Was just in DC (got back to Boston today) for the first half of this week. Aside from all the meetings I had to go to, one of the top priorities (as is always the case) was where are we going to eat? And so, a quick rundown of the restaurants visited. Luckily, my friends let me be in charge, and luckily, since this is technically our spring break, were okay with splurging, and even more luckily, were not picky eaters. The perfect combination.
I stopped in for lunch, because wow, was I in the mood for sushi. Were I in the mood to experiment more, Id have ordered one of the special items theyre apparently known for, such as the tuna with foie gras or the salmon with mango puree. But I was in a rush, and couldnt handle so many options! Instead, I just got the larger of the two tasting plates, which also came with miso soup. All was very good. The highlight was dessert, which was banana tempura with black raspberry ice cream. Yum, is all I have to say.
We dropped for appetizers and drinks before going to another meeting. When we told the hostess of our intentions, she told us that the dining area was completely reserved and that we could eat either in the lounge or at the bar. Funny, at 5:30, the dining area was completely empty (and only a few tables were filled when we left at 6:30), so Im not sure what that was all about, especially since our waiter asked us why we were sitting in the lounge and not the dining room. No matter. Drinks were ordered (one girl ordered a mojito, another and I ordered the batida all drinks were very good). Flatbread was placed on our table with some amazing dip I wish I knew what it was so I could attempt to make it at home. I ordered the shredded duck confit empanadas, which were superb lightly fried, just enough wrapper dough to be satisfying. There were also raisins in the empanadas, and it was served with a sour orange huacatay mojo sauce which served as a nice complement. One friend ordered the stuffed quail, which was tender and tasty, and another ordered the chile relleno with Mexican rock shrimp and goat cheese. I generally dont like chile rellenos, but this one I did. Service was superb throughout, and when we were brought our check we were also brought some house-made caramel corn, which was the perfect ending to our meal.
Taberna del Alabardero
Another lunch. Id been interested in coming here for some time, and decided that with a full days worth of meetings, that a nice lunch was in order. Its fussy in décor, but the service is spectacular. An amuse-bouche of chorizo wrapped in a touch of puff pastry was brought out, along with bread and olive oil. The three of us split the milhojas de palmito, tomate, y aguacente con ensalada de escarole (heart of palm, avocado, and tomato napoleon with frisee) and the ensalada de la huerta con esparragos marinades, patata nueva, tomate cherry y bacon (field green salad with marinated asparagus, new potatoes, bacon, and cherry tomatoes). I then ordered the salteado de mollejas de ternera y gambas sobre cama de espinacas (sautéed veal sweetbreads and shrimp, deglazed with brandy over a bed of spinach). I love sweetbreads, and these did not disappoint. The wilted asparagus was flavoured with garlic, and was very good as well. One friend got albondigas nuestro estilo (meatballs with a garlic-parsley risotto). The meatballs were good, but the risotto wasnt in the style I was used to it was much creamier and heavier, almost like a rice pudding in texture than the risotto Im accustomed to. The last friend got the tuna special of the day I had a bite of it, but honestly I dont remember it as I was completely entranced by my sweetbreads. Ah, but the best was left to come! The radiator above one of my friends heads seriously started leaking, and so she just scrunched around to the other side of the table it really wasnt worth moving, and she didnt actually get wet. But as apology, the restaurant brought us three desserts on the house, which was just so generous of them. They were such beautiful dishes too (not that the rest werent plated marvelously, but I do have a weak spot for pretty desserts). The three desserts were the tarta de Santiago con crema de limon (warm almond pastry and lemon custard), flan casero con helado de caramelo (flan with caramel ice cream), and the pina fresca en almibar de especias y sorbete de limon (golden pineapple in spiced syrup and lemon sorbet). While all three desserts were spectacular, I loved the latter the most for its sheer simplicity yet excellent taste. The syrup the pineapple came with was sweet, yet had these underlying complex flavours I couldnt distinguish probably the pink peppercorns in part added to the taste, I just dont know. The caramel ice cream was also amazing it tasted like the sugar shell of a crème brulee had been transformed into ice cream.
