Thursday, December 30, 2010

room eleven

room 11
3234 11th street NW, Washington, DC 20010
tel: 202) 332-3234
hours: sunday-thursday 5pm-1am, friday-saturday 5pm-2am

what was consumed: fried cheese, market salad (potato!), panini (with sharp white cheddar, fresh mozzarella, raclette, shallot with small house salad and cured meat addition). and, of course, wine.

there's a bar near my house that i really should make my local bar (but that's another story). anyway, there was a bartender there who was pretty cool (i think his name is dan). one day, word on the grapevine was that he was over at a place just a few blocks away. low and behold, there it is - room 11! and while it took me longer than i would've liked to get over there (oops), i'm glad i finally got the chance!

so, c and i, waiting for some of our other friends, decided to head over to room 11 for some girl talk. we head over to room 11 and looked forward to some good wine and some good eats.

and we were not disappointed!


we sat at the bar (our favorite seats) and started speaking with dan. we weren't really sure what we wanted (wine wise). told him what we liked, we told him what we didn't like, and he gave us some great suggestions (i will have to go back for one of their beer tastings as well - yay!) and we settled on a nice, crisp, tasty rose which was great for the summer day. we paired it with a couple of small plates to share. the food at room 11 is wonderful. fresh, seasonsed well, light, delightful. by the time we finished our eats and our bottle started to dwindle, we took a look around and noticed that the little restaurant (both inside and out) was getting pretty populated. good for room 11! bad for the late comers (haha).

while there, c also mentioned that she had had a wonderful white manhattan (i think it was a manhattan. i've since forgotten. oops again, i know. point is, it normally is a brown drink, but he makes it white!). what a great way to end a wonderful time at room 11. i look forward to visiting room 11 again, especially on a nice day as they have some great outdoor seating!

online
:
http://www.room11dc.com/

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

cork wine bar

cork wine bar
1720 14th street NW # 1, washington, DC 20009-7853
tel: 202) 265-2675
hours: tuesday-wednesday, sunday 5pm-12am; thursday-saturday 5pm-1am


what was consumed: house-marinated olives, rosemary chicken liver bruschetta (with shallot marmalade, herb salad), avocado (with pistachios, toasted pistachio oil, sea salt, grilled bread), asparagus, some meat (duck?) dish, some fish dish (oopsie - i don't remember ... and i forgot to write it down!), lizzy's goat cheese cake (with fresh berries, cookie crumble), double chocolate torte (with chopped hazelnuts)

while going back and forth from nights in and around the black cat, i passed the cork wine bar so many times and wondered what was awaiting me inside. i'd perused through the cork wine selection and was excited to see what sort of food they had in their restaurant.
so, some of c's DC friends decided to throw her the first leg of a bachelorette party out here in DC (long story) and it was decided that it'd be at cork wine bar. seeing as i had intended on visiting cork, i was excited about the selection no matter how it came about (^_~). a reservation for our entire party was made and as soon as the bulk of our party was in attendance, we were seated (yay!).

once seated, bread was brought to our table, and we quickly ordered. cork wine bar has a series of "tapas" that are intended for sharing - just my type of place! lots of sharing, lots of trying:

so delicious!


in a nutshell, the plates of food that came our way were very very delicious. fresh ingredients, flavors that melded well together, nice sized portions, nothing too overwhelming. for sure, i wished i had a bigger stomach to house all of the food that i wanted to eat, but was unable to (though, after some time, all of the food was consumed in its entirety). there was a point in the dinner when someone proclaimed, "oh my gosh, there's so much bread!" and that was true. bread came at the start of the meal, many of the dishes were plated on slices of bread. but in the end, that was ok because the bread was just so tasty. despite all of the carb crazy conversation, we proceeded to consume every single bit of delicious bread. yum~

per the recommendation of our server, we ordered the goat cheese cake and the double chocolate torte:

and wow. they were delicious. the torte was chocolate-y and rich, a nice end to the meal. but the goat cheese cake was wonderful! rich, creamy, not all goat-y that usually deter people from enjoying goat cheese. it was so good that after we got a taste of the one ordered for c, there were a few other dishes of the goat cheese cake that were ordered. yes, indeed. so delicious!

