Bistrot du Coin

Recently visited Bistrot du Coin in Washington, DC in the Dupont Circle area. They coin themselves as ‘The Original French Bistrot in Washington DC.’ The restaurant will turn 17 years old this year and offers a nice open space with high ceilings and opportunity to almost sit on Connecticut Ave when the front doors/walls are open on gorgeous days. They are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

We went on a Tuesday night, fairly early, 7ish. Was easy to get a table. By the time we left around 8:30pm, it was busy. The service was extremely slow. Took a long time to get simple things like water and drinks.

Looking over the menu, a decent selection of French food. What ended up coming to the table (along with some Stella Artois and Alsace wine).

Salade Niçoise façon Bistrot
Bonito tuna,hard boiled egg, Anchovy over mixed greens, Vegetables, black olives $17.95

While it was good, why do they have to used canned tuna? I would love some nicely grilled stuff.

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Moules Marinières
Steamed mussels in white wine with onions, shallots, garlic and parsley $13.95/$23.95

These were done nicely and the tasted delicious.

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Onglet à l’échalotte
Hanger Steak with French Fries served with compote of shallot, red wine sauce
(Chef recommends med-rare or rare) $25.95

Very traditional. Now it was ordered medium rare and came out pretty much bright pink in the middle. We did have to send it back because there is a difference between pan-searing it momentarily and letting it cook for a couple minutes. When it came back it out, apparently it was quite good.

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Overall, a decent dinner, but as commented initially, extremely slow service. Just getting refills on the water was challenging. So, glad I went, but not a restaurant I need to check out a lot, but also not one I would have a problem going back to.

Mercer Wine Estates

Another winery visited in the general Yakima Valley area was Mercer Winery. Their physical location is in Prosser. Their first vintage was in 2005 and six years later the owners received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers.

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We opted for the basic tasting for $5 (vs. $10 for reserves).

2016 Estates Rose
This bone-dry Rosé is perfect pool-side, brunch-side, or wedding-side. We also, just love it glass-side. A great wine for a wide variety of people and dishes, it’s pretty, pink, and delicious. Notes of fresh strawberries, white tea and cranberries combine with a beautiful balance of acidity and alcohol. Price: $15.
Horse Heaven Hills AVA|Blend: 100% Grenache|Alcohol: 12.5% |T.A.: 0.61g/100mL | pH: 3.22|Dry
*Very crisp, definitely a summertime wine.

2013 Chardonnay
Notes of vanilla, creamsicle, juicy pear and pineapple greet you on the nose. The voluminous fruit continues in the mouth with flavors of sweet pineapple juice and fresh pear with a drizzle of sweet butter. The lush fruit is balanced by clean, bright acidity that leads into a long, lingering finish. Price: $13.
Columbia Valley|Blend: 96% Chardonnay, 4% Viognier|Alcohol: 13.9%|TA: 0.6 g/L|pH: 3.53
*1/2 oaked, 1/2 un-oaked. Nice and crisp. Really liked this one.

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2014 Mercer Canyons Riesling
This off-dry Riesling (about 1.5 residual sugar) explodes with beautiful aromas of lychee, orange blossom and tangerine from the glass. The palate is full with apricot and peach notes drizzled in honey. The finish is refreshing with enough bright acidity. Price: $13.
Yakima Valley | Blend: 100% Riesling | Alcohol: 13.3% |T.A.: 0.68 g/100mL |pH: 3.02
*I got lots of honeysuckle on this. Yes, it’s a Riesling.

2013 Estates Merlot
Cherries and blackberries mingle with warm baking spices on the nose. Touches of oak, coffee and cocoa with lush fruit and velvety tannin on the palate. One of our favorite wines–enjoy with any red meat dish, tomato based pasta dishes, or just as a perfect sipping wine next to a warm fire. Price: $25.
Horse Heaven Hills |Blend: 80% Merlot, 17% Syrah, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon |
Alcohol: 14.5%|TA: 0.59g/100mL|pH: 3.68
*This had some definite chocolate notes to it. Very nice wine. There are good Merlots out there.

