22 June 2008

Krik’s Picks for DC Dining

I was chided recently for not having enough restaurant reviews for DC. After all, this blog got its name from my notes on DC restaurants that I prepared for Land O'Lakes board members when they were in town. The trouble is, often when I'm in DC, I have group meals either in restaurants or in hotels with business acquaintances, and those meals don't often lend themselves to a restaurant review. So consequently, I haven't put many DC reviews on Krik's Picks.

Well, I guess the obvious solution is to simply post the Krik's Picks list that I prepared for the Board members. So here it is - Krik's Picks the 2008 Edition. It's organized roughly by city neighborhoods. I include a short blurb from the Washington Post or other restaurant guide and then a sentence or two of my own impressions.

Enjoy!

Capitol Hill South (House side)

Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar
223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE Phone: 202/544-8088

Washington Post Review: A warm fireplace, soft couches and wines by the glass make Sonoma's second-floor lounge a comfortable place to spend an evening.

Krik says: The wine bar is fun, but don’t forget the food! The menu features many small plates, a cheese platter, and a charcuterie platter great for sampling and sharing.

Belga Cafe
514 Eighth St. SE
Phone: 202/544-0100

Washington Post Review: There's more to Belgian cuisine than mussels, beer and chocolate.

Krik says: The Post reviewer was neutral on this place, but I thought it was unique, creative, and tasty. Great selection of Belgian beer.

Tune Inn
331½ Pennsylvania Ave. SE,
Phone: 202-543-2725

Washington Post Review: The best-known dive bar on Capitol Hill is perfect for getting away from politics as usual.

Krik says: You could put this joint in any small town in America, and it would still be a dive. Known for its cheeseburgers.

Capitol Hill North/Union Station

Monocle
107 D St. NE
Phone: (202) 546-4488

Washington Post Review: A Washington insider's hangout in an unpretentious setting where tourists in sneakers are as comfortable as lawyers in pinstripes.

Krik says: The owners are Greek, and all of the food has a touch of Greek flavor. Good Greek salad. Last time I was there, they told me they use Land O'Lakes products.

Dubliner
4 F St. NW
Phone: 202/737-3773

Washington Post Review: Capitol Hill's oldest Irish restaurant has two large bars, a spacious patio on Mass. Ave., and live Irish music.

Krik says: Very casual and lots of fun. Sandwiches, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie.

Bistro Bis
15 E St. NW (in the Hotel George)
Phone: 202-661-2700

Washington Post Review: Find updated takes on classic bistro cuisine; lighter dishes and fish tend to be better.

Krik says: This restaurant is great for any meal - breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can eat light, with an appetizer and a salad, or enjoy a full meal. Good people watching here.

B Smith’s
Union Station
50 Massachusetts Ave. NE Phone: 202/289-6188

Washington Post Review: An art deco vibe and rich Southern fare come together in this elegant Union Station spot.

Krik says: Very creative menu, very tasty; like most Southern cooking, it’s spicy. A little pricey, but you can split a meal.


America
Union Station
50 Massachusetts Avenue NE Phone: 202/682-9555

Washington Post Review: Big and uber- American, Union Station's America serves big food from a big menu. Big, big, big.

Krik says: This is a good, reliable restaurant. Its huge menu has regional specialties from across America. They’ve even got macaroni and cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They serve many regional beers, but their idea of a Wis. beer is Miller Lite. And they don’t serve Land O’Lakes butter!! (How un-American.)

Charlie Palmer Steak
101 Constitution Ave. NW Phone: 202-547-8100

Washington Post Review: In addition to the expected filet mignon and dry-aged rib-eye, for instance, the kitchen will be featuring such fashions as a terrine of octopus and chipotle-glazed smoked squab.

Krik says: Located right at the base of Capitol Hill, in a shiny, new office building, this steakhouse has an open, modern layout and décor. The food is great, and you’re likely to spot any number of Capitol Hill power-brokers (those not in handcuffs) wining & dining here.

