Thursday, February 28, 2008

HUDSON has highs and chills

Last night we took Samuel out for dinner to HUDSON which recently took over the space at 21st & M Streets previously occupied by David Greggory ( The decor is not that different with redder walls and exposed ceilings, dark wood tables and tan brushed corduroy-like chairs. It is elegant, but sadly our table in the rear facing the window to the exposed kitchen was next to the long outside window. Despite the reasonably warm weather, we were very chilly, and Samuel had to move to the other side of the table and don a coat!

There were not alot of other table options as a huge group occupied the whole front section of the restaurant.

The Parker House rolls were decent, but nothing to rave over, and while Samuel rolled his eyes over his FRIED CHICKEN and FRENCH FRIES, I was not impressed due to the blandness of the seasonings. The crust was tasty (offered as an entree as Buttermilk Fried Chicken) and maybe it just needs that entree's gravy!

A bottle of LANE TANNER French Camp Vineyard Shiraz 2004 from San Luis Obispo in California was excellent with slight tannins and a smoky full finish that went great with most of our food. Will started with the MATZOH BALL SOUP with Pulled Chicken, Carrots and Celery that Mr. Sietsema so raved about just a month ago in his review. It was superb, and perhaps because it was the executive chef's night off, his experience of way too much salt was oddly the opposite!

I tried the superb WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO with Smoked Gouda Cheese, Grilled Asparagus and White Truffle Oil that was an al dente dream. The entrees were excellent with my DUCK CONFIT consisting of two legs and thighs in a HUCKLEBERRY SAUCE with an ARUGULA, PARMESAN (& tomato) Salad on the side. A huge paper cone of TRUFFLE FRIES came with the dish and were so superior to Samuel's that he enjoyed mine as well. Will opted for the NATURAL ANGUS BEEF BRISKET with Root Vegetables and Jus. It was a thick tasty gravy and the meat was cut super thin and tender. Perhaps it was the Angus, or the recipe, or both...but this dish is a winner if you want an amazing pot roast that melts in your mouth.

A nice glass MENAGE A TROIS 2004 from FOLIE a DEUX in NAPA helped me finish the duck, while Will had a glass of Bodegas SALENTEIN Mendoza Estate Malbec 2004 to wash his brisket down.

We were all full and unimpressed by the dessert menu, but nonetheless got a couple little bags of homemade popcorn which had plain as well as PINK MARZEPAN popcorn mixed in (which Samuel did not like at all), but I thought was novel and tasty.

I would return but not when it's real cold, and ask to sit where it's warmer!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Manhattan's MOLYVOS makes much of fish

MOLYVOS in NY City just next to Carnegie Hall ( - 871 7th Avenue at 56th St) has long been considered one of the top Greek spots to dine in NY City and has historically carried top prices as well.

We dined there the other night before a concert which began at 730pm, and we had a 530pm reservation, as did many other folks. The front doorway was crowded and drafty (the temps were way below freezing) as people gathered to be seated since they don't open until 530pm. We were actually not seated until about 5:40pm (even though we had checked in by 5:20pm). This was not so bad, except that my Mom can't stand long and had to take a seat at a nearby table since there was no place to sit other than the bar with very high stools. We quickly ordered a bar appetizer of TARAMOSALATA which we had both remembered over the years as the best around; it isn't anymore. Somebody changed the recipe, and while it is GOOD, it is no longer AMAZING; it got less creamy than it was. The warm pita and olive bread chunks were super, and the accompanying Red Pepper Puree was as good as the Tarama; we just could have had that!

My mom ordered her drink which was good-sized for its price ($10 for call brands) and I asked for a glass of ASSYRTIKO-ROBOILLA, Kallista from Domaine Mercouri on Ilias which was $13 and the pour was easily UNDER 4 ounces. I mentioned this to the server and he did not offer to fill the glass much more, but my second glass, an XINOMAVROS AKIKIES Ktima Kir-Yianni Rose from Amyrideon was filled to the brim of the mini-carafe. Both wines were superb, by the way, just be sure the carafe is full.

I was pretty hungry, so I ordered the appetizer of OCTOPUS SALAD, and the server asked me if I wanted the "cold salad," and I said yes, not realizing there were two. Well, there was only one, and it was deliciously warm (not hot) and loaded with chunks of tender sliced octopus, roasted peppers, lots of fresh ripe tomatoes, greens and a lemon and olive oil emulsion.

We both ordered fish for our entrees, and I think this is one of Molyvos' specialties. My Mom's Herb Crusted ARCTIC CHAR was slow cooked with a super tasty, super crunchy skin and served with BLACK EYES PEAS, Red Onion, Tomato, Dandelion Greens, Extra Virgin olive Oil, Lemon & Dill and she could not stop raving. My SAUTEED SKATE PASTOURMA with Basmati Rice, House Pickled Peppers and an amazing WALNUT AVGOLEMONO (that fabulous chicken lemon soup so famous in Greece) sauce was simply spectacular.

It was still early, so I ordered a dessert that said, "please allow ample time." I asked the server how long it took, and he said no more than 15 minutes. Over 25 minutes later as we were telling them we needed to go, a plate of LOUKOMADES arrived that were fritters (just fried dough really, and bland at that) soaked in CINNAMON THYME HONEY with Walnuts that was so sweet we could barely eat more than a couple each. We left over 1/2 the dish and headed out, happy about our entrees, but regretting the dessert.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The SOURCE-soaring prices, no pretenses, noisy, but satisfying

I had heard so much about THE SOURCE ( which opened last year in the new Newseum at 6th St, NW off Penna (address is 575 Penna Ave, NW, but the entrance is on 6th). Not being a fan of Mr. Puck and his see and be seen places and awful airport pizza, I had severe trepidations about this spot as well. Over several months, I have heard many raves and Mr. Sietsema gave it 2-1/2 stars, perhaps just because it has some very good food. While the food is good, and Mr. Sietsema raved about his reception, the four of us sat at the table for over 10 minutes before we had to get up and ask a server if we could perhaps get some attention (menus, ordering, etc-you know, those things one expects when paying over $100 each for dinner!).

