Dinner at Rose’s Luxury

Happy Valentine’s Day! I wanted to share how Ben and I celebrated early a few days ago, but please remember to love yourself, however you are able to best do that.

This is my 400th post on this blog, and I have officially been posting twice a week consistently for an entire calendar year. I’m really proud to have reached this point and may be taking a small hiatus in posting regularly while I pull myself together and refocus. (Might not, we’ll see how I feel!) Thank you so much for being with me this past year and these past 400 posts.


I have a lot of thoughts about the DC food scene, but I will admit that it is improving. (I’ll put up all my gripes about the DC food scene and places that have shown this improvement in the near future!) Last year, Washington DC was recognized as Bon Appetit magazine’s Restaurant City of the Year and also received its first-ever Michelin stars, and that is thanks to many great new restaurants and chefs that have made enough of a name for themselves to do fresh, bold things.

But we aren’t here to talk about the hot new places. Rose’s Luxury has been one of the most-hyped restaurants in the District since I started working in the area. It earned a Michelin star last year and can be reliably found on Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list year after year. I’ve only ever heard good things from friends who’ve visited the restaurant, citing that yes, it is worth the hype!

Where does most of the hype come from? 2 things:

  1. Their most famous dish, a pork & lychee salad
  2. The fact that they do not take reservations, so people have to start waiting in line at 3pm in order to get a table for dinner… 2.5 hours later.

They do take reservations for large parties (6 or more), but I couldn’t find that many friends so I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to eat at Rose’s.

BUT THEN! Towards the end of last year, Rose’s Luxury announced that they would be accepting reservations! For parties of 2! With the purchase of a gift card that could be used towards that meal!

TL;DR Rose’s Luxury does an impressive job of combining a lot of different flavors in a balanced and unexpectedly delicious way, all while injecting a bit of sassy personality along the way.


Despite the name, Rose’s Luxury is not a luxurious, pretentious, fancy restaurant. In fact, you might walk past it if you’re not paying attention.

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Photo: Travel & Leisure

Inside, the ambiance is similarly not-stuffy and, in fact, more on the hipster-trendy side. Rose’s has a lot of personality, and it shows in their decor. We were seated upstairs near the bar, and walked past my friends’ favorite seating area that is lit overhead by globe string lights.

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“All unattended or misbehaving children will be given a shot of espresso & a free puppy.” Better keep your kids in line!

Behind me was a shelf with books and fun knick-knacks. A certificate in dining from Hooter’s did not escape me among the otherwise very Pinterest-worthy collection. The servers were dressed casually and otherwise indistinguishable from guests, who were not dressed to the nines for their 9pm dinners. In the bathroom, behind a small mirror was a window that overlooked the dining area below and still had elements of the personality that was subtly embedded in the entire restaurant experience.

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“All employees must wash their hands before returning to work. Fortunately, we hire smart enough employees that we don’t have to remind them to do so.”

We had a gift certificate to blow on our 5th Valentine’s Day together, so let’s get into the food!

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The meal kicked off with a soft potato brioche w/ bacon butter. This wasn’t particularly outstanding as far as breads go, but I liked the soft texture and the warmed, soft bacon butter a lot. I only wished it didn’t crumble so much because I want bread to go in my belly, not on the board.

LITTLE BITES

We enjoyed these little bites, and they were a great way to prep us for what is, I believe, the core of the Rose’s Luxury experience: pulling off interesting, unexpected, and bold flavor combinations.

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Stuffed dates w/ cultured butter & walnuts // Ben took a bit to warm up to these, but I really liked the sweet and soft dates, the savoriness and warmth of the butter, and the slight crunch and bitterness of the walnuts.

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Foie gras tart w/ hazelnut, white chocolate, & Asian pear // This was the strangest of the little bites because of the white chocolate chips embedded in the not-sweet foie gras filling of the tart. But it still came together because of its creaminess and it complemented the sweet flavors of the chocolate and the pear. Kind of hated it when I first bit into it, but found myself liking it a lot by the time the bite was gone.

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Sake & wasabi-marinated oysters w/ apple granita // I don’t usually like wasabi very much (sorry wasabi pea lovers!), but these oysters were great because of how the very different flavors and textures came together. It was a bit much for one slurp, but I liked how the frozen apple granita helped mollify the burn I would’ve felt from the wasabi and even from the sake, while still allowing some of flavor of the oyster to come through.

