Category Archives: Restaurants

Sunday Brunch at Commonwealth

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I will be honest, I had completely forgotten about Commonwealth, the new gastropub in Columbia Heights. I was invited to the soft opening back in the Summer and was delighted by its take on British food (read: making British food actually taste good). I also really liked the fact that Jamie Leeds and his partner Sandy Lewis vowed to use a lot of fresh, local and in season ingredients in their dishes. But somehow the restaurant fell out of my mind until I was racking my brain for a Sunday brunch option. It was cold outside and a bit gloomy, so what better back drop for brunch than a British inspired pub? The fact that Commonwealth was only two stops away on the Metro didn’t hurt either, so we headed out after dropping off my purchases from the Takoma Park Farmers Market (for more on my market visit, head on over to DC Foodies).

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Great DC Burger Hunt Continues…Stoney’s Bar & Grill

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On Friday night, the Boy and I headed out to Stoney’s Bar & Grill for a quick bite. It was a particularly chilly night (read: fucking cold), so we didn’t want to head too far. Luckily, Stoney’s is only a hop skip and jump away from Shaw in Logan Circle. Stoney’s is the epitome of a neighborhood joint: laid back atmosphere, friendly service and no pretenses of being anything more. This being our first time there, I wasn’t sure whether we just sat down or waited to be seated. A waitress smiled and told us to “sit anywhere”, so we planted ourselves in the dining area. Unlike most bars and grills I’ve been to in DC, the noise level at Stoney’s was low enough to actually be able to carry on a conversation. Our waiter came to the table fairly quickly and took our drink orders before I looked at the menu.

Although I was told Stoney’s had great burgers, I honestly wasn’t expecting much from it. And given that it was more of a tavern than a restaurant, I really didn’t expect anything more than bar food. A quick look at the menu, however, showed a good variety of items: everything from burgers (of course) to kosher franks and beans. Since I had a purpose for being there, I concentrated on the burger options. They have the usual cast of burger characters: the regular burger, a cheeseburger and a bacon cheeseburger. But they also have some different twists on the classic burger: the One Eye Burger, served with Swiss cheese and a fried egg; the Black and Blue burger, a blackened beef patty topped with blue cheese; and a Hamburger Special, a cheeseburger topped with (of all things) ham. But I chose the Texas Burger, which usually consisted of hickory bacon, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, grilled onions and coleslaw. However, me not being a fan of coleslaw, I asked the waiter to hold it from my burger.

When the burger arrived, I was a little anxious about its height. I am usually not a fan of burgers that require me to unhinge my jaw to eat, but the Texas Burger did have a lot going on. The bun was rather fluffy and high…and even though this may sound strange, it was a bit shiny. Yes, the bun was shiny…and this concerned me a little. I had forgotten to tell the waiter to hold the lettuce and tomato on my burger, which I usually do. I tend not to like tomatoes on my burgers because they make the bun soggy. However, Stoney’s does something rather interesting. Instead of placing the tomato right next to the bun, they put a layer of lettuce between said tomato and said bun. Because of this, the tomato doesn’t leave the bun a soggy mess. Inspecting the burger further before I ate it, I noticed the bacon wasn’t very crispy. In fact (as you can see from the picture), it was mostly gristle. I was starting to get a bad feeling about the burger. Another concern: the “grilled onions” were not grilled. The onions were thick cut, raw red onions piled onto the burger.

Finally done with my initial visual inspection (and taking pictures of it with my Blackberry – sorry, I forgot my camera), I decided to get down to the business of eating. And I was very pleasantly surprised. Having removed the “grilled onions”, my first taste was of the bun. And this was a pretty good burger bun…fresh tasting with a slight hint of sweetness. Mind you, it was not a sweetened bread, just a bread with a hint of honey (or a similar sweetener). Lightly toasted, the bun was hearty enough to stand up to the many toppings weighing it down. The beef was nicely seasoned, similar to the burger at Trios and you could tell it wasn’t a dethawed, pre-formed patty. Also like Trios, the beef didn’t have a charred taste to it nor was it dry. And unlike a lot of cheeseburgers, the cheddar was sharp enough to stand out in the menagerie of flavors. The combination of the bun and the seasoned beef almost gave the burger a one up on Trios…were it not for the bacon and the overly liberal use of barbecue sauce. The bacon was greasy and basically just fat, adding nothing at all to the burger. And although I liked the tangy flavor of the barbecue sauce, there was a bit too much on the burger.

