Thursday, March 29, 2012

Seasons 52 Spring Menu

Hi Guys! The bf and I were recently invited to try Seasons 52's Spring 2012 menu. I wanted to share some of my favorite items. If you've never heard of the restaurant, they have locations nationwide, all of their menu items are 475 calories or less, and they pride themselves on using seasonal ingredients.

We were greeted with a glass of Zardetto Prosecco with Strawberry Kir Royal. So pretty!

Director of Culinary, Chef Clifford Pleau and Master Sommelier, George Miliotes joined us live from Orlando to walk us through the new menu. You could tweet them a question by using @Seasons 52 #S52Spring...I love technology. Chef Chris (North Bethesda's in-house chef) also helped answer our questions.

Appetizers included:
Artichoke & Goat Cheese Flatbread - with leaf spinach, balsamic onion and roasted peppers
Artichoke-Stuffed Artichoke Leaves - with organic arugula, Parmesan cheese and balsamic glaze
Tomato & Haas Avocado Salad - with organic arugula, balsamic glaze and grilled bruschetta

Our meal was paired with handpicked wines to compliment each dish. Let's just say I was feeling "nice" after dinner was over!

Wines included:
Aveleda Vinho Verde, Portugal '10/'11
Botani Moscatel, Sierras de Malaga '10
Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Corvina Veronese '08/'09
Lioco Indica Rosé, Mendocino '11

Entrees included:
Columbia River Steelhead Trout - with spring vegetables, basmati rice and lemongrass sauce
Spicy Snow Peas & Shiitake Mushrooms - with roasted almonds
Lamb T-bone Chops - with asparagus, truffle mashed potatoes and red wine glaze
Tiger Shrimp Penne Pasta - with spring asparagus and oyster mushrooms in a light lemon-basil sauce

Mini Indulgence Desserts! Mango, Pecan Pie, Key Lime, Fruit Cup, Carrot Cake, Mocha, Lemon Meringue, Rocky Road, Peanut Butter and Chocolate....OMG. They are 375 calories each.
The bf and I agreed that our favorites were the Artichoke & Goat Cheese Flatbread and the Lamb T-bone Chops. The bf does not like goat cheese or lamb and loved them! That says a lot. I was impressed with the wine selection and was happy to be introduced to them. Check it out folks! The menu will be around for the next 12 weeks. 

11414 Rockville Pike
North Bethesda, MD 20852
(301) 984-5252

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pho & Grill - Olney, MD

I'm going to try EVERY single pho place in the DMV! Ok...just kidding. It may seem like I've written about so many already, but I'm Viet...can't help it =) My dad lives close to Olney, so he recommended we catch up on life over a delicious, quick lunch at Pho & Grill.
The restaurant is located in a huge shopping center in the heart of Olney, so there is plenty of free parking.

The interior is pretty, warm and modern. I love the dark wood, wall decor and extra lighting.

As the name suggests, they offer mainly pho and grilled items along with traditional appetizers and drinks. We shared an order of Spring Rolls/Cha Gio (deep fried rolls with pork, mushrooms, vermicelli, carrots and onions served with fish sauce) for $3.50. They were delicious and freshly fried!

My mom used to make these when I was a child. It's one of my favorite items that I don't see often at other Vietnamese restaurants. We ordered the Pork Roll/Nem Nuong (fresh rice paper wrapped with grilled pork, crunchy wheat roll, lettuce, mint, carrots and cucumber served with house special sauce) for $3.50. Amazing! Similar to a summer roll, but better because of the grilled pork, and they added a fried spring roll wrapper to give it a nice crunch. I admire great wrapping like this because I've tried it before and it's not as easy as it looks!

Onto the pho. I ordered a small bowl ($6.50) and my dad and bf ordered large bowls ($7.50). The pho was good, the tendon was very tender, and the broth had a strong anise flavor.
The service was the BEST I've ever had at a pho restaurant. Fast, friendly, attentive and helpful. They have another location in Gaithersburg, but if you're in Olney, I would recommend checking them out.

