Overwood (Old Town)

We knew about Overwood for a long time before we ever made it through the doors. We rediscovered it during our post dinner walk the night we finally tried Momo. Even though we were stuffed full of delightful sushi that night, Overwood’s menu still looked tasty to us. So, the next time we needed to do dinner close to home, they were at the top of the list.

Our first impression was that the space was cozy. I sort of expected the place to smell like wood fire, since they boast their wood-fired grill/oven.  But alas, no fire. We were seated quickly. We both decided on beers as none of the cocktails on the menu jumped out at us. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Lillini (Vodka, Cointreau, Grapefruit juice) looked pretty tasty to me. I just had already had a beer at happy hour and at our pre-dinner stop at Virtue Feed and Grain, so I figured it smart to stick with it.

We decided to start with the Fried Green Tomatoes, topped with a tempura-battered shrimp. Some of the tomatoes were slightly too green, but the balsamic reduction sauce on the plate MADE the appetizer. I was eating it off the plate with a fork even after the tomatoes were gone. Also, check out that plating.

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For our main course, I was having a hard time deciding between the salmon or something else, and then I noticed the mahi with pineapple salsa, rice, and asparagus on the Daily Specials and had to follow the pineapple. The lady wavered between the meatloaf and the short ribs, but ultimately decided on the short ribs with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

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Hers was very tasty. The mashed potatoes were flavorful, the meat was tender, and the fried onions were a nice touch. Mine, was well, it wasn’t the best and it wasn’t the worst. I think I may have erred in ordering fish at a place where you should clearly order a steak. I don’t prepare fish at home often because the lady isn’t a fan, but I like to order it when I go out. It just didn’t have much flavor here. It was cooked well. The  grilled asparagus was really good. But the rice and the fish were both a little lacking and the pineapple salsa just didn’t have the zing it needed. I did notice that every single table around us had at least one order of scallops and I just wonder if they got a memo that I didn’t. It wasn’t a total loss though, the lady was willing to share a few bites of hers with me. And I get a sneaking suspicion that this place knows its way around a steak. That’s what I’ll be ordering next time.

  • Favorite thing I had: Her mashed potatoes. The balsamic reduction with the fried green tomatoes.
  • Favorite thing she had: The mashed potatoes
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Something off the cocktail menu. A steak!
  • What makes this place stand out: They had a solid beer and wine list.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Probably sometime later this year.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): We hopped over to Pops and braved the tourist families for some interesting ice cream flavors. You could also hit up Virtue Feed and Grain for a post dinner drink. That had been our plan, but due to chronic early-ness we made it there before dinner.

 

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Favorite Friday: El Centro D.F. (DC)

The first time I went to El Centro D.F. was for dinner a couple of years ago to meet a friend of a friend for a get to know you sort of dinner. It was a hot day and I got there super early, so I started on the roof deck. she was coming from work out in Falls Church and the metro was moving super slow. She asked me to order her a  margarita and I told her to meet me on the roof. When she got there, there was apparently a line for the roof! Apparently I had beat the crowd (it’s a perk of being early, I suppose). So, I met her downstairs with her now melty margarita. We got a table and had an amazing meal. I was sold on El Centro at that point.

El Centro was also one of the stops on a Taco Crawl (a brilliant idea, right?) that a friend was having for her birthday. This sort of turned into a margarita crawl… and El Centro’s margaritas are just really tasty.  Just be careful, is what I’m saying. I got a really entertaining story out of the evening involving having to ask an Uber to pull over, but I don’t think the lady was all too pleased with me.

We checked out the Georgetown location for the first time last fall when my mom was in town. My parking garage is just a couple of blocks down Wisconsin Ave., so it was an easy place to go with an out-of-town guest. They have a pretty large menu, so I knew Mom would be able to find something. It was a warm day, so we asked to be seated outside. They led us up stairs at the side of the dining room. I’m pretty sure we went around corners and through tunnels and about 3 buildings back past multiple bars (I may be exaggerating, but it felt epic) to their back patio area where they have string lights and yet another bar on a roof deck. Mom isn’t really picky, but like me she expects food to be good and fresh. She thoroughly enjoyed her meal.

I recently went back for lunch with my boys. It was a nice day, so we had hoped to sit outside, but I think their downstairs dining room was all that was open. Regardless, their lunch menu is a perfect size with just the right number of options and decently priced. I think they also have daily specials. Taco Tuesdays, maybe? I really need to get those on my radar so I can most efficiently experience El Centro.

