Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lia's - Chevy Chase, MD

I look forward to Bethesda and DC Restaurant Week every summer. Sure they have it in winter too, but that's just not as festive! For Bethesda Restaurant Week (7/23-8/1), I went with 2 of my girls to Lia's in Chevy Chase. This contemporary New Italian restaurant has a huge outdoor patio. There is garage parking underneath Bloomingdale's (across the street) and valet (couple bucks). The closest metro stop is Friendship Heights on the red line.

The interior is very simple, modern and clean. We sat in the back room where the walls were made of plywood, and the wall diving us from the main dining room was a stainless steel and glass wall of wine. The white linens, soft lighting and candles made it classy.

Each of us participated in their Restaurant Week deal (3-courses for $30). Usually the restaurant will make a special limited menu for the week, however Lia's was amazing! They let you choose off the entire menu minus 3 of out 4 steaks. That's like 38 nice.
I'm listing the prices for the items as if they were a la carte. FYI, the soft lighting was affecting some of my shots. Sorry for some blurriness! Bah...

After enjoying some red wines at The Tasting Room, I decided to enjoy a glass during my meal. Our awesome server Adam suggested the 'Monastrell-Tempranillo, Carchelo, Jumilla, Spain 08' for $10.95. I told him I was looking for something more fruity. He said this wasn't quite fruity, but a good wine he thought I'd enjoy. It was very light, and I liked it.

My cousin ordered the 'crispy calamari with trio of sauces' for $12.95 as her appetizer. We had to guess on the sauces, and they seemed to be a marinara, lemon and avocado. The calamari was fried well but we all thought it was too salty.

My friend ordered the 'spicy calamari salad with arugula and treviso'. It usually comes as part of a 3 for $15 deal, so I'm not sure how much one was. She thought it was a bit bland and not spicy enough.

I ordered the 'fattoush salad, feta, olive, flatbread' for $7.95. It tasted like a Greek salad with spicy flat bread on the side. Sadly, the flatbread was chewy and tasted old.

My cousin ordered the 'lobster and corn risotto with roasted tomato' for $26.95. She liked it a lot and you can't tell by the picture but it was a huge portion.

My friend ordered the 'seared scallops wild mushroom-asparagus risotto' $23.95. The scallops were large and she seemed pleased.

I enjoyed my 'pan roasted duck breast potato hash, spinach, apricot gastrique' for $24.95. Our server suggested I order it medium-rare and I thought that was a good tip. Tasted a bit peppery, but very tender. The sides were flavorful and I liked the fried green onions on top.

The desserts were actually on a special Restaurant Week menu. My friend ordered the 'chocolate chip cannolis (artisan cannoli shells, ricotta-chocolate chip filling', which no one at the table was crazy about. The filling tasted like cookie dough and it wasn't very delicate.

My cousin and I each chose 3 different gelato/sorbet flavors.
Top: Chocolate, Melon, Raspberry
Bottom: EVOO, Coconut Basil, Raspberry
The melon was the best flavor because it was so bright! The next memorable one was the Coconut Basil, which had great balance. The EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) was very earthy and I kind of liked it despite it sounding odd.
Overall, I thought the food was good, but nothing spectacular. The entrees seemed better than the appetizers, and the service and ambiance was quite nice. Without the restaurant week deal, the dinner would've been much more expensive if you look at the regular prices. I'm not sure if I would pay that much on a normal day. They have a cool daily deal: 4pm-6:30pm 3-course twilight delight ($19.95) for any soup or small salad, chicken, salmon, pasta or mussels, and any dessert.

4435 Willard Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Lia's on Urbanspoon

Lunch: Daily: 11:30am - 4:00pm
Dinner: Nightly: 4:00pm - 10:00pm
Sunday Brunch 11:30am - 3:00pm

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Alexandria Summer Restaurant Week

August 20 - 29, 2010
$35 Three-Course Dinners and $35 Dinners for Two
Prices are per person and do not include beverage, tax or gratuity.

Check out the list on Opentable! There aren't as many restaurants as DC Restaurant Week, but it's still convenient if you're in the area.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DC Restaurant Week Summer 2010 - August 16-22, 2010

DC Restaurant Week Summer 2010
August 16-22, 2010

Lunch: $20.10 for a three-course fixed-price meal
Dinner: $35.10 for a three-course fixed-price meal
Beverages, gratuity and tax are not included

Yes, it's that time of year again! Well it's a month away, but it's never too early to make reservations!

The list is ridiculously long, so just check out OpenTable's list and make your reservations at the same time.

