Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chez Shea (Seattle)

Mr. BW and I are in Seattle, vacationing. Last night, we dined at Chez Shea.

Mr. BW and I both started with the wild mushroom, carmelized onion & gruyere tart. The flavors and textures were amazing. I could have eaten two more!

I then had the roasted golden beets and bosc pear salad. It was light and refreshing, exactly what I wanted.

Mr. BW had the pate campagne with black mission figs. As you can see, the figs were part of the pate, not a side, which was an interesting and pleasant surprise.

I had the house made ricotta gnocci. The chanterelle mushrooms were delightful and the gnocci was lip smacking good.

Mr. BW loved his confit of muscovy duck leg. And when I say he loved it, I mean he didn't offer me a single taste.
His carrot yam puree was delicious, though.

We were so stuffed by the time dessert rolled around that we just opted for coffees. Everything was exquisitely prepared and the service was amazing. The hostess quadrupled as our waitress, server, and sommelier and never let our water glasses get below half full. A great experience -- you can't go wrong!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Harry's Restaurant

Harry's Restaurant / Saloon is a disgusting dive at the corner of 11th and F. Although the place looks far from clean, it's always jammed packed with people and the food isn't too bad.

I've enjoyed the burgers, sandwiches and salads before, but my personal Harry's special is the chili cheese fries!

I picked up an order of these bad boys the other day for lunch and I was in heaven! The food is cheap, the service is fat and good, and it's convenient to work. Harry's gets a thumbs up -- just don't look too closely at the floors or your surroundings!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mia's Pizza

Mr. BW and I happened upon Mia's Pizza the other day, completely by surprise. We were out and about in Bethesda right around lunch time and thought, hey, what do we have to lose? We've tried both Pizza Paradiso and Two Amy's and while we love both, the endless wait time and the always crowded nature of both restaurants prevents both of us from ever wanting to go when it's just the two of us. Instead, we typically save our Pizza Paradiso and Two Amy's outings to dinners with friends from out of town.

The restaurant features a large dining room, with tables that are actually spread out far enough that you don't feel like you're eating with the group next to you. They also have a large patio (where we sat). By all appearances, the restaurant was extremely kid-friendly, tons of families, little kids, and an ample supply of booster seats.

Mr. BW started with the soup, which he said was delightful.

I ordered the chopped salad with beets, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and blue cheese. The salad was refreshing, perfectly dressed (not too heavy), and ample enough for me to share with Mr. BW.

Because we're oinkers, we also ordered an appetizer's portion of meatballs and foccacia to share.
Both of us agreed that the meatballs were quite tasty - perfectly seasoned and textured. The foccacia wasn't bad either.

Because we ordered so many starters, we decided to share a pizza.

Our pizza was amply sized and featured pesto, onions, and olives. The crust was great -- must better than Two Amy's, which I found to be slightly undercooked, and the option of having pesto on top of regular sauce, as opposed to as a replacement sauce, was something I appreciated. While I do love pesto, I'm a pizza purist -- I demand tomato sauce and usually, lots of it.

We heartily enjoyed our lunch and will definitely be going back. The lack of the oppressive wait time and the overcrowdedness that plagues Pizza Paradiso and Two Amy's definitely makes driving up to Bethesda worthwhile.

I can't find a website for Mia's Pizza, but it's located at 4926 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. (301) 718-6427

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Capital Grille

Last night, Mr. BW and I had dinner at The Capital Grille. A cross-country chain steakhouse is not really our sort of thing as they usually tend to be overpriced and mediocre (for what you're paying!), but we had received a $50 gift certificate mailer from American Express a few weeks ago and thought -- "hey, what do we have to lose."

Our reservation was for 8:15pm, but we weren't seated until almost 8:45. Service was initially dodgy -- it took quite a while for our server to come, get our drink orders, and give us the specials.

