Monday, July 25, 2011


The second restaurant that deserves an A in my book is Willow. It's a toss up between Ris and Willow for my favorite dining experience thus far in the DC/Arlington area.

4301 N. Fairfax Drive 
Arlington Va. 22203

Service: impeccable 
Food: 10
Atmosphere: 9
(the bar area could be a bit more inviting) 
Margarita flatbread
It doesn't get much better than Willow if you're looking for a fine dining experience. The prices are above average, but worth it. It's the perfect place to take a lady on a date...if any guys are reading this for tips. Great wine list and appetizers are perfect to share. I highly recommend their signature grilled flatbread pizzas to start off the meal right. 

There are two sizes, a smaller and a bigger one (not sure on the exact measurements). The smaller pie is plenty for two people if you plan to order entrees. The larger would def. feed a table of four comfortably. We were boring and ordered the margarita. But if you want to be a bit more daring, there are plenty of options including the calamari ali olio with savory pesto, roasted tomato, fontina and parsley & lemon. 

I'm big into seafood (if you haven't noticed a trend). Naturally, I chose the sauteed Alaskan halibut which was mouth watering, even to look at. 
Alaskan Halibut

Served with fried olives atop and warm barley salad with gigante beans, broccoli, sunflower seeds, basil & lemon under the perfectly prepared fish--this was an A+ dish in my book. I would honestly have a hard time going back to Willow and resisting the urge to order this again. There are a number of other seafood options on the menu ranging from roasted Norwegian salmon to seared scallops with potato ravioli. There are also non-seafood options as well. If you're in the mood for red meat, I suggest the filet medallions. 

Live in the Arlington area? You have no excuse to not try Willow. There is a parking garage right next to the restaurant so parking is not an issue!

Try it and let me know if you loved it as much as me!

Sunday, July 17, 2011



Location: 3010 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201

*Also in Dupont 

Awesome atmosphere, but, unfortunately, not as awesome food or service. When I walked into Circa I was immediately impressed with the modern decorthe bar area and the comfortable seating. Naturally, I was expecting the dining experience to rate quite well.

Circa burger with sweet potato fries 
The servers were unorganized from the get-go. It took awhile to get our drinks (even water) and we had to ask for refills and ketchup for our burgers and fries. The food wasn't bad; in fact, my burger was above average

However, I feel like I can get a delicious burger at a number of places. Two of the other people I was dining with ordered the personal lunch pizzas and were less than satisfied. The chicken on the pizza was dry and the flavor was bland. Not terrible, just not worth the price or calories. Overall, it simply wasn't something I would rave to my friends about.

BBQ chicken pizza

Last thought: I've heard a number of people say they enjoy Circa for happy hour. You can't really mess up a vodka tonic and, like I said, the atmosphere is pleasant so don't count out Circa completely. Maybe I'm just overly picky.

After the meal, I decided I wasn't planning a future visit anytime soon. That disappoints me because Circa has the atmosphere going for it. My suggestion: amp up the service and tweak the menu a bit, then you'll be in business. 
Overall rating: C

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Georgetown Cupcake

My apology for the lack of posts this past week. I have just begun my internship on the Hill and have not had much spare time to enjoy dining and writing. Now that I'm getting into the swing of things, you'll see more from me.

Today's food for thought:
When did cupcakes become the latest sweet tooth craving trend? For those of you who know me, I'm not one to turn down anything sweet, but I personally prefer to indulge in homemade ice cream or a big piece of New York cheesecake. Nonetheless, I had to give in to the cupcake craze and try Georgetown Cupcake

Georgetown Cupcake, also known as DC Cupcake from its TV show on TLC is located at:
3301 M Street NW (corner of 33rd & M)

While I really admire the originality of the cupcake flavors and the fact that this bakery was started by two sisters, I honestly don't understand all the hype. When my roommate and I went to try it out on a weekday at 3 p.m., the line was pushed out the door and stretched at least half way around the block.

Don't get me wrong, the cupcakes are good and I have nothing bad to say. You would just think people were waiting in line to meet President Obama (ew) with the level of eagerness displayed. 

Because there was a "30 minute wait" for the flavor I really wanted to try, I ended up choosing "vanilla birthday." A madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake topped with a traditional sweet vanilla buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles. Not too shabby, but def. didn't knock my socks off. Perhaps one of the more creative flavors, such as the "chocolate coconut," the "salted caramel" or the "honey banana" would have made a lasting impression. 
Next time, if I go back, I'll go for something more risky--even if they don't have the flavor I initially want. 

To end on a positive note, the prices weren't nearly as high as I anticipated ($3 dollars a pop), the what seemed to be a never ending line didn't take too long and the staff was super friendly.

