Restaurant Review: Prime 16

August 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

These past three years I haven’t been doing a good job of trying too many New Haven restaurants, though this city is famous for so many types of food. I will try my best to remedy the situation during my last year at Yale. Last weekend I went with a group of friends to a restaurant in downtown New Haven called Prime 16. It is known for its reasonably-priced burgers.

The restaurant itself is rather small and dimly lit, but our group of five was seated relatively quickly. The tables are kind of close together so it was a bit hard to hear the conversation – maybe not the best place for an intimate dinner, but good for a casual gathering of friends. The menu is extensive, consisting mainly of various types of burgers and toppings. There is a salmon burger, a turkey burgey, bison, and a house made veggie burger. Toppings include different cheeses, guacamole, mayo, etc. I chose the option of topping a salad with a medium-done burger.

It took a while for us to receive our entrees but we were quite pleased with them. The serving sizes are tremendous – you will definitely get your money’s worth here! The burger was massive and delicious – juicy and flavorful, with just a hint of pinkness. There were candied walnuts and cranberries in the salad – I felt like I needed some vegetables to balance out all the meatiness.

I polished off the burger, no problem. My friends ordered various types of burgers and they all enjoyed their dishes as well. My order was about $12, a reasonable price, especially since the burger could have been big enough to split into two meals. I’m glad to have found this place in case I ever have another burger craving.

A Family Dinner

August 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Here are some photos of a dinner I cooked for my family before I left for school. It was a traditional Chinese meal.

Some highlights:

Stir-fried Chinese greens with olive oil and garlic. I forgot the exact name of the vegetable, but you can find it in any Asian grocery. This was very simple to make – just heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a wide pan or wok until it starts sizzling, and toss in diced garlic. After about a minute, add to the pan the chopped and washed greens. You can add the whole bunch of greens – as they cook they really wilt down into a tiny pile. Stir-fry the greens until they cook down, maybe three or four minutes. Add salt to taste right before you remove the greens from the pan. It is delicious and healthy.

This next dish, butterflied shrimp, is a little bit more tricky. You need to use fresh jumbo shrimp with the heads still on in order to achieve the freshest and most flavorful dish. Again, you can find this in most large Asian groceries in the meat and seafood section in the back. Do not peel the shrimp, but use a sharp knife to slice a slit down the back. This lets the flavor in and allows you to remove any of the intestines (little black strips). Marinate the shrimp in a mixture of salt, green onion, and sliced ginger for about half an hour. Then stir-fry in a wok in olive oil, just until both sides turn an opaque pink. This simple preparation really highlights the delicious savoriness of the shrimp.

Lastly, tofu with vegetables. Slice up a large block of extra firm tofu, and fry up the slices in a wok covered with olive oil. Flip the pieces over once, making sure both sides are a crispy golden brown. Add seasonings of your liking – I believe I added salt and soy sauce. Then toss some bok choy and sliced fresh mushrooms into the pan with the tofu. You may need to add a bit of water to the pan in order to maintain moisture in the dish. Cover the wok for about five minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.

Along with these dishes we had some leftovers from dinner the night before, as well as a pot of white rice. It was a pretty typical dinner for us – lots of green vegetables, some tofu, and seafood.

Restaurant Review: Tonic

August 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Tonic is a little gem in the middle of George Washington University in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. I’m sad to only have tried it on my last night in D.C.! I met up with a couple of friends for dinner here at around 8PM on a Friday. It is a bar/restaurant with patio seating, and though it is a really narrow building there are three floors for indoor seating.

First thing – the service throughout the night was great! We were seated in about five minutes at a high table on the first floor next to the bar. Our server was fantastic. She was fast and efficient without rushing us, knowledgeable about the menu, and friendly without being too intrusive. I debated between the house-made veggie burger and the portabello sandwich – felt like going the vegetarian route for once, and she immediately recommended the veggie burger.

I really enjoyed the burger. It is made in-house, and is a great combination of oats, beans, and various vegetables. This is definitely not the type of veggie burger that tries to resemble meat, but I enjoyed the heartiness wholesomeness of the patty. It was really moist, almost to the point of falling apart (utensils were necessary!) and there were chunks of beans and other veggies. Also, it was a really filling size, and it came with a thin layer of guacamole. I wish there had been more guacamole! My friends got the salmon burger and a pineapple pizza, and both options looked really good as well.

With a side salad, the order was $12 – not bad at all for a healthy and filling meal in a laid-back environment, with prompt and friendly service.

Restaurant Review: Pinkberry

August 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

There are so many frozen yogurt places nowadays that I think Pinkberry wanted to differentiate itself by offering some new options. They took up a breakfast theme, serving up (non frozen) greek yogurt options and espresso drinks. On Wednesday a friend and I headed to the location in Georgetown to check out a deal I found on Facebook (free espresso drink with any greek yogurt purchase).

