In my last post about our Miami trip, I talked about the Fontainebleau Miami Resort. But I didn't talk about any of the (numerous) restaurants on the property. There are a number of casual spots on the property, which I will talk about later. Then there are the four upscale "Signature Restaurants", which are the subject of this post.
First up is Stripsteak by Michael Mina, the most upscale restaurant at the resort. We are fans of Bourbon Steak (also by Mina) here in DC, so we were pretty excited to try this out. The space is pretty and modern, with a really cool glass wine room (and a really good wine list to go with it).
Like Bourbon Steak, Stripsteak serves buttery truffle rolls as it's complementary bread. So friggin good. Just give me 8 loaves. Also like Bourbon Steak, like the appetizers are on point. We ordered a burrata, asparagus, and duck prosciutto salad; a trio of oysters with salmon roe, paddlefish roe, and uni; and seared foie gras with strawberries, pickled fennel, and macadamia nut. They were all delicious, especially the foie.
I wanted to give a quick shout-out to a couple of my favorite local establishments in Chantilly, VA.
First up is 5T*Ice, an Asian dessert shop at Dulles Landing. I used to frequent Tutti Frutti, owned by the same people, but 5T opened much closer to where I live. Yay! In addition to frozen yogurt and gelato (including hard-to-find durian), they serve Patbingsu - shaved ice topped with ice cream, fruits, and syrups. I really like the coconut and ube bingsu with coconut shavings, sweetened condensed milk, and ube ice cream.
They also have bubble tea, smoothies, milkshakes, and other various similar drinks. I really like the Che Thai - a Vietnamese drink with coconut milk, grass jelly, coconut jelly, pomegranate jelly, lychee, jackfruit, and toddy palm. It is crazy good. If sweet is not your thing they also have steamed pork buns, sticky rice with Chinese sausage, and other goodies. And, no, I don't know what the name means - no one I know does!
This week, July 12-19, is Restaurant Week at the newly renovated Springfield Town Center in Springfield, VA. You can check out the menus for the 5 participating restaurants here. As a member of the NoVA Yelp Elite Squad, I was invited to try out the restaurants ahead of time. We had such a fun time and ate SO MUCH FOOD, it was insane. Check out what we were served below, and make sure to stop by Springfield Town Center this week for great deals on yummy food!
Our first stop was Yard House, an American restaurant with a huge menu including a big vegetarian section, and tons of beers on tap.
They served us an Ahi tuna salad, mac and cheese, and a Moscow Mule. The tuna was really well seasoned and perfectly cooked, but I didn't care for the greens. The mac and cheese was AWESOME - the pasta was the perfect texture and it was loaded with chicken, bacon, mushrooms, and truffle oil. So good - I definitely recommend it. The Moscow mule was light and refreshing, and really lovely on a hot day.
Next up was Chuy's - OMG CHUY'S!!! Words cannot express my excitement. You see, I am from Texas and this Austin based chain is my jam. The fact that it has migrated with me to VA is just the best. The manager here was super on point and spent a lot of time talking about how they make everything fresh in house. And yes, that is a giant strawberry margarita and pina colada swirl you see there.
So, I'm kind of obsessed with the new shopping area called Mosaic District, I spend a lot of time there. It has a lot of restaurants, but not many of them are sit-down type places. Of the few that are there, I like Matchbox the best. The food is good, the drinks are decent, and it's right next to the movie theater. For these reasons, it tends to always be crowded. But don't let availability on Open Table fool you - every single time it has claimed to have no reservations, we have walked in and been seated in less than 15 minutes. It's billed as a pizza joint, but more than half the menu is other types of food. I'd say it's pretty comparable to Chef Geoff's, but in a better location.
One thing that is pretty cool is that they have wines on tap, so you can order by the glass pretty easily. But what's even cooler is a deal with Swirl and Sip where if you buy a bottle of wine from them, Matchbox will waive the corkage fee!