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2013 Petit Verdot
Whoa-Nelly–this is a big, bold wine! Big jammy flavors of blackberry jam, vanilla, and a hint of pie crust. This wine will age well, or if you need to impress someone with a high impact wine, or have a smoked brisket that needs a ‘pardner’–we suggest putting a few of these in your shopping cart.
Horse Heaven Hills| Spice Cabinet Vineyard| 100% Petit Verdot| Alcohol: 14.4% |
TA: 0.63g/100mL | pH:3.97
*White pepper is what I found to be the most prominent note.

Fun place to visit. I’m sure it’s another one that will keep growing. Love visiting more less-known, Washington wineries. Cheers!

Treveri Cellars

While in the Yakima Valley awhile back, I visited Treveri Cellars, which produces only bubbly. Too bad! Their exact location is Wapato. They have been around for six years and aim to put WA state sparkling wines on the map. They have also been served at US State Department receptions and the James Beard Foundation.

You go to their lovely tasting room and you must sit at a table (vs standing at the bar). They kindly come around and pour your tasting. And, come the end, the tasting is free (so uncommon).

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(note on the dosage — a 0 dosage is SUPER dry)

Blanc de Noirs Brut
Small bubbles give way to a delicate color with a hint of strawberries and brioche on the nose. The minimal dosage allows the true palate complexity of this wine shine through, leaving rich acidity with a creamy finish.
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir | AVA: Yakima Valley |Vintage: Non-Vintage | Total Acid: 7.5g/L
pH: 3.32 | Dosage: 8g/L | En Tirage: 23.5 months | PRICE: $20.00
*Very crisp, not overly sweet. Prefer this over the Blanc de Blanc. My favorite.

Blanc de Blancs Brut
The most well-known of sparkling wines, our Blanc de Blancs captures hints of green apple and brioche, balanced out by a cool, crisp finish.
Blend: Chardonnay | AVA: Yakima Valley | Vintage: Non-Vintage | Total Acid: 8.2g/L
pH: 3.3 | Dosage: 12g/L | En Tirage: 24 months | PRICE: $15.00
*Traditional ‘champagne’.

Sparkling Rosé
Crisp and complex, Treveri Cellars Sparkling Rosé boasts hints of berries and citrus, creating a blend of delicious and enticing flavors. Rosé pairs well with any dish, and its versatile profile is sure to lavish your meal with luxury and class.
Blend: Syrah/Chardonnay | AVA: Yakima Valley | Vintage: Non-Vintage | Total Acid: 8.1g/L | pH: 3.32 | Dosage: 22g/L | En Tirage: 24 months | PRICE: $18.00
*Very sweet.

Brut Rose (not on the tasting list)
No details on it other than – Blend: 100% Pinot Noir | Dosage: 6g/L
*Nice and dry!

Sparkling Gewürztraminer
A delightful combination of spice and exotic fruit aromas, Treveri Sparkling Gewürztraminer ignites a spark of variety with every sip. Easy to recognize but hard to put down, this bubbly will captivate your senses and enlighten your experience.
Blend: 100% Gewürztraminer | AVA: Yakima Valley | Vintage: Non-Vintage
Total Acid: 7.5g/L | pH: 3.34 | Dosage: 35g/L | En Tirage: 24 months | PRICE: $17.00
*Almost beer/cider-like.

Sparkling Syrah Brut
With devotion, care, and careful attention, Treveri sparkling Syrah exudes sophistication and elegance, making it a paradigm of perfection. Red effervescence cascades through this sparkling, matched equally by dark fruit and complex yeast tones.
Blend: 100% Syrah | AVA: Yakima Valley | Vintage: Non-Vintage | Total Acid: 7.5g/L
pH: 3.38 | Dosage: 12g/L | En Tirage: 24 months | PRICE: $20.00
*Not as many bubbles as the whites. Very smooth for a Syrah. Light but syrupy. Too grape-y. Not my favorite sparkling red, and I seek these wines out.

This winery has great potential. Many options, fair prices and amazing tasting room if you’re on site. Look forward to seeing them grow and glad I was able to visit them.

Hogue Cellars (reserve)

When checking out Yakima Valley awhile back, in the Prosser Region, we visited a relatively well known (I assume, because I see it fairly often) winery/wine maker — Hogue Cellars.

