I had lots of grand plans for DC. I was there for 9 days, and I can certainly do a lot of culinary damage in that amount of time. My food research folder was over an inch and a half thick, but somehow, I was just not that focused on food. I never made it to Ben's Chili Bowl for their famous half-smokes (basically a chili dog, from what I gather) and despite the fact I was in
I had a morning ritual; it involved waking up at an ungodly hour, hitting the gym, getting ready and reading the paper. I would eventually wake Steve up (it's amazing what that man can sleep through) and we would go for breakfast, drink coffee, and read more of the paper (WSJ for him, NYT for me).
Open City, very close to the Wardman Park Marriott.
We ate here, not once, not twice, but three times. It always involved some form of eggs, toast, home fries and bacon, if you were me, and bagels and oatmeal, if you were Steve. And coffee, large quantities of coffee. The food was solid, and the bacon was excellent. It was pricey for diner fare, but damn convenient to the playing site. It also has a nice outdoor sitting area.
Commisary, 3 blocks east of
We found this place once we had tired of Open City. It serves solid breakfast fare. The weird thing is they only serve home fries on weekends, so if you order breakfast foods during the week, you get French fries. It's a bizarre combination with a bagel and egg sandwich at 10am. We ate here twice.
Rasika is best described as an upscale modern Indian restaurant. Luckily, my dining companion, Marc, is also an adventurous eater, so we got an array of interesting dishes. We had:
Avocado banana chaat – The fried bananas were delicious, but the avocado part was like guacamole with Indian spices. It was a strange combination.
Mango Shrimp – It was cooked perfectly: tender and succulent with great mango flavor.
Palak chaat – My favorite dish of the night. It was crispy fried spinach and a sweet and tangy yogurt sauce. Unique and different from anything I’ve had before.
Black Cod with dill, honey and star anise – a delicious piece of fish.
Baigan Bharta – A smoked eggplant dish that was too spicy for my poor little taste buds.
Lemon cashew nut rice – It sounds good right? Sadly, the lemon tasted overwhelmingly artificial, and the nuts were too soft to deliver the textural contrast I was looking for.
Naan – We got a truffled naan which was quite tasty and an herb naan which was also good, but not as good as the truffled naan.
My big mistake of the evening was ordering a drink made with rum, coconut, mustard seed and curry leaf. What was I thinking? I guess I was just feeling adventurous.
We opted to skip dessert at the restaurant and got cupcakes at a bakery we passed on the way. I thought it was called the Cupcakery, but I can’t seem to find it on Google. I had a lemon coconut cupcake and it was quite moist and tasty. For the life of me, I can’t remember what he had; maybe red velvet? He liked it, whatever it was.
Marc has reminded me that he got the “birthday cake” cupcake, and liked it. Furthermore, I forgot that we had also ordered a crab marsala appetizer. It was a spicy crab mixture sandwiched napoleon style between pieces of phyllo dough. Marc felt the essence of the crab was lost in the dish, and I agreed. It could have easily been chicken or pork.
Lebanese Taverna, very close to the Wardman Park Marriott
I got the mixed shawarma platter which was a combo of beef and chicken shawarma. I thought the meat was dry and tough. But all sins are forgiven because of the fantastic homemade pita that comes with the meal. It was served so piping hot; you would burn your fingers grabbing a piece when it first arrived at the table. Combined with the garlic puree, it was blissful. I would go back, get a salad, the garlic puree and just chow down on the bread.
Petits Plats, very close to the Wardman Park Marriott
I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I only had a Caesar salad, which was fine. I liked that it came with fillets of anchovies on top. We dined al fresco, which I thought was nice, but the glare reflecting off a nearby window bothered one of my dining companions. The four people I was which seemed to enjoy their food, but did not want to give a sound bite for the blog. The service was slow, but friendly. The menu seemed a little overpriced, but that’s French fare for you.
The pizza craving came and Steve and I went to Pizzeria Paradiso, as we decided that 2Amys was too much of a pain in the ass to get to. We shared an order of homemade bread with a fresh mozzarella, sundried tomato and basil salad. It was an interesting choice to use sundried tomato instead of fresh; I am not a fan of the sundried tomato, but I think it worked surprisingly well in this dish. The bread was excellent. We also had a mushroom and pepperoni pizza. The crust was flavorful, crispy at the edge with a nice chew. The toppings were excellent. It satisfied the craving nicely.
I wanted some gelato after dinner, so Steve and I walked to Pitango Gelato. The line was out the door, but service was speedy. I had a combo of hazelnut and pistachio and Steve got almond. The gelato had great roasted nut flavor and was rich and creamy, a perfect compliment to the warm summer night.
Jandara, very close to the Wardman Park Marriott
Steve and I stopped here for a quick dinner between bridge sessions. I don’t have much to say about this place. I had the pad thai; it was a little sweet, but serviceable. Steve had some sort of chicken and vegetable thing. He finished it all, so I guess it was fine. Service was speedy (which is important at a tournament) and prices were reasonable.
The Prime Rib, DC
The second of my two nice meals in DC was at the Prime Rib. This place was totally old school; complete with leather studded banquettes and leopard print carpeting. There was live music with the grand piano. Jacket and tie are required for gentlemen, so Steve and I got dressed up for the occasion. We played bridge afterwards and got comments inquiring if we had eloped.
We started with the crab cake; I had read rave reviews about it, so, of course, my high expectations were not met. It was a good crab cake, but not amazing. It had nice, big lump of crab meat, but had structural integrity issues. I felt that our salads were overdressed. The asparagus was a little too charred with acidic hollandaise. The steak fries were fine, but more like potato wedges than fries. However, all of this is inconsequential because the name of the restaurant is “the Prime Rib,” not “the Crab cake” or “the Asparagus,” The prime rib came and it was a beautiful pink medium rare. The meat was tender and flavorful and satisfied any carnivorous needs one had. In a way, it was exactly what I wanted the meal to be, great meat, but not a meal surpassing Lawry’s.
Steve and I took a day off of bridge to go to the Red Sox-Orioles game at Camden Yards with my friend Christine. We had lunch at Redwood with Christine and her friend, Stanley, before the game. The restaurant was doing a restaurant week menu (2 brunch/lunch courses for $15), as well as their regular menu. I opted for the RW menu and got apple cider doughnut holes and eggs Benedict with a chive hollandaise sauce. I really enjoyed both, especially the doughnut holes. Steve’s peach French toast was excellent; it was smooth and custardy. Christine and Stanley got burgers, which they seemed to enjoy. It was a nice space and the service was good.
That’s the rundown, sorry it took so long and the details are a little fuzzy. I enjoyed my time in DC. I wish I had taken a little more time off bridge to see some sights and visit museums. It’s okay, though, I’ll be back for Ben’s and a bushel of blue crab at some point.