BFF in Town Weekend Round Up

Every weekend this summer has been jammed-packed full of friends and good food and drink. This weekend was no different. One of my best friends from college, J, was visiting this weekend. It was so nice to get to spend some time catching up and showing her around our neighborhood a little bit.

Friday afternoon, co-worker C and I took a short break from work to enjoy Cafe La Ruche one last time before it closes.  I had packed my lunch, but I still had room for an appetizer. We sat out on the patio and split an order of escargot. It was pretty sad to know that they’re closing after so long, but I’m curious to see what Chez Billy Sud will bring.

Since J was coming to town later in the evening, that lady and I picked up some Momo Sushi for dinner and spent the evening cleaning the house. I scooped J up from the airport and our weekend adventures began.

We got up early on Saturday and walked the mile and a half to the Old Town Farmer’s market to pick up ingredients for dinner. It was actually only the second time I had been to the farmer’s market. We got all kinds of fresh produce and I was able to pick up some beautiful flowers for the lady. It’s definitely going to be a more regular stop for me. We finished up our shopping but still had some time to kill before brunch plans, so we wandered down to the Waterfront Market. We ordered coffee and chatted for a bit. I’m looking forward to stopping there for breakfast after weekend morning bike rides.

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I decided that I wanted to take J to a Neighborhood Restaurant Group restaurant. She said she like eggs benedict, so I made reservations at Columbia Firehouse since they had a few different options. That was the perfect choice. It was delicious. That post will be up later this week. As a bonus, we even ran into another friend who lives in the neighborhood who we keep meaning to get together with. I gotta get on that!

After brunch, the lady and I had plans to head out to Ashburn for her high school best friend’s daughter’s 4th birthday party. It was a pool party, so we spent a couple of hours splashing around with preschoolers and eating ice cream cake. It’s nice to occasionally trek out to the suburbs and borrow some kids for a while. It’s like “Well, this could be our life… good to know! Let’s head back to Alexandria and party with our friends.”

We came back and J fixed us an amazing dinner. Afterward, we weighed the options of getting all dressed up and heading into the city for fancy cocktails or sticking close to home and making our own. We decided on the lower key night, made some drinks, laid out a blanket in the courtyard, and enjoyed the evening with neighbors.

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J had family plans in the city Sunday morning, so we got up, said our goodbyes, got her on her way. The lady and I decided to make it an NRG weekend have brunch just a few blocks from home at Rustico. We’ve been there dozens of times, but this was the best meal we’ve ever had there. I will definitely be writing about that this week.

After brunch, we ran the last of our errands, and spent the rest of the afternoon just sitting still, for the first time in a very long time. It has been an amazing summer so far, but wow. I need a nap! Looking forward to a short work week this week!

 

 

Bar Charley Brunch (Dupont)

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Bar Charley was one of the places that we visited at the very beginning of the blog in March. It was in fact, my second review. It was the start of attacking this city’s food scene and trying new things are often as possible. It took a couple of months, but we finally made it back for their brunch. We had been discussing the possibility heading back there with a couple of our friends, a friend of mine from back home and her boyfriend, with whom we manage to brunch about quarterly. The last time we saw them, we sealed the deal and planned for a bottomless birthday celebration there.

We planned for noon, but I thought it might be a good idea to get there a little early, for parking purposes and just in case there was a wait. We rolled in about 15 minutes early and despite not having the other half of our party, they seated us. I was totally expecting to have to hang out at the bar but I was impressed and pleased. It may have been a different story had we wanted to sit inside, since the patio was packed and the dining room was not. I love it when restaurants accommodate me and  let me start giving them my money as soon as I arrive.

We grabbed the cozy booth behind the curtain at the front of the restaurant and ordered a cup of coffee, took a selfie, etc. Our friends arrived and we got down to business. Well, not too much business. In the name of being responsible adults, we decided against the (even though it is a really awesome deal) bottomless brunch. I ordered a bloody mary, the ladies got mimosas, and the gentleman had a beer. It was a tasty bloody mary. I sucked it down pretty fast.

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Since birthday friend and I are both from the south, we enjoy celebrating our roots when we’re together. So we started with a basket of biscuits. They were tasty. Maybe not quite as fluffy as I would have preferred, but they hit the biscuit lovin’ spot.

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Birthday friend and I both decided on the chicken and waffles, because when we go southern, why not just go all the way.

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The waffle was a little softer and less crispy than I usually prefer, but it was still incredible. We both appreciated that the chicken was boneless. It was also nice and juicy. I added a little bit of hot sauce to the chicken and it was a perfect balance to the sweetness.

