Category Archives: Uncategorized

Charleston, SC

I’ve been back from Charleston since Monday and I’m still thinking about this strawberry layer cake from Five Loaves.  What the owners call a gourmet eatery, this small restaurant has a focus on sandwiches and creative daily soups.

Pictured is the chicken breast sandwich with basil pesto, raspberry vinegar marinated tomatoes, and multigrain bread. Their soups ranged from a tomato, feta cheese, and rosemary blend to a Mexican tortilla soup.  I ordered the tomato soup with crab.

For dinner, we headed to Slightly North of Broad.  It’s an upscale restaurant with white table cloths and dark wood decorating the dining room. They have an open kitchen with a dining bar facing the chefs. Above, the caramelized pear salad with pistachios, blue cheese, dried cranberries, and a light white vinaigrette. The pear’s crispy and sweet coating paired well with the sharp blue cheese.

It wouldn’t be a trip to the South without an order of shrimp and grits. Creamy yellow grits were under sliced spicy sausage, strips of hams and onion, and Cajun spices.

My meal, the grilled hanger steak with broccoli, portobello mushrooms, and a caramelized onion cream sauce. While the meat was cooked perfectly at medium rare, my only complaint was that the food could have been much warmer.

For dessert, I cleansed my palate (ate more sugar) with a sour cherry sorbet.

Finish your night off in Charleston at The Gin Joint.  If you’re lucky enough to get a seat, take time to sort through the 11+ pages of drinks. Inspired bu prohibition-style drinks, the owners are graduates of the Culinary Institute of America. If you’re looking for more than drinks, they also have a small assortment of upscale appetizers.

For anyone who is interested in expanding their wine and spirits knowledge, owner Joseph Raya offers wine and spirits classes. I ordered a raspberry fizz with blackberries, Goslings Dark (no, not Ryan), lemon, Demerara, and sparkling wine.

The following night, we dined at what Bon Appetit crowned The Best New Restaurant in America. Husk  is home to James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock.

Set inside an historic house, beautiful and simple decorations line the warmly painted walls.

There is a quote that Brock applies to his restaurant: “If it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door.” According to the website, he has even stricken olive oil from the kitchen.

Local farms are promoted in the front hallway, showing diners just where their food is coming from.

While there, it was restaurant week and therefore made the menu limited.

Imagine my relief when fried chicken skins was still an appetizer. Paired with a hot sauce and served on a cutting board, Husk is not shy with portions.

For my main course, I went with pork so tender I could cut it with my fork, farro, fire-roasted sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts, and a bourbon jus.

I finished the delicious dinner off with an oatmeal pie with a cookie crust, a brown sugar custard, fudge sauce, and salted caramel ice cream. As I scooped up my last bite, it’s not hard to see why Husk earned its 2011 best new restaurant award.

Charleston never disappoints when it comes to the culinary scene. Til next time.

Looking for more places in Charleston?

Hominy Grill

Glazed Doughnuts — Closed Mondays

Cupcake

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The Liberty Tree

H Street in D.C. is the current hot spot for restaurants and PBR. About a mile long, this street is home to trendy restaurants including Smith Commons, Sticky Rice and the New England themed The Liberty Tree.

I found reviews saying how the clam rolls and lobster rolls at The Liberty Tree were like the ones they grew up on in Massachusetts.  So, who better to bring to this establishment than my parents, who grew up in Massachusetts!?

The place has a cozy vibe with New England posters framed on the walls. It’s a fairly small place with not too much seating, and their bar faces the kitchen.

My family and I started with the lobster corndogs for an appetizer. Other tempting apps’ included the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese and fried brussel sprouts. While the dipping sauce for the corndogs was delicious, the corndogs were overcooked and had almost a rubbery texture on the outside. Had they not been overcooked, the flavor would have been good, but still not a standout.

For our entrees, my mom went with the talked about fried clam roll. Here is her review:

“Clams were good but no where near as good as my favorites from JT Farnhams in Essex, Ma. I think they should have been more evenly coated… some parts of the clams didn’t have any coating.”

She didn’t hold anything back!

Other dishes including the pizza and the fried chatham cod sandwich. The consensus at the table was my salmon was the best dish of the night. Go me!

Update: My brother found his brick oven clam pizza to be delicious. Called the Casino, it was topped with baby clams, roasted garlic, bacon, spinach, herb butter & pecorino romano.

The salmon is not on their online menu, but it was grilled salmon on top of a cream spinach apple orzo.

The best part of the night was actually the salads which were dressed perfectly. Another nice fact about this restaurant is that their New England rolls are shipped in and if you can purchase the rolls directly from The Liberty Tree.

The Liberty Tree puts forth a good effort, but sometimes, New England food is best left up to New England.

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Sunrise Donuts

I heard about Sunrise Donuts from a friend of mine who happened to stumble upon the shop in Gloucester, VA. With the post Thanksgiving traffic on Sunday, my brother and I decided to take the “scenic” route back to Northern Virginia.

