A Small Southern Town in Northwest Washington

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D.C. has a long list of traditional southern-style restaurants, so you’d be forgiven for wondering why it needed another.  But you shouldn’t wonder after seeing Eatonville‘s unorthodox starter above — a single fried hushpuppy the size of a baseball filled with leek fondue and rock shrimp. It is seriously effing delicious.

Eatonville Restaurant

Set on the same 14th Street corner as sister restaurant Busboys and Poets, Eatonville is named in honor of Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem renaissance author and playwright. Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Florida, one of the first southern towns created by African-Americans after slavery ended. The name really made an impression on me as I realized how thoughtful they’ve been in putting the place together. From picket fences and rocking chairs flanking the bar to drinks served in mason jars, this was more than another DC restaurant with southern fare… I felt like I’d hopped a train to a small town in the Deep South.

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Parsnips are the New Prozac

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I’m cranky. Yea, I’m cranky. That’s what it is. It’s been a cold (but, I have to admit, awesomely snowy) winter. And a long winter. It’s March and I’m still cold.

I haven’t cooked anything worth a fucking dime. And I hate that expression. But it’s true. Sure, I’ve discovered cottage cheese and smoked whitefish, but then what?

Nothing.

I need the summer’s farmers market. I need to be surrounded with tomatoes and eggplants and zucchinis. I need spring.

While the warmth won’t be coming for many more weeks, I did find something to keep me happy about the abundance of root vegetables. And it was at my neighborhood pizza place. I know, weird.

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Restaurants are Catching Up

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Now that I’m sufficiently through with summer vegetables, I’ve been getting really excited for a new season of vegetables. But what really excites me is restaurants that are also embracing the idea. I went to bird watch at a neighborhood pizza place. What caught my attention was the blackboard sign: “$5 slice and draft beer.”

That shit just doesn’t exist in the District. Shit, sometimes you can buy a Miller Lite for as much as $4. Anyway, so a bunch of us went to Radius and all of a sudden my mouth hung open and I oggled the menu.  There was pumpkin ravioli and butternut squash soup and a pizza with kabocha pumpkin puree, ricotta, feta, caramelized mushrooms and red onions. Unfortunately I was too hungover to experiment and just grabbed a large slice of cheese. I just love that everyone from high-end restaurants to the local pizza place endorses the mantra of eating seasonally.

Back to my kitchen.

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Time to Social-ize

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Social’s savory spin on the traditional Louisiana pastry, the Beignet.

Brace yourselves people… I’m about to gush. Last Saturday I went to Social – a new D.C. restaurant located at the north end of Columbia Heights. Social is the first lounge-y, Dupontish-style joint to venture north of Columbia Road, but it thankfully forgoes the snooty downtown attitude in favor of warmly welcoming waitstaff and hosts, and a design that encourages you to stay and hang out all night (and get Social – get it?).

The service was superlative, the lounge-y setup is comfortable (think low lights, candles, comfy black couches and chairs, softly stuccoed walls, and plenty of cherry wood tables to rest your drinks and food upon), the drinks were fun and dangerously delicious, and the food … the food was incredible.  Period.

The food is Creole/Cajun and Asian fusion inspired. This is a serious claim to make in my estimation – as much of my mother’s family hails from Louisiana.  I get pissed when restaurants purport to be Creole or Creole-inspired and then fail to come through with the requisite creativity and spicy zestiness that typifies Creole cooking. But Social delivers creative menu items ranging from meatball pomodoro sliders (a large portion of which our group scarfed down in less than five minutes) to “Mud Bug” Beignets (the crawfish fritters, pictured above. Sometime ES blogger Edubs described these fritters as shredded and deliciously spiced crawfish goodness, surrounded by a lightly fried batter). Edubs also fully enjoyed snagging bites of her husband‘s Sonoran Mahi Mahi Tacos — corn tortillas filled with an unexpectedly intricate blend of southwestern, Mexican, and south pacific flavors – the crisp citrus tones of the grilled and marinated white fish were accented by jalapeño cabbage and mango salsa and were topped with tomato and garlic sauce.

The menu is organized in a really interesting fashion.  It’s built to handle parties of varying sizes.   You can order 3 different portion sizes, which was perfect for our birthday group, as we waxed and waned in size throughout the night.

