Food and Drink, The Features

First Look: Trademark Drink + Eat

Courtesy of Three Lockharts PR

I have to imagine being the first restaurant to land in a neighborhood you’re trying to beef up is no easy task. Will the locals end up coming back? If you’re off the beaten path, can you still draw a crowd? How do you bring any foot traffic off the sidewalk and into a seat at the bar? When I visited Trademark Drink + Eat a little more than a week after their opening in November, their boisterous, mostly full bar and high-top tables on a week night seems to indicate they’ve figured it out.

Named after the neighboring U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark the pub is located just beyond Old Town in the Carlyle District. Google maps says it’s an eight minute walk from the King Street metro, which isn’t far if you’re looking to head somewhere different for drinks and a bite to eat in Alexandria.

Trademark has both casual bar fare like warm pretzel bites or deep-fried pickles, and more sophisticated, hearty dishes such as the Chesapeake pot pie with piping hot crab, rockfish, shrimp, roasted corn, peas and potatoes wrapped in a buttery dough. Sit at the bar for a short while and you’ll find yourself devouring the restaurant’s version of corn nuts, a pleasant reminder that the little bowls of bar snacks do not have to be stale or overly salty. While you’re at it, don’t pass up the bacon candy, which is a thick slice of bacon on a stick with a sweet yet light, sugary coating. I should have had you at bacon. On a stick.
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Adams Morgan, Food and Drink, The Features

First Look: Mintwood Place

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

I hear it all the time from chefs in the business and friends alike: “DC needs more casual, neighborhood places.” You know, the type of place that you can walk in, grab a table and get a good, decently priced meal. The kind of place where you can become a regular. Well, Mintwood Place might just fit the bill.

The newest restaurant to hit Adams Morgan comes from Saied Azali, the owner of the next-door and popular, Perry’s. The warm light from the coils of exposed bulbs, wood paneling and antique tin ceiling make for a cozy and hip atmosphere. Just walking by the place and seeing that glow pour out onto the street is enough to make you want to go inside. There’s a decent-sized stretch of bar next to the bright, open kitchen (bonus design points for the cool old sink knobs which serve as purse/coat hooks under the bar) with a few high-top tables that you can eat at if you haven’t managed to snag a reservation. By the way things look with buzz getting around town about this place, you will most definitely want a reservation.

Opened in late January, executive chef Cedric Maupillier (who previously was at Central with Michel Richard and worked with Fabio Trabocchi of Fiola back in his Maestro days) and his team serve up an eclectic menu with a noticeable French influence with dishes such as the cassoulet or the hanger steak and frites with bordelaise sauce. But then you’ll also find dishes such as the tagliatelle bolognese, a whole dorade with braised fennel or the lamb tongue moussaka. This is not to say the menu isn’t focused; rather, there’s something to please every diner in the crowd. And every dish is executed quite exceptionally.
Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Hanger steak and frites at Mintwood
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

First Look: Big Cheese Truck

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘BrianMKA’

Food on wheels has been (and I’m thinking it will be continue to be) all the rage in DC. And with each new truck’s appearance, I get giddy about the prospects of expanding my lunch horizons. Big Cheese Truck launched in mid-December and I finally caught up with them to give them a try. It was a cold, blustery day and I thought a hot grilled cheese and warm tomato soup would be just the thing to get me through the workday. Unfortunately, I’ll be honest and say that I was disappointed.

The tomato soup was chunky and had a strong basil flavor. While I could have handled the basil, the salsa-esque consistency threw me off. Something about warm, chunky salsa under the pseudonym of tomato soup just didn’t do it for me. The grilled cheese with cheddar on sourdough should have had more cheese and definitely could have been melted more to reach the point of gooey-deliciousness. The cheese from the local Cowgirl Creamery was a good pairing with the tangy sourdough bread. However, for a sandwich coming from a truck named “big cheese,” I was expecting huge, gooey gobs of cheese, not a thin, apparently shredded, layer of the stuff.

I know the initial launch for a food truck (or any restaurant, for that matter) can be rough, and there’s some level of trial and error on the menu. So I’m hoping that the Big Cheese Truck will improve with time and deliver a bigger and better lunchtime favorite to the hungry cheese-eatin’ people of DC.

The Features

First Look: Behind the Design, Buddha Bar DC

via Max Cook

There is nothing understated about Buddha Bar.

From the moment you find yourself standing in front of two enormous, yet intricately detailed, iron-clad gates, reading the brand’s etched signage, you just know that you are about to embark on a rather exceptional experience.

The play on monumental proportions continues once you step inside the door.  Don’t be fooled by the cozy entryway, with its stunning mosaic stone rugs, because as soon as you turn the corner to enter the bar and dining area, the ceilings rise and the floor plate drastically expands. Quite atypical for the DC-scene, Buddha Bar consists of 9,500-square-feet of space and has 22-foot high ceilings.

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Food and Drink, Life in the Capital, The Features

First Look: Masa 14

Masa Interior

Unless you live under a foodie rock, you’ve noticed that 14th street has exploded lately. Eatonville, Policy (though Jenn says don’t go there), Birch and Barley, and, of course, Masa 14. Masa 14 is the new small plate concept by Kaz Okochi (Kaz Sushi Bistro) and Richard Sandoval (Zengo). The kitchen is led by Chef de Cuisine Antonio Burrell, who used to be at CommonWealth Gastropub.

Masa 14 has a large, industrial feel. Sleek and trendy, noisy, and totally packed. Fritz Hahn was right when he said it is the new thirty-something destination on 14th street. The crowd wasn’t the typical young quasi-hipster crowd I’ve grown accustom to at places like Eatonville or Saint Ex. But don’t for a second think this isn’t a stylish crowd – red lipstick, cuff links and afros all made statements there Friday night when Jenn and I stopped by to check it out. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features

First Look: Bibiana Osteria & Enoteca

Photo courtesy of
‘Bibiana Outside Vertical’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

I took a calculated risk eating at Bibiana Osteria & Enoteca on Labor Day Monday. First off, it’s Monday, the notoriously worst day of the week to eat out. Second off, Bibiana only opened on Friday. Third off, it’s Labor Day. No Chef will be working. But (isn’t there always a but?) I had a friend in need of a totally new, fresh place for dinner, so crossing my fingers and holding my breath, I suggested Bibiana. Plus, I’m currently in the middle of reading former New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton’s memoir Eating My Words, where she argues, “As for reviewing an establishment too soon, my feeling is that as soon as a restaurant is open and full prices are being charged it is fair game.” Touche, Mimi. So with Mimi on my side, we struck out to discover Ashok Bajaj’s seventh restaurant in the DC area.

Was it able to stand up against all the forces it had going against it? You could have told me it was any Friday or Saturday night months from when it opened, you could have fooled me. Everything from the food to the service was absolutely on point. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

First Look: National Christmas Tree

national-christmas-tree-by Murmurmel

national-christmas-tree-by Murmurmel

Yesterday was the unveiling of the National Christmas Tree. (Well, as much as you can unveil something that has been there since August.) But there were festivities, and the tree lit up, Christmas joy, and all that. The tree will be lit from now until after Christmas, with nightly performances from Saturday, December 6 to Tuesday, December 23, 2008. I’ve collected some first-look flickr pics for your viewing pleasure, in case you missed it yesterday. Continue reading