Tag Archives: Restaurant

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.


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!


Dutch’s Daugher – Frederick

If you live in Frederick or have talked to anyone from Frederick, you’ve probably heard of Dutch’s Daughter. This is my all-time favorite restaurant in Frederick, hands down! A winner in nearly every category of restaurant rating in Frederick (and sometimes DC), everything about Dutch’s Daughter is done right.

I haven’t been for dinner in years, but their brunch buffet is something not many places can compete with. Buffets are not typically my cup of tea, but this is a much more upscale restaurant than the everyday buffet so please don’t let that scare you away. Erin and I went about two weeks ago for brunch with my parents and, as always, it was delicious. When we pulled into the parking lot, we were greeted by a kilted man playing the bagpipes; I’d never seen this before and it was awesome (I really wanted to take a picture with him but he was gone when we left… darn it!). The inside of the restaurant is very grand and reminds me of an old country home – lots of natural wood, large rooms, fireplaces in every room, and tables set with china. The staff is very nice and always seats parties within a couple of minutes.

Brunch is served on the top floor of the restaurant; as soon as you start walking up the stairs (there’s an elevator available as well) you can smell all the delicious food that’s waiting! When seated, the server comes over and explains the items on the buffet, offers tea, coffee or soda (included in the price) and also offers a mimosa or bloody mary which are complimentary. I know what you’re thinking, complimentary drinks are never as good as drinks you buy. That’s not the case here – the bloody mary was in a nice sized glass and tasted great (and it had a good kick to it!), and the mimosa was served in a big wine glass and you could taste the champagne.

Typically, the buffet has similar items every weekend – French toast, scrambled eggs, crab and cheese omlette, bacon, chipped beef gravy, blackened salmon, Dutch’s chicken, prime rib along with a soup and salad bar that has cream of crab soup, Maryland crab soup and hot crab dip that are to die for (I could literally make a meal just off the soup and salad bar). After brunch, chocolate covered strawberries, homemade cream puffs, and endless homemade pies await you. Really, you need to save room for the dessert and make sure you taste a little of everything!

Overall, Dutch’s Daughter is a great place to have brunch and is always such a treat. It’s always good to make a reservation here because it’s one of the nicer places in Frederick and there’s always a wait. If you’re in the Frederick area or want to take a nice drive from the DC suburbs on a Sunday morning or early afternoon, this place will surely not disappoint.


Kali’s Court – Baltimore

We went to Kali’s Court in Baltimore with some of Erin’s family a couple Saturday nights ago. None of us had been there before so we didn’t really know what to expect — boy, where we surprised. The restaurant is located on a cobblestone street and sits behind lush trees and shrubbery with a couple of tables outside. Inside the restaurant, you are greeted by a very nice hostess with a bar conveniently located right next to the door, and a dim, intimate atmosphere.

We grabbed cocktails and wine at the bar before we were seated. The wine list is pretty extensive and the red wine that was ordered tasted great (I should remember the name, but I don’t… so sorry). My drink of choice, Vodka Gimlet on the Rocks (of course), was perfectly made and the waiter kept them coming.

The menu here is not very big, but everything looked great. We started with a seafood appetizer which had a couple different kinds of seafood portioned out for each person; it was delicious and made me very excited for dinner. Out of the 8 of us at the table, we ended up getting four orders of Monk Fish and four orders of Bronzino (whole cooked fish) — collectively, (not easily I might add) we decided that the Monk Fish was the better of the two dishes but each were very delicious.

The dessert menu was incredible – the table decided to get a creme brule and dessert cocktails; the Espresso Martini and a Lemon Drop Martini were the perfect ending to a great meal.

This is a great place for a very nice evening out in Baltimore. The meals are not cheap but the atmosphere, food, and experience are worth the trip — definitely a must try!


Founding Farmers – Potomac

Erin and I have been waiting for Founding Farmers to open in Park Potomac for what has seemed like an eternity. This location is the second restaurant (original restaurant is in DC) the owners have opened and they seem to have done a mighty fine job!

Located right off 270 at the Montrose Road exit (next to Harris Teeter), the restaurant is easily accessible although parking is a bit of a pain. Our reservations were at 8:00p; being right in the midst of prime dinner time, we had to park in the parking garage that charges an hourly fee. If you’d prefer not to pay for parking, you can easily park in the Harris Teeter parking lot and make the short walk over.

The atmosphere when we walked in was very hustle and bustle. There were tons of groups waiting to be seated, all tables were full and the bar was packed, but the staff seemed to be handling the business fairly well. The setting is pretty casual; the staff wear jeans and plaid shirts and the décor consisted of corrugated metal and exposed wood with touches of modern elements.

The menu is pretty big — everything from mini burgers, salads and wings, to flatbreads and sandwiches, to gourmet hotdogs, hamburgers, crabrolls, and shrimp rolls, to free-range meat and fish, to homemade noodles and, last but not least, fried chicken (I’m looking at you, Mom)! We ordered a couple appetizers that were delicious, we had the chips and dips and the onion and brie flatbread. The homemade potato chips came with three dips, one Cajun, one onion, and one spinach; all were very good although the onion was my favorite. The onion and brie flatbread was delicious and a must try; it was a crusty bread served with a thin slice of brie, a thin slice of apple, and a smear of onion marmalade.

For dinner we decided on the northern fried chicken and the chicken potpie. The chicken potpie was not your traditional dish; instead of it being served in a pie shell with a crust on top, the deliciously creamy chicken and vegetable mixture was served in a bowl with a homemade biscuit on top. The taste was much different from any other potpie I’ve ever tried but it was very good (Erin is probably have the leftovers as I’m writing this). The northern fried chicken was great! It was two pieces of crispy fried, deboned, non-greasy chicken that was spiced nicely and very moist. The dish was served with fried potato latkes (a little hard for my liking) that were accompanied with a bit of applesauce and dill sauce.

The drink menu is nearly as big as the food menu and the drinks were delicious! The bar puts a modern, fun twist on a lot of classic cocktails and offers a big selection of craft beers. It took us about 10 minutes to decide what we were going to drink but Erin finally decided on the Gin Elizabeth (a Gin cocktail with orange juice, lime juice and bitters) and I ordered a Gin and tonic (boringggg). My drink was very good although Erin’s drink was served with a heaping mound of crushed ice that soon watered down the cocktail.

The service was very good. I’m always a little worried visiting a new restaurant within the first couple weeks because it seems that the staff is usually still trying to find their groove. The waitress was very attentive, gave us the time we needed, and we were never waiting on food or drinks.

Overall this is a good restaurant for comfort food in Montgomery County; I don’t believe you can get this type of food anywhere else in the Rockville/Potomac/Bethesda area so it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind establishment. With items like fried chicken, chicken potpie, pork chops, meatloaf, and macaroni and cheese on the menu, it’s not a place you’re likely to visit on a recurring basis, but it’s a good treat if you’re looking for some comfort food or if you have company and you’re looking for a different restaurant to go to. I have to say, the hype of Founding Farmers really set the bar high; I don’t think it was amazing or wonderful but it was good and something out of the ordinary. I’m certain that we’ll return to Founding Farmers but I’m eager to try some of the other items on the menu (now that I have my yearly fried chicken fix out of the way ) – the burgers, salads, and other appetizers look great.