Matchbox on the Hill

In case you can’t tell, I’ve been heavy into the catch-up posting this week.  This one’s from the Sunday before inauguration:

So Inauguration Weekend.  I jokingly told someone that every black person in DC was in my neighborhood.  As the weekend wore on, I realized it was pretty much true.  At any rate, my lovely friend Jen happened to miraculously be in town from London for a wedding, so Ace (Jen’s former roommate) and I decided to do what the three of us do best- Eat.  Ace and Jen scooped me up downtown (where I was buying boots!) and we headed off to the not-quite-as-new-now Matchbox on the Hill.

Let it never be said that brunch shouldn’t have appetizers.

We started with the cinnamon rolls- pillowy, delicious, and far better than the disastrous ones I attempted a few weeks ago.  Plus there were six of them, which worked out perfectly.

matchbox-cinnamon-rolls1

Then we moved on to actual food- spicy meatball pizza (it may or may not be impossible for me to order anything else at Matchbox), stuffed French toast, and cast iron chorizo and eggs.

matchbox-breakfast

I’ve never been disappointed by Matchbox (they have PBR tallboys!), but this breakfast was exceptional.  But I’m probably just saying that because I love spicy meatball pizza.

Taylor Gourmet

Yesterday was not a good day.  Severe, dehabilitating, mind-numbing back pain for no apparent reason, showing up at a doctor’s appointment to learn that my doctor is retired, and the other doctor I’ve seen in the practice is moving to California in 2 weeks,  $190 for two shots (thank you China!) that were free 3 months ago- it all made me just a wee bit grumpy.

So, I decided to order in for dinner, from Taylor Gourmet (menu available here). 

First problem: do they deliver to the Columbia Heights/ U Street area?

Yes!

Second problem: They will not deliver one sandwich all the way across town.  Crap.My roommates are all gone, local friends are all elsewhere…  so I thoughtfully decided I would purchase dinner for myself and my SO. 

Third problem: SO is a pickier eater than my six-year-old cousin.  Thankfully, after some wrangling (No cheese.  No roasted red peppers.  I don’t like sun dried tomatoes, etc, etc), we decided on the Vine Street Expressway (breaded chicken cutlet, prosciutto, pesto, provolone) and arancini for me and the Race Street (roasted turkey, pesto, prosciutto, mozzarella) for him.

Final verdict?  The arancini made the trek okay and the marinara with them was great, if ever so slightly undersalted.  As for the sandwiches, I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a sandwich delivered all the way from 11th and H NE to my house off 14th street.   It was tasty, but not great.  Also, I think because I asked for no cheese on SO’s sandwich, there was none on mine as well.  He thought there was “too much bread, not enough sandwich.”  I ordered a 12-inch however, and am going to pop the leftover half in the toaster oven for lunch and see if it improves.

Also- vote for endlesssimmer’s Eater of the  Year.  And by that I mean you had better vote for Julia.  Tofu does not deserve any sort of food-based award.

Good Stuff Eatery

I met Spike at the RAMMYs this past June.  He seemed like kind of a douche, just like on the show.  So I wasn’t sure what to expect from Good Stuff Eatery, especially considering their annoying propensity for useless PDFs.  Far be it from me to turn down a good burger though.

Ace and I made the trip down to the Hill for Good Stuff last Friday.  I ordered something called a “Big Stuff Bacon Meltdown” and Chef Spike’s fries- at least, that’s what I think they were called.  My burger had what i refer to as secret bacon- I bit in and sandwiched between the two patties….BACON!

good-stuff_1

Ace went for some sort of chiliburger, with sour cream on top.

chili-burger

While living in Edinburgh for a semester (and gaining about 15-20 lbs), I discovered an affinity for two things- jacket potato shops and fries with mayo.  GSE offers four kinds of flavored mayo.

good-stuff_mayoFrom the left, Old Bay (x2), Chipotle, Mango, and Sriracha

Overall I’d say it was a great, although rather expensive experience.  Also, GSE is located where PULP used to be, and I miss it.  Between this and the new Matchbox though, I guess I picked the wrong time to move from Eastern Market.

the-wreckageThe only thing left was a half an order of fries.  And I didn’t even have a milkshake.