All in all, this was a pretty good burger, especially considering it was from a neighborhood bar. I’m not ready to say it was better than Trios and I am still not convinced Trios has the best burger in town. Fear not, however, dear readers. My search continues this weekend with a trip to DC Chophouse! Stay tuned!

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In Search of DC’s Best Burger….

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It all started when the Boy and I aimlessly wandered into Trio on 17th Street in DC. I wasn’t really expecting much from the joint…it was just a compromise decision because we were both very hungry. I usually don’t eat a lot of red meat (or any meat for that matter…especially if you take a look at my new recipe index), but that night I really, really wanted a burger. I ordered the bacon cheeseburger (because everything tastes better with bacon…and uhmm we all know my unholy love for cheese), thinking I could at least get a burger better than McDonald’s at a local joint. What was placed before me, however, was ohhhhh soooo much more.

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Adventures in…U Street Dining (Happy Birthday Jamie)

About a month ago, I hopped onto the metro and went up one stop to U Street (I’m not lazy…just really, really bad with directions), a neighborhood I know little about. I was meeting Jamie (not to be confused with my friend James…two completely different people, trust me) for dinner at Creme Cafe and Lounge and didn’t want to be late. I opted to take the metro instead of wandering around aimlessly in hopes of finding the restaurant (did I mention I was bad with directions?). When I walked in, I immediately got a good vibe from the place. Although it’s small, the seating is strategically placed to optimize the space. The lack of a drop ceiling and the sharp, earthy colors also contributed to an open feel. Even better, the placement of the seats actually made intellectual conversation possible. The atmosphere was great, but I’d “been there done that” with cool ambiance and poor food, so I reserved my judgment. Warning: these pictures were taken before I got the new love of my life, so they aren’t the best…

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I Can Now Die Happy…Or Why I Love Irene’s Cuisine

In my life, I have had my share of wonderful meals, but there are some that really stick out in my mind: Escada in New York City (I licked the fork after eating an amazing roast chicken…and the hazelnut torte) and now Irene’s Cuisine in New Orleans. I had heard it was hard to get into Irene’s without a reservation, so the plan was to be there as soon as it opened. And considering neither Daphne nor I had managed to eat lunch that day, we were more than eager to start chowing down. So it was very convenient that Irene’s was only a few blocks from the Kitchen Witch…and that we’d spent so long in said Kitchen Witch that it was now dinner time…WARNING: this entry contains lots of pictures…most of which will make you drool.

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Adventures in…New Orleans Part 4

Apparently strawberry season has already started in New Orleans! While wandering around River Walk, we stumbled upon a bunch of food vendors set up for tastings (read “free food”). One of these lovely human beings had these beautiful strawberries that really made me start craving strawberry shortcake. Now my sweet tooth is a powerful thing. It’s caused me to practically run down pedestrians to get to Krispy Kreme when the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign was blinking. I’ve driven around a small town in Georgia, in my pajamas mind you, searching furiously for any place that sold Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond. So my craving would not be denied! And when Daphne told me she’d had an incredible dessert at Palace Cafe the day before, all other rational thoughts went out of my head. Even better, the restaurant was steps away from my hotel!

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Adventures in…New Orleans Part 2

No surprise I wanted food the minute I settled into my hotel room. I called up my friend Daphne (my New Orleans food partner in crime) and joined up with her crew. We walked around the French Quarter and the River Walk before eventually deciding to find a place to: watch the Penguins game (I wasn’t the only hockey fan in the group), enjoy some adult beverages and chow down.

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