Tag Archives: Dinner

Posto – Washington, DC (Logan Circle)

We went out last Saturday night with Wendi and Stuart in DC at one of their go-to restaurants that is now one of the places Erin and I can’t wait to get back to. Posto (www.postodc.com), located in the Logan Circle neighborhood of DC, is a lively, modern Italian restaurant with a warm ambiance and amazing food.

As we walked through the door, we were greeted by smiling faces and were taken to our table that was in the center of a large dining room surrounded by a massive, inviting bar to one side and a huge, wood-burning oven to the rear where fresh bread and pizzas are made. The wait staff were very prompt to take our drink order and were beyond professional.

We had a white pizza as an appetizer that was loaded with delicious burrata cheese, roasted garlic, grape tomatoes, and basil; the crust was perfectly cooked and the toppings blended perfectly together. After this, I just knew dinner was going to be amazing.

After hearing the list of nightly specials, Stuart and I decided to go with the braised short ribs tossed with fresh pasta while Erin and Wendi had truffle and cremini mushroom pasta and a fresh pizza with arugula, truffle oil and an egg. The short ribs with pasta was absolutely delicious – the ribs were cooked perfectly and were so tender that they seemed to melt into the fresh pasta. Of course I had to taste Erin’s pasta; the flavoring of the mushrooms melded so. well with the creaminess of the perfectly saucy pasta. If you’re wondering about the egg on the pizza, it’s delicious! Erin and I recently had this delicacy at Graffiato’s, Mike Isabella’s tappas restaurant in Chinatown – the egg is rich and adds the perfect flavoring and texture to the pizza. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a must try if you ever see it on a menu.

We were fortunate enough to try a new dessert that the chef was testing – it was something to the sorts of a chocolate peanut butter tort. The flavor was out of this world – perfectly rich and savory sweet – and was served with a small scoop of delicious vanilla ice cream. After looking at the menu, you’ll definitely want to save room for a dessert to share.

If you’re looking for a great new restaurant to try out in DC, or even if you’re looking for a new spin on some of your favorite Italian dishes, Posto is a must try. A lot of times I associate Italian meals with unbuttoning my pants and wanting to go to sleep – not at Posto, the portions here were absolutely perfect! I was a little worried since we were headed out after dinner, but none of us were lethargic or talking about being stuffed (and don’t worry, the prices were really good). Erin and I definitely added this to our favorite places in DC and will be going back sooner than later!

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Serendipity – Washington, DC (Georgetown)

Erin has been wanting to go to Serendipity since it came to DC last summer and we finally had the chance to over the weekend. Brought to DC after it’s New York City fame, Serendipity is a restaurant that specializes in dessert and is known for their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate. We were in Georgetown over the weekend during the late afternoon and I thought this would be the perfect time to try out the new addition to the Georgetown restaurant scene.

Normally, you can only get in with reservations that are made well in advance, but the chilly Sunday afternoon must have helped us since we got in right at 7:00p. Walking into the restaurant feels like you’re entering Alice’s Wonderland – the light fixtures are all different, some small and some large, some high and some low, the clock is extremely oversized, there are extreme colors on the walls and the menu is cartoonishly large. We were seated in the front area of the restaurant – the bar area with a couple of tables that reminded me of an old school diner. The wait staff were professionally dressed wearing shirts with ties and were very cordial.

After looking at the menu, we decided that we were definitely going to save room for a dessert (at a place like this, you have to make your meal decision based on what comes afterward, right??). The menu was very vast; everything from salads, to burgers and sandwiches, to chili and matzo ball soup, to pasta and filet mignon, and even foot-long hot dogs. While variety can be a good thing, it can also be hard to make a decision and typically leans towards no real specialty in the restaurant. Well, I already said the specialty was dessert so I think you know where I’m going with this… We ordered sandwiches (something we hardly ever do but we’d already has brunch so anything healthy about the day was already out the window!) and they were just ok. The cheese on Erin’s wasn’t melted all the way and mine was pretty bland with cold sweet potato fries.

After dinner, we took a long look at the big, literally and figuratively, dessert menu. Since I had never been to the NYC location, I thought it would only be appropriate to start out my Serendipity dessert-trying with a Frozen Hot Chocolate. Yes, it was confusing to me at first too but it all made sense as soon as I tasted it. The dish that resembles an ice cream sundae with straws coming out of it was most similar to the texture of a milkshake and a slupree put together. It tasted great – like a hot chocolate that was in an icy dessert form. We ordered the “for one” size and split it; it was plenty big enough for the two of us. Other than this traditional flavor, they had many others along with a wide variety of other ice cream desserts and sundaes that all came in both a small and a large size.