I'm thinking either Zentan, J&G Steakhouse, Masa 14, Oya, Sei or Zengo. If you guys have any suggestions, let me know!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Tasting Room Wine Bar- Chevy Chase, MD

I was invited to The Tasting Room's Media Launch event last week. Owned by John Kent Cooke (former Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke's son) and his winery Boxwood Winery in Middleburg, VA. The winery started in 2005 on 16 acres in VA's wine region. This is one of three wine tasting locations, which include Boxwood's three wines as well as wines from around the world.
Located in Chevy Chase, you can park in the garage underneath Bloomingdale's for an hourly fee. I didn't notice any metered parking, but I'm sure they're around. The closest metro stop is Friendship Heights on the red line.
They have a cute little outdoor area to sit and sip on some wine and nibble on some food.

This photo was provided in the media kit given to us. I used it because it looked way better than the ones I took. There were to many people to really allow you to see the entire space. As you can see, its not a huge space, but there's enough seating for hanging out. I liked the stainless steel, which makes the space more modern.

This is not the food sold at The Tasting Room. They offer cheese, charcuterie, olives, etc. For the event, it was catered by M Cafe Bar. The menu was:
-Ahi tuna tartar, hass avocado, toasted sesame seeds, meyer lemon and toasted brioche.
-Jumbo lump crab meat, english cucumbers, manila mango, in parmesan crisp roll
-Mini sliders with duck confit, mission figs, aged balsamic syrup
-Grilled Mediterranean lamb sausage with spicy black ketchup *My favorite food item

This is not your typical wine bar! It uses electronic dispensers. You put $ on a card, stick it into the slot on top (leave it in) then pick your wine and the size. Three sizes (tasting, 1/2 glass, full glass), which will display the prices when you press the button. Hold down the button for your selection and remember to place your glass under the spout before you press! Our tastings ranged between $2-4.
This was the white wine section along the wall. There are 8 white wines to choose from.

This is the red wine station. There are 16 bottles to choose from. The photo on the right was also provided in the media kit, and I'm using it because it shows how the dispensers work.

I am not knowledgeable about wine at all, so this was a very new experience for me. I didn't even know they had containers to dump your wine into if you didn't like it, haha. Listed below are the wines I tried. I've found my palate enjoys more sweet, fruity, light tasting wines.

2009 Rose (Middleburg, VA)
Cabernet Franc
Pink and dry with flecks of orange, strawberry and kiwi aromas. This local rose refreshes the palate.

2006 Brookes (Willamette Valley, Oregon) *My favorite out of the whites
Vibrant, Broad and rich core of dried honey and candied minerality, medium-bodied, it's floral, intense, and sweet.

2008 J. Ordonzez Botani (Malaga, Spain)
Medium and straw-colored with flavors of spring flowers, honey, and tropical fruits. Smooth-textured and ripe.

2007 Topiary (Middleburg, VA) *My favorite out of the Boxwood wines
Cabernet Franc and Merlot
Garnet color, aromas of fruit cake, cherry stone and strawberry, round with soft tannins.

2007 Boxwood (Middleburg, VA)
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
Deep purple color, aromas or cassis, black-berry and leather. Well structured with firm tannins.

2006 Cuvelier Los Andes (Mendoza, Argentina)
Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Merlot
Perfumes of rose petals, spiced plum and blackberry. This palate is lush with a soft elegrance sweet tobacco and savory eathern spices.

2007 Finca Sandoval (Manchuela, Spain) *My favorite out of the reds
Syrah, Mourvedre, Bobal
It offers up a broading bouquet of under brush, mineral, spice box, blueberry and blackberry. Packed and impeccably balanced.

2008 Los Ailos (Valle de Tullem , Argentina)
Syrah, Malbec
Aromas of plum, cherry, vanilla and tobacco with a touch of spice and oak. Rich and smooth with a balanced and lingering finish.

It was a fun event, and thanks for the invite! It is a cute place to grab a quick drink. They have a DJ playing music Thurs-Sat, and switch out 1-2 bottles a week to have variety.

5330-A Western Ave
Chevy Chase, MD 20850
The Tasting Room Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

11AM-11PM Daily

Friday, July 16, 2010

Free Cupcakes July 21st - Occasionally Cake (Alexandria, VA)

Portion of Proceeds to benefit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

On Wednesday, July 21st, Occasionally Cake will commemorate its first anniversary with a day of free cupcakes!  After opening its doors last summer, the popular Alexandria cake shop has had a successful first year thanks to the hard work of owners Sabrina Campbell and Marcia Crandall. The bakery will serve up six of the over 100 flavors on Wednesday 10AM - 7PM including: Red Velvet, Pink Champagne, Yin & Yang, Grasshopper, Lemon Drop and Chocolate Razzleberry.
 (Photo: Squirrels-n-Sweets)  
Sabrina and Marcia will use their first anniversary as a chance to give back to the community and thank their loyal patrons for a great year.  Not only will each visitor enjoy a free cupcake, but they will also have the chance to donate to the National Centerfor Missing & Exploited Children.  The non-profit organization works to prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; help find missing children; and assist victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them.  Additionally, the cake shop will donate a portion of cupcakes sales from the day to the Center.