SMALL PLATES

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Pork sausage, habanero, peanuts, & lychee // Here we are. The most famous dish at Rose’s Luxury, cited in over 250 reviews on Yelp. At the bottom were herbs and on top was a dollop of coconut cream that, as you stirred the whole thing, would melt over the salad and act as the dressing. There were a lot of flavors happening in this small plate and I do think this is a good example of how Rose’s Luxury really pushes the envelope with combining flavors. Ben and I found this salad a bit too salty and not really worth the hype, to be honest. It was tasty and honestly, I do admire what Aaron Silverman did with this flavor combination, but it didn’t change my life and I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it again.

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Fried brussels sprouts w/ benne tahini, eel sauce, & bonito // The prominent flavors in this one were brussels sprouts and tahini, both of which are very strong flavors. I felt this was maybe the least successful in terms of balancing the flavors of all the components, but it was still tasty because the sprouts and tahini were an interesting combination. I just didn’t think the other flavors had much of an effect in the quantity that they were used.

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Crispy squid w/ Yemeni hot sauce, romaine, & sweet lemon puree // By the time this came out, Ben and I were starting to feel the effect of the food. We hadn’t really eaten that much, but I think we felt very satiated by the sheer quantity of flavors that we were consuming. The flavors were pretty well-balanced in this one, although I didn’t detect much heat from the hot sauce and I’m not sure if that was intentional or not. The squid itself was… prepared okay? Not that crispy, but it’s hard for me to find a calamari I don’t like.

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Thai-marinated pork blade steak w/ nahm prik slaw // Again, by the time this came out, Ben and I weren’t as eager about the food anymore. I was also really sleepy by this point in the evening, as we were seated for dinner at close to 9:30pm and I have been getting sleepy very early because I’ve been attempting exercise in the mornings. As a result, I don’t really have any thoughts about this pork dish, it didn’t stand out as particularly good or bad.

PASTA

If you’re thinking that maybe we were regretting ordering a pasta… you’d be right. I was nodding off at this point in the meal and my belly was trying to come to terms with how many flavors and ingredients it had met over the past hour. We ordered the farro reginetti w/ garlic, kale, & mustard greens and… it was okay.

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The two of us, personally, do not like our pasta cooked very al dente, so the bite-y pasta was a bit of a struggle when 10:30, 11 was rolling around. The taste was fine but… pretty ordinary, to be really honest. A touch of sauce didn’t really help how overwhelmingly al dente this pasta was, and I wasn’t super excited about the leftovers I brought to lunch the next day.

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However, our server, Janine, sent a “gift” of a little bit of their Martelli spaghetti w/ tomato, chili, basil, & Parmesan and that was coated in maybe the best pasta sauce I have ever tasted in my entire life? I like my tomato sauces to be a bit sweet, and this was the perfect amount of sweetness that I could tell wasn’t the result of the sloppy addition of sugar. We only were able to take some of this home because we were so done with the meal already, and having those two bites to enjoy over the weekend was nothing short of glorious. I really want the recipe for this tomato sauce, it was the highlight of the entire meal for me and we didn’t even order it! Thank you so much, Janine!

DESSERT

Listen, I know I said that I was basically passed out and unable to eat but I didn’t come all this way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and not eat dessert. You just gotta open up that dessert compartment in your stomach and you’re good to go. Based on Janine’s recommendation, we got the coconut ice cream with burnt caramel coconut and kiwi.

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I didn’t love this, unfortunately. The ice cream was tasty, but I think it felt weird to have more coconut after the coconut cream from the pork & lychee salad during a meal where my mouth was constantly being surprised by different flavors and how they were combined. A repeat performance by coconut was like, “Hey… what are you doing back here?” Also, I did not like the burnt caramel coconut. It was sticky in that unpleasant way that lent it a kind of poor mouthfeel and I found the bitterness to just not really work at this point in the evening. And kiwi was a fun choice but I’m not sure I loved the tartness of the kiwi with the sweet and creamy ice cream. I know that people really love this dessert, but I think I just wasn’t in the mood for more coconut or for a flavor to come from burnt-ness.

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At the end of the meal, our receipt was brought out to us with a sesame brittle and little touches that made us smile.

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1 Hooray! 2 Side of Winning, 1 Helluva Time, 1 Side of Awesome, all free of charge

I enjoyed my time at Rose’s Luxury but I’m glad I never had to wait hours to eat here. I don’t think it’s worth that kind of wait, and as a result I don’t think it’s worth the level of hype it has achieved. That being said, Aaron Silverman and his team are doing some incredible things with food and flavor that I think DC needs more of.  Even the small plates format – which I normally loathe here in DC – works for this because you are getting small punches of these crazy flavors.

