Category Archives: Restaurants

Bistro du Coin — Lunch on 13 July 2018

I got an early start on Bastille Day this year by having a very French lunch at a very French restaurant. Bistro du Coin has been serving first-rate food in a casual environment since 2000, so it’s been around long enough to have become a Washington institution. I got there early to beat the lunch crowd, which meant that I felt free to break one of my own rules and take a picture of the restaurant’s interior. I wanted a shot of some of the Bastille Day decorations, but I didn’t want to infringe on the privacy of any of the diners.

Dining here always brings back memories of my earliest days in Washington. Before Bistro du Coin was Bistro du Coin, it was Food for Thought, a hippie-ish, vegetarian-friendly place that occasionally hosted live music by local performers. The food wasn’t particularly memorable, but it was cheap, and Food for Thought was one of the great DC handouts for the young counter-culture crowd that considered Dupont Circle the center of the universe. I was a member in good standing of that vibrant little community.

Casserole de Lapin à la Moutarde

Casserole de Lapin à la Moutarde

But back to the present….

I dined on Casserole de Lapin à la Moutarde, aka Rabbit Stew in light creamy mustard sauce with carrots, onions, and mushrooms. Best meal I’ve had in weeks. I savoured every bite. The only downside was that it left me too full for dessert, and I really wanted to try the Pêche Melba.

Next time.

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701 Restaurant — Lunch on 15 June 2018

The 701 Restaurant, named for its address at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, is one of my can’t-go-wrong dining spots in Washington. As I’ve recounted to friends—more often than absolutely necessary, they tell me—the first time I ate there, Éric Ripert was at the next table, which made me confident that no server at 701 would ever ask me if I wanted fries with that.

The restaurant is doing a month-long lunch promotion in June, celebrating peak season for fruit. Last week, it was all about peaches.

Grilled Georgia Peach

Grilled Georgia Peach

My starter was this Grilled Georgia Peach salad, with ricotta, arugula, and spiced pecans.

Duck à la Peche

Duck a la Peche

For me, when it comes to Duck Confit these days, resistance is futile. If it’s on the menu, nothing else stands a chance of winding up on my plate.

The grain at the base is farrotto, which has been described as a more robust cousin of risotto. And the peaches were roasted.

Dessert

Dessert

The meal was…a little disappointing. I guess even the best places can-go-wrong occasionally. It wasn’t a bad meal, and the service was superb, but it just wasn’t up too 701’s usual very high standards. The peaches weren’t quite ripe enough, and the portions were small.

Next time, I think I’ll stick to the regular menu.

Palette 22 — Pre-Theatre Meal on 5 June 2018

The Village at Shirlington. Image by Wells + Associates for the Federal Realty Investment Trust

The Village at Shirlington. Image by Wells + Associates for the Federal Realty Investment Trust

The Village at Shirlington is an “urban village” in Arlington County, Virginia. It’s a planned, upscale housing and retail development that blends the safety and walkability of a small-town with the urban pleasures of good restaurants and easily accessible culture. Shirlington is a perfect environment for the people David Brooks identified as “Bourgeois Bohemians”.*

I don’t go there often—It takes about an hour to get from my place at Dupont Circle to Shirlington, via Metro to the Pentagon, and then a seven-minute express bus to Shirlington Station—but, among other things, Shirlington is the home of the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre, one of the best regional theaters in the US, and I wanted to see Signature’s production of Girlfriend. (More on that in a later posting, probably. And, did you think that last sentence was ever going to end? I was about to find the nearest mirror and write “Stop Me Before I Type Again” on it in red lipstick.)

Before the show, I had dinner at Palette 22, a restaurant/art gallery. Interesting place. Everything on the crowded walls was for sale.

Sesame Steak Skewers

Sesame Steak Skewers

I ordered two dishes: The Sesame Steak Skewers and the Grilled Octopus. The servings were larger than tapas and smaller than full size, but not by much. Both selections were hot and spicy, which suited me just fine.

