Trouble With Toast

So many restaurants, so little time (to write about them) | January 25, 2008

Over the past month or so, I’ve had a TON of interesting dining experiences.  Rather than format individual posts, I figured I’d slap my thoughts down right here.  For your reading pleasure, of course!

Proof (Friday 1/4)–Ah, I love this place!  The atmosphere is hip, the bar is hoppin’ (no wonder, with all of the great wine selections), and the food seems to get better every time I visit.  The boyfriend and I shared the charcuterie board (which was HUGE, and a great value at $28)–I’ve never had so much cured meat in one sitting!  Everything was really delicious, especially the house-made pate.  Next we shared the cauliflower soup with crispy oysters–the former was AMAZING, and it actually didn’t need the latter (which had a cornmeal batter that wasn’t to my liking).  The scallop entree was lovely and perfectly cooked, but the desserts really left us with smiles–the sticky toffee pudding cake was delectably sweet without being cloying, and the goat’s cheesecake was divine in both texture and flavor.  Combine all that with some very well-recommended wines, and you’ve got a wonderful evening!  I’m returning to Proof tonight, and I can’t wait–it’s such a great addition to the DC restaurant scene.

2 Amy’s (Tuesday 1/8)–My first visit, and it was tasty–my margherita extra pizza (tomato, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil) was the table favorite–but the experience just didn’t live up to the fanaticism that surrounds the place.  Our server was excellent, and the wine and beer selections were really nice, but the pizzas (of which we ordered four) fell somewhat short of expectations.  The crust was alright–certainly not raw or significantly underdone, but definitely not as firm and crisp as I usually prefer.  The toppings were obviously of high quality, but their proportions seemed to be off–too much cheese on some, too little on others.  Sister had a special mushroom pizza, sister’s boyfriend had the calabrese pizza (tomato, onions, anchovy, mozzarella, parsley, and olives), and my boyfriend had the ripieno extra stuffed pizza (ricotta, grana, salami, prosciutto, pancetta, and tomato).  We all tasted everything, and the response was pretty consistent–good, but not mind-blowing.

Bistro 7 (Saturday, 1/12)–This is one of Philly’s famed BYOB restaurants, and my girlfriends and I really enjoyed ourselves.  The space was smaller than I anticipated, but that gave it a really homey, comfortable feel (though I have no idea how the chefs worked their magic in the teeny tiny kitchen).  Highlights of the meal were the duck mousse from the charcuterie plate (smooth and incredibly delicious), the gnocchi (light and pillowy, just the way they should be), and the duck legs (crispy, flavorful skin, and moist, tender meat).  The lentils that accompanied the duck were significantly undercooked, and the dessert was a total miss (it was a pear tart with savory, pepper-infused creme fraiche, and it just didn’t work for me), but the service was good and the fresh bread was wonderful.  Mostly, though, I enjoyed drinking a lovely bottle of Grgich Hills chardonnay without paying the ridiculous restaurant markup.

Creperie Beau Monde (Sunday 1/13)–Also in Philly, this place was recommended to me by my sister and her boyfriend.  All I can say is–YUM!  They had a zillion varieties of crepes, both savory and sweet, and I definitely would have tried more if my stomach had stretched a little farther.  I started with French onion soup, which was really well done–the perfect amount of cheese, and a hearty onion flavor.  Then, I had a mushroom crepe, which was done with buckwheat.  Very tasty.  The star of my breakfast, however, was the Nutella and banana dessert crepe.  Oh. My. GAWD.  I’ll go back just for that.

Bourbon (Wednesday 1/16)–I’ve had drinks at this Adams Morgan bar before, but I’ve never ordered food.  I opted for the ostrich burger, served rare, and a side of tater tots.  It was probably the best “bar food” I’ve ever had.  I’ve heard that Bourbon does a really good brunch–that’s definitely on my to-do list!

Vidalia (Saturday 1/19, Restaurant Week)–For appetizers, I opted for the veal tongue and my boyfriend got the bison carpaccio/tartare. The former was out of this world–incredibly tender and flavorful, it almost reminded me of a really good pupusa (due to the flatbread on which it was served and the cabbage “slaw”). The bison was also a winner, though I didn’t get much of it because it was wolfed down too fast! For entrees, I went for the rabbit saddle and boyfriend got the cassoulet. I’ve had rabbit before at Vidalia, and this version just didn’t wow me–it was tasty, and the carrot-ginger puree was a wonderful touch, but the meat was cooked more than I would have preferred (my sister got the same thing and asked for it to be cooked rare, and the server indicated that it couldn’t be done that way) and the spaetzle didn’t really contribute anything to the dish. The cassoulet was great–we couldn’t decide which part of the pork was our favorite (I think mine was the shoulder, but the sausage was also nice). The beans were hailed table-wide as the best part of the dish–yummy! For dessert, we returned to our favorites–the pecan tart for me (fabulous, as always) and the peanut-butter crunch for my man. Service was good, if a bit frazzled (hey, it was Saturday night of Restaurant Week, that’s to be expected). Wine recommendations, from both the server and the bartender, were spot-on and reasonably priced. As I left, I was even invited back for one of the wine tastings (in a way that didn’t feel like I was being sold something)–what a wonderful strategy to get people back in the door! I will certainly return to Vidalia as many times as possible before I leave DC–it remains one of my faves in the city.

I also visited Corduroy recently, but that meal deserves a post of its own (especially since it was my first experience there).  So, there you have it!  After tonight’s return trip to Proof (hooray!), I plan on eating out less and cooking MUCH more.  Stay tuned!

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