Tag Archives: restaurant week

quoth the mcpolish: um, yes please

25 Aug

To continue on in my trying to make amends for my botched attempt at McPolish Restaurant Week (and I swear I’ll be trying this foray again soon. Or later. One of the two.) I’m going to finish up this train wreck with one of the best places I’ve hit up in Baltimore.

And when it comes to Baltimore, I’ve hit up quite a lot of best places.

Except Birches.

But that’s another story for another time. Just know that Jesus has made it clear He does not want me to go to Birches. The Lord is opposed to me dining at Birches. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I ever did to piss Him off.

You know what? I don’t want to talk about it.

Thankfully, Baltimore is rife with delicious eateries. When I started doing freelance nightlife writing back in the day up in Baltimore (ah, the good old days), it quickly became clear that Baltimore’s restaurant scene was superior to DC’s. I’m sorry, people, but that’s just the way it is. And I’ve been shouting that from the rooftops for the last five years.

So it really should come as no surprise to you that I think the Annabel Lee Tavern is another gem in Baltimore’s crown. A few months back I sat at the bar with Panda, Baltimore Betty, and the official Food Week Mascot at ALT. I’d only been in the place once before, and that was to interview the chef for a BMMX feature on Chefs You Should Know. He was a quiet guy, kind of confused as to why I was profiling him, but friendly enough, and without a lot of the ego you usually encounter in chefs. (I find this true of many Baltimore chefs, actually. With the exception of a couple that come to mind. Funnily enough, they are both chefs at restaurants in the Fed Hill neighborhood. I don’t know if that means anything or has any sort of relevance, but it just dawned on me and I thought I’d share.)

(What?)

Obviously, Annabel Lee Tavern has a Poe-theme, with Poe décor on the wall, Poe-themed cocktails, you get the idea. Baltimoreans love them some Edgar Allen, let me tell you. If you take nothing else away from a visit to Baltimore, know this: Edgar Allen Poe is buried there, and yes, The Wire really was filmed in Baltimore.*

We ordered rounds of drinks and picked out our wants and desires from the menu. It was crowded the night that we went, made more so by a pop-up rainstorm that sent the customers dining al fresco mad dashing into the bar area of a restaurant that’s not all that big to begin with. But, you know, shit happens. They were polite enough to try not to drip on us, and it didn’t bother our eating none, and the food was still delicious, so all was well.

Annabel Lee’s menu is eclectic and a bit odd-ball, but truly I would expect nothing less from any good restaurant in Baltimore. Chefs there are nothing if not daring, and for that, I applaud them. (Note—the menu changes relatively regularly. AWESOME.)

Multiple appetizers were had, drinks were consumed, but thankfully, no mistakes were made. (Besides maybe some very loud, obnoxious storytelling on our parts, but is that ever a mistake? If you are part of my dining group, no. If you are another patron in the restaurant, probably then yes.) We ordered brussel sprouts (yes, you read that correctly), some spicy sweet potato fries (which I’m happy to say have changed my opinion of sweet potato fries, but sadly I’m now very picky about the quality of my sweet potato fries. I cannot help it that my standards are high.), and buffalo mushrooms.

YES.


So even vegetarians can enjoy the wonder of eating things fried and buffaloized. Not that I’m a vegetarian or anything.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Do you know vegetarians don’t eat bacon?

Huh.

Sad.

ANYWAY.

I followed those ‘shrooms et al with a burger that involved prosciutto and provolone and that I can’t tell you about further because I don’t want there to be a mad rush on Annabel Lee and then next time I go there I can’t get a seat to save my soul.

My dining partners had, in no particular order: a curried chicken salad sandwich, an open face turkey thing (I think), and orange roughy tacos, which I’m told were all delicious.

If you don’t believe me, then check it out for yourself. This is not a place you will walk away from squawking “NEVERMORE!” (heh) (I couldn’t resist, hellooooo).

*And OMFG, if you haven’t watched The Wire, you need to go do that right now or we…just…we just can’t be friends anymore. Why are you still reading this blog? GO WATCH THE WIRE. DID YOU NOT HEAR ME?

Advertisements

trying to make amends: the argonaut

24 Aug

So I kind of f-ed things up a bit with that whole “Restaurant Week” theme the other week, didn’t I? Not so much a “week” as it was “two days.”  I swear there are more than two restaurants in the world/this area that I enjoy. I swear I don’t only eat at the taco truck and Tabard Inn.

