Wednesday, September 9, 2009

d'acqua

d'acqua
801 pennsylvania avenue NW (between 8th street & 9th street) washington, DC 20004
tel: 202) 783-7717
what was consumed: restaurant week! roasted scallops wrapped in pancetta served with a warm spinach salad with goat cheese and red onion; arugula, fennel, and shaved parmesan cheese; stozzapreti pasta with rock shrimp, mussels, and cherry tomato in a roasted zucchini sauce; rockfish fillet lightly fried in pastella "italian tempura" served with mashed potato duchesse; beef scallopine in a wild mushroom sauce served polenta; chocolate ganache cheesecake; pear and custard mousse sponge cake
the last of my restaurant week meals ... sigh. i love RW. the idea of having tasting menus and for chefs to have the increased breadth and share their creations with people who would otherwise not even consider their fine establishments is great (and not only for the economy, but also for the taste buds! hurrah!).
i had only heard about d'acqua in passing and new it was in that area in penn quarter with all those other restaurants. i have to admit, though, that it hadn't occurred to be to visit any time before RW. anyway, our meal began with some nice bread and then our appetizers. the bread with the tomato on it is my favorite! i love tomatoes. i thought it odd that they only brought out 3 of each when there were 4 at our table. maybe that's just how they do it, i don't know. i just felt bad that one of our group (i don't remember who) didn't get to have a bread with a tomato. and if she didn't want it, i was sad that i couldn't eat it for her (hee hee - oink oink). but that's ok. our appetizers slowly came out after that and my pancetta wrapped scallop was de-licious! the bed of spinach it came on was deliciously seasoned, making a great addition to the seafood and pork combination (i wish scallops were bigger - sometimes i feel like i could eat dozens of them that have been well prepared. dozens.). and, of course, there's nothing like a good arugula salad. combined with the cheese, fennel, and dressing, it was a light way to begin. myrna said she couldn't eat it all, so the rest of us polished it off for her (after our initial taste, of course).
our entrees slowly came out after that. i saw the seafood pasta on the menu and was immediately sold. while not a fan of the type of pasta that was served, it was nice to fill my belly with carb-y goodness. the pasta was a little overcooked on the outside and a bit undercooked on the inside (one of the difficulties with cooking that sort of pasta), so while much of my pasta was left over, there was quite a bit of seafood in my dish that filled me right up. the grilled rockfish, though, was delicious, as were the mashed potatoes it came with (but myrna got that, so i got something else). d'acqua is supposed to be known for their seafood (italian style?), so i imagine that they are the preferred dishes. the beef was nicely cooked in a good sauce, but others felt that the sauce was a bit bland. i thought it was fine and enjoyed the shared bits that came my way. and my love of polenta was fed as others were not so keen, so i ate the yummy polenta in the yummy sauce for them ^_^ thanks, ladies! hee hee. so, per usual, i "looked forward" to dessert with an already full stomach.
dessert! yum. it's restaurant week, so i thought they'd come out with "tasting" desserts. but no, not these italians! they brought out large slices of their dessert deliciousness. i opted for the chocolate cheesecake (as did pam), but after a few of the rich rich bites, i had to stop (pam took the rest home - i hope she enjoyed!). the pear and custard mousse cake was also quick light, fluffy, and moist. myrna (uncharacteristically) ate the entire thing - good job!
all in all, i'll have to the meal was pleasing to the stomach. if i had any qualms, it would be with the waitstaff. while it was restaurant week, it was a rainy day, so it didn't look like a lot of people were out and about. on top of that, the restaurant was hardly even half full with a number of different servers, food runners, bussers, etc. but it took what seemed like forever for the server to come and take our order, refill beverages, bring out the bill, etc. i was thinking that maybe it was because i was really hungry, but the others in my group agreed with me. sigh. oh well~ we all left with full bellies. literally, bellies.
friend dave (who went to d'acqua a few days before me) said it best - d'acqua has solid food. more or less, i agree! now, if only my waitstaff experience had been different ...