Check out my friend Sqrl's awesome interview with owner Sabrina Campbell! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bethesda Chevy Chase Restaurant Week

July 23 - August 1, 2010
Prix fixe lunch for $12-15 and three-course dinner menus for $25-30
Restrictions may apply. Call resturants for menu information and reservations or

Particpating Restuarants:

Assagi Mozzarella Bar
4838 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, MD
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Le Vieux Logis
7925 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda, MD
Dinner $29

Bezu Restaurant
9812 Falls Rd., #G, Potomac, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

4435 Willard Ave. Chevy Chase, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

BlackFinn Restaurant & Saloon
4901 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, MD
Lunch $12, Dinner $30

Louisiana Kitchen and Bayou Bar
4907 Cordell Ave. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Brasserie Monte Carlo
7929 Norfolk Ave. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

M Café & Bar
5471 Wisconsin Ave. Chevy Chase, MD
Dinner $30

Cesco Trattoria
4871 Cordell Ave. Bethesda, MD
Dinner $30

Mon Ami Gabi
7239 Woodmont Ave. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

Chef Tony’s
4926 St. Elmo Avenue Bethesda, MD
(301) 654-3737
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Morton’s The Steakhouse
7400 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD
Dinner $30

Clyde’s of Chevy Chase
5441 Wisconsin Ave. Chevy Chase, MD
Lunch $12

Oakville Grille and Wine Bar
10257 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

Divino Lounge & Restaurant
7345-B Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Old Angler’s Inn
10801 MacArthur Blvd. Potomac, MD
Lunch $12 and $15 & Dinner $30

Geppetto Restaurant
10257 Old Georgetown Rd. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Persimmon Restaurant
7003 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

4865 Cordell Ave. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

RAKU- Bethesda
7240 Woodmont Ave. Bethesda, MD
Dinner $30

The Irish Inn at Glen Echo Restaurant
6119 Tulane Ave., Glen Echo, MD
(301) 229-6600
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

Redwood Restaurant
7121 Bethsda Lane Bethesda, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

Jaleo - Bethesda
7271 Woodmont Ave. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

Rock Creek Bethesda
4917 Elm St. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

La Ferme
7101 Brookville Road Chevy Chase, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

7245 –A Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30

Lebanese Taverna Bethesda
7141 Arlington Road Bethesda, MD
(301) 951-8681
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Tragara Ristorante
4935 Cordell Ave. Bethesda, MD
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Here are some more that are on

Blueberries season? Muffin time!

Antioxidant-rich blue goodness. My grandpa has been eating blueberries everyday for years and he's healthy at 86 years old! So when I saw how cheap they were this the summer, I went ahead and bought 4 lbs. I then realized there are only so many you can eat and give to the dog before they go bad. So I found the easiest recipe that used ingredients I already had in my house.

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients for Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Ingredients for Crumb Topping
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture.

3. Fold in blueberries.

4. Use an ice cream scoop to make even portions in the liners.

5. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. (You will probably only use a third to half of the mixture).

6. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done. (Mine baked for 25 minutes).

Very fast, simple recipe. This was the 1st time I had this cinnamon/sugar topping on a blueberry muffin, but it was good. I actually liked them better the next day for breakfast!

Monday, July 12, 2010

BGR: The Burger Joint- Bethesda, MD

Went with the bf to try the highly acclaimed BGR The Burger Joint. I've heard such great things about their burgers, and they've been on TV numerous times, so we have finally checked it off our list. We stopped by the Bethesda location, which has metered street parking and garage parking a couple blocks away. The closest metro stop is Bethesda on the red line.
They have a couple tables outside for dining on a nice day. We opted to sit inside because it has been too hot recently.

This is about the entire size of the place minus the window stools that are cut out of the photo.

Music-themed place with super loud blaring music, paintings of famous albums on the walls, colorful table tops, and a flat-screen TV on the wall.

After you order your food, you receive a pager that will go off once your order is ready for pick-up.

Now about the food! They offer 11 kinds of burgers (blend of Prime, aged, all natural, hormone free, grain fed beef, seafood, veggie and turkey options), 3 kinds of fries, onion rings, milkshakes, drinks (alcoholic, non-alcoholic) and desserts.

Their milkshake menu consists of 4 flavors, one of which changes monthly. Unfortunately, the staff didn't know what the Milkshake of the Month was until the 3rd or 4th person chimed in. It happened to be Peach, but we opted for 'Strawberry' for $4.99. The approx. 16oz drink tasted like a McD's strawberry milkshake, which tastes good, however not at that price. It was also melting on the counter since no one told us it was done and we were 1 of the 2 parties in there.

