Archive for June, 2008

Vinoteca

June 24, 2008

On our last night before Jack arrived, Brian surprised me with a visit to Vinoteca, a cool wine bar with a pretty great menu.

Vinoteca

The setting:
We were surprised when we walked in – we expected something more along the lines of Veritas with muted lighting and muted colors, and instead it seems more like a neighborhood cafe/diner.  The floors or walls desperately need something to absorb the sound; we were barely able to hear each other talk and the restaurant was only around half full. 

The service:
Our waitress was very nice, although I wouldn’t think her out of the ordinary.  They were out of what I originally ordered and it took a while to hear back and then my order was misheard.  (To be fair, I asked what the woman at the table next to us was eating and said it looked great but then ordered something else – I got what the woman next to me had).  

The food:
I was pleasantly surprised by how great the menu was!  It was really reasonable, and the mix of affordable charcuterie, cheeses, and small plates meant I got a good taste of everything – and the selections were great!   Brian and I both ordered the scallops, which were served with bacon (mmm…bacon) and a wonderful green sauce.  The scallops were served already cut into more manageable pieces, making it seem like a full meal, even though there were only 3 full scallops.

The wine list is also pretty great.  Brian really enjoyed a baby Barbera and I loved my glass of Greysac Medoc  (which I had recently read about in Julie & Julia).  This would be an excellent place to try some smaller pours of a few varietals while enjoying some charcuterie.

Best for: A fun night to try some new vino.

Worst for: A romantic date – a fun date, yes, but this isn’t the place to whisper sweet nothings in candlelight.

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Dear Au Bon Pain…

June 20, 2008

ABP, I’ve had enough!  You tout your “Portions”menu, but those portions are so small no wonder they’re not full of fat and calories!  Are they aimed at the gastric bypass crowd?

And then, the wraps.  I’ve been sticking to the Turkey Cobb Wrap recently, but thought I’d go for something a little more old school today and get a sandwich: the Smoked Turkey Club has 43 grams of fat at 780 calories.  ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!  Instead I went with the “healthier” wrap (31 grams of fat and 620 calories), which fell apart completely. And…it wasn’t very good.

 

I think I’m giving up on you, Au Bon Pain.

Peacock Cafe

June 18, 2008

This was the first monthly anniversary Brian and I have had together for 3 months.  Yes, we still celebrate every month…schmoopyschmoopyschmoopy.  We had a dance lesson at the French Embassy and then a late dinner at Peacock Cafe.

Peacock Cafe

The setting:
I couldn’t help but thinking as I looked out on the brick patio surrounded by ivy-covered walls and candles: what a beautiful place for a small wedding reception.  The space is really lovely – swanky inside with great lighting and sleek seating, and a bar that runs half the length of the long restaurant.

The service:
We were probably the last table seated that night for dinner, but the service was still friendly and accommodating, and we only had to flag our server down for more Sweet ‘n Low once.  Never mind that he refilled my water on my shoe, accidents happen at 10:30 on a Wednesday night.

The food:
Brian and I went for the price fixe option for $35 each – actually a pretty good deal!  I had a rose glass of champagne and a Caprese salad (although why is it so odd to ask for it without Balsamic vinegar?), and then lamb shank for dinner.  Both were good, nothing fabulous, but then dessert: creme brulee and cappuccino.  Both were absolutely delicious and Brian and I agreed coming back for just that would be the perfect wrap-up to an evening.

If you’re in Georgetown and need somewhere to impress – make your way to Peacock Cafe.

Best for: A romantic dessert and coffee in swanky Georgetown.

Worst for: A cheap, quick bite pre-movie showtime.

Cruisin’

June 3, 2008

Brian and I went on a little vacay…okay, a big vacay!  We went on a week-long Caribbean cruise to Coco Cay in the Bahamas, St. Thomas USVI, and St. Maarten D/FVI.  As you know, one of the main draws of a cruise for a lot of people is the food: the endless, boundless gluttony of food. 

