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DC Harvest’s New Menu Focuses on Fresh Summer Produce

26 Jul
Summer Salads at DC Harvest

Summer Salads at DC Harvest

DC Harvest 517 H Street, NE has rolled out several new seasonal menu items over the past couple of weeks to highlight the best in produce.  Two appetizer salads, while very different from each other, both offer a variety of summer tastes.  The snap pea salad complete with pea shoots and baby kale features a clever mix of a lime vinaigrette and a crispy coconut gremolata.  The sourness of the lime and the sweetness of the coconut combine to create a refreshing summer starter.  The arugula salad features a poppy seed vinaigrette, fresh fruit (blackberries the night we tried it), and goat milk mascarpone.

Grilled Lamb Burger at DC Harvest

Grilled Lamb Burger at DC Harvest

On the entree front, DC Harvest’s classic Old Bay fried chicken now comes with a half ear of grilled corn with an ancho-orange rub as well as a small watermelon and cucumber salad.  In addition, the grilled lamb burger has been added back onto the menu complete with summer garnishes of a green garlic aioli and a pickled green tomato.  Diners can add bacon jam or a fried egg to the burger as well.  The burger comes with a side of grilled corn and a delicious six bean herb salad.  While it was a considerable amount of food with both entrees, District Cuisine’s team cleaned both plates.

Old Bay Fried Chicken with Summer Sides at DC Harvest

Old Bay Fried Chicken with Summer Sides at DC Harvest

Check out DC Harvest’s website here for the complete menu and nightly specials.

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TD Burger’s BBQ: The Taste Doesn’t Match the Smell

1 Sep
Patio at TD Burger

Patio at TD Burger

We really want to like TD Burger (250 K Street, NE).  It has a great location right across the street from the always popular Indigo and who doesn’t like a good burger place with an awesome patio?  Sadly our previous experiences at TD had taught us to avoid the place.  However, recently the restaurant has set up a smoker on its patio that wafts delicious hickory BBQ smells for multiple blocks.  After attempting to avoid the temptation multiple times, we finally gave in and gave TD Burger another shot.

Brisket at TD Burger

Brisket at TD Burger

Unfortunately, we should not have.  Let’s start with the logistics of takeout: an unnecessary nightmare.  You order the BBQ inside and then pick it up from the guy at the smoker outside.  Makes sense but wait: there are only certain BBQ items that you pick up from the guy outside–for other random ones, you pick them up inside.  For example, we ordered a half BBQ chicken and an order of brisket.  The chicken comes from outside, the brisket from inside.  It didn’t make any sense, but we went with it.  We placed our order and then went outside to pick up the chicken.

BBQ Chicken at TD Burger

BBQ Chicken at TD Burger

TD Burger was not busy at this time.  There was one guy in front of me also waiting for chicken.  It took about ten minutes for him to get his chicken (even though it was already done in the smoker), and then it was our turn.  The chef manning the smoker told us to wait a minute and then he would be right with us.  He disappeared inside for five minutes or so and reemerged with a tray of raw pork ribs.  He proceeded to marinate the various racks of ribs and threw them in the smoker while we waited.  He then washed his hands in a bucket full of dirty water (no soap) and then proceeded to grab our chicken out of the smoker.  Using his bare hands (which he had 30 seconds ago been marinating the raw pork ribs with) and tongs that he had also “washed” in the dirty water he divided my (measly) half chicken into thirds and cut it up.  When we asked about having BBQ sauce on the side, it was interpreted as an odd request.

