A Vegetarian Mix Up

29 12 2011

Every year my co-workers and I are treated to a fancy lunch paid by my boss. It’s something I look forward to every year. We either do it for Thanksgiving or the winter holidays, and today was out annual paid for lunch for the holidays. The small group of the five of us headed over to Gordon Biersch in Chinatown to imbibe in the fancy food and beer that they serve up.

I walk by the restaurant/brewery almost daily and was just talking about the joint with a friend a few weeks ago, so I was pretty pumped. On G.B.’s website, I had noticed a vegetarian menu, which was pretty cool that they were so accommodating. (I’ve decided that for the month of December, and maybe longer, I’m going what I’ve called, Buffalo Wing-aterian; i.e: the only meat I will allow myself to eat are buffalo wings!) But when we got to our seats, I didn’t see the vegetarian menu out, and I was too shy to ask for one, so I figured I could just find something off the normal menu.

It came down to two dishes I was deciding over: lobster or salmon? The idea of a ginger rice seemed delectable, but the lobster would probably be more “lunch-like” and promising. So I went with the “Lobster Burger.” I must not have read the description correctly, because when my food came, I was thoroughly surprised. So surprised even, that when the waiter brought it out, I initially turned it away, since it didn’t look like what I had pictured it being. I should have just turned it back, because what I got ended up being a jumbo beef burger with a few measly pieces of lobster on top. For some reason, I thought I was ordering a lobster sandwich, and it was just called a “burger” for reasons unknown. (Yes, I thought it was odd, when they asked me how I’d like it cooked, but again, I assumed they were referring to the lobster, sort of like how you can get tuna cooked differently. Obviously, I don’t eat out enough. Maybe  I’m not as much a foodie as I had hoped I was.)

My lunch became compromised of the addicting garlic fries.

I was tempted to send it back, but it was my mistake that I misunderstood the menu/didn’t actually read the description, so I delved into the rest of the food on the plate. I eagerly gulped up the few small tidbits of lobster, and then created an odd sandwich of garlic fries, ketchup, lettuce, and tomato on the burger buns. Not the most delicious substitute, but thankfully our appetizer and the delicious beer I had (Hefeweizen) had proved substantial.

When the waiter came to clear our plates, I had to somehow explain that the reason a perfectly good slab of meat was left alone on my plate was because I mistakenly ordered wrong. It was pretty embarrassing but our waiter apologized profusely and offered to get me a crab cake instead. I had already missed the opportunity to send my dish back and had eaten everything else, so I turned down the generous offer. I was also surprisingly full- though maybe I was just overwhelmed with embarrassment. Thankfully, a co-worker offered to take my burger home to her daughter or dog, so the food wasn’t wasted.

I just felt so incredibly silly. I had been looking forward to this paid lunch for months, and when the time came, I basically ended up having a beer, french fries, and two burger buns. That’s not really what I call a meal worth the wait and the money, but at least the beer was especially delicious! I joked that I should have just had beer for lunch and that that would have been cheaper and more promising. Oh well, I guess that means I should just go back and better read the menu next time!


Street Art: Mexican Skulls

9 12 2011

Who’s been missing my street art postings? I know I have. Today I’m featuring a couple of stickers that I recently spotted in Chinatown, specifically around the intersection of 7th and E St. NW. I’m inclined to believe that these are both done by the same artist, mainly because of the unique subject matter. These Mexican Day of the Dead-style skulls are pretty fantastic. The detail work is well done and the colors are bright and hard to miss. Yet, they’ve been placed on newspaper vending boxes- so not necessarily at eye level, or a place that let’s them take the spotlight. Nonetheless they are great:

Outside Starbucks on the corner of 7th and E St.

Outside The Lansburgh apartments on 7th St., just South of the E St. intersection.

I love how similar they are, yet the pieces show obvious differences. The top piece is drawn onto a post office sticker- the medium here is obvious, as the label’s text is visible through the design. Whereas the bottom piece has been cut to form the shape of the skull. The second piece is more cartoonish and humorous than the first picture which is more of a serious design. The first piece also uses more variation with the thickness of lines as well as shading, creating a more realistic image.

I would love to know a few things about these mysterious stickers. Are they done by the same person? What is the meaning behind them? Why weren’t they put up during Halloween/The Day of the Dead? -I’m sure I would have noticed if they were up then. Would that have been too obvious of a time to showcase these beautiful designs? I hope there are more of these stickers around town. These may be some of the best street art stickers I’ve seen in D.C. lately.

Salty And Brown

27 08 2010

Today I took an extra long lunch break. I really needed it. I’ve been dealing with insane customers all week and with the combination of the beautiful weather we’ve been having all week plus the fact that I didn’t bring any lunch to work today, I just had to get out.

