Restaurants in 2009 – The Promising (Part 3 of 3)

I have gone through the improving restaurants and the declining restaurants.  The only ones left are the ones that  are new or my new favorites this year…

Notable or New:

Blue Duck Tavern: This year, this has almost been our go-to restaurant.  We have celebrated everything here from a graduation to our engagement.  That speaks to the trust we have in Chef Brian McBride. Every time we’ve been there the food has been consistently excellent.  I highly recommend the roast chicken, duck fat fries or the braised beef rib.

American Flatbread: This one actually falls  into the ‘new’ category.  American Flatbread is a small chain, but just opened up a hearth in Clarendon in our building.  So far the pizza has been good, though a bit on the pricey side.  The good news is the managers are very nice, and it’s close.  My suggestion, have a “$5 off pizza night” to lighten the sting of a $20-$22 pizza.

Cork: Easily my favorite winebar out of the bunch that I’ve been to.  Reasonable prices, good wine, and great food combine for a fun night out.  I highly recommend getting a cheese plate, the olives, pork loin and mushrooms.  If you’re okay waiting a bit and dining in a more noisy than usual dining room, then you won’t be disappointed.

Others: I haven’t tried these places out yet but here’s more that I’m looking forward to:

That’s it!  Thanks for reading and hopefully sharing what restaurants you’ve found to be getting better, getting worse, or always stayed awesome.

Restaurants in 2009 – The Bad (Part 2 of 3)

This is part 2 of a 3 part series.  Read the first post here about restaurants on rebound

We now have come to the most disappointing part of this series…restaurants that I once enjoyed, but in the past year – seemed to have lost their magic.  All of these restaurants I have eaten at more than 8-10 times each, so I feel as if I know if something has changed for the worse.

On the way down:

Tallula/Eat Bar: This used to be one of my favorite places to eat in years past.  Every time I’ve been there this year, Tallula has been empty, and EatBar was thriving.  Before last week, the last time I went to EatBar about 6-8 months ago.  It may have been an outlier experience, but this time the food wasn’t that good.  The mini-burgers tasted more like dried sausage and the steak tartare lacked character.  It was decent, but if I want to eat a good mini-burger, I’ll just go to Matchbox.

11th Street: Another watering hole that I used to frequent.  Sometime last year they changed the menu and removed almost everything that we went there for, and haven’t recovered since.  After talking to the manager, a few items have made a return, but somehow they’re not as good as they used to be.  For example, you can’t get just sweet potato fries anymore – they come with regular fries interspersed now.  Other items missing from the menu – mini steak frites.  Please, bring them back!

Liberty Tavern – I don’t know what’s going on with this place, but the last two times I have gone there have been some…umm….interesting odors.  The first time was a distinct vomit smell, and the second time (over a week later) was the overwhelming smell of bleach.  I actually do like the food.  Their Vermont Pizza is one of my favorites, but it’s hard for me to imagine eating it with so much going on in the air.

Any restaurants that have taken a turn for the worse?

Next up is the last of three posts about the new restaurants that I’m excited for as well as some restaurants that I’ve come to love over the past year…

Restaurants in 2009 – The Good (Part 1 of 3)

I eat out a good amount.  Some weeks, more than I should.  I do get a little upset when I don’t feel like I’ve gotten a good value for my money and with so many great restaurants in the DC area, why should I be okay with eating a bad meal?  This past year I have been mentally compiling notes on restaurants that I frequent; which ones are improving, which ones are on the decline, which ones are new that I’m excited about and which have become staples in my dining life.  I have boiled it down to a short list…so read on!

On the way up:

Restaurant 3: I admit I had written off this place earlier this year.  The first time, all the food was smokey tasting, the second time, the food was just not good.  What has changed?  Since January, they have changed and expanded their menu to include a lot less expensive items on the menu.  The fried green tomatoes, scallops and grits, and burger were all hits with me.  I’m glad that they seemed to address the issues with the menu.  Combine that with a decent happy hour (goes til 8pm!) I’ll be going more often.

Spider Kelly’s – I have only gotten drinks here previously, but tonight I tried their Spider Kelly’s burger (with pork fat!), black bean burger, wings and ‘cardiac’ macaroni and cheese.  Not bad!  I agree with Tom Seitsema about the Spider Kelly’s burger having a funny taste to it, but overall I’ve heard decent things about their food, and I’m happy to say that I think it makes it into my rotation.  With the decline of Liberty Tavern (more on that in a later post) – Spider Kelly’s sneaks back onto my radar.

What do you think?  Have you found a restaurant that has made a rebound this year?  Let me know in the comments.

Next up – restaurants that are on the decline…