I don't remember a thing we had other than frisee au lardons.

Edited to add - Damn work. It kept me from going out to lunch before my meeting. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions anyway.

Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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Bistro d'Oc has a good RW menu going. Peppered duck pate, mesclun salad or potato-leek soup for starters. Blanquette de veau, fricassee of chicken in Thai green curry sauce or sauteed Atlantic salmon with crabmeat, potatoes and spinach to follow. Peach melba or chocolate pudding for dessert. The soup and the blanquette hit the spot well today. Probably be even better on the weekend, when it's supposed to get really chilly, maybe with a glass of their 1970 Darroze Armagnac to round things out and totally blow the budget.

Edited by iamthestretch (log)

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

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We did Bistro Bis brunch last RW.  It was good enough to get us to return for dinner a few weeks later, but I never feel like brunches are as good a value as dinners, RW or not.  And I don't remember a thing we had other than frisee au lardons.

Lardons. Oooh. Pork fat. *sighs* :wub:

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Headline: Corduroy makes the grade!

I'm really starting to think of Restaurant Week as "Audition Week." Last night, Corduroy got the part. It's one of those places that gives the whole menu over to the promotion. Like my visit to Tosca last time around, you wouldn't even know there was anything different going on except for when the bill came.

The service was adequate, not lacking anything. But being a somewhat unusual week in terms of business, I don't think I can (or need to) properly rate it. It was the food I was really interested in. All the employees seemed to be chipping in though to make things run smoother. There was but one blemish on the evening -- somehow my companion and I were forgotten about when waiting for our reserved table. The incident was soon forgotten after we sat down.

I'll start in right away with the highlight of the evening: the lobster salad appetizer. There was a $5 upcharge, but it's well worth it. After one bite I was tempted to ask if my second and third courses could also be the salad. This is the best thing I have put in my mouth in a long time. The other appetizer at the table was the mozzerella porcupine, which lived up to its reputation.

My lamb sirloin with the side of goat cheese mini ravioli was also perfect. Alcohol is verboten for me right now sadly, but a nice wine pairing would've made it shine even more. Do they sell wines by the glass? I didn't pay much attention to the list.

My friend also raved about his entree, the tuna steak. For dessert, I went with the creme brulee, pretty standard. The chocolate tart with carmelized banana was a big winner in the dessert category.

DCFoodie, did you make it to Corduroy last night? I notice it was mentioned at your blog, and during dinner my buddy (who is visiting Spezie this weekend on your rec) leans over and says, "is that the guy from that site?"

Since spring rolls were not an option for the appetizer, I predict a spring roll/lobster salad happy hour in my very near future. May Tom Power's reign be long and prosperous...

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Had a great night at Ceiba yesterday. We started with a Batida and a Caipirinha. My companions Batida was not as sweet as she wanted, but I enjoyed the Caipirinha immensely.

For apps we had the Black Bean Soup and the Shrimp Ceviche. DCFoodie, thank you so much for your Black Bean Soup recommendation! It was cold and rainy outside and the soup made for a great "warm me up". The ceviche was great, especially with the salty flatbread it was served with. One problem with it--I wish the avocado came through a little earlier in the dish. Otherwise, a solid dish.

For entrees we chose the Scallops a la plancha and the Whole Snapper. The scallops were great--perfectly cooked, and matched well with the masa gnocchi. The snapper looked very intimidating--that was a lot of fish!--but I did my best. With the sauce, it was very tasty.

Dessert brought the flan and the bread pudding. I'm not much of a dessert man, but I enjoyed both--though if I went back, I'd pick the bread pudding.

Service was great. Our waiter had three deuces, a four top, and a six top. He never seemed rushed or out of sorts.

Had a great time at Ceiba--next time I got some money in the back, I'm definitely going back!

K

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I become less and less enthusiastic about RW every time, but some friends suggested going to a couple of new places this time around and I bit. This evening was Signatures (Friday is Palette :hmmm: ) and it was a stellar example of RW done right.

