Category Archives: Restaurants

Lunch at Filomena — 16 August 2018

Filomena

Filomena

This was my “Why haven’t I ever been here before?” lunch.

Filomena, in Georgetown near the canal, has been around for 35 years, but I’d somehow missed out on it until now. This is a classic Italian family restaurant, named for the matriarch of the founder’s family, and filled with furniture, antiques, and knick-knacks from her home.

The menu casually drops the names of some past patrons, like President Clinton, who favoured Linguini Cardinale (Lobster Meat in Creamy Cardinale Lobster Sauce over Linguini) and U2’s Bono, who ordered seconds of the Rigatoni con Salsicce (Whole Link Italian Sausage pieces with Mushrooms, Onions, Ground Italian Sausage, Chianti Wine, Herbs and Vine Ripe Sunday Sauce).

Polpetti Classico

Polpetti Classico

When I was in Venice last year, I had Polpetti—Italian meatballs—for lunch at Ca’ D’Oro, which were rumoured to be the best in the city.  According to the Michelin Guide, Ca’ D’Oro’s “meatballs are…legendary”.

The Polpetti Classico at Filomena were infinitely better.

[NO PICTURE]

I wasn’t able to take a useable picture of my main, Cannelloni Frutti di Mare. Here’s Filomena’s description of the dish:

“A Generous Amount of Fresh Shrimp, Creamy Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheeses blended and stuffed into the Pasta, Mamma’s rolled Black Pasta Sheets. Our original Seafood Lasagna recipe in the form of Cannelloni. Oven baked and covered with our famous Creamy Cardinale Lobster Sauce.”

A bit disappointing, after the great Polpetti.

Cookies n’ Cream Mousse Cake

Cookies n’ Cream Mousse Cake

This Cookies n’ Cream Mousse Cake gave me everything I wanted from a dessert. Not only was it delicious, it was, like everything at Filomena, generously proportioned, i.e. BIG. A welcome change from the three-bite desserts I’d had earlier in the week.

Will be back.

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Lunch at Sonoma — 15 August 2018

Sonoma

Sonoma

Meanwhile, back during Restaurant Week…

Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar is on Capitol Hill, a block away from the Library of Congress and two blocks from the U.S. Capitol itself. That means it gets an interesting clientele, like the two people sitting at the table next to me, who spent their lunchtime rather indiscreetly discussing the inner workings of a Republican representative’s office.

Virginia Fried Oysters

Virginia Fried Oysters

Virginia Fried Oysters on a sweet Anaheim pepper purée with a house-made bacon jam. Anaheim peppers are mild, but give some heat.

Cinnamon Braised Beef Short Ribs

Cinnamon Braised Beef Short Ribs

The main, Cinnamon Braised Beef Short Ribs with shaved Brussels sprouts, buttermilk mash, and pan jus, was the star of the meal. The Brussels sprouts were a little undercooked, to my taste, but the short ribs were excellent.

Goat Cheesecake

Goat Cheesecake

The Goat Cheesecake with marshmallow fluff and maple walnut syrup was tasty, but, once again, the portion was small. Desserts should be excessive, and give the diner those wonderful pangs of guilt one gets from hedonistic overindulgence.

I don’t have much to say about this meal. It was all right, but I not special enough to make me plan another trip to this restaurant.

Lunch at Alhambra — 14 August 2018

Alhambra

Alhambra

Next stop: Alhambra, a restaurant that offers French-influenced modern Mediterranean cuisine. It’s an elegant space in the St. Regis Hotel, at 16th and K Streets, two blocks from the White House. The word “upscale” keeps trying to sneak into my description of the hotel and the restaurant, but I’m trying to resist it. As the old saying goes, I avoid clichés like the plague.

Eggplant

Eggplant

The salads I create at home are wild, one-of-a-kind mixtures, made up of anything interesting I find in the refrigerator or on my shelves. Does bleu cheese work with raspberries and caramelized onions? Let’s try it and see.

For lack of a better word, I’m calling this appetizer a salad. It combined “Eggplant Caviar”, which is a lemony eggplant purée, with goat cheese, basil, and fresh figs. Topping it all was a little honeycomb. Interesting taste.

Lamb Shoulder

Lamb Shoulder

A simple main: Lamb Shoulder with tarragon and rosemary, on a potato purée. I would have had no problem at all with a second helping of this beauty.

Key Lime

Key Lime

I ended with this Key Lime treat. Tasted fine, but I’m not in love with two-bite desserts. “Feed Me!”


It’s a lovely setting, the food was good, and the service was excellent. Alhambra made a fine first impression.

Lunch at Del Frisco’s — 13 August 2018

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

The Washington branch of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse is in CityCenterDC, a couple of blocks from Gallery Place. CityCenterDC, a $950,000,000 pedestrianized complex of condominiums, apartments, upscale retail, and office buildings, is another one of those mixed-use areas that have blossomed in DC since the turn of the century.

The city really does seem to get prettier and more livable every day.

CityCenterDC

CityCenterDC

Del Frisco’s offers a contemporary take on the classic American steakhouse. The menu looked good, so I made this my first stop during the official part of 2018 Summer Restaurant Week.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

With that “classic American steakhouse” description in mind, my choices for each course reflected the steakhouse tradition, and there’s no starter more traditional than Lobster Bisque, a marriage of poached lobster, crème fraîche, and a dash of sherry.

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon, of course. Chef delivered it herself, and invited me to cut into the steak to make sure it was cooked the way I wanted it—medium rare. It was perfect. The side was a  rich and generous serving of Château Mashed Potatoes, a Del Frisco’s specialty.