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Now jumping ahead a bit, I like splitting tastings because when you hit several wineries a day you’re going to taste a lot and drink a lot. You’re going to lose your taste and obviously have some alcohol… And somebody has to drive. But then, you start talking to these people. It’s a quiet day and they talk and talk, understand your love of wine and say ‘Oh, but you have to try this. And oh, but then…’ You don’t end up splitting a tasting.

We arrived, fairly quiet and opted to split the Reserve Tasting, for $5. You chose 5 of 9 wines you want to sip. These aren’t the wines you see on the store shelves with the label in the logo as noted above. They hold these labels:

We opted for:

2015 Terroir Viognier, Wahluke Slope — Our Viognier opens with fresh flora and exotic fruits aromas. Peach cobbler, citrus and a touch of pineapple intertwined with tropical mango and starfruit. It features a mouthfeel that is clean and crisp with soft acidity. $20 — Very nice nose, a bit sweet, definite starfruit taste (because you know, we know this off the bat because we eat it everyday).

2014 Terroir GSM Lonesome Springs Vineyard — 21% Grenache/40% Syrah/39% Mouverdre.  In the glass, the wine is young purple in color with a tint of red on the rim. Lively aromas of black raspberry, black pepper and spice with touches of vanilla cream. $28 — A bit oakey, chocolatey.

2013 Reserve Merlot Columbia Valley — This wine opens with aromas of wild strawberry, cherry, blueberry and dark meaty plum. Rich and weighty on the pallet with great structure and integrated oak. Flavors of black cherry, raspberry, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg linger with a lasting finish. $30 —  NICE!!!! Bought a bottle for later. Fruit on the nose. Very fresh and fruity on the tongue. I have always avoided this varietal because of the movie Bottleshock and I wish I didn’t have that in my mind. This grape can be good.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain — Our Cabernet Sauvignon has amazing color and depth, along with some unique and exciting fruit flavors. Dried cherry, cocoa, fig and nutmeg balance the huge earthy, minerality Red Mountain wine. $32 — Nice and light for a cab.

2013 Terroir Petit Verdot Horse Heaven Hills — The inky Petit Verdot has a pleasantly massive richness and vibrant acidity. This wine starts out with black fruit, plum and cassis. Gamey undertones, bacon, black pepper and spice round out the mid-pallet along with flavors of dark chocolate and creamy coffee. Silky tannins with a chewy finish. $32 100% Petit Verdot. This is an ooohhhh so smooth wine. Very creamy. I didn’t find that it had a very chewy finish. You tasted this wine from start to finish. Very nice.

These were the first 5 and then I didn’t scribble down notes on the balance of them. We were poured at least 3 or 4 more. In the end, my friend ended up joining the Wine Club, option for the 3 bottle option. With that you get 3 bottles of wine from the exclusive Terroir and Reserve tiers on a quarterly basis. Cheers to that. We also got our $5 tasting fee refunded. Cheers!

Wit Cellars

When visiting WA wine country, I was pointed to a new winery by an established one. This new venture is Wit Cellars, which is just about a year old. They are not a huge winery, producing about 3,500 cases of wine a year and are located in the Prosser Wine Community of Yakima Valley. Their name comes from ‘We’re in It Together.’

The tasting room is in a sort of hidden place. Not in the middle of beautiful vineyards, but more of a ‘strip mall’ of tasting rooms.

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(photo source: wineyakimavalley.org)

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When we arrived (early in the day — strong wine drinkers!), there was only one other group in the tasting room. So one of the employees came over to help. With a tasting you get to sample eight wines, oh yes, half a dozen plus two (though one was out of stock). He was a bit concerned because he had been called in that morning to work, and was the husband of one of the owners and didn’t know all the info to a tee on the wine. Fast forward…he was quite good.

So as previously mentioned, the guy pouring us our wine ‘didn’t know a ton about them,’ so he was looking through some notes to tell us what they were supposed to taste like, etc. We ended up having a great conversation about each one and talking about them sometimes before and after he told us what the notes said. One of the best tastings you could have as the three of us were bouncing comments off each other as he had to enjoy some of the wine, too. What was great is that he gave us his history — former college football player, then in the Marine Corps, now in some IT/security/networking (he lost me after that) gig and part time in the wine industry because his wife is an owner.

