Archive for August, 2008

Tangy Sweet

August 18, 2008

Frozen yogurt shops are popping up all over the place, and one is in my neighborhood.  My sisters and I stopped in to see what all the fuss is about.

Tangy Sweet

The setting:
Think Japanese Industrial Minimalism.  Concrete floors, space-agey counters magically coming out of the walls, and lime green.  Because nothing really says “Japanese” like lime green.

The service:
They must not be paying much, because there were the angst-ridden teens of the summer job world behind the counter.  Was I ever really that anxious?

Don’t be fooled by the menu: you can order just one fruit topping.

The food:
Well, in this case, the yogurt: it tastes like…yogurt.  Like Yoplait that’s frozen.  The green tea and pomegranate were a little too – wait for it – tangy for me.  I opted for the classic and added fresh mango.  I felt completely healthy and like I could climb every mountain afterwards. 

Best for: A summer treat while you’re on a diet.

Worst for: An ice cream craving – this ain’t gonna cut it.

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Darlington House

August 15, 2008

When Childe Harold closed, I didn’t really shed any tears.  Although I know it was a favorite for many, it just always seemed unsanitary in there – and it was a shame to waste such an incredible location!  In moved Darlington House, and it’s a great addition to the neighborhood!

Darlington House

The setting:
We decided on the cantina – more for the price than anything else – and headed downstairs to the basement, and area that used to have a constant cloud of smoke before city legislators came to their senses.  They’ve spruced it up with a fresh paint job and a re-done banquet seating.  The pull-down screen of some American Indian headdress covering (I assume) a television was a bit much.  This isn’t the swankiest of locales – at least not the basement, but I didn’t feel like I needed to wash my hands from just entering the place.

There’s also a patio for parties of 2, and the main restaurant upstairs, which I have not been to.

The service:
We had the sweetest server from Romania who had only been in the country 2 months.  He was eager and efficient.

The food:
For a pub menu, it’s pretty great!  For a full sampling, my aunt ordered the rotisserie chicken, Jeanette had the Veg Head flat bread pizza, and I tried the pulled pork sandwich.

   

When Lizzie took the first bite of her chicken, she said, “Oh we don’t have just a cook, we have a chef.”  The pork sandwich was also very good, if slightly dry, but the cucumber slaw and hoisen ginger sauce was awesome.  And the fries…YUM.  Jeanette’s Veg Head pizza was also great.  We litterally ate everything.

The Darlington House is a great addition to the neighborhood and I’ll be back on low-key evenings when I want a little more than Chipotle, but nothing too complicated.

Best for: Good neighborhood food at a good price.

Worst for: Date night – this is a place for hanging out, not making out.

Chop’t

August 12, 2008

Why is lunchtime so hard?  Is it because I got used to blue plate specials in Mississippi that beats anything you had at dinner, hand-down?  In DC, salads are the preferred lunch grub, and Chop’t is the place to go.

Chop’t

The setting: 
Chop’t’s clean lines and industrial space fool you into thinking you aren’t in a school cafeteria for the working Golden Circle dregs, but you’ll see the cool kids laughing at a table to your left, and the serious older kids having a meeting about chemistry class on your right.  Me?  I’m reading a book at the windowed counter. 

The service:
The Chop’t I frequent is just south of Dupont Circle – and be ready for a line that looks intimidating.  Before I figured out how to play the game, I would wait for 20 minutes in a line that went halfway down the block.  Now, I call my order in and go directly to the payment counter.

The food:
I’d suggest ordering one of the many already-created specialty salads on the menu.  I typically get the Cobb with the spa Ranch.  The first time I ordered, I made the mistake of asking them not to chop it too much – I was picturing those overly shredded “chopped salads” you so often get at a restaurant.  With the bacon in the Cobb and white cheddar (subbed from bleu cheese) being so thick, I almost wish they’d give me an extra “chop.”

I’d recommend against “making your own” salad if only because they seem to be a bit skimpy on the toppings when you do it.  They have a ton of toppings to go with, though, and if there isn’t one out of their extensive menu that floats your boat, you can get 4 topping included, and an endless number if you’re willing to pay for them.  

The salad is also served with two little soft tortilla triangles.  I’d recommend one of the great sodas on tap – I like the Diet Black Cherry Soda

Best for: A healthier option to lunch on the go.

Worst for: A hankering for the blue plate special – head across the street to Luna for that pleasure!

Melting Pot

August 6, 2008

Especially with a 9-year-old in tow, we think of dining out as an outing – we bring card games with us (Rage, anyone?) and whenever dinner is an actual experience, it’s even better.

Melting Pot

The setting:
The Melting Pot sets itself up to be romantic, with dark wood booths and low lighting.  The ever-present sound of fondue pots bubbling makes for a relaxed atmosphere.

The service:
On this occasion at the Arlington Melting Pot, the best thing about our experience actually was our server, Drew.  He belongs in a higher end restaurant and was gracious, had the perfect balance of familarity and professionalism, and kept up with us at a great pace.

The food:
I’m a fan of cheese, so a meal where you start by dipping food into cheese is kinda my idea of perfection.  We had the Wisconsin Trio Cheese Fondue to begin, which, I have to admit, was completely delicious.  It went incredibly well with the bread and apples, although I’m not one for raw veggies (because, let’s be honest, the bubbling of the fondue pot can only mask so much).

For the salad, the dressing was a little heavy on the Spinach Mushroom Salad, not really providing the palate relief needed after drowning in a vat of cheese.  But don’t skip the salad – you need the ruffage after the fromage.

The main course at the Melting Pot is the weak spot, although what do you expect when a restaurant has you cook your own food?  It’s difficult to get the timing right for all the various meats and veggies, and the only thing that really turns out well are the shrimp.  I eat that “goddess” sauce on everything, though – delish!

   

We finished with the Irish Cream Dream chocolate fondue.  Oh my.  Get this and ask them for an extra plate of bananas.  This was so, so good, and I’m not even really into chocolate!  What I love is that they bring you limitless “dippers” – little bites of pound cake, brownies, strawberries, rice krispy treats.  YumYumYum.

This is an expensive night out – just be ready for it, but you have to view the Melting Pot as an event, not just dinner.  Also, they offer really great deals – Girls Night Out and Monday Military Nights, as well as a FREE CHOCOLATE COURSE just for signing up for their little club.  Um, yes please! 

Best for: People who like to dip things.  And who like cheese.  And chocolate.

Worst for: Picky eaters and germaphobes: this is a community pot, my friend.