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.
I actually ate here a while ago, but the experience was so bad that I have been putting off writing about it for a long time. Vinifera is located inside a Westin hotel near Reston. I decided to head out there for some wine and tapas before picking my husband up at the airport, and it ended up being a huge mistake.
I sat out on the patio, which was totally gorgeous, but it took 20 minutes before I could flag down a waiter to take my order. I put in an order for a whole bunch of tapas at once, and also some wine. The wine arrived pretty quickly, but the food didn't even start arriving until 40 minutes later. 40 minutes!!! And then it was only the little one bite skewers; the rest of the food took even longer. That is totally unacceptable. And the food wasn't even that good. Less than average, I would say, and I tried a whole range of things. I won't even break down for you what I ordered, because it was all so forgettable. The $1-2 "pintxos" seemed like a great bargain, but they are literally tiny toothpick bites like you would find passed around at a party. Tiny, not that good, not worth $1-2 each, and definitely not worth a 40 minute wait. The rest of the food (and wine) was also overpriced.
I would maybe, MAYBE, say that it would be a nice place to grab a glass of wine on the patio, but not if you are on any kind of a timeline and watch out for a steeper than average mark-up.
San Antonio has become a really hip place since I moved away, and that is due in large part to the Pearl Brewery area. The original brewery was opened in 1881 and ran until 1985 when Pabst Blue Ribbon took over, and then shut down in 2001. The land was purchased and slowly developed into a shopping area, which is now booming. With a weekly farmers market, boutique shops, new apartments, and amazing restaurants - this is now the place to be. It reminds me a lot of Mosaic District, actually. They even built a new section of Riverwalk nearby!
Anyway, when I came to visit - all the places my family wanted to take me to ended up being at Pearl, so I have lots of reviews for you!
The night I flew in, my family took me to Cured, located in the historic administration building of the brewery. As you can guess from the name, cured meats are a large focus of the menu, but they also have cooked main dishes under the categories vegetable, seafood, fowl, pork, beef, and goat or lamb. My dad ordered a selection of cured meats for us, and they were delish - especially the country style pate and lamb/citrus terrine. I also had the pork cheeks poutine, which was AWESOME. The pickled cauliflower they put in there is totally unexpected and is what makes the dish, I think. For dessert I had a beet twinkie with meyer lemon curd - yum. The drink menu includes cane sugar sodas from much-beloved Dublin, TX; craft cocktails; and a killer beer list. My brother is going to have to get on here and tell me what local beer I had, because it was fantastic.
The next night, we went to The Granary - a modern BBQ joint located in the original brewmaster's house. I have never seen a concept like this before - super modern, artistic BBQ - very cool. Apparently my father comes here for lunch at least once a week, because the waiter greeted him by his nickname and knew his favorite dishes. We thought that was pretty funny.
Another belated Restaurant Week post brings us to a somewhat new Bryan Voltaggio concept in Chevy Chase - Range. Located inside Chevy Chase Pavillion (across from Mazza Gallerie), the interior is huge and split into multiple dining rooms. Unfortunately, we were sat in the far back in the most remote and boring corner. We still had pretty decent service, though, especially considering how packed it was.
The New American menu has a lot to choose from with a raw bar, charcuterie, wood fired pizzas, and a range of cooked dishes. The cocktails are innovative, and the wine list is good (our server recommended a wine from a vineyard that has a personal relationship with the restaurant and is hard to get elsewhere).
There was a cheese course on the restaurant week menu, so we went ahead and got that. But we also wanted charcuterie, which wasn't on the RW menu, so we ordered that a la carte - you can see the portion difference in the photo. Both selections were great and the housemade accompaniments were topnotch. I especially liked the mostarda and the fig jam.
My second course was the kale caesar salad with egg emulsion that everybody is always posting about, with good reason! It's a caesar, but it's one of the best you are ever going to get.
Jasper choose the beet salad with burrata. Pretty standard combo, well executed.
For my entree, I choose the goat cheese ravioli with meat ragu. Yummy, but the filling was pretty much just goat cheese, and a lot of it. I like goat cheese, but I would have appreciated a better balance.
Jasper choose the lamb with carrot-jalapeno romesco, which he said was awesome.
We had a good time and enjoyed everything we ate. I would like to return to try out more of the menu, especially with a group since the menu seems to be suited for it.
I know, I know - Restaurant Week was last month. I'm slow, get over it. So I had heard that Kaz was some people's favorite sushi joint in town and we hadn't tried it out yet. Well, that's what RW is for! Except that we got to there and Jasper promptly threw out the RW menu, crying "I want to eat whatever I want!". This is not the first time this has happened. Oh well.
First thing's first - the sake. They have a couple of sake tastings, and one of them is all nigori, so of course we ordered that! It was fun to try out a couple different ones, and all of them were new to us. We picked out favorite of the three and ordered a bottle.
First up - pork belly appetizer. Yummy, I mean - it's pork belly. Liked the presentation, too.
Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake with cabbage, bbq pork belly, mayo, and bonito. I scarfed this down before taking a photo, so obviously I liked it. But I did think it was too heavy on the bbq sauce.
Next up, sushi - lots of sushi. Standouts were the Hawaiian Walu special with wasabi leaf (top center), lobster with wasabi mayo (bottom right), and seared salmon belly (bottom center ) - though the salon belly was not as good as Kushi's. Toro, uni, and unagi were standard. The foie gras miso on the tuna and masago and creme fraiche on the salmon didn't really add anything, I wouldn't get them again.
We had two different events planned in two different states in the weeks before Christmas: a weekend-long birthday party in the Outer Banks and a family get-together in Nashville, TN. We decided it would be fun to connect the events via a long roadtrip, stopping at the Biltmore Estate in NC before continuing on to TN. Biltmore is HUGE. The house is the largest privately owned house in the US, and the grounds cover 8000 acres. It takes 30 minutes to get from the Inn on the property to the house.
We stayed for two nights at the Inn, which is a really nice hotel and spa. They were all decked out for Christmas, and had a gingerbread house replica of the Inn. There are multiple restaurants on the Estate - we ate at the Inn Dining Room the first night, and like it so much we decided to eat there the second night too!
The Dining Room is seasonal, farm-sourced fine dining. I really liked their small plates and respectful treatment of produce. The amuse bouche was a different cream based vegetable veluote both nights and they were both outstanding. I could have eaten a bowl of that for dinner and been happy.
My favorite dish was the fried brussels sprouts with a farm egg, frisee, and bacon. This is seriously the BEST brussels sprouts dish I have ever had. It was eye-rolling good. I ordered it both nights and asked for the recipe, which they gave me! I'll post it at the bottom.
Another standout was the roasted corn and lobster soup with piquillo peppers. This has been added to my list of favorite lobster dishes, and is in the top 3 lobster bisques for sure.
The pork belly with apple tart and goat cheese ravioli appetizers were also very good and I would highly recommend them. The gnocchi with brie, figs, and bacon was not enjoyable, though. The brie overpowered everything else and the bacon was way too salty. It sounded great on paper, but didn't work.
The artisan meat and cheese platter was very satisfying, with lots of variety and good portions. I didn't order any entrees, and Jasper ordered specials both nights. He really enjoyed the seafood special the first night, but did not like the steak special the second night.
Overall, the good outweighs the bad here and I would recommend trying it out if you are ever in the area.
I don't really know what to say about this place. The reviews were all great, and my husband really liked it, but I wasn't impressed.
We tried plenty of sushi, as you can see, and I thought it was just average (especially for the price). Taro and Kushi are way better in my opinion.
I was more impressed with this creamy lobster and scallop dish, but not enough to make me come back.
There was nothing really wrong with any of it, but it didn't stand up to my expectations. My husband might disagree, but I found it to be overpriced for average sushi. The pear martini, however, was delicious.
Earlier this year I wrote about a restaurant called Sea Pearl, mostly in regards to their brunch. That review was pretty positive. I've been back a few more times for lunch with more mediocre results.
This lobster roll was pretty decent, but not my favorite in the area. It's very herby, which isn't bad - I just don't prefer it personally. I would say that Coastal Flats has better. Also, though the garlic rosemary fries were good, I wasn't a fan of the boring side salad that came with.
This burger was pretty good with the caramelized and pickled onions. But the foie gras was unnecessary. I can't believe I'm saying that because it was the main reason I ordered the burger, but it just felt like it didn't belong (unlike the stellar version at Mockingbird Bistro in Houston, TX).
Lastly, the Hudson Valley roll was a huge flop. Seared foie gras, raw tuna, and green apple with a balsamic plum wine reduction. This just didn't work, and the foie had a weird bitter taste. I noticed it on the burger, too, so however they are cooking their foie here is no good.
I think I'm going to be sticking to brunch for awhile.
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.
As a thank you to all the bloggers and media folks supporting their events, DC Wine Week hosted an invitation only brunch at Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar. The space is very cool - a three story townhouse with big windows and modern decor.
There were three sparkling wines available for tasting: Ca'del Pucino Prosecco, Lovisolo Brut Nebbiolo Spumante Rose, and Opera Lambrusco. The Lambrusco was our favorite - a sparkling red with raspberry notes that reminded us of our favorite black raspberry port from Fabbioli.
Small bites of brunch food were served buffet style. This was a sneak peek at the new brunch menu at Sonoma, just for us!
On the menu were roasted baby beet skewers, prosciutto wrapped melon, French toast bites with apple and cinnamon, cured meats, and cheeses with homemade fruit spreads. The big item on the buffet was a breakfast "burger" - with a house-made sausage patty, bacon, and Cabot white cheddar on a house-made bun.
Everything was very tasty so I would love to check out the regular brunch menu, or the dinner menu, or any menu - why isn't this place in NoVA?!
And that brings us to the end of DC Wine Week! We had a great time and will definitely be participating next year. I hope to see you there!
What's your favorite wine bar? Leave your answer in the comments.