i look forward to my next trip to cork ... especially as i pair my meal with delicious wines - yay yay yay!

online: http://www.corkdc.com/

Sunday, December 26, 2010

maoz

maoz
1817 m street NW, washington, DC 20036
tel: 202) 290-3117
hours: monday-thursday 11am-11pm, friday-saturday 11am-3am, sunday 12pm-9pm

what was consumed: maoz (falafel sandwich), fries (both potato and sweet potato)

i'm lucky to work downtown where there are so many dining options. i love falafel. i've made both of those comments before, but i'm making them again. i will trek long and far (is walking 20 minutes long and far? maybe) to enjoy falafel. so when a peculiar basement space opened offering falafel that's a mere 5-minute-walk away from work, my curiosity was piqued. now, the first time i went to maoz, coworker k and i were on our quest for a snack. i think he had heard from someone else that maoz should be considered, so we were off!

we walked to the the sort of hidden basement space (i think it would be pretty easy to miss them, even though they have a big sign out front) and immediately got in line. while waiting, we took a quick look at their menu (which isn't too large - this is good. yay specialization!), and ordered. our falafel sandwiches came out soon after. i got the junior maoz which just ha the falafel balls in the pita. if you get a regular maoz, there's some lettuce and hummus in the pita (along with more falafel balls). anyway, once we received our sandwiches, i flattened out the falafel and proceeded to add topping from their topping "bar." they have lots of different things to add to your falafel sandwich to spice it up. there are some of the toppings that i love (like their couscous topping and their variation of cole slaw). BUT i have to remember not to get the spicy chili "sauce." it's good, but there's a lot of parsley, a bit more than i can handle (but that's just me).

so, after i added all of my toppings, i was ready to eat! the falafel sandwich is surprisingly filling. after eating part of my sandwich, depending on how much i want more toppings (always), i revisit the topping sbar to add toppings that will accompany my falafel (and it's encouraged at maoz!). you can see how one's belly will easily filly up. especially if you get fries, it's a lot of food. coworker k and i will usually share an order of fries. i do also like that, if you are so inclined, you may opt for sweet potato fries. yay options!

turns out, maoz first opened out in amsterdam and have opened franchises throughout europe. they have since crossed the atlantic and have brought deliciou falafel sandwiches to us. yay yay yay! maoz is also totally vegetarian. i'm way not totally vegetarian, but i have friends who are sometimes frustrated with what they say is a dearth of options (i just tell them that they need to eat meat. hahaha).maoz is great for a light lunch, or a hefty snack ... both of which i've done. yummy~~~ i wouldn't say that maoz is my all time favorite falafel sandwich place in the area, but it's solid and highly recommended. i will most definitely find myself there again, and again, and again.

Friday, December 24, 2010

blacksalt

blacksalt
4883 macarthur boulevard NW, washington, DC 20007
tel: 202) 342-9101
hours: monday-thursday 11:30am-10pm, friday-saturday 11:30am-11pm, sunday 11am-9pm, happy hour daily 4pm-7pm

what was consumed: blacksalt and vinegar chips, boutique oysters, provencal seafood stew (market catch, blue shell mussels, shrimp, saffron), maryland blue crab cakes (sweet corn purée, crispy onions), steamed blue shell mussels (spanish - chorizo, romesco, marjoram)

for being so close to the ocean, i feel like there is a dearth of good seafood here in the dc/metro area (besides maryland blue crabs, of course. i love it!). that is, the dc/metro area is not notorious for its seafood options as is, say, maine and its lobsters, san francisco and its dungenous crabs, etc. but you should not be fooled! there are some amazing seafood options in the city, and enjoying them at blacksalt would be a great option.

c, j, w, and i head out to blacksalt one day when we all finally had the time to check out their happy hour (which is amazing, btw). we tried to come to blacksalt before, but there were too many people in our party to be accommodated by the already filled blacksalt (remember that blacksalt is not only a bar and restaurant, but also a fish market. so many things going on at blacksalt!). we enjoyed a bowl of homemade "salt 'n vinegar" chips and delicious bread as we looked at the rest of the happy hour menu and decided on what we were going to share. the chips were delicious. a bit more oily than i would have liked, but a small small price to pay for the salty and tangy flavor of the chips.