So, what we enjoyed (info is directly from website, my notes in bold italic)

2015 Rose
The beautiful coral color will put you in a festive mood. On the nose you will be greeted with notes of strawberry, rhubarb and pink grapefruit. The lively acidity plays on the palate, while hints of spice and dried herbs round out this lively and refreshing summer sipper.
Price: $14.00

Light and crisp.

 

2015 Pinot Gris
Light bodied fresh and lively summer sipper possess hints of mandarin orange, honeydew melon, bosc pear, and green apple. Ancient Lakes is a cool site which lends itself to aromatic whites. You can literally taste the tortuous past of these prehistoric soils. A gravely minerality mixes with citrus notes and dazzling acidity, to create a unique gem true to its sense of place.
Price $18.00

Minerality!  LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. Left with a bottle.

2015 Chardonnay
The feast of reason and the flow of soul brought us to the Ancient Lakes Appellation to source aromatic whites of exceptional quality. The vines struggle in high elevation silt loam vineyards on fractured caliche and basalt. This extraordinary example of Chardonnay possesses hints of green apple and pear. The saline minerality and focused fruit void of white noise; set this wine apart from any other. This wine is not for the faint of heart, but for the quick of Wit.
Price $22.00

Unoaked, cheddar on the nose. Neutral oak barrels. I would give it ‘crisp oak’, Very unique.

2014 Riesling
Again the Ancient Lakes Appellation shines with Riesling. We were able to create a Riesling of exceptional quality. Bright acidity mixes with clove, peach, apricot, spice, honey-suckle and clover blossoms. Of course, the underlining feature of this wine is the gravely minerality brought by the tortured prehistoric soils of this majestic appellation. This racy gem is not for the faint of heart, but for the quick of wit.
Price $18.00

Not syrupy like a Riesling could be, but it was still a Riesling.

2013 Red Blend
The colors of this wine are the deepest shades of inky purple and red.

The enchanted flavors of raspberry liquor, vibrant pepper, baking spice, blackberry, graphite and gravel will tantalize your taste buds. This is an extraordinary elegant wine with silky smooth texture and lingering finish. I found that this wine leaves me fully satisfied, but longing for one more taste.
Price $45.00

Nice nose. Melt in your mouth. Just so much good stuff happening. Left with a bottle.

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2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
We were drawn to Elephant Mountain Cabernet because it showcases the vibrancy of the site. Only at the extreme margins of this black beast can you detect a deep garnet color. An abundance of black currant, wild cherry, raspberry and cedar greet your nose and caress your pallet. The lingering finish will provide hints of anise, vanilla, toasted hazelnuts and roasted coffee which are balanced by gravelly earthy notes. This is a particularly well balanced and beautiful wine. Your first sip will leave you wanting more.
Price $50.00

Jammy, but not overkill, and not too chewy.

2013 L’armonia Red Blend
This is a big wine with an abundance of dark beautiful fruits that blend harmoniously with it’s ample body and structure.
The integrated tannins dance across your palate while flavors of huckleberry cobbler, vanilla and brown sugar tempt your taste buds. By combining classical Bordeaux varietals we believe that each individual piece of this red blend has come together to sing.
Blend: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, 14% Malbec, 3% Merlot
Price $60.00

I got tastes of coffee, kahlua and fruit. Unique.

 

As you can see, I left with two bottles. One was enjoyed that night when we returned to a friend’s house in Seattle, and the other the following night at the same house. Of course these guys/this winery can’t be kind and sell in stores on the east coast, let alone in stores in their area. It’s all direct from them. They do have have three wine clubs, though. The requirements aren’t super demanding, on them either. So I might have to join down the road. Overall, spent well over an hour there. I can easily see these guys getting into some of the big wine magazines in the coming years as an up and coming winery. Cheers!

 

Cowiche Canyon

When visiting Yakima Valley, had to find a place to enjoy dinner. Many locals suggested the same restaurant – Cowiche Canyon. Ok, I guess that’s where you go. Their tagline: ‘Craft cocktails & American classics are served with a modern twist at this industrial-chic hot spot.

