30 September 2009

Victory lunch at Art & Soul, Washington, DC

I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but it was a victory lunch … celebrating the hiring of a new staff person who will open a Washington office for Land O'Lakes. She picked Art & Soul, and I eagerly agreed.

Art & Soul is in the ‘new’ Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel. The hotel is part of a boutique chain called Affinia. They have hotels in DC, Chicago, and New York City. I’ve never stayed at one.
The d├ęcor is flashy and cool. Lots of art, creative lighting, bold color. I’m told it’s becoming the hot new venue for political events in DC.

Jen, my new employee, ordered the fried chicken. She said it’s her favorite and a rare indulgence. I didn’t try a bite. (After all, I just hired her. I’m not going to start picking food off her plate … yet.) The menu calls it ‘Maryland style’ which I suppose refers to the breading on the chicken. It looked very good. Crisp but not at all greasy. It came with a serving of potato salad. That really looked good.

I thought the starters on the menu looked very creative. I was particularly intrigued by the tomato pie, so I ordered that. I was worried that wouldn’t be enough, so I asked about a soup. The server said they had a soup of the day that wasn’t on the menu. So I ordered that, too.

I was very happy with my choices. The soup was tomato and beef, very thick and flavorful. The server’s disclaimer was that it wasn’t a chili, and it wasn’t. As much as I enjoyed the soup, I really liked the tomato pie. The pastry was very flakey and tender. There was a layer of goat cheese on the bottom, topped by ripe, luscious red tomatoes. It was served with a small salad of exotic greens. Truthfully, it would have been enough alone without the soup.

We were starting to run out of time, but they had a peach turnover on the dessert menu, and I couldn’t resist. One order consisted of two turnovers and a scoop of ice cream. Very good.
Art & Soul is a DC eatery that I’ll be returning to on future visits.

07 September 2009

Before dinner drinks at moto-i, Minneapolis

While waiting for a patio table to open up at “It’s Greek to Me,” my wife and I spied a rooftop bar across the street. It was a beautiful early September evening (Labor Day weekend). So we decided to give it a try.

The name of the establishment was moto-i. It bills itself as the first sake brewery restaurant outside of Japan. It describes itself as a Japanese pub, serving small plates, noodles, rice, and of course, sake. The restaurant makes draft sake or namazake. We saw some glasses being served, and it looked interesting.

We opted for a couple of sake cocktails. I had a Cucumber Cooler. It was nigori sake, Hendricks gin, and vodka. I like the cucumber infused flavor of Hendricks and usually have a bottle in my freezer at home. The sake in this martini was reminiscent of vermouth, but had a distinct sake flavor. It was served with a slice of cumber.

My wife had Lychee Lovedrop. It had futsuu sake, lychee syrup, and Yazi Ginger Vodka. The server said it would have a pear flavor, and I suppose that’s a good way to describe it. The lychee nuts served with the drink have a sweet flavor and a firm pear texture. The ginger-infused vodka complements the sweetness and adds just a little spiciness.

We will definitely return to moto-i in the future to try the menu and the house-brewed sake.

(By the way, we had great meals at It’s Greek to Me as well, and then ended the evening with a hot blues trio playing at Tryg’s in St. Louis Park.)