Tag Archives: Lunch

Filomena — Lunch on 1 May 2019

Filomena

Filomena

This week I took the newly-free shuttle from Dupont Circle to Georgetown for a return visit to an old favourite. Filomena has been around since 1983, and any restaurant that can still fill the house after 36 years must be doing something right. At Filomena, that means serving consistently good food and providing consistently good service at a consistently good price.

And the portions are huge. I have what I euphemistically call a large appetite, but I had to call for take-out containers for the two-thirds of the starter and the main. I couldn’t even think about touching the dessert until 12 hours later.

Calamari

Calamari

At Filomena, the Calamari Fritti is marinated in milk for 24 hours before being and quick-fried and served with spicy Marinara sauce.

Rigatoni

Rigatoni

According to the menu, when Bono, from U2, ate at Filomena, he liked the Rigatoni con Salsicce so much that he ordered seconds. While I’m sure that’s true, I can’t imagine how he—or anyone else—could do it. Perhaps he took a nap between servings.

The sausage is made in-house, with mushrooms, onions, Chianti, and herbs.

Chocolate Truffle

Chocolate Truffle

Insanely rich dessert. Chocolate cake between layers of chocolates-ganache.

So there it is, the opposite of trendy. And I hope they never change a thing.

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Lunch at Le Café Descartes at the French Embassy

I’ve roosted in Washington, DC, for most of my life now, and I’m still making wonderful new discoveries about the possibilities for living well in the city. Until a few weeks ago, I was unaware that I could apply for entry to Le Café Descartes at the French embassy. All it took was an email request and a selfie. Last Thursday, I got my response:

Bonjour !
Your Frequent Diner Membership badge will be available in Le Café Descartes Coffee Bar, which is located in Building C of the French Embassy.

Building B

Building C, or maybe B

The embassy isn’t a single building, it’s a complex. Le Café Descartes is in Building C, or maybe B,* and serves lunch to embassy staff and visitors. The café consists of a small outdoor dining area, a coffee bar, a lounge, and a big open room that could probably hold a couple hundred people. To be clear, this is not white-tablecloth haute cuisine, it’s an informal, cafeteria-style lunchroom.

But it’s a lunchroom where tomorrow’s mains will be Escalope de Poulet Viennoise and Haddock Beurre Blanc, followed by Filet de Bronzino and Saucisse de Toulouse on Tuesday. We’re a long way from tater tots and cube steak.

Best of all, one of the choices for Friday was Confit de Canard, my long-time favourite French treat, and a perfect selection for my first Le Café Descartes meal. So late Friday morning, I grabbed my passport for identification, put on my red souvenir cap from the Château de Chenonceau, and headed for the embassy.

Duck Confit

Duck Confit

And there it is. Confit de Canard with Brussels sprouts and endive. The duck leg was on the small size, but I was in heaven. (I knew it was heaven because everyone around me was speaking French, and that’s what they do there. That, and eat French food.)

Blueberry Tart

Blueberry Tart

And a blueberry tart for dessert. Perfect.

I have a feeling I’ll be lunching here a lot.


April Lunches at Le Café Descartes


*The email said it was Building C, but the guard at the security gate said it was Building B.

Lunch at Swig and Swine

Swig and Swine

Swig and Swine

I couldn’t leave South Carolina without sampling the barbecue, and one of the best places to do that is at the downtown Charleston location of the eloquently named Swig and Swine restaurant.

Sauces

Sauces

I had a choice of five sauces. I tried a bit of each of them, but kept going back to the sweet red.

Barbecue

Barbecue

Here’s what I ordered: A half pound of Beef Brisket and Beans with Brisket as a side, plus a small salad and a large serving of Mac and Cheese. The brisket and the beans with brisket side were extraordinary. I can see why Swig and Swine’s barbecue is rated as the best in Charleston, but I think I’ll have to go back next year to confirm it.

Lunch at Hominy Grill

When I started researching Charleston restaurants, the first thing I did was call up the Charleston entry in Tom Sietsema’s Washington Post series, “The Search for America’s Best Food Cities”. In describing the city’s “all-stars”, Sietsema wrote that “…if there’s a single dish you have to try, it’s shrimp ’n’ grits at the cozy Hominy Grill”.

Good enough for me. Hominy Grill went right into the day plan.

It turned out that the restaurant is catty-corner* from R Table, the site of the previous night’s dinner.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

I started with fried green tomatoes. I wasn’t impressed.