The lady went with the Charley Breakfast, basic, but hearty. She said the bacon was perfect, and look at those eggs. They look fake they’re so pretty.

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And the gentleman decided on the Breakfast Poutine. It basically tells you up front that you’re going to need a nap after you consume even half of it.

 

If any of us had been hungover, this would have been the most perfect breakfast. It was deeeelicious anyway, but I definitely would not have complained about being able to go back home and nap it all off.

 

  • So, how was it the second time around?: It was good! This place is solidly just very good.
  • When do you think you’ll be back again?: I feel like maybe in another couple of months. But maybe sooner for a drink and to check out the patio.
  • Overall Impression: The space is cozy and the drinks are above average. The food is not outstanding, but it’s good! The service is nice and polite. The fact that they seated us without our whole party is a huge plus. Knowing that will get me back there over places that I’m less sure about.

 

Compass Rose (14th Street NW)

 

The opening of Compass Rose was well-hyped on social media and other foodie outlets. As soon as all the positive reviews started rolling in, I had to add it to our ever-growing list. I got a look at the menu and it got bumped to the short list. We found ourselves with a free Friday this past weekend and tossed some ideas around. They all sounded good, but nothing got me excited. While on my way further south on 14th St. to one of the places we had decided on, I passed Compass Rose and finally got excited. I texted the lady, changed the plans, and headed over to grab a seat.

Since she wasn’t there yet, they wouldn’t seat me, so I posted up at the bar. My first impression of the space was that it was very cozy. Big plush bar stools and the blue tones used on the walls were very relaxing. The brick, tin, and warm wood layered very nicely. Had I not still felt icky from the cold I was fighting, I would have wanted to just sit there all evening.

While I waited for the lady, I started with a drink. Unfortunately, I didn’t flip the menu over, so I missed the cocktail menu- but I started with the sangria since it was on happy hour. Not too bad! I usually prefer my sangria bubbly, but the green apples and strawberries made up for it. I got a picture, but it was blurry. The lighting at the bar was pretty dim.

When the lady arrived, we decided to just stay at the bar. We started with an order of the fry bread and 3 dips.

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All 3 dips were tasty. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what each of them were, but I preferred the orange one. The chips were sort of like pita chips. It was a perfect little starter. We needed a second order of the chips to finish up the dips.

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For entrees, after much deliberation, I decided to go with the very first thing that caught my eye on the menu, the lamb kefta. Guys, the aroma that wafted across my face as they set this dish down in front of me was worth ordering it alone.

The lady went with the El Lomito sandwich. Which was really quite large.

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Everything about the lamb was perfect. The meat was so flavorful and juicy. The tahini dipping sauce was a perfect complement, and side grain salad was so delicious, I would order that on its own. Oh man, that picture is making me salivate all over again.

The lady’s sandwich was also delightful. Juicy meat, every bite as flavorful as the next. it was too much for her to finish, and even though I was also full, I kept sneaking bites of it.

Everything was so delicious and the service was nice and laid back. I know it will be a couple of weeks before we can get back, but Compass Rose is the first thing that comes to mind to recommend when people are asking what we’ve had and loved recently.

  • Favorite thing I had: The Lamb Kefta caught my eye on my first glance at the menu, courted me, and did not disappoint.
  • Favorite thing she had:  Her El Lomito sandwich. It was so flavorful.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Basically everything else on the menu. The mussels sounded tasty. The papusas! I’ve heard that the Khachapuri is amazing. The Bhel Puri Chaat was another one of my considerations. Basically, I’d like to try everything on the menu, thanks. I also ordered my drink before I even saw the cocktail menu, sooo, I gotta get back to that too.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): This is the kind of place I want to take people to! There’s so much other stuff on 14th street, but I think we’ll try to get back soon.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): We decided to also try Red Light. We discussed The Gibson or 2Birds1Stone. All are within a couple of blocks.

A Bar (West End)

When I heard about a new bar between the West End and Georgetown, I was immediately interested. Then I saw some pictures of their outdoor patio area, I cleared my schedule. When I heard about pitchers of punch, I was on my way! A Bar is located basically between Georgetown and Foggy Bottom, on Pennsylvania Ave in the Avenue Suites hotel. It’s an old condo building that has been very nicely updated and turned into a suites hotel.

