Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Rappahannock River Oysters, LLC


Rappahannock River Oyster
Courtesy of Rappahannock River Oyster, LLC

About 140 miles away from the buzzing of DC, you’ll find a one lane gravel road in Toppings, VA that leads you to the serene Rappahannock river. Go an extra five miles out on the water, and you’ll find yourself right in the Chesapeake Bay. But what you might not realize as you’re enjoying the rush of wind against your face on a boat is that below the water are crops of thousands of some of the freshest and most delicious oysters.

After discovering that I had essentially developed a borderline addiction to the bivalve molluscs, I wanted to learn more about how they were raised and everything that went into getting an oyster from the water to a bed of ice at a local restaurant. So I made the trip out to Rappahannock River Oysters, LLC to check out what oyster aquaculture (aka oyster farming) is all about and the company’s tasting room, Merroir.
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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: A Look at Medium Rare

Photo courtesy of Plantains & Kimchi
service @ Medium Rare, Cleveland Park
courtesy of Plantains & Kimchi

I’ve wanted to try Medium Rare ever since it opened earlier this year but, for some reason I rarely make it north of Dupont Circle. However, I managed to make it to the steak-frites restaurant twice before I decided to write it up.

Simple concepts can be executed nicely and Medium Rare almost hits the mark. As you might already know, the restaurant’s menu is based around one main dish: steak frites. Unfortunately, it’s nothing to write home about as the steak’s sauce was forgettable. While the concept of Medium Rare is excellent, it’s hard to compete with many other places in DC that do a better steak frites.

I did like the restaurant’s décor–it’s dark, fun and energetic. The restaurant has a great vibe and is a good spot for a variety of occasions, whether you go for a casual date, with a group of friends, or with family. Medium Rare is a nice neighborhood place and always seems crowded.
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Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, Penn Quarter, The Daily Feed, We Love Food

We Love Food: Quick Update on Restaurant Happenings

Photo courtesy of
‘America Eats Tavern- Washington, DC’
courtesy of ‘Plantains & Kimchi’

For those of you who avidly follow the food scene, this all might be old news. But to those of you who don’t eat, sleep and drink DC food coverage, here’s a little roundup on some of the latest restaurant happenings around DC.

Have no fear about not getting to José Andrés’ America Eats Tavern in time before it closes. The restaurant announced that it will be staying open through July 4, 2012–closing exactly a year after it first opened this past summer. Don’t forget that the “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam?” exhibit, which served as inspiration for the restaurant concept and of which Andrés is the chief culinary advisor to, will close on January 3rd.

In “ancient” news by classic journalistic standards, Mike Isabella is opening a restaurant in the former Hook space in Georgetown. Hook and its sister restaurant, Tackle Box, had been closed since a fire in late June. Eater DC has a full recap of the drama behind how the story of Isabella’s new restaurant broke. All of that aside, Bandolero will be a “modern Mexican small-plates concept,” with dishes such as salsas, ceviches, tacos, and Isabella’s version of fajitas, according to a news release. Bandolero is set to open in early 2012.

Staying in the Georgetown area, PAUL Bakery has launched a second location in DC, which officially opened its doors on November 21st. The french bakery has enough seating for 30 to 40 patrons in Georgetown, or you can just grab a baguette to go seven days a week. PAUL had opened its first DC location in May 2011.

And lastly, unlike the other news about restaurant openings, The Washington Post reported that Ba Bay in Eastern Market closed its doors. As Tim Carman reported, Ba Bay closed “due to circumstances beyond our [the owner's] control.” No word on whether owners and cousins Denise Nguyen and Khoa Nguyen will open another Vietnamese-style restaurant or another Ba Bay elsewhere.

Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Casa Nonna’s Tavola 12

Photo courtesy of
‘Chef Amy Brandwein of Casa Nonna’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

If you told me that there was a restaurant in town where I could get a delicious, savory 12-course meal for $55, I’d at least raise an eyebrow at you. But Casa Nonna in Dupont Circle is offering just that at their new in-house concept, Tavola 12.

The 12-seat tasting bar is available on Fridays and Saturdays and showcases executive chef Amy Brandwein’s culinary talent. You can leisurely sit at the bar while chatting with Amy, watching each course be prepared by the chef and listening to the chef explain each course. You can add wine pairings to the dinner for an extra $30 per person.