More stories about gorging on cheftastic kitchen creations and dodging skeezey dudes after the jump…

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My POV of the W

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It has finally happened- the long awaited arrival of Washington’s very own W Hotel. However, more importantly for the residents of DC, the reopening of this hotel means only one thing: the terrace bar, which hosts unrivaled views of the city. You can scope out the Washington Monument and the White House in all its glory, including those pesky snipers that adorn its roof. What could be more pleasant than sipping summer cocktails whilst gawking at the Obamas from afar?

One of my friends managed to secure a spot on the guest list for the opening night of the W Washington’s POV Roof Terrace this past Wednesday. The hotel was abuzz—a true velvet rope event which is not a familiar sight in DC.

I am happy to report that the views from the terrace are exactly how I remembered them to be (back when the spot was Hotel Washington), and then some. The terrace has expanded onto the Pennsylvania Ave side, with an enclosed floor-to-ceiling window bar—great for those cooler evenings. The sophisticated reds and subtle lighting create an atmosphere that is familiar, so not to intimidate, but yet chic, to remind you that you are in a place that is special.

Before you read further I should provide a disclaimer, this was opening night and the place was packed, lines forming at all entrances of the hotel. My experience wasn’t the best but I believe that the service will improve as will the product. Continue reading with view of the White House after the jump.

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A Bazaar Duel

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Editor’s Note: When I (this is gansie) was 12 my jazz dance recital class performed to Paula Abdul’s Opposites Attract. At the time I thought it was the silliest thing I ever heard: how could two people that didn’t agree on a majority of issues actually like each other. Turns out almost every couple I know are comprised of fairly dissimilar people. Same is true for Britannia and his love-thang. Brit will experiment with rare ingredients; his boy doesn’t even like bananas. Here’s their he vs. he take on one of the most innovative and popular restaurants in the country.

On my not-so-recent trip to LA I decided to pay a visit to a not-so-new-restaurant, The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Beverly Hills. The Bazaar’s food concept is similar to that of minibar in DC: adventurous meals in one bite. I was too impatient to wait for a reservation at minibar so I figured jumping on a plane was the easiest thing to do, natch.

The LA Times 4-star-rated Bazaar is an Alice in Wonderland of sorts, the décor is ostentatious and the furniture is playful. Exactly what is needed when one eats food from Andrés. Upon entering the restaurant you are greeted by Bar Centro, a place where the drinks are as simple as a Dry Martini or unusual as a Nitro Raspberry Daiquiri, which was worth every penny (how many pennies are in $20?)

For dinner there’s a choice of dining in one of two rooms, Rojo or Blanco, one room steeped in traditional Spanish flair or one of white drapes, white chairs and white tables. I have poor taste so I opted for the latter.

There were four of us dining, two friends from LA and my better half (Deej). If you are a regular reader to ES you will know that my other half is not so easy to please when it comes to his palette. Despite this we tried the Seven Wave tasting menu.

Here is my take and my bf’s barely clothed hatred take on our experience. And whatever Mr. Picky has to say, do know that the meal was a lot more expansive than we had anticipated and certainly worth the money.

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Fettuccine In a Sea of Injera

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Over Inauguration weekend, 80P and I crashed a dinner for Liza’s out of town guests. Her friend was in from, um, Nebraska or Iowa or North Dakota, no wait, Montana. And Liza wanted to show off DC’s Ethiopian food. Unfortunately, everyone else in the city thought the same.

We finally found a place that wouldn’t be over an hour wait. But that was only after we spotted an Italian restaurant, La Carbonara, in Little Ethiopia. I scanned the outside menu and pledged to come back: there was fettuccine alfredo to be had.

And so I’ve returned. Actually a few times. I’ve gotten to know Chu Chu, the owner and sometimes chef. I’ve also gotten to slurp down plenty of creamy noodles.

I love Chu Chu’s story: He grew up in Ethiopia, then worked in an Italian restaurant in Italy, then opened up an Ethiopian restaurant in Italy and now lives in the United States and owns an Italian restaurant in Little Ethiopia.

Confused? Read on.

Hidden Pleasure: Italian Restaurant La Carbonara [Express]

Photo: Express

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