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When we walked in, my first impression was that it was sleek and modern and I was drawn to it and wanted to spend time there. We tried to sit outside, but it was a bit steamy for me, so we moved inside to a couple of loungers. The staff was happy to accommodate. I want to go back in the fall and sit around the fire pit outside.

Normally on Thursdays, they have the grill fired up and are serving up hamburgers and hot dogs. There was a threat of rain all evening on the particular night we were there. Maybe next time!

We had to start with a pitcher, of course. Out of the 3 options,  we decided on the Wild One- Grey Goose Pear, Lemoncello, and ginger ale. It tasted like the most refreshing lemonade ever. Just enough tartness with the bonus of some bubbles from the ginger ale! The lady and I had no problem taking care of the GIANT pitcher between the 2 of us. And it’s only $15! It’s an awesome deal.

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For food we we decided to split the Fennel Sausage flat bread and the Caprese salad.

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The flatbread was crispy, and the sausage was flavorful and juicy, and the peppers were a touch sweet. The salad was nice and refreshing. They were a perfect combo together.

We were still a little hungry, so we decided to also try the Brie and Raspberry Phyllo puffs. We downed them so quickly! They were also balanced perfectly. A little bit of crunch, a little bit of salt, a little bit of sweet. Yum!

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We contemplated getting a second pitcher, but between the 2 of us, that would have been WAY too much for a school night. Next time, I’m bringing a group and getting multiple pitchers! 

The space is modern but still comfortable, the service was top notch and friendly, the drinks excellent, and the food was very tasty. It’s definitely a must try next time you find yourself at the Trader Joe’s in West End or anywhere near Foggy Bottom at all.

  • Favorite thing I had: The flatbread and the phyllo puffs tied for most delicious. Both very balanced and tasty.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The flatbread. The sausage and sweet peppers were really nice together.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The other pitchers! The Sirloin skewers, a cheese board. And I HAVE to delve into the cocktail list.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I have to try to get a work happy hour going here soon. Maybe within the next couple of weeks? Those pitchers of punch are perfect for a group outing like that.

Longest Day of the Year Weekend Round Up

After a super packed last weekend, and a week of both of us fighting off summer colds, we were a little bit weary of how jammed packed our calendar was this weekend. But life is too short to spend the longest days of the year cooped up inside, so we made the best of it!

On Friday, I cut out of work early for an appointment in Farragut. I got there a little bit early (who am I kidding, I got there 45 minutes early), and spent some time wandering the surrounding blocks. I haven’t spent much time there during the day, but you guys, I think I found where all the food trucks live! I can’t say much yet, but I’m hoping to be spending a little more time exploring that area soon. Fingers crossed!

My appointment was over by 2pm and was free of plans until date night time with the lady. I took advantage of the free afternoon and hollered at my Dupont-dwelling, free-for-the-summer teacher friend for some rare normally-at-work-time hanging out. She was just finishing up lunch with another friend who is lucky enough to escape the typical 9-5. I made the walk from Farragut to her place and swung by Glen’s Garden Market to kill a little time before I met up with them. I checked out their new drafts and saw that they had DuClaw’s Funk, a blueberry citrus wheat beer. I do love my fruity beer, so I had to give it a try. A perfect summer beer! I will be picking up a 6-pack of that and enjoying it outdoors soon. Once I finished my beer, I met up with my friends. We decided that a stop at Pleasant Pops before spending some time lounging in the shade in Meridian Hill Park was the perfect afternoon plan. I really have to figure out a way to have more free weekday afternoons…

Photo courtesy of a friend.

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After a couple of hours lazing about and chatting with good company I got a text that the lady was finally free of her work shackles and that she was headed my direction. We threw out lots of options for dinner, but we ultimately decided on Compass Rose. I had my friends drop me off a little bit further down 14th St., but got really excited when we passed Compass Rose and knew that’s what I really wanted. So I walked back up 14th and was able to grab us a seat, since it was so early. That was definitely the best idea I’ve had all week. That post is coming later in the week.

After dinner, we weren’t quite ready to head home. There are so many things on 14th St. that we still haven’t tried yet, so we decided on making a second stop at Red Light. I wasn’t feeling up to drinking, but I was certainly ready for some dessert. We definitely made the right choice there. That post is coming eventually.

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We had some grand plans to get up on Saturday and take on the world. A workout! A trip to the Old Town Farmer’s Market! ALL THE ERRANDS! But we both woke up still fighting off the ick. So instead, the lady got up and ran one errand, I blogged a bit, she came home got back in bed and I placed my first Instacart order for our weekly groceries. Our neighbor has been singing the praises of Instacart for a while now and I’m definitely on board! I placed the order while laying in bed in my jammies and just had to answer my door when the groceries arrived. I have to say one of my favorite things about DC is how lazily productive you can be.

