Birthday DB3 Crawl in Pictures (Shaw)

As I mentioned in my last post, I celebrated my birthday with the district’s classiest bar crawl- the DB3. For the uninitiated, this is when you visit all 3 of Derek Brown’s bars (Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency, and Eat the Rich) back to back.  I could gush about how much I love DB bars, but you’ve heard it all before. The lady took some bangin’ pics and I wanted to share. IMG_0379

We started at Mockingbird Hill: Ham Sampler, Sherry for her, El Cafecito for me.

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Then we skipped down the block to Eat The Rich. I feasted on oysters, the lady had hushpuppies. We had special happy hour cocktails. I also had one of the pitcher cocktails:

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We finished at Southern Efficiency with bourbon balls, an Old Fashioned for her, and some other delicious cocktail for me. At this point, you must forgive me for forgetting what it was.

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And as promised, they took excellent care of me. That is a complementary birthday shot of Four Roses, topped with bourbon ball. I think the look on my face in that picture says it all. Another fantastic night with our friends in Shaw!

Columbia Room Pop Up at PX (Old Town)

The lady and I had plans to go to The Columbia Room for her birthday last year. Shortly before her birthday, we found out we had to move and decided to save that trip for a time when income was a wee bit more disposable. Then, they closed at the end of the year with a promise to be back soon!

Well, several weeks ago we caught wind of the fact that they were popping up at PX in Alexandria. We hopped onto some reservations and waited patiently.

The host recognized us, as we had just been there a month before for our anniversary. Good thing? I think so. We asked to sit at the bar, because why would I pass up a chance to watch JP and Derek work their magic? They’re also both super nice guys, and why would I pass up the chance to chat with them? I wouldn’t. I’ll also admit, it never ceases to tickle me pink that they both recognize me. I’m kind of a big deal (I’m really not).

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IDK just my BFF DB

We both decided to experience the whole menu rather than going a la carte. I wouldn’t have been able to decide which drinks to choose anyway, they all looked incredible.

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So we started with the Cheerwine Fizz. I see what you did there: you’re popping up in a bar in VA and you’re going with the southern theme. Love it.

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The coffee was an incredible balance to the sweetness of the Cheerwine. And if you’ve read my blog at all, you know I’m a fan of the egg white bev. Creativity and unexpected ingredient combinations is my favorite thing about DB bars.

Next was the Cold Apple Toddy. Simple but delicious. And it came with it’s own snack: a roasted apple.

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Simple. Light. The apple was delicious. There’s a story behind the cold toddy- it’s a very historically DC drink. I should have written this post weeks ago and I would have remembered it.

Next up, the Old Virginia Accent. Chocked full of Virginia-distilled Catoctin Creek booze. With this drink came a story about the apple brandy.

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Just perfect. That’s all.

Lastly, was dessert in a glass. The name was toss to Todd Thrasher, the mastermind behind the drink program at PX. We did notice when we were at PX that his drinks had funny, interesting names. This one was perfect: Sincerity is the Most Imitated Form of Flattery.

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Apologies for the dark photo- PX isn’t exactly lit to be food-blogged. This drink was bright yellow, had a delicious scoop of cream, and was garnished with a pineapple leaf and chunk of pineapple. I legit almost ordered a second. So creamy and fruity.

Toward the end of the night, I decided to tell DB that I had plans to do the DB3 in celebration of my birthday the following week. He asked me to email him so he could make sure that they took care of me in his absence. I also wanted his recommendations for which order to visit the bars and suggestions about what to order at each. This man knows how to take care of his regulars.

It was awesome to see our friends on our side of the river, experience the Columbia Room while it’s shuttered, and have an excuse to visit PX again so soon. Add to that Virginia-themed drinks and you’ve won me over. Not that that was necessary at all. Keeping my eyes peeled for another Columbia Room Pop-up…

Tazza Kitchen (Arlington Ridge)

Hey ya’ll.

