Bistrot du Coin

Recently visited Bistrot du Coin in Washington, DC in the Dupont Circle area. They coin themselves as ‘The Original French Bistrot in Washington DC.’ The restaurant will turn 17 years old this year and offers a nice open space with high ceilings and opportunity to almost sit on Connecticut Ave when the front doors/walls are open on gorgeous days. They are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

We went on a Tuesday night, fairly early, 7ish. Was easy to get a table. By the time we left around 8:30pm, it was busy. The service was extremely slow. Took a long time to get simple things like water and drinks.

Looking over the menu, a decent selection of French food. What ended up coming to the table (along with some Stella Artois and Alsace wine).

Salade Niçoise façon Bistrot
Bonito tuna,hard boiled egg, Anchovy over mixed greens, Vegetables, black olives $17.95

While it was good, why do they have to used canned tuna? I would love some nicely grilled stuff.

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Moules Marinières
Steamed mussels in white wine with onions, shallots, garlic and parsley $13.95/$23.95

These were done nicely and the tasted delicious.

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Onglet à l’échalotte
Hanger Steak with French Fries served with compote of shallot, red wine sauce
(Chef recommends med-rare or rare) $25.95

Very traditional. Now it was ordered medium rare and came out pretty much bright pink in the middle. We did have to send it back because there is a difference between pan-searing it momentarily and letting it cook for a couple minutes. When it came back it out, apparently it was quite good.

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Overall, a decent dinner, but as commented initially, extremely slow service. Just getting refills on the water was challenging. So, glad I went, but not a restaurant I need to check out a lot, but also not one I would have a problem going back to.

Chateau Larose Perganson

It was one of those beautiful nights in DC recently and I just wanted to sit on my deck and enjoy a nice dinner and red wine. So I picked through my wine rack and pulled out one that looked good. It was a French wine, but I know I didn’t buy it in France directly because of some of the notes on the label. It was the Chateau Larose Perganson 2009 Haut Médoc Cru Bourgeois.

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Opened it and poured some in my glass with the aerator. WOW.  Why have I waited so long to open this?

Per the site, its tasting notes are:

Intense ruby color with violet hues. The nose is quite powerful, a true symphony of spices: milk caramel and vanilla, of jammy fruits: ripe plums, black currants, blackberries, as well as aromas of roasted coffee, toasted bread and dark chocolate. Perfect roundness from a combination of opulent fruit and good oak ageing which provide superb balance and complexity. 100% cold pre-fermentary maceration. A fabulous wine! Please decant two hours before tasting.

My comments:

Smooth and then smooth. It was creamy and just slid through your mouth. Fruit and chocolate.

I had to figure out where I bought this because I’m not sure how long I’d had it. After much research, I found it at Rodman’s (in NW DC). It’s about $25/bottle. Can’t go wrong with Rodman’s. And, will definitely be picking up some more.

Buck’s

Want to go fishing? Want to camping? Are you in DC? Just go to Buck’s. You might not actually get the true aforementioned, but you’ll get a great dinner.

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I had heard much about this place, located on Connecticut Ave., at the intersection of Nebraska Ave. in upper NW. Buck’s Fishing and Camping, here I come.

My friend and I checked it out in February and they had the Valentine’s theme going on, so the cocktail menu included sparkling rose. Bring it on! A perfect way to start off the evening.

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We opted for an appetizer to tide us over while we looked over the menu. It was a special that night, a white bean hummus with homemade chips.

El Chalan, DC

I quite enjoy Peruvian cuisine — they have great cocktails and seafood! Was headed to the Kennedy Center one night and found a place sort of near it to check out for that cuisine — El Chalan. It’s in the basement/lower level of a building and is fairly small, so it’s nice and comfortable.

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They had a good amount of options on the menu, which made it tough to decide. But, the first order of business was a pisco sour. So refreshing!

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For dinner, I ended up going with 2 smaller options —

Palta Con Palmito/ Slices of avocado and hearts of palm

Ceviche Mixto/ Fish,shrimp,and squid marinated in mixture of lemon juice and seasoning

My friend went for some stew —

Cabrito Norteno/ Goat stew cooked in beer, vinegar, onion, and spices, served w/ rice and beans

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The ceviche was delicious, I love when I can find it with squid. And the nice basic salad balanced it well.  My friend said the stew was just as it should be and good & hearty. I tried a bite as I’d never had goat. It was fine, nothing overly exciting me for, but glad I was able to try it. So, great food, would check this place out again.

Mark’s Kitchen

A new (to me), local place I visited recently is Mark’s Kitchen in Takoma Park, MD (right near the Metro). They are a great neighborhood place with a menu that contains every type of food you could want. As they say —

Welcome to Mark’s Kitchen, a small neighborhood restaurant with an amazingly big menu full of so many choices that everyone can easily find something that will make them happy. Mark’s Kitchen is a very friendly place—it’s vegetarian-friendly, vegan-friendly, carnivore-friendly, kid-friendly, traditional family-friendly, alternative family-friendly and everyone else-friendly. A full meal or a light meal, a complete breakfast—most of which is available all day long—fresh juices, craft beers, wines, wonderful milkshakes, great ice cream desserts. That’s Mark’s Kitchen, a Takoma Park institution since 1990.

