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.


Restaurant Review: Georgetown Cupcake

July 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve completed my Georgetown cupcake tour with the first and most famous establishment, Georgetown Cupcake! My friend and I went directly after work on a very hot afternoon, hoping to beat the crowds. We came at a good time – instead of a line around the block, we only had to wait outside for 10 minutes before stepping in to order.

The menu is quite extensive and all the cupcakes had mouthwatering descriptions. After some pondering, we decided to split the mint chocolate and one of the July specials, the marble brownie fudge. I also got a vanilla to go to bring to a friend. Each cupcake was about palm-sized, cost $2.75, and had quite a generous ratio of frosting to cake.

The mint chocolate was not my favorite. I did like the mint frosting more than I usually like frostings. It was fluffy and light, almost with a whipped texture, and a nice refreshing mint taste. The cake portion was your basic chocolate cake base, moist but pretty boring. It was really pretty to look at though. This variety is only available on Mondays.

The marble fudge brownie more than made up for any disappointments caused by the mint chocolate. This flavor is only available in July so everyone should try it before it is too late. It was insanely tasty. The base is a chewy, fudge brownie with chunks of  rich cheesecake-like filling. The frosting was actually really good as well – not too sweet, with a hint of sour cream, and deliciously smooth on the tongue. I usually am not impressed by most desserts, so if I say something is incredible, it definitely is out of the ordinary. This flavor appealed to me because it wasn’t tooth-achingly sweet.

I would have to say that Georgetown Cupcake has beat out both Baked and Wired and Sprinkles for the place of best cupcakes, at least in Georgetown, solely for the marble fudge brownie. There are so many other flavors that sound delicious, like the pumpkin and the PB fudge. Obviously, the downside is the long wait, but if you come at the right time you shouldn’t have to endure the heat for too long. In the end, the place is not that overrated, and I was not disappointed despite the extremely high expectations.

Restaurant Review: Taj of India

July 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

On Sunday night I met a group of new friends for dinner in Georgetown. I had suggested that we try out Taj of India, a mid-price restaurant on M street, so I was crossing my fingers that it would be a pleasurable experience for all.

The menu was quite extensive, with lots of curries, vegetarian, beef, lamb, etc., as well as a large assortment of breads such as naan and roti. I was not feeling a heavy meal, as I woke up later on Sunday and therefore had eaten not long before dinner. I was craving naan so I got an order of the original naan (they also have stuffed naan and garlic naan!) as well as a bowl of the tomato soup.

We had a group of 10 so I think the wait for our orders was reasonable, about 20-30 minutes. They put 3 of our orders of naan in one basket, shown below. The lighting was dim, so I apologize for the dark photos. The naan was absolutely terrific. It was hot, soft and chewy, and definitely fulfilled my carb craving.

I dipped my naan into the tomato soup. It was actually a pretty large bowl, even though they told me it was appetizer-sized. The soup was smooth, light, and had a faint sweet tomato and onion flavor. It actually tasted delicious with pieces of naan – a bit of an odd combination, but it worked! It seemed like all the other people enjoyed their dishes too.

The prices were pretty reasonable. Most of the entree curries were between $10 and $20. Unfortunately the naan was not complimentary – it was $2.50 per order. All the entrees came with basmati rice, so the amount of naan was definitely enough. The waitstaff were great at dealing with our large group. They allowed us to split up the check and gave us all separate receipts, thereby preventing a nightmare of figuring out how much each individual owed.

I’m still craving the naan (Trader Joe’s whole wheat pitas are good but do not compare!) so I may have to make a trip back if I ever have the opportunity.

Restaurant Review: Il Canale

June 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Georgetown area has more than just cupcake shops, which you might have thought had you just been reading my previous posts. There are really nice restaurants lining the blocks and around every corner. Most of the places are fairly pricey so last night when we ventured into the neighborhood we tried to chose one that would satisfy all our palates without breaking the bank.

On 31st Street, off of the quaint canal that runs through the area, we found a cluster of Italian restaurants. We chose Il Canale, the one with the smart business practice of offering free samples of their thin crust pizza to passerbys on the street. The large brick oven and kitchen are located front and center to the restaurant, and there are seating areas on the first floor, second floor, and a balcony area.

The menu is very traditional. There were several pizza options, antipasto, salads, and entrees in the $15-30 range. Two people in our group ordered pizzas and they were quite large for personal sized pizzas (around 10 to 12 inches across). I tried a slice of my friend’s parmagiano pizza, and it was terrific. The crust was very thin but chewy, so much so that it was difficult to cut with a knife, and the fresh cheese was plentiful. My friends both raved about their pizzas.

I ordered the Meditarranea salad, which was arugula with imported bufala mozzarella, grape tomatoes, carrots, olives, grilled zucchini, and smoked mozzarella. I added grilled chicken on top. The salad arrived plated beautifully. There was a large amount of chicken breast which was carved into strips. It was decent, though cooked a bit too long so that it was blackened in some pieces. I was a bit disappointed in the amount of some of the other toppings. There was a total of two olives, a few tomatoes, and one piece of grilled zucchini, on top of a mound of arugula leaves. To be fair, the server did say that this was an appetizer sized portion (I ordered the small salad at $9 + $6 for the chicken).

The cheeses were great – there was one ball of the bufala mozzarella and a thick slice of the smoked mozzarella. They both were fairly mild in taste but very fresh.

The service was efficient and polite. The restaurant seems to have a fast turnover and we were asked for our orders about five minutes after being seated, and got our dishes within ten to fifteen minutes of ordering. We had a great view of the canal from our window-side table on the second floor. I would recommend this place for anyone looking for mid-price great pizza or a nice Italian restaurant in the Georgetown area.

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