we finally decided to share a number of different dishes: and everything was super delicious. the seafood was fresh, the flavors were well matched, and nothing was too overwhelming. in fact, despite being over full, i felt as though i could've eaten another bowl of the seafood stew, another crab cake, mussels, and oysters of course. it was funny - this was the first time w had raw oysters (according to him anyway) and it took a bit of convincing to get him to try (though c, j, and i already claimed and divvyed up the rest of w's share of oysters had he not wanted the others ... hee hee). but w, aren't you glad you did! a little bit of lemon juice, a bit of vinegar, and slurp slurp slurp! fresh and delicious oysters now in the belly. some days, i think back at blacksalt's oysters and want to go back and just fill up on those (but just during the months with "r"s! is that true?)

c, j, w, and i decided that we were going to stray from the happy hour menu and order a few desserts because 1) we saw the table next to ours order some really tasty lookin' desserts, 2) we were with some folks (j) with crazy sweet tooths (sweet teeth?), so desserts are more often than not in order, and 3) we could (gosh darn-it)!!wow. talk about indulgence! the way that the desserts were presented made them look so delicious. and once we broke into the desserts, we were surely not disappointed! the creme brule trio included original, chocolate, and caramel-like (i've since forgotten exactly what it was) variations. the crisp sugar top layer with creamy and rich custard underneath, topped with special toppings, per creme brule type. the chocolate/peanut butter "cake" (cake? ganache? mousse? whatever the technical term is) was delicious. rich, chocolate-y, peanut butter-y. i really could eat no more than the taste that i had. but for the sweets lovers, this is definitely a go! in retrospect, we probably only needed to order either the creme brule trio or the chocolate/peanut butter decadence. of course, that didn't prevent use from pretty much polishing off all of the desserts.

i imagine the rest of blacksalt's menu is also fabulous and delicious, but i tried not to look at that menu for fear of being tempted to overeat (per usual). for the time being, i will stick to their wonderful and amazing happy hour menu. i can't wait to go back to blacksalt - nom nom nom nom nom ...

online: http://www.blacksaltrestaurant.com/

Thursday, December 23, 2010

creme cafe & lounge

creme cafe & lounge
1322 U St NW(between N 13th St & N 14th St) Washington, DC 20009
tel: 202) 234-1885
hours: monday-thursday 6pm-10:30pm, friday-saturday 6pm-11:30pm, saturday 10am-3pm, sunday 10am-6pm

what was consumed: chicken & waffles (served open-faced on belgian waffle with syrup), shrimp & grits (sautéed shrimp, andouille suasage, garlic, shallots & creamy stone-ground grits), breakfast potatoes ...

i'd once heard about creme cafe in passing as i asked around about quality brunch places. my mentee and i tried to go a couple of times, but the line was always out the door (though that's what we get for trying to go during peak brunch hours ... but they don't take reservations!) and neither of us wanted to wait (aka we were hungry). finally, i met up with friend a who had time (and was new to DC), so we tried our luck and creme ... and we were certainly fortunate!

it was hard to explain to someone who'd never heard of "southern cooking" what the cuisine at creme would be like, what grits are (especially since i had never heard of them (really) until i moved out eat (but then again, i'm not a huge breakfast person), why i eat so much, why i like sitting bar-seating ... and so on. you see, a was not only from outside of DC, but outside of the US! so her experience extended just to what she'd seen on tv and in the movies, so i was happy to show her a part of DC (and sort of metropolitan american culture, as far as i'm concerned) that i've come to enjoy. but i will have to say that in the end, we had a great time!