So I headed up 7th Street to Chinatown to see what I call the “neighborhood food court” would offer me for lunch. I was thinking something healthy like Chop’t or filling like CalTor, but then I realized that the food I was craving was really some good ol’ comfort food. I don’t think I realized it till I sat down to eat what I had ordered, but I think I have realized that my comfort food is Chinese food. Lo Mein, to be specific.

No, it doesn’t always look appetizing, with it’s slimy noodles in salty brown sauce. It’s not even always garnished with bits of green broccoli as in the above picture. Usually (as with my lunch today), it’s just a mess of brown food. Salty and brown might be the two best words to describe Lo Mein. And yet, I love it.

Side-Stepping Fame

25 06 2010

Yesterday I encountered another brush with a celebrity! How exciting, I know! This particular celebrity has made his name known to us through one of the many TV shows on Bravo. This celebrity is a chef who was on the last season of Top Chef. Honestly I guess it would come as no surprise that I saw him in Chinatown, since Chef Mike Isabella has his restaurant, Zaytinya in the neighborhood.

Anyways, I was walking up 7th Street in Chinatown. I had just walked out of my favorite hipster hot spot, Urban Outfitters, and was heading North to cross the new, crazy diagonal crosswalk. While I was walking, I heard a man talking on his cell phone to my left. It’s not like this is something strange to encounter in downtown D.C., but I guess my “Spidey Sense” was tingling so I turned my head to see who it was. A man was leaning against a newspaper vending machine right on the curb of 7th St. and was talking about meeting someone for dinner or something. I saw a man who looked familiar but I couldn’t place his face. It wasn’t until I spotted his tattooed arms, that I realized it was the guy on Top Chef that nobody liked!

I didn’t want to make a commotion, and since whenever I see a celeb for the first time I get nervous and start to doubt myself so I kept walking, but much slower. I was trying to find my camera in the black hole that is my purse. As I was slowly walking and fumbling about, I didn’t see Chef Isabella start for the door to the restaurant I was walking by. I sort of got in his way, as he kind of half-tripped over my not walking swiftly enough in the current of the Chinatown evening rush. I felt bad, but quickly side-stepped to focus on retrieving my camera. By the time I had turned around with my camera, Chef Isabella had disappeared through the doors of the restaurant, Zengo.

Unfortunately, while I didn’t get direct proof of seeing him, I know that it was definitely him. Maybe next time I walk around the city, I’ll have my purse cleaned out beforehand, or at least have my camera more readily available. You never know who you’ll spot in D.C!

Crepes in Chinatown

11 12 2009

F/D. 17  12/11/09

Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown has become a sort of outdoor food court to me and my friends as we frequent the neighborhood, looking for the right food to treat our taste buds and stomachs. Chinatown plays host to many different restaurants such as Chop’t, Fuddruckers, Ruby Tuesday, Potbelly’s, Chipotle, California Tortilla, McDonalds, and let us not forget the block of Chinese restaurants.

With so many restaurants in the compact area, why was it, that something still seemed to be missing? True, our Food Court has an inconvenient lack of a communal seating area, but we don’t seem to mind as we all convene on the stairs of the American Art Museum/Portrait Gallery. But perhaps the thing missing in Chinatown was the ability to grab a quick bite to eat and forgo settling into the restaurant habit. Since street space in Chinatown is limited to traffic, perhaps it was that there were no food carts nearby selling hot pretzels or half smokes.

But last Friday seemed to change all that. Last Friday, December 4th, a new face in town showed up on the Chinatown food circuit. A free-standing stand between the Verizon Center and Clyde’s starting serving up a hot food that has yet to grace the streets of Chinatown. Haven’t guessed it yet? [Oh, sorry, the title already gave it away!]

Crepes. The unique food item of French origin, that is basically a flat pancake quesadilla filled or topped with sweet spreads such as the favorite Nutella or other sweet or savory combinations. Crepes-a-Go-Go, the latest and greatest company is serving up a number of crepes from there mini-shop on 7th Street. Their menu includes two lists, Sweet and Savory, to help you decide on your crepe, depending on your mood. The crepery also lets you know you can create your own crepe insides-combination, which sounds rather promising and fun. Crepes are served to you folded up in tin foil and a paper towel and placed in a round paper cup, like you would normally use for a sno-ball. This ensures for proper on-the-go eating of your crepe.

So far, I have tried a crepe from either side of the menu and both have been fantastic. Upon my maiden voyage to Crepes-a-Go-Go, I tried a turkey, cheese, and pineapple “savory” crepe that was warm and gooey and delightful. The chunks of pineapple, though from a can, added a tasty sweetness which added a surprising depth to the more predictable turkey and cheese combination. On my second and most recent trip, I tried something from the “sweet” menu, the delectable, apple, cinnamon, and brown sugar crepe. This was amazing. The brown sugar and cinnamon combination reminded me of something like a churro, but with the baked apple chunks, I was immediately reminded of an apple pie. One of my friends repeatedly ordered the simple and sweet Nutella crepe with reported success both times. Another friend of mine got a crepe with sugar and butter, which seemed a little juvenile to the other more complex flavor combinations offered. Yet, by the look on my friend’s face and her many compliments on her snack, it was apparent she enjoyed her selection, too.

