Dining Notes

Heaped with goodies, the Buffalo Wild Wings house sampler is a customer favorite. Photo: Nan Raphael

Valentine’s Day is coming up on Sunday, Feb. 14. For that special someone with a sweet tooth, visit J. Chocolatier, 321 Seventh St. SE, upstairs from Groovy. Created by Hill resident Jane Morris, JC carries myriad decadent chocolates, mostly crafted by Jane in a nearby kitchen. Best sellers are fleur de sel caramels (encased in dark chocolate with milk chocolate stripes, sprinkled with French sea salt, hence the name), and the Figgy Nut Bar (bittersweet chocolate with dried figs and walnuts), which goes beautifully with a cheese plate. J. Chocolatier is open Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but will open on Friday, Feb. 12, from 11 to 7. For more information visit www.jchocolatier.com.

For Cupid’s Night Out: Montmartre, 327 Seventh St. SE, offers a three-course, prix-fixe repast for $55 per person, not including wine. Served from 5:15 to 10:00 p.m., the menu will include trumpet mushroom soup with truffle cream, tuna tartare, New York strip steak, seafood risotto, Kahlua creme brulee, and much more. Reservations are a must; call 202-544-1244.

At Cafe Berlin, 322 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Valentine’s plans are not complete, but the restaurant will offer specials on Saturday night as well as Sunday’s repast. Call 202-543-7656.

Big Easy on the Hill

Mardi Gras arrives on Feb. 9 at Bayou Bakery Coffee Bar & Eatery at the Hill Center, 901 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. From 6 to 9 p.m. guests will savor David Guas’ authentic N’awlins grub including jambalaya, crawfish Monica, muff-a-lottas, andouille & shrimp gumbo, plus lagniappe (complimentary snack). Price is $30 per person, not including drinks. Heated party tents and a live band will add to the festivities. For tickets and more information visit BayouBakeryDC.com or call 202-664-5307.

Bayou now serves dinner; we’ve sampled turnip and cauliflower soup, crawfish Monica (homemade pappardelle, creole cream sauce, mushrooms), and chicken piquant (thighs with spicy tomato stew and veggie quinoa).

New Home

We enjoyed a zesty lunch at the “new” Las Placitas, which reopened recently at 1100 Eighth St. SE. The Salvadoran/Tex Mex eatery had moved from 517 Eighth, where it ruled for a quarter century before departing to make room for Matchbox expansion. The reborn Las Placitas (“Little Plates”) sports a bright, fresh look and flavor. Tables are napped with crisp linen; margaritas are tangy and fairly potent.

Peter ordered his favorite – puerco al horno – tender pork morsels roasted with sauteed onions. My El Tipico platter was loaded with a feather-light, chicken-filled tamale, a crispy, succulent pupusa (a sort of pancake filled with shredded pork), curtido (Latino coleslaw), yucca fries, and sweet platanos. Chunky guacamole complemented our gratis chips and salsa. The new location may seem remote, but many customers come from the nearby Navy Yard complex, and the transplant also does a lively carryout business. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Las Placitas has kept its original phone number: 202-543-3700.

The new digs are right next door to Ziaafat, the homespun Pakistani eatery at 1002 Eighth. Proprietor Tony Khan’s made-from-scratch-fare encompasses chicken kebabs, spicy ground beef, lots of veggies, and delicious naan (bread). Ziaafat has some seating and is great for carryout. Call 202-546-0000.

Bay City Transplant

Last fall an iconic San Francisco restaurant arrived downtown: Tadich Grill (near the Federal Triangle Metro), the first spinoff of the 167-year-old San Francisco landmark of the same name. The original is the nation’s third oldest continuously operating restaurant, having survived relocations, name changes, shady politicians, and the 1906 earthquake. A charming marriage of hominess and sophistication, the DC Tadich mirrors the parent’s old-fashioned tiled floors and dark paneling. After a brief wait our party of five was escorted to a cozy nook, where we sipped Edna Valley Albarino while perusing the extensive menu.