All-in-all, the food here was not that great; there are definitely some different things on the menu that you’re not likely to find at other places around DC but the focus is really on the chocolate. Will we be back? Yes, and we’ll probably come back to try a different kind of entrée next time, but we’ll definitely be back for dessert. My suggestion to you would be to make a late reservation and head there after a nice dinner in the city for a Frozen Hot Chocolate and a cup of coffee or espresso.


Crock Pot Korean Ribs

These Korean Beef Short Ribs are going to be one of your favorite dishes when you’re done — a little spicy, a little sweet, a little smoky and oh-so-tender. These are a must try!

Ingredients:
2-3 pounds of Beef Short Ribs
1 cup Soy Sauce
1 cup Brown Sugar
5 whole Jalapeno Peppers
1/2 cup Water

Directions:
Place either frozen or thawed beef short ribs into the crock pot. Combine soy sauce, water and brown sugar and add to the crock pot. Finally, add in the whole jalapenos and cover.

Cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is fall-of-the-bone tender.

Review:
I have to say, the name of this dish isn’t too explanatory and I wouldn’t want you to think this is an Asian dish (don’t think General Tso or Sesame Chicken) but a meat-lover’s dinner with a twist! Don’t be scared… this was absolutely delicious.

Erin whipped up this meal one morning before she left for work and (Viola!) it was ready when she got home. Like the directions say, it’s just a matter of mixing everything together, putting it in the crock pot and letting it cook low and slow – or is it long and low?? (Erin!) – at any rate, the results were amazing. The beef was so tender that it was falling off the bone and was flavored so well! The sauce is pretty thin, but it’s perfect if you want to add a little on top as you’re making your dinner plate; it’s almost like a smoky, and a little sweet, BBQ sauce.

Don’t worry about the jalapeno adding a spicy-heat to the dish. Once they are cooked, they add a nice smoky flavor to the dish, but they don’t add any spicy heat. If you want a little kick (this is what I did), cut up the pepper and eat it with meat… Mmmm. It was not at hot as you think eating a whole jalapeno would be; I don’t even think my eyes watered and I can be a wimp when it comes to spicy things. To compliment to delicious short ribs, we had a salad and white asparagus (one of our favorite vegetables); if you’re not looking to cut out carbs, this would have been great with mashed potatoes, a sweet potato, or even rice.

If you don’t use beef short ribs regularly, you should find a way to work them into your meals – they are absolutely delicious and are so flavorful and tender. I would have never thought to use this cut of meat unless someone told me about it… that’s why I’m sharing this with you! Try it out and let me know what you think.


Crock Pot Beef Stew

Ingredients:
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 cups cut-up fresh vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, celery and onions
3 cups water
1 package Beef Stew Seasoning Mix
1/4 cup flour

Directions:
Mix vegetables, water and Seasoning Mix in crock pot.
Coat beef with flour and stir into ingredients already in the crock pot. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low or 5 hours on high until beef is tender.

Review:
This is a great meal if you’re looking for something hearty, pretty healthy and you’re short on time. Erin and I have been trying really hard to eat healthy and we’ve realized that it takes a lot of planning; she had the great idea of using the crock pot to throw things in before she leaves for work and then there’s nothing to be done when we get home. One night last week, she whipped this up and it was great.

Erin didn’t use potatoes but added extra carrots and celery and this dish was great and it felt really healthy. I’m sure you could use different seasonings than the mix that we bought at the grocery store, but it was a quick and easy start, and we’ll certainly build on the recipe next time. Also, to cut down on the calories and carbs, I’m sure you could skip the flour, but using it will make the broth a little thicker and will create the difference between a stew and a soup.

Overall, the flavor was really delicious and the beef was tender – a great, warm, hearty dish that’s pretty easy to put together and that’s still easy on the waistband.

Enjoy!!


Cava Mezze – Rockville

If you shop at Giant in Bethesda or any of the Whole Foods in the Rockville/Bethesda area, I’m sure you’ve seen Cava’s packaged hummus, tzatziki, tabouleh, and crazy feta. I noticed these a couple months ago and was so excited to see that their success was spilling outside the restaurant walls and that their delicious dips were more accessible. All the items taste just like what the restaurant serves and are worth the couple extra dollars.

Upon entering Cava, you immediately see the dark, intimate setting and hear the boisterous conversations in this small restaurant (it holds about 25 tables). The seats are very close together, but there’s something about this place where that doesn’t bother me. Everyone in the restaurant always seems to be having a great time talking and laughing, but it is also very possible to have a nice, romantic dinner. Large groups would be hard to handle here as the footprint is so small, but that would be my only “gripe.”