We now return to your regularly scheduled snark

Good thing I took that little mini-break to Baltimore. Because my life turned absolutely nutty afterwards. Family stuff, work stuff, roommate stuff…I think it’s sorted itself out for the most part.

Unfortunately it has left me with several half-formed blog entries and no more space on the memory card in my camera. And a (possibly) fractured foot (again)- but that’s a story for later.

Let’s start with the pirates, shall we?
Ah, there we go.

The pirate/pyrate/privateer/whatever invasion of Fell’s Point was kind of a wash. Low on the actual pirate fighting, high on vast expanses of untoned white flesh in pseudo-bondage Dungeons and Dragons gear. Ick.
Lou and I managed to have a fun time though, because we will get down anytime, anywhere. Friday night kicked off with a reunion at the train station, followed by much debate over proper attire, and culminated with a pirate-themed beer tasting with the Charm City Muggers. Btw, stay away from the Piraat Ale. It’s delightfully tasty and packs quite the wallop, clocking in at something like 10.5% ABV. After much merry-making, crab dip eating, and placing of stuffed animals upon heads for funny pictures, we decamped to Bartenders for delicious pizza and Miller Lite. Perfect.

As a result of the previous nights activities, it took us a while to get moving. So, at about 2:00, Lou and I found ourselves (seriously, I’m not sure how we pulled together to get there, we just did) at the Blue Moon Cafe (soon to be featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).


Sitting not far from the water on Aliceanna Street, Blue Moon Cafe sort of reminds me of Practical Magic, with a little bit of that movie with Bette Midler and SJP as witches thrown in.



The table was also decorated with the two things I always want to see on my brunch table (aside from coffee and/or a mimosa):


This is a “bitch biscuit.” When you are bitchy-hungry and in dire need of something before your food is ready, you can be the proud recipient of a “bitch biscuit.” How can you not love this place?

I opted for pancakes and bacon with a massive hashbrown,

while Lou went with an omelette and fruit, thus making her brunch “healthy.”


We really wanted a cinnamon roll, but it didn’t pan out, pardon the pun.

After brunch, we went down to the water for the “invasion,” where we overheard the following:

Girl talking to friend: “Remember all those weird people I told you about that like to dress up like pirates? THEY’RE HERE!”

Right.

Our afternoon (read: drinking) continued on, leading to this:

Along with us playing on this:

And ending up (after $1.25 PBR drafts) here, where we sat in the booth where part of Syriana was filmed:

I would like to say we were equally interesting on Sunday, but we spend the day in pajamas on the couch, watching Top Chef.

Oh wait, we did get up to make a run to Rita’s.

you say vino, i say teca

Note: I wrote this back at the end of February, and have been holding onto it for some reason. Since Tom wrote about Vinoteca today, I figured I’d go ahead and throw it up:

I had been wanting to do a round up of the three new-ish wine bars in my ‘hood- Vinoteca, Veritas, and Cork.

So much for that. I went to Cork opening night, haven’t been back since, and didn’t really sample enough for a definitive conclusion. Plus, I was sitting next to the architect, who was so rude to my friends that the whole ordeal (the place was PACKED) left a bad taste in my mouth.

Vinoteca, however, is awesome. For starters, it’s next door to Solly’s, my favorite place on U street to knock back PBR cans and end my night out (just before hitting Ben’s Chili Bowl). I made a reservation there a few weeks ago, myself, my mom, OtherFemaleHousemate, and her mom.

The space was dark and the tables a little crowded, but not enough that it became a problem. We had a lovely table in the front and immediately commenced to the eating of pork-y platter of deliciously cured meats- in this case, a charcuterie with Rosette De Lyon, Sopressatta, duck Proscuitto, and Lomo, capped off with a bottle of Chilean Carmenère (2004 Alcance de Vina Calina). Clearly, since hedonism of the meat and red wine variety was the order of the day, we also had some lamb and feta sliders with the reddest tomatoes I’ve ever seen in February. As you may or may not know, I hate raw tomatoes, but I was completely transfixed by these.


