Friday, September 30, 2011

Shophouse in DC...Stephen Ells has another winner.

Named for the ubiquitous fast food shops that you find in Southeast Asia, the new store by Stephen Ells of Chipotle fame lands in Northwest DC.
 It is my personal feeling, or, if you're a youngin' IMHO, that you can determine the fate of a restaurant by its cleanliness.  This is pretty clean for the middle of lunch.  It was busy enough that once I got my sandwich I had to share a table with some strangers. 
 Here you can see them putting the meats on the grill.  The hood is up a bit higher in this restaurant than you'd normally see.  Also different from the usual, is a window that looks out onto the street, which you can see in the back of this shot.  Nice touch.  They must have visited Palena.
 Here is the menu.  Pick a bowl, or a sandwich add some stuff.  I requested that my sandwich-gal put together a pork and chicken meatball Banh Mi just as it's supposed to be made.  Embarressingly enough, I've never had a true Banh Mi sandwich.  Whenever I go to a restaurant that has them there are so many other wonderfull dishes that catch my eye. 
Glad someone finally came up with a place where that is the sole purpose.
....and there was much rejoicing. 
This was a pretty good sandwich.  Crunchy, sweet, spicy, meaty...kind of.  Definitely not as much meat as you'd expect on a Philly meatball sandwich, but definitely a ton of flavor.
The one criticism I have is that the meat on the sandwich was not where I'd like it to be, i.e. the temperature.  If you're going to serve me ground pork and chicken, I'd like it somewhere above 130 at least, and they had the velocity going that none of it should be anything less.  They're still working out their kinks, so I'm sure they'll be fine.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any questions/comments, please feel free.
Until next time....
ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Hamilton - Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

 Here are a few shots of The Hamilton.  It's a new concept being opened by the folks who own Clyde's and Old Ebbitt Grill.
 It's hard to really picture the scale of what's going on here, but this is going to be one of the largest, if not THE largest, restaurant in the Mid-Atlantic region.
 I took these photos during a site-inspection I was doing for their computer systems.  For those of you who've been to The Bazaar in LA, the system that these folks have is going to be bigger.
 The site was formerly Borders Books & Music and is actually in the same building as the Old Ebbitt Grill  So when all is said and done, Clyde's Restaurant Group will have approximately 1,500 seats in this building.
 The music venue downstairs will seat @ 450, while the dining room upstairs will seat @ 500.
 The venue has taken high-tech to an extreme, with servers in the music venue working on hand-held terminals to help order food and drink as quickly as possible.
I'll post more as the project progresses, but word on the street is there will be a grand opening 12/31/11.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Joe's Noodle House. Food Cost be Damned!

I was able to stop for a quick lunch today at Joe's Noodle House on Rockville Pike.  It's been in the Washingtonian Cheap Eats every year for longer than I've been in the DC Metro area.  It came off the list this year for some reason, though I can't figure out Kliman's reasoning sometimes.
Anyhow, I had never seen the lunch menu here.  I try to order something new every time I go as they have a ton of dishes you can't get anywhere else around. 
In the specials section I saw a whole fish, Szeschuan style, with rice and bowl of soup for $8.95.  The little guide at the bottom of the page told me it had hot and numbing spice.   How could I resist? 
This is the soup.  Not the normal gelatinous blech you see in most places, but a truly HOT and sour soup.  Good flavor, good tofu and pork strips.  Next came the fish.  It was Tilapia.
Please excuse my cell phone pictures, but I wasn't planning on posting today.  Regardless, the fish had crispy skin and slid off the bone easily.  The sauce was amazing.  Buttery, spicy, tingly...all the things I've come to expect at Joe's.
To my original point about price, many restaurants would serve you something that would deliver much less quality and flavor for twice the price and be happy with it.
You're doing a good job folks!  Keep up it up and maybe Todd Kliman will get you back on the list next year.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When they say, “Super Chicken,” they aren’t kidding!

I was out and about during my usual course of business today and was looking for a place to have lunch. I opened Yelp and searched for nearby restaurants. I was about to take an easy out and go for a local chain, but I noticed Super Chicken was less than ½ mile away.
I'm glad I looked. It's not right on Leesburg Pike, and with all the construction around it you'd be hard pressed to notice it.

The inside is clean and there are several people walking around cleaning tables during the rush. The line looks long, but the service is very fast and courteous.
Once you get up to the counter you choose your chicken, i.e. ¼, ½, whole, dark meat, white meat, or other menu items such as burritos and salads. I have to mention that sides here were not an after-thought. The beans were seasoned and the fried rice that my dining companion had was excellent.
As for the chicken, I was heartily impressed. It was brined, rubbed, and roasted in traditional Peruvian fashion.
I rarely eat chicken with my hands when I'm working as there is always the danger of getting some on my shirt, however, I couldn't resist. This was awesome. The title of best chicken around has been taken from Don Pollo in Bethesda and given to Super Chicken.

Besides the brining and rubbing, this is the most important step: The charcoal roasting. The spits are forever rotating, making sure the skin doesn't burn. This also allows the chicken to self-baste, so no brushing is required. They use hardwood charcoal and the smell of it hits you as soon as you turn off Leesburg Pike into the parking lot.
The website is :

There are three locations including Tysons, Falls Church, and Bladensburg.
Don't bother telling them you heard about it on Pleasures of the Table…they're too busy to chat. Super Chicken on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 3, 2011

BRB is a Winner for Thompson Hospitality.

I love it when a chain does something new. So often they get caught up in formulaeic processes and make a few points of margin, then become complacent. Sometimes, however, they take risks, branch out, and do something worth noting.
This is the case with the newest offering from Thompson Hospitality, BRB, or Be Right Burger as it's known.
This location is in Reston VA, around the corner from Jackson's and American Tap Room.
I've included some pictures of the restaurant itself, and the technology they're using, because it's innovative and has a great feel.
The picture below is a shot of their great $11.95 lobster roll. I've eaten lots of lobster rolls in my day, but I've never had one this good for this little.
 Crazy value for the money.

   Here is a shot of a digital video wall they have put up. High def screens with ultra-thin bezels.  This was done in conjunction with Unison, as are the customer activated terminals below.

These are customer activated terminals where you can order and pay without getting in line.  You also have the option of ordering online and just picking up your food and hitting the highway.
Here is the website:
All in all, a neat concept with great packaging. Congratulations Thompson Hospitality. I think you have a winner here.