I wasn't particularly hungry and opted for a light meal of soup and salad. My onion soup came in a crock and was pretty tasty; though it could've had a better coating of melted and slightly burnt cheese on the top.
Mr. BW ordered the spinach salad as a starter and, well, it never appeared. We mentioned it to the server when he came with our entrees and our waiter was so apologetic, he offered us dessert -- on the house.

I ordered the spinach salad as my entree and it was fine. Nothing spectacular, but it had all the necessary components: spinach, cheese, nuts, and bacon dressing. The only key was that my dressing was supposed to be warm and warm it was not. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, though, as I ordered my dressing "on the side."

Mr. BW ordered the tenderloin ontop a bed of lobster. I had a tasty taste and it was pretty good. His entree was $42. While it was good, it wasn't blow your mind spectacular, which is what I expect for $42.

Our side of onion rings, however, were blow your mind amazing. I could've eaten a whole bucket of these.
Our complimentary dessert (and coffees) were amazing. The cake was incredibly dense and I loved the vanilla/raspbery coilis sauce on the side.

Our total bill ended up being around $81, so our final bill was a mere $31. Because the waiter was so apologetic about forgetting Mr. BW's salad and because we didn't want to screw the waiter based on my decision not to order a real entree, we left a $30 tip for good measure.

I'm happy we went -- what a deal! -- but wouldn't go back without another $50 gift certificate or on someone else's dime.

Ray's Hell Burger

Last Saturday, Mr. BW and I decided to check out the hoopla that is Ray's Hell Burger.
I ordered the special (burger with choice of two cheeses, side or bag of chips, and a drink). For a few extra bucks, I upgraded to the root beer float, which was totally worth it.
I ordered my burger with a hearty slice of cheddar, dressed with lettuce, tomato, and sauteed onions. The bun was hearty, but the burger was way too messy. Messy as in it started to fall apart as I was eating it.

Mr. BW had even more trouble with his burger (medium), when, as he was eating, chunks of burger started falling out and onto his plate. While the burger was good, our tab ended up being $28 -- which is, frankly, too much for two people to eat at a burger joint. Mr. BW's final word: "it's just a giant burger, with expensive cheese."

I'd recommend this place if you're a burger fanatic or just want to give it a go. But, we've certainly made better burgers on our grill at home.

Present Restaurant

The other day, Mr. BW and I went to Present Restaurant out in Falls Church. They don't have a website yet, but Tyler Cowen's review is a fairly good description of the dining experience.

First, unlike many/most vietnamese restaurants, Present's decor is actually nice. You will not be embarrassed to take a client, or first date, here.
We ordered a number of appetizers, which were light and tasty.

For our first entree, we ordered the whole crispy fish, which was *!@&#$!@&!@&( unbelievable. Highly recommended.
The orange duck was also good, but slightly too gelatinous for my tastes.

We had a very enjoyable time there and highly recommend it. I wouldn't order the orange duck again, but I can still salivate a little thinking of the fish. Also, per Tyler, the menu is rather limited, so don't go expecting 1,001 different phos and variations thereof.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mandoo Bar

While in NYC, we also ate at Mandoo Bar. I need to preface this post by saying that I love mandoos, as you can probably gather from my blog name! I love mandoos and dumplings of all shapes and sizes. They are one of my most favorite things in the world!

So, of course, when our first choice for dinner was all booked up (Lupa), we decided to go to Mandoo Bar instead for a casual, homey meal.

My incredible sense of happiness at being presented with plate after plate of mandoos prevented me from taking any photos, but I can highly recommend both the boiled pork dumplings as well as the fried. I hear the kimchee ones are also good and we declined to order the seafood ones, choosing to get an order of bimbimbap instead. My friend, who is Korean, had been concerned that the popularity of the restaurant would have affected its tastiness, but we were quickly assured -- "still good," she said.

Just 24 hours later, I am craving more mandoos!