We dove into warm sourdough bread, shipped in thrice weekly from San Francisco. We started with deviled eggs – five halves topped with smoked salmon, trout roe (or salmon caviar?), and white anchovies. Peter and I shared an appetizer of tender, crisply fried calamari escorted by house-made cocktail sauce zinged with horseradish. An appetizer serving of a pair of meaty crabcakes (Dungeness resting on avocado cream and local crab perched atop zippy remoulade) was flavorful.  

We could have stopped then. But Peter and I went for the restaurant’s signature cioppino, a montage of scallops, shrimp, mussels, whitefish, and Dungeness crab swimming in a savory, tomato-based broth served with crusty garlic bread. The $34.95 price tag seemed high, but the portion easily fed two. However, they tacked on a $5 split plate charge. Our friends shared the perfectly roasted halibut crowned with lump crabmeat, asparagus, and mushroom fricassee. Creating these dishes is executive chef Wil Going, formerly with Chef Geoff’s.

Service was excellent. Our tab for two was about $150 but was worth every penny. We shall return. Located at 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Tadich Grill is closed on Sunday. Call 202-638-1849 or visit www.icon.com.

Coming Soon

The NoMa neighborhood will soon welcome SEOULSPICE, Eric Shin’s restaurant showcasing Korean comfort food. Look for it at 145 N St. NE (Two Constitution Square), Suite 400, near the NoMa/Gallaudet U Metro station. 

The son of Korean restaurateurs, Shin developed a knack for entrepreneurship and love for food early on. Inspired by his parents’ successful venture, he opened his own restaurant. Menu: rice bowls (bibimbap) and korritos (kimbap burritos), “street” tacos, and salads. These bases are enhanced with beef, chicken, spicy pork or tofu, plus vegetables including bean sprouts, kale slaw, and kimchi (pickled cabbage). House-made sauces include creamy sriracha, cilantro-lime ranch, ginger-carrot, plus fresh herbs and toppings. House-made juices, soft-drinks, and alcoholic beverages flow.
Eric is multi-talented. A professional musician, he holds the Acting Principal Percussion chair with the National Symphony Orchestra.

Winging It

Our friend Nan, a rabid sports fan, had raved about Buffalo Wild Wings, the new sports bar a baseball’s throw from Nats Park and an ideal venue for Super Bowl viewing on Feb. 7. For the final Redskins game we went with Nan and buddy Sharon to watch our matchup with the hated Dallas Cowboys. The place was rocking, and by kickoff time most seats were taken. Seated in full view of more than a dozen monster screens showing various games, we scanned the extensive menu. While we were trying to decide, our energetic server brought us samples of signature sauces. Favorites were honey mustard and parmesan garlic; we also liked the lemon pepper “dry seasoning.”

After our table shared a plate of garlicky fried mushrooms, Peter and I split the house sampler, a platter heaped with deep-fried boneless wings, beer-battered onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and nachos, which we slathered with marinara sauce and ranch dressing. (Healthful options include grilled chicken salads and sandwiches and other greens.) Part of an international chain, Buffalo Wild Wings pours umpteen imported and local beers (with samples). “Wild” Bloody Marys are generous and spicy, garnished with the usual celery and a dill pickle. Open daily, Buffalo Wild Wings is at 1220 Half St. SE (between M and N). Call 202-863-2790 or visit www.buffalowildwingsdc.com.

Here ‘n There

Now two years old, Sona Creamery & Wine Bar, 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, has remodeled; the pre-cut cheese retail section has been removed to expand the bar/dining area. No worries, you can still buy cheeses from the menu.

Ocopa, the recently renovated Peruvian restaurant at 1324 H St. NE, has a new chef, Yuki Nakandakari. Half Japanese and half Peruvian, Nakandakari should add some interesting dishes.

Sweetgreen, 221 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, has closed temporarily for renovation. The bountiful salad eatery “will be back soon, with a fresh new look,” including an open kitchen.

Bye for Now

Dining Notes is taking a month off to savor the warm, sunny climes of Florida. See you in April!

Fleur de sel caramels are among Valentine’s Day gift possibilities at J. Chocolatier. Photo: Celeste McCall
A tangy margarita and chunky guacamole launch a delicious lunch at the “new” Las Placitas. Photo: Celeste McCall

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.