Friday, September 9, 2011

Watershed: Worth the Trip to NoMa?

Yay gentrification! Let's turn a part of DC that people are usually scared of into a renovated retail heaven and give it a cute name like NoMa.

Despite my cynicism, I know one good thing can come of this. Chefs like Todd Gray can put a restaurant in a Hilton Garden Inn of all places and the food will probably keep you coming back to the area. Everyone wins.

So, when Restaurant Week came along, I decided to make the trip out to said neighborhood and eat some solid seafood.

Let me start off by saying that this is the nicest damn Hilton Garden Inn I've ever seen. Period. And the restaurant? Gorgeous. Not to mention the massive outdoor patio that serves up happy hour daily.

But let's talk about the food. It was good. I wasn't totally insane about it, but I enjoyed my meal.

Small things: I thought the calamari needed a real sauce for dipping. What it came with was way too watery to be dipping the fried rings. Also, the grilled trout was a little dry for me. I would've liked it a little less cooked and moist. I found myself relying way too much on the cream sauce it was in for flavor.

I hate being negative though, and there were some real bright spots. The gumbo was SO GOOD. Definitely the most underrated part of the meal. Surprisingly, my favorite part of the meal was my dessert, which never happens. It was a flourless chocolate cake with roasted banana ice cream that was so rich I didn't want to eat too much but so delicious that I had to keep going in for more.

Sigh. I'm a little torn here. Maybe if I was ordering a la carte it'd be a better deal or just gone with my gut and ordered the shrimp and grits.

Will I come back? Probably, and next time definitely snagging a seat on the patio.

Fried calamari

Seafood gumbo

Shrimp and grits

Grilled local brook trout
I think this was the lemon meringue coconut tart
1225 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Power Lunch at 2941

Some of you may know that I recently landed a new gig in Falls Church. Job=awesome. Lunchtime food choices=not so great.

Maybe I've been spoiled by working for many years in the "City of Restaurants" a.k.a. Bethesda and a short stint in Dupont Circle where sky was the limit for lunch choices, and all within walking distance. Now, my lazy ass has to get in a car and drive somewhere if I want to skip the cafeteria food around here? Pretty lame.

Just when I started feeling bratty and sad for myself, I was invited to a working lunch at nearby 2941. Not only is it one of the only sit-down restos in the area, but I had also heard that it was the bizzomb. Outlook invite accepted.

Once I finally found the place (it's in the General Dynamics building), I knew from the modern architecture and valet-only parking, that the food was probably going to be surrious business. Even better, it was Restaurant Week and a 3-course lunch was only $20.11, only a tiny bit more than the price of one entree.

Everything we had was delicious, the service impeccable and plus, there's a koi pond outside. Everyone knows koi ponds are baller.

Gah, I really hope I have more working lunches in my future here.

Country-style pate

Heirloom tomato salad

Chilled coconut melon soup

Duck duo: roasted duck breast with a smoked duck dumpling. HELL YES

Hazelnut cream puff with glazed apricot
2941 Fairview Park Drive
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 270-1500

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Undercover Asian Finds in MoCo

There's something so alluring about the more undercover places I find in my native land of MoCo. Maybe it's because most of the hundreds of eateries on Rockville Pike don't have websites where I can stalk their menu, or the fact that they employ people who can barely speak English - the fact is, you're almost always taking a pretty big risk and aren't sure what to expect.

The first recent find came from a pretty strong recommendation so I figured it'd be pretty good. The word was that Mama's Dumplings was the truth when it came to dumplings and they were handmade and the best in the DMV.

Surprise #1 - Uh, this place is called China Bistro. "Mama's Dumplings" are a menu item in their dumpling house section.
Surprise #2 - This place seats like... 10 people. I was with about 10 people. Oops.
Surprise #3 - Their A/C was broken? I mean, I'm kind of being a brat about that, but it was hot!

All in all, the food was bangtastic and the dumplings made my heart smile. Good recommendation fo shizz.

Mama's special dumpling - with pork, shrimp, chives and napa cabbage

Numero dos was a place I'd been eyeing since it was so close to my parents house and pretty new. Ooh, Noodles has a pretty silly name but mangggg, that food was dope. (Yea, I said 'dope!')

Surprise #1 - This place serves FILIPINO food. Reminder: look at the pic to your right - yea that brown girl is a Filipina, y'all.
Surprise #2 - My cousin works here! Wait, just kidding, I think. You never know with those Flips.
Surprise #3 - Noodles?! Give me some rice with that tocino homie!

Holy comfort food find. They have the best home-cooked options you can think of: home-cured tocino, tapsilog, lumpia, halo halo and siopao.

Tapsilog with fried eggs, rice and pickled veggies

Tocino, NOM

Pork siopao, so much better than the frozen stuff

Halo-halo, a mix of the weirdest stuff ever but I swear it's good!
Prices were more than reasonable and its tough enough to find Filpino food anywhere. See ya next time, cousin!

China Bistro
755 Hungerford Dr
Rockville, MD 20847
(301) 294-0808

Ooh, Noodles!
8375 Snouffer School Road
Gaithersburg MD 20879
(301) 977-6929