Reunion Night Out | NYC 2017

Hello, it’s been a while! I am recovering from my short hiatus, a bunch of travel, and the news cycle, so let’s just jump right into it:

Ben and I spent Labor Day Weekend in my home city of New York for what has become an annual visit. The trip began as they always do: in Union Station in Washington, DC where we finally bit the bullet for some pre-lunch meu Bojangles. (Previously, we always hesitated to get Bo’ because our bus always leaves before the breakfast menu ends, so we weren’t able to order the dinners. I recently tried to boneless Chicken Supremes and discovered they are super tasty and easier to eat on the go! So we were able to enjoy delicious fried chicken after all.)

During the bus ride up, we discovered that the dinner plans Ben’s college friends made were earlier in the evening (the original reservation was before we even arrived), so we immediately caught a cab to our hotel, spent forever checking in, and took another cab to dinner, where our reservation was pushed back because half the group was also running late. (Review: One UN New York hotel)

The view from our room included the nearby Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building
The view from our room included the nearby Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building

We had a great time at dinner at Natsumi Tapas (review), catching up with old friends we hadn’t seen since last Labor Day or since graduation, and celebrating a recent engagement in the group. (It’s a group of Ben’s friends from college, and they are trying to make it a tradition for us to hang out every Labor Day weekend in a different city. We were invited to visit New York to celebrate the engagement, and Ben and I had already planned to be there for that weekend so it all worked out!)

From dinner, we split up to get ready for a night at the club before reconvening to pregame. The pregame was not what I was expecting at all, from how I remember pregaming with this crew back in college. Upon walking in, a terrible instant-film photo was taken of me and we were sat down to play Avalon: The Resistance, which is a super fun game that is kind of like Mafia but set in Arthurian legend and with no dying, aka  everyone can keep playing to the end. Before we knew it, it was time to head out to Hotel Chantelle, where our friend once drunkenly tried to chill with Jeremy Lin. He got thrown out of the club for harassing him, but he clearly had a good enough time to come back! (I hated the DJ though, as I mention at length in my review.)

In my bad-DJ-induced late night crankiness, I decided that if I had to endure such bad DJing and have had to pay for it, I deserved a dollar slice of one of my favorite foods of all time:  New York-style pizza. So, in the rain, after going back and forth about whether or not I actually should go out for pizza at 2am, Ben graciously accompanied me to get dollar slices of pizza a few blocks from the hotel. We trudged back to the hotel, in the rain, holding cold slices of pizza, which I ate real happily while watching The Help on TV.

I didn’t take that many photos on day 1, but I started playing with the 1 Second Everyday app, so here’s a few seconds from this day!

Where would you recommend for clubbing nights in Manhattan? I’ve never really gone clubbing before Labor Day weekend, but I hope if I go back I get a better DJ!

Do you like the 1 Second Everyday app? I had a lot of fun with taking tiny clips and letting an app string them all together for me. If you like this format, please let me know! It’s a really different way for me to document versus taking photos.

 

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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?

Our Big Night Out | SF 2016

Last time on SF 2016, we did a walking tour through Chinatown, Nob Hill, and Fisherman’s Wharf. After a lot of steps logged on people’s fitness trackers, it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner…

Also, you may have noticed that I have gone back to my Tuesday/Friday posting schedule. I chose it for a good reason, and the Monday/Thursday was really throwing me off…


After soaking up a little bit of sunshine post-arcade games, we took cars back to our hotel to rest our feet and get ready for dinner. Our reservation wasn’t for a few hours, and we didn’t trust ourselves to actually nap, so our hotel room started watching Netflix’s Stranger Things.

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We got thoroughly heebie-jeebie-ed watching the first episode and only then learning that one of the lamps in our room flickered. A lot. (On the show, the lights flickered when the monster was nearby.) Having the thick curtains drawn and all of the other lights out certainly didn’t help! (Cue me hiding in the blankets.)

Then it was time for dinner! After a group vote, we wound up at Harris, a traditional steakhouse. It was easy to forget that while we were just getting together with friends, this is a formal restaurant, as we were reminded when a waiter asked one of our party to remove his hat. (Yes they did!) Ben and I split the big ol’ porterhouse with foie gras. (Harris will allow you to split a steak and give each person their own plate for sides for an additional charge.) To be honest, I was disappointed with the steak. At this price point, I am expecting a lot more, and I felt a little bit sick after eating. I didn’t want to finish my portion, even though I came into the meal super hungry. (I didn’t even have the opportunity to regret filling up on bread because we were all given one piece per person.)

dsc01584Still wanting to eat and treat myself for our Big Night Out, I knew I had room in my belly for dessert and went for the baked Alaska. Again, it was fine but just not what I was expecting. Baked Alaska  has never been my favorite, and we failed to clean the plate for this one.dsc01585

Afterwards, it was back to the hotel to get ready for part 2 of our Big Night Out: dancing at the club. We pregamed a bit in the hotel room, getting hyped on music videos and touching speeches about friendship. The guys specifically sought out an Asian nightclub for the sake of the bachelors in our group and landed on Origin.

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OH I get it, because Neo goes to that Asian club in the beginning of The Matrix, right?

Unfortunately, I suspect that Origin was too well-known as a hot Asian club, and people didn’t want to go to an established Asian club so when we arrived at 11:30, it was… well… suspiciously empty…

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When we walked in, the people sitting in front of us and the folks standing by the bar weren’t even there…

Luckily, we sprang for table service so we were able to drink and dance and SIT. We were really glad that we didn’t pay the extra $$$ for a table on the dancefloor, because those tables were just a few feet in front of ours and we liked that ours were out of the way enough that we could leave our jackets there without worrying about random people walking by to take them.

Ultimately, some folks drank too much and the rest of us spent end of the evening taking care of them. I was able to climb into bed at the ghastly hour of 3:30AM. (Remember, that’s 6:30 Eastern time…) This was just dandy, as I had a 5AM alarm to look forward to hearing… But it was a fun night out and I was excited for a fun Sunday ahead of me because it was time to be reunited with Christine!!!


Where would you go for dinner and dancing for a Big Night Out? In our ride the day after, our driver told us his recommendations for fancy dinners and nightclubs, even including the new hotness in the Asian clubbing scene. We’ll keep them in mind, but maybe they’ll be out of style by the time we return!

Have you watched Stranger Things? Ben and I finished a few days after returning and I had goosebumps all over my body every episode.

SCK Adventures: Nomz, Museums, and Late Nights (Day 2)

(Day 1)

Day 2 is probably the morning that we woke up most refreshed after getting the most amount of sleep during this SCK adventure. This is because of what happened at the end of Day 2, but we’ll get to that.

TL;DR We focus a lot on food today, kicking off with fried food galore, doing some museum hopping in the afternoon, and then going out for a night on the town with friends before eating a late night meal at 4 AM.

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