Moving on to the main course, we had another bottle of the same wine, plus a grilled kalamari salad (marinated in olive oil and lemon, with mesclun and pine nuts), sweet potato ravioli, rockfish with lentils, and a roasted rack of lamb with roasted potatoes and red peppers that left my mother with the most satisfied look I have ever seen on her face, except for possibly when I graduated from college.

Sadly, i don’t remember what we had for dessert, only that we devoured it. I looked through my notes (yes, I am a dork, I take notes) and I didn’t write down anything


Sure was good though. I think the left was some sort of cake, and the right was the first bread pudding I’ve ever enjoyed. I think it was the caramel sauce….or maybe all the wine. (Photographic evidence confirms that I substituted my usual cappuccino with dessert for a glass of Prosecco. Oops.)

Either way, now I feel bad. Vinoteca is a slightly classier place than Solly’s and walking past Solly’s to go in sort of makes me feel like I’m cheating.

Good thing I can use those lamb sliders to get over it…

weekend wrap up, Al Crostino

How did I spend my first slightly spring-y weekend? Glad you asked…

Friday, between the hours of 8:30 and 3:30, I had a drink at PS7 (Tiffany has homemade ginger rum working behind the bar…can’t wait to see what that gets turned into,) made an appearance at a birthday dinner at Clyde’s/Lucky Strike, then met up with Lala and went to Proof (too crowded to stay,) made a new friend at Indebleu (most fun I’ve had there, by far- who knew it doesn’t always suck! the Space (amazing, it is my new favorite place-Order the Ginger Peach Surreal Vodka with ginger ale or the Grape with soda) and ended up at the Black Cat (I was WAY overdressed for it.) And finally, in honor of the ’68 riots (and yes, this thought actually went through my head at about 3:00am) I went to Ben’s Chili Bowl for fries, a chili cheeseburger and a milkshake. All and all, we had a grand old time- it was one of the best nights out I’ve had this year.

Saturday, I waited in line for 20 minutes at Market Lunch for a crabcake, only to realize I didn’t have enough cash for one. Oops. Then VT and I checked out the new Nationals park. It’s beautiful- we’re headed to a game next Sunday, and I’m stoked. Also, the line for Ben’s was absurdly long. And I was hit on my one of the 12 year olds working the Mayorga kiosk. Then I spent five hours at Momo’s on U Street, watching basketball and sulking over the remains of my bracket. Roy Williams, you suck, and you owe me $300.

After an EXTREMELY frustrating Sunday, I found myself at home, wishing for a big bowl of pasta, and trying to explain to OtherFemaleHousemate (who is denser than my last Sticky Toffee Pudding) why I did not appreciate Trogdor, our basement housemate, (who has a propensity for destroying things that belong to me, which OFH seems to think is acceptable because he thought they belonged to her) messing with Maggie.

Maggie is my mannequin. Yes I have a mannequin. She used to live in the attic of Chief Ike’s. That is all you need to know.

At any rate, in lieu of slapping her (for the last three months, this has been my default reaction pretty much any time she opens her mouth,) I hustled out of the house in search of food. Going off ADM’s recommendation, I found myself at Al Crostino, the sister restaurant to Al Tiramisu on P Street.

My last experience at Al Tiramisu was lovely, until the check came. I ordered a special, which as it turns out, was twice as pricey as anything else. Oops.

As I mentioned, in light of the crappy weather and crappy day yesterday, I was really in the mood for a giant bowl of pasta and cheese. Boy, did Al Crostino deliver. For $14.90, I got a huge bowl of penne dressed with a rich, creamy sauce of sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese, garnished with parmesan and a perfect basil leaf. ADM joined me, and as it turns out, is something of a regular. That led to us being plied with wine, tiramisu, creme caramel, and cappuccinos.

It was EXACTLY what I needed. I’m abandoning Saint Ex and adopting Al Crostino as my new local.

This week? I’m hoping for a shot at Adam‘s Tuesday Cocktail Sessions at Bar Pilar.