Overall rating: B
Overrated, but still a yummy sweet treat for a reasonable price.  

My pick: Thomas Sweet
If you're craving the best ice cream in DC, this is the spot.
It's conveniently right down the street from GT Cupcake: located @3214 P Street Northwest!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Paolo's Ristorante 
"Traditional Italian made California Fresh"

Location: 1303 Wisconsin Avenue NW,
Washington D.C. 20007 (Georgetown)
*There is also a Paolo's in Reston

Paolo's Italian restaurant offers a fun, modern atmosphere for a happy hour get-together or a leisurely dinner with your significant other.

My friend and I decided to sit in the bar area because we didn't feel like waiting for a table outside. The wait on Saturday night without a reservation was about 25 minutes. Our table was a bit small, but absolutely fine for two people. Still, I would suggest reservations on the weekend. 

Breadsticks and hummus

The breadsticks and olive based hummus was a perfect way to start our meal. I was happy to see something a little different from the bland slices of bread served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Whether you're craving pizza, pasta or a hearty salad, there are plenty of options on the menu. I'm a pasta person. I love seafood so I went for the crab pasta dish. It was good, but not great. Capellini pasta with a light pesto/basil sauce, roasted tomatoes, corn and of course lump crab meat. The crab was delicious, but the pasta was a bit bland. While the corn and tomatoes added a nice flavor, it seemed that something small was missing from the dish.

Pizza margarita and half of house salad
The pizza margarita was above average in all regards. Plenty for two people splitting or a great appetizer for a table of four. The other pizzas sounded just as mouthwatering.

The waitress was friendly and informative and our food came out in a timely manner. One thing I noticed was my friend's salad came out with her pizza. Usually, salad comes beforehand. Not a big deal--I just notice the small stuff. 
Prices were moderate. $14 for the pizza and $22 for the pasta entree. If you're looking for an Italian restaurant that's not too heavy then this is a good choice for dinner or drinks. There was a large group of 20-somethings enjoying happy hour before a night out in Georgetown. 

Overall rating: B
Paolo's wasn't life changing like Ris. I wouldn't suggest it for a special occasion or to a friend that was only going to be in D.C. for a night or two and wanted to experience somewhere unique and memorable. Nonetheless, it's still an above average restaurant. If you live in the area and often crave Italian, try it sometime. 

Paolo's menu 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Sorry I've been slacking on the posts this week. I've been busy working so I've either made something easy at home or gone to Whole Foods to grab sushi. This week I'll step up my game and entertain whoever reads my blog--hopefully a few people!

Bayou: Coffee Bar Eatery
Location: 1515 N. Courthouse Rd.
Arlington, VA
Inside of Bayou
I've been to Bayou for my morning coffee and a blueberry muffin and thought it was a cute and yummy place to grab breakfast at. Until today when my roommate told me she had a delicious salad there a few weeks ago, I didn't know Bayou served lunch and dinner too!

After walking to Georgetown and back, my roommate and I were hungry and wanted something semi-healthy for dinner. The Bayou salad that she described sounded perfect for what we were craving. Not to mention, I also wanted to blog about a restaurant near my apartment in Arlington. 

Overall, the food at Bayou is New Orleans style cooking. For breakfast, take your pick of an egg sandwich on a buttermilk biscuit, beignets, oatmeal or yogurt with fresh fruit from the farmer's market, or one of their yummy muffins. I recommend blueberry. 

For lunch, there are a number of sandwiches available. I haven't tried any of them, but they all sound pretty good and are no more expensive than $8. 
Soup and salads are on the menu all day and "super hot plates" are only available for dinner. 

My roommate and I both chose the same salad: grilled chicken, apples, spiced pecans and local chevre (similar to goat cheese ) over mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette. I really enjoyed the freshness of the greens and the apples. The portion of grilled chicken was generous--some restaurants tend to not put enough protein on their salads and it really bothers me when I'm paying $10 or more for a salad.

Mixed greens with grilled chicken and a cup of gumbo

The other salads also sounded tasty. Especially the Bayou chopped with blue cheese, bacon, egg, avocado, oven-cured tomatoes and radish with a mustard vinaigrette. And if you don't like chicken, no worries--you can go for the spiced shrimp instead. 

I thought it would be boring to blog just about a salad, and I wanted to try something else too, so I got a side of the blackened turkey meatballs

Turkey meatballs 

One word: yum. 
Turkey meatballs with roasted tomato sauce and melted parmigiano cheese. Good Southern cookin' right there.

