Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ Category

Azur: Scrumptious DC Sea Breeze—Restaurant

June 26, 2013

In the heart of DC…in the Penn Quarter…is an island of mouth-watering seafood dishes with a European twist. Welcome to Azur.

Helmed by Chef Frederik de Pue and assisted by Chef de Cuisine Robert Rubba, Azur is more than a welcome addition to the neighborhood.  Set on the site that once housed Café Atlantico, Azur is a festival of blue, white and airiness. You feel refreshed just by walking inside. Once you’re seated and open the menu, you are in for a treat…especially if you love fish as much as I do. There’s a virtual cornucopia of dishes from which to choose.AZUR1-inside

I asked my waiter for a drink recommendation. I wanted something alcoholic, light, but not terribly sweet. He suggested the Azur. It was just delicious and contained Adami Prosecco, Don Diccio & Figli, hibiscus liqueur and hibiscus flower.  I admit, I have no idea what these ingredients are, but when served together in a glass, they become perfection…so perfect, in fact, that when I returned for a second visit I again ordered the Azur, and it was just as good as the first time.

On my first visit, I ordered the Hand Harvested Sea Scallops, coupled with asparagus, pine nut purée, grapefruit and puffed red quinoa. The Scallops were seasoned perfectly. Everything about this dish was wonderful. If I could have licked the plate I would have.  My dining companion ordered the Steak Frite—a grilled flat-iron steak served with a bernaise sauce and pomme frites. It came just as requested—medium rare—and she was in heaven.  She also loved the fries—nicely salted and crisp. For dessert we split the Grapefruit & Honey—a brown sugar meringue with moscato granite. I’m not much of a meringue person, but this was tasty and my friend gave it a solid thumb’s up.

For my second Azur visit with another friend, we decided to split an appetizer—the Crispy Calamari served in a nuoc cham vinaigrette (Vietnamese), spiced peanuts and mint. It was positively yummy. We then went on to the entrée. My friend chose the Branzino with farro verde, gribiche sauce (mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce) and bacon. It was presented like a work of art and she ate every morsel. I decided to try a fish I’d never before eaten—a lightly poached Pollock paired with young carrots, tokyo turnips, pearl onions, fava beans and dashi bouillon. The Pollack was absolutely delicious—light and tasty. We had no room for dessert, but will definitely be back to try one out.

Azur offers a Pre-Theatre, three-course prix fixe menu ($35), available daily from 5pm – 7pm, which allows you to get to one of the nearby theatres in plenty of time. My goal is to work my way down the wonderful menu and finally branch out in my drink selection. I can’t wait to go back. Care to join me?

Lunch: M-F 11:30a-3p
Bar: M-F 3p-5p
Dinner: M-Th 5p-10:30p
F-Sa 5p-11p
Sun closed

405 8th St. NW, DC 20004

4 nuggets out of 4

Bandolero: A Real Top Chef Winner—Restaurant Nugget

February 24, 2013

There hasn’t been a terrific new restaurant in Georgetown in sometime. Thanks to Mike Isabella’s Bandolero, the drought is over.Bandolero

Bandolero’s menu is very extensive…with a wide variety of tacos and enchiladas, fish, meat and chicken dishes as well as vegetable entrees and sides. While the plates may be small, the Mexican flavors are not. It’s small plate dining at its best.

I began the evening with the Bandolero Marguerita which went down sooooo well. Very tasty.  Then my friend and I both ordered the Wild Mushroom tacos accompanied with butternut squash, pickled onion and crispy pepitas. Served three on a plate, they were delicious. We also went for the side portion of Crispy Brussels. The sprouts were prepared with tamarind crema and coconut-habanero sauce. Scrumptious is the perfect description for them. My friend was extra hungry so she also ordered the Queso Fundido which was made with chorizo, poblano, manchego and a sunny egg. As instructed by our waiter, she stirred the dish and then ate everything but the plate. Safe to say she was happy with her choice.

We both wanted dessert, but couldn’t choose one dish to split so we ordered two and split them. Problem solved! We tried the Torta Chocolate which was a coco mousse with banana gelato and the Tres Leches, made with tapioca, meringue and mango sorbet. Words cannot describe how absolutely delicious these two desserts were. If we could have licked the dishes clean we would have.

We had the good luck to run into Bandolero chef/partner, Mike Isabella of Top Chef fame, who was kind enough to chat with us. He couldn’t have been nicer or more down to earth. We’re also big fans of his Penn Quarter Graffiato restaurant so we can’t wait to try his new Greek restaurant  coming to the U Street corridor in June.

But back to Bandolero. We ate every morsel of food put before us, had a terrific time and the very helpful wait-staff made a great dining experience even better. The menu has so much from which to choose…even for us vegetarians. I’m looking forward to a return visit very soon.