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Arrived and fortunately were able to get a table easily. Had checked out the website before going and they weren’t on OpenTable… And why would one call to make a reservation these days, come on?

So we sat down and of course when in Yakima Valley wine is a priority. After looking over the options we decided to go for a bottle vs. glasses. Reason, if you don’t finish it they just put it in a paper bag and off you go. The vino we chose was the Syncline Subduction Red. It’s a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and Counoise. It was a good medium bodied wine, nice fruit notes, and some spice. Just very tasty.

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For dinner (I’d checked out the menu on their site before), I was leaning towards the halibut. Of course halibut is pricey. I also found out why from a friend – it’s fished ‘by hand’ – as in it’s not net-caught. The fisherman use these things called fishing rods, if you’ve ever heard of them. So, it’s all completely manual labor for catching halibut, so pure man hours for each and every piece of halibut we enjoy.

Looked at some of the other seafood and meats, and all looked tempting, but halibut is something I don’t usually cook at home or get frequently because of cost. So, the two of us ended up splitting the halibut and getting starters – a house salad and roasted asparagus as first round, along with the homemade bread. I assumed we would have bread brought to the table as on the menu it mentioned that their breads are handmade from scratch every morning. But, we had to order it instead.

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Service was slightly under par. Took us about 3 requests and 20 minutes to get water. We also ordered the salad and asparagus as first course. Those and the halibut came out quickly (before the water and the bread). We asked for the halibut to go back and be served as the main course. The server was a bit confused.

However, the food was delicious. The halibut was spicy, with the posole it was served on top of. The asparagus had chimichurri on it, which added a great flavor, but the ends that you should snap off were still on there, on several pieces. The salad was nice and simple and the bread was just deadly. Overall, however, the restaurant lived up to the recommendations it received.

El Chalan, DC

I quite enjoy Peruvian cuisine — they have great cocktails and seafood! Was headed to the Kennedy Center one night and found a place sort of near it to check out for that cuisine — El Chalan. It’s in the basement/lower level of a building and is fairly small, so it’s nice and comfortable.

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They had a good amount of options on the menu, which made it tough to decide. But, the first order of business was a pisco sour. So refreshing!

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For dinner, I ended up going with 2 smaller options —

Palta Con Palmito/ Slices of avocado and hearts of palm

Ceviche Mixto/ Fish,shrimp,and squid marinated in mixture of lemon juice and seasoning

My friend went for some stew —

Cabrito Norteno/ Goat stew cooked in beer, vinegar, onion, and spices, served w/ rice and beans

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The ceviche was delicious, I love when I can find it with squid. And the nice basic salad balanced it well.  My friend said the stew was just as it should be and good & hearty. I tried a bite as I’d never had goat. It was fine, nothing overly exciting me for, but glad I was able to try it. So, great food, would check this place out again.

Proof

There is a nice wine-oriented restaurant in DC, Proof. Had been there a few times and opted to check it out again after going to the theater to see Nutcracker for the first time.

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Started at the bar because my friends and I arrived before our reservation. We all enjoy wine, so we were inquiring quite a bit about several of the wines they offered. The bartenders didn’t particularly want to help us more than where the wines were from and the varietals. For a wine restaurant, it was surprising. We had to order it on a whim and hope it was good. It was fine, but nothing I’ll order again, or remember. I didn’t even remember to take a picture…

We sat down at the table and it was extremely dark. The picture above is a flashlight you can use to read the menu. It’s both a flashlight and magnifying glass. The print is very small on the menu. I have really good vision and was having problems. The waiter said that is the tone/ambiance they want to set — darkness, it’s a better mood.

Once we were able to read some of the menu, our not-so-helpful waiter (in addition to the start with the bartenders) came and explained some of the specials. We also let him know about dietary restrictions. My friend is allergic to shellfish and nuts, as well as being lactose intolerant like me.

We decided to get some side dishes as appetizers and went with:

-Brussels Sprouts, Kimchee Mayo & Vietnamese Dressing
-Fried Cauliflower with Lemon, Tahini, Garlic & Mint (didn’t get a picture since because of the nearly non-existent lighting, it was tough to get decent shots)

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After spending awhile looking over the entire menu we were finally able to choose what we wanted.

