Tom, Yes, I know there are 6 trillion delis in Washington, but I am looking for a 5-star, truly dazzling sandwich. I want something really yummy, that knocks my socks off. I want a sandwich so good that it is memorable. I end up paying every day for lunch, why not make it really count? I'd like your suggestions, please! Thanks much.
At least now I know why you didn't respond to my questions over the past couple weeks about places to eat in Baltimore. We've been here for 2 days and haven't found a single place for lunch or dinner that would make us want to drive back up here from Virginia. The Inner Harbor is chain restaurant hell, not really many places "downtown" worth going to, maybe something good in Little Italy, but without any recommendations, we weren't going to just wander about.
Hi Tom! One of my husband's favorite meals is french onion soup. He has been looking for a while and can't find a place that serve one that he totally likes. Any suggestions?
I had a terrific version not long ago at Praline, the charming bakery/restaurant in Bethesda, where Christian Gautrois, formerly of Les Folies Brasserie in Annapolis, is the chef. His soup ($7.50) is rich with beef stock, near-melting onions and a molten cap of Swiss cheese.
We are planning a trip to New York over the holidays. If you could pick one place for a memorable meal, where would you go? In DC we've been to most places and the chef's meals at Komi and Sushi Taro stand out.
Hi Tom, My husband and I are headed to London and Paris to celebrate our first wedding anniversary this fall. Can you recommend one restaurant in each city where we can splurge on a fabulous meal? We are both big fans of your chats and appreciate your help!
I saw your tweet about doing research for the upcoming Fall Dining Guide and wondered how you actually do it year after year. Do you continue to visit the same restaurants you already featured in addition to scoping out new ones? I noticed that your Spring Dining Guide was all different restaurants than your Fall one. I'm intrigued by how you actually accomplish it, can you share a bit more about how you go about putting together a Dining Guide? Oh and I loved Brian Voltaggio's response to your tweet!
To get to 50 or so reviews for the fall dining guide, I typically visit 100 or so restaurants, a process that starts in late April or early May. Those restaurants include old places I haven't been to in awhile, past favorites and new spots -- a mix, in other words.
I recently tweeted about enduring a string of mediocre meals. My only regret is that there wasn't space to explain *why* certain restaurants aren't delivering this season. (The reasons differ: some places seem to be resting on their laurels, while others have changed their concepts for the worse.)
I wanted the spring guide to be completely different from the fall, so I chose the theme of returning to previously-reviewed restaurants and taking their temperature, so to speak.
Tom - care to share what has been your best summer dish at a restaurant this summer? One that we shouldn't miss trying before the summer ends?
Went to a small organic restaurant in Capitol Hill (will refrain from naming it) yesterday for lunch and ordered a grilled chicken wrap. When I got my wrap, I opened it up and noticed there was tofu and baked chicken in there. The menu didn't advertise tofu and the chicken was not grilled so I told the owner that I'd like something different because I was unsatisfied. His response : "It's not about satisfaction, it's about getting what you ordered." I was stunned. How does a customer respond without getting belligerent? What should the owner have said?
You should have said, "Well, there's tofu in here, and that's not what I expected. Same for the chicken. It's baked rather than grilled: NOT what I ordered, or thought I was ordering."
The bottom line, though, is there's too much competition on the Hill to put up with that kind of attitude. I wouldn't return to a place that cared so little abut its customers' satisfaction.
is also at the Silver Spring Farmer's market every Saturday. No French onion soup, but I highly recommend the lemon bars. And the apple chausson. And the pain au chocolat. And... pretty much everything.
I was in a rush to leave Praline, but I did stop to check out its mouth-watering bakery display, which included some of your faves.
Tom: I'm going to J&G Steak with three friends for my birthday this Friday. Any must have dish?
If there are scallops on a glossy bed of snap peas, bacon and mint, go for the appetizer. And I still think the halibut with celery and chili sauce is wonderful.
Tom, It has been well documented by you and others that Annie's has gone through some changes in recent years, and none for the better. It renovated and tried to go upscale (with higher prices and smaller portions), its mainstay clientelle rebelled, and then following this Annie's tried to go back to its tried and true ways. Recently I went to Annie's on a weekend for lunch, thinking it was better now for good, but I was wrong. The steak in the steak salad was dry and chewy, the corned beef hash was too salty, and the jalapeno poppers had sat too long in the kitchen. I'd hate to abandon for good one of my old favorite places, but I am just frustrated at this point. Doesn't Annie's get the message? --Mattie in DC
Hi Tom, I booked a reservation at Trummer's on Main for next weekend. Your review of the place, overall, is good, but the user reviews on the WaPo website are, for the most part, pretty terrible! Have you been back recently? Should I keep my reservation?
Keep your reservation. There are plenty of reasons the restaurant's top toque, Clayton Miller, was tapped as one of Food & Wine magazine's Best Chefs of 2010. One of them is no doubt his honey-glazed pork shoulder with pineapple confit, which I had the great pleasure of eating last Thursday in Trummer's light-filled main dining room.
My favorite sandwich in the area...or maybe anywhere...is the grilled pork banh mi (#8) at Song Que in Eden Center. It's the perfect combination of salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy.