18153 Village Center Drive
Olney, MD 20832
Pho & Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 16, 2012

Go Blue! - Ann Arbor, MI Trip Recap

With 80 degree weather in the DC area, Michigan might not be high on the list of destinations this time of year, but the bf and I had a fun (and cold) time with his family anyway! I swear I was the only person in full snow attire with a puffy coat, hat, scarf and gloves. It was in the mid-30's and that's apparently considered a mild winter! I wanted to share some delicious places to check out if you're ever in the Home of the Wolverines.

Day 1

Beirut Restaurant
7650 Merriman Rd
Romulus, MI 48174
(734) 326-1000
Beirut on Urbanspoon
We took an early flight and ended up in Detroit before we could get picked up. With time to kill, we took a short cab ride to eat some Lebanese food that we found on Yelp. By the way, it was snowing and 2 guys were smoking outside in tshirts...maybe we're just weaklings.

We ate a lot! We ordered spinach pies, chicken wrap, falafel wrap, french fries, rice pudding and Turkish coffee. Our favorite items were the wraps and home made fries, which all had a very pungent garlic sauce. The service wasn't great (think high schoolers working at their parents' place), but food came out fairly quickly. Random, but the server was in love with my camera, so I let her shoot around the restaurant.

Day 2

Maize and Blue Delicatessen
1329 S University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 996-0533
Maize and Blue Delicatessen on Urbanspoon
If you didn't already know, Ann Arbor is home for the University of Michigan. This college town has a lot of school pride and great sandwiches. We were taken to two famous deli's for a taste competition. Thankfully with the students being on Spring Break, there were no lines anywhere!

We ordered the New Yorker (Pastrami, turkey, Switzerland Swiss, Dijon mustard and onion on grilled sourdough rye) (top) and the Maize N' Blue Special (Roast beef, smoked turkey, cheddar, Jarlsberg cheese, honeycup mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, mild pepper)(bottom). Out of the two, I liked the Maize N' Blue Special because the honeycup mustard added a nice kick. 

1100 Catherine St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-8996
Angelo's on Urbanspoon
We then stopped by Angelo's On the Side to compare against Maize and Blue. The original restaurant is next door, but this is their carry-out location. That must have been a pain to write on that board so neatly...

We ordered a Reuben (subbed the corned beef for pastrami, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, Swiss cheese).  It's served warm on their homemade bread. Tastes best dipped in their hot sauce. OMG, I'm salivating as I type. I still think about this sandwich at random times, like loading the dishwasher. That's what you call memorable. I'm sure you can tell... this is my winner!

The Scrap Box
581 State Circle
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
The bf's niece celebrated her 9th birthday at a very unique place. They are a "place for creative recycling", which means they sell you donated scraps. The scraps can be used for craft projects, art classes, etc. I'm all about being green! Companies and individuals who donate the materials would have thrown them away anyway. During the party we decorated magnets, made marble mazes and ate birthday cake. It was a cute time.

Seoul Garden
3125 Boardwalk St
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
(734) 997-2121
Seoul Garden on Urbanspoon
For her birthday dinner, we went out for Korean BBQ. Our table was filled with beef, chicken, vegetables, soup and sushi. All of that for 4 adults and 2 kids! Everything was delicious and the service was on point.

Day 3 

Seoul Street
1771 Plymouth Rd
Ste 101
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
(734) 719-0085
This was my first time trying Korean fried chicken. It's characterized by its thick, crunchy skin and hot and spicy glaze. After ordering over the phone and then waiting over an hour in person (ridiculous), we finally got our order of wings and thighs. Was it worth the wait? Probably not, but I was impressed! Tasty, spicy, crispy, juicy and filling.

Ann Arbor has some great food and I was happily surprised. Family - If you're reading this, thanks for having us!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sticky Rice - H Street Corridor

Walking around H Street Corridor for the first time made me feel like I was in another city. The cool, hipster vibe and unfamiliar establishments was the change I needed from the typical NW outings. My amazing cousin AKA twin recently treated me to dinner at Sticky Rice.
Street parking was a breeze (meter machines) but I'm sure it gets worse when the bar crowd starts rolling in. Closest metro (not really walking distance) is New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U on the red line.