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

Again, what else? A steakhouse dessert had to be cheesecake. This version, with strawberry sauce and a pecan crust, was lighter than I expected it to be.

This was an excellent way to start the week.



After lunch, I resisted the strong urge to head right home and take a long nap. Instead, I walked over to the National Portrait Gallery to check out the new portrait of President Obama.

President Obama

President Obama

It’s a good portrait, but it made me a little sad.

Maybe someday we’ll once again have a President as decent, thoughtful, honest, intelligent, and sane as Mr. Obama.

“Five Years, That’s All We’ve Got”

Well, that was fast…

I started posting these notes five years ago today, and 1,645 postings later, I’m still at it. Today I took a look at some of the items I ran during my first few weeks online.

Some Things Haven’t Changed


Music Videos

Here’s the first video I ever posted: “70 Million”, by the Paris-based, Franco-American band Hold Your Horses.

It was complemented by another video about the inspirations for the images in the “70 Million” video. Try playing them simultaneously.

Still posting music, and still love this one.


Saying Goodbye to Breaking Bad

Was it really five years ago? For me, Breaking Bad was the Greatest Series Ever, and I still post about it at the drop of a pork pie hat.

No change; still obsessed.


Anglophilia

Rule Britania.

Dorothy Parker said she hated to talk to people from the UK, because they made her feel like she should be carrying a papoose on her back. I, on the other hand, am a pushover for anything said in one of the 684 recognized British accents.

And I love British comedy. Here’s Chris Turner, performing at The Glee Club, Cardiff:

Still a passionate Anglophile, still posting a disproportionate number of entries about the UK, even though Britain’s future looks grim, because of the self-inflicted damage resulting from Brexit. But then, it’s probably inappropriate for an American to criticize Brexit, since that was only the second most idiotic electoral result of 2016.


Restaurant Week

Summer Restaurant Week 2013 was what gave me the incentive to start blogging, and gave me the material I needed to get through the first few weeks.

Still at it. Posting Summer Restaurant Week 2018 pictures over the next two weeks.

 Some Things Have Changed, Thank God


On the left, the first Home Cooking picture I ever posted, long before my self-improvement Cookery Project started in 2016. On the right, the most recent Home Cooking picture

2013’s Poached Halibut and Asparagus with Basil-Tarragon Sauce vs 2018’s Cajun Chicken and Rice

I remember being so proud of the halibut, because I’d never poached fish before that.

I think my skill set and style have improved since then.


Much more to come in the next five years!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year — Restaurant Weeks!

I love Restaurant Weeks because they give me an excuse to enjoy two of my favourite Deadly Sins: Greed and Gluttony. Greed, because I can dine on excellent food for relatively little money, and Gluttony, because…I can dine on excellent food.

The plan this summer was to visit only places that were new to me. I had my schedule all set, when the Passion Food Hospitality group announced that they’d be offering a preview of Restaurant Week on the Friday before the official start date. I immediately made a reservation for lunch at District Commons. Not only had I eaten there before, I planned to have basically the same meal.

District Commons

District Commons

District Commons is a big, loud, busy restaurant in a part of DC called Foggy Bottom, which is between Georgetown and the White House. Over the past few decades, George Washington University has taken over much of the surrounding area.

Passion Food Hospitality is a group of seven Washington-area restaurants, including, besides District Commons,  Passionfish, and Acadiana. I’ve dined at five of the restaurants, and I’ve always been happy with my meals.

Texas Chili

Texas Chili

Served with optional onion, sour cream, and cheese toppings, and a delicious little cornbread muffin.

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

This is the main reason I came back to District Commons: To see if the Shrimp & Grits was really as good as I remembered it to be.

It was.

Servings here are generous, and for the second time, I took more than half my main home for late night snacking. The dish was composed of Sautéed Gulf Shrimp, Tasso Ham, Creamy Cheese Grits, and the usual base of carrots, onions, and celery that New Orleanians call “The Holy Trinity”.

I think I’ve just decided to go back to The Big Easy next February.

Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae

Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae

The last time I was here, dessert was an amateurish disappointment.  This Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae was a serious improvement. Cheesecake Ice Cream, Macerated Strawberries, and a Graham Cracker Crust.

The whole experience was a great lead-off for the weeks to come.

Duck Duck Goose — Lunch on 25 July 2018

Duck Duck Goose

Duck Duck Goose

Duck Duck Goose has been on my Restaurants to Try list for a long time. It just got a very favourable write-up in the Washington Post, which prompted me to metro up to Bethesda, Maryland, to check it out.

The restaurant occupies the building that used to house Brasserie Monte Carlo, a nice little French place that was one of my frequent stops when I was in Bethesda. I still miss their onion tarts.

Lamb Bolognese

Lamb Bolognese

Duck Duck Goose’s online menu is a bit tricky. It doesn’t differentiate between starters and mains, and the prices aren’t much help in figuring out which is which, so estimating the size of the portions is just a guess. Lamb Bolognese, my starter, had the same price as Steak Frites, my main.

The lamb dish, with Elysian Fields lamb, spaghettini, and heirloom tomatoes, was a knock-out. I started searching for Lamb Bolognese recipes as soon as I got home.

Steak Frites

Steak Frites

The Steak Frites were…Steak Frites. Good, as steak frites usually are, but not as memorable as the lamb dish.

I can see why Duck Duck Goose has become a neighbourhood favourite.