We’ve been enjoying having a new perspective on Alexandria since we moved in October. We didn’t move far, but having a whole new home base has completely changed our patterns. We’ve also been going out less and cooking more. But, when we do go out, the focus has mostly been on what’s closest to home and what’s cheap. Rather than trying to stay on the front of the wave of what’s new and hot, we’ve been trying places that we hope can become our regular go-to spots. I’ll admit, it has been nice to not feel like I HAVE to go somewhere new every weekend just to keep up. That’s not going to stop us from trying new things that we discover, but it has been much more comfortable at a slower pace.

That being said, last weekend we decided to try a new spot super close to home in Arlington Ridge, Tazza Kitchen. It’s right off of 395, just around the corner from Crystal City, and north of Del Ray. The shopping center that it’s in has our vet’s office, my new gym, a grocery store, froyo, and a liquor store. What more could you possibly need? We had been meaning to try the restaurant that was in the building before Tazza, but never got around to it. So, we jumped on the new spot as soon as we knew it was open.

The exterior of the restaurant is decked out in wood paneling and is quite inviting. There is an outdoor patio that I’m stoked to enjoy come spring.  The warmth of the wood on the outside continues onto the inside. It has a sort of modern lodgey kind of feel? All I know is that it was a cold miserable rainy night and I forgot the foul weather as soon as I sat down.

We were greeted by an extremely friendly server. Maybe a little too chatty, but I never mind a little bit of extra service. We also noticed that the happy hour specials were NOT limited to the bar. How awesome is that? The lady started with the $5 Sazerac. And since I’m currently in an epic battle to have my pants continue to fit, I went with a glass of the house red wine. I know how many calories are in that and it’s something I drink slowly. 

We decided to start with the brick oven brussel sprouts. They were served with bacon jam, a smoky tomato puree, and pickled mustard seeds. And they were delicious. I love a good savory jam, smokiness, tomatoes, and anything pickled and I’m having a love affair with brussel sprouts at the moment so this appetizer was like it was created for me. It was a perfect size for two people to split without filling up before our entrees.

 

For entrees, the lady went with the Prosciutto and arugula pizza and I had the crispy polenta and shrimp.

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The crust of the pizza was really tasty and the arugula was dressed nicely. I ended up actually having a few bites of hers because it was brought out several minutes before my entree. The server seemed to be aware of this issue, so I was a little surprised that they didn’t hold her pizza back until mine was ready. We can just chalk it up to new restaurant hiccups.

 

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The shrimp was a tad rubbery and overcooked, but the polenta was perfect. Crispy on the outside, but creamy on the inside. The portion was a little bit small, but since I’m watching what I eat, I was grateful. There were two polenta cakes and they were pretty filling. I liked the cooked cherry tomatoes in the shrimp broth. Overall, pretty tasty.

As we were leaving, one of the investors followed us out the door and introduced himself to us. He asked how we enjoyed our meal and told us he was glad that we gave them a try. We were glad too! We’ll be back.

  • Favorite thing I had: It’s a 3-way tie between the toppings on the brussel sprouts, the pizza crust, and the polenta cake.
  • Favorite thing she had: She liked the brussel sprouts.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The salads look really interesting. And we saw one come out of the kitchen, it was towering. Of course I’ll have to try the pizza: the spicy sausage and black pepper honey one sounds really great. And brunch of course. We’ll definitely be trying their brunch.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Next week. Maybe not literally, because of Christmas, but this was a very affordable and solidly good meal. Close to home and entrees a dollar or 2 cheaper than comparable restaurants, it’s definitely somewhere I will frequent.

Evening Star Cafe (Del Ray)

The lady and I seem to have an unintentional way of celebrating moving to a new apartment: we make a trip to brunch at Evening Star Cafe. When my parents were in town 4.5 years ago when we moved to Old Town, we took them there as a thank you for helping us move. This time, we fit the trip in before the move over to Del Ray. The lady and I took a break from all the clearing out and packing and changing our address to enjoy a nice quiet morning at brunch.

As we are wont to do, we arrived at around 11. Since they don’t seem to take reservations for brunch, I’m always afraid they’ll be packed. However, there were only a couple of other tables and we were seated immediately.

In order to keep the bill on the more affordable side, we skipped out on drinks and just ordered food. Actually, if you’re looking for a way to try Evening Star without going big, the brunch is actually very affordable.

