RW Review: Lunch at Bistro Bis

I’ll try to keep this short – there are dozens of RW reviews out there, and information overload and paralysis is certainly possible.

Your editor along with three former coworkers visited Bistro Bis for lunch on Thursday. Bistro Bis, in the Hotel George near Union Station, is the sister restaurant to Vidalia and describes itself as a “very modern version of a French Bistro.” BB was serving a relatively extensive Restaurant Week menu, though as Todd Kliman noted, they have a significant number of upcharges: at least half of the menu items required at least a $3-$6 charge above the $20.08 cost of lunch.

Generally the biggest complaint about Restaurant Week is the service: it tends to be rushed, forgetful and somewhat rude. After all, these people are dealing with considerably larger crowds than they would see ordinarily (not that that excuses them). The service at Bistro Bis, however, was largely excellent, with only two exceptions: first, they brought our entrees very quickly after our appetizers; though I hadn’t finished my appetizer¬† (it was very large), they whisked it away and replaced it with my meal. Also, they pulled the whole “put the check down on the table before dessert was served” manuever – obviously they were hoping to push us towards the door. Servers were very helpful however, our water glasses were conscientiously refilled and any questions or concerns we had were promptly answered. I wasn’t that bothered by the service at all.

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Weekend Farmer’s Market Update: U St., Mt. Pleasant, Bloomingdale

Not as much to report for the U St. Mt. Pleasant and Bloomingdale markets. Dolcezza Gelato will be joining the U St. market permanently, if you can’t wait to get your artisanal (and expensive!) gelato/sorbet fix until Sundays.

At the Mt. Pleasant market, Reid Orchard will be selling a limited quantity of unsweetend peach nectar – if you’re sick of paying $6 at brunch, make your own Bellinis. Also, WIC and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program will be hosting a Family Fun Day event. “Banjerdan” – I believe that he plays the banjo – will perform and there will be other activities.

Market Locations:

  • U St.: On the sidewalk of the Reeves Plaza, at the NW corner of 14th and U Streets NW. 9am-1pm Saturdays
  • Bloomingdale: In front of the Big Bear Cafe on First and R Streets NW. 10am-2pm Sundays.
  • Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market: In the park between 17th & Mount Pleasant and Park & Lamont Streets. Saturdays, 9am – 1pm.

After the jump, the full emails from the markets, with recipe tips and more fun. Sign up for the U St./Bloomingdale market email by contacting Robin Shuster at marketsandmore@gmail.com, and the Mt. Pleasant market email by going here.

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Farmer’s Market Preview: 8/14/-8/17

Today we preview the various FRESHFARM markets around the area. The highlights:

  • At the Penn Quarter market (TODAY from 3:00-7:00pm), Rochelle Schaetzl of Nando’s Peri Peri, a new South African restaurant chain, will be giving a cooking demonstration. See here for more.
  • The Dupont Circle market (Sunday from 9:00am-1:00pm) will have a demonstration by Frank Morales of Rustico at 11:00am.

Check back tomorrow for the U St., Bloomingdale and Mt. Pleasant Markets, depending on the promptness of their various listservs. </crosses fingers>

In other farmer’s market news, evidently a new market has opened in the King St. Garden Park. Every Wednesday from 3:00-7:00pm.

After the jump, see the weekly FRESHFARM market email. You can subscribe to that email here.

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DC Bagels: Better than Round Bread, I Swear

Can you find a good bagel in DC? It can be difficult. Certainly you aren’t going to get one a grocery store; what I’ve seen has really epitomized the “round bread” nature of bad bagels. Too soft, no crust, almost crumbly. A friend of the blog, and an inveterate New York-ophile, maintains that a good bagel is impossible to get “this far south,” though if pressed, he’ll admit to going to So’s Your Mom, a little deli in Adams Morgan. Another friend swears by Heller’s in Mt. Pleasant. Buy a bagel, get a pistol! [Yes, that is a little politically topical DC humor for you. Love it. -Ed]

Now I’ve never been to either place, but I have another contender for “somewhat more than palatable DC bagel:” Bagels Etc. of Dupont Circle. Bagels Etc. is right around the corner from work, making those mid-morning breakfast runs convenient and delicious. Its a tiny little counter, run by very friendly Chinese ladies who immediately try to take your order when you walk in the door. Make sure you take a moment, though, because the menu is extensive: a large selection of cream cheeses for the ever elusive shmear, classics like lox spread, cream cheese cucumbers and sprouts as well as a full selection of hot and cold deli sandwiches. They even have a number of vegetarian options.

Really though, a broad selection of options means nothing if the bagels themselves are no good. But don’t worry, these are tasty: chewy, crusty, with a defined bagel shape. There’s nothing I hate more than the creeping disappearance of the hole in the middle of a bagel. Bagels should be defined loops: the dough should not swell to fill the hole, and, horror of horrors, the hole should not be obscured by a clump of filling. The national bagel chains (Bruegger’s and Einstein’s come to mind) are the worst offenders in this; but it’s good to see somebody standing strong against the general decline of bagel standards.

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Restaurant Week is Here!

Yeah, yeah you know. We’ve covered this week pretty exhaustively here.

But if you’re wondering where this blog is eating, I won’t leave you in suspense. Expect reviews from Bistro Bis, Ceiba, Rasika and PS-7s coming in the next 10 days or so. (Remember when we reviewed Cafe Atlantico’s and Poste’s menus because we were headed there? Well those reservations got cancelled. Oh Well.)

A week without cooking

Sorry there hasn’t been much in the way of bloggy goodness this week; real life has actually intruded on this little internet project. But I’m back now, and ready to bring you the regular dose of insight, wit and pure culinary genius.

Also, this has been a strange week for me – I haven’t cooked a single time. Not for others, not for myself. It’s been a little weird. In fact, not only haven’t I cooked, but other people have cooked for me. On Sunday, a friend had a “house-cooling” party: she’s leaving her place in Shaw for the wilds of Friendship Heights. In a meal that was explicitly explained to us as “cleaning out the fridge” we had lemon caper chicken, vegetable quiche, and a pear-almond-Gorgonzola salad with homemade vinaigrette. It was nice; really tasty – though for me the nicest thing was being able to enjoy a meal without having to worry about what still needed to be cooked, or cleaning up afterward!

And check out this chicken:

Lemon Caper Chicken

After the jump: more food pictures, and pictures from the other reason I haven’t been cooking this week.

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Sustainability in the Chesapeake

Take a look at this. A blogger examines the sustainability of the Maryland Blue Crab, staple of District seafood. People don’t always want to think about the provenance of their food, but it is important; the choices you make about what you eat matter. I’ll really start proselytising you folks once I’ve been doing this for a while, but for now, just read, and then take this poll.¬† [the arugula files]