The food at Cava is out of this world; I don’t say that too often, but it is true. As their name says, they only serve small and they are all delicious. We’ve just about everything on the menu, and it seems that everything just tastes better and better each time we order it. A plate of olives, harissa, and pita are delivered to your table as soon as you are seated. I don’t know what it is about this stuff, but it’s so good! Other than the pita plate and dips, we don’t normally get an appetizer although a good friend of mine, Adam Silverman, loves to order the Saganaki, also known as the flaming cheese, as an appetizer – this is literally Greek cheese that is lightly breaded, 151 proof rum is dumped on top, then lit on fire to heat and soften it. I have to say that it’s pretty average as far as cheese goes, but it is a fun dish to order (and if you don’t want to order it, I promise someone else in the restaurant will while you are there).

For dinner, scallops with risotto, lamb chops, eggplant with meat sauce, and either the chicken souvlaki or the chicken pita are always ordered. Outside of these items, we’ve had the spanikopita, braised meatballs, lollipop chicken, mini gyros, Cava mac and cheese, and the crazy feta. These dishes are all really good, but we tend to stick with what we love and throw one of these in every now and again. Sometimes we’re just looking for something light and we go here for their salads – the village salad and the rocket salad are both our favorites and you can get gyro meat added on top to make it a full meal. If you couldn’t have guessed it, everything here is worth trying and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Cava opened up a restaurant on Capitol Hill, in DC, but it’s not quite the same as their original Rockville location (or maybe I’m just a little bit partial). They also have a smaller, Chipotle-style spot in Bethesda on Bethesda Row where you stand in line and choose to make a salad or sandwich from a couple different meats and toppings. I’ve tried the Bethesda location for lunch and wasn’t so thrilled, but if you need a Cava meal and you’re pressed on time, then this is a good option.

Something to also note is a rumor around the mean streets of MoCo – evidently Cava and Mamma Lucia’s are pairing up and one of their new restaurants is coming to Potomac soon. I know there are plans for a restaurant in Park Potomac (near the Harris Teeter and Founding Farmers), but I’m not sure if this is going to be Cava or the new partnership restaurant. I’ll be sure to keep you posted because that is going to be a must try!

If you haven’t been to Cava, you must make plans to go soon. Don’t be scared away by the wait at the front door; you can always go on a Monday when you can make reservations or just have a seat at the bar with a glass of wine while you wait (the Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir is one of my favorites there)… it’s definitely worth it!


Ardeo and Bardeo – Cleveland Park

Well, as many of you probably know, this week is Restaurant Week in DC. You can get a full 3-course meal (appetizer, entrée, and dessert) for $35.00 at many restaurants around the city. I’m not usually such a fan about going out during Restaurant Week because there seems to be a stigma — waiters seem to think you are just there for the “deal” and that you’d not likely to ever come there again because it may be expensive. Well, any of you that know me, know I love food (how do you think I got this beautiful body?) and know that good service is important to me; I tend not to really make a big deal about the price as long as the meal is delicious, it is what you asked for, and the service is good.

Erin and I were downtown a while back and noticed Ardeo + Bardeo from the backseat of a cab – from the outside it looked like a small, modern place with bit of a rustic flare and really caught our attention. We are never really in the vicinity of the Cleveland Park area of DC, but we often talked about going to this restaurant; when we first saw that Restaurant Week was coming up, this is the first place we looked to make a reservation and what a great idea that was. The menu here is not really pricey enough to get a “deal” for Restaurant Week, but this week is always a good excuse to try a new place and indulge yourself with a delicious meal and dessert.

From the moment we walked in the door until the second we left, our experience was nothing but great. Walking into the dining side of the restaurant, Ardeo, there are only 10 wooden tables surrounded by leather chairs, dark wood, and wine bottles adorning the walls and creating separation from other tables around you. The feel was very warm and welcoming and the staff really embraced that idea. We were kindly greeted by a server, given the cocktail and wine menu, along with the run-down on how Restaurant Week worked with their menu.

Everything on the menu looked delicious – it’s a very modern American menu with items that are not normally on your radar for everyday meals. We decided to start with the Beef Carpaccio and Mussels. The thinly sliced, raw beef was served with a finely chopped Caesar salad topped with a whole anchovy – great presentation and equally delicious. The mussels were absolutely delicious; served neatly plated with a chickpea puree and juices that required sopping (yes, we used the warm, crusty bread that was brought to the table to dip in the amazingly flavorful broth that was left behind). The mussels were far better than any mussels I’ve had, even from restaurants that specialize in this shellfish. What a great way to start this meal!

For our entrees, Erin decided on the Rabbit Bolognese and I got the Steak and Eggs. Neither of us had ever tried rabbit before so we were going out on a limb with this one, but what a treat it was. The rabbit had the consistency and texture of a brisket and was in an amazing, light red sauce served over in-house made ricotta stuffed agnolotti (ravioli type noodles). My ribeye looked and tasted like a perfectly cooked filet and was served with a potato puree, sautéed mushrooms and an “egg in a basket”. There was a very small yolk served in a piece of grilled toast that reminded me of my childhood breakfasts that my mom would make – what a great way to bring a personal story into your dining experience. The overall winner between these two meals was the Rabbit Bolognese; it sounds a little scary but if you get chance to eat here, you have to get it.