So here it is: a week’s worth of cruise ship dinners:

Not the main dining room, but the whole crew together beforehand at Vintages, the onboard wine bar

Sunday
Caesar salad.
“Pan-seared” pork medallions with mushroom “ragout” and (nutmeg) mashed potatoes.  And a broccoli.
Low-fat blueberry and peach cobbler with gratis ice cream.
The Caesar salad was pretty good, but my “pan-seared” pork was a little closer to lightly browned and
finished with 400 other pork loins in the massive ship oven.  The mushroom “ragout” was cream of mushroom – they weren’t fooling anyone.  And nutmeg in mashed potatoes…in May…in the Caribbean…was a little off-putting, as was the one limp stalk of broccoli bravely staked out in it’s green stamp.  The low-fat (a description that was emphasized ad nasuem) blueberry and peach cobbler was probably my second favorite dessert of the entire trip, although the added scoop of vanilla ice cream certainly negated any healthful properties that dessert possessed.

Monday
Shrimp cocktail and lobster bisque.
“Filet” of beef with mashed potatoes and 2 mushroom caps.
Grand Marnier/Amaretto souffle with “enough” sauce.
Formal night: creme de la creme.  And I loves me some shrimp cocktail.  And thank God our server (who was already beginning to grate at this point) had the sense NOT to dump the cocktail sauce all over my shrimp, but gave me a glop on the plate beside the shrimp.  And what is it with these people and the nutmeg?  Although it added a nice kick to the bisque. I was looking forward to the filet of beef: the nicely caramelized outside you cut through to a warm and deliciously tender center.  Except this filet was 2 SLICES from a hunk of meat, meaning minimal caramelized outside goodness.  Le sigh.  I also happen to love a souffle, although our waiter seemed to think Grand Marnier and Amaretto were the same things…and proceeded to give me two scoops of sauce, because when
I asked him to stop at one he thought it wasn’t enough.

Tuesday
Risotto with scallops, Caprese salad.
Lamb shank with mashed potatoes, diced potatoes, carrots and celery.
Warm chocolate cake accompanied by a strawberry sundae. 
The risotto was good – but my scallops are better. The Caprese salad was good because Caprese salad is just good.  The entree was also good, but I happen to love lamb and mashed potatoes (sans nutmeg).  And dessert was…meh.  And you can guess why the cake came with a scoop of strawberry ice cream smothered in sugary strawberries.  Because chocolate cake clearly screams for a strawberry sundae accompaniment instead of something like, say, VANILLA ice cream (which is what I asked for, but it was revealed that our server didn’t care to go to the kitchen to get it and just so happened to have the makings of a strawberry sundae nearby.)

Wednesday
Chops night!
Caesar salad spears and a shrimp and crab cake.
6 oz filet with baked potato, creamed spinach, and sauteed mushrooms.
Croissant bread pudding.
The food was clearly the best this night, with the service matching.  I loved the presentation of the Caesar salad spears: long romaine lettuce leaves topped with the dressing, croutons, and cheese.  The filet was fantastic, the sides great, and dessert fabulous!

Thursday
Spinach salad and a crab cake.
Pork loin.
Sugar-free fruit “pillow.”
The crab cake was described perfectly by our table-mate, Diane as “deviled” crab cakes – exactly what they were.  The pork loin was actually pretty good, although the fruit “pillows” totally and completely lame.

Friday
Mushroom puff pastry and Caesar salad.
Lobster.
Another formal night, this time with lobsters (which, incidentally, I just read a hilarious anecdote about in the book Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously.  This book is a food blogger’s hidden dream come true.)  It must be said: this was maybe the worst food of the trip.  You can’t impress me by just flinging down a lobster tail.  I’m not going to ignore the tasteless ice cream scoop mound of rice, underdone broccoli, and blanched baby carrots because you taunt me with a crustaceous vehicle for butter.  At least bring me a baked potato that I can suffocate with various dairy products.  And your flour less chocolate dollop isn’t so decadent that it can tempt me without some beautiful cream to cut it’s richness.  Where do you think we are, CANCUN?!  (yes, Alison…that was soley for you).
I decided against dessert to assert my snobbery and Cancun-i-ness.

Saturday
Caesar salad, spinach dip, and shrimp cocktail.
Turkey with mashed potatoes and stuffing.
Key lime pie.
We were warned by Brian’s dad and stepmother the first night to expect “Tom Turkey” the last night.  But I just so’s happen to love turkey, so I quite enjoyed it and the trimmings (although there wasn’t enough gravy.  There never is…)  And the key lime pie?  Best dessert of the cruise, and fitting since it was the last morsels to leave the proverbial taste in our mouth as we left our cruise.

I am quite happy to report that I only gained 1 pound on the ship.  Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that I am basically a stick of butter and eat so much normally that this was almost par for the course.