Aburiya Kinnosuke

During our romp in NYC, Mr. BW and I had occasion to meet up with a good friend of mine for lunch and dinner! We had no prior plans and decided, on the fly, to try Aburiya Kinnosuke, which my friend had heard of but not yet had occasion to try and which we noticed had good Zagat ratings.

Mr. BW ordered the weekly special. As you can see, it was a whole, fried fish with miso, rice, and some other accompaniments.
I ordered the washu beef curry, which really hit home. Just like my grandmother used to make, but you know, better ingredients and not a giant, endless vat of goodness. It was delicious and I enjoyed every bite.

My friend ordered the weekly special fish, which you can see in the upper left hand corner. You'll also get a better glimpse of the accompaniments that came with the meal.

On the right, assorted seaweeds, pickled plums, and dried flakes for eating with the rice. In the center is the bowl of miso and the middle bottom two bowls contain 1) some sort of dressed root (left) and 2) tofu (right).
The food was good, service was friendly, and the best part of it all? Each meal was only $15. If I had a place like this near my office, I'd eat there every day!

Gramercy Tavern

Mr. BW and I had lunch at Gramercy Tavern in NYC after he got done with work and it was delicious!

We both started with the Jerusalem Artichoke Soup -- Butternut Squash and Aji Dulce Peppers. Absolutely delicious.I opted for the Braised Lamb Shoulder with broccoli and bok choy it was perfectly done. Absolutely melt in your mouth awesomeness.

Mr. BW had the roasted sirloin with celery puree and cabbage. Mr. BW likes his meat rare and he enjoyed every bite of his meal!
We finished off our dining experience with the best latte ever. I wanted to take my clothes off and swim in my latte.
Mr. BW ordered the Peanut Butter Semifreddo and Chocolate Macaroon and he said it was out of this world.
My Concord Grape Clafoutis with Praline Ice Cream was also one of the most amazing desserts I have ever had.
The complimentary treats were also enjoyable, though Mr. BW ate most of mine.We loved our experience dining at Gramercy Tavern and highly recommend it. You'll notice from the menu that the ingredients are simple and the kind of stuff you'd find in Grandma's kitchen, but everything is wonderfully prepared with just enough of an oomph to make it something special. We can't wait to go back.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mark's Duck House (Falls Church)

Mark's Duck House in Falls Church gets a 24 from Zagats. I've been interested in trying more Chinese restaurants in Virginia as my favorite ones are all located in Rockville, MD which is just slightly less convenient than Virginia.

Lucky for me, Mr. BW's a big fan of making me happy and so we went to Mark's Duck House on Friday night.

We started with the obligatory order of pan fried dumplings.

Photo quality is bad, but as you can see, it's appearance suggests that it's not pan fried, but deep fried. Although Mr. BW enjoyed it, I was not a fan and would not recommend these.

In contrast to the dumplings, the bbq pork is delicious. According to Mr. BW - the best he's had! That's pretty high praise, seeing as how he's had it from Sam Woo's in Monterey Park!
The whole peking duck that we ordered was heavenly. The skin was perfectly crisped and the ample portion made for some pretty happy chinese duck taco making.
Here's a view of the beef fried noodles and the stir-fry green beans. Both highly recommended.
Finally, we ordered a whole tilapia:
Delicious flavoring, but a bit too much by way of small bones for my liking.

All in all, a hearty delicious meal. I would highly recommend Mark's Duck House to anyone searching for authentic chinese food.

Crystal Thai Restaurant (Arlington)

Last week, Mr. BW and I made an impromptu decision to stop in at Crystal Thai while we were out in Virginia, running errands.

Mr. BW's boss has heartily recommended Crystal Thai and it gets good zagat ratings (24 for food).

Mr. BW started with a Long Island. It was very festive.

