DC Eating

I had a chance to check out two new restaurants in DC recently.  Both are offshoots of Philly restaurants so I was curious to give them a try.

First up was Pizzeria Vetri on 14th Street in the U Street area.  FE, Art Vandelay, and I headed over for lunch.  The menu is small and concise.  Art and I split the large margherita pizza, which is served on a long, elevated tray.  FE had a personal pizza, half sausage and half pepperoni.  The pizza was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.  The sauce was tangy, the crust was crunchy yet soft, and the pizza itself was cooked perfectly.

Next up was brunch at Le Diplomate.  This is the brainchild of Stephen Starr, and I guess it’s a sister restaurant to Parc in Philly.  I’ve been trying to have brunch here for some time, but it’s impossible to get a reservation.  They do reserve a number of tables for walk-ins, so we lined up at 9:30 am when the place opened.  We were seated right away and every seat was filled.

The food and service were excellent.  FE and I had the spinach and gruyere omelet.  I’m not a big fan of omelets, but this one was superb.  It was served with potatoes and various French breads.  Art had the zucchini frittata which he enjoyed.  He also raved about the fresh OJ.

I’m hoping to try All-Purpose Pizzeria on our next visit, and I’ll definitely be heading over to Pizzeria Vetri in Philly soon.  Happy eating!

p.s. I am on day 22 of my no dessert/sweets challenge so I didn’t have dessert on this trip.  We’ll see how much longer I can go.  There’s a Stock’s pound cake at work calling my name so it can’t be too much longer.

DC Eating

My thoughts on Hotel Beausejour…(spoilers)

So I finished the Belgian Netflix series Hotel Beausejour this weekend.  I really enjoyed it but it did have some flaws.  A lot of it probably had to do with my lack of familiarity with Belgian culture (and language).

The story is about a teenage girl named Kato who is murdered.  She realizes that she is dead and appears on the show as herself, but as a ghost figure.  She can feel pain and is basically still a human.  The interesting part is that only 6 people can actually see and interact with her.  To the rest, she is dead.

Not even Kato knows how she ended up dead or who did it, so she is determined to identify the killer.  She enlists the help of the 5 people who can see her (more on # 6 later).  The 5 people are her dad, her stepsister, a police officer who happens to be the uncle of her ex-boyfriend, her friend, and the son of the aforementioned police officer, who she hooked up with the night of her murder.

It is a murder mystery but there’s a lot of emotion involved, and Kato is both a tragic and an unsympathetic figure.  The 6th person who sees her is not revealed until the last episode, and that person ends up being the killer.  I totally didn’t see it coming and the show did accomplish that element of surprise.

I do recommend this show if you like foreign shows and films.  It reminded me of a Belgian “Veronica Mars”.

 

My thoughts on Hotel Beausejour…(spoilers)

NYC eating…

I had a chance to spend some time in NYC with fellow eater recently.  Now that I’m a few pounds heavier and it’s harder to get up from my couch, I wanted to share with you what we ate.

We returned to an old favorite, ABC Kitchen, for “brunch”.  For the record, I don’t love brunch because I’m an early riser and I can’t wait until 11 or even 10 am to feed.  On this particular day, I had a proper breakfast at home around 7, and our “brunch” reservation was for noon, so it worked out perfectly.

As usual, the restaurant looked great.  It’s probably the prettiest restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, just because of the unusual decor.  I ordered my usual roasted carrot and avocado salad, and the mushroom and parmesan pizza with farm egg.  FE ordered the akaushi cheeseburger with a side salad instead of fries.  Unfortunately, the kitchen had a fire that morning and the fryer was out of order.  Regardless, the food was terrific.

We then stopped at Eataly so that FE could pick up some supplies.  Fortunately, we remembered to bring an empty suitcase so we could haul all of his pasta purchases back home.

Dinner was at a new place for us recommended by a co-worker called Upland.  It’s a newer Stephen Starr restaurant located on 26th just east of Park.  The space is beautiful – both classy and casual at the same time.  The food was spectacular but we did have a service snafu.  The manager remedied the situation and it appeared to be an unusual occurrence.  I thoroughly enjoyed the octopus with pesto, bucatini cacio e pepe, and hazelnut budino.

Our best meal of the trip was probably brunch the next day.  Due to my hunger concerns, FE and I had a pre-brunch breakfast sandwich at Treehaus (51st and 3rd).  It seems to be a place with healthier options, and I really enjoyed my whole wheat toast with egg, fontina, and avocado.

Of course, I was still hungry for brunch at 11:15.  We returned to an old favorite that has relocated and remodeled.  I’ve been stalking its return for over a year, and finally it’s open.  It is Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe.  FE and I ate at the old location several times, on recommendation of my same co-worker mentioned above.  Apparently, the restaurant lost its lease at the old location and had to relocate a few blocks away to 19th and Park.