Foggy Bottom/Dupont Circle

Circle Bistro
One Washington Circle NW
202-293-5390

Gayot Review: Quiet, somewhat off the beaten path and oddly soothing, Circle Bistro takes up the lower level of One Washington Circle Hotel. The menu holds many surprises---take the deep-fried and peanut-filled squash blossom, as delicate as a whisper and as sophisticated as a Parisian holiday. From there, the menu takes you to other appetizers including a chilled English pea soup with a minted crème fraîche dollop, pan-roasted Hudson Valley foie gras, and a charcuterie plate with sausage and a duck liver mousse.

Krik says: I agree with the glowing review. I’ve eaten there a couple of times and always been impressed by the quality, creativity, and flavor.

Grillfish
1200 New Hampshire Ave. NW
202-331-7310

Washington Post Review: The name of the restaurant suggests it serves light, plain cooking. That's true, but only in part. In addition to grilled fish -- 10 kinds plus lobster are listed -- there are sauteed shrimp, scallops, monkfish and chicken, and appetizers of clams or mussels steamed in wine or sauteed with spicy, garlicky tomato sauce. Any of those can be served over pasta as an entree, or that tomato sauce can accompany your grilled fish.

Krik says: I took a group of our young producers here once. There was enough variety on the menu to satisfy everyone, and everyone really liked their food. It’s worth a try.

Pesce
2016 P St. NW
202-466-3474

Washington Post Review: Pesce looks beyond salmon and tuna to serve the likes of dorade and pompano. The former, succulent and rich, might be sauteed to a gentle crisp and stuffed with lobster mousse; the latter, meaty and sweet, has been served whole atop a warm salad of julienned vegetables and alongside a lovely sorrel sauce.

Krik says: I took a couple of our directors here many years ago, and it was great. The Post says they have a new chef who has introduced some French additions to the traditionally Italian fish dishes. Sounds good to me!

Waterfront


Market Inn
200 E. St. SW
Phone: 202-554-2100

Washington Post Review: Housed in a building that dates back to 1936, Market Inn retains symbols of its historic past. In the entryway is a bell that once announced votes in the House and Senate before the advent of pagers. Walls are adorned with photos from Redskins teams of yesteryear.

Krik says: This is a very popular, local restaurant. It’s specializes in seafood, but it’s not on the waterfront.

Pier 7
(No web site)
650 Water St SW


(No Post review)
Krik says: There are other restaurants on the wharf to choose from, but I’ve eaten here
and had pretty good food.


Downtown

701 Pennsylvania Ave.
701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Phone: 202/393-0701

Washington Post Review: Appealing appetizers (especially caviar) and fine chocolate desserts are just steps away from the downtown theaters.

Krik says: You won’t get lost looking for this one; the name is the same as the address Good steaks and fish.

Capital Grille
601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Phone: 202-737-6200

Washington Post Review: Gigantic, meaty steaks in a he-man environment.

Krik says: Very highly regarded steakhouse with a traditional look and feel – lots of dark wood and leather chairs. Great for steaks, but seafood is less impressive.

Luigino
1100 New York Ave.
202-371-0595

Washington Post Review: Try the more adventurous Italian dishes here; avoid the ravioli.

Krik says: I’ve never had the ravioli, but the osso buco is wonderful, and I had some great gnocchi, too.

Oceanaire Seafood Room
1201 F St. NW
202-347-2277

Washington Post Review: Diners step back in time at this dashing ode to fish, where meals begin with a complimentary relish tray, big-band music plays in the background.

Krik says: Did you know this chain started in Minnesota? Imagine that! Excellent fish and seafood, attentive service, high prices always.

Spezie
1736 L St. NW
202-467-0777

Washington Post Review: Pastas are one of the most appealing ways to explore Spezie; averaging $10 at lunch and $14 at dinner, they are good values for their quality.

