Afghan Restaurant

03/28/2013

I had a Groupon to Afghan Restaurant, so we headed over there for dinner on Saturday night.

From the setup, it was obvious that the restaurant is also a very nice banquet hall. There was also a mural of what might have been buzkashi on the wall. We were given a table by the window, which was nice. The service was friendly and attentive. After I completely missed his joke due to exhaustion, the gentleman taking our order brought me a lovely cup of cardamom tea.

We started with the Boolawnee with leeks, which I forgot to photograph. It was a large, triangular, bread filled with tiny pieces of leeks and scallions. It was good on its own, but amazing with the accompanying cilantro-mint yogurt sauce. I cannot say enough good things about this yogurt sauce; I could have just eaten it with a spoon.

The first time I go to a new Afghan restaurant, I always order the same thing: the vegetarian sampler. Most places offer a version with rice or a version with bread, and I always choose the one with bread (mainly because you still get bread if you order the rice and that is a little carb-heavy for me). It almost always consists of spinach, eggplant, and pumpkin.

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The serving was generous, but not extravagant. The sautéed spinach was served with a vegetable sauce and the eggplant and pumpkin were topped with yogurt. The spinach was very good, although I did add some more of the cilantro-mint yogurt sauce to it. The pumpkin was also good, but not the best I have ever had. However, the eggplant was absolutely incredible. It was perfectly cooked and the flavors were expertly balanced. It was definitely the winner of the night.

We were stuffed, so we didn’t try any dessert. But we will definitely be back again.


Cedar DC

03/26/2013

We had tickets to a performance of Hello Dolly! at Ford’s Theatre last week. It was okay. However, the pre-theatre dinner we had at Cedar down the street more than made up for it. Cedar is one of the few restaurants in this world that offer vegetarian options on a prix fixe menu.

Cedar really takes its name literally when it comes to decor, but at the same time it doesn’t overdo it. The room was comfortable and decently lit. They also have a very pretty wooden screen separating the hostess stand from the dining room.

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I started with the Presidential Pardon, a cocktail consisting of Applejack Whiskey, Apple Cider, and Local Honey. I was worried it would be too sweet, but it was well balanced and quite tasty.

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They brought us out an amuse bouche, but it had sausage in it so Ian ate two and I had none.

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The bread, however, was fantastic – crispy on the outside and soft in the middle – and still warm! It was served with good butter and flaky sea salt.

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My first course was this lovely salad with roasted beets, blue cheese, and pickled onions. I am a sucker for beet salads in general, but this one was very good.

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My main course was a Sweet Potato and Rutabaga Gratin with Celery Root Purée, Brussels Sprouts Leaves, and Cranberries. It was delicious and tasted like Thanksgiving. By March I am usually craving more springtime flavors, but this was so good that I didn’t care.

I forgot to photograph my dessert, which really is a shame. It was a fluffy, decadent Goat Cheese Mousse with a slightly tart (in a good way) berry sauce. It was my ideal not-too-sweet dessert with a punch of flavor from the berry sauce (which tasted a bit like gooseberry jam) and a great was to end the meal.

Cedar also does brunch and happy hour, both of which look interesting. Also, if you park in the garage in their building, they will validate it for $5 dollars, and you can stay as long as you want. This is a great deal.


I’m back! And I went to Chef Geoff’s

03/24/2013

I have decided that I miss taking pictures of my food, so I am going to try to revive this blog. First up, is from dinner at Cheff Geoff’s out in Tyson’s Corner. We had just picked a friend up from the airport and were quite hungry; luckily we were seated right away.

We started out sharing the White-Truffle Parmesan Popcorn. (Please note: in these first few posts there are a number of dishes that I forgot to photograph. Please be patient with me until I get back in the habit.) The popcorn was surprisingly good. I am sometimes wary of the words “white truffle” because they often denote the presence of way too much artificial white truffle oil. The popcorn was very light, though, and the occasional piece of melted Parmesan was quite delicious.

For my entree, I had (what else) the veggie burger.

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The veggie burger at Chef Geoff’s is described as a Black Bean Burger with Pepper Jack and Cherry Pepper Relish. It also had guacamole and fried jalapeño slices on top (you might be able to see them, sorry the photo is so dark) I chose Mixed Greens with Champagne Vinaigrette for my side option.

The burger was quite large (I took half home). It fell apart easily, but in my mind that is a sign of a freshly made veggie patty and a good thing. The flavors of the relish and guacamole were balanced and tasty. My only complaint is that I sometimes got bites with an overwhelming flavor of fennel seed, which I don’t particularly like. If you like fennel, it won’t be a problem. The mixed greens were very good, if a little overdressed.

Overall it was a solid meal, but next time I am there, I think I will try one of the whole wheat pizzas.


Whitlow’s on Wilson

06/26/2011

Ian had bought a Groupon deal for Whitlow’s on Wilson that was due to expire, so we decided to go there for dinner on Sunday night. We got there a little after 8pm. This, however, was unfortunate because we missed the first round of the pub quiz, which was rather easy and something we could of won.

