Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend in DC

Now that we're settled into our DC apartment part of the time, it's fun to spend time down there on weekends every now and then. 'Stead of in the city - you know - New York City. Significant Eater and I always love weekends during the summer in the city - well, except for the parts that I can't stand, like the heat, humidity and smell. But it's a fact that when a lot of New Yorkers leave town for the weekend in the summer, if you avoid the tourist and other generally annoying areas, the city takes on a different feel - more relaxed, slower - a fun time to be together.

Why I explained that I don't know, but this past weekend was a DC one - and as far as our stomachs were concerned, we had some really great food, some mediocre food and cocktails, and some decent street food to go along with it all.

First lemme show you some gratuitous views from our roof-deck. SE gets caffeined up on the roof every morning. Here's the...well, if you don't know what this is, you might want to get that checked...

And here's the Washington National Cathedral...

with some big building in the foreground whose name escapes me.

Oh, we were taken to a secret spot by Miami Danny (now a Washingtonian, even though he still wears flip-flops, in a freakin' city)- well, secret that is, except for the busload of tourists that had pulled up. Here are MD, SE and guess who? I won't tell you who it is or where it is because I don't remember, but maybe you can look it up.

Bar Pilar was where SE and I started on Friday night - and is there really no host or hostess, as we were told? The second time I approached the server who had told me that, she basically ran away from me without saying anything. Ran. Ask SE. Nice.

Anyway, after about 15 minutes, using high-quality hovering skills honed over years in bars, we were able to snag two seats at the bar. Nice enough. Bar Pilar was once, I seem to recall, noted for it's cocktail program back when a certain bartender was behind the stick. No more, I guess. Asked for a Manhattan and an Aviation. Tender asked me what goes in an aviation? Switched to 2 Manhattans. Free-poured and shaken and too much rye (not necessarily a bad thing?). I guess the bar program has taken a plunge (or all the bartenders were in NYC at the MCC).

The food came soon enough. The roasted mushrooms were okay, frisee salad too (though the egg was overcooked). A lamb dog, a good idea in theory, was bland with zero snap, even after setting the superfluous giant hot dog bun aside. Mustard was great (wow), but who the hell serves minced raw shallots as an accompaniment to anything except maybe in a mignonette sauce or their mise en place?

Pork shoulder, served on grilled bread (?), was not good. The best dish of the night, and last to be served, was the fried chicken. Nicely crisp and somewhat juicy, served with a really good potato salad and a couple of pickle slices that were properly crunchy...and here's a tip: serve those sides with the pork, too. No need to return, I guess, but with the crowd they have, what do they care?

Walking around the neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, stumbled upon the Latino mercado which sets up in Adams Morgan on Columbia Road. I say stumbled though it has been there for years, according to M. Danny. Puerto Rico was in the house, as were Mexico and Argentina Avoid the commercial - style stuff; we had a good empanada, and great tacos from a mom and pop; lengua abounds.

That night - a return trip to Zaytinya. I had the pleasure of ordering for our group (my old friends trust me), and while I had somewhat mistakenly order a WHOLE LAMB SHOULDER for the 4 of us, there was more than one Significant Eater at the table, and we did good work. The lamb shoulder was amazing, black and crusty, fatty and juicy, salty and peppery - just perfect. I can't really compare Zaytinya having no in-depth knowledge of the DC restaurant scene, but it could easily become a favorite down there (Birch & Barley, though much different, has been good twice too).

The next day was reserved for one of my least favorite things to do....that is, after grocery shopping at Whole Foods on a Saturday, at prime time. Being out in a large crowd, with everyone lined up to get food. For tickets. But we ended up at a Taste of Arlington, a mass of humanity best left for those, shall we say, less cranky that I am. We did have a couple of nice bites, including some bratwurst and short ribs from this crew, but...

we missed this, being cooked by a couple of chefs from a Jaleo outpost...

Sadly for us, this paella was about an hour away from being anywhere near our stomachs. Never seeing a paella pan this huge in action, I took it as a teach myself how to make good paella - past attempts have been so-so, and I've bought a nice properly-sized paella pan and...I think I'll save that for a weekend in NYC. It'll give me something to blog about.


  1. One question-How did you get that paella pan up to your roof?

  2. That is one kick ass paella pan. I love paella, but I am tired of ordering it...too many times the shell fish is overcooked. I think I need to go to Spain.

    Happy eating...Ed

  3. Welcome to our sorry world of badly made Manhattans. At least you have rye in DC. At least it wasn't shaken. At least it had vermouth in it. Should I go on?

  4. @Jude - ahhh, but read it again. It was free-poured AND shaken! Then again, it was rye.