We were served an amuse of smoked trout salad as our very warm and knowledgeable server described the RW situation. You're free to choose from most everything on the menu, with some obvious exclusions (no Kobe potstickers, 'natch). You've also got an interesting option of choosing three savory courses instead of the usual two and dessert. I opted for the three savory, starting with scallops with a carrot puree. The puree ended up being my favorite of the night and I asked our server if he knew what was in it. He said he'd go check and a couple of minutes later Morou (the chef) came to our table to tell me how to make it. I thought this was a hell of a nice gesture (I mostly expect indifference, if not abuse during RW). My second course was the 'painted bowl', soups of potato and squash together. The potato soup was everything it should be: flavorful without being too rich and creamy. Squash soup wasn't bad, but I guess I'm a bit worn out on it (and I make a mean one :wink: ). We all ended up ordering fish as an entree, two of us salmon and the other two waluu. The waluu (a meaty, firm fish) had a seriously good foie gras sauce underneath it (foie gras during RW? :shock: ). The salmon had an even better crisped couscous plus African spices and peanuts accompaniment (and a chili-tomato sauce as well).

Some of the dessert choices actually looked interesting (as opposed to the usual ice cream or creme brulee for RW). A mascarpone-fig cake that one of us got looked tasty. The friend and I that didn't opt for the dessert course ordered a nicely done cheese plate (Humboldt Fog-- wow... plus two others whose name I forgot).

I didn't get a chance to see it, but one of my friends said they have a bar menu that looked good.

Chris Sadler

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I stopped by David Greggory last night for dinner at the bar and did the RW menu. The selections are a good subset of the regular menu.

For my appetizer I had the Moroccan Shrimp Sticks. The 3 shrimp were spiced, grilled, and served with harissa remoulade and a spicy apple chutney. The condiments made this dish as they provided a nice kick to the shrimp.

For my main I had the Braised Lamb Shank which was very good. The lamb was served with root vegetable puree and some wilted greens. The lamb was just about melting off the bone and was only made better by the rich wine sauce and veggie puree.

Dessert was the Dried Cherry Bread Pudding that was too dry and heavy.

It did not seem that they were that busy, full but not packed, but the bartenders were a bit frazzled. Despite that the service was acceptable and was pleased with my dinner.

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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Went with friends to Mendocino Grille last night and had a great dinner. The entire menu was available with a couple of surcharges. Some of us arrived early for a drink but the bar was full. They graciously offered to seat us then so that we could still enjoy the drink and the bar patrons wouldn't be crowded. Duck bacon, wild boar sauasage, marlin, persimmon sorbet -- excellent combinations of texture and taste.

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Went to DC Coast last night...a pleasent experience with out being an exceptional experience. We sat upstairs in what looks like giant hallway...I think I would have prefered sitting downstairs...They offered 2 soups (a butternut squash and a lobster bisque) and two salads (mixed green and cesaer)...we all went with soup which was served in the style of the day, soup poured table side out of little urns. It was a nice large serving of soup, it was good soup, not great soup, with lots of corn for crunch contrast, crawfish which didn't add anything, and supposedly bacon relish which also didn't add anything if it was even there. Again, a good soup, but didn't rewch the heights that other soups in other restaurant in town reach. The same description could go for the lobster bisque.

For the entree they offered all entrees with a $7 surcharge for the lobster and the steak. I went with the bbq braised short ribs with grilled red onion, corn, watercress salad and parsnip puree. All the entrees are served in the extra large portion style, it was one huge slab of short ribs. Again it was good, with out being great. There was so many flavors going on that it was a giant party in the mouth. I also tried bites of the double cut pork chops that was cooked nicely to medium rare and nicely moist, again a huge slab of meat, and the scallop dish, we thought the scallops were a little too salty.

For dessert, chocies were vanilla bean creme brulee, bread pudding with a banana fosters sauce, and a chocolate mousse cake (nicely light and not overly chocolately).

My friend and I split a half bottle of Zinfandel, Steele, Pacini Vineyard, Mendocino, 2001 $22, which went nicely with the short ribs.

I'm certainly in the indifferent about RW camp, I think its a great promotion to get people out to restaurants, but not sure if it really showcases a restaurants true potential. Overall, DC Coast does a pretty good job, plenty of menu options, you actually do save about $10 a head (my meal regularly would have been about $40), but not sure I would go again on my own dime, I'd probably walk 2 blocks down the street and go to Corduroy!

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My husband and I had dinner at Vidalia last night. I stuck to the promotional dishes,including the sweet potato soup and cassoulet, which were wonderful. I mean,incredible. My husband chose to spend a bit more on the 5 onion duck soup, and wished he ordered my soup!!

The service, however, was indifferent at best and wine by the glass was ridiculously expensive. I mean, I ordered "house" wines which were 12 and 13 dollars respectively. sheesh.

The latter two aspects of my experience make me think I won't be a repeat customer.

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