Tabard Inn Brunch: One of the Best…Around!

So after years in DC, SPY finally made it to Tabard Inn for brunch. I know, it’s about damn time. For those that don’t know, the Tabard Inn is one of the most well-respected brunch places in the city. Built in 1922 as a Romanesque-Revival row house, it blends in perfectly with the townhouse neighborhood (a stark contrast to the tacky Topaz Hotel next door I might add), has a classic yet quirky interior, and a beautiful outdoor patio.

Beautiful shots of the grounds

Then there is the food. You see, the Tabard Inn is one of the best brunch places in the city for a reason, and that reason is DONUTS. The Tabard Inn makes their cinnamon sugar donuts and vanilla whipped cream fresh every brunch and they are SPECTACULAR:

photogenic donut

Honestly, I crave them even now. Since you must order the donuts, I recommend you get one donut and a savory entree. The menu changes each brunch, but I ordered a goat cheese, bell pepper and squash frittata, which was excellent, while ironcityspy had a sardine nicoise salad, which although an order FAIL (sardines really?), he did love. Wonkette also cited a savory tart that I covet but wasn’t on the menu that day.

Finally, as if the food and historic location weren’t enough, the Tabard Inn is eco-friendly. With beautiful green rooftop gardens and solar panels, it is modern in the ways you hoped it would be.

green roofing!

Yes, my illustrious readers, SPY fell in love with the Tabard Inn that day and I think you will too. Just make sure to get reservations. Walk-ins are possible (we did) but unlikely, especially if you are more than 2. The Tabard Inn is, in the words of the Karate Kid:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fWvub_WBho]

Top Chef DC premiers today and the ‘chef’testant house is sold (UPDATED)

So, as most of you should know, Top Chef DC premiers tonight on Bravo at 9pm. SO excited. SO hoping I like one of the local contenders and can support them unconditionally for the entirety of the show. I am also very curious as to which  DC culinary landmarks they will  showcase. Any guesses (other than Ben’s), my dear readers?

Anyways, in a real estate move that I hope was intentional, the Top Chef house was also sold today. You know, the house that the ‘chef’testants live in.

SAD.

Why sad? Mostly because by “house” I mean “mansion,” and by “mansion” I mean “ideal home of SPY.” The mansion is located in Kalorama, a neighborhood always associated with Adams Morgan but definitely shouldn’t be given its abundance of money and lack of Big Slice and Tom Tom. Here are some pictures:

COVET.  The full listing and more pictures can be found here. The house was originally listed at $4 million, well $3.98 million (because that sounds so much more affordable!) and sold for $3.6 million. Such a shame, because with a $3.6 million dollar loan, donated furniture, a volunteer caterer and donated bar, SPY could have thrown a wonderful and witty fancy party. Oh, and the loan would have to be interest-free. You know, one of those free multi-million dollar loans banks give to wonderful personalities who can’t swing a grant. Yeah. I’m poor.

Happy Top Chef day!

(Ah! The premier is at 9pm. The encore is at 11pm. Misread the announcement. Apologies, apologies)

News roundup replaced by new restaurant roundup today because food is delicious

Willkommen new DC beer garden!

So basically, news this week has not been that interesting. It has either involved bodies (on the side of the road, in the Potomac, in overturned vehicles etc) or Fenty. All suboptimal. So instead, I have decided to round up the restaurant buzz! Here are some restaurants that are going to be opening around town:

  • Point Chaud (14th Street): A new creperie on 14th and S St. Soft opening set for today or this weekend. 1734 14th St NW (PoP)
  • Beir Garten Haus (H Street): Damn straight DC is getting a new beer garden. It’s Grand Opening has been postponed, but the owners promise it WILL be opened by 6/11. Yes, the World Cup. 1355 H street NE. (http://biergartenhaus.com/)
  • Cuba Libre (Penn Quarter): Mojitos, salsa and patio dining come to Penn Quarter. Cuba Libre has successful locations in Philly, Alantic City and Orlando. Set to open in June. 801A 9th St. NW (Zagat)
  • Carmine’s (Penn Quarter): The famous NYC eatery is opening a new 700 seat location in Penn Quarter. It is slated to open by late summer. 425 7th St. NW (Washington Post)
  • Lupe Mexican Cuisine (Dupont Circle): Will replace Sesto Senso next to public bar. No information on the new place. Prince of Petworth asks a good question, did anyone ever eat at Sesto Senso? 1214 18th St. NW (PoP)
  • Uniontown Bar & Grill (Anacostia): Yes, Anacostia. The first sit-down eatery in one of it’s poorer neighborhoods. Antibiotic-free meats, fresh juice mixers, sandwiches and beer. But will the business model work? (Washington Post)

Oh, and one rumor I had to pass along. Trader Joes may open a location near 14th and U St. I KNOW. But this is hearsay. A guy at Prince of Petworth asked the manager and he said they were actively looking for space at 14th and U St. Would REVOLUTIONIZE spy shopping. Get excited!

Trio, the Greeks, and DC’s diner drought

So since we are reeling off a holiday of freedom, I figured I would discuss an all- American classic today: the diner. Well, all-American in theory at least, because immigrants own basically all of them. The same immigrants that are, god love them, making food in the U.S. and the Queen’s commonwealth not, well, this:

Stupid haggis and stupid casserole

Everyone loves imported culture! Anyways, perhaps because it’s an inherently transient town or because it’s a much more Southern town than NYC or other diner hot spots, DC has very few independent diners. It’s why you should visit Trio. Started by a pair of Greeks in 1950, Trio serves no-frills comfort food, bakes their pies fresh every day, and has a very nice staff. They also serve a nice greasy spoon diner breakfast, which I love because I love PANCAKES. In honor of their 60th anniversary, they are doing little monthly specials.