I was not particularly hungry, so I ordered the large summer salad.

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The salad was somewhat disappointing; despite the description (romaine and mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and mango vinaigrette) there was very little in the salad except the lettuce. I mean, there were only three cherry tomato halves on the whole salad. Also, the mango vinaigrette was too sweet and really needed more acid and salt. This salad was really big as well, so I ended up not eating most of it. If I ever order this salad again, it will be the small version, with a different dressing.

Ian was in the mood for dessert, so we ordered a slice of chocolate cake, which I forgot to photograph until halfway through.

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The cake was rich and very good, with chocolate sauce and whipped cream on the side. It was very decadent, and not something to eat every day, but it was a nice treat.


McCormick & Schmick’s

06/19/2011

I rarely go to seafood restaurants, because while there will usually be a steak on the menu for those who avoid fish, there is almost nothing for the vegetarian. Today, however, I found myself at the McCormick & Schmick’s at the National Harbor across the river in Maryland. We sat outside, and enjoyed a very nice view.

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After a brief perusal of the menu, we decided to start off with an order of fried green tomatoes (sorry I forgot to take a photo). There were five slices of tomato on the plate, dressed with remoulade sauce and “creole glaze” – which turned out to be some flavored red and green oils. As a self-proclaimed fried green tomato expert, I thought the cornmeal batter was lacking in flavor, but the sauces were very good and the serving was generous.

Next, I had the Walnut Mixed Green salad.

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Again the serving was generous. The salad was quite simple, consisting of mixed greens, very mild bleu cheese, walnuts, and a nice balsamic vinaigrette. While it was not particularly inventive, these flavors are considered classic for a reason. All in all it was a rather pleasant salad.

I also ordered a side of macaroni and cheese.

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The “Creamy Mac & Cheese” was definitely creamy, but rather bland. It wasn’t bad, but it was somewhat lacking in flavor. Salt and pepper helped, but I could not get enthusiastic about it and did not finish it. The timing of the meal was also a problem; despite our specifications, half of our entrees were brought out at the same time as the appetizers, while the other two entrees did not appear until much later in the meal. Most of the food was good, though, and the company was good, which is what really matters. Still, it did not make me want to run out and try all the seafood restaurants in the area.


Evening Star Cafe

06/17/2010

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Ian and I needed brunch, so we wandered around the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria until we found a little gem called the Evening Star Cafe. I adored this restaurant. For one thing, the decor was absolutely amazing. The colors were rich and the booths were snazzy looking. Plus, every light fixture was made of interesting items and erector sets. This is the one that was in our booth. I fell in love.

I am still smitten with this lamp. I just love things like this.

Not only did the place look awesome, but the food was also incredibly tasty. I had the spinach and mushroom quiche, which came with a side salad.

This was a very good quiche, with a buttery, flaky crust and a very spinachy filling. It had a good balance of egg to vegetable (heavier on the vegetable) in my opinion, which is very important in a quiche. The salad was dressed with a mustard vinaigrette that was absolutely to die for. I don’t usually gobble down a side salad, but this was an exception. Ian had a breakfast chimichanga and he really enjoyed it as well.

After brunch, we stopped at the Dairy Godmother down the street. Ian got a frozen custard and I had sour cherry and apricot-pistachio-saffron sorbet before continuing on our errands. It was really a lovely time.


Lost Dog Cafe

05/13/2010
I had been to the original Lost Dog Cafe (website here) on Washington Boulevard and liked it very much, so I was quite excited when a second location opened up on Columbia Pike, near Walter Reed Drive. They serve sandwiches and pizza mostly, and have lots of vegetarian options. Ian and I have been there twice now, both times for weekend lunches.

Purebred (Lost Dog Cafe)

The first time we went, I ordered a Purebred sandwich, but with roasted red peppers instead of tomatoes. First of all, let me say that their pita bread is delicious. Then it had garlic butter, artichokes, spinach, the red peppers, and it was topped with a generous portion of mozzarella and fontina cheeses. It was very good, but heavy.

Fries (Lost Dog Cafe)

Because the sandwich was so big, I only ate a couple of the fries Ian ordered. They were seasoned waffle fries and very good.

Blondie (Lost Dog Cafe)

Ian also wanted to try their blondie, but we were both full, so we got it to go. I tried it, and it was good, but in my opinion it was more like a chocolate chip cookie bar than a true blondie.

Da Basil (Lost Dog Cafe)

The next time we went to Lost Dog, it was really warm out, so I wanted something a little lighter than the Purebred. This time I ordered Da Basil. Da Basil is essentially a Greek Salad on a pita, with lettuce, tomato, onion, green peppers, olives, feta cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing. This was also very good. It is a nice summery sandwich. I also had a Black Cherry soda which just about made my day. Lost Dog Cafe also does delivery, so we may try them out in the near future.