Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Quanta Robinson of Black’s Bar and Kitchen (Part 2)

Black's Bar and Kitchen-10
‘Black’s Bar and Kitchen-10′
‘courtesy of spiggycat

Summertime rolls around and if you’re like me and have a kitchen that turns into a sauna from June through September, you want to spend as little time as possible over the stove. That’s not to say that you’re willing to sacrifice having a good meal. After the jump, you’ll find chef Quanta Robinson’s recipe for Malt Mussels with Frites (read: french fries). It’s straightforward and doesn’t take a ton of time to cook. Plus who doesn’t love a brothy bowl of mussels with a good chunk of crusty bread or frites?
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Quanta Robinson of Black’s Bar and Kitchen (Part 1)

Black's Bar and Kitchen-17
Black’s Bar and Kitchen-17
‘courtesy of spiggycat

A lot of people will say that food can open up a whole new world for a person, be it a new world of flavors and ingredients or insight into a foreign culture. Quanta Robinson, executive chef at Black’s Bar and Kitchen in Bethesda, sees it as her job to open people’s minds with cooking.

“It’s rewarding to hear, ‘I would never have tried ‘blank,’ but I did and I liked it,” she says. Quanta says that sometimes it’s as easy as changing the seasoning or the approach to a dish or particular ingredient, in order to get people to try something new (and like it). “I’m horrible with change, so I know it’s hard to break out of a comfort zone,” she jokes. But when a server or a guest at Black’s tells her that they enjoyed a dish they never thought they would, that’s when she can smile and cherish a “small victory.” “A lot of people aren’t chance-y or they’re picky, so it’s about making those people leave happy,” she says.
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Adventures, Crime & Punishment, Eat Like Me, Food and Drink, History, Music, Petworth, The Daily Feed

Bethesda Row Restaurant Week: 04/11 – 04/17

Photo courtesy of

‘Bethesda Lane’ courtesy of ‘Payton Chung’

Bethesda Row’s Spring Restaurant Week kicks off this Monday, April 11 and runs through Sunday, April 17. Participating restaurants include: American Tap Room, Café Deluxe, Jaleo, Lebanese Taverna, Mamma Lucia, Mon Ami Gabi, Parker’s American Bistro, Raku, and Redwood Restaurant and Bar, who will offer two course lunches for $15 and three course dinners for $30.

Standouts in these pre-fixes include American Tap Room’s Open Faced Meatloaf Sandwich, Raku’s Green Tea Crème Brulée, Redwood’s Crispy Salt Cod Croquette and Jaleo’s Ensalada Verde con Queso Idiazábal (mixed greens with Idiazábal cheese, spanish anchovies and garlic anchovy dressing). Diners can preview the restaurant week menus before making reservations at the Bethesda Row website.

In addition to these fabulous meals offered at low prices, Bethesda Row is hosting an online contest to win a $250 dinner certificate to Redwood restaurant.
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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The Daily Feed

Celebrate Redwood’s Second Birthday Tonight

Photo courtesy of
‘happy birthday, Amanda!’
courtesy of ‘staceyviera’

It’s Wednesday night. You’re tired. Your big plans are to watch Top Chef with your good friends Hint of Lime Tostitos and Diet Coke. Maybe you’ll even invite some guacamole along if you’re feeling extra social.

While that does sound like quite the party, there’s an even better option on tap for tonight: Redwood Restaurant & Bar’s second birthday in Bethesda. In addition to free hors d’oeuvres, you’ll also enjoy happy hour specials and live music from Donato Soviero and Latin jazz band Trio Caliente. At 9pm, the restaurant will show Top Chef on a jumbo 16′ by 18′ screen, allowing you to get your weekly fix of Tom Colicchio after all. The fun starts at 7pm, and the kitchen will stay open late until 11pm.

Redwood Restaurant & Bar is located at 7121 Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda Maryland 20814. Closest Metro: Bethesda (Red line). For more information, call (301).

Alexandria, Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: The Burger Joint


‘DSCF3611.jpg’ courtesy of ‘joelogon’

The Burger Joint (BGR) is the latest in a line of local hamburger shops trying to muscle in on DC-area institution Five Guys by offering a gourmet twist on this American staple. I went to their new Old Town Alexandria location to put these burger peddlers’ wares to the test.

There is no better food than a hamburger. A good steak comes close but really hamburgers take the title with their myriad of configurations. Easily a sit-down meal or a perfect eat-on-the-go, with a few toppings tweaks the hamburger offers all things to all comers (except maybe vegetarians). I have long been a fan of DC hamburger establishments and have been putting new offerings to the test for many years. I guess it all began back when I was accepted to George Washington University back in 1993. While quite happy to have got in, I was secretly celebrating the fact that I would soon be living less than a block from burger heaven, Lindy’s the Bone. Back in those days DC was a tale of two burger shops; Lindy’s Bon Appetit and Five Guys pretty much had you covered. For specialty burger creations it was Lindy’s and for the purist burger experience there was none better than (the now overly-franchised) Five Guys.

