Dining Notes

Creamy Garlic Parmesan Fettucini w Grilled Chicken, Portabellas & Walnuts

As many people get busier and wish to do less shopping and chopping, they still want a home-cooked meal. Solution? ScratchDC, a nine-month old company which delivers food “bundles” right to your doorstep. Ingredients are already chopped, measured and even marinated for the likes of chicken tikka masala, steak-and-gorgonzola egg rolls, bleu cheese-filet mignon. Everything arrives in separate containers: milk, butter, olive oil, veggies, spices, even salt and pepper. Instructions are cleverly written and easy to follow with ingredient sources on the back. 

ScratchDC’s five employees operate out of a kitchen at National Harbor. However, the company is looking for a Washington home. Deliveries are by car–no trucks. “We are trying to be as green as possible,” explained founder Ryan Hansan, 27, who lives in Columbia Heights. “We are also looking into pedi-cabs.” Most ingredients (some organic) are locally grown; this summer they are tapping nearby farms and co-ops. 

A major advantage with bundles is that food is not wasted. Since ingredients are already measured out, you don’t have to buyan entire head of cauliflower for a cupful or a jar of cumin if you need just one spoonful. Another plus: you save time and effort. “We take all the hard work out of it,” said Hansan. “We make it as fun as possible and we even throw in cookie dough. We’re also working with a registered dietitian and nutritionist. 

ScratchDC menus change weekly. Prices range from $24 to $30 for a two-person repast, depending on ingredients. That’s cheaper than most restaurant meals but pricier than shopping at Harris Teeter or Safeway. You may also order for groups, a novel party idea.

Hansan might deliver as many as 30 to 50 bundles a night. “Everyone loves it,” he said, adding that about 89 percent of his customers are repeats. Most patrons live in the District, but scratchDC is expanding to Northern Virginia. The only thing scratchDC doesn’t include is cleanup. 

Eager to try it out, Hansan dropped off a “bundle”at our house, a cardboard box containing ingredients for a vegetarian meal of cauliflower, kale, farfalle (bow-tie pasta) with Gruyere/ oregano sauce. We were initially concerned about all that wrapping, but Hansan assured me that all packaging is bio-degradable and/or compostable.

I prepared scratchDC’s dinner in about 25 minutes. I initially found it rather distracting to keep track of all these little containers and using three pots. But I followed directions precisely. I also thought at first that the sauce had too much milk and was too salty. But when I combined it with the pasta and veggies, it tasted just right. My dinner bundle could easily feed four, not two. We were eating pasta all week!

For more information or to place an order call 202-549-1421 or www.scratchdc.com.

District Taco Opens

District Taco opened April 29 at 656 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, in the space formerly occupied by Yes! DT specializes in tacos, burritos and other Mexican offerings (Yucatan style). Started as a food truck by two friends, Capitol Hill is their second brick and mortar location.

Baseball and brews

Just in time for the Washington Nationals opening day, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant arrived April 1 at 100 M St. SE, near the Navy Yard and Nats Park. For the yeasty newcomer, General Manager Brian Beauregard and Executive Chef Tony Blais (Gordon Biersch veterans) have tapped Head Brewer Travis Tedrow. On Opening Day, the place was packed with Nats fans chomping on knife-and-fork burgers, Cajun fish tacos and GB’s famous garlic fries. 

The sprawling 226-seat, 8,290-square-foot brewpub features a stylish dining room and a glass-enclosed brewing space. In case you miss the first few innings, you can watch umpteen high-definition TVs scattered around the bar area. An outdoor beer garden seats 88 as five freshly brewed lagers flow. 

This is Gordon Biersch’s fourth Washington area venture. Others are located downtown, at Tysons Corner Center and Rockville Town Square. Navy Yard Gordon Biersch is open daily for lunch and dinner, plus a happy hour and night bar noshing. For reservations and more information, call 202-484-2739. mailto:kbohen@aboutbwf.com

Also in time for baseball, the long-awaited Park Tavern has arrived down the street at 200 M St. SE. The 3,500 square foot Tavern is reportedly the only Washington restaurant located in a park. Call 202-554-0005 or http://parktaverndc.com.

