With a few days off and some time on my hands I made it to two places I had been meaning to revist and one I had been wanting to try.
On my previous trip to Kingston Station, I didn't make it past the truffle fries and short ribs. This time we skipped the bar food and sampled a couple of entrees. I started with a Partly Cloudy -- their take on the dark and stormy. I didn't detect any of the fresh ginger that the drink was supposed to contain, but it was sufficiently gingery for my tastes and I liked it so much I had another later in the night. I had a hard time deciding between the seared scallops and the steak frites, but ultimately went with the scallops while my bf ordered the steak. The scallops were great - perfectly seared and served with sweet potato gnochi and meaty mushrooms and spinach in a white wine butter sauce. The gnochi were awesome - light and airy with a distinct sweet potato flavor. The mushrooms and spinach were finished with a generous splash of truffle oil. My boyfriend's steak frites were also tasty, although not as interesting as my dish. The steak was well-cooked, although not as tender as I would have liked. But the fries were great - thin, crispy and definitely addictive when dipped into the accompanying truffle mayo. Altogether a great meal with friendly and attentive service from the bartender who served us at the bar.
On New Year's day we braved the frigid cold to make the trek to Xinh Xinh. It was the perfect night for a big bowl of pho. We started with the shrimp and pork fresh rolls. They were head and shoulders above the order I had sampled most recently at New Saigon Sandwich. The peanut sauce the rolls were served with was sufficiently flavorful for me to skip the shot of siracha I would normally add. I went for the house special spicy beef sate pho. It was spicy enough to make me roll up my sleeves, take off my scarf, and stalk our waitress for a refill on my water (which I didn't actually get until the bill came), but not so spicy as to take away from the other flavors in the soup. The beef sate in the soup was tender, although much more well done than I liked. Maybe next time I will ask that they put in the meat at the last minute. My boyfriend ordered the curry chicken and was very happy with his meal (I didn't try it).
Last night we finally made it to Hungry Mother. We called at 6:15 and were able to get a reservation for 8 pm due to a cancellation. I liked the way the restaurant was broken up into three different spaces (bar, small dining room off to the side, big dining room in the back), but wasn't crazy about the tiny two-top we were seated at in the side dining room. I kept accidentally kicking my boyfriend and we were so close to the couple next to us that I had to restrain myself from commenting on the movie they were planning to see following dinner. There were so many appetizers and "to tide you over" selections that we wanted to try that we decided to skip the entrees and order a bunch of small plates. First, from the "to tide you over" selections, we ordered the deviled eggs and ham biskets. The deviled eggs were tasty but the truffles they were topped with were, in our opinion, utterly tasteless. I'd probably rather have HM ditch the truffles and not charge me $6 for 1.5 devil eggs ... but we did enjoy them. The ham biscuits were equally tasty - I really liked the pepper jelly that accompanied them. As my bf pointed out, they would have been better if made with real Virginia ham, but they were still enjoyable little bites. Next were two appetizers - the shrimp and grits and the fried oysters. As for the shrimp and grits, wow! These were nothing like the tasteless grits my southern-Georgia born roomie used to prepare or the heavy cheesy variety I had sampled at southern weddings. These grits were much lighter and doused in a flavorful barbeque sauce. The shrimp were tender and the crunchy cornbread croutons that garnished the dish lended a nice contrast to the textures of the shrimp and the grits. I could have eaten an entire bowl. The oysters provided a similar contrast. The crunchy cornbread coating gave way to a creamy oyster -- absolutely delicious when dipped in the pepper oil dribbled around the plate. The small serving of creamy coleslaw helped to tone down the spice. Finally, we tried the smoked trout hoecakes. It was a pretty presentation - a fried pancake-like base, topped with a smoked trout mixture, topped with two kinds of american cavier (sturgeon and trout roes) and then dribbled with creme fresh. The smoked trout was delicious, especially when eaten with the cavier. Despite the fried "cake," it was a relatively light dish. All this was washed down with a couple of glasses of tasty malbec and beer. We finished with the chocolate moon pie. It tasted like ... well, a moon pie. It was definitely better than the little debbie variety, but probably not something I'd order again. I think maybe it would have been better if had been heated slightly so that the chocolate and marshmallow melted slightly. All in all, however, a great meal - I'd definitely go back.