Zeke's D.C. Donutz

D.C.'s newest donut shop in Dupont Circle is off to a good start with a variety of offerings including Mexican Chocolate (filled and glazed with ancho chile spiked chocolate), Peanut Butter and Bacon and Passion Fruit glazed with cacao nibs.  The young, hip staff, the 80's funk blaring from a boom box, the graffiti themed decor--I almost felt old, but that didn't stop me from enjoying my sinker!  I skipped the cereal milk, but it's there for the taking.  The donutz are substantial without being leaden, and a perfect foil for the sweet toppings.  There have been some complaints on various social sites that the donut itself isn't sweet enough, but I did't find that to be the case.  We left sated, smelling of fried dough and utterly happy. 

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Eating Ethiopian - LacoMelza, Silver Spring

After standing about in the cold for 3+ hours we were looking forward to a hot meal.  Silver Spring, MD has a number of Ethiopian restaurants, and I chose LacoMelza based on some favorable reviews I had read on several social media sites.  When we arrived, unfashionably early at 5:15, the restaurant was completely empty.  

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Fortunately, this was not an indication of the quality of the forthcoming meal.  This was our first time eating Ethiopian, and I was somewhat relieved there wasn't a crowd of seasoned eaters watching our fumbling about sans cutlery.  The waitress was helpful with meal selection and generous with the injera (the crepe-like bread that serves as plate, fork and spoon) and napkins.

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We ordered doro wat: a single chicken drumstick bathed in a spicy red berbere sauce and a vegetable assortment that included kik alicha (yellow split pea puree), misir wat (spicy red lentil stew), tikil gomen (sautéed cabbage and potato), fasolia (green beans with carrots and onions) and gomen wat (collard greens).  All delicious with complex flavors and some packing quite a bit of heat.  We enjoyed scooping up every last bit with the injera and left too stuffed to think about dessert.  Dinner for 3 (not including drinks and tip) <$30.  Without any other Ethiopian experiences for comparison I was completely satisfied and would love to return, hopefully when the restaurant is a little livelier.

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Buffalo & Bergen - DC

Like the Bat-Signal over Gotham, the egg-cream tractor beam at Buffalo & Bergen reeled us in on our recent foray to Union Market. 

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Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?  The saucy proprietress admonished Sophie not to stir it--drinking an egg cream should be experienced in stages from the intense sweetness of the chocolate syrup to the pillowy head.  There was an intriguing cocktail menu, including a bacon-garnished Bloody Mary.   I feared alcohol induced indolence would plague me for the rest of the day, and I had a lot of cooking to do and a freshly-sharpened chef's knife.  Seating is counter-only, just like a soda shop.  Sophie's metronomic stool twisting was annoying to her parents.  Unless you are sitting next to a sugar-fueled toddler, this type of seating fits the bill--great for watching the kitchen and other patrons.

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At $5 a piece, the knish is a bargain.  Jammed with a variety of fillings (short rib for Ian, bacon and cheddar for Sophie, and Rueben for me), they are substantial and richly flavored.  We didn't try the bagels, $12 for a baker's dozen.  I am wishing I had brought some home. 

Union Market is open WED-FRI from 11-8 and SAT-SUN 8-8.  The website lists Buffalo & Bergen's hours as 11-8 WED-SUN--perhaps a typo because it was already the place to be at 9:30 Saturday morning.

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Range - Friendship Heights

With some trepidation Ian and I set our sights on Range for our anniversary dinner last week.  Friday night of a holiday week and no reservations?  The restaurant does seat 300, and from what I had gleaned during my internet research they do 60% reservations/40% walk-in.  Open Table said we could have a reservation in mid January.  After seeing the exciting cocktail menu we figured any wait would not be a hardship.  To our delight, arriving at the unhip hour of 5:30 ensured our immediate seating.  Chef Voltaggio was in the kitchen that night, and Ian caught a few glimpses of him at work.  The restaurant is expansive with several different kitchens (including a candy shop), and the menu is organized by the kitchen of origin.  The waitstaff was helpful in pointing out that some of the dishes were small plates while others are meant for sharing with a few friends.  Cocktails are all $11, they have a nice selection of craft brews on tap, and an extensive wine list--including a good representation of wines by the glass.  I started off with the "Wonder of Neglect"--gin/pineapple shrub/vermouth/oak and continued the shrub theme with my second cocktail, the "Inept Carnie"--scotch/pumpkin shrub/spice/averna.  Both were delicious and complex, but the giant ice cube in the Inept Carnie stole my heart.

Here is how the food played out:

Yellowfin crudo with soy/lime/jasmine rice: pristine tuna slices gently brushed with sesame/soy and topped with preserved ginger.  Fantastic. Best tuna I have had since Uchi, and that is saying a lot.  The jasmine rice was actually a couple of rice crackers--didn't really add or subtract to the dish.

