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DC/Baltimore report

jesuki1 | Mar 1, 2005 06:14 PM

Reposted from another food board, but wanted to share my experience from this past President's Day trip down to DC (with a short trip to Baltimore):

Fri night, arrived late, didn't end up going out or eating out.

Sat, got brunch at Logan Tavern. Hubby got the Shrimp Po' Boy, which was tasty, although he complained that there weren't enough shrimp (there are honestly never enough shrimp for him ;)). I got the feta, spinach and portabella omelette. Too much egg, too little feta, portabella were a bit burnt. But a nice place to spread out and plan out our day.

We ended up walking around for HOURS. Intended to go to Zaytinya or Cafe Atlantico for dinner, but ended up at Teaism for a quick snack. I got the ginger lemonade and the irresistible Salty Oats (ended up buying 2 bags to take home!). Hubby got the naan (which was more like a toasted pita) and some tasteless curry soup.

Headed back to the hotel for a nap that lasted until 10:30pm. Ended up staying in.

Sun, intended to go to Cashion's for brunch, but also wanted to get an early start to the day. Brunch doesn't start til 11:30am, so we headed to Georgia Brown's for their brunch which starts at 10am. What an onslaught of food! They have a large buffet that includes 2 kinds of salad, 3 kinds of cold meat, french toast, sausage, bacon, fruit salad, omelettes to order. Then a dessert table and chocolate fountain. AND an entree that you can take to go. For $30. Way too much food for that early in the morning. It was decent, but nothing to rave about.

We walked over to Eastern Market, and of course (after all that brunch food!!) had to try a crabcake at the Market Lunch. It was mobbed, and the crabcake sandwich was disappointing.

We walked around again for hours and then ended up at Zaytinya for dinner around 6pm or so. We were told it would be at least 1.5 hours when we got there, which was fine with me, since I was determined to eat out SOMEWHERE.

We managed to secure a seat at the bar. After we decided to eat at the bar and had given our beeper to the bartender, it started going off, about 10 minutes after we'd gotten there. I pointed this out to the bartender and told him we'd been told to expect a wait of 1.5 hours. He gave me a mysterious look and said there must be a mistake.

I noticed another group of ladies came in and camped out at the bar, expecting a long wait as well. Their beeper went off shortly after they arrived as well. Not sure what the seating strategy is at Z.

I ordered a pom-fili (some kind of pomegranate cocktail), which was lovely, and hubby ordered a dry greek wine which ended up being quite fruity. The bartender heartily praised me on my choice, a theme that would extend through the night.

For food, we ordered:
Spanikopita - flaky dough, nice balance of spinach, feta and dough

Havuc koftesi (carrot apricot pinenut fritters with pistachio sauce) - one of my favorites; nice texture, great flavor, great sauce

Lagos krassatos Me Faies (braised rabbit with lentils) - great seasoning and sauce

Manti "nejla" (beef stuffed pasta with roasted garlic yogurt, paprika butter and sumac) - I loved the yogurt sauce, although I didn't like the way the pasta overwhelmed the beef, since the pieces of pasta themselves were so small. The yogurt sauce was bracing and tart, but I enjoyed it very much.

Beef tenderloin (Argyros Vinsanto sauce and roasted shallots) - The beef was done perfectly, although compared to the other flavors in our meal, it kind of faded into the background. The sauce didn't have very much character.

Taramosalata (cured cod roe dip with bread and olive oil) - This was good, although it was too much, considering how much other food we ordered! Nothing better/different than you get at other Greek restaurants.

Scallops with yogurt dill sauce - the scallops had a great consistency and were cooked just right. The yogurt dill sauce went nicely with the scallops - not too overpowering. I liked this dish, hubby (who's a huge scallop fan), for some reason, wasn't in love with it.

Bademli Gorba (almond milk soup with labneh sorbet, caramelized apples, pears, walnuts and vinsanto-roasted Medjool dates) - I was expecting to love this, after reading some great things about it. I was intrigued by the labneh sorbet, and loved the sour, unexpected quality of it. But the almond milk soup was bland, and I could taste a bit of rancidity in the walnuts, as if they'd been stored for too long.

Overall, I enjoyed the food at Zaytinya. I appreciated that we got to try 8 different things! However, the service left something to be desired. I think we should have tried to secure a table, seeing as how the bar was so full when we arrived. Within 10 minutes, it emptied out a bit, and then another wave of people showed, crowding the bar area.

The bartender had this annoying habit of heartily praising our choices ("oh, that's an amazing dish! That's my favorite! You'll love that one!"). I appreciated his friendliness but didn't need him to constantly validate my selections. Maybe that was his way of being friendly?

At the end, I paid the check and visited the restroom. I realized he never brought me the coffee I'd ordered, and upon my return, asked him to check that he hadn't charged me for it. At that point, I was getting tired and wanted to go home.

We waited for 5 minutes, after which he told me he would cancel the bill and charge it again. After another 5 minutes, he said that the coffee wasn't on the bill after all, but he still had to run my card through. After another 5 minutes (!!) and some dirty looks from my corner, he finally ran my card through, and we ran outside.

On my end, we should have stuck to a table, where we could have been properly served. There were 2 bartenders there on a Sunday night, when there really should have been 3. This aspect of slow/unreliable service cast a pall on an otherwise pleasant night of eating.

Monday, we visited Baltimore and ended up at the Cross Street Market for a late lunch. We stopped at a counter at one end of the market (have forgotten the name), where the steam station was open. We got 2 crabcakes and a pound of steamed shrimp. The crabcakes were definitely forgettable, but the steamed shimp were amazing!! Crusted with Old Bay seasoning and cooked to just the right doneness! We almost got another pound to eat, but decided we'd better leave before we overdid it. We got a big bag of crab Utz chips on the way out.

I'm sorry to have missed out on so many eating opportunities, but there's always next time... :)

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