Weekend Round Up: Enjoying the Weather

The weather basically could not have been any more perfect this weekend, and we took full advantage of it and spent as much time as we possibly could outside.

Piola

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Friday after work, I hopped over the bridge to Rosslyn to meet the lady and her sister (who just moved here, I’m SO excited!), to scarf down some pizza at Piola. You all know how much I love pizza. We ordered Hawaiian and and Carbonara. I also ordered a Sgroppino Al Limone, which was basically a wine glass of vodka and lemon gelato. It was sort of like a tiny boozy milkshake. Tasty, but a bit thick to enjoy with pizza. The pizza was good! Not the best, but pretty good. The crust was nice and thin, not too heavy on the toppings. The best part- because it was happy hour, they were half price. We fed 3 people, with leftovers and a bev for $30, with tip. We will certainly be back for their bottomless brunch. Just all the pizza you can eat. Yeah, that’s my jam. 

Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival

After dinner, we headed over to Gateway Park to grab a spot on the lawn and meet some friends for Office Space at the outdoor film festival. We always get there absurdly early, but it’s the best way to make sure you get a good spot. My advice is to make sure you have plenty of cozy, soft things. I am always over prepared, so I had a jacket, sweatshirt, blanket, sheet, and tarp. It was a little chilly, but even when it’s not, all those things will make for great pillows and padding from the ground. Because we’re getting old. I think next time we may picnic there beforehand. Maybe bring some cards? Before the movie they usually have some activities to occupy you while you wait.

 

On Saturday, we ended up bar hopping and spending the entire day outside (mostly) enjoying the perfect weather and accidentally drinking a lot. This is what living in DC is all about, right?

Nationals Game

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We had tickets for the Nats game and that was pretty much our only plan for the day. We were just going to take in the game then head home to do responsible adult stuff. Well, once you’re in the city, you might as well explore, right? We enjoyed the game and some sandwiches from G. Once it was clear that the Nats had this game in the bag- we headed out to beat the crowd. The lady had never been to Yards Park, so we strolled that direction. As we got closer, we noticed that there were bikes EVERYWHERE. Oh yes, it was Tour De Fat. Which I knew, but had totally forgotten about. We didn’t stick around long, even though it wasn’t too terribly crowded and could have been an enjoyable experience. That’s definitely something we’ll have to check out next year. Instead, we decided to head to U St. / Shaw and check out some things there.

Our initial idea was to check out Veritas. We had just had lunch, so a glass of wine and some small plates sounded perfect. Well, we got there and took a seat at the bar. It was clear it was still brunch, but no one paid us any attention. We weren’t in the mood for brunch, so we cut our losses and decided that this was not the place for us at this time. Maybe that’s more a post-work place for us. Better luck next time.

American Ice Co. 

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Instead, we headed over to American Ice Company. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too terribly crowded. We took a seat at a table in the outdoor area and perused the menu. I had heard about the nachos (Swachos) before, so we decided to give that a try. The pickled veggies on the menu also caught my eye. That and a couple of beers in a laid back environment was so perfect. We hung out there for quite some time, had a couple of beers and watched it fill up. Then, as it the case any time we end up within 5 blocks of Shaw, we decided that a trip to Mockingbird Hill was in order. We finished up our beers at American Ice but still had some time to kill. Where could we go and continue to drink outside and kill some time? Ah yes, El Rey. There was a pit stop there for one margarita, and then onto the DB3! (Derek Brown 3)

Mockingbird Hill

So, I know I’ve talked about how skeptical I was about the Derek Brown concepts.  Sherry and ham, what? Well, the lady and I have dropped our skepticism and officially decided that Mockingbird Hill is our favorite bar in the city. And for so many reasons. It seems like every time we go there, there’s always something new to discover. The lady is slowly exploring the world of sherry- and I’m really enjoying the cocktails on tap. Last time we were there about a month ago, we chatted up bartender Adriana. When we sat down this time, she immediately recognized us and remembered our names. Of course this makes you feel special and important and makes you feel like you belong there. The lady made such an awesome point while we were there- this is the kind of place that could so easily be a snooty, exclusive sort of bar, but it’s just not. The bartenders are friendly and willing to chat. You feel like you’re sitting down with friends.

I’ve also discovered my Drink Of the Summer. The PX Sherry Iced Tea on draft is one of the most amazing beverages I’ve ever tasted. It basically tastes like sweet tea. The southerner in me is so smitten. I was pretty sure that there was some simple syrup at play, and asked another one of the bartenders was it was. He said that actually, no, it was just a very sweet sherry- no simple syrup. He poured me a taste of the sherry and described the flavor profile to me. So perfect. I had 3.