Krik says: I had a really enjoyable dinner here shortly after the restaurant opened.

Jaleo
480 Seventh St. NW
202-628-7949

Washington Post Review: Tapas (50 plus) and several main dishes fit all appetites and price ranges; the wine list is friendly and the wait staff is helpful. Jaleo won "Best Dining in a Group" in washingtonpost.com's Best Bets 2004 Readers' Choice contest.

Krik says: I like tapas. Some people complain that it’s expensive, but I think it’s a great way to try a different things, share and eat light.

Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th St. NW
Phone: 202/347-4800

Washington Post Review: The kitchen turns out high-quality pub fare, often featuring seasonal produce; try the burgers.

Krik says: I’ve only eaten lunch here, but it’s very good. They’re supposed to have fantastic oysters.

Ceiba
701 14th St. NW
Phone: 202-393-3983

Washington Post Review: This whimsical tribute to Central and South American tastes features tropical fare and deliciously affordable cocktails.

Krik says: This is a trendy, relatively new restaurant featuring food from Brazil, Cuba, and Costa Rica. Hip, stylish, and very good!


Georgetown


Filomena Ristorante Georgetown
1063 Wisconsin Ave. NW
202-337-2782

Washington Post Review: Try the pasta dishes, especially the stuffed variations that are made on the premises by those Pasta Mamas you see hard at work in the front window. Filomena makes large groups feel welcome.

Krik says: I haven’t eaten here myself. But several Land O'Lakes Board members, with Mediterranean heritage, really love it.


La Chaumiere
2813 M St. NW
202-338-1784

Washington Post Review: This Georgetown French restaurant, three decades old, is a wonderful choice for a wintry day when you crave a cozy atmosphere. The cuisine is hearty and nostalgic with choises like cassoulet stew, escargot and bouillabaisse.

Krik says: This is always a reliable place to go. Great food, comfortable atmosphere.

20 June 2008

A new feature on Krik's Picks

Blogger has updated its features and I've decided to adopt one of the features for Krik's Picks. I've always had a list of Links in the sidebar. But now Blogger offers something called a Blog Roll. So now you can see what's new on some of my favorite blogs before you click to them. (Or maybe seeing the info will entice you to click to them.)

Anyway, I've also added the Bakers Banter Blog from King Arthur Flour. King Arthur Flour is a 5-generation family-owned company that now has converted to 100% employee ownership. Cool. I like perusing the company's periodic e-mail promotions, and occassionally I buy stuff from them. I first found them while I was looking for a specialty ingredient for my bagels. (Oops. I just realized I've never done a blog post about baking bagels. Watch for that in the near future.)

I don't buy a lot of stuff from them. Their prices are reasonable, but shipping usually makes it uneconomical unless you can't find the ingredient or equipment locally.

I've read the Bakers Banter often enough to decide that I like it and I can recommend it to my readers, especially if you enjoy baking. If nothing else, they've got great photos of the recipes that they promote. Take a look and let me know what you think.

18 June 2008

No tomatoes in DC?

Last week, I was in Washington, DC, for a meeting. A group of us went to the Capital Grille for a lunch event. I was heading home after the lunch ended.


We all were dairy folks. So several of us intended to order the Caprece salad. ‘No can do,’ our server informed us. Due to the salmonella scare, the restaurant had no fresh tomatoes … hence no Caprece.

Well, actually, being dairy folks, we mostly were interested in the mozzarella. It turns out that they did have some roasted tomatoes in the kitchen. So we asked if they would serve us a modified Caprece with roasted tomatoes instead of fresh. Oh, and by the way, throw on some roasted peppers, too.

They did it for us, and it turned out pretty well. The roasted tomatoes had a more intense flavor than fresh. But the mozzarella, basil, and olive oil blended nicely with the tomatoes and peppers.

Moral of the story? Never stand between dairy folks and their cheese!