Not that there would be anything wrong with that if I did.

Ahem.

Anyway.

To finish continue on where I started, how’s about one of them new hot spots o’er by der on H Street? You know, that hip, happenin’ street that was a shithole two years ago, but now is, as they say, “up and coming”? Or maybe “gentrifying” is the term you prefer? O perhaps you might want to call it “a changing neighborhood.”

Essentially: White people are moving in and opening restaurants. And soon they’ll be buying property there too.

Noooo! Not White People!

So, The Swede and I are big fans of Groupon and especially LivingSocial. Have I mentioned this?

(LivingSocial! WOOT! Ahem. What? NO I’M NOT JUST CHEERING FOR THEM BECAUSE I WRITE FOR THEM.) (MAYBE.)

ANYWAY, we tend to go a little bonkers with the daily deals, buying them left and right. Hence, at any one time we have about five or six rolling around waiting to be used. Sticky Rice, Twin Jazz Club, Gifford’s, Cedar, a voucher to go kayaking or canoeing, you get the idea. I’d heard about The Argonaut awhile back, located on H Street (Hipsters Unite! U Street is sew ovah), and wanted to try it. And lo! One of the deal sites popped up one day featuring The Argonaut, which I of course jumped on immediately.

Restaurants and bars on H Street seem to be opening up at a rapid pace, and are flocked to by patrons, despite crazy street construction and it not being all that close to good public transportation. But what they lack in a red line stop the Argonaut makes up for in beer, food, and charm. We sat inside in the bar area, the floors made of thick stones that were somewhat uneven. The rest of the interior seemed well-worn, in a loved way, cozy wood booths tucked against the wall, and on the other side of the wall that separated the bar from the rest of the dining room, tables dotting the floorplan.

I don’t remember what The Swede had, but I had a Cubano sandwich.  With fries. And some sort of beer that I enjoyed very much.


A note on cubano sandwiches. First, they are delicious. Second, I’m pretty sure this is the hot new sandwich to have on one’s menu. Move over chicken ceasar wrap, pork and pickles and cheese pressed in a Panini maker is where it’s at, bitches!

And then The Argonaut burned down.

Thankfully, not while we were in there, but a few weeks later, it was all the DC foodie/restaurant sites could talk about. I don’t think it was total destruction, and they’ve since rebuilt and reopened. (Though now every time I mention it I follow it up with, “Did you know they had a fire?” Which is not annoying at all.) Which is good.

Because a hot pork and pickle sandwich? High on my list of things delicious. Nobody should be denied it, if they are so inclined to try it.

And you should.

taco truck

28 Jul

It was awhile ago. The Swede hadn’t been my main squeeze for very long, but he talked extensively about his time at UT for undergrad and how awesome the food is down in Austin. I’ve never been to Austin, so for the most part I took his word for it, sad that we couldn’t take a trip to Austin so I could experience the food for myself.

“But there’s a taco truck near here,” The Swede would say, “and I’ve heard from Texans that it’s actually pretty good, pretty authentic.”

I’m not going to lie—I was dubious. A taco truck? For realz? You want me to eat out of a transient truck, which sits on a slightly run-down corner in Maryland, smushed in a parking lot alongside a Chinese restaurant and an Afro Cuts II?

I was dubious.

But The Swede sometimes has powers of persuasion that I cannot resist. And on a random night a few months back, he convinced me to give the taco truck a whirl.

Thank God he did.

I love you, taco truck. You are one of my favorite restaurants in the DC metro area.


Okay, so it’s not a restaurant, per se. And it’s not actually called the taco truck. La Preferida is the restaurant it’s in conjunction with, I believe. But we call it the taco truck because that’s how we roll. You can’t eat there unless of course you want to plop yourself down on the concrete and hunker down over your burrito and multiple papusas. I don’t think anyone would judge you, but I’m not one for getting gravel marks in my ass, so we always take it to go.

Our orders don’t change very much—a chicken or beef burrito, which comes with a heaping side of rice and two little plastic bags: one of a hot green sauce that will give you the spicy shits if you’re not careful, and a bag containing a sort of Mexican coleslaw. I’m not really sure what it is, to be honest, I always pass mine off to The Swede. And then a couple of cheese papusas thrown in for good measure.

You really can’t go wrong with papusas.

Ever.

