Monday, March 30, 2015

Washington DC: Oyamel

I enjoyed a wonderful, superb meal at Oyamel. It serves small dishes; I tried to sample as many different types of dishes as I could.

The meal starts out with chips and salsa, but what chips and salsa! The chips are not only the best I've ever had, they were so good that they make me want to never again eat those pale cardboard strips that everyone else passes off as chips. The salsa exhibited the complexity that was the basis for all of the dishes: the base isn't just tomato but also tomatillo and other ingredients; the chiles were clearly of several varieties, some smoked, each with their own contribution.

This is the bass ceviche. The acid taste is just enough to be fresh, not overwhelming. The bass was cooked just enough without being either too raw or too tough. Several other citrus flavors and a bit of pepper complemented the bass.

These fries are coated with a chocolate mole sauce and a crema sauce. The mole had all the complexity that you expect of a great mole; none of the component flavors overwhelm the others. The fries themselves were perfect, possibly fried in lard.

I had to try the grasshopper taco. Grasshopper is not a metaphor. Yes, if you look carefully, you can see the little grasshopper legs. The texture was a little scratchy but not hard. A dollop of guacamole was at the bottom. If it weren't for that, those little buggers would be dry but the overall effect was very nice. I noticed a definite citrusy taste, which I think came from the grasshoppers themselves.

The duck was extremely tender, just falling off the bone with the slightest push from my fork. The mole sauce was rich and subtle.

A chocolate dessert was an inevitability. The chocolate itself was of the richer, more robust style that one expects from Mexican chocolate. A nice citrus note is a great way to complement the strong chocolate.

Oyamel on Urbanspoon

Washington DC: The Partisan

When you eat lunch at a restaurant that is attached to a butcher shop, what do you order? Not the veggie burger, that's for sure. The Partisan offers sandwiches but it also has three lunch roasts: pork, chicken, and beef. I went with pork.

The pork was very rich with a good complement of fat, reminiscent of bacon, although this was a different cut, I believe. The pork was extremely succulent. It was accompanied by a kraut-style dish, which was good, and a basil/garlic/oil combination that was great. The bread had the form of an English muffin but had a denser texture; the light toasting that it received gave it a great nutty taste at the edges. This was, in sum, a superb lunch.

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Washington DC: ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen

It may seem strange to eat at a place like this across from the Chinatown gate but, what the heck, I thought I would try it. The format is n-choose-m: choose one of starch, protein, vegetable, sauce, topping.

My bowl had tofu, corn, and peanut sauce on top of brown rice. The peanut sauce was fine but not distinguished. Overall, it hit the spot, but not a memorable meal.

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Washington DC: Poste

Poste is the in-house restaurant at Hotel Monaco. I wasn't entirely happy with my first experience there but my subsequent experience was very satisfying.

At my first visit, I walked in and asked for a table. I was told that they had very few spots because of brunch reservations but was offered a seat at a small bar table. I pointed out to the hostess that for a hotel guest, being required to make reservations for breakfast was a little unusual. I ordered oatmeal for my breakfast and specified some extra items. When it arrived, I found that not only had those items been put into the oatmeal, but cream had been as well. I certainly think that I am capable of adding my own cream to my oatmeal, but the oatmeal was also very thin and soupy. I asked for a new bowl without the cream to try to get something with a thicker consistency. My next bowl didn't have cream but was still thin and runny. Watery oatmeal is usually a sign of making a pot of oatmeal last for a long time. In some circumstances I wouldn't be so picky about oatmeal, but when the bowl is priced at $11 I think that some amount of care is proper.

The next morning, I ordered an omlette, which turned out to be wonderfully fluffy and eggy. I couldn't have asked for a better breafast.

Poste on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Washington DC: Charlie Palmer Steak

I've eaten at Charlie Palmer Steak several times over the years and I was happy to have a chance for a return visit. The location across the street from the Capitol is spectacular, particularly at dusk. The interior is very stylish and refined. My service was extremely gracious.

The meal started with an amuse bouche. That's a chorizo in there.

I enjoy a salad with my steak and this Bibb salad was wonderful. It had all the components of a traditional steakhouse salad: onion strings, ranch dressing, etc. But it was much lighter than the traditional wedge salad.

This is my ribeye steak. It was perfectly cooked to medium rare. The texture of the outside was pleasantly rough and gave a good contrast to the buttery steak inside. I very carefully worked the bits of meat off the bone---they are very flavorful.

I had two accompaniments. The mushrooms are hen of the woods, which is something I hadn't tried before. They have a different flavor from the traditional cap mushrooms, still very earthy and very enjoyable. The brussel sprouts were also excellent, paired with white raisins and pecans.

I tried the special dessert. The cake had several layers separated by a milk chocolate ganache. The twin sauces are chocolate and a citrus sauce. The ice cream was also citrus. The combination of chocolate and citrus sauce was surprising and a big hit with me.

And just to be sure you don't go away hungry, they send out these little treats at the end. I tried a lemon square and a chocolate truffle, both of which were superb.

Charlie Palmer Steak on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cafe Bombay

Kudos to Moin, who suggested that I try Cafe Bombay. I hadn't been in a half-dozen years. I'm glad that I made it back. The decor is elegant, the service attentive, and the food is very good.

I started with some very fresh, crispy papadum. The mint sauce had a bit of heat to it, something that I didn't expect but very much enjoyed.

My main course was the 3-dish edition of the vegetarian thali (that's the Blue Plate Special for all you Southerners out there). I ordered two cheese dishes and chickpea dish, all of which were very good. The tomato sauce on the cheese stood out the most thanks to its bright acid note balanced against a bit of cream. The rice pudding had a definite taste of milk, which I really liked, and it wasn't overly sweet, something that I also appreciated. The naan were fresh and had a great soft texture.

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Stone Mountain: The Original Pancake House

I had a very enjoyable breakfast at the Original Pancake House. I've eaten at other locations but this was my first time here. The food met all of my high expectations and the service was very gracious.

I am a sucker for strawberry pancakes and these were outstanding: thick, fluffy, tasty. The sour taste mentioned by another review was probably the enzymes that the OPH adds to their pancakes. I personally enjoy the zing they give.

And my scrambled eggs deserve mention, too. They were very fluffy and cooked just right. This was just a side dish, nothing fancy, but they executed it very well. Eggs are surprisingly easy to screw up for a white oval.

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