Bread basket: order this and you won't have to decide which of the homemade breads and spreads you will have to miss out on.  My favorite was the cornbread with the bacon marmalade or maybe the cheddar chive biscuits with the pepper jelly.  Just be careful not to over eat and spoil your appetite.  Highly recommend ordering if you have more than two people or have two people who just really love bread.

Kale caesar: like it sounds, sliced kale dressed up with a shower of parmesan.  Egg yolk/olive oil emulsion to apply to each bite or mix in as you see fit.  The best argument for kale to remain on the "in" list for 2013.  Definitely enough for two folks to split.  With all that bread I didn't miss croutons.

Kimchi linguine with uni/bay scallop and nasturtium: the Lee family is always happy to see kimchi on the menu, but even folks of non-Korean descent will enjoy the very understated kimchi flavor.  There were several choice morsels of briny uni, however, nary a nasturtium.  Bread basket for the win--you will want to mop up this sauce.

Beef heart: I talked Ian into this dish--served with a garlicky chimichurri--thinly sliced heart grilled medium rare.  The waitstaff provided a Shun steak knife that we didn't need to slice this tender dish.  Lean/flavorful, heart is a great starter organ meat for the squeamish.

Sunchokes: oven roasted with watercress and lemon.  We ordered because I have never had sunchokes.  Not a standout dish but delicious in the way that root vegetables liberally oiled and roasted can be with toasty caramel notes brightened by the hit of lemon juice.  Probably would have opted for the "everything mashed potato" if we hadn't already eaten ourselves into a diabetic coma with the bread basket.

We did save enough room for the two of us to split an order of the rice pudding that came with an assortment of condiments: chopped crystallized ginger, shaved Brazil nuts, chopped pistachios, chocolate and quince to gussy up each bite of your pudding.  We brought home a gingerbread marshmallow and a sesame malted truffle for Sophie.  You will have to take her word on their deliciousness because she didn't share. 

Range is located in the Chevy Chase Pavilion.  There is a parking garage.  Range does not validate parking.  If you are a Metro person, the Friendship Heights stop is the way to go.  According to the hostess, Range may open for lunch in January.  Looking forward to returning with a big crowd of adventurous eaters so we can kill that bread basket/try more cocktails/peel Sophie away from the candy counter.

Range on Urbanspoon

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Toki Underground - DC

While working the on the computer I spotted tonkatsu on the local news foodie segment.  So I headed out for dinner tonight to Toki Underground, which opened earlier this year.  The restaurant is small, above a pub which greets you with the smell of stale beer.  However, upon entering the upstairs restaurant, you are transported by sound and sight into a hip asian noodle house.  It was nearly full when I arrived a quarter past five.

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I started with miso kiwi red potatoes, one of the specials.  I did not really tast the kiwi, but the flavor was good, and the potatoes were cooked perfectly.  Forgetting my tonkatsu ramen mission, I ordered another special instead.  That is okay, I had a feeling I would be back.

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Above is the abura tsukemen dish, a soba dish served with an oily, soy based sauce on the side, for dipping.  The noodles were cooked in pork fat and included a generous portion of pork that tasted as if it were cooked in the tonkatsu broth.  The dish also contained sesame and scallions.  The broth tasted like salty tonkatsu broth.  Not really one to follow directions, I ended up pouring the broth into the noodles - tasted awesome.

Quite reasonable and delicious, I will definitely be back.  As with much of DC, parking can be a challenge, and similar to the Ramen places in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, the restaurant is small and seating does not provide much personal space.  I think my area on the shelf off one of the walls was about 14" by 20".  Like in Asia, I sat on my coat and put my bag on the little shelf for your feet.  The experience may be a little too cozy for some.

Regardless, the food is terrific and the atmosphere is authentic.

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the flat: a takeaway Creperie - Charlottesville, VA

While visiting Maddy in Charlottesville this weekend, we stopped at "the flat" for 1st dinner.  If you want a gigantic crepe filled with pure goodness, this is the place for you!

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Perhaps measuring 15' x 20' in size, we admired the excellent use of space, as well as the charm of the small kitchen.

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The employees were relaxed, really cool, and had a little fun with us when we pulled out our cameras.

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We shared the "party fowl", which contained grilled chicken, avocado, peppers, and cheddar.  It cost us a whopping, $6.50.  We also tried the delicious hot cider, which we agreed would be perfect on a late fall day.  It took a little while to get our food so if you see a line and are starving, this might be a consideration.  However, the crepes tasted great and were stuffed to the gills with good stuff.  We highly recommend the flat.  Note however, they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and they only take cash.

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