Dinner at Garrison

Last Saturday night, we celebrated my husband’s birthday at Garrison restaurant in DC. This restaurant features farm-fresh ingredients with a Scandinavian twist.

We ordered the tasting menu with 7 small courses. Strawberries and fresh peas are in season right now – several courses featured them prominently.

As the restaurant was really crowded and noisy, we opted to sit outside. Unfortunately some of the photos didn’t come out as the sun went down. But here’s a good peek at most of our meal.

The first course (pictured above) was fresh pea soup shooter with a radish topped with fresh butter. Humble the ingredients may be, this plate was beautiful and probably my favorite dish of the night. I also ordered a rum and tamarind cocktail, which I really enjoyed.

Next was this beautiful fava bean strawberry goat cheese salad. It looked so pretty, but as you can see, there wasn’t a lot of salad on the plate.

The third course was rye toast with a quail egg, asparagus, and parmesan. I really liked this and have plans to recreate this at home.  

Fourth, there was pea pistou ravioli. I felt a little bit disappointed by this, as I suspect the green sauce was actually the pea soup we had above. Also, there were more radishes, and asparagus. This course felt a little bit like a repeat to be honest. 

Then we had soft shell crab over the creamiest polenta ever. This was really tasty, though I’m not sure the crab was enough for me to even know what it tastes like.

Duck was the next course, and while my husband really liked this one, for me it was just okay. It had those large sea salt flakes on it, which seem to be so popular these days and I generally like, but in my opinion, they make dishes way too salty often.

Other courses included a cheese platter with three cheeses, an order of poppy seed gougeres, and strawberry camomile panna cotta.

Overall, this dining experience was just okay for us. While I liked the food generally and our server was nice, there were some issues with this restaurant and it was just way too expensive for what you got.

First off, the reception at the host station was a bit off when we arrived (they didn’t recognize our reservation even though I called and confirmed it).

The restaurant was super dark and noisy inside (as in you would have to raise your voice to have a conversation with the person across from you) and the seating was really tight (almost rubbing elbows with your neighbor on both sides)

The tasting menu was not anything special and there’s really no incentive to order it. They basically served a strong of the regular entrees but cut in half between two people, resulting in really small portions. In fact, the panna cotta dessert was literally cut in half, which felt cheap, in my opinion.

You could order all of it a la carte and get exactly what you wanted. What’s more the tasting menu didn’t even feature their signature poppy seed gougeres, which required you to order that extra. What? I thought tasting menus were supposed to be more exciting than the regular menu, but not here.

In any case, I would recommend not coming here if you’re hungry. If you do try it out, I’d just order a few dishes to share.

Richmond Getaway

busy-bee-cidery-2
Sampling the ciders at Blue Bee Urban Cidery in Richmond

Last weekend, my husband and I packed our overnight bags and made a spontaneous trip to Richmond, Virginia.

Richmond is only about 90 miles away from us, yet we’ve only ever passed through the city on our way south. We spent our getaway exploring downtown and the old neighborhoods, visiting Museum of Fine Arts, and eating and drinking our way around the city.

Hope you enjoy the highlights!

Day One

Our first order of business on Day 1 in Richmond was food and drink, of course. We headed to the Naked Onion sandwich shop and got the famous Pork Belly Banh Mi (pictured above) and Manchego grilled cheese with red pepper coulis. These sandwiches were good and such a bargain as this take out place is a local cheap eats favorite.

From there, we needed a little refreshment and being cider fans, we visited the Blue Bee Urban Cidery. Since it was a cooler day, we sat inside one of the cozy stone walled tasting rooms. We’ll visit again on a warm day to enjoy the outdoor ambiance and the special hops and ice cream sandwiches they serve!

After lunch, we stopped in the famous Jefferson Hotel to admire the grand lobby with tall marble columns, burgundy walls, and portraits of presidents and snap a few photos. They serve a lavish brunch on Sundays and we made a note to return to enjoy that soon.

Next up was the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts., which houses some great collections. We particularly enjoyed the mummies and ancient Italian exhibits. In addition, the outside grounds are beyond beautiful and we were intrigued with the unusual sculpture of a head which changes from male to female depending on what angle you look at it.