I got two turntables and a microphone

VT and I went to Beck last night. The last Monday of every month, you can go in, drink 2 beers, and get a free glass. Last time I went, it was Kasteel night (you might remember the Kasteel Rouge from Saint-Ex or the pierogi incident).

Last night was Delirium Tremens night. I feel like immediately after turning 21, you must immediately demonstrate your intense knowledge of artisanal beer (and your ever burning desire to get obliterated) by drinking DT. As every beer aficionado, from frat boy to Bill Catron, knows, Delirium is 8.5% abv.

For once in my life, I was early, so I had a Bacchus (another Flemish red ale, like the Kasteel Rouge, but not as sweet- little more sour cherry flavor.) and waited. There are several beers that are available on draft exclusively at Beck, which is one of the reasons I wanted to try the Bacchus. Kasteel Blonde is another.

VT arrived, and we split an order of frites, which come with curry mayonnaise (my new favorite condiment), tomato mayo (Gross- it was so sweet, VT thought it was strawberry or something) and regular mayo.

Afterwards, we met Shmee and went to an Indian/Pakistani place across the street for dinner, Mayur Kabob House.

Not a fan.

I ordered a lamb seekh kebab, which somehow turned into a chicken seekh kebab. And it tasted like crap. Perhaps it would have been better with my missing order of raita. Shmee, who is a veg, ordered Paneer Makhni and Alu Tikki, neither of which were to her liking. That being said, I think her standards are slightly higher than mine. It would be like me heading to Georgia Brown’s to try out their southern food (as a side note, Georgia Brown’s sucks. If you can’t make biscuits, you DO NOT qualify as a proper Southern resturant. End of story.) VT seemed to be the only one satisfied with his food (and the bits of ours he was kind enough to dispose of,) ordering Chapli Kabab lamb.

In Mayur’s defense, both mine and VT’s orders came with naan, basmati rice, dal, a decent veg curry, and a potato curry (I think) The rice was great, the naan decent, and the curries okay. And it was cheap. That being said, I think I’ll stick to Naan and Beyond.

weekend eating overload, i solve my egg issue

I did a LOT of eating this weekend. Which really, isn’t different from most weekends. Only this time I checked out a couple of new places. I’ve already filled you in on on Friday, so let’s skip to Saturday.

After hunting around most of the day and coming up with zilch for my sister’s birthday present, I went to Momo’s sports bar (above Cafe Nema) with Shmee to watch the end of the Duke-NC State game. I had no intention of watching this game, as I thought it would be an easy win for Duke. Then my almost-8-year-old cousin, daughter of a NC State alum, called to trash talk me. So I decided I’d better watch. Momo’s food was unremarkable- Shmee and I split spinach dip, and I had a chicken quesadilla. Shmee, however, in her confirming her status as the world’s most easy-to-eat-with vegetarian, had a “burger.”



Yes, that’s right. There is no meat between those buns. Only onion rings and burger fixin’s. This is why I love her. (Apologies for the poor photo quality.)

Saturday night, we planned to take in the hockey game (seems fitting, no?) but through a series of minor issues, Shmee ended up going, while I was left with a few hours to kill before she and I met up at Marvin. I decided to bite the bullet, and head on out to Clarendon to see Gina. Since her (in my humble opinon) rather ignominious dismissal from Rasika, she’s been at Eatbar/Tallula in Clarendon. Swallowing my IMMENSE disdain for suburbs in general, and NoVa in particular, I headed out to sample the wares.

The place was PACKED. Sadly, it was packed full of what I consider a stereotypical NoVa crowd- lots of button down shirts, 99.9% white, and overall, not very interesting or friendly. Gina was behind the bar with three other guys- Brian, and two others whose names escape me- they were all quite amicable, and popped down to my end of the bar to check on me often, despite being 4-5 deep in some places. (And it wasn’t just me, I watched them do this up and down the bar.) The food was delicious. Mini burgers (too big to be sliders, too small for a regular burger), a risotto fritter with some sort of spicy green pesto, mac and cheese with poblano peppers, another pepper stuffed with chorizo and goat cheese, as well as large plates with things like pork cheek and cheese grits. EatBar also offers a pasta of the day, soup of the day, and…..BACON OF THE DAY. That’s right.