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It took me a long time to read through the menu and decide on what I wanted. Do I go for a basic sandwich, do I get some breakfast for lunch or do I go crazy? Well, I decided to go for a unique salad, because they had some great sounding Asian cuisine. And, my friend went pretty basic.

My choice was the Seaweed Salad —  wakame, hijiki & kombu seaweed, avocado, cucumber & sliced lemon on a bed of mixed seaweed w/ our own no-fat, no-oil lemon ginger salad dressing or our spicy sweet & sour chojang sauce.

My friend opted for the Smoked Salmon Club Sandwich — smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill havarti cheese, veggie bacon, red onion, capers, lettuce, & tomato.

That salad was amazing! I had never had so many different seaweeds. What’s funny is that I don’t really care for seaweed when it’s the crisp stuff that wraps sushi (rolls), but when it’s finer/chopped/in salad form, it’s so good! There was some great dressing or marinade to it and the avocados, bring ’em on!

My friend said the sandwich was quite good, just what a club should be.

We were there at lunch time — service was a bit slow. It was tough to get our water filled and the glasses at the table weren’t huge, so that was the one downside.

Will definitely check Mark’s Kitchen out again.

China Chilcano

Was able to dine at a restaurant I had not yet checked out awhile back — China Chilcano in the Gallery Place/Chinatown/Judiciary Square area of Washington, DC. I had heard rave reviews about it so couldn’t wait to check it off my list.

It is one of Jose Andres’ places and it brings together Peruvian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. And their feature cocktail – Pisco Sours.

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I went on a Wednesday night. Made a reservations so the table was all set. The tables were at a very low level (from the ground) so you really have to bend over/down to eat. The light was very yellow-y, too. Not sure why. Hence why the picture all have an odd light to them.

The service was very slow, as in it took a long time to get our waiter. Once he finally arrived, we had to make the required order at such a restaurant — pisco sours! And they also bring you these little nibbles — pepitas.

Once we received the pisco sours (that also took awhile), cheers! Very nice.

The menu is tapas-style, so most of the dishes are small and meant to be shared. The choices were almost overwhelming. But we finally decided on:

Ensalada de Chonta — Hearts of palm, tamarind, avocado, tomato, kiwicha seed, sweet plantain

Ceviche Clásico La Mar — Red snapper, leche de tigre, sweet potato, red onion, cancha, cilantro

California (Roll) — Potato causa, jumbo lump crab, spicy mayo, cucumber, avocado, tobiko, huancaína sauce

HaKao — Steamed glass dumpling, shrimp, pork, ají rocoto-soy sauce

Yàn Wõ “Birds Nest” Soup — Coconut “Birds Nest” soup, pink grapefruit sorbet, mint, sesame, ginger

Like a typical tapas restaurant, these orders came out randomly. Some within a minute then others about 15 minutes later.

The hearts of palm salad was by far my favorite. Could have ordered several of those. The ceviche wasn’t quite what I was expecting because it was ‘soupy’. I could have used a spoon to eat it (picture below, top row, right). Unique and tasty, nonetheless.

The other dishes were very good, as well. The others at the table enjoyed the dessert and said they’ll have to pass next time. I had a small bite of the sorbet and it was interesting. I’ll stick with just the citrus itself.

Very glad I checked the place out, would totally go again.

 

Proof

There is a nice wine-oriented restaurant in DC, Proof. Had been there a few times and opted to check it out again after going to the theater to see Nutcracker for the first time.

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Started at the bar because my friends and I arrived before our reservation. We all enjoy wine, so we were inquiring quite a bit about several of the wines they offered. The bartenders didn’t particularly want to help us more than where the wines were from and the varietals. For a wine restaurant, it was surprising. We had to order it on a whim and hope it was good. It was fine, but nothing I’ll order again, or remember. I didn’t even remember to take a picture…

We sat down at the table and it was extremely dark. The picture above is a flashlight you can use to read the menu. It’s both a flashlight and magnifying glass. The print is very small on the menu. I have really good vision and was having problems. The waiter said that is the tone/ambiance they want to set — darkness, it’s a better mood.

Once we were able to read some of the menu, our not-so-helpful waiter (in addition to the start with the bartenders) came and explained some of the specials. We also let him know about dietary restrictions. My friend is allergic to shellfish and nuts, as well as being lactose intolerant like me.

We decided to get some side dishes as appetizers and went with:

-Brussels Sprouts, Kimchee Mayo & Vietnamese Dressing
-Fried Cauliflower with Lemon, Tahini, Garlic & Mint (didn’t get a picture since because of the nearly non-existent lighting, it was tough to get decent shots)

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After spending awhile looking over the entire menu we were finally able to choose what we wanted.

