Tag Archives: D.C.

Graffiato

There has been a good amount of buzz surrounding this new Italian restaurant near the Verizon Center. Grafiatto, the two-floor restaurant was opened in June by Season 6 Top Chef contestant, Mike Isabella. Fun fact: Isabella was also runner-up for Top Chef All-Stars.

Isabella is from New Jersey, but he is certainly not a newcomer to the D.C. area. Isabella served as the executive chef of Jose Andres’ Zaytinya prior to Grafiatto’s opening. His new restaurant  has an industrial vibe that’s dimly lit, with dark wood and rock music playing in the background. The drinks at the 15-stoo bar are creative and the glasses some are served in are fitting to the trendy restaurant.

On the second floor, diners can view the open kitchen and see chefs plating the Italian infused tapas. Grafiatto serves pizza from their wood-fire oven, but I’d recommend the other pasta and vegetable dishes.

To the left is the pumpkin risotto with smoked provolone and a balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. To the right is a special, lobster spaghetti with Isabella’s homemade tomato sauce. Below is the Chestnut Agnolotti. Much like ravioli, the pasta was stuffed with what resembled a pureed butternut squash, brussel leaves and brown butter. The agnolotti had a soft homemade texture with a sweet aftertaste.

We also ordered the Broccolini topped with spicy pepper relish and feta, as well as the brussel sprouts cooked in maple, pancetta and egg. I know most people cringe at the thought of brussel sprouts, but one bite of these and you’d have a hard time saying anything other than “Oh my gosh, these are amazing.” If you’re looking for a meat selection, the Pork Ribs with
sicilian oregano and coriander yogurt had a great flavor.

If you’re looking for a Fall dish right around now, the standouts for me were the risotto and agnolotti. In fact, in a recent review by the Washingtonian, Todd Kliman says:

“Isabella’s take on agnolotti might be the area’s finest pasta dish.”

Being that Grafiatto had a wood-fired oven, we also ordered the Vermont pizza with melted leeks, farmhouse cheddar, bacon, baby potatoes. I would have liked for the bottom crust to be a little crispier, but the ingredients stole my complaints away.

Grafiatto is a foodie’s dream. The dishes are small enough to try an array of menu items and they taste like Italian mom was in the kitchen making them. While some other reviewers say consistency is Grafiatto’s biggest setback, I believe they’re about  to take a giant leap forward.

Want to go there? Make sure to get reservations.

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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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Blue Duck Tavern

My brother sent me this UrbanDaddy write-up about Blue Duck Tavern’s french toast donuts. Instantly, I had the page bookmarked and was trying to figure out when we could go and experience this sugary calorie overload.

Blue Duck Tavern is located inside the Park Hyatt D.C. and was named among Zagat’s top restaurants in 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. Quite the run they’re having. The restaurant resembles something outside of a Pier 1 catalog. Light wooden tables, a massive stainless steel applianced kitchen and tall vases filled with flowers serving as the center pieces.

The best part of the decor in Blue Duck is the kitchen is open for everyone to see. One chef was slicing green apples with his creation of mini apple pies were surrounding him. Another was taking loaves of bread out of the oven and preparing to cut it into slices. We had to wait about five minutes for a table, but I could have waited longer because I was so entertained with the picture perfect kitchen.

Upon sitting down at the large communal table, we instantly ordered the french toast donuts as an appetizer. Yes, a brunch appetizer. That’s a thing, right? When we ordered them, our waiter smiled and said “good choice.” We know, Shankar! (That was our server’s name).


Now, in the Urban Daddy article, it says you get three donuts for $15. We got two. Perhaps BDT has cutten back and taken a slight step in solving America’s obesity problem. I said slight.

The made from scratch brioche donuts are served hot and have the texture of a Krispy Kreme donut — the temperature, too. Granola is sprinkled on top of the deep fried treats. That’s not it. Alongside, you get a bottle of bourbon maple syrup. Within seconds the donuts were gone. While they were beyond delicious, I had a hard time really tasting a french toast flavor. More so, I felt like I was eating a glazed donut with syrup. Which is never a bad thing.

On their brunch menu, every dish sounded amazing, but I ended up going with the croque madame. A Texas toast style bread paired with country bacon and a gruyere and parmesan cheese sauce. Uh, yum. One thing you’ll notice on their menu at BDT is alongside each item it lists where they got their ingredients from. In my case, this dish was from Crazy Chicks Cooperative in Pennsylvania.

One bite of this dish and you can tell that all their bread is made in house. The bacon was thick and the egg was cooked perfectly. I could have done without the salad, but it helped bring some color to the presentation.

To the left are the sunnyside eggs sitting on top of cod cakes. To the right, scrambled eggs and rock shrimp on top of a potato rosti. Basically, it’s a Swiss dish that’s grated potato fried. Like a giant hashbrown kind of — if you’re Swiss you probably find that comparison incredibly insulting.

Other dishes include lemon ricotta pancakes and eggs benedict. Oh, and if you go, try to save room for their handcut fries. I unfortunately did not. I’ll use that just as another excuse to go back.

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