I was immediately turned off by the extremely high noise levels in the entire place (the main floor bar and "pizza" place, as well as the second floor dining room where we were), and the woman cackling at super-high decibels at the next table didn't help. The moving settees for two are a bit awkward, but not uncomfortable, and the decor is decent, although not inspiring, with a huge glass walled in wine cellar and some modern globe-like light fixtures.

We persevered and our server was extremely nice once she did arrive. The food tends to spicy, and this starts with a complimentary bowl of SZECHUAN GREEN BEANS and CANDIED WALNUTS which are addictive. The only problem was that when our wine arrived, my palate was shot from the chilis.

I had ordered a pricey (well, not really pricey on THIS wine list; as there are only about 3 wines under $30, and about the same number between $30-40--so expect to fork out between $50-80 to start, unless you want cheap stuff) PINOT NOIR 2005 from St INNOCENT "Seven Springs" which was decent, but not impressive. I have always loved St Innocent, but perhaps the spice had numbed my palate; perhaps the server should have steered us to a bigger wine or a Zinfandel based on the food style. I was beginning to feel The SOURCE was decent, but not impressive overall (except for the String Beans!). Before the wine was served I asked our server for a piece of bread or cracker to "get back my palate," but they had to "order" the bread and it never came anyway. What was that all about?

The appetizers were indeed hits from my "TINY DUMPLINGS" of Pork Belly in a sauce of Black Vinegar, mild Chili Oil, Ginger & Cilantro. They were quite tasty, and the portion size was decent; a step above any Chinese dumpling I have had for sure. Another hit was the Tandoori ARCTIC CHAR with Pickled Cucumber, Tomato Chutney & Cardamom Raita - again a huge portion for an appetizer. The Warm LOBSTER-DAIKON Roll came in at over $20, but when requested in vegetarian form, the price dropped to a semi-decent $12, and the CRISPY SUCKLING PICK with Black Plum Puree, Pickled Cipollini and Sweat Beans was another star.

Two of the entrees were huge: a decent Vegetarian Platter (it had to be requested as there were no veggie items on the menu) and our stupendous LACQUERED CHINESE DUCKLING with Wild Huckleberries, Pea Tendrils and CHOW FUN. This came in a monstrous bowl (of awful design as the utensils kept sliding in and getting sticky!) with almost what seemed to be an entire duck with the most delightful and crispiest of skins. The Chow Fun came separately and was a concoction of pappardelle-like pasta ribbons, bok choy and some chilis as well for a good boost of spice.

The smallest portion was the beautifully arranged and presented "American Style" KOBE SHORT RIBS, Slow cooked with Indian Spices & Masoor Dal. There were only several pieces of meat, and at $37, they could have been a bit more generous. Incidentally, the cheapest entree is chicken at $28, but the prices go up fast to Lobster or Kobe Steak at $62.

We split one dessert for two, while our new friends had coffee. The GRATED APPLE & ASIAN PEAR "PIE with Almond Crumble and Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream, was more of a deconstructed pie or truly a crumble and was delectable. We were pleased that Executive Chef SCOTT DREWNO (who hails from Puck's Vegas hot spots) came around to check on us after the meal.

I guess I might return to the Source, but not too quickly, and not too often at those prices. I would order a Zinfandel, taste more appetizers, and maybe share a large entree instead. Who knows? For I am truly not the only source of information.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bravos to BISTRO BIS' brunch

I have never been a big "brunch" person and prefer to do my eating at dinner time, but yesterday we had a special client visiting DC and needed to make it an early brunch. We opted for BISTRO BIS ( on Capitol Hill at the Hotel George, and must say we all had a simply splendid time.

We had a large roomy booth which was ever so comfortable and kept Samuel at bay with his crayons while we waited for his FRENCH TOAST BRIOCHE with Hazelnut Butter, Caramelized Banana and Vanilla Creme Fraiche. He would have none of the cream or banana, and so quickly got a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead from our speedy server! He devoured the several slices of bacon faster than a disposal and went on to eat one piece of the toast saying it was yummy. Will polished off the remainder.

Will's choice was the DUCK HASH Landaise which was a confit with Garlic Potatoes, Red Wine, Poached Eggs and Honey Vinegar Thyme sauce that was just perfect as the cold weather and wind was moving in. Our guest opted for the tasty GNOCCHI a LA FORESTIERE which were Parisien style (potato) gnocchi with Potiron Squash, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Garlic & Fresh Sage..a tasty concoction, and so appropriate as she was departing for Paris that same day!

I chose two appetizers which were huge portions in themselves: STEAK TARTARE was a perfect preparation with yummy coarse mustard and cornichons that I lingered over and then went on to the TARTE FLAMBE ALSACIENNE which is a traditional pizza-like flat Alsatian tarte of caramelized onoin, bacon and fromage blanc--It was SUPERB!

Everything was so filling that only our guest tried the CREME BRULEE (but I could not even taste another bite) which she loved. It has been way too long since we were at BIS and now know we have to go back for more French food on the hill!