The new space is similar to the old one, but more modern.  It’s a beautiful, open, two story loft room.  Our server was delightful and seemed truly happy to be there.  This restaurant was reopened as a no-tipping establishment.  The prices are a bit higher but Mr. Meyers provides a decent wage and benefits to all of the employees.  The prices are not for the faint of heart but hey, this is NYC and the restaurant is worth it.

I had the tortellini in brodo, which is chicken tortellini in broth.  The pasta is homemade and you can tell.  This was a little bowl of heaven.  FE had the pappardelle with rabbit ragu and he was very pleased.  I ended the meal with a piece of the chocolate espresso pie, which was delicious.

 

NYC eating…

What I’ve been (binge) listening to…

So I finished Shittown in a few days this week.  The only impediment to a total binge listen was, oh yeah, that pesky job of mine.  Anyway, Shittown is from the people behind Serial although there is a different narrator/reporter.  I’m glad because I don’t think Sarah Koenig wouldn’t have been as effective for this story.

I can’t even cover it all here because there are so many twists and turns but I urge you to listen.

SPOILERS/SPOILERS/SPOILERS/You’ve been warned!

The podcast is 7 segments of about an hour or less.  This true story starts out with a random email to the reporter a few years ago from a named John B. McLemore.  John wants the reporter and PBS to investigate an alleged murder in the small Alabama town of Woodstock where he lives, which he believes was covered up because the perpetrator was from a wealthy family.  Throughout the podcast, John refers to Woodstock as “Shittown” and “this shittown” and various other expletives that only increased my enjoyment of it, especially given John’s Southern accent.

Ironically, the reporter goes to Shittown to investigate, and it turns out the victim didn’t die, but was injured, and there was a thorough police investigation in which no charges were filed.  At the end of the second episode, it appears the podcast will take a turn to look at police and governmental corruption in Shittown, when the reporter learns that John killed himself by drinking cyanide.

The podcast then addresses what happens as a result of John’s unexpected death.  Unfortunately, he didn’t leave a will and was “unbanked”.  Cousins from Florida are the next of kin and there’s a dispute between them and a friend of John’s named Tyler Goodson as to belongings on John’s property, as well as the care and custody of John’s mother, who has dementia.

 

 

What I’ve been (binge) listening to…

A return to the old, yet it’s new…

I had a chance to eat at an old favorite recently – “Friday Saturday Sunday” in Philadelphia.  I have many memories at this place over the years, from dinners with old friends and family, to running into co-workers while there with friends and family.  The restaurant closed about a year ago, changed ownership, and underwent a transformative renovation.

I was nervous to return for fear that it wouldn’t compare to prior visits.  Boy was I wrong!  First of all, the space itself looks terrific.  It’s warm and inviting, but it still feels classy and special.

Second of all, the food was great.  I can even say I think that the food now is better than before.  The prior menu contained a lot of old favorites, which were great.  However, the new menu is food-forward but in a good way.

Fellow eater and I decided to indulge in the pasta special of the day, which was a lamb and goat cheese ravioli with sorrel mushrooms and pecorino cheese.  I’m not a lamb fan but this was delicious.  The pastas are made on premises and you can definitely tell.

FE had the escargot which he really enjoyed (I ate most of the pasta, sorry FE).  FE had filet mignon and I had the grilled shrimp with grits.  Both were excellent.  The shrimp was so flavorful that it didn’t even need the sauce that came with it.

We didn’t try dessert.  I wasn’t in love with any of the choices so I didn’t want to waste the calories.  The homemade ice cream sounded intriguing but I wasn’t wild about any of the daily flavors that were offered when I was there.  Definitely next time!

Finally, the service was stellar as usual.  I was happy to see that Mr. Connelly is still working there, and we were fortunate enough that he took care of us on this particular night.

I’m happy to highly recommend this restaurant, but please don’t swarm it so I can still get a reservation!

A return to the old, yet it’s new…

What I’ve been eating…

I have to confess, I was lucky enough to eat at Barclay Prime yet again recently.  I ate my usual and it was excellent (again).  I did have the coffee ice cream with chocolate brownie chunks this time, which was the special flavor of the day.  Wow.

I was also lucky enough to have a chance to eat at a brand new “fast casual” place called “Verts”.  Verts is on 16th Street between Market and Chestnut Streets in Philly (side of the 1601 Market building).  It just opened on 3/10.  I was walking by around lunchtime so I decided to stop in.  Apparently, half of the Philly lunch crowd had the same idea!  I was about the 25th person in line.  I decided to stick it out to see if it was worth it.  It was.  And p.s. the line moved quickly.

I ordered a rice bowl with falafel, cucumber and tomato salad, cabbage, pickled jalapeños, chickpeas, and red pepper seasoning.  I also had a side of pita chips and hummus.  I decided to go conservative since this was my first time here.  It was delicious.  The falafel was comparable to Naf Naf up the street (also very good).  The toppings were fresh and flavorful.  The jalapeños were so hot that my mouth was numb (also a good sign).

I can’t wait to go back and try the turkey and mushroom meatballs!

What I’ve been eating…