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How fitting is this picture? Opened last September in a strip mall, Sunrise Donuts already has a steady stream of customers, and according to The Daily Press newspaper, some of those customers come in at 3 am on their way to the shipyard.

Flavors range from the basic cinnamon sugar and glazed to the popular maple glaze with bacon bits. Started by Holli Cohoon, her small staff cooks from 9:30pm till 2am.

And their not just cooking doughnuts. They also serve cinnamon buns, apple fritters and a selection of other pastries.

Knowing what rave reviews the actual donuts from Sunrise had received, my brother and I picked out the banana chocolate doughnut and the cinnamon sugar. Be warned, these doughuts are massive.

You can tell just how fresh these doughnuts are upon your first bite. In regards to flavor, I think the simpler the better.  To me, the banana frosting tasted artificial, but when paired with thick doughnut, the frosting flavor wasn’t overpowering– in a good way.

If you ever take the “scenic” route through Gloucester, Va, I still suggest making a pit stop.

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Proof

 

Well, this post took awhile to put up, but it’s too good of a restaurant to completely bypass.  Proof is located near Chinatown in D.C. and has had countless reviews raving about the food, service, ambiance and wine. It was America’s good friend Benjamin Franklin that said, “wine is proof that God loves us.” And so Proof got its name.

The chic restaurant has a dark ambiance floors and the bar is decorated top to bottom with wine. To start, I ordered three types of cheese — all of which I would recommend if I could remember which three they were. I recall the roquefort pairing well with both the figs and the honey.

I like to think I’m an adventurous eater, but Proof’s Crispy Pig Head was not the direction I wanted to go for my entree. If you do order the pig’s head please let me know and I’ll try to hide my feelings of disgust! Instead, I kept it somewhat simple and went with the organic chicken stuffed with goat cheese and wild mushroom served on top of polenta and rap. If you have never heard of rapini (which I had not) it is otherwise known as broccoli rabe. Of course the chicken was juicy and the goat cheese gave it that punch of flavor that chicken can often lack.

And of course I couldn’t leave Proof without ordering a dessert. The brioche bread pudding was soft with a not-too-sweet taste. Even better when you get a birthday candle sticking through it too.

Of course I’m going to recommend Proof, everything is perfect about it. My blog serves as the PROOF (ha!) as to how delicious it is, but you should find out for yourself.

 

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Good Stuff Eatery

When I first got my job in the D.C. area in December my initial thought was “Oh, good, I get to go to Good Stuff.” I should probably be concerned that this was my first thought upon receiving a job.

It wasn’t until last week that I finally got to try Spike Mendelsohn’s burger joint. If that name sounds familiar, Mendelson was on a season of Top Chef and Top Chef All Stars. Think fedora.

Mendelsohn opened Good Stuff in July of 2008 followed by We, the Pizza last year.

Recently, he gained a few enemies when he called D.C. a “second-tier city.”  I must say, compared to NYC, D.C. does not compete from a culinary standpoint.  The District definitely is expanding its culinary scene, but do I think it’s at the level of New York? No, no I don’t. Would a make a comment like that if I owned a restaurant in D.C.? No, no I would not.

Despite what he said, I still wanted a burger.

Good Stuff Eatery is located in the Capitol Hill area. There is outdoor seating as well as seating inside the casual two-floor restaurant. Simply go up to the counter and order from the basic All-American menu: burgers, fries, onion petals, chili, shakes, floats etc.

I went with the Good Stuff Melt: Cheddar and Muenster cheese, caramelized onions, mushrooms and the Good Stuff Sauce. The sauce is basically a miz of molasses, mayo and ketchup.

Look at the sloppy mess! Beautiful!  While the toppings were all delicious and my meat was cooked medium (they don’t ask you, but I would prefer medium rare– just sayin’), the burger itself was not very juicy nor did it have much flavor. I became aware of this after my mom kept saying “I don’t taste burger. Ya know? Burger, I just don’t taste it. That burger flavor.” Go eat one from Good Stuff, and it will all make sense.

My dad ordered Coletti’s Smokehouse. Bacon, cheddar, onion petals, with a chipotle BBQ sauce. He said while it tasted good, it was the toppings that were bringing all the flavor. I did however like that they put their burger buns on the grill to give it a slight crisp.

For sides, we split the handcut fries and the onion petals. The petals had a little bit of a kick to them and the fries were good, but not a standout.

So, what was the standout? The toasted marshmallow milkshake. I had a toasted marshmallow milkshake a couple years ago in NYC and I have been craving one since. Who would have thought I could get one in a second-tier city?! Too soon?

Bring on the brain freeze is right, Spike!  I have an incredible sweet tooth (I don’t like to brag though) so I found this shake to be delicious. If you’re not into getting diabetes you may want to pass this one up. Or, if you want to try another flavor the black & white shake seemed to be a popular choice when looking around.