The store was pretty empty at 7pm on a Wednesday night. I looked at all the delicious greek yogurt options. They come in snack-size or meal-size, and in sweet or savory varieties. I chose to go to savory route and get the Caprese greek yogurt, which was the plain greek yogurt topped with sweet balsamic, cherry tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. It comes in a convenient little plastic package – good for people on the go, bad for the environment.

One thing – the service was incredibly slow. I don’t know why – we were the only people in the store. First, the girl at the counter was very meticulous with the toppings, placing them one by one in the little greek yogurt container, arranging them into symmetry. This is fine – I understand if you want to make the presentation nice – but in total we probably waited 15-20 minutes between ordering and finally receiving our food and paying. It was a bit ridiculous. I felt like the employees were probably inexperienced with this new product roll-out and did not know which toppings were supposed to go with the order off the top of their heads.

That being said, we did both get free iced lattes, which was a very nice treat. The greek yogurt was pretty pricey though – almost $5 for a tiny little carton. This was my first time trying savory greek yogurt; I usually eat it plain or fruit-flavored. I enjoyed it – the sweet balsamic reduction was great with the creamy yogurt, and the cherry tomatoes were really flavorful. The little drizzle of oil made the healthy yogurt taste very rich and decadent. The fresh basil leaves were a nice touch as well. The portion size is so small though, and the container was very shallow so there was barely any yogurt.

The photo I took is pretty horrendous so please forgive me – I blame the lighting, as well as my dying point-and-shoot. But I think you can get a good idea of how small the portion is by looking at the relatively huge grape tomatoes. And you can see the meticulous arrangement of the four basil leaves in the corners of the container.

This is a great concept and really capitalizes on the greek yogurt craze, though in the end it would be much more cost effective to buy my own greek yogurt (expensive as that is already). I guess that including the latte, the trip was worth it. I haven’t tried their normal frozen yogurt, though one downside is that it is not self-serve like many other chains. I wonder if this launch into the breakfast market will be a good business decision for Pinkberry. We shall see!

Restaurant Review: The Daily Grill

August 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Daily Grill in Dupont has a very unassuming exterior, but the inside has a classy vibe, with dark wooden walls, cozy booths, stately decor, and a comfortably dim lighting. It definitely has an old-fashioned, professional, “D.C” feel to it.

I ate dinner here with a friend on Monday night at 7PM. The service was really fantastic and fast, and we were almost immediately seated, asked for drink orders, and given a loaf of crusty sourdough bread with butter to munch on.

The classic American menu had all sorts of delicious choices, including seafood, steak, and pasta. I really appreciate that they have plenty of vegetable options and healthy entrees. Though I was really indecisive (Ahi tuna salad? Salmon burger?), at the last moment I decided upon the Moroccan-spiced chicken, which came with grilled vegetables, arugula, and herb brown rice.

The portion sizes were really large and the food was plated nicely on big platters – the chicken kabobs and vegetables freshly off the skewer. The vegetables consisted of large chunks of zucchini, mushroom, onions, and cherry tomatoes. I think they would have been more flavorful had the pieces been a bit smaller.

The chicken was great and well-seasoned- it was had a little bit of kick to it from the spices, and was tender, and not overcooked and charred black like it is at some places. The arugula came with a light dressing of balsamic vinegar – it was fresh but I’m not really a big fan of the sharp taste of arugula. The herb brown rice had a slightly nutty taste and texture but otherwise pretty non descriptive, besides the fact that it came in a huge mound.

I really enjoyed my dinner here and the overall experience was pleasant – I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for a nice dinner in the Dupont area.

Restaurant Review: Das Ethiopian

August 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve never had Ethiopian food before, so I was really excited for our dinner last night in Georgetown at a place called Das Ethiopian.

The restaurant has a very classy feel, with white linen tablecloth and a bottle of sparkling water on every table. It was pretty quiet for 7PM on a Saturday, though when we walked by later that night around 9PM it seemed very crowded.

I think the servers are used to people who are not familiar with Ethiopian cuisine so they were very helpful with explaining the dishes and accommodating our needs. All of the dishes were served on large pieces of spongy flat bread called injera. You are supposed to pick up your food with the bread, hence the lack of silverware. We also received a side of rolled up pieces of injera.

The server told us that normally people order a few dishes and it all comes to the table on a large platter for sharing, family style, though we decided to separate our orders since we wanted different things. I ordered the harvest vegetable stew, which consisted of cauliflower, string beans, and carrots with tomatoes. My platter also included some cabbage, a little pile of lentils, and some more bread with a vinegary dressing. The stew was my favorite – it was hearty and well-cooked, and the tomato-based sauce was great with the various vegetables. It was a bit hard to pick up large pieces of string bean with the bread, so after about five minutes I did ask for a fork.

The injera was interesting. It had a sourdough-like taste and a spongy texture, good for soaking up the sauces. By itself I wouldn’t consider it tasty (especially since I am not a big fan of the sour taste), but it was a nice accompaniment to the other dishes.

This entree was about $14. The food itself was not worth the price, though the upscale environment made the experience worth the cost.

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