after perusing through the menu, and after a bit of conversation, a and i collectively ordered the creme cafe top picks - can't wait! their chicken and waffles comes with the option of coming on pancakes (in fact, i think the menu says pancakes, but you can order a waffles substitute - yes please!). the chicken was fried to perfection - nice and crispy on the outside, juicy chicken waiting to be consumed underneath. creme cafe also makes sure to give you a quarter chicken - just enough to go with the waffles that are cooked (it seems) to order and are delicious (not too dry, cooked just enough) with butter and syrup (and i'm not even a syrup person!). so delicious. a's shrimp and grits were also delicious. the shrimp was cooked nicely (no rubber-y shrimp here), the grits were creamy, and the sauce that all of this bathed in was fresh, seasoned well, and just plain delicious.

now, a word about their breakfast potatoes. at first, i didn't know what they were. i just saw baked/fried slices of something that others had ordered. i was told that they were breakfast potatoes and i HAD to order them. sliced thin-ish, crispier edges, soft-ish middles, a delicious addition to my already fabulous meal. now, i would have preferred the breakfast potatoes with ranch dressing (don't judge!), but by the time i got around to even asking for it, the potatoes were pretty much demolished and sitting in my belly. ahhh~~~

there were some rumors about creme cafe closing, but i've since heard otherwise. let's hope they're still up, running, and serving their delicious food!

online: http://www.cremedc.com/

Friday, December 17, 2010

rasika

rasika
633 D street northwest, washington, DC 20004"
tel: 202) 637-1222
hours: monday-friday 11:30am-2:30pm, monday-thursday 5:30pm-10:30pm, friday-saturday 5:30pm-11pm

what was consumed: palak chaat (crispy spinach, sweet yogurt, tamarind, date chutney), paneer makhani (cheese, tomatoes, fenugreek), tandoori chicken (chicken, kashmiri chili, mint chutney), basmati rice, garlic naan

this year, prior to the transiberian orchestra's holiday performance, friend t and i head out to rasika for some dining enjoyment. i'd heard so many great things about this indian restaurant. i'd heard of its fine 'flavors of india' as well as its innovative twist on the traditional, which i often appreciate. i'd also heard about the cross between the comfort indian cuisine crossed with the chic, metropolitan, and popular of dining out altogether. so, when tom and i walked in to see the modern decor of rasika, i was excited to see what the eating would behold. hurrah!

we sat at the bar (one of my favorite places to sit) and was immediately greeted by their friendly and very well versed bartender. i was surprised to see their limited indian beers on the menu, but was happy to see an impressive listing of other libations. i opted for a great lakes option for the night (yay!). we quickly ordered an appetizer, palak chaat, which came highly recomended on a number of yelp reviews that i had read. i love spinach, so i was curious about it and had to order it (on top of that, i couldn't remember the dish that i always love to order as an appetizer ... i still don't remember what it is. whoops). and i'm glad i did! the spinach was nice and crips, though not too oily. and the yogurt sauce that came with it was refreshing. we quickly gobbled up each bite.

when it came time for entrees, i was delighted that my favorite indian fare was on their menu! i love paneer makhani! i didn't see it on their online menu, but it turned out that they had changed to their winter fare just that day - yay! the paneer makhani was done just right - tomato-y, cream-y, butter-y, delicious-y! and the paneer was not too soft, not too hard, not too chewy. just right. i proceeded to polish off the entire bowl with all of the jasmine rice that i ordered to accompany the paneer makhani. no leftovers! friend t ordered the tandoor chicken that was charred just right. and coupled with the delicious mint chutney ... delicious! i didn't try the garline naan (as is my way), but friend t said that it was delicious.

i'm happy to have finally gotten the chance to go to rasika ... and i can't wait to go again! yum yum yum, yay yay yay!

online: http://www.rasikarestaurant.com/rasika.html

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ted's bulletin



ted's bulletin
505 8th street SE (between E street & G street), washington, DC 20003
tel: 202) 544-8337
hours: monday-sunday 7am-10:30pm

what was consumed
: walk of shame breakfast burrito (sirloin steak, scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheddar, green chile sauce (yes, it’s all in there), served with hash browns), 7:00am breakfast burger (english muffin, country ham, hash browns, fried egg, chipotle ketchup), the reuben (grilled marbled rye, corned beef, sauerkraut, 1000 island, served with hand-cut fries and pickle), green green salad of home (egg, cucumbers, tomato, onions, croutons, tossed lovingly with green goddess dressing) ... and a bunch of sides - corn bread, cheddar grits, bacon & blue cheese brussel sprouts

oh, barracks row, how i miss you. i miss you more now that i don't live in that area and i find it harder to make my way down there. which is even more sad because there are so many awesome places that have since popped up! shucks!