Hi Tom, following up on last week's chatter who brought a two-year-old to Corduroy. My husband and I were two of the diners next to them, and the family did a great job of trying to engage him in the "grown-up" meal, and took him out of the room when he was not. As they mentioned, the service was impeccable - not just to them, but to us as well. We have a one-year-old of our own at home, and will definitely use this family's example of how to teach a young one to eat at fine restaurants.
I'm glad to post your eye-witness account of the story (and to encourage other parents to ease their offspring into the world of restaurants).
I hear often about Ben's Chili house or something like that. Is that worth going to in Washington?
A lot of people usually ask what the proper tip etiquitte is at a sit down restaurant, but what (if anything) should you leave for carry out orders?
It depends on the size and cost of the order, but I think a few bucks to the hostess or bar tender or whoever hands over your order is a nice gesture. Remember: Someone has to take the call, wrap the meal up, verify the contents of the box or bag and add utensils and such.
A few suggestions for the person who thinks Baltimore dining is limited to the Inner Harbor. -Clementine (in Hamilton). Spectacular food and even better desserts. -Brewer's Art (in Mount Vernon). Spectacular food and even better beer. -Samos (in Greektown). Spectacular food -- seriously, so so good, and so, so cheap -- and even better BYOB policy. So there.
And just before closin' time! We thank you.
I'm a weekly devotee of your chats, and have discovered some fabulous places based on your advice to other commenters, so thanks! My family is visiting next weekend, and we are going to Rehoboth for a couple days of R&R. None of us have ever been. What are the can't-miss local places for dinner? We're especially looking for a place to get some delicious crab, and a couple casual/affordable places that aren't a total tourist trap!
I've not gone to the beach in several years. This little thing called "the fall guide" keeps me local. Chatters?
Last night I went to dinner at the Source. My group of 3 was thrilled to be there. The appetizers of tuna tartar, and shumai in an uni and lobster emulsion were amazing. However, trouble arose when the entrees served. 2 of us got our entrees a solid 10 minutes before our 3rd party member got hers. The waiter knew the 3rd dish would be late and didn't tell us until after we complained. Some advance notice would have been appreciated. After the bill came our waiter offered 2 free desserts, but we told him that wasn't going to solve the issues so he graciously removed all of our entress from the bill. If the waiter had been up front with us from the beginning I may have considered going back, but it seemed like the entire time he was trying to avoid addressing the issue of the late 3rd dish. If I'm paying $38 for a dish, I certainly want it to arrive on time. Anyone else have service issues at The Source? Also, why do restaurants offer free dessert when service is bad. If I've experienced bad service, the last thing I want to do is wait even longer for another dish to come out of the kitchen.
Honesty -- straightforward information and a swift apology -- are all most diners want when things go south in a restaurant. "Free dessert" doesn't cut it, in my opinion, because diners were still greatly inconvenienced by the late entree.
Hi Tom! I wrote to you a few weeks ago asking if we should stick to J&G Steakhouse for an upcoming special occasion or if you had other recommendations. You told us to keep our reservation - we did - and let me tell you, we were not disappointed! We had a fabulous experience. That is a classy, classy place, and our waiter, Morgan, was excellent. The food was absolutely delicious and we never felt rushed. So thank you for telling us to keep our reservation - we're glad we did. Thanks again for your advice.
Tom - My buddy wants to know where he can find caribbean/island food in a dressed up/fine dining atmosphere. Any ideas?
My boss is new to DC and is taking an important client to a pretty important lunch. I asked her where we were going and she said Cafe Milano. I have to admit this gave me pause. I'm sure its a "name" restaurant she picked up and thought this was a good place. I've never been there for lunch, only for dinner and its honestly been awhile. But, my initially reaction is that Cafe Milano is for the "Sahali crowd" and not giving quite the impression she thinks she is to our guest, who has been in DC for an eternity and undoubtedly knows the landscape. She's a new boss, so I don't want to ruffle feathers. Should I suggest somewhere else, or let this one ride?
If you haven't found a good place in Baltimore to eat then you haven't look very hard. The Helmand, B, Salt, Corks, Petite Louis Bistro are just a few of the great places around the city. Any local will tell you that only out of the know tourists eat in the Inner Harbor. Get out an explore the real parts of Baltimore.
I tip 15% and sometimes 20% depending on the service.
I bet the places you frequent LOVE you.
Hi, I need a place to meet an old friend early this evening for drinks and light, but good food. Problem -- he's on crutches. So even Church Key on 14th is too far. Can you give me something within three blocks? Thanks.
Tom, Kudos to you for your kind response to these folks, whose rudeness and sense of entitlement floored me. As if you owed them your personal attention because they couldn't be bothered to check readily available online resources before venturing to Baltimore (e.g., the Washington Post's own Restaurant Finder on the Going Out Guide, Baltimore Magazine, egullet, chowhound to name just a few sources). Keep up your class act.
I haven't been there in a while but for upscale dining, I really loved Espuma. The food and service were excellent and it is right near the boardwalk/main drag.
And that brings another chat to another conclusion.
See you back here next week, gang. Eat well in the meantime.