Thursday, July 14, 2011
Medium Rare is an impressive one-trick pony. For $19.95 you get an uber-fresh mixed green salad accompanied by rustic bread, prime, dry aged cap steak, thinly sliced, cooked to order, which is served with a secret sauce and flanked by hand cut fries.
The influence of Ray's the Steaks--where manager Brian Zipin had a brief stint following a very successful run at Central--is apparent in the stripped down dining room and limited menu. Like the original Ray's, there is a warm intimate neighborhood feel, perhaps owing to the fact that Medium Rare's space is small and that it does not take reservations. While a line reportedly starts forming at 5pm on weekends, B and I walked in for dinner last Wednesday with no wait.
The service was friendly and efficient. Waiters note drink orders and steak preferences on the butcher block paper, which covers the table. The limited wine and beer list is moderately priced and well-suited to the menu.
What it does it does excellently. I am pretty sure the crusty, warm bread is the same that is served at Central. The mixed green salad's crisp butter lettuce is tossed with a lovely vinaigrette. The steak comes out in two parts--so do not dismay if your original serving size does not meet expectations. Upon completing your first course, a server will be back around--without you having to ask--with more steak and fries. Trust me, you will want both.
The dessert menu offers the only choice of the evening (unless you are a vegetarian and opt for the portebella mushroom in place of the steak). With five alluring options (carrot cake, cheesecake, etc), I could not pass up the massive hot fudge sundae. Rainbow sprinkles, whipped cream, and nuts top the luscious fudge and creamy vanilla ice cream. Desserts are sized to share among two if not three or four people.
Medium Rare is just as playful with its soundtrack, which is somewhere between Five Guys and Mario Batali's rock-fueled NYC dining rooms. And on a bathroom break you can learn French pick up lines akin to "my apartment has a hot tub," making it a great date option!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Once this oppressive heat releases DC from its grasp and hungry Washingtonians can again leave their cubicles for lunch, try out a unique Bastille Day Celebration this Thursday. Since I work in Tyson's, I will be unable to carry the baguette baton, but you can! Check out the details below from Paul Bakery.
Remember when Les Halles used to have its Bastille Bartender Race down Pennsylvania Ave??? All of DC came out and had a blast watching the bartenders race down the street holding an open bottle of champagne on a tray. Well… now that Les Halles is gone, and there’s a new FRENCH establishment on Pennsylvania Avenue, PAUL Bakery and Café’ is creating a new Bastille Day tradition of its own! This Thursday, July 14th, PAUL will throw a “Bastille Day Baguette Relay Race” and the public is invited to join in the fun and participate!!!
What: BASTILLE DAY BAGUETTE RELAY RACE at PAUL Bakery and Café
To commemorate France’s National Holiday, PAUL – France’s leading bakery – invites the public to come have some fun and participate in a “Baguette Relay Race” which will take place in front of PAUL in Penn Quarter, where relay team members will take turns running a lap around the plaza of the US Navy Memorial with a fresh baguette in hand, in lieu of a traditional baton.
We'll divide up racers into teams of six people. Each team will be led by a PAUL employee. Each racer will do one lap around the circle of the US Navy Memorial and then hand off his/her baguette (baton) to the next teammate. All members of the winning team will get a $25 gift card to PAUL. We'll be encouraging relay racers to sign up in advance on our FB page.
When: Thursday, July 14, 2001 at 11:30am
PAUL Bakery and Café in Penn Qtr. (at the US Navy Memorial)
801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC
Monday, July 11, 2011
Thanks to Daphne, the mastermind behind Go Gastronomy, I had the opportunity to spend Sunday working the Skillet Bacon Spread booth at the National Fancy Food Show. This massive annual trade event brings the nuts and bolts of the food industry together to see the latest and greatest 180,000+ fine food products. Ranging from meat and cheeses to gelato to bacon spread (of course), the term fancy is a loose one. But a chance encounter at this event is how Ben and Jerry's reached the masses. Normally held in New York City, DC got lucky this year and next due to construction at NYC's Javits Center.
The scale of this conference is enormous. I was overwhelmed by the number of products and volume of people. But, I had a job to do. Along with bacon spread creator, Seattle street-food pioneer and burgeoning Food/Cooking Network celeb chef Josh Hendersen, fellow DC food blogger Bindesh of DesiGrub and I prepared bacon spread for thousands. I quickly got up to speed on the Seattle foodie scene (perhaps my next food field trip?!) as well as all things bacon spread. And soon I was busy preparing samples consisting of a cracker topped with a dollop of the spread capped off with brie and an arugula leaf.
My foray into the industry taught me such key terms as "shelf stable" (a product that does not require refrigeration to ship or display) and the contrast between retail and wholesale sizing and pricing. It also taught me that while my day job taxes my mind, it is nothing compared to standing up for eight hours doing food service work. Picture something akin to the I Love Lucy episode where she is frantically wrapping chocolates. It took me (Bindesh was much more adept) a while to get into the swing of things, and just like in I Love Lucy, it was so hard to keep from sampling (er, ensuring quality control).
So alert the masses, Bacon Spread is here to stay!
Friday, July 8, 2011
How does a cold IPA sound on a steamy July afternoon? Domestic, International, Black, Imperial, or even a Wheat IPA? Salivating yet... that is how B and I felt when we stumbled upon "JulyPA" at Pizzeria Paradiso last weekend. All locations are offering the month-long special of nothing but IPAs on tap, but the cozy basement beer bar at the original Georgetown location remains my favorite. You can indulge in individual pours, or if the decision is just too overwhelming after a long week, opt for a sample flight (three for $9, four for $11). Short of diving headlong into an ice cold swimming pool, I can't think of a better way to beat the DC summer heat.