At 4 o’clock, it was cocktail time, so we headed to The Rogue Gentlemen. This small dive bar serves the most interesting drinks, each labeled with its dominant characteristics (sweet/refreshing/citrus/herbal/bitter/smoky/etc ) so there’s little chance you can order wrong. My husband ordered something called “Vampire Kit to ward off the Vampire” made with garlic infused Oster Vit, Beckerovka, rum, and lime. I know the garlic part sounds a little bizarre, but I promise, it was surprisingly sweet and fresh tasting and not garlicky at all.

They can also custom create a cocktail just for you. I jumped at the chance and requested something herbal and refreshing and got this lovely rum, blood orange, and basil creation.

When in Richmond (or anywhere in the South, really), you must eat pimento cheese. So we couldn’t resist the jalapeño pimento cheese crostini platter. This restaurant also serves a tasting menu with each course only $12. This is such a bargain compared to prices in DC and we observed some really tasting looking things coming out of the kitchen, but we had other dinner plans at Burger Bach, so we stopped with our cheese platter.  (No picture, but our burgers were awesome too)

Day Two 

After a restful sleep, we made our way at 9 am to The Fancy Biscuit. When we arrived, there were nearly 50 people waiting in line ahead of us! Not ones to be deterred, though, we stayed in line. This is usually a good sign that the food is something special.

And it was so special! The Fancy Biscuit might be my favorite new restaurant.

They specialize in biscuits (hence the name) but not your plain biscuits with butter and grape jelly (though I don’t mind those either). These are biscuit creations with all kinds of toppings from goat cheese to collard greens to apple slaw.

We ordered two versions. One had pepper jelly, goat cheese, and fried chicken. The  other had a poached egg, ham, and Sriracha hollandaise. So good! Will definitely be trying to recreate these at home.

Our final stop on our Richmond itinerary was the beautiful Maymont Gardens. It was the perfect early Summer day for a walk in the park, and this one featured both Italian and Japanese gardens. This park was absolutely free and it was the best way to end our weekend trip to Richmond.

Kimono Jacket in Old Town

Old Town Alexandria is one of my favorite neighborhoods. On the weekends, we love to take our dog, grab a coffee, and then walk around the brick-lined streets admiring all the historic houses.

This time of year is especially pretty too. There’s ivy everywhere and floral wreaths on every door. We also discovered this cute little courtyard for the first time tucked in between houses. 

So, this Kimono jacket is from Dodo Bar Or. I totally fell for it seeing it on Net-a-porter a few months ago.

Originally, I bought it for a trip to Florida a month ago. Imagined it would be great for sitting at a cafe or as a coverup at the beach. Turned out Florida was waaaaay too hot to wear something with long sleeves.

So, it’s making an appearance now. The weather here cooled off last weekend so it was perfect for a walk around Old Town.

This summer, I’m planning on wearing it with denim shorts and maybe even white pants. 

Current fashion trends normally don’t attract me too much, but the kimono jackets popping up everywhere lately have me dreaming of lazy summer days to come.

What about you? Do you have any summer trends you’re looking forward to?

Sundays at the Winery

With weather in the 80s the last few days, it already feels like summertime here in the DC region. And I’m not complaining!

Last Sunday, we took advantage of a pleasant morning before the afternoon heatwave to visit Barrel Oak Winery in Northern Virginia.

This is one of our favorite wineries ever. The pastoral farm setting is so peaceful, the wines are nice, and best of all, it’s dog friendly!

We timed it so we could enjoy their Sunday morning special which includes a breakfast champagne cocktail, bagel, newspaper, open space, and all the green you can take in for miles.

One of the things I really love about this area is that roads are sign and billboard free, meaning there’s just nature to appreciate. And what could be more peaceful on a lazy Sunday morning than that?

This winery can get crazy crowded on the weekends, but the morning hours had the  perfect amount of folks for people-watching and interacting with other dog-owners. We were able to snag a picnic table with umbrella next to the fields.

There are so many wineries in this area and we always vow we’re going to branch out and try something different. but in the end, we gravitate back here though because the setting is so pretty.

It’s safe to say, I’m sure we’ll be making lots of trips back here over the next few months. How about you? Do you have a favorite nature setting in your area?

*My dress is from Brooks Brothers .