  • What I usually order: The tacos el pastor (because pineapple) and a margarita. The guacamole is excellent.
  • Why I keep going back: The food is just plain awesome. They have margaritas for under $5 on happy hour. The Georgetown one is just blocks from my office and even closer to my insanely cheap parking for non-work-hour meals. It’s huge, so getting a table isn’t usually an issue.
  • Thing I still haven’t tried yet: A lot of things. I really need to make my way through that dinner taco list. Well, and other non-taco things.
  • Fun things about this place:  Both of the restaurants are huge with hidden dining areas all around. I was pretty sure we were never going to find out way back out after being lead to the back roof deck of the Georgetown location. The roof decks are awesome. The basement of the 14th St. location feels like a secret. The decor and lighting is pretty great.

Boundary Road (DC)

We first discovered Boundary Road when the lady was getting a tattoo next door at Cirque Du Rouge. It seemed too expensive a dinner option right after spending a few hundred dollars on a tattoo, so we went elsewhere that night. It got back onto my short list when they had a Green Hat spring release party. I didn’t make it down there that night, but vowed to do so soon. What sealed it for me was when I heard they were doing equal pay specials on Equal Pay Awareness day. I will always support a place that commits to causes like that. Since we had yet another free Sunday, I made a brunch reservation.

We left our place with plenty of time to make sure we didn’t get caught in Cherry Blossom festival traffic like we had the day before. It wasn’t necessary that day and we got to H St. with half an hour to kill. We wandered into Batter Bowl Bakery and down the street where some of our college friends used to live. We marveled at how different everything looked now. It was a totally different neighborhood 5 years ago when we were hanging out there on a regular basis. All that was there on that end of H St. at the time was Citi Pizza, the funeral home, and the liquor store. I mean, pizza and liquor, what more do you need? But it’s nice to have options.

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We decided we were hungry and headed to Boundary Road about 15 minutes before our reservation. They weren’t too crowded, so we were seated immediately. The first thing I noticed was the light fixture. It was a box spring with light bulbs. The space was rustic and cozy. It was a bit dark in the back, which was kind of jarring on this super bright day. The lighting was good for a date. Or a hangover. The lady marveled over how large the bar was in this relatively small row house-sized space. I liked the wood and the bold colors.

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We sat down and decided pretty quickly on the Punch of the day (Gin, cantaloupe, honeydew, mint, orange juice, and cherry) for me and a mimosa for her. The punch was nice and light and fresh. It was a nice fit for the sunny, almost hot day. Her mimosa was in a huge flute and was the perfect champagne to OJ ratio.

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We started the silver dollar biscuits. I hadn’t had anything for breakfast, so I was ready for something to snack on. They came out quickly with butter and raspberry jam. They were still just a touch doughy, which is exactly how I like them. The jam was perfect. I ate mine really slowly because I didn’t want it to be gone. I could eat the jam with a fork straight out of the dish.

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I decided on the Apple Cheese Pancakes as my main course and the lady went with the Reuben Eggs Benedict. The pancakes were nice and thick and also a little doughy, which was perfect. I appreciated that they were rustic-looking. I think I accidentally used too much syrup, because they were a little on the sweet side for me, but a few bites of the lady’s Benedict cut the sweetness quite well.  I just wish I had ordered a side of bacon. Her meal was a perfect balance of flavors. A rye muffin topped with pastrami, sauerkraut, and two perfectly poached eggs. I was actually pretty jealous of hers, but was glad she ordered it so I could have a few bites of it. I’ve only recently learned that I actually like sauerkraut, and hers was perfect.

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After that dense biscuit and two huge pancakes, plus a few bites of the lady’s meal, I was pretty stuffed. But I was pretty pleased with the meal. I was glad that there were some things close by to wander to, because I really needed to walk off some of my fullness. There’s so much more to explore on H St. now. It’s crazy what a difference 5 years makes.

 

  • Favorite thing I had: The pancakes were good, but the biscuits were excellent. The punch I had was really refreshing. I told the lady that I could sit outside and drink it all day.
  • Favorite thing she had: The eggs on the Reuben Eggs Benedict were cooked perfectly, and the jam on the biscuits was really good.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I want to go back for dinner. That menu looks even better than brunch.
  • What makes this place stand out: The space itself was really cool. Rustic. I want a row house and I want whoever designed the restaurant to help me decorate.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions)Sometime in the next couple of months for dinner.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby)We wandered to Hunted House. Sidamo, the coffee shop, is also right across the street. Soon enough, you’ll be able to hop on the street car and get all the way to the other end of H St. in no time.

ScratchDC: Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

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In the name of food and things DC-related, I thought it would be fun to also review ScratchDC. Mostly inspired by the absolutely amazing box we got recently. Basically they prep, measure, and box up all the (local and organic) ingredients you need to cook an awesome meal and deliver it right to you with super simple (and humorous) instructions for how to cook the food yourself. I usually have it delivered to my office because their Alexandria delivery hours are while I’m at work in Georgetown. The boxes average about $30 (I rarely get out of the grocery store for less than that anyway. ESPECIALLY if I’m doing local, organic, free-range, grass-fed, etc at Whole Foods or Mom’s) and they are usually enough for two meals for two people in our two-lady household.