As much as I love the taco truck, I always feel kind of like an asshole when I go there. The menu is completely in Spanish, the employees speak only Spanish, and guess whose Spanish does not go much farther beyond what she learned on Sesame Street?


So the question becomes, do I order in Spanish, and potentially butcher pronunciations, and possibly sound like an asshole gringa? Or do I order in English, and possibly sound like an asshole white girl? Hard to say which is better or worse, but thankfully, the end result, no matter how I order, is always the same.

“Okay, 10 minutes,” the girl in the taco truck window tells me. And it’s never 10 minutes, it’s always more like 20.

But it’s worth it, to pull the plastic bag of Styrofoam containers through the taco truck window, scuttle back to The Swede’s house with the bag warm in my lap, and snarfle down bite after bite of excellent food.


tabard inn

26 Jul

Everyone Needs a Julie (ENAJ) is getting married in a few days, and about a month ago, her sisters and mom got a bunch of the DC gals together to celebrate this fact over brunch.

Just so you know, it was not a wedding shower.

ENAJ was very adamant about that.

No presents allowed!

It’s just a brunch!

People brought presents anyway. (Not me, though. Because I respect my friend’s wishes. And because in classic fashion when it comes to getting people their presents on time, I totally fucking ran out of time. Case in point, I gave ENAJ her birthday present in mid-June. Her birthday is in April.)

ANYWAY, brunch took place at DC’s Tabard Inn, a place I’d only ever previously been for drinks. And drinks? Drinks do not do the place justice.

First of all, the restaurant is nestled among old brick row homes in Dupont Circle, and while upon first glance it looks very teeny-tiny and like it couldn’t fit more than a few tables at a time, the space is actually quite deceiving. The place stretches up and up on multiple floors, with more tables in private rooms, and room upon room with every corner you turn.

Thankfully, they put our loud asses in a room very far away from other patrons. Because as you know, a gaggle of women together for an It’s Just Brunch can get kind of rowdy. And loud. Or maybe that’s just us. We’ve never been known to be very demure. It’s simply against our natures.

But we have been known to be all about food. And while Tabard Inn has charming décor, its food is fuckin’ rockin’. We mostly stuck to the breakfasty items on the brunch menu, and they did not disappoint. I was torn over what to order, but finally stepped out of my omelet box and ordered the huevos rancheros. It pays to be adventurous.


Others went with classic scrambled eggs and sausage, complete with biscuit. (Which I totally bogarted because my dining companion to my left was all, “Nah, I’m going to pass on the biscuit.” So I took it before she could change her mind.)

But best of all? Tabard Inn makes their own donuts.

Let me say that again in case you didn’t read me the first time. Makes. Own. Donuts.

You didn’t hear me?

Fine.

Let me show you.


Now do you believe me?

Brunch at Tabard Inn: Go for it. Even if it’s for a wedding shower.

Ermm…sorry, not a wedding shower. It was just a brunch!

restaurant week at mcpolish

25 Jul

Here at McPolish, you may have noticed that we like food. (And by “we” I mean “I”. I’m just trying to be royal, okay? Jeezy creezy, cut a girl some slack. Sometimes when you wake up in the morning you must look in the mirror and say, “Today, I am a princess.” Because if you don’t, no one else will.)

(This is actual advice my sisters and I were given by a manicurist at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. We were there for either #1 or #2’s [I can’t remember which one?] wedding primp party, and this advice—so true, so true—was delivered to us with great sincerity and emphasis. And slightly threateningly as well. Every day I wake up and I say this to myself not because I always believe it, but more because I am terrified that a stocky Russian woman will come barging into my bathroom while I’m putting on my makeup and startle me enough that I’ll poke myself in the eye with my mascara and while I’m trying to save my eyesight she’ll be demanding loudly that I say morning gratitudes to myself. And really, I don’t need that in the morning.)

WHAT?

Oh right.

Restaurant Week!

This is totally different than Food Week at McPolish. Because this time I’m focusing on restaurants that I’ve been to lately, and the food I eat there. Not food I make in my own home. (Although that would be a pretty sweet restaurant. I’m a fucking awesome cook if I do say so myself. And I do.)

So sit back and enjoy the next few days of posts featuring some restaurants that I would definitely recommend you give a whirl.

And as a PSA for dining out—don’t forget to tip your waiters and waitresses. Listen, I just got out of a 15-year relationship with the food service industry, so I may be a little sensitive to this subject, but just trust me on this. Don’t be an asshole, don’t shortchange your server.