Rose’s Luxury
717 8th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 580-8889
www.rosesluxury.com

Reservations for the tasting menu can be made for groups of 6-8. Private parties for 8-12 on the rooftop garden can be reserved and include a different tasting menu.


What are some of the most famous and/or hyped restaurants where you live?
What makes a restaurant worth the hype for you?

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Eat DC: President-Themed

DC is one of the top foodie cities in America, but that means that much of our food scene looks the same as others. It’s a culture driven by young professionals who love burgers, brunch, and happy hours. What sets DC apart?

Well, the president lives here. Every president before him has. DC is distinct because of it’s importance in American politics and, subsequently, in US history. In terms of our food scene, this culminates in president-themed restaurants and bars.

Nothing screams DC more than a trendy restaurant that is dedicated to a US president.

Lincoln

The iconic giant armchair/booth (Photo courtesy of lincolnrestaurant-dc.com)

 

With Lincoln, we reach the pinnacle of the DC food scene. Small plates? Check. Southern food? Check. Happy hour and brunch? Check. Trendy food items? Check. President-themed? HUGE CHECK. This is easily one of the coolest places I have ever seen and one of the most DC places I can think of. It is a really nice gastropub with an impressive menu of small plates and drinks. It is also the trendiest tribute to an American president I have ever seen. Copper pennies on the floor, mason jar lighting, cast-iron skillets for serving your food, bathrooms labeled “Abes” and “Marys”, etc. I just really love how into the theme this place is. I mean, PENNIES. Because Lincoln! The cocktail menu commits also, as I fully expect from any themed restaurant.

Popular items include braised short ribsmac and cheesepot pieMoscow Mule, and Lady Lincoln.

Come for happy hour, brunch, dinner, lunch, whatever. Come for the Lincoln-themed gastropub whenever you can!

1110 Vermont Ave. NW; (202) 386-9200; lincolnrestaurant-dc.com

Teddy and the Bully Bar

(Photo courtesy of teddyandthebullybar.com)

 

Actually owned by the same folks who own Lincoln, and actually, a pretty similar concept, as well. Lots of small plates and, guess what, they’re also into the farm-to-table goodness! The menu is meant to reflect Teddy Roosevelt’s love for comfort foods and game, since we all know he was an avid hunter. The vibe here is decidedly different from Lincoln. Where Lincoln is darker and cozier, Teddy and the Bully Bar is brighter and has more modern touches, like the mounted “animal heads” that are really 3D art.

Popular items include mac and cheesebrussel sproutsscallopsRio Roosevelt, and safari sangria

Come for happy hour, brunch, dinner, whatever

1200 19th St. NW; (202) 872-8200; teddyandthebullybar.com

The restaurateurs behind Lincoln and Teddy and the Bully Bar are actually coming out with another restaurant in the fall, so stay tuned for more from a spot called Declaration!

Eat DC: Farm-to-Table

In honor of Christine & Karen‘s upcoming trip to visit me in DC, I thought I’d share a little insight as to my planning process when it comes to what to show them when they are here. I am, by no means, an expert on the DC food scene, but these are the impressions I have of it. While we won’t be able to visit all of these places, I hope you will be able to at some point!


One food trend that is making its way around the country is locally-sourced, farm-to-table restaurants. This is one that I think will be here to stay, if not forever then for a long while, because diners are able to support local businesses even more by choosing restaurants that source their food from local farms. As a diner, you aren’t so worried about what kind of ordeals your salad had to endure to get to your plate, ripening over a bumpy truck journey across the country instead of how nature intended.

I’ve visited a couple of the farms that supply many of our local restaurants in the DMV, and it does feel good knowing that you are supporting local farms, where you can put faces to your food. DC also places a big emphasis on food being sustainable as well, which is a huge plus in my book.

Let’s go over a few DC establishments that partake in more conscientious dining:

Farmers Fishers Bakers

(Photo courtesy of GrizForm Design Architects)

You can tell from the name that Farmers Fishers Bakers wants to place an emphasis on the people who are bringing you your food. Located on the Georgetown Waterfront, they have a sushi bar — which is a little different and weird to me but apparently is working — and an extensive drinks menu. This is a place you go when you want to feel good and to eat food that you feel good about as you enjoy a view of the water.