I noticed that Derek Brown was in the bar that evening and geeked out a little bit. On the way back to my seat from the restroom, I caught Adriana’s attention and sort of whispered to her that I’d like to meet him. She made the intro and I was in! This man owns 4 of the most fantastic bars in the city and seemed more than happy to spend a couple minutes chatting with me. He was so friendly and gracious. I told him that I loved his bars and he mentioned sherry week and their one year anniversary to me. We will definitely be back this week to celebrate with them.

On the way to Mockingbird Hill, I texted an old friend of mine who lives in Bloomingdale. Luckily, she and her boyfriend were able to come out to meet us. We had a round or two of drinks and then decided it was time to move to the next place. They were meeting some friends at Dacha beer garden and invited us to come along.

DACHA

DACHA is somewhere we had been meaning to try for months and months. But any time we’d been past it, it was super crowded. I’m not one for elbowing my way to a bar, but after several drinks this particular day, I thought why not! If it was too crowded, we’d just stumble home. Well, we got there and while it was crowded, we were able to find a little spot to settle into. We made our way to the bar and I ordered the most giant raspberry beer for myself and a hefeweizen for the lady. They were huge and delicious.

During this time, my friend and I realized that we had been friends since like 2002 or 03 and talked about how awesome it was that we now lived in the same city and still hung out. It’s always really interesting to watch where life takes you and who follows a similar path as you. I have a few of those kinds of friends in DC. It’s so nice to have people here who understand Roanoke. We’re all here for similar reasons, we had bigger plans than Roanoke, but still love home.

Around 10-10:30, we decided that it was probably time to call it a night. We walked the few blocks from Dacha and hopped on the metro at Mt. Vernon Square and journeyed back to Alexandria.

 

We were going to brunch in the city on Sunday, but decided to stay close to home and recover instead. Cooking breakfast sounded really daunting, so we decided to tackle the few blocks to Buzz for a waffle and quiche instead. I really need someone to figure out the whole breakfast delivery thing, but in the meantime, the food from Buzz hit the spot. Since we had basically said “Screw responsibility” on Saturday, we spent most of the day catching up on all the stuff we had to do. We didn’t venture more than 2 miles from home and that was just fine with us. After dinner, we ended the evening hanging out in the courtyard with 6 of our other neighbors. (Hey guys!) It was a perfect end to the weekend.

It’s weekends like this that makes me realize how lucky I am to live here and have the friends that I do. This is a good life. Next weekend: PRIDE!!

 

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Bob and Edith’s (Arlington)

This past Sunday, we helped one of our college friends’ and her husband move into their NEW HOUSE! in the city. We decided that a day of moving boxes and carrying furniture called for a good hearty breakfast beforehand. Another college friend, M, asked to catch a ride with us from the Columbia Pike area of Arlington. I used this as the perfect excuse for us to FINALLY check out Bob and Edith’s. The lady and I had tried to head there once before, but were dissuaded by the lack of parking in the tiny lot. This time, we were armed with that knowledge, the suggestion to park on a side street and not even fool with the lot, and were accompanied by a B&E veteran. Seriously, M has been going to Bob and Edith’s since she was a kid, to have pie with her dad. I knew that with her expertise, this was going to be an awesome experience.

We arrived around 10:30am. We though that because it was Mother’s Day, it might be a little more calm than usual. I don’t know what usual is, but we only had to wait about 5 minutes for a table to open up. It is pretty amazing how many seats they can fit in the tiny space and how quickly they turn over. We sat down and studied the menu. There is every kind of breakfast food you can possibly imagine. And then’s there’s a board on the wall with weekend specials. M was telling me about how she usually orders the corned beef hash, but always considers the banana walnut pancakes. She ultimately decided on her usual, so I went for the waffle! The lady also went for a waffle, but hers with pecans. The waffles came with bacon.

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I figured mine would be easiest to eat if I smooshed the bananas down into the waffle squares. So I did, smothered it in syrup, and went to town. the waffle was cooked perfect, just the way I like. Crunchy outside, soft inside. The bananas were an awesome choice. And the bacon, as bacon is, delightful. I tried M’s potatoes and they were really tasty as well. The lady enjoyed her waffle. As soon as the food got there, we were all basically silent, so I think that’s telling to how delicious it was.

Since there were people waiting for tables, we didn’t linger. We paid our surprisingly cheap check ($33 for 3 people, I think?) and ventured out to help our friends move into their awesome new house. (Where I fully expect to spend my Sundays, cooking out in the summer and watching football in the fall.)