After some more rest, we got a second start on our day and hopped on the metro to a friend’s house for an alma mater brunch in Bloomingdale. We spent the afternoon enjoying the company of old college friends and meeting other fellow alumnae. Many mimosas were consumed and hilarious stories told.

We eventually had to peel ourselves off the couch and head down to the Nationals game for the annual game for which my company provides tickets (and matching t-shirts, that we didn’t wear). I didn’t anticipate that it would be a wee bit chilly, but a little bit of a beer jacket on top of my mimosa jacket was fine for as long as we stayed… which was only until about the 6th inning. Always was fun to see my co-workers outside of work.

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Sunday morning, I again meant to get up early and CLEAN ALL THE THINGS. But instead I ended up sleeping until like 9:30 (UNHEARD OF for me). We really did not succeed in productivity this weekend. Never the less, we eventually motivated and headed into the city for Birthday Brunch with a friend from back home at Bar Charley! We didn’t go bottomless, but it was still DELICIOUS. That post will also be up later this week.

After brunch, we grabbed some snacks from the store and headed up to Riggs Park for Crabs, Beer, and another birthday celebration, also with college friends and the spouse of a college friend. We spent the whole afternoon lazing about at our friends’ house, picking crabs, drinking beer, playing with Big Bertha, a giant love bug of a 20 lb, cross-eyed cat that our friends’ are fostering (SHE IS UP FOR ADOPTION! from Washington Animal Rescue League.), and watching soccer.

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We almost decided that we no longer wanted to go to work and that we were just going to live with our friends from that point on, but we ultimately decided to drag ourselves back over the river to prep ourselves for another busy week. I’m so ready for a quiet, relaxing weekend, but I certainly can’t complain about all the quality time we got with so many of our friends this weekend!

Catoctin Creek Distillery (Purcellville, VA)

We knew that we would have some free time out in wine country during the SIL’s wedding weekend, so I  thought it would be a good idea to crowd-source some wineries to visit just to see if anyone had any must-try favorites. My co-worker replied and reminded me that Catoctin Creek Distillery was there, and informed me that if I didn’t visit while I was out there, that I was dead to her. That’s reason enough for me! Then, once I was doing my plotting and planning, I figured out that the distillery was just 10 minutes from the wedding venue. It was a done deal, and done very easily.

On Friday, we  headed from the farmhouse to the venue to help with a little bit of setup for the wedding. Once it got to be lunch time and I started getting hangry, we headed out to find lunch and to taste some whiskey! We rolled into adorable downtown Purcellville, checked out our lunch options, and decided that burgers were the perfect lunch before booze tasting. We grabbed a delicious lunch at Market Burger Fries and Shakes, just across the street from the distillery.

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I ordered a burger but topped like their black bean burger. It had pepper jack cheese, avocado, chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, and grilled onions. It was SO GOOD. The lady just had a burger with the standard toppings. We also split a GIANT order of fries. The coolest part was that everything was locally sourced. It was a surprising find in such a small town. Oh god, it was delicious, and it handled my hanger just perfectly.

After we finished lunch, it was just about time for the distillery to open, so we wandered back across the street.

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They let us in just a few minutes before opening time and we took a seat at the horseshoe shaped bar. The space was very warm and inviting. Wooden stools, concrete bar, wooden tables, metal chairs, exposed wooden rafters. It was a fantastic space and I felt very comfortable and happy just to be there.

I had a hard time deciding between the flight options, be it the original (The Mosby ‘s Spirit, The Watershed Gin, and The Roundstone Rye), the whiskey (Mosby’s Spirit, Roundstone Rye, and Roundstone Rye 92 proof) , cocktail, or the brandy flight (peach, pear, and grape). I decided on the brandy  because of the fruity flavors and she decided on the whiskey.

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I’m not the biggest fan of the taste of straight liquor, so I should have gone for the cocktail flight (you can choose 3 of about 8 cocktails made with their different liquors). But it was still a fun adventure to try brandy. Definitely outside my comfort zone.

The lady looooves whiskey, so the whiskey flight was right down her alley. The white spirit was a little harsh for her, it was basically moonshine. She liked the middle, lower proof whiskey the best. IMG_0231

I will definitely be getting the original flight or the cocktail flight the next time. I’m just itchin’ to try that gin.