All in all, my friends and I surely hope this new crepe stand can stand up to its bigger neighbors. I can see the crepes being a popular attraction for bar-hoppers or hungry fans after sports games let out at the Verizon Center. The Crepe stand is open till 10pm on weekdays which makes the latter a likely situation. As for the bar hoppers, weekend hours will apparently go later, but to my knowledge that is still to be determined.

Abe Pollin

25 11 2009

C. 27  11/25/09

Yesterday, on Tuesday, November 24th, a great Jewish figure in Washington, D.C.’s recent history, passed away. Abe Pollin, who was 85 years old, was best known for bringing professional basketball and hockey to D.C. Pollin was the owner of the Washington Wizards (formerly the Bullets), the Mystics, and the Capitals.

Washington’s professional basketball and hockey teams used to play in Landover, MD at the USAir Arena, formerly the Capital Centre. Pollin was responsible for the building of the Verizon Center, formerly the MCI Center (the new home to these teams) in 1997 and the transformation of Chinatown and its surrounding neighborhoods. According to Wikipedia, “the Arena is not only a popular venue for sports and concerts, but helped to turned “Gallery Place/Chinatown” neighborhood into one of the prime sites for commercial development in Washington.”

In addition to Pollin’s involvement in DC’s sports, he also had a history of involvement in the real estate market, building his first major project, The Robert Towers near the Pentagon and named for his first son. His final project, “a 500-unit luxury [apartment] complex in Chevy Chase, was the Irene, named for his wife” (Express).

Abe Pollin will be greatly missed by his family and the Washington Jewish and sports communities. May he rest in peace.


17 03 2009

Yesterday a friend and I discovered a new restaurant in Chinatown in Washington, D.C. I was looking to eat dinner at a place I haven’t been to, and stumbled across the new looking and modern exterior of a place called, Nando’s. According to Wikipedia, “Nando’s is a restaurant chain originating from South Africa with a Portuguese-theme.”

Nando’s works in a pretty unique manner. Upon entering, a hostess will seat you at a table and hand you your menu. When you have decided what to order, you then go up to the main counter to order and pay at the cash register. You are then offered nuts and olives as appetizers (free of charge, I think). Next to the cashier is a bar of different “Peri Peri” sauces ranging from mild, to extra hot. (There are also salad dressings and a garlic hot sauce too. I tried the garlic sauce as well as the medium and the hot sauces and it seemed that the medium sauce was spicier, though the hot sauce had an interesting, fruity taste.) Once you have gathered your silver ware, napkins, fountain drinks, and sauces from the “condiment bar” you can then go back to your table. The food you ordered is then brought out to your seating. It’s pretty unique. 

I ordered the butternut squash and couscous salad with chicken. It was really good. And the presentation of the food was very nice too. The portions were standard and filling. My friend and I also split a glass of the Sangria which I really liked. It was very sweet and had a cinnamon undertone. Yum. The prices were also fairly reasonable. The Sangria glass was under $5! I was also impressed that the place used real pottery plates and glass glasses (for some reason the environment seemed to suggest that this wasn’t a real restaurant and would thus use plastics for dining).

The interior design also scored high points for me too. there was a modern, rustic feeling, with big, chunky wooden tables and booths. The ceiling above the booth I sat in, had cool, strings of with tiny lights hanging down a few feet. There was a short paragraph of text on a nearby wall which may have been some Portuguese folk story. The walls were painted a warm brown (if I remember correctly). I also liked the restaurant’s logo, a folk-like drawing of a rooster:


Our waiter was also very informative about the place’s different way of going about things. He was nice and also good looking! Ha. In the end, I would recommend this to anyone seeking something different without having to pay a lot. I came away from Nando’s still not quite sure I really know what Portuguese food entails, except that it’s healthy, full of vegetables and starch, and is tasty!

Plus, a major highlight of the restaurant visit was their bathrooms. The sink in the room was very innovative and strange. The basin was a flat, diagonal ramp slanting away from you, with a slit at the bottom for the water to drain down to. The faucet was a bold, strong statement that kind of looked like a pipe with the end sharply cut at a diagonal away from you. It was a motion censored faucet and when you put your hands out in front of the faucet, a strong rush of water came down. Also, I was pleasantly surprised by the nice, room temperature water too. It was so innovative, I just had to include something about the sink in this blog!