While the menu changes based on what the chef wants to prepare for the night, you’ll find a quick recap of some of the highlights I tasted at Tavola 12 after the jump.
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Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Thanksgiving 2011 Roundup

Roast Turkey

Roast Turkey
Courtesy of tbridge

You’ve been fighting off a cold. You burned last year’s turkey. You’re feeding far too many relatives than you can count on your fingers and toes. Whatever the reason may be for why you won’t be cooking this year’s Thanksgiving feast, we’ve got you covered with a handy list of what restaurants are offering for Thanksgiving. So take the apron and oven mitts off and relish in the fact that you can watch all the Macy’s Day Parade and football you want come turkey day.

Read the full list after the jump.
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Alexandria, Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Food

Pizzeria Paradiso Celebrates 20 Years

Photo courtesy of
‘Pizzeria Paradiso’
courtesy of ‘afagen’

There’s an old friend in town who’s turning 20 next week: Pizzeria Paradiso.

Back in November 1991, the pizzeria opened its first location in Dupont Circle and over its history has not only revamped the original spot, but expanded to Georgetown and Old Town Alexandria. Not too shabby of an accomplishment for a local small business, right?

“When Pizzeria Paradiso was created, the things motivating it were community, laughter and tasty food,” said chef and owner Ruth Gresser in a news release. “We were all so excited when our first customers entered the restaurant a few minutes after we unlocked the front door. And now, we’re so happy to reach our ’20 Something’ anniversary so we can celebrate by eating and laughing with our family of customers and staff.”

In honor of its 20th birthday, the restaurant is hosting a week of events as part of their “20 Something” Celebration:

  • Monday, November 7th – Get one large and one small pizza for $20 on take-out orders only.
  • Tuesday, November 8th – Receive a 20th anniversary beer glass when you purchase a beer with your meal. The 8th is the restaurant’s official birthday.
  • Wednesday, November 9th – Pay $20 for all you can eat pizza and beer (note: you can eat all the pizza you want, but there’s 2 beer maximum).
  • Thursday, November 10th – Pay $20 for a small special pizza and an anniversary beer.
  • Friday, November 11th – Your first beer is just 20 cents.
  • Saturday, November 12th – Dine in at a location and pay just 20 cents for toppings (note: 3 toppings maximum)
  • Sunday, November 13th – Round out the week with “20 Free Pizzas” Family/Kids Day from 1-4 PM. Kids can be part of a make your own pizza demonstration with owner/chef Ruth Gresser and the first 20 kid’s pizzas are free (note: Old Town location only).

Plus, Pizzeria Paradiso will be hosting a trivia contest on their Facebook pages (GeorgetownOld TownDupont) with $20 gift certificate prizes twice per day. And their lucky 2,000th Twitter follower will receive three $20 gift certificates, one for each location.

Congratulations and happy birthday to Pizzeria Paradiso for serving up tasty slices to DC for 20 years!

Food and Drink, Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Food

Second Annual “The Vices that Made Virginia”

Photo courtesy of
‘Hazy Morning’
courtesy of ‘Vileinist’

Ah, Virginia–home to part of the Blue Ridge mountains, the Virginia ham, and of course, the land for lovers. So to celebrate the greatness of Old Dominion, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture and Woodlawn, a National Trust Historic Site, are hosting the second annual “The Vices That Made Virginia.”

From 4 to 8 PM on November 5th, you can indulge in bourbon, oysters on the half shell, cigar rolling, as well as other “vices” from the state. In addition to specialty drinks from local distilleries, brewers and winemakers, chefs Nathan Anda, Kyle Bailey, Bertrand Chemel, Tiffany MacIsaac, Steve Mannino and Rob Weland will be serving up a scrumptious autumn spread. Dishes include local lamb, corn spoon bread with leeks and cheddar, spiced apple-oatmeal crumble and much more. Some of the local purveyors showcasing their ingredients in the chefs’ dishes include New Frontier Farms, Kilmer’s Farm & Orchard, Meadow Creek Dairy and Rappahannock Oysters.

Get ready to get your vices on at the farm next weekend, fellow Washingtonians. Tickets are $125 per person and all proceeds from the evening go to support Arcadia and Woodlawn.

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Bourbon Steak’s Cheese Program

Photo courtesy of
‘Cheese wheels at Bourbon Steak’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

I can think of few simple combinations that go together as well as meat and cheese–philly cheesesteaks, charcuterie and cheese boards, chicken parmigiano, heck, even the simple breakfast sandwich combines the super powers of a sausage patty and melted cheese. So it made sense when Brenton Balika, the executive pastry chef at Bourbon Steak, started a cheese program at the meat-centric restaurant in Georgetown.

The cheese program, which was officially launched in May of this year, has opened up a whole menu featuring eight to 10 cheeses at any given time. While the cheeses can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to complete, depending on the type, the restaurant typically goes through an average of 200 wheels of cheese per week and 169 gallons of milk, according to Balika.

