Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Three Latest and Best

Ahhh, am back from a long weekend, rejuvenated and well fed. Loved popping into some new places and seeing excellent chefs and owners trying some new ideas and fresh approaches. Kudos to the owner at Vinoteca who's taking a risk on a new and upcoming neighborhood (near Howard University) and seeing success. Here are my Three Latest and Best, the almost all out-of-town edition:

Vinoteca, Washington DC: When this new eatery in the Shaw/Howard/U Street area received good early reviews a month or so ago, they found themselves packed, but the owner was worried. He knew their future was in locals sitting down for great pasta, their house made charcuterie, and cheese menu. So, they changed their reservations strategy, went to open seating, and now are packed every night with folks they know will come back. Everything was delicious (from the tuna/garlic aioli, bison/buffalo mozzerella, and venison/goat cheese sliders to the ham and sage-stuffed ravioli, surprisingly good with a roasted red pepper sauce.) But my favorite thing was the menu of 12 or so cheeses and 8 or so cured meats offered by the portion ($2 each for cheese and $1.50 for meat). Instead of dessert, we ordered ash coated goat cheese, manchego, Explorateur, and a fantastic triple cream cow's milk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, natch, called Red Hawk along with a duck prosciutto, speck, and lomo (a cured meat with a paprika crust). The big family style plate with cranberry sauce and honey easily made it around a table of 10. A brilliant idea, really, and one that works with their robust wine list.

Dean and Deluca, Georgetown: Every time I wander through Dean and Deluca, I have to block it from my memory or I'd just be depressed all the time. After a day of heavy meals, we decided to just get cheese, pasta and snacks for supper, stay in, and watch a movie. Of course, I had to introduce my pals to braseola which we easily found at their massive meat counter along with a good prosciutto. We added a goat cheese (the kind that's firm in the middle and mushy/smelly on the outside), a cranberry Stilton (for the holidays, I'm not normally big with the fruit cheeses), and a handful of dates. With squid ink pasta and whipped up vodka sauce, we had a perfect supper. Even better with the local egg nog doctored holiday style.

Lunch at Palomino: Back in Indy, I'd forgotten what a warm and busy lunch spot Palomino could be. From see-and-be-seen tables in the middle of the dining room to tucked away nooks great for working lunches without being bothered, this bustling downtown restaurant is still doing great -- even after all these years. I love their half/half combos and offset the creamy Gorgonzola penne with a chop chop salad.

1 comment:

Matt Brown said...

Palomino's chop chop salad is so divine, I'm sure it will be served in Heaven.