This is one of my favorite pizzas - the prosciutto and black mission fig with black pepper, arugula, and honey.
Another favorite (for Jasper, as well) is the chicken pesto pizza.
This is the crab and avocado salad with roasted corn and tarragon aioli.
Seasonal restaurants like 2941 change their menu all the time as new products become available (for example, here is a post from last Summer), so I like to try to keep stopping in and see what is new. Here is a look at the menu as it was at the end of April.
Beef Tartare with baby kale, cornichon, Dijon mustard, fried potatoes. Those potatoes were pretty killer.
Tart with mangalica ham, creme fraiche, and onion. Good, but not great - I probably wouldn't order it again.
"Lobster Roll" with tomato gelee and avocado. Very light and refreshing.
Pot roast is a pretty standard American meal. Many folks have their own recipes that they love. But just in case you don't, here's mine! An herb crusted beef roast goes into a pot with potatoes, veggies, red wine, and beef stock until it is super tender - yum.
First step - rub that beef. Combine kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning to make a rub. Sprinkle over and press into the meat.
The you are going to brown those veggies and sear that beef. Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven until very hot. Then add an onion and carrots and cook until really browned. Remove the veggies temporarily, add more oil, and sear the beef on all sides. Then take that out, too, because you need to deglaze.
I'd been meaning to try this restaurant for a while, but it is inside a hotel which always makes me wary - overpriced and mediocre quality are the norm. The website claims that the chef is devoted to farm-to-table cooking and that they have an organic garden that provide herbs and produce and that they use local meats - I'm a sucker for all of that. So I finally just went over there for lunch to try it out.
My first impression was that the space is GORGEOUS - modern, impeccably designed. The hotel is very modern and upscale on the inside, too - which you cannot tell from the outside. The restaurant is long and narrow, with huge windows that run down the entire length of one side and provide lots of light during the day. When you enter, you walk past the kitchen with wood burning stove (hence the name) on the right and a large, glass-encased wine room on the left. The dining room is decorated with pearlescent white leather, pale green, and purple alligator print - very modern and luxe. There are glass fireplaces set at intervals throughout, just in case you forgot the name of the restaurant. It's very trendy and modern and I totally love it.
Now, the food - good quality with inconsistent pricing.
The lobster roll is what brought me here over the summer. The quality of the lobster salad was good and the buttery brioche bread was tasty, but as usual the ratio of bread to lobster was too high. Red Hook Lobster Pound really has spoiled me for life. I wasn't a big fan of the house chips - nice crunch but no flavor. The pickles, however, were fantastic - and served in an adorable tiny jar with a tiny spear fork.
This turkey sandwich is very much Thanksgiving-esque with caramelized onion, cranberry mayo, and their signature bacon jam. That isn't deli turkey, either - it is big slabs of roasted turkey breast. Huge, delicious, good value.
The fall agnolotti was very good, too, wit brown butter, crispy sage, lemon ricotta, and walnuts. I didn't see any figs though, which are listed in the description. Here's where the prices here get a little wonky - that giant turkey sandwich was $13.50, and this tiny appetizer sized pasta (which is billed as an entree) is $16. I mean - what?
My husband said he liked this turkey chili with white beans, cheddar, creme friache, and hot sauce. But I thought it was overpriced - $20 for a bowl of chili, just because it's listed as a main instead of a soup or appetizer.
Here is an example of the uneven pricing that swings the other way, thank goodness. This giant dessert of fresh made butterscotch pudding (served warm) with scotch soaked pound cake, salted caramel sauce, and fresh whipped cream is enough for 4 people, easy - and it's priced the same as the other desserts! It is ridiculously decadent and delicious and I love that they serve it in a pot with the little Le Creuset spatula.
We also got to try a free dessert that the chef was working on - angel food cake with more of that salted caramel and whipped cream. When I saw it I thought - boring. But it was actually really good. The thing with simple dishes is that each component has to be top notch, and that was the case here. Now I get why the chef wanted people to try it for free - you might not order that if you saw it on the menu, but once you knew how good it was that would change.
