Dinner at Sfoglina

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You know how you find a great new restaurant and you want to tell everybody?

That’s how I feel about my latest discovery! It’s called Sfoglina. I can’t rave about this place enough to neighbors, coworkers, anybody who will listen to me.

Each dish was soooo good, and I can’t wait to go back. Though there were only two of us, we went all out and ordered whatever sounded good to us. Here you’ll see all the highlights of the meal.

Some Prosecco to start the evening
Some Prosecco to start the evening

The Decor: Sfoglina is really cozy. There are booths and tables inside with burgundy and beige feminine touches. Inside there is also a lively bar with stools which were completely taken by the time we left. We opted to sit outside on the lovely patio because the weather was still nice this evening. IMG_1598

The best spicy calamariIMG_1599

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The Food: The menu at Sflogina is really simple, but that’s how it should be, right? Each section of the menu only has about 4 choices, so they can focus on the quality of the ingredients.

This restaurant is all about their homemade pastas, and the two we ordered were absolutely heavenly. Next time we visit, we’re going to order their pasta special which includes a sampling of three different ones. One fun highlight is that they always seem to have panna cotta on the menu for dessert, but it changes flavor frequently. Tonight, it was one of all my favorite Italian flavors, tiramisu.

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Fall pasta with fresh mushrooms
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Because one pasta just isn’t enough, there had to be pasta amatriciana too
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Short rib over parmesan polenta

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The Service: Our server was really lovely and attentive. On top of that, the manager visited our table several times to make sure all was well. We told them it was our anniversary, and at the end of the meal, they brought us a lemon dessert (not pictured) and two flutes of the most delicious dessert wine. panna-cotta

Reservations?  Sfoglina was recently awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand, which means it’s really delicious food at an affordable price. Because of this, the restaurant is likely to be packed! Yes, they take reservations and you should make them unless you plan on being there when they open at 5 pm for dinner. We got there around 5:30 pm, but by the time we left at 7:30, the entire restaurant was full.

 

Arcadia Farm Fall Harvest Dinner

In early fall each year, Arcadia Farm hosts a special Fall Harvest dinner benefitting Veteran farmers. This kind of food event is one of my favorite ways to transition to Autumn here in DC.

See my two previous farm dinners, Feast in the Forest and Arcadia Farm to Table Dinner.

This particular afternoon was PERFECT.

The air was crisp and clean. The sky was sunny. This was the kind of day that makes you feel energized and happy to be alive. 

The afternoon started with delicious drinks around 4:30 pm. They had wine and beer, but the Huckleberry Juice Punch called my name. Similar to cranberry, this punch was tart and and refreshing, made with infused herbs and vodka.

During the cocktail hour, you were encouraged to walk around the farm, admire the sights and say hello to the chickens! 

Because they started running out of the Huckleberry punch, I switched to champagne, which I enjoyed while sampling oysters and trays of passed appetizers.

Soon, we all sat down for dinner at a long family style table, and feasted on 3 scrumptious courses of meats and vegetables.

Everything served was local, either grown on this exact farm or nearby.

There were so many delicious courses like Thai style beef salad and fried okra, but my favorite course of the night was the roasted pork with tomatillo sauce.  

This dinner was a true indulgence, and it was made better by all the fun conversations with people nearby.

As the afternoon sky slowly turned from golden to lavender, the moon come out overhead.

That meant it was soon time for DESSERT!

They served a trio of little sweet bites including cardamom shortbread, mint meringues, and butternut squash cake. (I might have snuck a few of these home in a napkin!)

This day was the perfect welcome to fall.

And guess what I learned, ya’ll?

While I absolutely cannot wait until I can attend this dinner again next October, I found out Arcadia Farm hosts a summer dinner harvest too.

I’ve got my sights set on the next Farm dinner in May 2018!

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

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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.

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.

Work Day Lunch at Central

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This post 2 weeks ago  talked about a coping strategy for those non-stop busy and stressful work weeks: fancy lunch!

Central Michel Richard in downtown DC is one of my favorite places to enjoy a weekday lunch. The food is so delicious and I love seeing the new seasonal items they add to the menu every few months. In particular, the desserts are heavenly and I always try something unique.

On this day, my husband and I got a bowl of french onion soup and shared a Manhattan (pictured above). It was a Friday at the end of a long work week, after all.

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Next up was shrimp risotto with saffron. This dish was so delectable. Risotto is one of those things I rarely eat at lunch since I don’t want to fall asleep from carb overload afterwards, but this day, ordering the risotto just seemed right. img_2363

We also shared the fried chicken and mashed potatoes. If you’re ever in DC and stop by this restaurant, you must order this just to taste the potatoes, which are the silkiest potatoes around, I think.  (I’d argue they’re actually the star of the dish)

For dessert, the Napoleon called to us, and look how beautiful it was!  This dessert tastes so good with a bitter latte.

You might be wondering how to eat this since it’s sky high. You just take a fork and smash down all the layers, so in essence you’re eating a bunch of cream with shards of phyllo pastry. It’s so light and creamy and perfect after a heavy meal. img_2367

Most workdays at my desk, I eat a rather uninspired lunch of salad or a sandwich brought from home.

But during rough weeks, it feels so luxurious to go out to somewhere nice. Looking forward to it definitely helps getting through those long days.

How do you handle your long busy weeks?