3241 M Street, NW, 202.625.4488

DGS Delicatessen: Noshingly Good—Restaurant Nugget

February 24, 2013

DGS, a new-age, non-kosher deli, is a more than welcome addition to the DuPont Circle community. It might not serve up the exact kind of food as your Bubba or Katz’s, but what it does prepare is tasty and plentiful.DGS

Chef Barry Koslow’s menu is familiar and new at the same time. Yes, you can order the traditional DGS Reuben, but if you’re a vegetarian like me, you can dine on the Grilled Eggplant Reuben—made with eggplant, emmenthaler cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and rye bread. This was to die for. The combination of ingredients was mouth-wateringly good. My dining companion tried the Israeli…hummus, cucumber salad, pickled beets, sprouts, feta and pumpernickel.  She ate every crumb on her plate. The couple on one side of me ordered the DGS Cobb Salad…avocado, corned beef, blue cheese, gribenes, mixed greens and champagne vin. Although they were shocked by the enormous portion, that didn’t stop them from eating the whole thing. The couple on the other side tried the Knishes…lamb merguez , lentil and raisin mustard. They downed ever morsel.  A friend has been there several times. She thought the Warm DGS Pastrami was a tad too smoky, but loved the Challah French Toast and don’t get her started on the Flanken… beef short ribs braised with Tunisian spices, figs, spinach and fresh mint.

And the pickles? OMG! DGS brines its pickles on the premises and they are as God intended…sour and wonderful.

DGS does serve dessert. While they all sound intriguing, my friends and I have not gotten past the Teiglach… Hungarian Doughnuts with toasted almonds. The portion is huge and they are absolutely DELICIOUS.

You’ll also find a full complement of cocktails, soft drinks, wine and beer. I plan to try at least one of each on future visits.  And there will be future visits. The fabulous food is matched by the terrific wait-staff. They are friendly, knowledgeable, but not intrusive.

You might stop in for a nosh, but you’ll be back for more.  Mazel tov, DGS!

1317 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 202.293.4400, open seven days a week

DuPont Starbucks: Tim Gunn Couldn’t Have Done a Better Makeover

February 19, 2013

Stealing from Barbra Streisand’s Oscar acceptance speech…”Hello Gorgeous!” The newly renovated Connecticut Avenue Starbucks is worth every penny spent on its renovation. Now a two-story coffee shop, it’s cheery, light and airy.

The first floor offers several seating areas and best of all, you’re no longer sitting on top of one another. The first floor also has two large, clean restrooms with changing tables.starbucks-stairs-dupont-e1342110520892

Adventure upstairs and you are in for a treat. There are couches, tables, tables and chairs and plenty of outlets for laptops. Unlike the second floor at the Georgetown Starbucks (M Street NW, near Wisconsin), whose top floor feels like an afterthought, the DuPont Starbucks doesn’t need to provide customers with flashlights so they can see where they are going. It’s actually bright… like stepping into your own living room. It’s wonderful! One can only hope the Georgetown manager will take a page out of this Starbucks’ playbook and do some sprucing up.

Oh, yes, they still sell coffee.

Starbucks, 1501 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Scion: A mouthwatering experience—Restaurant

January 17, 2011

Why do some restaurant locations just seem unlucky? No matter how good the food, the restaurant closes. Such has been the story of 2100 P Street NW. Let’s hope the luck has changed for the best. Scion, an American restaurant with an Asian flare, deserves a long stay in its convenient, easily accessible location.

Scion’s appetizers run the gamut from vegetable spring rolls to rock shrimp tempura to smoked salmon to honey glazed brie and much more. My dining companions and I recently sampled all of these items and found all of them to be delicious.

Appetizers were followed by entrees. Vegan or vegetarian, no worries–a delectable dish awaits. My sautéed shrimp and scallops over spicy white bean succotash was a tad spicy but absolutely delicious. One of my companions said her crab cakes with rosemary herb garlic fries melted in her mouth. The Syrah braised beef short ribs with mashed potatoes had mixed results. One loved it, another found it slightly overcooked. Both agreed that the portion was enormous. Turkey meatloaf with mashed potatoes was deemed unsuccessful, but the pumpkin goat cheese ravioli was a crowd pleaser.

Try and make room for dessert, because they are wonderful. We sampled the carrot cake, chocolate cake and the cheesecake. All were divine.

An extensive offering of wine, beer and cocktails, and friendly customer service round out a wonderful dining experience. Scion is a terrific addition to the DuPont Circle neighborhood and deserves to be a resident for a very long time.

2100 P Street, NW  Washington, DC  20037   202-833-8899

Hours: Monday – Thursday  11 am to 11 pm, Friday – 11 am to midnight, Saturday – 10 am to midnight

Sunday – 10 am to 11 pm

Brunch served Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3:30 pm

Starbucks: Changes in Penn Quarter

April 29, 2010

Something really great has happened at several Starbucks in DC’s Penn Quarter. They’ve been refurbished and the winner is the consumer.

457 7th St NW. This Starbucks now has fewer couches and smaller tables. They’ve been replaced by family-style tables and long counter-tops and stools made from dark wood. The counters face out onto  the street. The refurbishing makes it possible for more people to have a seat and linger over a cup of coffee.

What hasn’t changed is the service and the restrooms. The baristas are the slowest of any Starbucks I’ve encountered. The people are very nice, but they just don’t seem to have their act together when it comes to taking orders and serving coffee.

No revamping of the restrooms. They work and sometimes that’s the most important thing.