A little DC diner classic on 17th Street

So you should go. Then Trio’s owners can send the money back to Greece to compensate for the fact the nation doesn’t really pay taxes but demands tons of social services. Oh, and sidebar, Greece, you are NOT an emerging market. Mostly because you were the FIRST MARKET EVER. So either you have been emerging since Jesus or you overspend on wages and social benefits. Just saying.

Oh and before I forget…

Trio also owns Fox and Hounds bar next door, which is actually called “Trio’s Fox and Hounds.” However even though they both offer cheap, outdoor after-work drinks, Fox and Hounds is always packed while Trio’s patio never is. Evidence:

Bizarre no? People would rather sit in the baking sun at Fox and Hounds than drink in the shaded and fanned space of Trio. And they are the same thing. I don’t understand people.

Big plans for the Dupont Underground and a bit of afternoon news

I know, you are confused. “But SPY,” you say, “today isn’t Friday,  why are you doing news”?? Well, half of it is for me. I had limited internet access in the Far East, so wanted to see what was happening around town. Also, I MAY have forgotten to post on Friday due to airplanes and deliverable due dates (yes, I do have an actual job) so this is sort of compensating. Also, this Dupont Underground thing is super interesting.

The Dupont Underground by Mika Altskan

Basically, there is an 100,000 square foot stretch of abandoned trolley tracks beneath Dupont Circle that the city is planning to turn into an art/cafe space. Per the website:

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A lovely 14th Street vintage furniture roundup

GoodWood via apartmenttherapy.com

Morning DC friends. So, for some reason traveling abroad always leaves me coveting vintage furniture. It’s just something about the worn wood, mix of local and colonial influences, the allure of the impulse buy that leaves me needing that 1800s Indonesian ottoman. Is it really antique? Don’t know. Don’t care really. I just imagine a Dutch explorer sitting on it in some ungodly hot tropical place, exporting local culture while importing Christianity and smallpox, and think how perfectly it would look beside all the little books in my studio.

So yes, with antiques on my mind, I present the U Street antique store roundup. As I mentioned in my Ruff and Ready post, U Street is a vintage furniture haven where you can purchase affordable things that are not Mary Todd Lincoln colonial style or Louis XIV imperial style or a zillion dollars. The stores are also within walking distance of one another. There are 3 main stores (photos after the jump!):

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Mind the Gap: the 14th Street Zoning Dilemma

So I guess this is an unconventional day for my little blog. First, a non-local news post and now a somewhat serious post (gasp!) about neighborhood politics. I know, but bear with me. This is a neighborhood blog after all.

So my U Street area, known in zoning speak as the Uptown Arts Overlay District, has gotten it’s fair share of press in recent years. The New York Times wrote about it last month. Restaurants like Marvin, Masa 14, and Birch & Barley have received strong reviews across the board, rents have skyrocketed. But I feel with all the hype, people forget one thing: that it’s not quite “there” yet. So yes, 14th street has  a great deal of this:

Churchkey (photo from New York Times)

But it also has great swaths of this:

14th Street (Ohad photography)

In effect, gaps. Sure the vacant storefronts are charming in their own way (we know  they give hipsters a sense of place) but they also reflect the area’s transitioning nature.

It’s these gaps that make the recent Zoning Commission decision so puzzling. Namely, on April 5th, the Commission ruled that the amount of linear storefront space devoted to bars and restaurants within the Uptown Arts Overlay District cannot exceed 25%.  Given that the area is at 24.88% right now, the ruling basically prohibits new bars and restaurants (save those currently pending). Ridiculous? Perhaps. But it becomes even more bizarre once you see what the Uptown Arts Overlay District encompasses:

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Earth Day and other events in the District

Now I know I normally do not comment on events. It’s because I am NEVER aware of anything in time for people to actually plan for things. However, since it’s Earth Day on Thursday (go planet!) and the DC international film festival and I am sort of “between” jobs (cough), I figured I would help you plan your week. You know, list 4 things to check out and 4 things to miss….

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Food trucks and fish tacos in the name of journalism

Good morning readers. Figured I would start the terribleness that is Monday morning with a post about something delicious. Namely, gourmet food trucks.

So hot right now. For those that don’t know, these trucks roam around DC tweeting their locations, building hipster armies of followers with their witty foods and phrases. The most famous in DC is Fojol, i.e. the “traveling culinary carnival” or, as most people know them, the costumed Indian food truck guys. Many trucks have been in DC since early last year, but since tweet-following requires a degree of planning that I truly do not possess, I only finally visited one this weekend. It’s called Sauca and I ran into it by chance:

Sauca has only been open 2 months. It is owned by an former global investment banker, driven by a former international communications officer and it’s foods are inspired by different international cuisines. So, butter chicken from India, Pork Bahn Mi from Vietnam, and dessert waffles from Belgium, among others. The menu changes. In the name of investigative journalism, I ordered a Mexicali fish taco. DELICIOUS. It looked like this:

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Pho Phix DELIVERED (Updated!)

GOD. I love pho. So much. For those not familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, it’s a noodle soup that looks like THIS:

Which then only becomes truly delicious when you add THIS:

Yes, it’s hot sauce and yes I need my pho to be spicy. Personally, I can take or leave the plum sauce, but that’s just me. NOW I have no concept of Vietnamese culture or customs but what I DO know is that Pho must be prepared on the spot (save the broth itself). This is because the meat and the noodles and the veggies actually cook in the broth, reaching that perfect consistency while you eat. However, this also often precludes it from delivery, meaning I have to walk for pho. LAME.

That is UNTIL…

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