Food and Drink, The Features

Summer Loving, and Eating

Photo courtesy of kimberlyfaye
courtesy of kimberlyfaye

Dates. Those awkward, exciting, beautiful things we all go on at some point. I am by no means an expert in this field- quite far from it- and I don’t have a magical solution for how to make your next date the best you ever had, so unfortunately you won’t be finding the next We Love DC dating service here (sigh). The inspiration for this post really came from a conversation with a friend of mine the other day. He asked me where he should take a girl out, wanting to strike the right balance between serious young professional, trendy and casual. I realized many of us have gone through this mental exercise before. The exhausting over-planning and over- analyzing we do: choosing the right spot for that first interaction (or second or third), focusing on every detail from time, to dress code, to the big goodbye, mulling over tiny logistics as a method of defense to shift our thoughts away from the weirdness that could ensue.  But enough of that.

I think a shared meal is the perfect way to break the ice, a way to bond over something simple that brings anyone, no matter what level of culinary expertise you may have, together. We all share stories around a dinner table, have memories of a favorite meal, and can reveal oneself through a dish. So for me, sharing a meal is a perfect way of getting to know someone, whether it be a sit down dinner or a casual picnic. I decided to write some recommendations for where you can break bread and the ice along the way, in case you need to outsource thinking on the next time your big date is lined up. I polled some of the We Love DC crew for their suggestions as well, as not all of us are food focused daters.

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Food and Drink, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Jeff Faile

Jeff Garnishes
All photos by the author

We Love Drinks continues our series where we look behind the bar, profiling the many people – from mixologists to bartenders, sommeliers to publicans – who make your drinks experience happen.

“You could just write a short little paragraph: ‘Jeff hates vodka.’ That would sum it up perfectly.”

On a recent afternoon I sat down with Jeff Faile, until next Thursday the bar manager at Palena, and soon to be the bar manager (part of an excellent team) at Fabio Trabocchi’s return to DC, Fiola.

An army brat born in Rhode Island, he has a history degree from Clemson. Previously a manager at Tower Records in Philadelphia who moonlighted as a bartender, he moved to DC about five years ago and began bartending full-time. In November he got married, became bar manager at Palena, and was invited to join the DC Craft Bartenders Guild. And he owes at least part of his success to Twitter, of all things.

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

This Week in Food

Photo courtesy of
‘Ray’s Hell-Burger’
courtesy of ‘KentonNgo’
It’s been quite a busy week in food!

The food truck/cupcake/small business/personal quest (?) wars continue…and get quite strange indeed. Read Sprinklegate turns food truck war in The Washington Examiner.

Are you always arguing with friends about which burger joint in DC is actually the best? Well, Food & Wine picks two DC restaurants for us as part of its “Best Burgers in DC” slideshow. Their picks: Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington (shocking) and Palena Café.

Agora is adding a new fixed price, three-course lunch menu at $14.99 per person Monday through Friday from 11 AM until 3 PM. You can pick Turkish and Greek inspired dishes like grilled ground lamb and beef kebab with sumac onions & Baklava, along with a choice of non-alcoholic beverage. 

If you really follow chef moves, Top Chef Finalist Carla Hall joins DC Central Kitchen’s Board of Directors. DCCK is also looking to start a Truck Farm. Curious? Find out more here

Executive Chef Brian McBride has tapped Eric Fleischer as the New Chef de Cuisine of the Award-Winning Blue Duck Tavern. Most recently, Fleischer worked as chef de cuisine at Zola in Penn Quarter.

Speaking of PQ, accoring to Penn Quarter Insider, Hill Country BBQ opens on Saturday (or maybe the 17th?). So check it out one of those days or go to U Street’s newest sports bar, Touchdown. TBD reports that Touchdown opened its doors Tuesday in the former space of Momo’s Sports Bar. The bar shows-off old photographs of the Washington Senators from the 1924 World Series.

Happy eating!

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Thursday Bonus Happy Hour: The Bitter End

courtesy of ‘bionicteaching’

I consider Jeff Faile, bar manager at Palena, a friend. This Modern Luxury article on the expanded restaurant is great on the food, but does some injustice to one of Jeff’s brilliant cocktails (vodka?!). And since he has shared the recipe with me, I can now both correct the record and share it with you.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Palena Cafe

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘AlissaS24′
There are plenty of restaurants here that serve smart American food, and there are plenty of places that serve burgers. But there are few that combine the two in a way that satisfies me when I’m feeling fancy and when I’m feeling like…well…a burger.

Selling Palena Cafe as a burger restaurant isn’t really fair. It resembles Five Guys just as much as the Hay-Adams resembles a youth hostel. Palena Cafe is actually the front part of Palena–a high end price fixe restaurant in Cleveland Park. Unfortunately located next to a pretty spectacular gas station, Palena has done a great job of still feeling cozy and warm and like the little bistro you discovered by mistake while studying abroad.

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

DC’s Best Burger

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘AlissaS24′

What is DC’s best burger?  That’s a can of worms to open.  You’ve got Five Guys, you’ve got Good Stuff, you’ve got Ray’s and each has it’s own set of religious devotees.  Well, now there’s another contender. According to Epicurious, Palena Cafe has DC’s best burger, which, coincidentally, is also the third best burger in America.  Maybe I’ve been under a rock or something, but I’ve never heard a Washingtonian suggest Palena.  What are your thoughts. Is Palena’s burger it?