800 7th St NW.  This two-level Starbucks has replaced its couches and many smaller tables with large, family-style tables for sharing and long countertops and stools, all made from dark wood. The number of outlets along the walls near the counters makes it easier than ever to hook up to the Internet without exhausting one’s batteries.

This particular Starbucks seems to be home to a lot of writers, students and tourists. The larger tables enable more folk to have a seat while enjoying their lattes.  Although the line of tourists can be frightening, the visitors usually grab their coffee and leave. The staff is also terrific–they are jovial and quick.

What separates this Starbucks from the pack? Three restrooms—a unisex restroom on the first floor and individual men’s and women’s restrooms on the second level. This particular women’s room is gigantic, well-lit and stocked and even has the xcelerator hand-dryer.

Sometimes change is good.

Cosi:McPherson Square Friend—Cafe

March 25, 2010

Open the door to the  Cosi  near 14th and H Street NW,  and you’re in for a small shock. This particular Cosi is housed on two levels and boy, is it busy.  The second level is great if you want to get away from the hustle-bustle of the main level, read a book, work on your laptop, prep for an interview, or as I observed on my noon-time arrival, have a working business lunch.

Cosi’s food is freshly made and extremely tasty. Soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, pizza—Cosi has it all. The salads are not terribly cheap, but they are so worth it. Sandwiches are delicious—made with some of the best bread in town.  Or, of course, you can just purchase a great cup of coffee.

Not so good? The restrooms. You are given a key and told to go downstairs. The whole area is very creepy and I was so freaked out I’m not even sure if the door to the restroom locked. You actually need the key to open the door leading back to the main floor. Advice? Skip the restroom and use the Starbucks’ restroom in the Starbucks down the street.

1333 H St NW  Washington, DC 20005

Barnes&Noble: A Best Friend—Books/Restroom

March 4, 2010

Barnes & Noble has it all and the books are just the least of it.

I frequent two Barnes & Nobles–the store on 12th and  E Street NW and the one in Georgetown. I often use them for their restrooms before hopping on the bus or subway. When it’s cold out, before heading for my bus, I usually grab a cup of coffee to go. Both are also great places to kill time before heading to the E Street movies or the AMC theaters in Georgetown.

Let’s start with their restrooms. They are clean, albeit small, and well-stocked and they have changing stations for children.

Now move on to the snack/WiFi areas. WiFi is free and beverages are from Starbucks. Both Barnes & Nobles in question have ample seating, although the setup is different in each. In Georgetown there is bar-like seating facing the windows with room to set up a laptop directly in front of you or read a magazine. There are many tables for two or four people. The 12th Street store’s eating/reading area is smaller, but somehow it feels larger. There are plenty of tables.  Both stores seemingly let you stay there forever…doing homework, reading or just relaxing.

Feel smarter…peruse the books and magazines…use the restroom…kick back with a beverage. Barnes & Noble has it all. I love them.

555 12th Street NW, Washington, DC  202.347.0176

3040 M Street NW, Washington, DC  202.965.9880

The Westchester—Secret Jewel—Restaurant

March 1, 2010

Hidden away in the Cathedral Heights section of Northwest DC, on the grounds of the Westchester Cooperative, is a much underused, albeit very tasty  Westchester Restaurant. Operated by the Muslu family, Hakki is the chef and his friendly wife Ayse sees to the activities in the front of the house. While the restaurant specializes in Turkish delicacies, it also offers a variety of American and home-style Italian food. From steaks to manicotti to burgers to crab cakes to sole to soup, sandwiches, salads and more, the Westchester Restaurant serves up food just like Mom made…maybe even better. All entrees come with a choice of soup or salad and dessert. The choices are all very good (the chicken noodle soup is especially yummy). The veggies that come with the entrees are hit and miss (the mound of Turkish green cabbage didn’t do much for me). The desserts are old-fashioned—parfaits, pies, cakes—but good, nevertheless. There’s a great list of wines, beers and cocktails from which to choose.

All menu items are available for take-out and for those lucky enough to live on the premises, room service is available, too. The Westchester Restaurant is open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner from noon until 9 pm.

4000 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC  20016  202.333.1882

Chef Geoff’s—Neighborhood Gem—Restaurant

February 14, 2010

In business for about nine years, Chef Geoff’s Wesley Height’s restaurant never disappoints. The Contemporary American Cuisine is always wonderful. The service is always cheerful, if not always efficient. On a recent visit, I had the Big Shrimp and Very Gouda Grits  and my dining companions had the Cider Glazed Salmon and the Sweet Fried Calamari Caesar Big Salad. None of us left a crumb on our plates. We purposely saved room for dessert because this is where Chef Geoff shines. We split orders of the Rich Chocolate Cake with a Molten Center and the Granny Smith Apple Tart with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce. Both desserts were to die for. No dinner is complete without Chef Geoff’s great-tasting coffee. 

By DC standards, Chef Geoff’s is moderately priced. The restaurant is always packed and the bar is lively. It’s a neighborhood restaurant that doesn’t pander and we’re lucky it have it.

3201 New Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016 202.237.7800

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