My fresh spring rolls were very different. First, there was no shrimp, just thin chicken. Second, the rolls use mint, instead of the more traditional cilantro. Also, as you can see, they're fatter than the usual "fresh spring roll" that you get at Thai/Vietnamese restaurants. Interesting to see something different, but I prefer the mainstay.
Mr. BW ordered the num tok appetizer - grilled flank steak with lime juice, chili, red onion, cucumber, and mint leaves. Very tasty and in many ways much much better than a similar dish that we order frequently from our favorite thai restaurant - Thai Noy.

For his meal, Mr. BW ordered a special that they had going that night. Pork chops! As you can see, the portion was huge. The taste was very different, reminscent of a lot of hawaiian flavored food that I've sampled in the past.
I ordered the chicken curry as I was interested in something simple that could really help me evaluate the flavors of the restaurant. The chicken chunks were too big, as were the potato (potato?) chunks. The flavor of the curry was excellent, but because the chunks were so large, much of the chicken was tasteless (and getting close to dry) by the time you start eating the individual bits and pieces.
Overall the food was good, but Thai Noy is still probably better.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Fun

I had great and wonderful plans to go to Tosca today for lunch. Better yet, I was taking an interviewee out, so lunch was going to be free!

Unfortunately, I was stuck on a conference call and couldn't shake free. I hate missing new dining adventures!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Today, I met up with a friend of a friend at Teaism downtown.

I ordered the chicken bento box and she had the salmon bento box. The food was causal, cheap, and good for what it was. If Teaism wasn't 0.9 walking miles away from my office, I'd definitely go more often!

Hank's Oyster Bar

Tonight, Mr. BW and I met up with some friends at Hank's Oyster Bar.

Mr. BW started with the sardines and ordered the Lobster Roll for dinner. I started with the scallops and had the fish tacos for dinner. Our friends both ordered the Monday/Tuesday special: molasses braised short ribs.

Service was great and the food was lovely. The final bill seemed a bit high, but I suppose $171 for four appetizers, four entrees, one beer, and a bottle of wine is perfectly reasonable.

Also, since the restaurant does not serve dessert, your check comes with a little dish of coarsely chopped dark chocolate - yum!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Last week, I went to TenPenh for lunch with a co-worker. Since this was my first time dining with said co-worker, I didn't want to turn him off from future dining adventures by busting out my camera.

We are currently enjoying some lovely weather here in the good old District of Columbia. And so, we elected to be seated outside. We started with an order of the filipino lumpia style pork and shrimp spring rolls ($11) which were delicious. There were four in our order and the trio of sauces were delicious. Highly recommended.

My co-worker went with the braised Korean short-rib that was on special that day and I opted for the Chow Foon Noodles ($14). The food was good enough, but not fantastic. While I enjoyed our spring rolls immensely and while there are numerous other appetizer options on the menu that I find intriguing, I can't say I'd go back again, unless someone else was picking up the tab. Luckily for me, it's close to work and opportunities for comp'd lunches spring up occasionally. Next time, however, I'll be sure to order 2-3 different appetizers and skip the entrees altogether.

radio silence

I haven't been posting these past few weeks for a number of reasons:
1) week long vacation in a far away land;
2) lack of new dining experiences for quite some time; and
3) intermittently too busy at work or too much free time and busy worrying about the ever increasing number of "apocalypse now" news headlines

But, Mr. BW and I went to Crystal Thai in Falls Church last night and I have a few new dining adventures for you coming up (although some may not be accompanied by photos).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

End Commercial

Mr. BW and I just returned from a week long vacation out west -- Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park to be exact. I was very much looking forward to a few hectic and busy work weeks to come, but based on events beyond my control (no, as far as I can tell, I haven't been fired) I'm finding myself with a lot of time of my hands. And so, I'm waiting for the appliance guy to show up to fix our dishwasher that has been broken for four months before heading off to work and twiddling my thumbs for a few hours. Shaping up to be a relaxing "welcome back" week.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dogfish Head Alehouse

With the impending start of football season, I've had a hunkering for some good bar food lately. It doesn't help that we've been having so many awesome meals lately (see, e.g., Rasika, Bezu, and Cafe Atlantico) made with fresh, local ingredients, that I really needed some fatty greasy goodness to cancel some of it out.