I met with Brent to learn more about Bourbon Steak’s cheese program and to find out what goes into making cheese.

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Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: DC Eats for September

Photo courtesy of
‘Autumn of my Life’
courtesy of ‘LaTur’

Summer may be over, but good food goes on. You can eat your sad feelings about colder weather and fewer hours of daylight coming at some of these events happening this month in the city.
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We Love Food

We Love Food: Santa Fe Cafe

Kip Laramie
Santa Fe Cafe Owner Kipp Laramie by MichaelTRuhl

In the heart of hilly Rosslyn amid the skyscrapers and the steel, the Santa Fe Cafe is an oasis for spicy food lovers. Offering authentic New Mexican food, the restaurant has maintained a presence in Arlington for over 20 years on Wilson Boulevard two blocks from the Rosslyn Metro station. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Willard’s BBQ

Willard's

“You just can’t get barbecue up here like you can down there,” I used to tell all my friends back home in North Carolina. That was before I met Willard’s. Way, way the hell out there in the suburbs near Dulles, Willard’s BBQ is what happens when Lexington, North Carolina transports itself right to Virginia. And for a Carolina Girl, that means Willard’s tastes just like home.

Ya’ll, they’ve got the pulled pork. They have the ribs, the brisket, the chicken, the catfish. Everything you’ve been craving, Willard’s has it all. And lord, is it done right. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: DC Eats for August

Photo courtesy of
‘Cafe Atlantico’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’
Put on your elastic waistband pants, people. There’s plenty to eat and do in the city for the next few weeks. So click on through and you’ll find where you should be wining and dining this month.
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Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks, We Love Food

Upcoming: Operation Smile’s Grin Gala

Photo courtesy of
‘Lauren Graham and Peter Krause’
courtesy of ‘greginhollywood’

Got plans Saturday night?

The Grin Gala, now in its fourth year, is a benefit for Operation Smile. It is described as “an evening of cocktails, dancing and silent auction.” Lauren Graham, pictured above, is this year’s honorary host. Tickets come in two varieties: general admission ($120, of which $95 is tax deductible), and VIP ($240, of which $215 is tax deductible).

VIP access includes an early reception on the Chamber of Commerce rooftop with top DC chefs and mixologists including Chef Todd Gray and Mixologist Simo Ahmadi from Equinox; Chef Peter Smith from PS 7; Chef Victor Albisu and Mixologist Troy Bock from BLT Steakhouse; and Mixologist Stephen Warner from Columbia Firehouse.

The Social Chair and I will be there as invited guests. Look for us there Saturday night, and a wrap-up of the cocktails and food here next week!

Food and Drink, The Features, The Hill, We Love Food

We Love Food: Seventh Hill Pizza

Photo courtesy of
‘Seventh Hill Pizza’
courtesy of ‘kspidel’

Last summer, in a fit of humidity-induced insanity, my friends and I decided to taste test non-delivery pizzas around town. There were seven pies, and in an attempt to branch out a little, I picked up one from Seventh Hill. I figured this Eastern Market spot (which no one had heard of before) would finish somewhere in the middle of the pack with perennial favorite 2 Amy’s coming out on top. In a Cinderella story that ESPN would surely have composed a specific theme song for, Seventh Hill came out of nowhere and clinched the win.

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Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Hank’s Oyster Bar

Photo courtesy of
‘P1010522′
courtesy of ‘sygyzy’
Hank’s Oyster Bar has all the makings of being my go-to secret neighborhood joint — that perfectly undiscovered gem, with amazing food and an owner who remembers me so I never have to wait for a table. In a perfect world, yes, this would be the case. But this is not a perfect world and the rest of Washington has discovered Hank’s. There’s usually a wait, and to make matters worse, it’s not even in my neighborhood. But it almost was my neighborhood. I looked at an apartment in the Cairo building, and while I was thrilled with the opportunity to live in a haunted former brothel, I was even more excited about the possibility of living within viewing distance of the line at Hank’s.