(See also sister restaurant: Founding Farmers — wearefoundingfarmers.com — now with 3 locations, and a hugely popular brunch spot. Make reservations or be prepared to wait a long time, but Founding Farmers is a great option if you’re not willing to spend quite as much as FFB asks you to.)

Popular items include cinnamon rolls, pretzel appetizercrab dip, and most specialty cocktails

Come for brunch, lunch, dinner

3000 K St. NW; (202) 298-8783; farmersfishersbakers.com

Beuchert’s Saloon

(Photo courtesy of beuchertssaloon.com)

Enter Beuchert’s Saloon and be welcomed in by… just a warm, cozy feeling with a splash of the Old West. If you drink, you definitely need to do so here, because at this former speakaeasy, they know what they’re doing behind the bar. Not only is your food locally sourced, but you can even watch it be prepared thanks to an open kitchen/chef’s bar.

Popular items include bone marrowoxtail tagliatellecandy bar

Come for brunch, dinner

623 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; (202) 733-1384; beuchertssaloon.com

DC Harvest

(Photo from dc-harvest.com)

You can always spot a farm-to-table concept by its name, can’t you? DC Harvest pairs its locally-sourced food with 100% American beverages. You may be noticing a theme, but like many DC farm-to-table restaurants, they decided that supporting local farmers wasn’t enough and decided to take their cocktail game to the next level also.

Popular items include quinoia cakespot du creme – butterscotch or s’mores, [complimentary] chips, and scallops

Come for brunch, happy hour, dinner

517 H St. NE; (202) 629-3296; dc-harvest.com

Honorable Mention: Busboys & Poets

(Photo courtesy of brooklandbridge.com)

Busboys and Poets isn’t necessarily known for locally-sourced food, but I wanted to spotlight them because they are big on sustainable food and supporting local and independent businesses in the DC metro area. Named for poet Langston Hughes being a former busboy, this is a very DC restaurant in how conscientious it is in every way: they use clean power, push for higher minimum wage for restaurant employees (not just their own)… plus they sell books, have open mic nights… it’s a groovy place, you guys.

Popular items include nachossweet potato friesfrench toast, and blackened salmon

Come for brunch, lunch, dinner

Original location: 2021 14th St. NW; (202) 387-7638; busboysandpoets.com

Special Mention: Silver Diner

Trying to figure out the original source for this photo, could anyone help?

Silver Diner is a DMV family of diners that really surprised me. I thought it was just some local diner chain, typical diner food there to greet you after a late night or for an early morning. Oh no no no. They have undergone some kind of overhaul and now partner with local farms that are described around their restaurants by the name of the farm and with photos of the farmers themselves. The bottles of ketchup on the table are labeled “Organic Ketchup”. The menu has been reworked to be seasonal, healthier, and not greasy greasy-spoon fare. I normally get frustrated with DC restaurant recommendations that include Maryland and Virginia establishments, but I thought that the Silver Diner was a really good example of how the farm-to-table movement has affected our entire metro area.

Popular items include quinoa coconut pancakesa milkshakeflat-iron steak, and Oaxaca omelette

Come for breakfast, brunch

Multiple locations around Maryland, Virginia, and one in Cherry Hill, NJ; silverdiner.com


There are so many options if you want to eat locally-sourced sustainable food, and I definitely think you should try them out.

What do you think of the farm-to-table trend?
What are your favorite locally-sourced and/or sustainable food restaurants?

 

Eat DC: Cupcakes

In honor of Christine & Karen‘s upcoming trip to visit me in DC, I thought I’d share a little insight as to my planning process when it comes to what to show them when they are here. I am, by no means, an expert on the DC food scene, but these are the impressions I have of it. While we won’t be able to visit all of these places, I hope you will be able to at some point!


DC was not immune to this dessert trend in the slightest. In fact, DC became something of a gourmet cupcake capital (badum-psh!) because of a TLC show called DC Cupcakes. As across the nation, we had a bit of a cupcake bubble in DC: they were the HUGEST thing and then suddenly the Crumbs locations were closed. (Some have started opening up, though?) What wasn’t to love about being allowed to eat cake any day of the week in a socially-deemed-appropriate size? You didn’t have to deal with awkward uneven cake cutting, the cakes themselves are beautiful, and you can get them for any occasion really. Buy an ice cream cake just because and you’re a sad human unwilling to let go of your childhood. Buy a cupcake just because and you are treating yo self. And you know how they get you to come back? By having a rotating menu day-by-day. You want to eat Monday AND Thursday flavors? You’ll have to come in on both days.