There are 3 levels with the bar at the front entrance. The exposed brick, red walls and Asian inspired paintings make me feel like I'm eating in a tattoo parlor. Love it.

We tossed back a few after a tiring work week. The Salon Cosmo Sake Lychee (left) was a perfect balance of sweet, fruity and earthy, and the White Gummy Bear (right) tasted just like one but with a kick! Both around $8.

"Napoleon, give me some of your tots." These are the best tater tots I've ever had! Perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They come with a side of their world-famous, secret tater tot sauce, which reminded me of a spicy mayo. Pictured is their side ($3), but you can walk around with a huge tin bucket for $8.

I ordered off of their Monster Roll list (10 pieces) because I was starving! What arrived was huge - Chili Roll (tuna, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno, grilled pineapple, tempura crunchies and tobiko) for $12.50. I expected more heat but it had a unique flavor because of the pineapple. Pretty good.

My cousin ordered off of their specials menu - Eel Bow (eel, cream cheese and cucumber topped with tuna, salmon, yellow tail and rock fish) for $12. Sometimes cream cheese can be an over powering flavor, but it worked well with the other ingredients.

Everyone on Yelp was recommending these Sticky Balls (tuna, crab, siracha in an inari pocket deep fried topped with scallions, wasabi dressing and eel sauce) for $10.75. They are AMAZING! It's a special dish that is delicious hot out of the fryer. The sweet and spiciness melt in your mouth. I want now.
The atmosphere was fun and chill. I found the unique items appealing, however the sushi wasn't memorable. The service was slow, but nice. Overall, I'm excited to go back and try other signature creations.

1224 H St NE
Washington, MD 20002
(202) 397-7655
Sticky Rice on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hot N Juicy Crawfish - Woodley Park, DC

When the weather is cold and rainy, I typically turn to hot, Asian soups to calm my mood, but Hot N Juicy Crawfish provides the same effect. Picking at spicy seafood warms me up and helps me forget that it's gross outside. Thank goodness for my readers because I mentioned wishing the Boiling Crab (San Jose) was closer, and they told me about this place! Living Social offered a deal just in time too.

When it's nice outside, they offer outdoor seating. If you drive, good luck finding street parking. We took the metro because it's literally across the street from the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan stop on the red line.

I love exposed brick. The place is a decent size with rooms that are slightly sectioned off. Top 40 music was blasting during dinner, and the vibe was DC mixed Louisiana.

As the name suggests, the place is known for their crawfish. You can order other seafood items like crab, shrimp, lobster and clams too. They are all cooked in a plastic bag within your seasoning of choice. Simple concept, huh?

We ordered The Drool (crawfish, shrimp, snowcrab legs, sausage, corn on the cob, and side of fried calamari) for around $30-35. SUCH A DEAL! We also ordered a side of Cajun Fries (less than $5) that were good, crispy and spicier then expected.

Can you see the joy in his face?

They offer 5 seasoning flavors: Louisiana style, Cajun, Garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper and Hot N Spicy Special. Spice levels: Baby Spice, Mild, Medium, Spicy, and Extra Spicy. We ordered the Hot N Spicy Special, Mild. The server warned that they do not play when it comes to spice. Holy crap, the Mild I would consider Medium/Spicy. I would describe the sauce as thin, garlicky and spicy. The calamari was fried to perfection as a tasty side.

I was a crawfish-peeling virgin. They advise that you twist off the head, suck out the juices, then fold the tail in half to crack it, and then peel out the tail meat. Gosh, crawfish are tiny creatures! The shrimp tasted very sweet.

When you walk into the restaurant, they have this huge wall of Polaroids. It didn't say what it was for, so I asked and the server joking said "it's for people I like" and she added our picture =)
The servers are great. Very friendly, helpful and want to hear their customer's opinions. The food is good, however I wish the sauce was thicker/richer because it doesn't adhere to the seafood. Its a low-key place where you can get down and dirty with your food. Check out their Happy Hour of $1 beers all-day Monday through Wednesday! Can't beat that.

2651 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 299-9448
Hot N Juicy on Urbanspoon