acadiana

acadiana
901 new york avenue NW (between 10th street & 9th street) washington, DC 20001
tel: 202) 408-8848
hours: monday-thursday 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm; friday 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm; saturday 5:30pm-11pm; sunday 11am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm
what was consumed: restaurant week! classic turtle soup (traditional garnishes, dry sherry splash), trio of deviled eggs (crabmeat ravigote, pickled shrimp, duroc ham), smoked chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, southern shrimp & grits (sauteed gulf shrimp, cheddar cheese grit cake, tasso ham), southern style thin crispy fried catfish (with sweet pepper tartare sauce, blue cheese cole slaw), seafood chopped salad (spiced shrimp, crawfish tail meat, marinated crab, cucumbers, grilled corn, shaved radish, fresh basil), chocolate raspberry cake (with raspberry caramel and vanilla ice cream), warm raisin bread pudding butterscotch (with vanilla ice cream, toasted almond creme brulee (with steen’s cane syrup)
in the spirit of restaurant week, friend made reservations for RW at acadiana (thanks, dave!). i had passed this place a number of times and was always intrigued (also, i wanted to go to their summer crawfish HH, which i never made it out to. maybe next year!). i finally got my chance, and i was happy to take up the offer - woohoo!
so, we walk in, our reservations are ready to go, and we are promptly seated ... boy, were we glad (there was a whole taxi debacle on our way over - ask about it and i will tell you the tall tale, but i won't get into details here. no one got hurt, so that's a plus?). we were quickly greeted by a bubbly, but not too saccharine, server who kept our water glasses filled, answered all of our questions, and was an overall great server - hooray! enough about that. once seated, our meal began with some buttery biscuits (i love buttery biscuits!). what made it better? the "jam" and butter. more butter on buttery biscuits makes it all the better. but the jam! i will have more of that, please. it looks like some strawberry or other sort of berry jam. but, when you dip into its reddish gooey-ness, spread it over your biscuit, and put it in your mouth, you realize it's more of a spicy jam. DELICIOUS. i'm not a big bread person, but i was tempted to risk filling my stomach more than i should with another biscuit just to have more of the jam. at this point, i was already sold (am i too easy to please? hahaha).
our meal continued with our appetizers. i was sorta torn between the crab soup and the turtle soup. our server even did mention that the creamy crab soup was her favorite (though she did also mention that the turtle soup was super popular and definitely worth the try if i hadn't ever had it). i succumbed to my intrigue and ordered the turtle soup ... and i'm glad i did! turtle (my first time) had the consistency and flavor of beef, but a bit more chewy. the soup had a sort of reminded me of dishes with okra in that it was sort of ... slimy? not in that gross way, but yeah, slimy. also, i have to admit, it was a little salty for me, but that did not prevent me from eating all of it, every last drop. delicious. the turtle soup also came with a splash of sherry. our server told me that i was to add it to my liking. what did i do? eat the turtle soup and down the sherry as a sort of 'after.' hahaha ... i also got to try dave's deviled eggs and gregg's gumbo - both delicious. i wish i had a bigger stomach to eat all of their selections as well, but silly me - i shouldn't be so selfish. haha ...
next, entrees! i had the shrimp and grits. when my dish arrived, i was sort of glad that i didn't get the crab soup earlier because the shrimp and grits were in a cream based sauce. my shrimp were nicely grilled/cooked and the grits - oh joy! they were cooked, then packed into a nice triangle, then fried. who doesn't like that? also, the grits were really really smooth, more like polenta (which i love as well). i can't really say if i knew whether the grits were actually polenta and not grits (usually grits are more ... gritty?). no matter, both are corn based and i love them both. the combination of the shrimp, grits, and the cajun cream sauce was ... delicious. and filling. and rich. yum ... oh yeah - dave's fried fish were light and crispy and gregg's salad was big, filled with seafood, and so fresh. please see aforementioned comment about larger stomachs and selfishness (haha).
dessert, dessert, dessert! i'll admit, i didn't finish my dessert, per usual (dave did for me - thanks!). i had the chocolate cake and it was chocolate-y and rich without the raspberry and even more rich with the raspberry. bread pudding? creme brule? rich. sweet. and oh so delicious. even for a non-dessert person like me.
i can't wait to go back to acadiana ... yuuuuuuuuuuuum~