A few weeks ago, we ordered the Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken) over cilantro rice with garlic naan. I fancy myself as a bit of a seasoned cook, so I usually try to go for Scratch boxes that are outside of my realm of things I would think to cook. This one definitely fit the bill. While I love Indian food, it’s not something I’ve been able to successfully execute at home. I think the thing I was missing all along was butter and cream. I usually try to stay clear of using those kinds of things in my cooking when I can, but it clearly made the difference in this recipe. Everything in moderation!

The box came with the uncooked jasmine rice, naan with garlic butter to spread, the chicken already marinating in a yogurt and curry mixture, all the ingredients for the sauce, and chopped peppers for topping the final dish. Once you get the rice on, you cook the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pan, throw the naan in the oven with the garlic butter and start making the sauce. Once the sauce comes together, you throw the chicken back in, make sure it’s all saucy and delightful. Salivate. Make sure the rice is cooked and the naan is ready. Throw some cilantro in the rice, scoop it on the plate, smoother it with heaps of the chicken and sauce, top with peppers and cilantro, grab the naan, and chow down. Thirty minutes after you start cooking, you have a meal that rivals Indian carry out, but with even more pride because you made it yourself. Oh yeah, they also include dough for two cookies to bake after your meal.

  • How often I order a box: We order about once per month-ish.
  • My favorite thing about it: No prep work at all! No shopping, no chopping, nothing. Just my favorite part: the cooking.
  • Boxes I want to try: The lady isn’t into seafood, but I really want to try one of those soon. Pretty much any other ethnic dish because those are the more difficult ones for me to pull off on my own.
  • Why you should try it: Because it’s a local-owned small business that strives to use local ingredients. They’re also fall-over-themselves helpful and nice.

Stachowski Market and Deli (DC)

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I have been driving past Stachowski’s on my way from Georgetown to points east in the city for a while now. Every time I’d drive past, I’d make a mental note that I needed to go there for lunch and then promptly forget that mental note. I finally added it to my list and when more than one of my coworkers mentioned it, we made it happen. Now that the terrible, cold winter is finally letting up, the several block walk from our office to the deli was actually do-able.

My reaction to Stachowski’s was “this is totally cute, look at all the things to buy!” and then “holy meat counter.” My two co-workers and I bounced from place to place just seeing everything there was to see. It’s not big, this didn’t take very long. There are all sorts of DC and local treats and products available to purchase, as well as a meat counter and charcuterie.

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One co-worker grabbed a couple of pickles out of the pickle barrel and ordered the pastrami sandwich. My other co-worker and I had discussed splitting the 4 Meat grinder, but both decided to get our own just in case splitting one wasn’t enough food. Well. That fear was unfounded. All 3 of us could have split one and still had food left over. It was basically an entire loaf of bread loaded with 4 meats, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, hot peppers, and vinaigrette. And it was delicious. The fresh-baked bread was just soft, but crispy enough. The vinaigrette and hot peppers were excellent. I only managed to eat about a quarter of the sandwich and had plenty leftover for both me and the lady to have dinner. Four sandwiches for about $13 is an awesome deal. Next time I order that, I’m splitting it with multiple people.

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There is only one table in the window of the shop, and luckily we were able to find 3 seats and hang out for a bit. The shop has a very mom and pop, charming feel to it. The walk to and from the lower part of Georgetown was nice as well. We took our time and discussed which houses we’d own if we had way more money than we currently make. It was a perfect Friday lunch break.

  • Favorite thing I had: Well, I only had enough room for a portion of the grinder. But it was a perfect Italian-style sandwich. My co-worker said it was exactly the kind of sandwich she’s been looking for for a long time.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The turkey club sounded really great. And maybe also isn’t the size of a toddler. They had some really tasty looking baked goods too.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): It’s definitely in the lunch rotation. Probably sometime within the next couple of weeks.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): It’s a little isolated, up in the residential area of Georgetown. If it’s a really nice day, you could get a sandwich and walk back down to Georgetown Waterfront Park. You could split the grinder into several parts, share some with the hungry along the way, and still have plenty to eat.

DC Dosa (DC)

A couple of weeks ago, while out with a friend we hadn’t seen in a while, the ole blog came up in the course of our conversation. Turns out, she works for a company who does the promotional material for dc dosa and knew about this event, Dosas for Dummies, for media and bloggers. I’m always on board with trying new things and sharing them with you, so this was perfect.

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It was held in the cafe area of the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods, where the dc dosa stand is located. Priya Ammu, the owner of dc dosa, had a table set up for her guests and one with her cook top and ingredients. We sat down and were appetized with Mango Ginger Lassi. the first thing I noticed was that the lassi had a little bit of a kick to it! The ginger and cayenne made this lassi stand out from others I’ve had in the past. This seems to be Priya’s philosophy for everything at the stand. Classic Indian foods with her own little twist.