I was a little concerned about time and having to get back to the hotel, get ready for the rehearsal dinner, etc, so we weren’t planning on doing the tour. We found out the the owner, Scott, who also runs their Twitter and who I had been Tweeting back and forth with for a few days, was the one giving the tour. The tasting also didn’t take very long, so we sprung for the tour. I’m really glad we did, because it was a lot of fun.

Scott walked us through some of the history of the distillery and all of the steps of the process. He made sure to stop at every step to see and smell the sights and smells of the process. The hands-on aspect was really great. He also talked about how the leftover rye is sent out as feed and that the way their production plays out that they are basically in the feed business, with whiskey on the side. One of the most fun facts of the day was that the cows that made up our lunch were fed that rye.

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He said that they are at the point where they are distilling and bottling every day. They don’t want to be in every store in every state, they like staying fairly small, but that they are growing like crazy. I think my most favorite fact was that of the 19 (?) or so states that they’re currently in- Washington DC accounts for a majority of their production and sales. How awesome is that? Also, I’m not the slightest bit surprised. This city sure loves its craft alcohol!

  • Favorite flavor I had: I think I probably liked the Mosby’s Spirit or the Roundstone Rye the best.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Definitely the original or the cocktail flight!
  • What makes this place stand out: The space is incredible and the owners were awesome! I’m so excited I got to meet them and am excited to see what comes of the future.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions)The lady wants to make another trip out for more wine tastings, and the Brother-in-Law’s family farmhouse is out there, I hope to find some time in the next month or so, but definitely by the fall.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Downtown Purcellville is super cute. There were some little antique shops and such there, and tons of food options. There are also a zillion wineries in the surrounding area. You could totally make a day of it.

 

 

 

Lunch and Coffee at Mockingbird Hill (Shaw)

It is no secret that Mockingbird Hill is our absolute favorite bar in the city. She loves the sherry, I love the cocktails on tap, and we both love the friendly service. When they started their coffee and lunch services, I knew we had to get over there to try it out. I work half-way across the city and she works even further, so it was either dip out of work one day, or just wait until we had a weekday off. When the lady and I decided to take the entire day off before her sister’s evening bridal shower, we knew we had to fit in a trip to our favorite bar to check out the daytime offerings.

I ran some errands, we packed the car for our trip, and we were off. It felt weird to walk into the bar before noon, but I am not complaining! We sat down and perused the menu and started with drinks. I had been really curious about the Kenya Cola (Kieni coffee, sugar, bitters, soda water)  after seeing this article, so I decided on that. The idea of something tasting a like cola, but without the cloying sweetness (I stopped drinking soda several months ago, so it just tastes like pure syrup to me now) sounded so perfect. The lady went with the White Columbian (El Desarollo coffee, sugar, cream, egg white)

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Neither drink came quickly. There is a lot of work that goes into crafting these beverages. I see why they insist that you sit down and take your time. Both drinks were absolutely amazing. I was unsure of the Kenya Cola on first sip, but the next sip brought out the complex flavors of the coffee. I could had stood it being a touch sweeter, but it was still great.

Her drink was absolutely amazing. Sweet, creamy, foamy. It took everything in me to not drink all of hers. I almost got one for myself, but two coffee drinks at lunch time would have had me up all night. I will certainly be back for that one. I may even have to dip out for a long coffee break from work one day.

We also decided to grab lunch while we were there. I decided on the Tuna sandwich. I forgot to take a pic of the menu, and I don’t recall what else was in the tuna mixture. It was like a super tasty , high end tuna salad sandwich. As soon as I was finished with it, I wanted another one. So good!

 

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She had the lomo sandwich. It had lomo ham, bitter greens, pickled raisins, and some sort of aioli. It was salty and sweet and really delicious. She said she’d like to eat it every day.

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We also had the pickled snacks as a side. Different every time, always a great choice! Just a nice few bites.

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  • Favorite thing I had: My tuna sandwich and her beverage, the White Columbian. I’ve been craving both ever since.
  • Favorite thing she had:  Her drink and her lomo sandwich. She’s also been craving them. I’m really surprised we haven’t been back this week as much as we’ve both been craving everything.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I’d like to try a coffee flight. I love coffee, but with lots of cream and sugar, so I think it’s time to start appreciating good coffee for what it is. I’d also like to try their other sandwich option. I think it had mushrooms? It was a veggie option.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): If we lived there, we’d just spend all our money at Mockingbird Hill. We’d be there every day. Most of the bartenders are starting to recognize us… can I just move in now?