I Am the Walrus

Well, actually, I just went to a restaurant called The Walrus. National Harbor, MD.


First great/fun/cool thing about them – they have wine on tap. This perhaps used to be looked upon as an odd thing, but it’s great. Makes the wine last longer, it won’t go bad, and keeps it at the right temp. Cheers to that! I opted for the Rose (non-Moscato, of course). Nice and dry, light berry taste and perfect temp. And during happy hour, $2 off per glass.


After looking over the menu, food-wise I went with the Butternut Squash Soup – Fresh Maryland lump crab, local butternut squash, chives and JO Spiced pepitas.  Very nice size for the dish, perfect thickness. It cooled down quickly, but nonetheless, with the crab it was even more delicious!
Wanted more veggies and a soup/salad theme, so opted for the Roasted Beet Salad –
Roasted golden beets, goat cheese, baby greens, candied pecans, honey balsamic vinaigrette with sautéed shrimp. Good flavor and it came with both thinly sliced beets and cubed beets. The shrimp were also very nicely cooked.
Liked the place and the service at the bar was pretty good. The initial bartender we had was perfect, then the amount of staff in the bar dropped so it was harder to get service, but it was not the end of the world. Check this place out if you’re at National Harbor.

Grace’s Mandarin

Was at National Harbor, MD for a week-long event so had the opportunity to check out several restaurants in the area. One evening oriental food sounded good so a couple of us went to Grace’s Mandarin.  The restaurant provides ‘a variety of Asian inspired dishes with a modern flair in an elegant ambiance.’


The reservation was for 6pm so not an overly crazy hour and it was mid-week. The restaurant was not packed. Opted to start with some edamame as an appetizer as we looked over the menus.


We asked the waitress several questions and she did not speak very good English. Considering National Harbor is a high traffic area with tourists, this isn’t great. She didn’t understand a lot of our questions. One of them was about the Sashimi Taco, which was labeled as — Sashimi Taco Tuna, salmon, yellowtail, white tuna, cilantro, avocado. Sounded delicious! I wondered what made it a taco, though. She told me that it was only fish, nothing else. I inquired a few more times, however, about why it was considered it taco. She kept assuring me it was only fish, nothing else in the dish.

So, I went ahead and ordered that, along with a Mandarin Green Salad Organic baby greens, tomato, carrot, goat cheese, low-cal sesame soy vinaigrette. My friend ordered Singapore Rice Noodle — shrimp, chicken, egg, onion, scallion, bean sprout, carrot, curry.

The salad came out nice & quick. Good tastes all around.


Then came out the other two. The rice noodles were just as they were described, and a huge serving. Tasty is what I was told.


Then my tacos. Not what I was expecting per the waitress’ comments, but they did fit the description. They were indeed tacos. They has cream in them. It could have been aioli but nobody seemed sure. We asked several restaurant staff and after, honestly, about 10 minutes, we still didn’t have an answer. I had to send them back in case it was dairy. At this point I was frustrated because when I had asked before ordering if these were tacos the waitress said no and now that they were, she could not identify what all was in the tacos.


She asked what else I would like and I opted for the safe bet of simple sashimi. I went for salmon, tuna and some whitefish (I can never remember what it is but it’s good).

Yes, it was dinner time and the restaurant was getting a bit busier at this point, but it took over 20 minutes to get simple cuts of sashimi, after there was an error with an initial dish. Don’t you think they might hurry a bit? And all it takes is cutting the fish… It was quite good (as I should hope for this type of dish or I would be quite concerned).


So, overall, though the food ended up being decent, not at all impressed with the service at Grace’s. Not a place I would recommend on that level. Not sure if they expect they’ll get business because they are in a tourist location, not sure if we just hit the wrong place at the wrong time, but there are definitely places I would rather enjoy a dinner out.

8407 Kitchen Bar

Have heard of the restaurant 8407 Kitchen Bar in Silver Spring, MD for awhile and was finally able to check it out recently.  It’s right next to the Silver Spring Metro and just outside of Washington, DC.

There is a bar area downstairs with TVs and then the restaurant upstairs.  My friend and I were ‘normal’ and (actually) got a table upstairs.


After looking over the menu we decided to split a bunch of small plates versus going for entrees.  The decisions the ended up on the table were:

-Farm Fresh Deviled Eggs

-Pickled Veggies

-Salmon Bites

-Gouda Ewephora Cheese

-Black Goat Truffle Cheese

-Prosciutto Americano


(so we devoured half the salmon before I took a picture)

Also ordered some Temptation Zin to pair with all this.  Nice wine with berries and spice.


Was a very nice meal.  Service was a bit slow but nothing to worry about.  Prices are about the same as most restaurants (as in entrees were low upper teens to mid 20s) in the DC area. Would totally be game for checking this out again.

From CO to MD

I visited the breweries in Colorado then went less than a hour north of Washington, DC to check about another great beer producer’s house of heaven.  This time it was Flying Dog.  Now, did you know they started in Colorado and moved to Maryland to grow/expand/make people around here even happier?  Oh, ok, maybe that last part wasn’t the true strategy but I don’t hear any complaints.

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So when considering checking out the Flying Dog Brewery, pull out next year’s calendar.  They have a several month wait list/lead booking time.  I lucked out because I was going alone and was able to snag a spot from a cancellation.  So, if you want to go that route, contact them a day or so before you’d be interested in checking it out.  They only do tours Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

You get there, get carded, get your nice bracelet.

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Pay $5 and get a great glass that you keep (this is jumping ahead as it has delicious fluid in it).  Then the tour begins.

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You get the scoop on the entire history, from the founder, the owner, the random tidbits, the alcohol, drugs, prison time, name, etc.  Neat stuff.  The hallway depicts all of this.  There are more paintings that the camera didn’t quite pick up.

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You continue into the beer processing area and learn about all steps of the brewing process, from when water and hops might initially collide, how they determine each brew (what goes into each one), when/how long it’s in vats, how the bottling process works and the final ‘boxing’/putting it in cases or kegging so we can enjoy it.

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When the tour was done, we headed to the bar where we could pick whatever we wanted.  For $5, we got 5 samples.  Big samples.  I had the staple, Raging Bitch.  Went with the White Wheat.  I tried the rarities — Orchard Ale.  Then some of the seasonals, which were hit or miss.  There were love/hates in the tour group as we discussed them.  The seasonals I tried were this beer and wine funky thing (can’t remember the name) — interesting.  One glass would be all I’d want and then the awesome Dogtoberfest Marzen.

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Great place, great tour, great beer.  Check it out when you’re in the area.

New Corks in MD

Sunday morning, local farmers market.  You have the fun of trying and buying all the delicious produce…especially this time of year with apples and pears!!!  At the one in the Bethesda, every so often there will be a local vintner making an appearance.  I happened to stumble (yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking) upon one last time I was there….it was 10am…I wish they had bubbly, then maybe stumble could have been what crossed your mind!

Anyway, the new winery is Big Cork Vineyards and they are in Frederick, MD.


They were offering four varietals, all white.  Not bad for MD.  The reds will be available this fall.  And, what was great to hear is that the winery will be open for tastings in Spring 2014.  Look forward to checking it out.