so, friends and i decided that we'd head out to get some breakfast for lunch (i took the day off - yeah!) and decided to check out ted's bulletin. w and k had been before and made sure to let me know that there was a new place on barracks row that had breakfast all day long! now, i'm not a huge fan of the breakfast foods, but my interest can always be piqued! on top of that, they have adult milk shakes, aka, milk shakes with alcohol. some people think about that and make yucky throw-up sounds. but the ones at teds, from what i hear, are different! t ordered a regular milkshake and said it was super duper delicious. and while we were pondering the different milkshake options, the individuals sitting at a table near ours insisted that the adult versions were delicious and way better than without (alcohol). hmm ... interesting!

non-breakfast folks! not to fear - they have quite a few non-breakfast items for your dining pleasure as well. their take on classic american fare is delicious and filling. fresh cut fries, a burger in between an english muffin. yum. as i was having a hard time making an entree selection, i opted for a series of sides. this allowed me some wonderful grits (one of my favorite breakfast foods ... though i guess it's not just a breakfast thing, especially when they call it polenta and serve it for dinner - ha!), roasted brussel sprouts (always delicious), and corn bread (my favorite of all the breads). of course, this did not detract me from tasting others' food, per usual.

overall, the food was fresh and well prepared, the service was prompt and friendly, and the ambiance was casual - all huge pluses. while some people may say that there's nothing special about ted's, but i would beg to differ - their take on the "normal," but doing it so well, definitely makes them wonderful! who doesn't like a local diner to go to and enjoy? i like it, i like it! oh, and i'm determined to go back to ted's to try one of their adult milkshakes, anti-lactose intolerance medicine in hand (tmi? i hope not. i'm just excited about the prospects! ^_^).

p.s. if/when you order take out from ted's, they have this cool take-out window that faces the street. neato!!

online: http://tedsbulletin.com/

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

mandu

mandu
1805 18th street nw, washington, dc 20009
tel: 202) 588-1540

what was consumed: beef & pork pan fried mandu, pa jun (mixed seafood pancake with green onions), yookge jang (thick spicy soup with beef, scallions, egg, and bean sprouts), dak jeem (spicy chicken simmered with potatoes and onions), aloe sojutini, soji (chum-churum)

i've written before about how i'm a snob about my korean food. i blame my mother (which is maybe a good thing to take the blame for. it means that i grew up with awesome food at home and nothing compares to eomma's!). there are very few korean options (and i mean predominantly korean, not those "oh, we also have bi bim bap" as an aside or "we have a bulkogi option" places that sort of riddle the town) in the city proper, especially for meals beyond lunch. i find myself heading out to annadale to get my k-food fix (when i don't cook on my own, that is). all of these reasons, and maybe others, is why people ask me about my thoughts on mandu. i'm almost embarrassed to say that it isn't until now that i actually got myself out to try mandu for myself.

when trying to figure out where to have dinner, c and i made a quick decision to head out to mandu. we quickly head out, made the short drive, and found awesome parking (despite c's sucky parking mojo and mandu's location. i think, though, it's because it was sunday ... ?) there were quite a few diners when we walked in, but still space for us. after a quick glance at their menu (and christine telling me just to pick things to order), we selected a few (standard) appetizers and entrees.

we had to order their namesake - mandu. i usually make my mandu at home because i like the little add-ons (like noodles) or kimchee mandu (yumyum). the pan fried mandu at mandu were nice and crisp. i also liked that they weren't too seasoned, inviting patrons to use the seasoned dipping sauce (a soy sauce and vinegar combination) which is something i often forgo because the mandu is often too salty to begin with. i don't know if they make the mandu wrapper in house, but i don't either so i'm not really one to complain. haha. their pa jun was also not the more usual "one big plate" and was, instead, two small(er) pancakes. i could've gone for more seafood in the pa jun (as seafood was listed as one of the ingredients), but that's almost always the case (haha). again, as was with the mandu, i like that the pa jun wasn't (my version of) over seasoned as you got to taste the different ingredients in the pa jun better as well as enjoy the dipping sauce, which i rarely do.