I opted for the Scallops a la Michel Richard: crispy brussels sprouts, apples, confit leeks, basil & vincotto. I asked if there was dairy in this and the waiter gasped and asked how could there not be and why would I make an alteration? I wasn’t sure and just needed it because of being lactose intolerant. He was flabbergasted that I didn’t know who Michel Richard was. Sorry. So, he said would check with the kitchen but didn’t think it would be possible to alter such a well known chef’s original recipe. Long story short, he said they would make and exception for me.

My friends ordered the Pekin Duck: käsespätzle, red cabbage, duck confit, horseradish, green apple, concord grape sauce. They made sure there was no dairy in there for her, and she was safe because there was also no fish on there, or no crazy fish ingredient in any of the sauces.

The other friend ordered the Sautéed Potato Gnocchi: butternut squash, cauliflower, beech mushroom, apple brown butter.

While we were waiting for the food, we asked for the sommelier. He came over and was a bit more helpful and gave some interesting comments about the restaurant and how it’s changed. He’d only been there a few months and once we started talking to him more he got much friendlier. The nicest service we had all night.  He did suggest another wine after taking into account our likes in wine.

The food was good. Overpriced, but at least decent in taste. The evening at least ended well when our waiter was kind enough to confirm my friend’s initial thoughts — Cal Ripken was sitting at the table behind us. My friends, who are huge baseball fans, got up after dinner to ask for his autograph to give to their grandma for Christmas. She’s a long time Orioles fan. Can’t go wrong with that.

The Wine Harvest

There is a fun local restaurant in Park Potomac, MD (just outside of DC) called The Wine Harvest. If you know the area, it’s off of Exit 4/Montrose Rd from 270, or if you’re ever just going up 270, it’s where that Harris Teeter, Founding Farmers and the ever-growing townhouses/developments are (though that last part doesn’t totally narrow it down).  They also have a location in The Kentlands.

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It’s a small, family-owned place that offers a casual, tasty menu and also sells wine by the bottle/is a wine shop. Oh, beer, too. They have a bar where you grab or drink and tables to sit back and relax.

Last time I was there I just went for some sort of finger food and opted for the Smoked Salmon Plate — smoked salmon served with chopped red onions, capers, sour cream and baguette slices. Instead of sour cream they were great and put manchego on there for me!

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My friend went for the Greek Salad romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, Greek olives, pepperoncini, feta cheese, served with Greek dressing and pita and added a bowl of the Soup of the Day, which was a Cream of Broccoli.

We enjoyed a bottled of Italian wine with dinner. You can order wine by the glass from the menu or buy a bottle from their nice selection, but are then charged a corkage fee. But, you can take it home if not finished.

Everything, from food to service was very good. The prices are also excellent. Not your typical DC prices, which is great!

Pacci’s Trattoria

Awhile back checked out an Italian restaurant I had heard about in the Silver Spring/Forest Glen area of DC — Pacci’s Trattoria.

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They have a pretty traditional Italian menu, nothing overly fancy. After we had plenty of time to look over the menu, we finally got a waiter. Not overly eager, rattled off the specials, not very understandable (extremely heavy Italian accent). After that, stuck to the menu.  I decided to go with Piattone di Pacci’s, signature sample platter features Bruschetta al Pomodoro, buffalo mozzarella (skipped that), smoked salmon rolls, artichokes, olives, and prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe.

 

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My friend opted for a Pacci’s salad, baby spinach, arugula, cucumbers, fresh mozzarella, onions, nuts, cranberries, pears and our homemade honey balsamic vinaigrette and Ravioli alla Florentine cheese ravioli with spinach, artichoke and garlic cream sauce; topped with shaved parmesan.

 

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The food was all pretty good, but nothing spectacular/out of the ordinary. The service was just terrible though. Even though I told the waiter that I was ordering  a (large) appetizer as my entree, he brought it out first. Then the pasta dish took maybe half an hour+. And the restaurant was not at all busy. You always have to try a place…

Le Chat Noir

Have been in DC for many years and finally made it to Le Chat Noir.  I used to even live only about mile from it. It’s a French restaurant located between Friendship Heights and Tenleytown in NW.

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Went on a Saturday night.  Had reservations but it wasn’t too busy, the service was pretty slow, though. The menu has a good amount of selection, but of course I had to do some good picking because of being lactose intolerant.

Opted for a bottle of rose, for kicks, Le P’tit Rose. It was good, a bit sweet, a fun wine to try.

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While deciding on dinner, with the wine we enjoyed addictive bread.

Then, for the first course of dinner, I opted for a salad and my friend went for the Crèpe fourrée. Crèpe stuffed with crabmeat, bay scallops, mushrooms, Chablis cream sauce.  Apparently that was pretty darn good.

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Main course was a Bijoux de boeuf au poivre. Grilled beef tenderloin, grilled asparagus, gratin dauphinois, green peppercorn sauce (the asparagus is on the side).  It was perfectly cooked and melted in the mouth.

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I opted for the Saint Jacques à la Bretonne. Sea scallops, truffle risotto, cremini mushrooms, white wine béchamel & gruyere cheese gratin.  They made some nice substitutions on the dairy and grilled the scallops, put it on a bed of lentil ‘crust’ with a side of pickled veggies.  All very nice.

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Very happy I finally checked this place out!