Chloe

I’m back, baby! And this week, a reservation I’ve been holding on to for a few weeks: Chloe! I’m surprised I even made a reservation at a restaurant called Chloe considering that it’s a name a thirteen year-old girl gives to a Chihuahua, and I’m not really sure I remember how or why I found out about this restaurant in the first place (I thought it was in Shaw, but it definitely isn’t), but here we go. Stupid names aside, the inside was beautiful. I liked their comfy chairs and many succulent plants, as well as our clear view of the kitchen. I love to see the inner workings.

I’ve seen few things that are hands-down ridiculous, but here’s one of them: Chloe carries two breweries–draft from Hellbender here in DC, and cans from Prairie in…Oklahoma? What? Why? Ready for it to get more ridiculous? While the draft beers were a normal DC price of $9, he cans cost TEN DOLLARS. In what universe is a canned beer more than a draft beer? I’ll tell you where–the same ridiculous universe where a draft beer constitutes eight ounces, served in a stemless wine glass. Aka The alternate universe we know as Chloe.

The Prairie beer was okay, the Hellbender beer was okay, and my rum cocktail was pretty delicious. In short, drinks were nothing to write home about. But we weren’t expecting CopyCat and that’s not why we were there. Our waiter told us about their small plates-based menu. “For a table of four we recommend ten to fourteen dishes.” So….your whole menu then? Let’s just do the math here. If we generously assume that each dish you order here costs $15, 14 of them would come out to $210, and that wouldn’t even include drinks. So no. I ordered bread for my bread-loving mother-in-law, the house pickles, butternut squash salad, crispy cauliflower, salmon, and the chicken, which is one of the “larger” dishes.

One thing I appreciate is how vegetable-forward they are here. There were very few meat dishes at all. On the other hand, I feel kind of stupid paying $17 for some arugula and butternut squash that I could have just gotten at the Whole Foods salad bar.

Bread came first. Let’s just pause here to make a prediction. How much would you pay for five tiny slices of bread? Here’s a picture for reference (I shrunk the picture a little to more accurately represent the actual size of the bread):

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If your answer was “Nothing, you dumb dumb, because bread is supposed to be free and unlimited!” then you would be wrong. If you said, “Four dollars!” then you are both correct and insane. Let’s just say, not a great first impression.

The pickles made a slight recovery. Of special note was the pickled garlic, which didn’t even taste or feel like garlic but was undoubtedly delicious. The peppers were great too–neither too spicy nor too mild, but they needed more of these and the cornichons.

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The rest of the food, save for the chicken, came out fairly quickly. Next we had the butternut squash salad. Once again, it tasted fine, but $17 fine? I don’t even know what $17 fine means. A $17 steak would probably be fine. A $17 plate of arugula with a few pieces of squash is definitely not fine.

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Cauliflower was the next thing out. This was the only thing that was truly delicious. It was a great crispy texture and tahini and pine nuts are always winners. It was something I had just never thought to combine into one dish, but my husband reminded me, “You could do this at home and it would probably be better.” So he earned his brownie points for the night I guess!

The quinoa-crusted salmon (or, as my father-in-law might call it: “Quin-what?”) was cooked well, extremely flaky and buttery, and I liked the extra crunch that was lent it by the quinoa. But again, way too small.

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I regret that I didn’t get a picture of the chicken, but we were so hungry by the time it arrived that we basically ate it off the serving plate like cavemen. It was the only thing that was a reasonable size. I liked the crispy skin (although my husband thought it had a weird texture), and the Asian greens were cooked well. Bone-in chicken doesn’t make a good share plate, though, and the “chili-lime sauce” (aka fish sauce with some chili flakes) was lackluster.

We left and went across the street to Bluejacket where we all pigged out on dessert and had reasonably-priced good beer. No regrets.

Price: Like many of my best-laid plans these days, there is a huge disparity in how much we spent vs. how much one would have to spend in order to be fairly satisfied. I’ll say the range could be anywhere from $40 per person to $100 per person.

Bottom line: Chloe was good, but good is not fair when you’re paying $25 for a chicken leg. Our waiter was not lying when he said that 10 plates would be a good size meal for four people. But Bluejacket is across the street and they have a brownie sundae, so…

Ana at District Winery

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Awwww yisssss. I’ve been waiting for this reservation for about six weeks. I literally only heard about this place from my weekly “What’s new in DC!” email from Yelp and I made reservations without knowing anything about it. I still didn’t have any idea where we were going when we were in the uber. I had just heard the words “district” and “winery,” and I was in.

District Winery has some prime waterfront real estate in Navy Yard. Their whole setup is impressive. Multitudinous bottles greet you when you arrive, along with not one but TWO levels of hosts (kind of unnecessary, but I’ll choose to see this as a mark of excellence) and the ambiance is great.

I felt like I should have ordered wine at a place with wine in its name, but their first house cocktail caught my eye and I couldn’t stop myself: “A Figment of Your Imagination.” If you hoped and dreamed that this cocktail would be a pun on figs, then I have some good news for you! It didn’t disappoint either; spicy rye, pungent walnut bitters, and a skewer of warm smoked figs on top made this memorable and definitely figgy. My husband ordered their house Malbec and was very satisfied. The cocktails were pricey but sadly not as pricey as the wine. They didn’t offer any economy-class wine, but it’s not exactly Trader Joe’s, I guess.

We went a little overboard tonight in the name of research. So, starting with the octopus appetizer: the pineapple flavor of the sauce was very apparent and peppery but the octopus itself could have been better texture-wise, both less chewy on the inside and more crispy on the outside. But I don’t want to dis it too much because we demolished it and it was not by any means the worst octopus I’ve ever had.

The entrees were where this place really shone:

20171103_185430.jpgBetween the two of us we had the celery root cappeletti (left) and the smoked duck (right). Starting with the pasta: the filling burst out in your mouth like soup dumplings full of pleasantly bitter celery root. The rabbit sausage in it was, for lack of better explanation, gamy in a good way, and the parm paired well with everything else in the dish. This was a perfect dish. The duck was mostly cooked well, although there were parts that were slightly more done than I would like, but it was served atop a sauce that was savory and smoky in all the right places, and made a great companion to the meat. The plantains and snap peas were plentiful and interesting, playing on the sweet/smoky theme.

20171103_192206.jpgAgain, research led us to pursue dessert and everything on the menu sounded interesting so we had a hard time deciding. After our server was absolutely zero help in making any of the desserts sound less appealing, we resorted to using a random number generator for choosing (I wish I were kidding about this) and ended up with the hummingbird cake. Literally nothing could possibly top the entrees, so I shouldn’t be too disappointed that the cake wasn’t everything I dreamed of. What it was: moist, nutty, served with a killer pineapple sherbet. What it wasn’t: particularly flavorful on its own. The sherbet was supposed to be the sidekick but it kind of pushed its way into the spotlight and covered up the main item. I kind of identify emotionally with the hummingbird cake and its subtlety. This cake just needed some less extroverted friends to hang out with, that’s all.

The service couldn’t be beat. It was a place that it felt normal to wear jeans, but they still folded my napkin for me when I went to the bathroom and replaced the silverware after the appetizer. From start to finish, everything was a little overpriced, but in a classy way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being ripped off. At least for the big price tag, I got well-composed delicious food.

Price: $50 per person.

Bottom line: It would be hard to eat a better meal in DC while wearing jeans. The food and drinks could be seen as pricey, but you could instead choose to see them as totally worth it. Go ahead, treat yo’self.