a note about pah (green onions). they're flavor is wonderful, but i don't like to chew them. and so, while i cook with pah, i usually cut them into huge chunks so that i can extract the flavor, but then pick them out (as un-lady-like as that may be). mandu, on the other hand, chops up pah in tiny pieces (which is the norm). so, what did i do? i picked out what i could, but for the most part, just sucked it up and enjoyed. sigh.

entrees. c & i asked for all portions of our order to come out at the same time and, for the most part, they did. there wasn't anything particularly special about the yookge jang, but it tasted fresh and spicy (c made sure to ask our server to make it extra spicy). i was a little disappointed that there were no noodles (dang myun) in the yookge jang as there often is because i love noodles. oh well. the dak jeem wasn't what i thought it would be (in my mind, what came out is more of a dak doh-ri-tang, but maybe that's just a technicality and/or my ignorance ... ?), but it was still delicious. note: the dak jeem is one place where i did pick out the green onions as best as i could. c just laughed at me. what else is new?

one comment about mandu's rice. maybe it was just the day we went, maybe it's always like this, but their rice sorta sucked. that is, the rice that came with our meals looked like it was the last bits scraped off of the korean-church-sized rice cooker they had goin' in their kitchen, smoshed, molded to look like a 'scoop,' and placed into our bowls. while not the main part of the meal, it is a staple and important part! sigh.

ban-chan. i don't know if many non-korean restaurant go-ers know this, but at most korean restaurants, when you eat all of the little side dishes of food, you can ask for more (just be sure to eat it all). c & i were a little concerned that the policy wouldn't stand here at mandu as it felt more ... american ... but it did! more points for mandu. there were just a few, but delicious, ban chans and c & i most definitely asked for a refill.

when you visit mandu, be sure to have one of their sojutinis. i've had a lot of fun with sojutinis in the past, so i'm biased (though i usually call them cocktail sojus, as is the korean korean way - ha!). the one that is said to be most popular, and the one that i was most interested in, was the aloetini (aloe + soju). really, cocktail sojus are simple (my favorite is still the apple cocktail soju i had in seoul, served in cups made from hollowed-out apples - yeah!). our aloetini was on the watery side, though if you've never had an aloe drink before, you'd never know. especially during hh, i can imagine patrons enjoying mandu's many flavors.

some people may be naysayers of mandu because it doesn't feel like one of those "dive-y" or "korean-style" restaurants that you find in k-towns. the inside is sort of hip, boutique-like, and pretty simple in design. and their dining-ware (i.e. plates and bowls) match. what a concept! haha ... i can see it have the potential to be like the other korean sool-jibs, but maybe only in the dead of night and when they waaay dim the lights. anyway, i found the simple decor pleasant, clean, and comfortable. so there!

i heard that mandu did a korean taco special back in the summer. i'm bummed that i missed it! i hope they do it again. until then, i know i'll be back at mandu in one way or another. yay!

online: http://www.mandudc.com/

Saturday, October 30, 2010

notti bianche


notti bianche
824 new hampshire avenue NW, washington, DC 20037
tel: 202) 298-8085

what was consumed: marinated olives, eggplant carbonata, organic baby lettuce salad (pine nuts, golden raisins, apple, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar), baby arugula caesar salad (white anchovy, garlic croutons, parmigiano reggiano), buscatini with mussles and sausage (turnip greens, pecorino romano), hand crafted pappardelle bolognese (wide flat noodles with meat sauce, fresh herbed ricotta cheese), herb marinated grilled chicken breast panzanella (garlic chicken, tomato, cucumber and bread salad, salsa verde), grilled salmon (eggplant caponata, sun-dried tomato butter, bagna caoda bruschetta), chocolate budino (pistachio gelato, cocoa nib brittle)

americanized italian food is often the 'go to' meal when i'm cookin' up a storm at home. it's easy, tasty, and filling ... and there's so much variety! but sometimes, you want something special, or something you can't make, or has ingredients that are not readily available to you ... or you just don't want to make your own spaghetti. to an italian restaurant we go! but where? there can never really be too many italian restaurants. unfortunately, more often than not, i find myself not being able to select any particular one as my "go to." places are either family style (i.e., too much food for as many as there are in the party - i know. it happens. shocking), too expensive, or just flat out not good.

