Sunday, July 10, 2011

thai x-ing

thai x-ing
515 florida avenue NW, washington, DC 20001
tel: 202) 332-4322
hours: tuesday-sunday 5:00pm-10pm


what was consumed: fixed price special dishes menu (chef's choice!) which included a cilantro and onion chicken salad, soup (2 kinds), squash curry, poached fish, mussels, noodles (like drunken noodles ... ?), and dessert (mango slices with sticky rice)

thai x-ing had been on my list of "must eat" for some time now. but the thought of making reservations well in advance and a fixed price menu was sort of intimidating (i'm not sure why). but when friend m invited me along, i was in!

our entire party met at the east u street exit, out of convenience (the nearest metro is shaw/howard university), then walked the loooooong walk (ok, it wasn't that long. but it was a hot summer DC night. blech) over to the ledroit park location. when we approached 515 florida avenue NW, a rowhouse turned restaurant, i was quickly overwhelmed by the delicious scents that were coming out of the place.

thai x-ing has a downstairs and an upstairs. after a quick peek downstairs (it's super duper tiny - looks like that's where the kitchen is?), we head up the stoop stairs, took off our shoes (as directed), then head to the upstairs dining area.

thai x-ing has take-out options (or so i hear), but the way to go is to make reservations (which you will have to do well in advance) and enjoy the chef's specialties available through the fixed price dining option. i found the multi-course dinner to be well worth the money that i paid. we even left with food to go! which means we had a lot of food considering the size and characteristics of our group (i.e., i was in the group and i eat A LOT). thai x-ing also does not serve alcohol, but is not opposed to you bringing your own and enjoying it during the meal. we surely did!

our meal began with a fresh chicken and cilantro salad. it was chock full of cilantro and onions, had a really fresh flavor, and was lightly dressed with thai flavors. while i love the flavor of cilantro and onions, i don't particularly enjoy chewing them. i.e., the salad was quite tasty, but i didn't eat a whole lot of it. the others at my table seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

next was the soup. we were given 2 kinds! one was similar to tom yum soups i've had at thai restaurants in the past (maybe that was what it was. i don't know what all of these dishes are called and our server referred to them simply as "soup" - haha. despite the heat of outside, the warm soup was delicious. i prefer it more spicy, but it was still delicious. a lighter broth filled with veggies, and welcomed hints of lemongrass. the other soup had a light broth with cooked cucumber stuffed with beef (or was it pork? anyway, stuffed with some sort of meat) which i hadn't seen too much of, but still greatly enjoyed.

next was a squash (i think) curry and poached whole fish (there were, like, 3 huge fish for the 8 of us. i love it!). this was, of course, served with (white) rice. we piled the rice onto our plates, then drowned them in the curry sauce that was flavorful and chock full of squash, veggies, and other goodies. and the fish! i love fish and wish i was better at preparing it myself. the fish came out with a sauce that we poured all of the fish. the sauce helped to take away what others would describe as the "fishy" smell (it's a fish, what else is it supposed to smell like?) and don't enjoy. anyway, we proceeded to devour the fish, leaving pretty much just the bones.

after the fish and curry, and we (mistakenly) thought we were finished with the main portions of our meal (we were pretty full), we were served baked thai-style mussels that had its own sort of curry on top of it. it's sort of hard to see, but there were grilled veggies that accompanied the mussels, which were topped with basil, garlic, etc. - the usual delicious toppings that often accompany thai cuisine. oh, and it was not one, but two plates of mussels. we were thoroughly stuffed by the end of this course.

and then, AND THEN, noodles. i love noodles! but i was so full, i didn't get to eat that much of 'em (we took the leftovers home), but i made sure to at least have a bite. so delicious! our noodles were similar to what you would get if you order drunken noodles (that is, the noodles were fat), but the noodles were covered with much more curry/sauce.

our meal ended with some dessert. yes, there was even dessert - sticky rice with sliced mango. the sticky rice was just the right sweetness (i.e., not a lot), and a great end to the meal, despite me already being totally full. i passed on the mangos (i'm not a fan of fruit AND i was overly full), but my party kept telling me to try as they were really delicious. i'm sure they were!

we all rolled out of thai x-ing, leftovers in hand, talking about how great our meal was. agreed, agreed, agreed!