  • Favorite thing I had: Everything I had. That waffle was so good. And with the smooshed bananas. Perfect.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The pie!  The biscuits and gravy!! I felt a little glutenous from the night before, so I went waffle (Which is silly, I know. It had fruit! Rather than sausage?) rather than biscuits this particular visit.
  • What makes this place stand out: It’s TINY! It’s just a little diner with a tiny parking lot. First come, first served. You wait until there’s a table and you swoop in and take it.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions)It won’t be too long. I’m thinking maybe we’ll go in next time we want breakfast for dinner but I don’t feel like cooking it myself.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby)This area is growing up like crazy. You could walk across the street to Society Fair for some coffee or wine. Other than that, it’s mostly food. Which you will not need more of after you’re finished here. Maybe a show at Arlington Cinema and Draft House?

Shaw’s Tavern (and District Flea) (DC)

We decided to jump headfirst into exploring everything about the District this year. Since starting this blog and building a social media profile around it, it’s almost impossible to miss hearing about an event that people are excited about. District Flea is one of those things I’d been hearing buzz about for a couple of weeks. Since it was supposed to be nice on opening day, we decided to check it out. I thought it might be best to get there as close to the 10am start time, just so we wouldn’t have to fight too large a crowd. That ended up being a pretty good plan, and despite it being breezy and chilly, it was an enjoyable time. My favorite tents were a couple of the furniture sellers. I also enjoyed the one vendor (I can’t remember her name) pretty close to the west gate, who did the neighborhood drawings. I’m hoping she’ll take our suggestion to do an Old Town map soon. Next time, I think we’ll take a closer look at the food vendors. They were in the shade and it got very windy as we got to them, so we moved quickly back into the sun.

It was a bit chilly for us to stick around too long, so our loop took us less time than expected. I had thought maybe we’d do lunch somewhere near by, but we found ourselves ready to move along before 11am. Most places in the area hadn’t opened for lunch or brunch yet. I Googled around, and luckily Shaw’s Tavern had opened at 9am.

My first impression of the space was that it was very cozy. Exposed brick, a giant chalk board. The music was good. It felt sort of like hanging out at a friends’ house. We sat at a tall table sort of in a corner-ish area downstairs. We ordered mimosas, but not bottomless, even though it was only $12. I ordered the Cornbread Waffle and she ordered the Mac n Cheese Skillet. Our server also sold me on bacon, even though I really didn’t need it. My waffle was nice and soft, with a slight sweetness. The strawberries were a very nice complement. The bacon wasn’t hot, but it was a nice chewy thick cut. Her mac and cheese… was a sight to be seen. Creamy with sausage, peppers, and two eggs on top. I was only able to have a couple of bites of it, but it was good. Very rich and cheesy. Perfect warm up on a chillier than expected day. The biscuits that came on the side were really good. I just can’t shake my southerner love of biscuits.

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This weekend definitely had me asking why we didn’t live in Shaw yet. (Trust me, we always have an eye out for places.) This is quickly becoming my favorite corner of the city.

  • Favorite thing I had: The cornbread waffle was different, and I liked it. The bacon was a nice thick cut and was very tasty.
  • Favorite thing she had: The Mac N Cheese. The mimosas were proportioned just right.
  • How was the service?: Maybe not always the most timely, but our server was fantastic. He treated us like we were regulars. Very familiar and casual.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Probably a burger or pizza. I had a very, heavy savory breakfast, so I went for something on the sweet side for brunch. Oh, there was lamb biscuits and gravy that sounded really good, but too heavy at the time.
  • What makes this place stand out: The exposed brick and giant chalk board with the daily specials. The high tables. the prominent bar, the friendly servers and hostess. It’s a cozy place and I felt really comfortable here. The light was nice, and I just felt like I could call some friends over and hang out there all day.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): This feels like a neighborhood spot. If I lived in the area, I’d probably be there every couple of weeks.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): I had wanted to go over to Right Proper (now that it’s open for lunch!!) to have a beer or two, but we were absolutely stuffed and couldn’t consume another single thing.

Matchbox, 14th St. (DC)

When trying to decide where I wanted to celebrate with a larger group of friends for birthday brunch, I thought it might be best to just choose somewhere huge, centrally located, with a wide variety of things on the menu. Matchbox on 14th St. NW came to mind pretty easily. I made a reservation online and then sent out the invite. I got a little nervous about how many people I invited versus the number I made the reservation for, so I changed it to the largest number I could. In doing this, I must have accidentally changed the day. This was not something I noticed until I looked up the phone number in my confirmation e-mail to call them and reduce the number of guests just TWO HOURS before me and 11 friends were supposed to roll up there. So of course when I noticed this, I FREAKED OUT and called them as quickly as I could. I told them the story and luckily they were able to easily accommodate our group. I was so thankful that I chose such a giant place. Crisis averted.