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So what is a dosa? I read up about them before this event, but I had never had them. Dosas are a bit like crepes, originated in South India. They are traditionally made out of rice batter and eaten as a breakfast food served with chutney. Priya saw an opportunity to turn them into more of a meal, by adding fillings to them. Hers are also made out of different types of lentil batters so that they are healthier and stick with you longer. I learned that the recipes for dosas are very home-based with every family having their own. Her recipes come from her mother-in-law, but most of them had her own tweaks. Except for the chutney! Those are made strictly by her MIL’s recipes.

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dc dosa has 3 different dosa options, with 3 different filling options, and 3 different chutney options. Priya whipped up all 3 different kinds with all of the toppings and had big bowls of all of the chutneys on the table for us. She started with the Four Lentil Dosa with sautéed cabbage and carrots. She suggested this be eaten with the Cilantro Sesame or Onion Tamarind chutney. Next, was the whole mung lentil dosa with eggplant and sweet potatoes with suggested cilantro sesame or tomato peanut chutney. And finally, she prepared the petite yellow lentil dosa with curried potatoes with a suggested cilantro sesame or tomato peanut chutney.

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I loved everything I tried. It was all really delicious and very flavorful. Priya explained to us that she doesn’t use processed ingredients. No curry powder here, just fresh ginger and garlic, red chilies, etc. She explained that this is how people should be eating. Everything on the menu is vegan and gluten-free and they range from about 280-400 calories. This was music to my ears. It may not be apparent from what I blog, but I generally try to watch what I eat. Low-calorie, healthy lunch out options are always welcome. Her passion for dosas and healthy, whole, fresh food was so apparent. It’s clear that she got into this business to share dosas with the world. She hopes that dosas are the next burrito and even shared that her business model is based on Chipotle. She hopes to expand within Whole Foods soon.

  • Favorite thing I had: The Four Lentil Dosa with cabbage and carrots. I had a hard time deciding between the tomato peanut or cilantro sesame chutney. While Priya was cooking and we were between dosas, I noticed that everyone at the table was basically just eating the chutney with a fork. “Research!” No, it was just good enough to eat with a fork.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I got to try everything on the menu! But Priya also told us that they don’t mind mixing fillings, so I’ll have to try that. I am excited about the Strawberry and Black Pepper lassi that’s coming up when strawberries are in season.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I’m definitely taking co-workers for lunch there this week. I almost went back for dinner, but couldn’t fit it into my other evening plans.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): I wanted to take a spin around Whole Foods since I was already there but had to get back to work.

Favorite Friday: Washington Nationals Games

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Baseball season has finally begun! It seems like DC is extra excited this year. After our epic and cold winter, a DISMAL Redskins season, and a less than stellar showing from the Caps, there is renewed hope in the Nats and the promise of warm weather.

When you come from where I come from, professional sports are not really a thing you do. I went to plenty of minor league baseball games as a kid, but that’s all we had. Just a tiny stadium, and while the view of the mountains around that stadium is pretty killer, it’s just not a major league experience. At the first game every season, I find myself stopping and saying “Huh, I’m at a professional sporting event” and I get a little overwhelmed. Silly, I know- but this small town lady still marvels over big city stuff sometimes. It keeps the magic of DC alive, at least.

This season, I am most excited about all the new food and beer options in and around the stadium!  Since last season, two of my favorites, Bluejacket and Nandos have opened outside the stadium. In the past 5 years I’ve been going to games, the stadium has made a commitment to bringing local stuff  inside as well. This season, they’ve added G and even more local microbrew beer options  (3 Stars, DC Brau, Mad Fox, Atlas Brew Works). Last year, I officially decided that there is no better complement to baseball than 3 Stars Lemon Citra Saison. This decision was confirmed last Saturday. I was also tickled to notice that the stands inside the stadium are being renamed (or maybe I just noticed them?) with DC-esque puns.  Steak of the Union made me giggle.

  • My favorite thing: My favorite thing about going to games is just being outside, surrounded by my city-mates, soaking up sun, enjoying American’s favorite pastime. It’s more of a feeling, a full experience. I’m not the biggest baseball fan, I have a hard time paying attention to it for long periods of time, but I love going to games.
  • Why I keep going back: Well, the biggest reason is that the lady’s grandparents keep buying us tickets for Christmas, but more than that, it’s just the thing to do in the warm months. Tickets are more affordable that most other local sports. Someone else we know is always there to run into.
  • Thing I still haven’t tried yet: Next time I’m definitely trying G. It just opened up this season and it’s right behind the multi-game seats we have. One of these days, we’re going to take the water taxi from Old Town to a game.
  • Fun things about this place: The Presidents Race!! The bar area behind the Scoreboard and the $5 before-first-pitch happy hour. The local puns.