I opted for the Scallops a la Michel Richard: crispy brussels sprouts, apples, confit leeks, basil & vincotto. I asked if there was dairy in this and the waiter gasped and asked how could there not be and why would I make an alteration? I wasn’t sure and just needed it because of being lactose intolerant. He was flabbergasted that I didn’t know who Michel Richard was. Sorry. So, he said would check with the kitchen but didn’t think it would be possible to alter such a well known chef’s original recipe. Long story short, he said they would make and exception for me.

My friends ordered the Pekin Duck: käsespätzle, red cabbage, duck confit, horseradish, green apple, concord grape sauce. They made sure there was no dairy in there for her, and she was safe because there was also no fish on there, or no crazy fish ingredient in any of the sauces.

The other friend ordered the Sautéed Potato Gnocchi: butternut squash, cauliflower, beech mushroom, apple brown butter.

While we were waiting for the food, we asked for the sommelier. He came over and was a bit more helpful and gave some interesting comments about the restaurant and how it’s changed. He’d only been there a few months and once we started talking to him more he got much friendlier. The nicest service we had all night.  He did suggest another wine after taking into account our likes in wine.

The food was good. Overpriced, but at least decent in taste. The evening at least ended well when our waiter was kind enough to confirm my friend’s initial thoughts — Cal Ripken was sitting at the table behind us. My friends, who are huge baseball fans, got up after dinner to ask for his autograph to give to their grandma for Christmas. She’s a long time Orioles fan. Can’t go wrong with that.

Le Chat Noir

Have been in DC for many years and finally made it to Le Chat Noir.  I used to even live only about mile from it. It’s a French restaurant located between Friendship Heights and Tenleytown in NW.

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Went on a Saturday night.  Had reservations but it wasn’t too busy, the service was pretty slow, though. The menu has a good amount of selection, but of course I had to do some good picking because of being lactose intolerant.

Opted for a bottle of rose, for kicks, Le P’tit Rose. It was good, a bit sweet, a fun wine to try.

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While deciding on dinner, with the wine we enjoyed addictive bread.

Then, for the first course of dinner, I opted for a salad and my friend went for the Crèpe fourrée. Crèpe stuffed with crabmeat, bay scallops, mushrooms, Chablis cream sauce.  Apparently that was pretty darn good.

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Main course was a Bijoux de boeuf au poivre. Grilled beef tenderloin, grilled asparagus, gratin dauphinois, green peppercorn sauce (the asparagus is on the side).  It was perfectly cooked and melted in the mouth.

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I opted for the Saint Jacques à la Bretonne. Sea scallops, truffle risotto, cremini mushrooms, white wine béchamel & gruyere cheese gratin.  They made some nice substitutions on the dairy and grilled the scallops, put it on a bed of lentil ‘crust’ with a side of pickled veggies.  All very nice.

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Very happy I finally checked this place out!

Los Tios Grill, Del Ray

Hot weather equals cool food.  Checked out Los Tios Grill in Del Ray/Alexandria, VA (just outside of DC) recently.

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The first thought of cool when walking into a Mexican restaurant is a margarita.  There were a few of us at dinner so we figured why not get a pitcher.  This is probably the first place I’ve been to that doesn’t have pitchers of margaritas.  Ok.  Decided to get the large one, and large it was.  The picture doesn’t quite do the size justice.

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Of course had to order some guac.  It was very nicely presented as it is served in the avocado. Good taste, too.

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Now, when looking over the menu I was pretty disappointed.  It was hot out, so I wanted something cool.  And a staple of mine at Mexican restaurants is ceviche. It’s not on their menu.  I was trying to figure out what else to get.  Very fortunately the waiter came over and told us the specials.  One of them was ceviche.  The night was saved!  It was a combo of shrimp and whitefish.  It tasted a bit like the shrimp had been cooked a bit, which some restaurants tend to do for safety reasons.  Still nice to get the ceviche.

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All the others at the table ordered Tacos los Tios, which are beef or chicken tacos, served with rice, beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guac and sour cream.

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Overall, good meal. The restaurant is pretty big, so easy enough to get a table.  Will check it out again, too, when it’s less sweltering hot and can sit outside.