do you have reservations for thai x-ing? do you have an extra spot? let me know! i want to go! delicious delicious delicious!

online: http://www.thaix-ing.com/

Saturday, July 9, 2011

medium rare

medium rare
3500 connecticut avenue NW, washington, DC 20008
tel: 202) 237-1432
hours: monday-sunday 5pm-10:30pm, saturday-sunday 11am-2:30pm


what was consumed: bread, salad, steak & frites (seriously, there are no other options) ... oh, and wine

i love the concept of medium rare: fresh ingredients, well prepared fare, set menu ... so, on a slow-ish weekend, c&j and i head out to get our fill of medium rare. c tried to call and make reservations (recommended), but couldn't get one (i forget the reason why). we decided to take a shot and wait for a table - are we glad we did!

we walked into the basement-esque first floor of the building to medium rare, already hustling and bustling with people. while we were worried about getting seated within a reasonable amount of time, the hostess assured us that we would be seated in 20-ish minutes .. and we were! (in the end, we resolved that that the tables turn over pretty quickly here, despite people taking their jolly time, because all of the time hemming and hawing over what to order is automatically cut out - good call!). the hostess showed us to our table, and our server soon came to our table, took our drink order, asked how we liked our steak cooked ("medium rare!" we all shouted. seriously), and off he went! that was it. simple.

medium rare was delicious. soon after our server took our "order," he returned with some freshly cut bread and butter (i know freshly cut because i saw the server actually cutting the bread) - chewy, crusty, delicious. then came out plates of crisp salad, lightly dressed with a sort of honey mustard. i'm usually not a big fan of honey mustards, this dressing wasn't too overwhelming with mustard flavor, so it was a nice compliment to the fresh greens. then, just as we polished of our salads, our server came with our plates of steak and frites. the steak was cooked to perfection - medium rare. the steak is served with a steak sauce that is liberally poured over the slices. while i'm not a sauce person, i happily welcomed the dousing of my steak with this sauce. j described the sauce like the rarebit sauce at meridian pint. i concur! finger lickin' delicious (to borrow a phrase). the frites were nice and crispy, well salted. and what makes a great thing even greater? seconds! that's right. after your first go at he steak and frites, our server came back with another serving of steak and frites and sauce. we proceeded to enjoy every bite (other friends who've been tell me they wrapped up the seconds to enjoy the next day. not us. all gone that night). we literally waddled out of there, totally content with the food we had just inhaled, knowing we would be dreaming of steak and frites that night. DELICIOUS!

so, let me know when you want to go, because i will happily accompany you. i can't wait to go again! yum!

online: http://www.mediumrarerestaurant.com/

Friday, July 8, 2011

luke's lobster shack

luke's lobster shack
624 E street NW, washington, DC 20004
tel: 202) 347-3355
hours: daily 11am-10pm

what was consumed: schooner combo (crab roll, maine root soda, miss vickie's ships, pickle), hurricane's soups (maine lobster bisque)

i didn't grow up on the same coast as the great state of maine. as a result, i'm relatively new to the phenomenon that is the lobster roll. and i am loving it! i have been to a few establishments and have indulged in their lobster rolls (delicious). and no, i have not (yet) waited in that super duper long line for the red hook lobster truck (but my time is coming). but it is true that 'the lobster roll' is becoming a standard addition to many places. also, there seems to be a sharing of NYC's cuisine with us down here in "the south" (well, sort of "the south" here in DC). i welcome them with open arms.

that is, i welcome luke's lobster shack with open arms. friend s and i were trying to think of a place to grab a good bite to eat. yay for the (then) newly opened luke's lobster shack! they have a pretty limited menu as it is primarily seafood rolls, soups, chips, and sodas (making it easier to make a decision because i have a hard time with deciding what to order). it's nice to have a limited number of things to choose from. i like that luke's specializes in something, and does it very well. when i visited, they were out of the shrimp roll. i take this to mean that once something sells out, they are out, until they get a fresh new shipment in. that's a good thing, right? right? right?

so, in the midst of the usually crazy busy chinatown area, we walked in to a pretty empty luke's (we luckily got in before the dinner/pre-verizon center crowd), ordered our meals from their window, and proceeded to scan the (sort of small) dining area as we had the pick of our seats (yay for early dining!).