The octopus was served on a bed of purple potato hash and the skewers came with those thick udon noodles. Both dishes were very well prepared.

The weather on that late spring evening was perfect for dining outside, at one of the restaurant’s sidewalk tables. It’s at times like this that I take it all in, lean back, and say to myself, “I could live like this.” And then I remind myself that I already do.

Good meal. Palette 22 earns another visit.

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus


*Brooks coined the term in his 2000 book, Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. He numbers himself among the BoBos. I, too, am a member of the tribe.

Captain White’s Seafood — Lunch on 24 May 2018

I took a walk to Washington’s old Maine Avenue Fish Market a few days ago. The key word in that sentence is “old”. The site has been the city’s best source of fresh fish since 1805, which was about five years after John Adams became the first resident of the newly-built the White House. It’s the oldest operating fish market in the United States, and unlike some fish markets* it’s never been controlled by the Mafia.

One of the Market’s mainstays is Captain White’s Seafood. That’s where I had lunch.

This is the “Captain’s Combo”, Captain White’s $19.95 special. As you can see, it could probably feed a family of four for a week or so, assuming they all have large appetites and a craving for deep-fried everything.

It contains:

  • 3 Oysters
  • 3 Jumbo Shrimp
  • 3 Scallops, which were a little bitter
  • 1 Really Big Piece of Whitefish
  • 1 Crabcake
  • Clam Strips
  • 3 Hushpuppies
  • 27 Fries, more or less. I lost count.

Clearly waaaay too much. I went to the restaurant’s open-air pavilion and ate the crabcake, an oyster, a hushpuppy and some of the whitefish, while I watched the planes coming into National Airport across the Potomac. Took the rest of the meal home for dinner and nibbles, and as a treat for the neighbourhood cat, who didn’t seem to mind the bitterness of the scallops.


*Please note that I’m definitely not referring to the totally 100% honest management of the Fulton Fish Market in New York by the highly honourable Genovese crime family, which zealously guards its reputation, sometimes to the point of dismemberment.

Royal Thai — Lunch on 24 April 2018

No, that date is not a typo. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, since I’ve spent so much time posting about Belgium. Meanwhile, back here in Washington, life went on. I’ve had some good days since I returned, some good meals, some good media. And I’ve watched a lot of interesting movie and teasers, which I’ll be posting soon.

But first, a quick restaurant note about my first meal back in the states:

Royal Thai

Royal Thai

After a couple of weeks dining on European cuisine, it was nice to be back in the USA, and good old-fashioned American cooking. So for my first lunch, I headed to Chinatown and had Chicken with Eggplant at the Royal Thai.

There’s no place like home.

Chicken with Eggplant

Chicken with Eggplant

Waffles

The historic district of Brussels smells of waffles and chocolate. I’d eaten plenty of chocolate during my time there, but somehow never got around to waffles until my last full day in the city.

In S03E09 of Skam, the innovative Norwegian streaming series, one of the characters gets terribly excited when he hears that the school cafeteria is serving waffles. His reaction seemed all out of proportion to the news, and I could never figure out why he rushed off to place an order.

Offerings from a Brussels Waffle Shop

Offerings from a Brussels Waffle Shop

Now I know.

My selection

This was my last taste of Belgium (except for the 17 pounds of chocolate I brought home with me, and, yes, officer, it is for personal use only).

Lunch at Soup. Soup at Lunch. And the End Is Near.

I had an excellent light lunch at a tiny sidewalk restaurant called Soup, a couple of blocks from Bruges’ Market Square.

Soup

Soup

Leek Soup

Leek Soup

Delicious, fresh-made Leek Soup, with cheese and croutons and good bread, and a strawberry treat for dessert, all for €6.50. Made and served by delightful, friendly people.

It was such a pretty place, and there were enough empty tables so that I wasn’t keeping anyone from dining, so I decided this would be a good time to do what I’d come to Bruges to do…

(To Be Continued)