So we headed out to Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church, VA. And you know what? It did the trick.

Spicy buffalo wings, hearty alehouse chili nachoes, and some fried calamari.

I downed it with a glass of festina peche, which was fruity and refreshing.

On monday nights, they have a $5 half-pound burger and fries special. Me thinks Mr. BW and I will be going back, soon.

Poste Brasserie

A belated post for Poste. Get it? Okay, not that funny.

Before our fabulous dining experience at Rasika with Brother BW and SIL BW, Mr. BW and I met up at Poste Brasserie to check out the scene. Mr. BW had been before, but I had not.

I ordered a ruby red: stoli razberi, hangar one kaffir lime, cranberry juice, and finished with sparkling wine. Tasty.Mr. BW ordered a whiskey.

The bar was nice and I enjoyed the pre-dinner drinks. Will definitely have to go back and check out the reportedly delicious fries and check out the outside lounge. Not usually my scene, but I can do mainstream every once in a while.

Cafe Atlantico

On Friday, Mr. BW and I treated ourselves to dinner at Cafe Atlantico. And by treated ourselves, I mean we decided we needed to take one last run at the Restaurant Week specials. Luckily, Cafe Atlantico had openings and we've been wanting to go for some time.

We started with some obligatory cocktails: a caipirinha for each of us. Good, but not entirely sure it's worth the $11 price tag. Then again, I'm cheap when it comes to alcohol -- I would much rather pour my own drinks with ample alcohol and little to no filler and not have to deal with driving home at the end of the tunnel.
We each ordered the salad to start. Mr. BW was skeptical when I reported that numerous online commentators had mentioned that the spring salad was surprisingly tasty and highly recommended. Nonetheless, we both agreed ~ toasted rice on salad is scrumdiddlyicious.

For our main course, I ordered a daiquiri. Again, I should've gone with a glass of red wine, which was Mr. BW's wise course of action. I, however, wanted to see what the online buzz was and try these so called amazing daiquiris. Unfortunately for me, there was just a wee bit too much sugar in this daiquiri (again, I like mine to be heavy on the alcohol, skimpy on the filler) and for $10, I should've gone with a glass of red instead.For my main course, I ordered the feijao tropeiro. Grilled pork chop with black beans with pork, rice, farofa, oranges, and sauteed collard greens with garlic. I'm not sure I cared for the farofa* (the mealy yellow stuff which was largely tasteless), but everything else was heavenly. And this from a girl who doesn't really like collard greens. The meal also came with some heavenly and wickedly hot hot sauce *not pictured, which was delicious. I need me a tub of that, post haste.
Mr. BW ordered the striped bass veracruz. Presentation was wonderful and it was good, but my meal was better.
Mr. BW's dessert outshone mine by a mile: warm chocolate cake with banana espuma and fresh banana lime salad. So friggin good. I managed to stealthily sneak about 1/2 of it.
I ordered the sorbet of the day - passion fruit. Mr. BW said it was darned tasty, but just a bit too sweet for me. Should've gone with the chocolate cake.
BTW: service was outstanding. I've had a few disappointing experiences dining downtown with shoddy (ie slow and ambivalent) service, especially at the more trendy places, but Cafe Atlantico was amazing. Service was fast and friendly. Loved it.

*To be fair, I had no idea what the strange mealy yellowness was and didn't bother to ask our server what it was and how to eat it. After poking at it suspiciously and trying bits of it on the tip of my fork, I decided that it just wasn't for me and moved on. As we were leaving, I heard our server explain it to the table next to us. Evidently, it is not supposed to be eaten plain, but rather, should be mixed with the other goodies on the plate to add texture. Go figure.