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.

The Partisan on Urbanspoon

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.

Cafe Bombay on Urbanspoon

Cafe Bombay

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.

Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

The Diner at Sugar Hill

I visited this restaurant with a disabled person and was very disappointed with the staff's treatment of the disabled. As a result, I can't report on their food---we never made it to a table.

The Diner At Sugar Hill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Buford: Praise the Lard BBQ

I just had an outstanding meal at Praise the Lard BBQ. It's located next to a church. I had to ask---the pastor and pitmaster know each other but the restaurant and church aren't formally related. The menu does, however, mix biblical references ("Do not call unclean what the Lord has made clean") and pro wrestling references.

I ordered the burnt ends, which were superb. You won't need extra sauce. They come slathered in just the right amount of sauce to make them perfectly juicy. The meat is very beefy and smoky---this is a very flavorful cut. The carrot souffle is out of this world. It combines sweet, rich, and carrot-y tastes in perfect proportion. I ordered the spicy version of the cucumber salad, which was crisp but tender; the acidity perfectly balanced the carrot souffle. I also got a chance to try the baked beans, which was an excellent combination of dark and light red beans.

Service was superb. The owner made the rounds repeatedly. At one point he checked on my order and made sure it arrived.

Praise the Lard BBQ on Urbanspoon

Praise the Lard BBQ

57th Fighter Group Update

I was very disappointed with the kitchen at 57th Fighter Group during my visit. My burger, which I ordered as medium well, came out raw in the middle, as I discovered when I cut it open. The waitress took it back to the kitchen, then returned later with the same burger recooked, cut in pieces as I had left it. Taking a piece of meat that had been at a table and putting it back on the grill seems to me to be poor kitchen practice; it certainly sends a message to the customer that the restaurant doesn't care much about them. They finally sent out a burger that was cooked at least approximately to my request, although I am not sure that it quite met the medium well temperature. All this took quite some time---what should have been 10 minutes ended up taking a half hour.

57th Fighter Group Restaurant on Urbanspoon

57th Fighter Group Restaurant

Monday, March 16, 2015

Denver: Cucina Colore

Cathy, my Denver restaurant whisperer, introduced me to Cucina Colore in Cherry Creek, where we had a very enjoyable lunch. The atmosphere was warmly casual, just as one wants with Italian cuisine. The large windows were a perfect way for us to enjoy the view and talk on a splendid day.

Cathy ordered the chicken flatbread sandwich. It looked to be very hearty, with goat cheese added to the chicken. Spinacn, pesto, and marinated peppers topped it off.

I went with one of my standards---the Margherita pizza. The crust was nice and thin, just right balance between chewy and crunchy. The cheese and the sauce melded together perfectly.

Cucina Colore on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Denver: Highland Tap and Burger

I had a very enjoyable dinner at HTP. The place was very busy but I was seated right away. I was very impressed with the service: first, the hostess explained that the waiter would be delayed for a few minutes because they had just seated several tables; then, not too many minutes later, the waiter came over, apologized for the wait, and took my order.

This is my Shroom Luvas with Emmenthaler cheese and white truffle aioli. Everything about the burger was very good. The meat had a nice char on the outside and a pink, juicy medium center. I'm a big fan of Emmenthaler and it went very well with the burger. The bun was well rounded and full of flavor.

My salad was a nice complement, a very leafy, fresh dish. I had the tahini salad dressing which was subtle but gave a nice sesame flavor.

Highland Tap & Burger on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sacramento CA: Brookfields Restaurant

I happened across Brookfields while I was avoiding rush hour traffic. I really enjoyed my homey, well-prepared meal, which put me in the right frame of mind to get back on the highway.

This is my corned beef platter. The beef itself was both tender and full of that corned beef flavor. The cabbage and carrots were very tender but not cooked to death. The cornbread was outstanding---very sweet and with a lot of corn flavor.

I couldn't pass up the cherry pie. Once again, the cherries were full of flavor. The crust was excellent, too.

I found the service to be a little perfunctory but OK. Overall, this was a very pleasant experience.

Brookfields Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Twin Smokers

I certainly enjoyed my BBQ at Twin Smokers, although I can't say that I was overwhelmed. Twin Smokers is in the heart of the Luckie Marietta district, with all its plusses and minuses---lots of fun, crazy parking.

These are the twin smokers---giant machines. Someone decided to give them names...

My cell phone camera failed me again, so I can't show you a photo of my brisket plate. I ordered two sides: the beans were OK but not exciting; the slaw seemed to be sour cream based and was pretty nice. The brisket was very tender and flavorful. But I think that it lacked a little character. Although very well executed, it didn't excite me. I also found the food to be a little expensive given the size of the portions.

Twin Smokers BBQ on Urbanspoon

Twin Smokers BBQ