They seated us at a round table in a corner, which was perfect. I was able to see and talk to everyone in the group without someone getting stuck at the end of the table. Also, since I’m apparently terrible at counting people, we had to get pretty close and squeeze a couple extra chairs in. The table was juuuust big enough for the 12 of us and it worked out fine. A majority of the group were college friends who were accustomed to pulling the same kind of move in the dining hall.

Since I was with so many friends, I was paying more attention to them and less to the food. My waffle with fresh fruit and a side of bacon was tasty. My mimosas came at a good pace. The lady’s french toast was great. One friend had the steak and eggs and it looked fantastic. the lamb sandwich also looked interesting with the chickpea fries. Last time I was there, I had an excellent omelet. I won’t be going back tomorrow, but the food is always good, the service is personable and prompt. A solid experience every time.

  • Favorite thing I’ve had: Everything I ever get is good. The waffle was great. The Matchbox Mimosa was excellent. I could have drank them all day, but we had to be productive adults after brunch.
  • Favorite thing she had: The french toast.
  • How was the service? It was great. The server handled our more-than-expected group of 12 like a pro and was very personable. He even preemptively split our checks. A total lifesaver in a situation like that. At one point, we asked if they could take a picture of the whole group and they sent over someone who was clearly accustomed to such requests. Nice touch.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The fig and prosciutto pizza. The server recommended it, but I was already set on the waffle. The cocktails. Maybe one of the bloody marys.
  • What makes this place stand out: The space is huge and airy. Exposed brick and duct work. A sizable outside seating area. A huge menu.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I seem to end up here about once per season.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Garden District (we tried, too crowded), Menchie’s (that’s where we ended up instead)

B Too (DC)

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It took me a while to decide exactly where I wanted to go to for sorta fancy date night birthday dinner. I perused our ever expanding list of places to try, weighing how bad I wanted to try the place versus special enough for a birthday meal. B Too jumped out at me. It’s somewhere we wouldn’t normally go but was at the top of the desire to try list.

We got there a bit before our reservation so we started at the bar. As soon as we sat down, we were well cared for by 2 very friendly bartenders. It was still happy hour, so I grabbed the Belgian Mule and she had a wheat beer. Nice way to start the evening and end a hard week of work.

I had already taken a look at the menu earlier in the week, so I already had a few contenders in mind. I was pretty set on a nice birthday steak. The salmon with potato crust put up a good fight, but I decided to go for something I wouldn’t normally order. I went big with the beef tenderloin. The lady, not being a big fan of seafood, went for the hanger steak. We had our choices of sauces. I went with a pepper sauce and she went with the garlic butter. Hers came with roasted veggies and mine a salad, both with fries. The steaks didn’t beat the one I had a Ray’s The Steaks for my birthday  a couple years ago, but they were both good.

I had the Brussel’s Winter as my first drink at dinner. Vodka, lemon, pineapple, basil, and choco bitters. And then the Merry Rose for the second one. Gin, rosemary tincture, lime, lemon, cava. The Brussel’s winter was really interesting. I’m enjoying the trend of pineapple in drinks recently.

For dessert, we went with the waitress’s suggestion of the Frangipane Waffle for dessert. Banana, beer caramel, crumble. We split one, because we were both pretty full. The waffle was the perfect combination of crispy but soft. The caramel was awesome. I’d go back just for that.

  • Favorite thing I had: The tenderloin with pepper sauce. Pretty perfect.
  • Favorite thing she had: The Frangipane Waffle. Server recommended, lady approved.
  • How was the service?: Exactly how I like it. Friendly, knowledgeable, never having to wait long for her next visit.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I think next time I’m going to go for the mussels. The ones with 1/2 a lobster and bisque sound amazing. The Mathilde’s Muse cocktail. Pear vodka, St. Germaine, lemon, cava. Seemed a little too obvious a choice for me that night.
  • What makes this place stand out: Celebrity chef Bart Vandaele, of Top Chef fame, was bouncing all around the dining room overseeing all of the happenings the whole time we were there. I never had the guts to go talk to him. What do you even say? “Your food tastes real good…” Also, they have BREAKFAST.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): It was a touch on the high end of the scale for us, so it might have to be a special occasions place. Also a good happy hour or dessert spot. Or maybe we’ll just hit them for breakfast in the next month time-frame.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Anywhere on 14th or P streets. We hoofed it up to 2 Birds 1 Stone, but you could just do Black Whiskey or Stoney’s.