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!

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.

Bookalokal Home Bartending Class

This year has been the year of appreciating a good craft cocktail. The lady got me a bar set for my birthday and we purchased and have been working on stock a bar cart. Simply putting together the pieces does not guarantee that tasty drinks will result, however. My first few tries for drinks with more than 3 ingredients were… well, not the best. I eventually got the hang of it, and successfully made a decent mojito (the secret was a decent muddler), but I knew I could use some help. Most bartending classes in this city are really f’in expensive. I’ve looked into them, I’ve thought about it… but I never did anything about it.

But then, I learned about Bookalokal from this post on DC Minute. I have really been into rum lately, so Tiki drinks have been my jam this summer. But I poked around a bit more and saw that Marshall also offered a home bartending class. Sold! I suggested some dates, we went back and forth through the Bookalokal concierge, and settled on a date about a month away. We paid up our $50 per person (which also covered a set of basic bar tools that you get to keep), and we were on our way to learning how to make delicious beverages.

 

I mostly took the class to learn exactly how to use the tools that I already owned. I know there’s a reason for stirring vs. shaking, a method for shaking, even a way to keep the Boston Shaker (that’s the type of shaker with two tumblers, rather than the one the the lid) sealed while you’re shaking. I was correct, there is a method, and Marshall taught it to us! I’ve also had trouble with muddling in the past (I know, ridiculous huh?) Well, it turns out that the flavor sacks in mint are on the outside of the leaf, so it doesn’t need to be muddled to pieces. Brilliant. We learned all about the tools that he was giving us, as well as other tools that might be useful. Strainers, muddlers, jiggers, stirring spoons, juicers, citrus tools, ice shavers, ice bags, etc.

With basic mixing and shaking skills came an awesome dose of cocktail history. Like the fact that the name “cocktail” was actually the name of a drink that included spirit, sugar, bitters, and water. What does that make you think of? An Old Fashioned! Well, the name Old Fashioned came from a time when cocktails were evolving, but in order to get an actual cocktail at a bar, it would have to be ordered as a “cocktail, the old fashioned way” Hence, Old Fashioned.

Once we had the lay of the land, the drink-making began! We started with a shaken drink, the Classic Daiquiri. None of that frozen mix business. Just rum, simple syrup, and lime juice in 3-2-1 ratios. Measure the ingredients into your shaker, starting with the least expensive, fill the shaker with ice, shake vigorously for a slow 10-count, and then strain into your glass (double-strain if you’d like as there are  tiny ice crystals in the drink if you don’t. I didn’t. I love ice), and enjoy. I had never actually had this beverage, but it was friggin’ fantastic. And so easy! I’ll definitely be making that one at home.

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Next up was the classic Martini, as it’s meant to be made, with gin and vermouth. I’ll admit, I’ve always been sort of afraid of vermouth, just because I’ve never liked the martini and had never bothered to try it on its own. Well, vermouth is actually very tasty! But it’s like wine, and it goes bad very quickly. So, if a bar doesn’t know what they’re doing- there’s a chance their vermouth is bad. I’m glad I’ve never bought a bottle of it. I didn’t know that and we probably never would have used it in time.

So, for the martini, we started with a 1-1 ratio of (I used sweet) vermouth to gin. Fill the mixing container with ice, and stir for a 20-count, strain, and garnish with lemon peel. I’m not usually one for drinking beverages so strong, but it was actually really excellent. I wish I had used more like 2/3rds vermouth and 1/3rd gin, but I still enjoyed my drink!

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For the third and final drink, Marshall showed off for us. He made us whatever we requested! Well, I originally wanted a Suffering Bastard, but he didn’t have any ginger beer. So, I just asked him to make me any Tiki drink of his choosing. He chose a classic Mai Tai for me. And it was incredible and it made me wish I had orgeat syrup at home so I could make my own.

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The lady requested an Old Fashioned. He changed it up a little bit by adding coffee bitters. It was also delicious and really made me want to increase our bitter selection.

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Speaking of bitters, he had an incredible collection of his own. It’s too bad they’re so pricey!

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The class was so fun, educational, and just a little bit different than the other sort of stuff we usually get into on weekends. I only wish our apt wasn’t so tiny so I could host a pizza-making class or something! So, I’m thinking the Tiki class next? Maybe Whiskey 101? How about Intro to Bitters?? I can’t decide!

 

 

 

 

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!