And before you get mad at me because I’m torturing you with cupcakes but you have dietary restrictions…. gourmet cupcake places are basically required to satisfy your cupcake cravings, too. Gluten-free? Yup. Vegan? Of course. If there’s a will to eat cupcakes, there’s a way to eat cupcakes.

Let us begin with our most famous cupcake bakery. Cupcakery, if you will.

Georgetown Cupcake

(Photo source: georgetowncupcake.com)

Good old GC, the star of DC Cupcakes and the bane of several Georgetown residents’ existence. I say this from experience, the only time I ever visited Georgetown Cupcake. We arrived 30 minutes before the bakery had even opened and there was already a long line outside the door. (This was during the summer that the show premiered on TV.) GC sits on a corner and directly behind it is a residential area. Tourists had been waiting there for goodness-knows how long and were sitting on steps, on the sidewalk, whatever. A woman tried to get past another woman on one of the stoops; the woman on the stoop was less than pleased. “This is my house, get off my front step so I can get inside,” was the excellent response.

I do like their cupcakes, and if you play your cards right, you can even get free cupcakes, that’s right. But the hype is way too much for me and the cupcakes do not live up to the hype or the wait. I am unwilling to wait in that long of a line for cupcakes that are only good. They do have more locations now, but people love to visit the Georgetown location for Georgetown cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake. The original remains one of the most reviewed businesses in DC. You can usually spot a GC cupcake by its smooth frosting.

Popular flavors include chocolate ganachesalted caramel, and red velvet at $3 each/$32 a dozen

3301 M St. NW; (202) 333-8448; georgetowncupcake.com

Baked & Wired

(Photo source: Coral Gundlach on trulia)

This is the name you will hear when locals scoff at your request for GC. Baked & Wired offers many baked goodies and coffee but they are famous for their delicious, LARGER “cakecups”. However, after taking a photo with their iconic pink bike with flowers growing in the basket (yep, it’s as cute as it sounds), be sure to order other items in addition to cupcakes. Reviewers would suggest the OMG Bar (next level s’mores) and the hippie crack (granola).

Go on and stop by GC while you’re in town. But don’t get more than one cupcake there; sneak off to Baked & Wired afterwards and put yourself in a food coma there. You can usually spot a B&W cupcake by how enormous it is, especially if it’s still wrapped in paper, but is NOT a muffin. Because it’s frosted!

Popular flavors include dirty chai, Elvis impersonator aka the Unporked Elvis, and menage-a-trois at $3.65 each

1052 Thomas Jefferson St. NW; (703) 663-8727; bakedandwired.com

The Cake Room

(Photo source: Fadi J. on Yelp)

The Cakeroom is part of the Sugar Daddy’s franchise, owned by Jordanian pastry chef Fadi Jaber who just loved Western desserts. You go for the delicious pastries with just a hint of a not-from-around-here goodness  as well as for the adorable atmosphere. They are White House-approved (they made the cake for the Easter Egg Roll this year!) and make a variety of really delicious looking cakes, not cup-sized but still good and available by the slice.

Popular flavors include banoffeedate, and lemon lavender at $2.50 each/$27.50 a dozen

2006 18th St. NW; (202) 450-4462; cakeroombakery.com

Hello Cupcake

Hello Cupcake Dupont Favorable
(Photo source: cupcakeideas.us)

Hello Cupcake was actually my first DC cupcake experience, thanks to my friend Camden bringing some to campus when I was but a wee freshman. They have a super convenient location near the Dupont Circle metro entrance. I like that their cupcakes deliver just what they say they will and don’t try too hard, if that makes sense. Reviewers don’t rave about them as much as they do Georgtown cupcakeries, but it has survived the fall of the cupcake trend and has its own following thanks to its signature flavors.

Popular flavors include peanut butter blossomstrawberry fields, and dulce de leche at $3.50 each/$36 a dozen

1361 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 861-2253; hellocupcakeonline.com


You can count on DC for cupcakes, that’s for sure. Even though this trend has been officially declared over, the District and many other foodie cities will still continue to love cupcakes.

Do you like cupcakes? What’s your favorite flavor and place to get cupcakes?
What did you think of the cupcake trend? What do you think the next dessert trend is?