The whole process took at least 20 minutes, despite the fact that the chicken was done and ready to go the second we walked outside.  We walked back inside to pick up the brisket that was surely done by this point.  Wrong.  Took another 5-10 minutes for that to come out as well. Continue reading

Ocopa’s Peruvian Ceviches and Chicken Satisfy All Tastes

19 Nov
Classico (Mahi Mahi) Ceviche at Ocopa

Clasico (Mahi Mahi) Ceviche at Ocopa

When we first learned about Ocopa (1324 H Street, NE) several years ago, we heard that it would be a Peruvian rotisserie chicken place called Chicken Tortilla by the owners of a restaurant by the same name on Barracks Row.  Over time the plans changed and when Ocopa opened earlier this year, Chef Carlos Delgado debuted a Peruvian menu featuring a variety of ceviches, chicken dishes, and other Peruvian dishes.  Delgado’s diverse creations assure that everyone in your party will be able to find something that they like.

Open Kitchen at Ocopa

Open Kitchen at Ocopa

Our favorite is the Clasico Ceviche, featuring a fish of the day with a pool of leche de tigre (literally tiger’s milk but really a fruit juice marinade) and diced sweet potato.  If Mahi Mahi is the fresh fish of the day, consider yourself especially lucky.  The ceviche is prepared fresh in front of you if you are sitting at the bar and contains a citrus tangy taste that perfectly compliments the tender fish.  If you want to try a variety of seafood, check out the Mixto Ceviche that has calamari, crab, shrimp, and octopus.  Delgado also serves a variety of tiradito and Peruvian maki on his menu.

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DC Harvest: Our New Favorite H Street Restaurant

23 Oct
First Floor at DC Harvest

First Floor at DC Harvest

Phrases such as “seasonal,” “local,” and “farm-to-table” have become so overused in restaurants across the country that they have begun to lack meaning and simply induce eye-rolling amongst diners.  Seemingly anyone can throw a few “local” or “seasonal” vegetables on a plate and claim their restaurant fits this bill.  While such restaurants are a dime a dozen at this point, restaurants that truly embrace local, seasonal sourcing through close relationships with farmers and suppliers and combine it with superior culinary skills in the kitchen, warm service in the front of the house, and a focus on their neighborhood are truly rare.  DC Harvest is such a place and has quickly become our favorite restaurant on H Street.

Zatar Seasoned Turkey at DC Harvest

Zatar Seasoned Turkey at DC Harvest

Brothers Arthur and Jared Ringel bring decades of experience to the front and back of the house at DC Harvest.  Arthur’s resume includes graduation from the Culinary Institute of America in New York along with stints at D.C. culinary destinations BLT Steak, Vermillion, Vidalia, and Hank’s Oyster Bar, where he became head chef.  Jared’s restaurant management experience spans over a dozen years around the D.C. area, including being both a general manager and a franchisee for several concepts.  Their experience shines through in both the food and the service. Continue reading

Bullfrog Bagels Brings Great Bagels to H Street

7 Oct
Bullfrog Bagels on H Street

Bullfrog Bagels on H Street

Ever since we moved to the H Street Corridor, we have believed that the Corridor really needed a good bagel place.  Finally our wish was granted.  If you have not checked out Bullfrog Bagels (1341 H Street, NE), you need to as soon as possible.  After being a pop-up bagel spot across the City for several months, Bullfrog now resides on H Street.  Long time H Street restaurant and bar Star and Shamrock has reduced its footprint by about half and the other half of what used to be Star and Shamrock now houses Bullfrog (the entire space remains connected and shares kitchen space so you can easily grab a bagel at Bullfrog and go to the bar at Star and Shamrock without going outside).

The bagels are very thin and light (as light as bagels can be).  They continuously make the bagels while they are open, so they may be out of certain varieties while you are there.  However, the bagels are the freshest you will find around D.C. and are usually hot out of the oven.  They have the usual favorites like plain, onion, poppy seed, and everything.  You can get your bagel plain or with butter, a variety of jams, regular cream cheese, or scallion and chive cream cheese.  You can also get it with smoked salmon or make it a true breakfast sandwich with egg, bacon, cheese, avocado, or onion jam (see complete menu here).