 

 

Dinner at Pineapple and Pearls

Don’t let the name of this restaurant fool you. It’s no frothy lightweight experience.

In fact, this year Washingtonian magazine ranked Pineapple and Pearls the number one restaurant in DC.

And let me tell you. Getting a reservation here is no easy feat. You have to be on the website the second, er no, millisecond the reservations open and hit “reserve” before you can blink. Do not hesitate.

This is how you beat out 2,000 other eager diners (so we were told by our server)  for a dinner spot. But even then, your meal might start at an awkward time like 9 pm on a Wednesday night and go until almost midnight like it did in our case.

Even though I’m more of a person at heart who’d rather be in her pajamas in bed by 10 pm, we were so excited about going here.

The restaurant is a classy tiny space for only about 30 diners at a time. Because we were a party of two, we sat at the chef’s counter, where we got to see all the action as it happened in front of us.

The chef right in front of us was assembling a dish with what resembled mashed potatoes all night. Only later did we find out what it really was!

Like our meal at Minibar, it is truly fun to watch the chefs in their habitat, and the whole scene unfolds like a perfectly choreographed event.

The meal starts with something called “Afternoon Tea” which offers up a trio of beautiful little bites including a foie gras canele paired with a teacup of gin with Cloosterbitters, rum, and quince.

Next, we had a series of more little dishes including the most intense beef tartare & caviar, charred octopus, split pea consommé, and a french omelet.

All delicious, but I have to say I was partial to the octopus. Didn’t know it could taste that good.

The next course was black sea bass (another fish I didn’t know could be so delectable)

This was followed by probably my favorite of the entire night, a sweet bread taco served along side a mescal Paloma cocktail.

At about this point, we could’ve stopped and been perfectly happy with the meal.

But there was one more savory to come!

This trio of sides (persian rice, white beans, and dolmas) for the lamb dish.

The savory part of the meal completed, the next course was a resheshing pineapple granita with beet soda.

This was followed by our last fancy drinks of the night, amari and coffee and dessert.

I think you need a closer look at the dessert. It was Okinawan purple potato ice cream (ice cream close to our hearts) with chocolate cake and chestnuts.

 

Finally, the meal rounded out with the most exotic fruit plate with starfish, banana chocolate lollipops, and candied gooseberries.

All in all, the food was delightful and the service was top notch.

But in the end, perhaps one of the most luxurious parts of the experience is there is no bill at the end.

No check. No waiting. No figuring out the tip. You pay upfront for all of it when you get the coveted reservation (food, drinks, and gratuity).

So, you just decide when you’re ready to leave, get up, and go.

Daily Looks April

Hey there friends… Happy Easter!

I was incognito last week due to a hectic work schedule, but this week I’m back.

Here’s my latest round up of outfits for early April.

Saturday Breakfast Outing

This long navy blue dress from Nordstrom is one of the most practical purchases I’ve made in the last year or so. It’s works most seasons of the year and for so many occasions (summer work days with a lightweight sweater, fall with boots and jacket). I wore it this morning for a fun casual breakfast at a pie shop.

Tuesday Work

This shirtmaker style dress is so comfortable. The blue chevron print works great year round too.  This morning was a little chilly, so I topped it with a trench coat, which was quickly shed by noon.

Wednesday Work

This day was a little more casual than usual, so I wore jeans with this white dress shirt and long sweater. The sweater actually attaches on the ends and wraps up and around my neck. But I figured out I can wear it long this way like a duster too. You know, I’m all about finding new ways to wear my items.

Thursday Work

Recently, I found a wonderful youtube channel, Justine Leconte. Justine is a French fashion designer and she offers up so many helpful tutorials about dressing for one’s body shape. After watching her channel, I have so many ideas for things that are way more flattering for my figure, and this outfit was born out of applying her advice. (Milly A-line skirt to skim the hips and wide shouldered top to accentuate the upper body more). Check her out and you might get some inspiration!

Easter Sunday

How many peeps did you eat this year? I managed to get through without a single one… This comfy Tahari sheath dress was front and center for the day. It’s the second time in two weeks I’ve worn it after it’s been hiding in my closet.

Advice when you feel like you have nothing to wear and you are tempted to buy something new? Shop your own closet. What’s been sitting in the back, unloved for months, or even years?