Archive for August, 2008

Bar Review: Urbana

Located on P street close to Dupont Circle and attached to Hotel Palomar (a pretty swanky place, I must say), Urbana is a fun little trendy bar to go to if you want a good glass of wine. I went there as the second part of a girls night (after dinner at a thai place just up the street), and we were having a well fabulous time until a fat awkward guy had to come and spoil the night. Fat awkward guy aside, we all really liked this place. The lighting was dim without feeling like a cave or one of those college bars where they turn the lights down so low that you don’t know what kind of mistake you are making with your new “friend,” and the couches and lounge areas were pretty chic. Evidently there is also a restaurant, which unfortunately we did not know about, but I am desperate to try it out sometime. For those of you who are eco-friendly, the wine list has a special legend for solar grown wines and organic wines, as well as sustainable vintages (sp?/correct term?). All in all (again, awkward guy aside) it was a good time, and definitely a place we will go to again. I saw someone a table over from us get a pizza, and it looked pretty interesting: all of the ingredients were piled in a mound in the center, and it looked like you had to spread them out around the pizza. As for wine, I had a Malbec (which was organic! I’m so posh and green) and a glass of a Savignon Blanc which was quite good. A couple of the girls had a sparkling wine (dunno if it was the Prosseco, but that was an available option), and they liked it.

Two thumbs up! Look out for awkward dudes visiting who might spoil an otherwise fun and chill girls night, however.


Rosa Mexicano

Have you ever felt a certain way about something, and then you realize that your feelings are all based on a faulty perception? Or maybe, you thought something was one thing when it was in fact another?

I have been to Rosa Mexicano multiple times with different people, and until recently I would say it was one of my favorite restaurants in DC. It’s fun, the atmosphere is lively, and it has a good bar. Nevermind the fact that service is always pretty slow and that sometimes it can be overly crowded, right? I mean, hell, I hated guacamole until I had the table-side guac here at Rosa. Now I can’t get enough of it.

Well, upon my most recent trip to Rosa, my perception of the restaurant somewhat changed. Usually I am a stickler for service at restaurants, and sometimes poor service can really spoil an otherwise nice dinner. Regardless, even though in the past I always had slow service at Rosa, I still raved about it. I’ve always ordered the same thing, the Tablones, which until this past time has always been phenomenal. Even more important, I’ve always had a good time.

On this last visit, however, when I was dining with my husband and his parents, I stopped seeing this restaurant through more or less rose colored glasses, and all of the flaws that I had ignored before started coming to the forefront. I’ve already hit on the slow service, which was particularly bad this time around. What was particularly annoying this time (and which I later realized that I had experienced before) was the incredible slowness on getting drinks from the bar. I also alluded to the fact that my much raved about Tablones were less than par. In fact, I got an atrocious cut of meat and could eat about only half of my meal. Even so, this still didn’t bother me so much at dinner. Was I trying to convince myself to have a good time and ignore these flaws, so that the restaurant I had held up as so good wouldn’t actually be bad? Was I trying to preserve some sort of image for myself? Another crushing blow was the desserts. I had tried the sundae before, and even though I didn’t really like it the first time around, I thought I wouls give it a second chance. Yet again, however, I was disappointed, and the sundae bowl was so hot (presumably right out of the dishwasher) that my ice cream melted almost instantaneously. If you know me, I love ice cream, and this was almost the last straw.

The final blow to Rosa came the day after I ate there. I’m pretty much an anti-chain snob and always profess that I refuse to eat at chain restaurants, so you can imagine how I felt when Jay told me that Rosa had multiple locations in New York. Instantly I thought of the Pace Picante commercials. New York City!? I also felt like a complete idiot. I had told SO many people that I absolutely LOVED this place, and here I was, professing my love for a chain restaurant.


Maybe I was brought in by the flashiness of Rosa. The first time I ever went there, I actually just sat at the bar. I still think the bar is great, and I love the margaritas and tequila selection the place has, and maybe I will revisit just that small section of the restaurant. Nevertheless, my love affair with the restaurant itself is over. I wouldn’t say that I feel cheated, more like embarassed for not seeing Rosa for what it actually is: a chain restaurant with bad service. At least you can order the tableside guac at the bar.

Restaurant Week: Taberna Alabardero, Washington

For our introductory Restaurant Week experience, Jay and I (really I) decided to go to Taberna Alabardero. We chose this place because it looked like a restaurant that we might not otherwise decide to go to, and by “decide to go to” I mean “afford to go to.”

This being our first Restaurant Week ever, I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect. I knew the concept of restaurant week: restaurants prepared pre fix menus for a set price and one generally lower than a normal course at the restaurant. We wanted to experience a finer restaurant at a low price, but realistically I knew that wherever we went probably couldn’t pull out the full stops for a Restaurant Week course.

That being said, I was very excited to try Alabardero. I had reviewed the website and had an idea of the food to be served, but I tried really hard not to make a food decision before arriving at the restaurant. Even though I had done a little bit of research on the place, simply walking into the restaurant was an experience in and of itself. I don’t have any photos of this trip, but if you want an idea of the interior you can check out the link above. Nevertheless, these pictures don’t do the place justice. It reminded me of walking into a very old hotel, with the red walls and the molding and the gilding and apointments. It was very grand, but not obsurdly so, and it definitely wasn’t stuffy. Jay and I sat in sort of a side room next to a large glass wine case. The room also had a limited view of the kitchen, which I unfortunately didn’t notice until after I sat down (my back was to the kitchen the entire time, and I would have loved to have actually looked into the kitchen).