I dont visit DC often, but when I do we inevitably end up eating in Dupont Circle. But Id been wanting to come here for awhile and well, it seemed like this trip was going to consist of places Ive been dying to go to yet never gotten around to. So we met here for lunch on a beautifully sunny Wednesday. After nibbling on the edamame that was brought to our table, and washing our hands with warmed washcloths (always such a nice touch), I started with the TenPenh salad creamy sesame yuzu vinaigrette, enoki mushrooms, and five-spice pecans, as did another friend. It was light and the dressing wasnt too heavy, which was good (especially seeing that wed been doing some serious eating this week good thing we were also doing a lot of walking to attempt to balance matters!). The other girl got the thai style coconut and chicken soup with Portobello mushrooms. It was served inside a hollowed out coconut, which was darling, and the soup was nice and lightly spicy/sour, and the coconut flavour were not overpowering which was good. I then had the duck confit fried ravioli served atop Philippine noodles and yuzu duck jus. It shouldnt have been so surprising that this dish was very similar to the duck empanadas at Ceiba. The noodles were those glassy clear ones, but I didnt like the way they were seasoned too much a touch too salty for me. Another friend got the asian braised beef ribs with spicy polenta and jicama salad. I had a bite of this, and it was amazing. The ribs were so tender and flavourful and just yum. I wish I had ordered it. The polenta was indeed spicy almost overwhelmingly so. The last friend was a vegetarian, and surprisingly the menu at TenPenh isnt very accommodating to vegetarians. She got the wasabi mashed potatoes, szechuan Japanese eggplant, crispy spinach and some jasmine rice. I only tried the spinach ahh, deep-frying anything generally makes it better, and the spinach was very interesting. It was like eating what I imagine eating of pieces tissue paper would be like flakily crunchy and very interesting in the mouth. Given that it was deep fried, it was a touch too oily for us. For dessert, one girl got the crème brulee tastings, which she liked, while the other and I split the warm spice-dusted doughnuts with hot chocolate and a five spice marshmallow. I remember when the doughnut/hot chocolate combination was big a couple of years ago, but hadnt seen it in restaurants recently. The doughnuts were light and airy and quite delightful when dipped into the hot chocolate. I ate the marshmallow when we were done, and indeed, it was five-spice flavoured.
And, finally, our last meal in DC. Id last been to Komi in January 2004, and have been waxing on poetically about its virtues ever since so we had to go back! An amuse of some kind of squash soup was brought out smelled like curry, but did not taste like it. Flatbread crackers were also brought out, and there was one that had a texture vaguely reminiscent of graham crackers that I couldnt get enough of. To start, I got the papparedelle (sp?) with hens of the woods mushrooms, which was just so good I couldve ordered this again for my entrée. I really wish I remembered what my friends ordered, but they dont have a menu online and my memory seems to be failing me (partially because I focus primarily on my own dish, partially because by that point wed had a touch to drink). I do know that I had bites of both of my friends appetizers and really liked them. As an entrée, I got the tuna and foie gras carapaccio, as I wasnt in the meal for a full entrée. Three thin slices of raw tuna, with little squares of foie gras dotting the middle slice. It was light, as was the intent, and I got a side of the beluga lentils with it which I absolutely adored nice and garlicky, with tiny florettes of cauliflower mixed in. One friend got the I think it was veal. Whatever it was, it was todiefor tender. Another friend got the pork dish, which too was very good. For dessert we split the devils food cake with red chili gelato and marshmallow crème. I know that its a recent trend to combine spices with chocolate (and Ive had some very good truffles flavoured with cayenne and paprika and even wasabi, which I generally dont like) but this gelato tasted more like cold frozen nacho sauce. Bleh. None of us liked it, although the cake was very good. As was the case the last time, I was very impressed with how well-versed the waitstaff is with the menu both food and wine. With our check, we were brought lemon-ginger lollipops. Unfortunately, they really reminded me of those lemon-honey coldeeze tablets which I really dont like, but fortunately without the lingering gross throat-coating aftertaste.
And, thats it. I have to say, I am very happy with the restaurants I chose. Not a bad meal in the bunch.