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.