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Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Zorba’s Cafe

Photo courtesy of
‘Zorba’s Cafe’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

So now that it is sort of starting to get warmer (right? RIGHT?) all I can think about is eating and drinking outside. As a native Washingtonian, I know that the window of outdoor eating opportunity here in our nation’s capital is small, and I like to take advantage of it when I can. Since we’ve been friends for a while, Internet readers, I feel like it’s high time I let you in on my absolute favorite outdoor dining spot — Zorba’s. If you’ve never been here before, you have without a doubt walked by it a thousand times and never looked twice. Right by the Q St. exit of the Dupont Circle Metro stop, it doesn’t exactly scream “fancy dining experience.” And to be honest, you’re right. It may not be fancy, but they’ve got lots of patio seating, pitchers of beer and food that reminds me of sunny days nursing a hangover on the beaches of Greece. Or at least, that’s what I think they’d be like.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Vace Italian Delicatessen

Photo courtesy of
‘Vace Italian Deli’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Vace in Cleveland Park isn’t just an Italian market, it’s a way of life. The best way to explain this is with this little story. A friend of mine loved the pizza from Vace so much that every time he ordered it, he never made it home without eating a good portion of his order mid-commute. Not so interesting? Well, let me set the actual scene. He would order a large pizza while on the train at Metro Center, head up to Cleveland Park and spend the walk down Connecticut Avenue to his place in Woodley Park chowing down on half his pizza. I certainly hope some tourists leaving the zoo snapped a picture of this crazy dude, box top askew with pizza down his face. Now THAT is love.

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Food and Drink, Foodie Roundup, We Love Food

Dining One Year Later: Bistro La Bonne

DSCN0535

Photo Courtesy Tricia Barba

This is the first of our “Dining One Year Later” look, where as the title suggests, we take a glance back at restaurants that have been open for one year and see how they’re doing. We will run this feature once every two weeks.

Snapshot Verdict: Great food in a relaxed atmosphere.

You could almost walk by the restaurant if you weren’t paying close enough attention. That is until you see the  “Bistro La Bonne” sign, named after the owner and chef Daniel Labonne.

The eponymous French restaurant opened at the end of 2009, taking over the space where the bar Axis once stood. With its friendly service, steak-frites, and escargot, Bistro La Bonne has been a welcome addition to this neighborhood. Chef Labonne tells me that the 50-seat restaurant serves more than 100 people on the weekdays and 200 on the weekends.

It’s a tight fit; the restaurant is narrow, though it does have a loft as well. You won’t be on someone’s lap on table next to you like you might be at Bistro Du Coin, but you won’t be stretching out either, especially if you are sitting near the bar. Speaking of the bar, it is long and perfect for watching soccer (or football as us World Cup fans would say).  Diners will like the brick walls and pictures on display.

Some gossip here — Labonne tells us he’s going to expand physically, but won’t divulge if it will just be an addition to the existing restaurant or a completely new concept. Ugh, ANC, ABRA boards here I come.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Tackle Box

Photo courtesy of
‘Tackle Box Sign’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Though I live in the general area, I don’t spend much time on M St. in Georgetown. It’s not that I have anything against it, except that I run the risk of driving myself in to serious debt every time I walk down the street. Intermix, your siren song calls to me. There is one place that I’m willing to risk credit card debt for, and thy name is Tackle Box.

Tackle Box is the cooler little brother to its snooty boarding school sister, Hook, next door. While Sis spends her days rolling her eyes at all those outlanders who come to Newport in droves every Memorial Day weekend, Little Bro spent his summers working at a dockside restaurant and drinking on the beach with his friends at night. In other words, while Hook is a great meal for a special occasion, Tackle Box is at your service for a tasty lunch, brunch, dinner or snack just about any time.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

DC Predicts: 2011 Trends in Food and Dining

Photo courtesy of
‘Restaurant with waiter’
courtesy of ‘The Field Museum Library’

To kick off the new year, we asked some of the most prominent folks in DC’s food and drink scene for their outlook on what will be big in 2011. We reached out to chefs, owners, bloggers, barkeeps, restaurant PR folks and more – all of them gave wise predictions on what will be big in the new year. Here’s what they had to say.

“With the population of DC crossing 600,000 in the latest census, you will see a lot more small, interesting restaurants. Bistros opening in the up and coming neighborhoods.” – Ashok Bajaj, Restaurateur (Bombay Club, Oval Room, Rasika, etc.)

“I predict more and more hip cocktail spots as people start seeking niche bars that feature house specialties rather than having the same old familiar line up…I also think many more smaller niche restaurants with more creative international decor…DCites are starting to demand more!” – Erik Holzherr, owner of Wisdom, Fruit Bat, and the soon-to-be-opened Church & State

“I think in 2011, you’re going to see more restaurants getting into the retail business. Some have done it already, like Cork’s Cork Market and Co-Co Sala’s retail boutique. Others will be inspired by the success of such ventures as the Batali/Bastianich Eataly in New York City. We’ve already seen some announced for 2011, like the Armstrong’s Society Fair market; it’ll be interesting to see who else gets into the game.” – Missy Frederick, Washington Business Journal Continue reading