Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Copperwood Tavern - The Farm Comes to Shirlington

Copperwood Tavern
4021 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA 22206

Shirlington has always been a fun place. I'm glad there was a little turn-over with the restaurants there though as some had been there a little too long.
One of the new-comers that brings a smile to my face is Copperwood Tavern. It's a sister restaurant to Irish Whiskey in DC.

There is lots of wood here. Interesting things to catch the eye and some good artwork as well.

There are two bars. One to the right as you walk in and one all the way back where they get their craft cocktails on.
I happened to be working this particular day, so I didn't have an opportunity to partake of any cocktails, but I thought it was neat that they list Moonshine on their menu.
Here is the crafty-cocktail bar. They seemed to have a lot of syrups and potions going on. I'll have to head back there some night when I'm doing Uber.
Although I wasn't imbibing, I did ask my very friendly server who was from Texas, if he'd be kind enough to get the bartender to whip me up something original but non-alcoholic. He was happy to comply and brought me something that had a good ginger bite to it with a splash of strawberry and lime. 
Note the water glasses are mason jars, in keeping with the moonshine motif.
On to the food! We started out with some fried green tomatoes. Nicely seasoned and crispy.

Neat light bulbs too!

Next was a Farmer's Salad with squash, grilled asparagus, goat cheese and strawberries with a light vinaigrette.  Tasty.
The Bahn Mi was nice and fresh tasting with chicken, cilantro, pickled cabbage and a few jalapeno slices. There was a little Sriracha mayo on there to hold it together and give it a little kick.
Just to finish us off the chef sent out a plate of pork rilletes that were served fried. The mustard was an excellent coarse grind. Neat dish showing some creativity.

If you're in Shirlington and are looking for a place to grab a cocktail with some friends in a very friendly setting Copperwood should be on your short list. Good destination for lunch as well. If you go and try the cocktails, please report back! 
Thanks for reading.

Copperwood Tavern on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant - A little Spain in Atlanta

Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant
240 N. Highland Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30307

Talk about a fun restaurant in a great neighborhood! I don't know much about Atlanta. I get there once a year for Easter and I usually don't get to go out, but this time we stopped for brunch on the way back to my friends' house. There is a little neighborhood with a bunch of independent restaurants and shops named Poncey Highlands. It reminds me of what 14th St. in DC was a couple of years ago. Not ten years ago, more like five. 8)
We started out with some meats and cheeses. We had them bring three plates.
All of the plates were tasty and came with a little fruit and some gelee'/jam type item that was quite good.
Who doesn't like good charcuterie?
Mmm. Porky goodness.
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the restaurant, but it is similar to the one in DC. Lots of wood, black and white photos of celebs from way back, and big chalk boards with the menu and specials over the bar. There is also plenty of outdoor seating and a fire pit! Nice touch.
However, I digress. The entree was nicely grilled flat-iron steak with truffled sauce and a side of soft eggs. Of course I dumped the eggs over the steak and ate them with the gooey yolk mixing with the truffle sauce. Nice.
I have to say though, for a quick bite of some really good charcuterie and cheese and a glass of wine in a very cozy atmosphere you'd be hard pressed to find better.
If you go, ask for Canyon. She was very accommodating to the six of us (including 2 kids) even though we switched tables and took a long time to settle down.
Stop in, check out the 'hood! Tell them you read about it here. 
Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Where in the world is Dave Hansen? Across the pond!


Dave Hansen, Operations Director of Tapper Restaurant Group, is stepping aside temporarily in order to perform a ‘restaurant rescue’ operation on Bones Restaurant in London’s ultra-trendy Shoreditch neighborhood

     Bones Restaurant opened last January in Hoxton/Shoreditch [an uber-hip district of London] to a mixture of acclaim and derision.  Owners Joss and Simeon Goodman, of The Grocery UK, along with partner Simon Hill decided it was far more efficient to recruit a known international operator like Dave Hansen than to waste time combing for local talent.

   With a combination of deadly pragmatism and 100 hour workweeks, Dave has made a lot of restaurants work across a lot of time zones, said the recruiter who brokered the deal.  The British partners asked if Hansen could revitalize the new, yet already flagging restaurant in as little as 120 days, and Hansen readily welcomed the challenge.

     Just as comfortable with a chef’s knife or calculator in his hand as he is with writing an award-winning wine list or hobnobbing with guests at the front door, Hansen seems a perfect choice to reform everything from front-of-house service to reining in spiraling costs and refreshing the plating of Bone’s eclectic cuisine.

    “I always assumed the next time I disembarked at Heathrow it would be to reverently ask Heston Blumenthal if I could do a stage for him.  I suppose I’m just as happy to try giving him a run for his money during my time in country,” Hansen said.