My roommate had a cup of the chicken & sausage gumbo with her salad and while I didn't try it, it smelled and looked full of flavor. She doesn't like spicy foods and enjoyed the gumbo because it wasn't overwhelming in the
slightest. So if you're not a spicy foods type of person, there are still plenty of options at this New Orleans style eatery that shouldn't be too overwhelming for your taste buds. 

Overall rating: B+
I would def. go back for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The prices were reasonable, the atmosphere was laid back and the food was ready in no time. There were a few people having appetizers and drinks while we were there. I'd even suggest that if you aren't starving. The selection of brews on tap isn't bad either. 

For my next post I'll be comparing Georgetown Cupcake and Crumbs Bake Shop. Can't say I'll hate comparing the two :) 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Location: 2275 L Street, NW (Near Foggy Bottom)
Washington, DC 20037
Phone: (202) 730-2500

My roommate and I both had yesterday off so we decided to explore DC. After a visit to the National History Museum and a little bit of shopping, we were ready for a glass of wine and a relaxing dinner. 

We had the mindset that we'd stumble upon a great restaurant just walking around. We were wrong. It's not as easy as it sounds--even in the city! I definitely learned a valuable lesson. Get a recommendation beforehand and know exactly where you're going. We literally walked around for almost an hour then finally got on the metro and went to Dupont Circle. After walking around there for thirty minutes and still not finding something worthwhile (we're picky), we asked a friendly man for his advice. Bingo. He told us to follow him--he was going to meet some friends at Ris and he promised we would enjoy the wine and the food. He was right on point!

This is the first, and hopefully not the last, restaurant I'll rate an A.  
I would like to rate Ris an A+, but I have one small bone to pick. When my friend and I got there, the hostess wasn't very polite. She sat us at a table that wasn't particularly ideal. The sun was shining in our faces and the table was near the kitchen door. When we asked to be seated somewhere else, she said it wasn't possible. So we flagged down the manager and got our way. Sometimes I feel like young people don't get the same respect as older people dining out. 

On to the food... American contemporary is how I would describe the cuisine at Ris. The menu offered a number of unique dishes ranging from the Monday gourmet meatloaf special to pan roasted Alaska halibut. 

I was immediately impressed by the service (minus the hostess) and the atmosphere. We started our meal off right by ordering a bottle of Mohua sauvignon blanc. It's a white wine from New Zealand and hit the spot. We opted to split a mixed greens salad, which was plenty for two, while we looked over the menu.

It was hard to pick an entree because everything sounded so different, yet so appetizing. My roommate decided to go with the Monday
meatloaf special. This wasn't your typical 
meatloaf meal. This was high quality beef prepared perfectly and served with whipped mashed potatoes and spinach. 


I went for the sesame crusted salmon with gingered beets, bok choi, over soba noodles and red curry coconut broth. Amazing. I'm assuming the halibut would have been just as tasty. I honestly don't think you could go wrong with any of the entrees!

Without the bottle of wine, my bill would have been around $30. Pretty reasonable, in my opinion, for an A restaurant with phenomenal service. 

I wished I had saved room for dessert because the pecan carrot cake, along with all of the other options, sounded sinful (in a good way). I just couldn't do it. But I will 100% go back to Ris to try something else and make room for dessert. 

Of all the restaurants I've been to, thus far, this is the best. I suggest reservations if you're going for dinner!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cafe Asia

Cafe Asia
Location: 1550 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22209-2435
Phone: (703) 469-1953

If you like Asian food, and want a causal, reasonably priced restaurant, then Cafe Asia is your place.

Cafe Asia offers a wide variety of Asian cuisine from sushi to pad tai. It may be one of the biggest restaurants I've been to in years. There were at least 100 people dining there for dinner! 

To be honest, the size of the restaurant was a bit overwhelming and it was difficult to fully enjoy my company because of the noise. (Perhaps it's not as crowded for lunch?)
Besides the loud noise, I didn't feel as though there was the chance for a personable dining experience. To the server, we were just another table. 

With that said, the waiter seemed to have trouble giving our party individual checks and did not have a spectacular attitude about doing it when we asked nicely. 

While Cafe Asia is a huge restaurant, there are only two bathroom stalls in the women's room, which I found to be odd and poor use of space. 

To sum up: good portion sizes for a very reasonable price:

Garlic chicken

For only $10, I split chicken lo mein with my friend. It was plenty for the two of us after having an appetizer. While the service wasn't great and the atmosphere wasn't anything special, I would go back to fulfill my asian food craving for a cheap price.

Also, the drinks were pretty cheap during happy hour. 

Overall rating: C+
Next time I might try the sushi!

Teriyaki chicken