And, of course, since we decided to indulge, we ordered dessert… surprise!! Erin got the Chocolate Bread Pudding and I ordered the Chocolate Tort. Neither of these chocolate dishes were too sweet like I expected them to be, they were much more savory with a hint of sweet and were perfectly presented. The bread pudding was moist with a crunchy top and was served with salted caramel ice cream… so delicious. The amaretto flavored, dark chocolate tort was served with roasted pistachios and topped with whipped cream. I don’t normally like dessert and hardly ever order it, but both of these were amazing and a definitely a perfect way to end this great meal.

Before going to any new restaurant, we always check out the reviews on “Yelp!”. If you’ve never heard of this website, it’s a rating and review website for restaurants around the US. This is where I got the general idea for my blog – I wanted a space for my friends and family to see where I’ve been and what I thought of it, a much more personal touch than a public website where people often go to rant. We use this website all the time, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that. Actually, when I drove cross-country from CA to MD with Matt Covin when he was moving back from his luxurious Los Angeles lifestyle, we used Yelp! for EVERY meal; the food we ate on that trip was some of the best in the country and we’re still talking about it… Just ask him about the brisket and white mac and cheese in Oklahoma City, OK or his steak in Amarillo, TX or the appetizers and beer from the small brewery in Little Rock, AR. Anyway, back to my story… Yelp… the reviews on Yelp! for Ardeo + Bardeo were great and people were right on the money with this one.

If you are ever in the Cleveland Park area or are looking for a nice night out, this is a must try. A small, intimate restaurant with items you’re not likely to see very often and a wait staff that is so kind, honest, and specific about the details is the type of experience you should cherish, and you will be able to cherish that at Ardeo + Bardeo! Enjoy!


Il Porto – Gaithersburg

Are you looking for a delicious Italian meal in a cozy restaurant with an amazing wait staff? If so, you don’t need to go any further than Il Porto in Gaithersburg (and Frederick). The restaurant is located in the Market shopping center off of Muddy Branch Road but please do not judge a book by its cover (I did this originally and I was completely wrong!). The restaurant can get pretty packed on Friday and Saturday nights so call ahead to see if there’s a wait and put your name on the reservation list. The owners just renovated the interior and took over the retail store next door to expand their footprint; that put in about 20 more tables and a great bar area.

Upon walking into the restaurant, you are greeted by a jovial Italian man (I’m not sure if it’s the owner or not) and quickly seated. As you look around the restaurant, you are likely to see someone you know; even if you don’t, it will quickly feel like home. The wait staff all seem to know the customers they are waiting on and some customers even walk around the restaurant saying hello to everyone they know; it’s such a great atmosphere. Homemade bread, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and rosemary olive oil are always brought over to the table and it’s hard not to start mixing up the dipping sauce before the waiter has even left the table. During our visit this past week, we asked Luis (the best waiter in the whole place, in my opinion) to warm the bread up a little bit. I expected the chef to put it in the microwave for a couple of seconds and return it to our table and I would have been fine with that, but we were delivered hot, toasted bread without any questions or signs of any ill thought.

The food here is great! In the past, we’ve had their Calamari, Chicken Parmesan, Eggplant Parmesan, Crispy Flounder, Chicken with Vodka Sauce and we always get the Greek salad. This time, we decided to get different entrées – we ordered the Chicken Doratti (thanks for the suggestion, Gayle) and Chicken Marsala. The Chicken Marsala was delicious and was served with a side of fettuccini noodles and red sauce; the marsala sauce didn’t have pieces of mushrooms like the sauce from many other places, but the favor was out of this world! The Chicken Doratti entrée is thin chicken breasts in a light butter, lemon and caper sauce with a side of pasta – this was absolutely amazing! Instead of the pasta as my side dish, I requested sautéed spinach and it was delivered perfectly, with no questions.

As I mentioned before, one of the entrées I often get is the whole Crispy Flounder. If you’ve never had a whole fish, this is the place to get it! The crispy exterior fresh flounder is served with an apricot sauce drizzled over the top and is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. It’s not on the menu everyday (and when it is, it goes fast) so definitely try it if you see it listed as a special.

Il Porto also has a restaurant in downtown Frederick that I hear is just as amazing as their Gaithersburg location; if you’re in Frederick and looking for an alternative to Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill, Mamma Lucia, or Venutti’s then you must try their location on Market Street. Il Porto is one of my favorite places to go for any type of occasion; we’ve been just for a quick dinner, a romantic night out, and even on Valentine’s Day last year – it just seems to be perfect anytime! Give it a try and let me know what you think!