I’d never had fried green tomatoes before, so I have no basis for comparison. Maybe it was because tomatoes are out of season, but the tomatoes had the texture of cucumbers.

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

Wow! Tom Sietsema was right about the shrimp and grits at Hominy Grill. Nobody else makes them like this. Unlike the traditional version of the dish, this one came without a creamy sauce, and those are bits of bacon scattered among the shrimp and mushrooms.

Excellent.


*Is “catty-corner” a mainstream word, or is it one of those terms that allows a skilled linguist to identify your hometown, because it’s only used colloquially in, say, rural northeastern Pennsylvania? It’s easy to guess where someone grew up, depending on whether they call a certain kind of sandwich a sub, a hoagie, a hero, a grinder, a po’boy or an Italian sandwich. Is “catty-corner” the same kind of indicator?

And what about “daresn’t”? Common where I come from, but I haven’t heard it since.

Lunch at Magnolias

Magnolias

Magnolias

Magnolias, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, was one of the restaurants that paved the way for Charleston’s emergence as a great American food city.*

The cool elegance and upscale Southern cuisine of Magnolias was a sharp contrast to that “comfortable Southern joint” vibe at Leon’s.  I suppose that comparing the two is apples and oranges, but both the food and the service at Magnolias were on a much higher plane.

Chili

The short rib chili was one of the day’s specials, and I’m so glad it was. I’m a chili aficionado from way back, and this was one of the best examples of the art form that I’ve ever tasted.

Those large croutons are cornbread. Croutons on chili?  Cornbread croutons on chili? Whatever. It worked.

Seafood on Grits

Seafood on Grits

My main was Shellfish over Grits, another updated version of a Southern standard. This one contained sea scallops as well as the traditional sautéed shrimp, lobster butter sauce, creamy white grits, and fried spinach on top. Memorable.

Gotta mention that my server was also memorable, not only because he was knowledgeable and amusing, but also because he assured me that all of my choices were absolutely brilliant. I had to admire his perception, and tipped accordingly.


Here’s a promotional video showing Magnolias in action:


*According to The Washington Post‘s restaurant critic, Tom Sietsema, the 10 Best American Food Cities are, in no particular order, Charleston, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland (OR), Philadelphia, New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, and Washington DC.

Lunch at Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop

Leon's

Leon’s

The choice of Leon’s for my first meal in Charleston was easy—it was the only restaurant on my list that served lunch on Sunday instead of brunch. Bottomless mimosas and $20 pancakes hold no attraction for me.

Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop operates out of a converted auto body shop. Can’t get any less pretentious than that.

Seafood Platter

Seafood Platter

The restaurant, which describes itself as a “comfortable Southern joint”, was fun and friendly, with a good mix of families, singles, and dates.  This comfortable Southern joint, though, has been “recognized as a leader in Charleston’s food scene by Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Condé Nast Traveler, New York Times, James Beard Foundation, and Travel & Leisure“.

I thought the food was just OK. I had the Leon’s Fish Fry: Three oysters, three shrimp, three pieces of catfish, two hush puppies, and a side of scalloped potatoes. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the superior platter that Captain White’s Seafood on the Wharf here in Washington offers for the same price, but I wasn’t impressed.

Leon's Interior. Image Found on the Web.

Leon’s Interior. Image Found on the Web.

Barcode — Lunch on 18 January 2019

Barcode

Barcode

My last lunch of the week was a disappointment. I went to Barcode, which is one of those places that changes identities depending on the time of day. It’s a restaurant at lunch, a Happy Hour hangout—the best in DC, according to the Washington Post—and a bar and lounge from dinner until 2:00 or 3:00 AM.

Bluecrab Chowder

Crab Chowder

The Blue Crab Chowder. with bell peppers and corn, was a fine starter.

I’d arrive early, around noon, and found the cavernous restaurant nearly empty. By the time I finished the chowder, it was half full, and the servers were in the weeds.

Steak and Fries

Steak and Fries

Much later, when the Steak Frites made it to my table, the grilled skirt steak was only moderately warm. I suspect that was because the plate had rested too long on a kitchen countertop waiting for pick-up while my overwhelmed server attended to other tables. I thought about sending it back—something I almost never do—but decided against it, simply because it would take too long to get a replacement.

Meanwhile, the noise level in the now nearly full restaurant had reached stadium levels, and I just wanted to get out of the place ASAP.

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

I stayed long enough to eat the Cheesecake topped with strawberry and rhubarb marmalade.

I left Barcode with no interest in returning.