Friday, September 21, 2012

Casa Mono does a small plate right

maybe it's because my eyes are often bigger than my stomach, or that i don't want to miss out on a better dish or that i want to try everything, but i have always had a love for small plates, whether it's dim sum, banchan or tapas.  the spanish variety was just beginning to experience it's heyday when i first moved to NYC in 2005, and even with a tapas laden trip to barcelona, i still couldn't get enough of it.  Pinxtos (which is sadly no mas), Tia Pol, Oliva (also closed), 1492, Mercat, Boqueria. . .

and yet, despite having a fondness for it's sister tapas establishment Bar Jamon, i had somehow missed Casa Mono! it is a gem of a restaurant, tucked away on 17th and irving.  the atmosphere is warm, inviting- matching the friendliness of the waitstaff.  a great place for small groups or a cozy date.

our selections are pictured below: pumpkin and goatcheese croquettes, charceuterie and cheese plate, blackened beets,  lobster wrapped in a banana leaf, yellowfin tuna, skirt steak, and calamares (sorry no picture) and grilled duck breast. every dish was well executed and beautifully presented. 

however, there were two standouts for me.  (1) the duck which was a true medium rare, therein maximizing flavor and succulence and complimented nicely with sour plums and parsnips. (2) the grilled squid served with harissa and squid ink, which managed to be both clean and decadent all at once.  oh Casa Mono, am i so glad i finally found you!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bistro Petit

Bistro Petit has been on my list of "must try" neighborhood restaurants for quite some time and this past saturday night i finally had the opportunity to go.  when a restaurant has especially high reviews- i'm always a bit nervous- will the experience live up to the hype? are the positive remarks a result of exuberance from going to the new restaurant? does the reviewer have similar tastes?  

all reservations melted away at first bite of a sumptuous, grilled artichoke served with a medley of greens, fava beans and olives lightly dressed in oil.  such a simple dish but nonetheless remarkably delicious.   

truffled mac and cheese- obviously got too carried away with sampling before i remembered to snap a photo! yummy but really how can you go wrong with mac and cheese and truffles?

steak frites are reinterpreted as sliced, organic strip loin steak in a peppercorn sauce topped with ribbon fries.  really a great piece of meat.  served (thank you!) as requested, a true medium rare.  the high quality of the meat was immediately noticeable, both tender, flavorful and perfectly seared.  and yes, those ribbon fries are addictive- something between a chip and a french fry. Bistro Petit's steak is a serious contender (watch out St.Anselm)!

genius is having the foresight to develop an idea that makes so much sense after the fact, that you wonder why you had never thought of it before.  kimchi bouillabaisse is pure genius.  Chef Park masterfully tempers, without losing the spirit and flavor, of kimchi chige in his refined rendition of this hearty seafood stew.  come fall/wintry night, you may find me holed up here with a bottle of soju or sake and devouring an order of bouillabaisse.

worrying that there might not be enough food (which turned out not to be the case), we requested an order of the duck confit.  oh my.  this may have been the surprise table favorite ("they should just make a vat of that stuff" exclaimed The Nose after a taste of the foie gras toast accompanying the duck), crispy skin encasing perfectly seasoned and succulent meat which was nicely offset by the crisp arugula and pomegranate salad. 

i LOVE Bistro Petit.  they serve really really good food with the finest ingredients (locally sourced, organic blah blah blah), without being pretentious. it feels honest. humble. given the increasingly sceney environs, this is a remarkable feat.  please don't change.  and i hope i didn't embarrass the chef too much with my enthusiastic compliments. . . .i tend to get carried away when it comes to food.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

end of summer

I approached Labor Day weekend with mixed feelings- excited to meet up with my husband in Maryland, but sad to say goodbye to summer Fridays and lots of sunshine. . . nonetheless, it was a spectacular weekend of catching up with loved ones, delectable dining- and oh yes, sleeping on the NY-DC bus both ways!

The husband and I decided to make our first restaurant stop MOA, a nondescript- have to go out of your way to find, Korean restaurant in Rockville Maryland.   Why Korean? Because it's one of my favorite foods and my poor husband has been sorely lacking in food variety in Ohio!  The banchan came out pretty immediately- pretty decent kim chi and the waitress kindly told us to let her know if we need refills.  A nice change from the sometimes stinginess I encounter in NY restaurants.  We ordered seafood pajun (pancake), yook gae jang (spicy beef stew), and ojingeo boekkum (spicy stir fried squid) .  I pride myself in being an expert in pajun and I have to say, that Moa's was literally one of the BEST I've ever had.  The other two dishes were good but not remarkable, and I was disappointed by the toned down spice level (but giving them the benefit of the doubt and that they are catering to the general clientele?).  Nonetheless, all in all worthwhile and a repeatable eating experience!

The next notable meal was an early Sunday dinner at Founding Farmers with the sister and brother-in-law and our two adorable nieces.  It was our second time returning and now is officially tied as "favorite" Maryland restaurant (the other is Brewer's Art in Baltimore who's herbed fries I dream about!).  

We started with cocktails and shared appetizers for the table: Dogs & Rolls (you pick 3 types of essentially mini hot dogs of which we chose the Chow-Chow Relish Dog, Bacon Cheddar Dog and Chili Cheese Dog); Smears, Dips and Table Spreads, and Mussels with Sausage and Pesto.  The best dog was the chili cheese variety which was more of a sausage that had a smart bite and the chili actually held its own against the sausage.  The variety of dips includes an addictive romesco sauce and which I blame for always being too full before I even start my entree.  The mussels, a last minute request from the husband, should not be missed. The broth is wonderfully savory and begs to be sopped up with the crusty bread and devoured.  Entree for me was the Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke Salad and for the boy the Prime Rib Dip.  My dish was the perfect summer meal- fresh, light and flavorful (note: combination of cilantro lime dressing and kung pao sauce is genius).  The boy's is comfort food was comfort food at it's best- succulent pieces of already flavorful meat paired with gruyere and onions on  ciabatta. 

Oh Maryland, so many treasures to revisit and discover. . . until next time.