Here's an insider tip - if you check in using the Yelp app, you will get a coupon to take home a little jar of bacon jam! Do it - it's fantastic.
My takeaway from Harth is that the main plates are overpriced, so stay away from those. Stick with the creative sandwiches, huge salads, and wood fired flatbreads. If you are with a group, definitely get that butterscotch pudding. And take advantage of the fact that Mon-Fri any glass of wine is $8.
The new Mosaic Shopping Center in Merrifield, VA is super cool. There's a Target, an indie movie theater, a gym, boutiques, and cafes. Sea Pearl is one of the larger, less casual restaurants in the center. The website describes it as "Asian inspired modern American cuisine." The main focus is seafood - they have both cooked dishes and sushi - but they also have some meat dishes and a pretty good brunch (on Saturday, too, which I love). It's quite large and the decor is really lovely. It's a little on the feminine side, which would make it perfect for ladies' brunch or girls' night out (the drinks are good, but with DC prices). I've never seen it packed, so large groups could be seated easily.
Let's start with Brunch, because that is what I go for most often.
Cinnamon churros with warm chocolate dipping sauce: these are super awesome - hot, fresh, crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. Love it.
Ricotta fritters with honey and seasonal fruit (this time it was apple): these are good too, fluffy and rich. If you had to choose only one pastry though, I'd go with the churros.
This fairly new Adams Morgan located bistro was crowded and noisy when we went on a Sunday night. The decor is all rustic farmhouse and the tables are crammed in to fill up all available space like some kind of massive game of tetris. So I was a little nervous when we sat down, despite great reviews, but the attentive service and stellar food soon made me forget the crowd. Here, plates and utensils are cleared and replaced after each dish - service I would expect from a much more upscale joint. A well-stocked and well-priced wine list and unique cocktails (hello, "Farewell to the 20's") are icing on the cake. As usual, I was more excited by/impressed with the small plates, but the mains were very good as well. Some of the dishes are reminiscent of the style of DC star Michel Richard, which makes sense because Executive Chef Cedric Maupillier apprenticed under him.
First up - the beet and goat cheese "mountain pie". This was so delicious - thinly sliced beets layered with buttery lettuce gained depth from shallots and chives, while toasted bread served as the crust for a warm goat cheese and beet tart. I eat beet and goat cheese salads all the time, but this one is truly special.
Bacon and Onion Flammekeuche - an Alsatian style flatbread that seems simple, but is just awesome. Crisp, smoky, creamy - I could have eaten 5 of these.
Lamb tongue moussaka - this was good, but not as good as the other 2 small plates. Part of that may be that it didn't actually taste like moussaka to me. Chickpeas and heavy cumin (as opposed to cinnamon) made it seem more Middle Eastern than Mediterranean. That being said, it was still tasty and interesting; the tongue was very tender and it had a nice subtle heat.
Tagliatelle Bolognese - signature dish, gorgeous presentation. Unfortunately, I was not a big fan of this - heavy fennel made the ragu taste like Italian sausage, which I am just not that into. Sausage lovers - this is for you.
Shad filet topped with shad roe and lardo, over a potato and broccolini hash, with brown butter and lemon demi-glace. The roe topping was not my favorite, but the fish was well cooked and the hash and sauce were excellent. I seriously want more of that hash right now.
Pine nut tart with vanilla bean ice cream. I hate pecan pie, but I love this tart - the buttery pine nuts were so soft and just melted into the sugary base. There was also a creme brulee that I didn't photograph because everybody knows what creme brulee looks like, right?
All-in-all this place was great. I would love to come here for drinks and apps before hitting up Adams Morgan, but I don't know that I would go out of my way for dinner. I would love to try brunch, though.
Mintwood Place Website - for more information