Thursday, September 3, 2009

tony cheng's mongolian bbq

tony cheng's mongolian bbq
619 h street NW (between 6th street & 7th street), washington, DC 20001
tel: 202) 842-8669
hours: lunch carryout monday-friday 11am-3pm; dinner carryout sunday-thursday 11am-11pm, friday-saturday 11am-12am midnight; dim sum hong kong style (daily) 11am-3pm, all you can eat mongolian bbq (i'm assuming daily, during all operating hours)
what was consumed: all you can eat mongolian bbq (of course)
so, childhood friend steve has been in town for the past few weeks doing a training here in DC. as he was about to finish, we (c & i) got together, with some other friends, for a sort of departing dinner. we were thinking of matchbox because, for whatever reason, we always find ourselves taking friends visiting from out of town. steve, however, had visited matchbox not once, but twice in the past few weeks (that's a lot!), so we decided on tony cheng's. not only had i never been there, but it is also on my never-ending list of places to eat, it's in a relatively convenient location, and they have an all-you-can-eat option. excellent!
now, before i continue, a couple of words about chinatown. i've been to a couple of chinatowns in my day. heck, i've even been to china. DC's chinatown may be the most not-chinese chinatown ever, even despite the chinese writing, the chinatown gate, and the chinatown busses (haha). the best chinese food in the area (in my opinion, of course) isn't even in chinatown. now that so many have moved out to the 'burbs, where is this (albeit wannabe, i admit) city-girl supposed to go for chinese food if she can't (for now) drive out to the city?! - sigh - ...
anyway ... we walked into tony cheng's and were sort of confused. there's an upstairs and a downstairs and nothing is really labelled (that is, nothing is labelled in english. these non-chinese speakers (who are on occasion mistaken for chinese peeps) were lost lost lost). but some friendly people soon directed us - seafood upstairs, mongolian bbq downstairs. the place was pretty empty, but that it was soon after 6 (i.e., still on the early side for dinner), we figured it would fill up later (it did ... sort of ... but mind you, the dining area is quite large).
so, for those of you who have never had mongolian bbq, this is how it works. you choose all these veggies, noodles, and meat that you want to be bbq-ed. you give it to the guy at the huge (for real, like, 4 foot diameter) skillet sort of thing that gets really really hot (something like 4x the heat of a regular pan or something) and he sautees your selections, including some special sauces, garlic, hot sauce, etc. once sauteed, he puts your concoction in another bowl and you go back to your seat to enjoy. YUM. i remember going to mongolian bbq when i was a kid, but after some time, we never went back. that place was all you can eat as well, and my dad once said something about not going back because the owners didn't like that we ate a lot. but come on - an asian family of 4? we do have voracious appetites, but we cannot be compared to some (if you know what i mean). anyway ...
so, once at our seats at tony cheng's, we got right back up and headed to the bar to create our bowls. noodles, carrots, broccoli, lots of sprouts, and thin slices of beef later, i took i to the guy to sautee. he then proceeded to ask me if i wanted garlic (yes) and hot sauce (yes), and then added all of these other sauces to my bowl. while delicious, it was a bit too salty for my liking. i reminded myself to ask the guy to add less sauce. and so, the second bowl was the same thing, but i opted for lamb instead of beef (and this time, while seasoned better, but i was not really a fan of the lamb). third bowl was essentially the same as the first. but by this time, i was SO full that it probably would have mattered less.
all of the ingredients were pretty fresh to begin with, so i would imagine it would be sort of hard to mess up the dish. but still - the combination of flavors and ingredients filled my stomach over and over and over again (yes, in total, i had 3 bowls. while that seems like not that much, you must believe me when i beg to differ and say that it was. a lot. YUM).
all in all, i'll have to say that the meal was grand and we all left thinking that our money was well spent, and not a lot of it was spent at that (mind you, we didn't drink - does that matter? i know, so uncharacteristic). especially on a day where we are super hungry and we want some straight up veggies and beef, asian style, i know i will have a hankering for tony cheng's!