I decided on the the chicken and waffles (no surprise there) and the lady had the bacon, egg, and cheese.

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The chicken and waffles were served with a pat of hot sauce butter in the middle, as well at some crispy bacon on top. I thought the hot sauce butter was an excellent idea, as I usually ask for hot sauce for my chicken anyway. I’m going to have to steal that idea. The waffle was that perfect balance of crispy but still soft. The bacon was a nice touch.

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The bacon, egg, and cheese was simple but good. I could definitely whip that up at home, but was pleased to not to have to. The crispy potatoes tasted like they were coated in something. Something delicious. I definitely helped myself to those from the lady’s plate.

As always, a delicious meal from an old favorite. I think our next trip there will be WALKING from our new apartment. Well, if it’s warm enough to do so.

  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The Midnight (ciabatta, tasso ham, roast pork, fried egg, swiss,
    whole mustard, pickled green tomato) sounds amazing. Like a cuban, but breakfasty. I might have to make a special trip back for that.
  • What makes this place stand out: It’s Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s first restaurant.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Brunch is surprisingly affordable. I have a feeling we’ll be back soon, now that we live in the neighborhood!
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): You could walk up to St Elmo’s Coffee Pub, if you’re in need of some more coffee. Or Dairy Godmother, for a sweet treat. Or next door to Planet Wine for all your beer and wine needs.

Cafe Bonaparte (Georgetown)

Another one I had saved up for a rainy day.

One of my favorite things is when my friends find themselves in Georgetown and holler at me for lunch or Baked and Wired dates. There’s so much to do there, people find themselves there for shopping, job interviews, or cupcakes on a fairly regular basis.

A couple of months ago, one of my best college friends had an interview just across the street from my office and was going to be finishing up with it just before lunch time. She suggested we grab lunch to catch up and requested that I choose the place. Since she is a fan of all things France, fluent in French, and has studied abroad in France, I chose Cafe Bonaparte. I’m not always the biggest fan of how heavy French food is, but I knew, from another lunch date a couple of summers ago, that Bonaparte had some really great salads. So, we met up and hiked up the hill in the heat.

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We got there just after noon, and I was impressed how crowded it was. It is a fairly small space and I knew the food was good, but wow.

We sat down and took a good long while fully exploring the menu and trying to decide just what we wanted to order while catching up after not seeing each other for probably 6+ months. It’s amazing how you can live in the same metro area and go so long between visits.

We finally decided, but it was not easy. I did the half sandwich and soup lunch options and ordered the French Onion soup, because I had it last time and knew it was perfect. I also ordered Saint Tropez, tuna sandwich.

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The soup was just as good as I remembered, and the sandwich was also really tasty. The bread was crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the tuna was very fresh.

She ordered a crepe, I believe it was the Brittany. She substituted and asked for a buckwheat crepe. Once our server walked away, she explained to me that in France, savory crepes were always made with buckwheat crepes because it’s more hearty. I had no idea!

 

Despite being routinely unimpressed with French food in the states, my friend seemed to enjoy her crepe. I mean, I know there is such a thing as a bad crepe, but this one sure looked tasty.

Overall, the food was just as good as I remembered from my first visit and I really enjoyed catching up with my friend. Another successful friend lunch date in Georgetown!

  • Favorite thing I had: Both the soup and the salad were delicious. It’s definitely the best French Onion soup I’ve ever had.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The Apple and Brei Crepe chips sound TO DIE FOR. I bet the escargot, mushroom risotto, and mussels are all great too.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I’ve been twice in a couple of years, but the lady has yet to go and it’s still on our list. I think we’ll try to get there in the next year. Now that Cafe La Ruche is closed, it’s one of our only options for affordable French food in Georgetown.

Eno Wine Bar (Georgetown)

I wrote this post long, long ago…might as well fire off the stuff in my back log!

It seems like wine bars are making a resurgence recently. The lady and I have added 4 or 5 of them to our To Try list in the past couple of months. As I was walking to A Bar a few months ago, I reminded myself about Eno Wine Bar on the West End of Georgetown. Walking back to pick up some things from office before heading home, we decided we weren’t ready for the evening to be over yet. So, we dipped into Eno to have a glass of wine.