i opted for the crab version of the schooner combo (s got the lobster, and she tells me it was delicious!). it was chock full of crab meat, lightly seasoned (with mayonnaise? butter? lemon? some combination of the 3?) on a lightly butter-toasted bun. i really appreciated that, while buttery, the roll wasn't dripping with butter. that just seems to take away from the flavor of what is supposed to be filling the roll - the seafood!

i also couldn't resist the lobster bisque. i know that the bisque is usually made with cream, and cream often upsets my stomach, but i was willing to take the risk. the bisque was delicious! creamy, just seasoned enough, filled with lobster meat ...

i will have to visit luke's again to try the lobster and shrimp rolls. and with the way my appetite has been lately, it will be during the same visit! yes, i eat a lot. oink oink. but i will make room for the fares from luke's lobster shack! nom nom nom ...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

graffiato

graffiato
707 6th street NW, washington, DC 20001
tel: 202) 289-3600
hours: monday-friday 12pm-5pm, sunday-tuesday 5pm-12am, wednesday-thursday 5pm-1am, friday-saturday 5pm-2am


what was consumed: fresh fennel vegetate (with stone fruit, hazelnuts, moscato), green salad (with apple, radish, mint, ricotta salata), ham plate (with prosciutto di parma, porcsalt holiday ham, and a prosciutto of the day ... i think), pork & beans pizza (with pepperoni, sweet peppers, white bean puree, arugula), prosecco "on draft", tony starr cocktail, and ff coppola 'sofia' can (with straw)

what is it about local 'top chef' cheftestants that i can't seem to get enough of?!?!

i really anticipated the opening of mike isabella's new restaurant in the dc/metro area. and then, when k sent me an article that said that graffiato had prosecco "on tap," i needed (not wanted. needed.) to go. immediately. fresh ingredients, great flavor combinations, and wonderful things to drink? no need to twist my arm.

k and i met up after a long day of work. when k arrived, she tells me, she had the pick of seats. when i got there (soon after! i wasn't that late!), the place was bubbling with people, and in the middle of our meal, i looked around to see the place pretty packed with people. good sign!

the graffiato bar is well stocked, including prosecco on tap! what a genius idea, one that totally makes sense and that i think should be more common (imo, of course). we sat on the other side of the restaurant, at the part of the bar that was in front of the woodfire oven. i love that the kitchen is exposed and works well with the exposed brick that adds to the decor of the restaurant. seeing all of the food being prepared also was an inspiration as to what we would ultimately order - it was really neat to see ingredients go into the oven and come out cooked, then to have the cooks plate the food using all sorts of different sauces with a variety of different colors and textures. i could barely contain my growling stomach.

k and i initially had a hard time deciding what we were going to order. pizza or pasta? veggies or not? yay or nay on the cured meats? everything looked really good and we were starving. we opted for a some veggies and cured meats to start. the server made sure to let us know that all of the starter dishes are served at room temperature. we weren't really sure what that meant, but we went with it. and, in the end, it didn't really matter. the fennel salad was delicious. the light dressing covered all of the salad's components just right and the roasted hazelnuts were a delicious addition to the dish (in fact, i would have enjoyed more!). the cured meats came out on a platter, all 3 kinds. each had a bit of a distinct flavor, all delicious. of the 3, the porcsalt was my favorite - salty and meaty. the meats were drizzled with honey (which we only later realized. i know. too much prosecco already - hahaha).

we also ordered a salad, which came out later than everything else (slight mess up - no biggie), but it was totally worth the wait. the light, citrus dressing , the small cubes of fruit, and the crumbled cheese made this simply salad simply delicious.

and the pizza! our pizza was delicious. you know me, i love pizza. the pizza at graffiato are made "for one" (i.e., one person could probably eat the entire thing, neopolitan (is that right?) style). i like my pizza with arugula on it (and k was totally cool with going along with it). the 'pork&beans' pizza used bean puree instead of tomato sauce, making the crust really crispy and flavorful. coupled with the salty pepperonis and the sweet peppers, along with the fresh arugula, each of the slides of pizza were quickly gobbled up.

graffiato also had a series of desserts, which we politely declined as we opted to drink our dessert calories (haha). graffiato, we will be back. and soon!

online: http://graffiatodc.com/