BACON. OF. THE. DAY.

I didn’t try it, but I cannot wait to go back and sample. Any place with a bacon of the day can’t be half bad. Overall, I think my impression is best summed up by the text I sent a friend as I left: “I love this place…minus the clientele.” I’ll also be back to try the red wine brownie.

Went to Marvin, afterwards, Solly’s, and Ooh’s and Aahs. I just drank though, so I won’t bore you with the details. That brings me to Sunday afternoon.

After missing the farmer’s/farmers’ market (oops) I emerged from my house in the mood to re-cap my evening with Shmee (who left me unsupervised at Marvin to go home….never a good idea) over Sunday brunch, SATC-style. Since she is the world’s best vegetarian, I let her pick wherever she wanted to go, and we ended up at Ulah Bistro on U, right by the 13th street Metro exit.

Shmee went with chocolate chip pancakes, and I had Eggs Chesapeake. “belmontmedina, you hate eggs! Why would you order that?!,” you may ask.

Well. I solved my egg issue, at least for brunch. I had Eggs Chesapeake (English muffin, crab, hollandaise, poached egg) without the eggs! All the good, none of the ew! Shmee pointed out that hollandaise is pretty much egg sauce. I pointed out that even though she couldn’t eat French Toast, because it had eggs, she was eating pancakes, which also contain eggs. We then agreed to not discuss our weird food preferences.

Ulah wasn’t very crowded, and the service was attentive without being overbearing. Furthermore, for coffee, diet Coke, juice, pancakes, Eggs Chesapeake and 2 orders of home fries (TO DIE FOR), our tab was only $40, including tax and tip. I might have to make it my new Sunday brunch spot, if only for those potatoes.

That wraps up my weekend. I didn’t make the red velvet cake, but as today is my grandfather’s birthday, I will be headed out IMMEDIATELY after work to make him lasagna, salad, and red velvet cake.

Urbana

I used to work on the corner of 22nd and P (no, NOT at the Fireplace). As such, I wandered around that bit of Dupont quite often- Alberto’s for lunch, Soho Tea and Coffee, Naan and Beyond (although the L Street location, close to my office now, is much better- apparently we can’t relocate unless it’s within a one block distance of Naan and Beyond.) I made it a point to hit the happy hour at Urbana, the restaurant attached to the Hotel Palomar.

I remember Palomar and Urbana when they were the Hotel Radisson and Gabriel, respectively. This came up in conversation with VT and LB over dinner at Urbana last night. After an absolutely HORRID day at work (although, it’s taken me six monthes to have my first truly bad day, so I suppose I ought not complain) I went over to PS7 for several glasses of champagne. (Worth noting- PS7 has happy hour from 5 until 7 with a couple of $4 wines along with discounted prices on the signature cocktails and bar snacks, including the first and only hot dog I’ve eaten since I was about 6 years old) While I made friends at the bar, LB, who has also been having a terrible time at work, made her way in from Virgina to meet me, and we ended up at Urbana with VT. Several years ago, I dragged LB and a few of my other friends to Gabriel for dinner. I think they were ready to kill me by the time it was over- The food was TERRIBLE and overpriced, although I very much enjoyed my “Mexican pizza.”

Thankfully, Urbana has none of these problems. They have a lovely happy hour that I used to hit quite often with Ace after work- cheap wines by the the glass, pizza and cocktails at the bar. Last night, I settled on swiss chard and ricotta ravioli with bacon and a glass of one of my favorite wines, a Costamolina Vermentino. VT and LB both opted for a pizza with Pecorino Romano, prosciutto, and arugula (most of which i picked of VT’s pizza and ate.) I tend to forget about Urbana, because it’s kind of tucked in on a part of P street I don’t frequent too often. I’m glad I did last night. We skipped dessert, and after I beat MP# at a game of rock paper scissors (the best way to make all decisions in life) we went to the Big Hunt for some beer.

In other news, I’ll be here on January 29th, if you’re looking for me. I might even take my mom.