When we walked in, I was very impressed with the space. It was small, warm. Concrete, brick, and wood. It was clean and modern but still cozy. I felt immediately at ease. I was also curious about the outdoor space, but we didn’t venture there.

Once we were seated and perused the menu, we decided that wine AND a chocolate flight was the perfect way to end this evening.  I ordered a glass of sparkling rose (because bubbles!) and the lady ordered her usual, a chardonnay. We noticed that they had Happy Hour specials, but we didn’t ask what was included. I wish we had. Next time! Would have reduced the bill by about $5-6 per glass of wine.

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We also ordered the Nuttin Butter chocolate flight. It came with 3 chocolates: Apple Pie, Hazelnut, and Brown Butter Caramel.

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  • Favorite thing I had: All 3 of the chocolates were SO TASTY. The rose was not the best pairing with the chocolate, but it was also good.
  • Favorite thing she had:  She liked the apple pie chocolate the best.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The whole food menu looks great. I’d be interested in the deviled eggs, the Moroccan Spiced Meatballs, the salads, and the flatbreads. I’ll also go with red wine or sparkling white, next time.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Next time I want a glass of wine near work. Maybe if I need a fancy-ish Happy Hour spot.

Long Overdue Update! We’re Moving!

I’m still here! I’m alive!

We’ve had a lot happen in a short amount of time so our lives have been a little crazy. Well, The first couple weeks of silence were lack of inspiration (with life in general) and the back half of the silence has been because WE’RE MOVING! Not far, just from Old Town over to Del Ray. But it was not expected or planned, so the past month has been pretty insane. Our landlord informed us that she needed to move back into her condo and that we would need to find another place. She gave us just under 60 days. We hopped right to it and actually found the place we’re moving to, about 3 days later. We had that lease signed in less than 2 weeks. It’s pretty amazing what the anxiety of possibly not having a home will do for your productivity! And actually really heartening how supportive our friends have been. Thanks to everyone who has checked in on us and who have offered to help us move next weekend. Our lives look like this now.

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We looked all over Old Town (our second choice was on Prince St. right smack dab in the middle of Old Town. The deal-breaker there was street parking) and Del Ray. We looked at a complex off of Columbia Pike (Penrose) in Arlington where some of our close friends live. We looked at 4 other units in our current community. We flirted with the idea of sharing an amazing house in Bloomingdale with another couple (Neither of us ever got a response to our response to the Craigslist ad). We thought about moving into the District, but didn’t see anything that was workable with two cats in our price range. Also, because the move was so unexpected, we sort of wanted to minimize our life upheaval.

We found a HUGE two bedroom condo in another garden-style development in Del Ray that was juuuust over our max budget. We decided that increasing our living space by ONE THIRD would be worth it though. Especially now that we have 2 kitties. We’re also giving up having an in-unit washer and dryer and dishwasher, but a two bedroom walking distance from delicious margaritas at Los Tios? SOLD! We can buy a portable dishwasher if that’s too terrible. And well, we’ll deal with the laundry. I can blog from the laundry room! I’m sure it will be a challenge, but we both saw ourselves living in that apartment. The lady was ready to move in as soon as she walked into it. I’m excited to have a guest room and space to entertain. Maybe dinner parties will become a new blog feature?

We’ve frequented Del Ray the whole time we’ve lived in Old Town, but I’m excited to live there and be part of that community. I even already found a community garden that I’m interested in joining next spring. I like the smaller-town feel of Del Ray. It’s less touristy and more neighborhoody than Old Town. Check out this timely article WaPo published today about the neighborhood!

The increase in rent and moving expenses are sucking up quite a bit of our fun money. It’s ok though! My mom put it best when she said that if going out was more rare, it would be more enjoyable when it does happen. And she was so right. Going out had started to feel like a chore (I know, crazy right?) just so I had content for the blog. It’s been nice to slow down and enjoy ourselves.

So, that’s been life in my corner for the past couple of months. I hope to be posting more regularly again after we get through schlepping our stuff two miles north and slightly west. Catch you all soon!