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on Onion Bagel at Bullfrog Bagels

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on Onion Bagel at Bullfrog Bagels

Our favorites thus far are the onion bagels with either scallion and chive cream cheese or done as a breakfast sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese.  The scallion and chive cream cheese is nice and light with a balance of scallion and chives.  The bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich is not overly greasy as sometimes happens with breakfast sandwiches.

When you walk in, you take a number and then wait to order.  If you’re in a hurry, make sure to call ahead your order as it can get quite busy on the weekends!  They are open everyday besides Monday from 7 am-11 am but will sometimes stay open later depending on demand.

TD Burger Opens with a Stumble, Begins to Improve

15 Oct

Our first trip to TD Burger in NoMa (250 K Street, NE) almost didn’t warrant a return trip.  It was very disappointing as the restaurant has a great outdoor seating area and a Top Chef contestant as the chef (Timothy Dean).  Yet, the fast casual burger restaurant had a weird set up, confused service, and unimpressive food.  Since that, our most recent return trip saw some improvement.  However, we hope that this trend continues and accelerates as the restaurant still needs help.

Sonia from the Bronx Burger at TD Burger

Sonia from the Bronx Burger at TD Burger

Customers order their food at the counter and then go sit down with a number card for food to have their food delivered to them.  But there’s a catch: you can’t order any alcoholic drinks at the counter and instead have to go to the bar or get the attention of the cocktail waiter/waitress (only one or two employees had the ability to serve alcohol even though there were close to ten employees serving customers).  It took us around seven minutes to order drinks once we sat down even though the restaurant was empty and we’d already asked a different server for help.  This was after waiting several minutes to order food (there was no one in line in front of us) due to a combination of the server being completely confused and the computer system being down.  Additionally, this set up is not ideal as it requires customers to open a second tab for alcohol even if they only want to order a beer.

The food did not improve the night.  The “Sonia from the Bronx” burger sounded intriguing: avocado, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, and grilled romaine.  The burger probably would have been great if it had been served as a salad without the bun.  The grilled romaine was tasty and the burger had promising flavor.  Unfortunately, all of this was overshadowed by a soggy bun that fell apart and could not hold the burger properly.  We were a little confused at how the bun was so soggy as it had clearly been thrown on the grill for a few seconds and had light grill marks.  Regardless, it ruined the burger.  The allegedly “beer battered” onion rings tasted like onion rings we could have picked up in the frozen section of the grocery store.

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Doi Moi: A Quick Culinary Visit to Southeast Asia

29 Aug

Doi Moi

This week’s grand opening of Doi Moi (1800 14th Street NW) was one of the most anticipated new restaurant openings this year in any part of the District.  Owner Mark Kuller is responsible for two of the best restaurants in the city (Proof and Estadio) and had spent a significant amount of time traveling with his head chef to embed themselves in countries throughout Southeast Asia to research and prepare for their new restaurant that would feature tastes and spices from around the region.  The result is an experience that lets diners savor the richness and spiciness of Vietnamese and Thai dishes without having to travel farther than 14th Street.

When you first walk into Doi Moi and turn to the left, you will immediately realize that the substantial open kitchen is in the middle of the first (of two) dining rooms, giving you a view of the action and allowing you to soak in the aroma of the dishes you are about to enjoy.  Throughout the restaurant is authentic art that the owner brought back from his travels in the region to decorate the restaurant.  If you are unable to get a table due to high demand, try to grab one of the ample bar stools which give you a front row seat to the live cooking show unfolding before your eyes.

Pla Pad Cha (Wild Halibut in Jungle Curry) at Doi Moi

Pla Pad Cha (Wild Halibut in Jungle Curry) at Doi Moi

Like its sister restaurant Estadio, the menu is largely composed of small dishes; however, the rice and noodle dishes are more of an entree size than the rest of the menu.  The dishes are broken up into starters, skewers, salads, soup, curries, “share,” noodles and rice dishes, and vegetables.  Our waiter suggested that each person should order 2-3 dishes.  A starter and two of the larger dishes will certainly not leave you hungry. Continue reading