Monday, December 18, 2006

Restaurants: Let's hear it for the V's

Two recent restaurant meals, both successes.

I may be the last person in the neighborhood who hadn't been to Vegetate, the vegetarian restaurant on 9th Street (just behind the Giant). I actually really like vegetables, but somehow it just seems like a restaurant should be have them in supporting roles, not as the main attraction. Also, I had heard sort of mixed reviews from people who had eaten there, so I hadn't been all that anxious to give it a try.

I'm glad to report that my qualms were baseless, and I really enjoyed the dinner. The dining rooms are handsome and stylish, but comfortable. The server was knowledgeable and ready for a little banter with our group, and showed none of the hipper- and holier-than-thou attitude I half expected. And the food was very good indeed.

For an appetizer I had a delicious creamy gratin of leeks and jerusalem artichokes. Don't know if it actually had dairy in it (Vegetate is ovolacto vegetarian, not vegan--though there are some vegan dishes), but it was so good that I would happily have made a meal of it had it been a little bigger. The main course was a kind of torte on a polenta base, with black beans and roasted sweet potatoes--also excellent. I particularly liked the spicy sauteed collards that accompanied it--would love to have the recipe. I also sampled someone else's potato gnocchi served with mushrooms and broccoli raab--very good as well.

Vegetate still doesn't have its liquor license, despite the "emergency legislation" passed by the DC council--so no alcoholic drinks are yet available. But I had the terrific homemade ginger ale, very fresh and spicy. The bar is ready when the license comes through--hopefully fairly soon--and they have a special event license for New Year's Eve.

I believe the bill for our group of five was about $130 (some had only appetizers), plus tip and without desserts. Definitely worth it. So if you have a lingering doubt about a vegetarian restaurant, get over it and check out Vegetate.

A bit further afield and higher up the price scale, we also recently tried out Viridian at 1515 14th Street (next to the Studio Theater) and had another very happy experience there. The restaurant is in a former Hudson car dealership (traces of its former life still visible if you look hard enough) and the dining room is a big elegant space decorated with enormous empty baroque frames on the wall. Be sure to check out the infinity of mirrors in the unisex restrooms.

Service was attentive and professional, but unpretentious and not too chummy. We were presented with an extremely minimalist "amuse bouche" consisting of two cherry tomatoes sliced in half and sprinkled with a little vinagrette and fresh oregano. I skipped the appetizers ("Sketches"), but got bites from my fellow diners and liked what I tasted. Unfortunately, I didn't get to sample much of the main dish ("Major Works") offerings since everyone in our party ordered the same one: a big juicy chunk of roasted pork loin sauced with a pear-pinot noir reduction. But we were all very pleased with our choice. The side dishes were also quite good: roasted mushrooms, wild rice with cranberries, and couscous with pistachios.

Nobody had room for dessert but we had French press coffees and tea, and left very content. The tab was about $200 for four, including tip and pre-dinner cocktails. They make a very decent martini.

16 Comments:

At 12/18/2006 5:30 PM, Anonymous gay hamburger said...

daddy-oh,
have y'all been back to bebar? I've not been yet. oh well, maybe next year.

 
At 12/18/2006 11:43 PM, Blogger cathrina said...

oh i am so god damm hungry..anyways whats the plan for new years??

 
At 12/19/2006 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've grown quite fond of Vegetate. I had a euphoric brunch experience there recently. I particularly like the croquettes, the curried butternut squash soup and the portabella mushroom sandwich. Oh, and the mini tofu burgers (much to my surprise).

Have a great holiday!

 
At 12/19/2006 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've grown quite fond of Vegetate. I had a euphoric brunch experience there recently. I particularly like the croquettes, the curried butternut squash soup and the portabella mushroom sandwich. Oh, and the mini tofu burgers (much to my surprise).

Have a great holiday!

 
At 12/19/2006 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've grown quite fond of Vegetate. I had a euphoric brunch experience there recently. I particularly like the croquettes, the curried butternut squash soup and the portabella mushroom sandwich. Oh, and the mini tofu burgers (much to my surprise).

Have a great holiday!

 
At 12/19/2006 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've grown quite fond of Vegetate. I had a euphoric brunch experience there recently. I particularly like the croquettes, the curried butternut squash soup and the portabella mushroom sandwich. Oh, and the mini tofu burgers (much to my surprise).