notti bianche had been thrown around as a place to try for some time now. being a hotel restaurant made us apprehensive (though hotel restaurants are usually pretty reliable), but more than that, it's in an area that's sort of inconvenient. that is, there really isn't anything else around notti bianche. but when you have something goin' on at gw's lisner auditorium, or if you're looking for a place to eat before something at the kennedy center, then notti bianche should most definitely be at the top of your list. and those days when you want some good italian food, make the trek out to foggy bottom and visit the good people at notti bianche!

so, parents were in town and sister's husband had a rehearsal at gw's lisner auditorium and it became my job to find a place to have dinner (which i was happy to do). so, after a quick walk around the kennedy center, we got to notti bianche right when they opened. we had made reservations, though it didn't look like that would've been necessary as the dining area was surprisingly empty. maybe that's because our reservation was for 5pm. no matter. we were happy to be greeted, immediately seated, and waited on with much attention. and so, after asking some questions and trying to accommodate everyone's tastes (which is pretty easy to do with my family as we are not really particular), we put in an order. a large order. hey, there were 5 of us!

we began our meal with some appetizers of marinated olives and eggplant carbonata (what a carbonata is was one of our questions). the olives were deliciously marinated with some herbs and olive oil. i find myself enjoying the firmer olives over the squishier ones, but that didn't deter me from helping c consume the entire bowl. we smeared eggplant carbonata (cooked eggplant stewed in a chunky tomato sauce with herbs) on our delicious bread (by the end of the night, we consumed 2 baskets of bread - delicious!).

the rest of our food then arrived, just as we asked it too (that is, the salads didn't come before the rest of the entrees - wonderful!). so, between the salads, the pastas, the entrees, and all of the things that were already on our table, it got pretty cramped (and we were at a large table!). the entrees were really tasty. the herb crusted chicken was juicy and paired well with the salsa verde, interestingly. and having the chicken sit on a bed of well seasoned fingerling potatoes and brussel sprouts (yum!) made the dish so very complete. the salmon was also grilled deliciously (though i guess i don't find anything super special about grilled salmon. i can, though, each pounds and pounds of it - so yummy) and came on a bed of the eggplant carbonata - yay! more eggplant carbonata the better! haha ...

but the pasta. the pasta was definitely the hit of the night. at least for me. the pasta was cooked just right - "al dente," but not too al dente. chewy, but not too chewy. you know. delicious. as for the gravy, i have friends who say that bolognese is how they determine the quality of an italian restaurant. i think they would approve of this place! the bolognese was served with super duper wide pasta - different from what i've had in the past, but all delicious. the buscatini was also something i'd write home about. with an oil based sauce, we slurped up the pasta and all of the fixings that were included. i've tried to use bucatini in the past and felt like it was long elbow macaroni. but not here at notti bianche! i think i could've eaten another bowl of this (granted, i'm a fan of oil based sauces).

we ended our dinner with a taste of their chocolate budino and pistachio ice cream. not being a fan of desserts, i had no more than a taste; there were others at the table who are bigger dessert fans. the budino was delicious and went really well with the crunchy cocoa nib brittle that topped the dense budino. the illy coffee i had with dessert was a nice end to the meal.

some may say the ambiance at notti bianche is ... quiet. it is. the clientele that was there when we were there was also older (but i think that's more because we got there at 5pm!). i liked that it wasn't all crazy loud and it wasn't overrun by massive amounts of people (though i frequent and enjoy those places as well). but the service was great, so i didn't particularly pay attention to the ambiance!

all in all, i'd have to say that dinner at notti bianche was a great success. delicious and super fresh food with good company. i can't wait to go back!