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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Filed under Burgers, Great DC Burger Hunt, Restaurants

Culinary Resolutions for 2009

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Cookography put out a call to fellow food bloggers for their Culinary Resolutions for 2009. Me being a band wagon jumper, I sat down and contemplated what I would like to accomplish in 2009 (culinary wise that is…we won’t get into my hippie notion of “finding my center”). So without further ado, I present to you Shaw Girl’s Culinary Resolutions for 2009:

  1. Use more whole grains in my baking/cooking. Remember Andrea Beaman from Top Chef? Well she has a book filled with healthy recipes and tips on eating seasonally called The Whole Truth: Eating and Recipe Guide. I bought it a few years back and actually followed it religiously for a while. But then I fell off the wagon…and into a vat of lovely bacon. I’ve not been the same since. I can attest to the difference it makes incorporating more whole grains into one’s diet and I really need to get back to that.
  2. Prepare better for the lean produce months of Winter. During the Spring and Summer I was awash in fresh fruits, veggies and herbs. But unlike the very smart squirrel outside my window, I didn’t store any of it for the Winter’s endless time of tubers. So this Spring and Summer, I will plan ahead and freeze berries for the Winter, make and freeze various pestos and study up on other ways to freeze the bounties of Spring and Summer.
  3. Better organize my kitchen. At one point I had a very organized kitchen…then I moved into a basement apartment. My lack of space should have made me more organized, but it’s done the exact opposite. Well no more! This year I vow to organize my seemingly endless amounts of kitchen gadgets and supplies to make me a more efficient cook/baker.
  4. Try to use more natural light when photographing my creations. I admit that I cook and bake whenever the mood strikes me, not in accordance to natural light availability. Because of this, I am often frustrated with the glossy look to my photos. Custom white balance and a dSLR can only do so much when fighting the tungsten present in most flourescent light. My best photographs are ones in which I shot in natural light. With that in mind, I am going to try to shoot more during the few snippets of good light available to me…in my basement apartment.
  5. Start a new blog series. I answer questions all the time about cooking and baking but never think about addressing them on my blog. I have been meaning to open up my blog to questions from readers with various culinary conundrums but I’ve also been meaning to clear off the top shelf in my closet. Sure I’m good for laughs and food porn, but I would also love to help share my love of cooking with others. With that in mind, if you have any culinary questions, email me at adventuresinshaw@gmail.com and I will be more than happy to address them (or at least attempt to address them..or ask more experienced people to guest blog and answer them for you).
  6. FINALLY get a copy of Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”. I have frequently used recipes from this cookbook but don’t actually own it. So for 2009, I’m going to get a copy and cook something from it once a month. Even more daring? I will try to select recipes I’ve never made before or (wait for it) even eaten! This is daring and a little risky but I am going to give it a go!

So there…I’ve put them in the public domain for all to see in hopes that I will actually follow them. I’ve already started using more whole grains (will be sharing a fantastic recipe for granola this week) and I’m reading up on properly freezing pestos and sauces. That’s progress, right?

For more culinary resolutions, check out Pete Bakes, The Bitten Word or Joy the Baker!

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Filed under Culinary Resolutions 2009

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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Filed under Restaurants

New Kitchen Helpers….

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Just wanted to introduce you guys to the newest members of the Shaw Girl family! This afternoon we went and picked up Roo (on the right) and Scout (on the left) from the Humane Society Shelter in Washington, DC, two adorable little sisters who needed a home. Roo is spunky and fiesty while Scout is a bit more reserved (but still sassy in her own right)! They’re scamps, they’re sweet and they’re oh so fierce!

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Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes

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I have the attention span of a five year old…after they have devoured all of their Halloween candy. It’s sad really because there are times when said short attention span gets the better of me. Just recently, while driving, I got distracted by my Blackberry and missed a turn. And by distracted, I mean I was busy taking a picture of me driving in my mother’s Miata…so I could post it on Facebook (disclaimer: I was at a stop light, so it wasn’t like I was barreling down the streets of Georgia with one hand on the wheel and the other on my Blackberry trying to strike a pose).

My attention span only gets shorter when a nifty new gadget or piece of gear is in my general vicinity (and by general vicinity I mean within a ten mile radius because I can sniff out new techie things like a police dog sniffing out cocaine at an airport in Miami circa 1983). So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I set out to make these mini key lime cheesecakes for our New Year’s Eve celebration, my new baby kept distracting me. Sure, this is the same camera model I had earlier in the year. But I just now got around to replacing the one that had to be sent back due to a defective flash. And this time I actually read the owner’s manual from cover to cover…and discovered you can control the camera from your LAPTOP!!! I don’t need no stinkin’ camera remote, I have my Macbook! Wait, where was I going with this post????

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Filed under Baking, Cheesecake, Dessert, Holiday Baking, Party Menus, Party Planning

Dinner and a Movie

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I must first apologize for the less than stellar quality of the photos in this post. The idea for it came well after cooking was underway and truth be told, I was freakin’ hungry. While this may seem to be an ordinary steak dinner, it is not. It is sooo much more and was sooo much tastier because someone else cooked it for me.

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Filed under Beef, Potatoes

Pajama Party Menu…Or Things To Stuff in My Face as the Ball Drops

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As I mentioned previously, instead of dealing with crowded restaurants or bars or annoying drunk people at parties (not that I ever enjoy dealing with annoying drunk people), I am staying in on New Year’s Eve for a grown up pajama party. The Boy is in charge of movies and I am in charge of food, so I’ve been pouring over cookbooks and food blogs trying to find fun and creative but simple foods to nosh on. I am also working on a signature cocktail that we will both love to ring in 2009. So far I’ve come up with these ideas:

Considering it’s just the two of us, I think that is plenty to bring in the New Year! Believe it or not, most of these things can be done ahead of time (both the wheat thins and buns for the sliders for instance) and the Boy proved to be fairly adept in the kitchen this weekend (more on that later), so I’m set! Now I just need to come up with a kick ass cocktail…any suggestions?

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Filed under Party Menus, Party Planning