Have a great holiday!

 
At 12/19/2006 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha. I'm having blogger issues--I swear that everytime I tried to post that message I got a error message about my word verification!

 
At 12/19/2006 11:16 AM, Anonymous Sam said...

I concur daddy-oh, I'm a fan of both places.

 
At 12/19/2006 12:55 PM, Anonymous yt said...

Viridian is fantastic and worth every penny.

Although fruits and veggies deserve the attention Vegetate gives them, the prices seem a bit off the mark for what should logically be cheaper fare. It takes more feed, time, money and energy to get animal parts to the table than to deliver the crop harvest from the fertile earth to the plate.

Note: Thurdays small plates are 1/2 priced, 6-8pm.

 
At 12/19/2006 3:35 PM, Anonymous Ray said...

Don't any of you folks remember ye olde Golden Temple Restaurant run by the "Q-tips'" (American Sikhs') on the site of Kramer Books and Afterwards on Connecticut Avenue? Now that was hearty vegetarian without the minimalist motto pretensioso sooo appealing to the skinny PDA/cellphone crowd (They did have much of the attitude, however). That was my favorite place to eat as a starving grad student. Those guys wore Birkenstocks even before Earth Shoes! I still make their hearty veggie burgers and spicy chai waay before Starbucks repackaged it as a commercial product (The Amersikhs gave out their recipes before they invested and moved their ashrams out to the burbs). I still think Vegetate is a rip-off for rotted soy products -- the sorlent green of the 21st Century. ....but nothing is as bad as B-Bar.

 
At 12/19/2006 7:06 PM, Anonymous gay hamburger said...

jesus ray
i thought i was the only one to remember the whirling dervishes
slicing, dicing, shakin and bakin

 
At 12/21/2006 7:48 AM, Blogger DaddyFiveOh said...

Gay Hamburger:
Yes, I've been back to BeBar twice, only because I was with other people who wanted to check it out. Both occasions were at off-peak times, so we didn't get hit up for the $5 cover (for what? there's no entertainment). Not that many people there either time, so there really wasn't much of a scene going on. Can't speak for what it's like at the Desperate Hours, however.

 
At 12/21/2006 8:14 AM, Anonymous Drew said...

I have inquired about the $5 cover charge at BeBar and was given the following explanation:

"The cover charge is only collected on Friday and Saturday nights because entertainment is provided in the form of a DJ"

I guess it sort of makes sense if BeBar felt a little more club-like but let's face it... it is a bar... regular ol' bar. Never busy during the week, crowded on the weekends bar.

It is a great place for a happy hour martini during the week if you're looking for a quiet location... otherwise I'm holding my breath for Vegetate to get it's liquor license. There second story bar/dance floor looks like more fun anyway!

 
At 12/21/2006 6:05 PM, Anonymous gay hamburger said...

yeah drew the bar upstairs at vegetate is very nice and they have a deck too. i can wait for that to open.

 
At 12/23/2006 6:00 AM, Anonymous Ray said...

I'll save my pennies for the brew pub opening up on the Ninth Street side of the Convention Center and order a burger. I am VERY dubious of the Sushi-Mongolian grill opening next door, however. What do landlocked Mongolians know from seafood?

 
At 12/23/2006 8:25 AM, Anonymous GAY LAMBCHOPS said...

Seafood Recipe - Sizzling Mongolian Scallops
Ingredients

1 lb (450g ) scallops

1 tbsp (15ml) light soy sauce

1 tbsp (15ml) dry sherry

3 tbsp (45ml) vegetable oil

1 large onion, peeled and cut in eights

1 tsp (5ml) chopped fresh ginger

SAUCE

1 tsp (5ml) chili garlic sauce

2 tsp (10ml) hoisin sauce

1 tsp (15ml) sesame oil

1/2 tsp (2.5ml) five-spice powder

1 tsp (5ml) sugar

1 tbsp (15ml) peanut butter

1/4 cup (60ml) fish stock


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Method:

In a bowl combine scallops, soy sauce and sherry. Heat oil in wok. Add onion and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.

Blend in sauce ingredients and stir-fry until boiling. Serve at once on hot sizzle plate.

 

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