For my appetizer I had the scallops with fresh strawberries and english peas. Peas are one of my absolute least favorite foods of all time, but the richness of the scallops and the sweetness of the strawberries really actually made them nice. I wasn’t super impressed by the dish, and for a fine restaurant it was pretty ho-hum, but I reminded myself that it was restaurant week.

My main course was absolutely phenomenal and I just couldn’t pass it up once I read it on the menu: roasted baby goat. It was rich but paired nicely with the roasted squash and vegetables that acted as a bed for the goat. There was also A LOT of it. The meat itself was so tender and not gamey at all. After this baby goat and an exquisite baby lamb at MAS tapas bar in Charlottesville, I am becoming convinced that baby animals are more delicious than their adult counterparts. The roasted goat was topped with one of my favorite things, fried leeks, and the crunchyness of the leeks paired well with the almost creamy tenderness of the goat. I don’t remember Jay’s main course, but I remember liking mine better.

For dessert I chose macerated berries in vinegar with a yogurt foam. I’ve had foams before that have always been very airy, but this was more like yogurt with a bit of air fluffed into it. Needless to say, the berries were very good and a nice lighter course after the heavy goat. I was a little concerned with my choice when I put the first spoonfull of berries into my mouth, because it just tasted like berries and cream, but when I got towards the bottom and started to get more of the vinegar with the berries, all of the flavors melded very well together and complemented each other nicely. Jay chose the rice pudding, which was nice and creamy but also had a nice and soft viscosity to it. I’ve actually never had rice pudding, always bread pudding, and this was a nice change.

Overall, our Restaurant Week dinner was a chance to get a good meal at a fine restaurant without paying the fine price, but the cheaper cost necessarily came with a cut in quality. Probably the best part of the meal was actually eating in this wonderful restaurant. I felt like a little kid who lied about her age and got to go to the fancy place, even though everyone knew I was just a little kid. Although I had a good experience, I don’t think Restaurant Week is really for me, and next time I might just save up so I can have the full-blown experience of the regular menu.


This is a short review and doesn’t include any pictures, but I wanted to get it out while it was fresh in my mind.

Ceviche is within walking distance from my new apartment, and Jay and I had been wanting to try it for a while. It looked fun, inventive, and as a local restaurant, we felt obligated to try it out. The evening we ate there was supposed to be a celebration night for me finishing the bar exam, so we were looking for a restaurant worthy of helping us celebrate.

The evening started off with a few drinks. Jay had a beer and I had the passionfruit mojito. I ignored my gut and decided against ordering a margarita. The mojito was good in that it was not too sweet, but I don’t know how much passionfruit flavor came through. Our first appetizer–and would have been our only one–was the guacamole with fried plantains. The guac was decent, but a very meager size. Due to the small amount of guac, we decided to try the ceviche sampler. This was a nice surprise and very good, and I had a hard time deciding which ceviche was my favorite. Things were looking up, until dinner arrived.

Although the choices on the menu all look very appetizing and exciting, our dishes were very generic. I had pulled beef with rice and beans, and Jay had chicken cooked in various spices, served with french fries and mixed greens. I could have made each of these dishes very easily in my own kitchen, and the taste wasn’t outstanding enough to help with the average and mediocre appearance. The flavor just wasn’t there, and it was kind of a downer that something I had looked forward to as a celebration meal didn’t really deliver. This place looked so fun, but the food didn’t live up to expectations.

Service was also mediocre, although not terrible. Our waitress asked us to fill out a comment card, which I was more than happy to oblige. I wrote a very condensed version of what I’ve written here, simply stating that the food was mediocre and did not live up to expectations. I also said that I wouldn’t recommend Ceviche for dinner, but that it was good for drinks, and perhaps some ceviche. We didn’t even try dessert, we were so underwhelmed by everything else.

I won’t be back any time soon, at least for dinner.

Hello, Washington

It’s been a long, long time since I last posted, which was way back in March. Lots of things have happened since then. I’ve graduated from law school, moved to DC, and taken the Virginia bar exam. I’ve also met lots of new amazing friends and am now located in a pretty food-intensive city.

Because most of my time in DC has been devoted to studying for the bar exam, I haven’t really had time to post on restaurant reviews. This is a little unfortunate, because I have visited a good amount of restaurants. I even already have a few favorites. 2 Amys is definitely one of my favorite pizza places, Max’s Best Ice Cream truly does have some of the best ice cream, and Ehtiopian food (courtesy of Zed’s) has got to be one of the most exciting types of food I have ever eaten. Regardless of these faves, I know I have so much left to experience, and so many other places to try.

If you have any recommendations for good DC restaurants, please let me know. I’m really interested in new and different kinds of food, and those good holes in the wall that serve the authentic stuff. I’m also looking for crazy stuff–I’ve been waiting to try lamb brains at a kebab place in Virginia for a while now. Whatever you think I should try, or whatever you might be too scared to try but would like to know more about it, please let me know!


August 2008
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