Sporked up

Since the Silver Spork (formerly Marvelous Market) went solo a few months ago, managing partner Seth Shapiro has added several neat items: Our favorite is the line of Café Spice “restaurant-style gourmet Indian dinners.” Normally, I’m not a fan of ready-to-serve fare; I prefer cooking from scratch. However, such culinary shortcuts come in handy when Peter, a tour guide, has an evening group and will be home late, or after my Spanish class which goes until 9 p.m. Then we pop the tasty dinners into the microwave. Sure beats those old fashioned TV dinners.

So far, we’ve tried chicken tikka masala (tandoor grilled chicken in tongue-tingling sauce), chicken vindaloo (even spicier), channa masala (chick peas), and saag paneer (spinach and farmer’s cheese). Dinners come with rice. Chicken selections are a reasonable $7.49; veggie entrees are $6.99.

Also new at Spork: Panas Gourmet empanadas–a package of three is $6.99, and fillings include chicken pesto, ham-and-cheese, smoked eggplant....Last but not least, at the end of the counter we’ve found packages of sweet potato red velvet mini cupcakes ($9.99 for a dozen). The cupcakes are really pretty and would make a charming hostess gift. Silver Spork is located at 303 Seventh St. SE (Seventh and C); call 202-544-7127. 

If you know sushi

We finally got around to trying the sushi at Old Siam, a Barracks Row favorite. For a Sunday lunch, I ordered the sushi/sashimi lunch box, nine pieces plus a cup of miso soup, a bargain for $12. The tuna, salmon and mackerel were ultra fresh; my only complaint is that the pieces are too big! 

Working his magic behind Old Siam’s small sushi bar is Thai-born Tony. “Just call me Tony,” he insists. He reminded us about Old Siam’s sushi happy hour, offered daily from 4 to 7, when sushi items are just $1 each. Located at 406 Eighth St. SE, Old Siam is open daily for lunch and dinner. Call 202-544-7426.

Raw deal

Khepra's Raw Food Juice Bar, 402 H St. NE, has undergone a facelift. Expect the new look any day now. The funky, neighborhood/culture center is reminiscent of the 1960s. It’s gained a faithful following, as locals line up to sample–cafeteria style–uncooked dishes like avocado wraps, garlic kale, hummus and coconut “egg salad,” washed down with coconut milk, gooseberry blend, mega milk and other healthful drinks. Operated by Khepra Anu, the center is open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 2 to 6 p.m. Sundays. Call 202-803-2063 or www.kheprarawbar.com.

How sweet it is....

Co Co Sala, the five-year-old chocololics’ paradise downtown at 929 F Street NW, is coming right to you. Sometime this spring–hopefully in time for Mother’s Day--look for a Co Co Sala chocolate shop at Union Market. Co-owner Nisha Sidhu, has fond childhood memories of visiting the “old” Florida market with her mother, and she wanted to resurrect that experience. Executive/pastry chef is Santosh Tiptur. Co Co Sala’s spinoff will dispense artisanal chocolates in all sorts of outlandish varieties like chocolate covered bacon, banana ginger, rosemary caramel, chipotle, peanut butter and jelly, mango lassi. All goodies are crafted right here in town, sans preservatives. For more information, call 202-347-4265 or www.cocosala.com.

More sweets plus java

Sometime this summer, Robb Duncan and wife/business partner Dolcezza Violeta Edelman are moving their gelato production from Georgetown to 550 Penn St. NE. Their GT shop will remain. Ensconced in a 4,000 square-foot former wholesale flower market, the family enterprise is near the burgeoning Union Market. Dolcezza will have a mezzanine level gelato tasting room for 20 people who may also observe production, and a coffee “training station” showcasing Dolcezza’s artisan beans and brews.

Dolcezza will work with area farmers and producers to create up to 300 flavors like blackberries & cream, Valrhona chocolate. They also make dairy free alternatives. A one-ounce serving is $3 to $5. 

Designed by Brian Miller of Edit, Dolcezza’s triangular space will glow with skylights and glass garage doors. For updates, visit http://dolcezzagelato.com

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