I'm a huge fan of sweet potato fries, so the bf and I shared an order of 'The Orange Standard (Thin cut, Idaho Sweet Potatoes soaked overnight in our secret process. Double fried to order.)' for $3.99. They had a softer consistency rather than crispy because they were cut thicker. I didn't think they were seasoned enough.

For my burger, I ordered 'The Wellington (Deep roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic, and black truffles, with a touch of mustard seed and blue cheese all atop our burger. Served on a fresh toasted buttery brioche bun with our mojo sauce.)' for $8.99. I ordered my patty medium. It was a very tender burger. The toppings were very strong in flavor but I liked that. I did take a bite of the patty without the toppings and the meat tasted of charcoal because they open flame their meat.

The bf ordered 'The Southwestern (A 10oz burger, infused with southwestern influences, like chipotles, poblanos, onion and chilis. Topped with Pepper Jack and served atop a black bean relish including: cilantro, onions and roasted corn. Served on a fresh toasted buttery brioche bun with our mojo sauce.)' for $8.99. He ordered his patty medium-well and thought it was a good burger, smoky-tasting, spicy enough, but nothing special.
My overall experience did not live up to the hype. Service was awful because it was clear the staff did not care about that place. Dirty tables, lack of ANY customer service, over-filled trash cans, staff chilling at the tables watching Food Network... I'll stop ranting now, but I could go on. The food was good, but not memorable. The prices are a bit expensive, but comparable to my favorite places Ray's Hellburger or Fresh Grill. On a positive note, I like how they have non-beef burger options and unique food items like asparagus fries, and The 9 Pounder burger challenge.

4827 Fairmont Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 358-6137
BGR: the Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

Monday - Saturday 11am-10pm
Sunday 11am - 9pm

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bethesda Crab House- Bethesda, MD

4th of July weekend was the perfect time for crabs! Some friends and I looked around the area for an All-You-Cab-Eat place and decided upon Bethesda Crab House.

You have to make a reservations because they only have limited number of crabs. The outside was packed! It is a very casual place with newspaper covered tables.

We decided to eat inside to avoid the wait. The inside is small with 2-3 tables in the middle and booths along the wall.

All-You-Can-Eat medium male crabs for $40 a person. It also came with unlimited corn on the cob and cole slaw. Sorry this pic is blurry and that I don't have pics of the slaw and corn, but we were dying to eat! No time, lol.

These bad boys were covered in Old Bay Seasoning and came with butter, white vinegar and extra seasoning on the side.

There's a 2-hour time limit to eat as many as you can! The trays came out by the dozen, except for the last one that came out in a 1/2 dozen. Our group of 5 probably ate 5 trays. The table wasn't big enough for all the shells. A trash bucket would have been convenient, but our server came by to remove some of the trash.
It was a great time with friends! Some of the crabs were smaller than I'd consider "medium", but over all the crabs were hot upon arrival. The service was nice and I would say it's similar to other crab houses I've been to. They also offer other seafood options and crabs a la carte.

4958 Bethesda Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 652-3382
Bethesda Crab House on Urbanspoon

Open 7 days a week 9AM-11PM

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Shilla Bakery - Rockville, MD

After dinner at Temari, the bf and I headed to Shilla Bakery to grab dessert. After having shaved ice for the 1st time on our LA trip, I wanted to grab some in the area at this Korean bakery. They are located in a shopping center so there is plenty of parking in front.
FYI: All pics taken on the bf's new HTC Incredible phone.

This place is adorable! I liked all of the cute colors. They have a good number of tables for you to eat with your friends. It was packed in there, and it was a Sunday night!

They had a really long cake display. My family loves to get Korean cakes for special occasions because they're not overly sweet.

On the other side are their baked goods. Nicely packaged and displayed. A lot of the time the labels didn't help describe what the items were.

This is what we came here for. Shaved ice! They call it Bingsoo. We ordered the 'Fruit Bingsoo (Vanilla ice cream, mixed fruit, milk, condensed milk, rice cake and shaved ice)' for $6.50. Sad to say, we didn't like it that much. The ice was too course. I was hoping for snow-like ice. The rice crackers in it tasted like multi-grain cherrios. The fruit was normal and the ice cream was the best part.

I bought one pastry, 'Cream Cheese Muffin' for around $2. It was moist, but not very flavorful.

Do you like my budget photoshoot using car headlights? The bf ordered a 'Thai tea bubble tea smoothie' for $4.95. It literally took 20 minutes to get, and it didn't taste good. It wasn't sweet, or blended well. The bubbles were thick and hard. Wasn't worth the long wait.
I was hoping our experience would have been better, but the food and drinks we had were either mediocre or bad. The service was mediocre too. They also serve frozen yogurt, teas, ice cream, breakfast, coffee, and sandwiches. I've heard the Annandale location is better.

2098 Veirs Mill Rd
Rockville, MD 20851
(301) 217-0003
Shilla Bakery on Urbanspoon