     Hansen’s current employer, restaurateur Dino Tapper, is happy to give him the time away.  “With the new concepts we’re looking at opening in the next year, I’m sure he’ll bring back some new discoveries and knowledge.  Floriana’s running tightly under new exec Daniel Hlusak, and Federal is blessed with the return of charismatic Brazilian chef Guillerme Baretto to the helm in the kitchen,” Tapper said.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Home Cookin' - LDF Chicken

Have you tried Liberty Delight Farms chicken?
If not, it's coming into season and Farmer Shane should have a bunch in his coolers for this weekend's Farmer's Markets.
Farmer Shane's chickens are free range, antibiotic and hormone free. Best of all, they're allowed to be chickens. They're not raised in pens barely big enough to turn around in. They run around the farm acting like chickens. You can taste the difference. These are not packed with any solutions. The chicken is firm and juicy and it tastes like it's supposed to taste.
Below I've posted a recipe for crispy-skinned oven-baked chicken. It doesn't take long to cook and it's good.
I chose to do this in the oven because it was raining. There's nothing like smokey chicken on the grill, but you actually have better temp control doing it in the oven and will generally end up with a better end result. 
Take the frozen package, un-perforated/unopened, and put it in a pot of cold water. It will take 30-60 minutes to thaw. Pre-heat your oven to 325 while this is going on.
Lay the chicken out on some wrap or waxed paper so you don't get your rub all over the kitchen.
Season liberally with your favorite rub, then put it on a rack in a foil-lined pan. You do this so the bottom of the chicken doesn't get scorched or boil in the juices. Once again, consistency is king.
Cook it for about an hour, or until an instant-read thermometer tells you it's 165 degrees, then pull it out of the oven and crank the broiler to low and put the chicken back in about 4 inches from the element. This will crisp the skin up in no time. Keep your eye on it though as you don't want to burn it.
 After a few minutes under the broiler element you'll be serving perfectly cooked, crispy-skinned chicken. Who doesn't like that?  Besides vegetarians...
Thanks for reading and give the recipe a shot or post your own!
Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Iron Gate Inn - Hidden In The City, But Worth Finding

The Iron Gate Inn
1734 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Street Parking, Reservations for Main Dining Room Only
 I've been trying to get this place on my calender for a long time. Chef Anthony Chittum has opened this restaurant to critical acclaim under the umbrella of Michael Babin's Neighborhood Restaurant Group.
I won't go into the history of the Iron Gate, save to say it's been around a long, long time and there are a lot of stories that go with the building. It's unique, to say the least, and will be one of the great outdoor seating places to see and be seen this spring/summer/fall.
You have several ways to enjoy what they're serving at The Iron Gate Inn. There is the small carriage-way that houses the bar and has several tables. This is a non-reservation area and is first come-first served. There is a courtyard just past this, and then there is a formal dining room where the kitchen is located. It's dark and cozy in the formal DR. In the courtyard and carriage-way you can order a la carte or get one of the several tasting menus.

Cheryl and I opted for the Chef's Favorites menu which seemed to include a little bit of everything. I started out with a Manhattanesque beverage called, "Off To Sea Once More". Jeff Faile, formerly of Fiola, is heading the beverage program for Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which owns this restaurant, and is doing a fine job.
Our first course consisted of greens with fresh anchovies. The salty fish was a nice accompaniment to the bitter greens.
House-pickled veggies and fruits.
This was a pureed beet dish.
Focaccia with potato, olives, and sharp provolone was perfect. Nicely done bread with a very flavorful crust.
Parmesan Panna Cotta with trout roe. As you can tell, the light began to fail at this point but the dish was very pretty. Tasty as well. 

This tuna was off-the-charts good. The best we'd had since Maui. It was accompanied by fried fava beans and a spread. Fresh, fatty, and fabulous.
This was my favorite as far as the beginning courses went: Fois Gras Mousse with pickled vegetables, candied hazelnuts and beets. The mousse was lighter than you'd expect, and was very salty, but pleasantly so, not overpoweringly. Lucky for me Cheryl isn't a fan of FG or beets, so I got a little extra.

Our server noticed that Cheryl wasn't a fan of the previous dish and she took it upon herself to have the chef whip up some carrot and ginger risotto. Completely unnecessary, but very welcome. We never mention that she doesn't like FG when we go for tasting menus because I like it so much that it doesn't go to waste.
Best pork chop I've ever had in a restaurant? The honor lies right here at Iron Gate Inn. Perfectly seasoned, cut and served as a shared entree. The fat cap was creamy white and the chop was served just above medium rare. I can get pork chops like this from farmer's markets or good butchers, but it's rare to see one in a restaurant.
The pork chop came with an assortment of pickled vegetables, spreads, and olives.
The cheese course was small, but excellent. It was a very piquant bleu called Chapel's Country Bay Blue served with walnuts and flat bread. 

The coupe de grace was the Gianduja Terrine. A layered dessert with chocolate and hazelnut flavors. It was a stunningly cooperative dessert when you got a little bit of everything on your fork. Perfect execution. Cheryl said it was the best dessert she'd ever had. That's saying something as we've eaten at some of the best restaurants in the country. Well done Chef Anthony Chittum.
Overall, a very nice experience in a unique setting. When the weather is nice the open areas in this restaurant are going to be hard to get a table in, without a doubt.
Can't wait for good weather!
Thanks for reading folks. If you go, don't skip dessert.
Until next time...
Iron Gate on Urbanspoon