Would I tell people this is the best burger joint in the area? No. Am I happy I went? Yeah, I am! After six months of waiting, I was happy to finally try it and give it my own review. I’d be happy to go back for a shake.

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Northside Social

If there is one thing I love more than eating food, it’s eating food outside. It was the outside dining area at Northside Social that caught my eye awhile back.

The locally owned and operated coffee shop and wine bar is owned and operated by the Liberty Tavern Restaurant Group and is located in Clarendon. Fairly new to the area, the restaurant’s laid back feel is evident by the customers coming in with gym clothes while ordering their food at the front counter.

As much as I love eating outside, the heat wave kept me indoors, which led me to exploring the wine bar upstairs. Much of the featured wine is from small family run vineyards that otherwise could be difficult to purchase. The wine bar menu keeps it simple with primarily cheese and meat plates.

You can order wine and beer downstairs, as well as sandwiches, salads, soups and quiches. It’s not unusual to see people working on their laptops or reading a book while sipping on a glass of wine or coffee. Like the guy below, look he’s reading a book and having a beer!

The coffee is also suppose to be a standout, with different types of extraction methods. Those include espresso (their specific espresso machine is only used by two or three other places in the nation), drip coffee, a specialized coffee production per cup method and the french press.

One the 100 degree day that I visited Northside, there were still people crazy enough to eat outside in front of a massive grill. Perhaps the beef brisket they were serving was THAT good. They also have marshmallows that you can toast outside.

If the marshmallows don’t cut it, the front also has cookies, soft serve ice cream (flavors change and are made fresh daily), muffins, scones and tarts that are all made by their very own pastry chef.  I was tempted to try to the walnut coffee muffin.

Given the time of day I went, I stuck to a glass of chardonnay for $7 and the Black Forest ham quiche. The quiche’s flavor was delicious with caramelized onions through and spinach. The crust was thick and flaky, but I would have like this to have been served much hotter. The fruit and simple side salad comes with the quiche and was a nice light side for such a hot day.

When getting up the front counter, my friend asked for the best sandwich they had. The cashier insisted it was the chicken salad. I didn’t have the time to try the rest of their sandwiches to see if this guy was lying or not, but the chicken salad here is quite tasty. I’m not even a fan of chicken salad. When ordering a sandwich, you have the option of side salad, potato salad or chips. Don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the potato salad.

Much of the food at Northside is local, and you can even purchase local milk from grass fed cows.

I’m looking forward to my next trip to Northside which will hopefully involve a giant cup of their coffee and a chunky monkey scone. Fingers crossed it will be cool enough to eat outside.

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Pizzeria Orso

Pizzeria Orso (Italian for bear) opened in Falls Church last June and has been getting impressive reviews from local publications since. Prior to opening, it gained buzz due to their chef, Edan MacQuaid, who has created pies for the popular NoVa joints, 2 Amys, Pizzeria Paradiso and RedRocks in Washington. It also helps that the owners of the fancy French restaurant 2941– also in Falls Church– refers to Orso as their sister restaurant.

The neapolitan pizzeria, not nearly as fancy as its sister, has an open and relaxed dining area with high ceilings and sporadic images of bears. There is even a bear statue upon entering.

To start, my friend and I ordered the suppli al telefono. Or, fried risotto balls. For $5, six of them are topped with a bit of salt that seemed weird at first, but it was a nice compliment to the risotto and melted buffalo mozzarella. As I used my fork to break open the appetizer, mozzarella oozed out.

Steam was still coming out when we got down to the final risotto ball. It looks as though prior to frying the risotto, some sort of tomato sauce is mixed within that brings even more flavor to the delicious starter.

The service at Orso was extremely helpful when it came to describing the pizza. The wood-burning oven was crafted in Italy and shipped to the restaurant. It can reach 900 degrees and that’s hot enough for some of their pizzas to cook in about 30 seconds. Each pizza is individual sized (12″), but I think most could probably split one. That being said, my friend and I decided to order our own. We like to eat.

Per the recommendation of our waiter, we went with the crudo pizza for $15: tomato, mozzarella, basil, arugula, shaved grana (a milder parmesadn) and prosciutto.Another standout creation was the mezzaluna: half margherita pizza and half folded with ricotta, grana and pesto inside.

They don’t shy away from the arugula at Orso. I left some on the pizza, but had to push the rest to side. The pizza had strips of prosciutto baked right in and as I picked it up to have my first bite I was a little disappointed. No, not because of the taste. Instead, it was because the pizza wasn’t cut. I’d be interested to hear why they do this. I’m lazy and ended up tearing my first slice out.

There’s nothing like pizza from a wood-burning grill. It brings such an authentic flavor and pair that with prosciutto, I’m one happy girl. They give you a decent amount of the prosciutto too. You can also tell the sauce is fresh and homemade.

Of course, reading other reviews, there are some who remain loyal to 2 Amy’s and have found ways to nitpick Orso. In order to compare, it looks like I need to schedule a dining session with Amy..and Amy.

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