It's been a bit quiet here on the blog front, due to an admitted lack of inspiration (thank to, uh, "current events") as well as an ill-advised attempt at the Whole30 diet just after the New Year (a somewhat successful, if not incredibly painful endeavour). Luckily, I felt that there was probably no better way to get back in the blogging groove than to recap one of the more indulgent meals I've had in recent memory.
I was having trouble coming up with a good restaurant to go to for Grambo's big 3-0 dinner. It seemed like everything that had opened recently in the DC area was either too stuffy and "fancy", or the polar opposite: crowded, doesn't accept reservations and requires standing in line for hours with a lawn chair and a newspaper (I'm looking at you, Bad Saint, because I miss you but I can't do this anymore).
Luckily, I remembered Eric Ziebold's relatively new Kinship was still on my back burner list and they fortunately had a table for two available. I'd been to his old restaurant Cityzen in the terribly located Mandarin Oriental here in DC before it closed in 2014, but I hadn't kept track of what Ziebold's next project was.
Check out the rest of my review of Kinship after the jump.
One of the (more) annoying things about the rapid gentrification in DC's Shaw neighborhood is that even "Shaw-adjacent" areas are getting "trendy" names dreamed up by luxury condo developers. For example. the area just south of U Street has now somehow become "North Shaw", with an ever growing and frankly exhausting list of hipster brand names being added to the ground floor of various residential developments - Warby Parker, Steven Alan, I'm looking at you here. I have nothing against brands like these but it's hard not to feel that approving yet another Bonobos store comes at the expense of a smaller, DC-based small business.
Luckily right in the middle of this rapidly changing area is the relatively new restaurant Hazel. Chef Rob Rubba opened the restaurant in June and quickly generated a buzz for instant-classic dishes like his zucchini bread (apparently a family recipe from his grandmother), "KFC" crispy wings inspired by Bonchon - as well as house made chili sauce. There is nothing formulaic or artificial about this food, despite what the broader neighborhood around it looks like.
I came here a few weeks ago for dinner with a small group of friends and at night, I couldn't see very much of the space except for its cozy banquettes in dark wood, dim lighting and impressively (if not slightly pricey) inventive menu. In the day time though, the space transforms into a sunny, welcoming space with funky decor and inviting vibe. Walking in, you are greeted by a huge patio with bright green astro turf, replete with designer mural and lounge chairs. It's the sort of space you want to hang out on for hours during the summer - if you can snag a table.
When we sat down, I was even more excited to discover that Hazel's brunch menu is offered "dim-sum" style - there's about a dozen different dishes and you check off what you want on the paper menu, similar to the stamp cards at traditional dim-sum restaurants. Definitely gimmicky but the paper actually comes in handy as the servers check off each dish as it arrives - and the dishes did start arriving very quickly, in an absolute flurry.
Since there were only two of us, we couldn't get everything on the menu (you can actually do this for a neat $99), but here are some of the highlights after the jump.
As nice as it is to go to the latest, trendiest "it" restaurants and bars here in DC where a new establishment seems to crop up overnight on a daily basis, eating out on a regular basis can play havoc on one's wallet. As someone who is planning a wedding next year (apparently this is still a thing), I appreciate any opportunity to save a couple of bucks while not sacrificing quality or tastiness. Surprisingly DC is not short of local spots that offer great food at economical prices, if you're willing to go a little further afield away or in some cases, just look a little closer.
I've included a couple of recent local favorites I've discovered around town after the jump!
One woman's journey to eat all the food. Or at least, most of it.