In the time I have lived here there have been many new burger contenders. Most notably Hamburger Mary’s (now defunct), ZBurger (not bad), Elevation Burger (yuck), and Ray’s Hell Burger (omfg!). Of those four, really only Hamburger Mary’s and Ray’s Hell Burger stand out and for good reason; Hamburger Mary’s offered truly excellent specialty burgers in a fun and funky sit-down dinner environment; while Ray’s continues to serve-up over-the-top, gourmet burgers in a real, walk-up-order, ‘burger joint’ setting.

The Burger Joint now enters into a field beginning to feel a tad cluttered. After all, Five Guys has expanded all over the city like a fungus, Lindy’s is still quietly rocking the Red Lion basement, and Ray’s is all the rage after the Obama/William’s visit. So how does a new burger shop stand-out amongst such stiff and varied competition? By offering the best pure burger in town, that’s how.
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Farm Fresh, We Green DC

Farm Fresh: Redwood Restaurant and Bar

Photo courtesy of
‘Cherry Tomato & Watermelon Salad’
courtesy of ‘snapzdc’

Here’s another feature where WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to tell you about local restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends, and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

Katie: Located in the heart of Bethesda Row, Redwood Restaurant and Bar is sleek, clean and stylish. With high ceilings and unsurprising wood decor, it’s a huge modern space with some seriously tasty food. And not only that, they do a great job of sourcing their products from local farmers, and utilizing the Bethesda farmer’s market, conveniently located right outside their door. Donna and I were invited to explore Redwood’s local food, so we went one Thursday night and sampled the fare and heard from Executive Chef Blake Schumpert exactly how he chooses the produce and meats he uses.

Donna: I like that at Redwood, they spell out their philosophy toward local foods up front, with a statement from owner and CEO Jared Rager posted on the Web site and a shorter message printed on the menus, so there’s no mistaking: “We are an independent, locally owned restaurant that showcases a seasonal menu featuring the best mid-atlantic ingredients available. Our produce, cheese, meat, and seafood is naturally-raised, organic, or sustainable whenever possible and is sourced from local growers. We’ve assembled a wine list from around the world with a particular focus on small production vintners who practice sustainable viticulture – making wine in a way which is economically viable, socially supportive and ecologically sound.” Hooray!

Katie: So with a clear mission, and a farmer’s market right outside their door, Redwood is an excellent place to eat some savory fare while feeling good about your meal’s carbon footprint. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Food

We Love Food: Black’s Bar & Kitchen

Black's Entrance BEST

Known as  one of the best happy hours in the northern Metro area, Black’s Bar & Kitchen is situated a few blocks from the Bethesda Metro station. WLDC author Acacia and I were headed to Bethesda to review Menopause the Musical (which you can read all about) and we decided we could make it a double feature – a We Love Arts and a We Love Food, all in one trip.  I would recommend you replicate our Bethesda trip, I enjoyed the play, but I will probably look back with even more fondness on our eats.

We stepped into Black’s and basically halted, it was absolutely packed. The interior is sleek, stylish and clean. The bar features two and four-seater booths are built into the back wall with a few free standing tables between the booths and the bar. Large windows look out onto Woodmont Ave. and the patio featuring a small modern pond. We couldn’t find a seat in the bar area, and it was one of those pre-spring days too chilly to sit outside, but we had plenty of time to waste before the show so we decided to wait it out. Soon thereafter a table opened up, but the wait gave us time to survey the crowd. Around 6 p.m., we were bringing down the median age – it was mostly a 35-55 aged crowd, complete with power suits and ties. But by the time we left around 7:15,  the average age had lowered considerably, and there were plenty more jeans and after-work twenty-somethings mixed in the crowd.

Black’s is also an oyster bar, with the goods laid out on display when you walk in the door. I was eager to try the seafood, so we grabbed beers and gave our order. Continue reading

The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Coffee Culture

"espresso at m.e. swing coffee roasters" by tvol, on Flickr

"espresso at m.e. swing coffee roasters" by tvol, on Flickr

For many of us, it’s coffee, not liquor, that’s our “water of life.” I’m quite certain I could survive without alcohol. But I know I could never live without caffeine. I’ve tried really really hard to give it up, especially when I was diagnosed with a heart murmur and began to notice every jitter and flutter. I fell off that wagon so many times I have a permanent head bump. Inevitably I’ve given up giving up, rationalizing that I’m just a much better person on caffeine. 

But DC has a bit of a coffee culture problem. It’s hard for little independent cafes to survive (witness the deaths of Sparky’s, 14U, Mocha Hut, Mayorga, Murky Coffee…). Sometimes it seems we’ve given over to the Great Dairy Mermaid and her bitter rival the Loose Moose (wait, it’s the mermaid’s grinds that are really bitter, but I digress) that populate every corner plying milky sugary bastardized versions of the classics.

I know, I know, you can’t give up your vanilla syrup. It’s ok. I’m not going to repeat my last rant about the decline of the perfect cappuccino. I’m not going to wax poetical about espresso in Venice or cafe au lait in Paris. Everybody has their particular coffee fixation – drip, press, etc. The uniting point is that there are some fine places to get your fix, ah, enjoy your coffee, here in DC, beyond the glut of mass market methadone. And with the news that Murky’s being reinvented in Chinatown, and a new coffeehouse called Mid-City Cafe will hit 14th Street, things could be looking up. So here’s a sampling of java joints to get your joy jitters on – and please leave your favorites in the comments.

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