So, let's talk for a second about Washington, D.C. I visited some dear friends from college there last weekend, and that meant a bit of exposure to the food scene in the District (not to mention the drink scene). And before you ask, NO, I did not go to Ben's Chili Bowl, although the bar across from it is quite nice.
A few (some of them sadly nameless) highlights include a delicious wine and cheese bar near the Braddock Road stop on the Yellow Line in Alexandria and an Ethiopian restaurant called Madjet Restaurant located on Avenue U in what I'm told is an area known as "Little Ethiopia" in D.C. My meal at the wine and cheese bar included a delicious sandwich and salad for a pretty reasonable price, as well as some wonderful red wine. I'd never eaten Ethiopian food before, so that was quite a treat. We ordered a beef dish with a veggie sampler, and we were supplied with some sort of bread-like substance (almost like a cross between naan and a pancake) that we used to pinch up the veggies and beef, upside-down-taco-style. Mmm. I'll try to get the name of the wine bar from my friend R and post it in the comments later.
As far as dessert goes, I made sure to hit up Cake Love, a fairly popular cafe where they serve AMAZING cupcakes. The frosting is not my traditional favorite, buttercream, but it's pretty much the best cupcake you could ever imagine eating times infinity. I can't even describe the frosting, it's something you must experience for yourself. The cake is moist, the frosting is great, so it's an all-around winner (as compared to places like Magnolia in NYC, which has great frosting masking an ultra-dry cake). I've been told to try Georgetown Cupcake, but I'm pretty sure it will probably be over-rated the same way Magnolia is, and since I don't get to D.C. that often I would rather not cheat on Cake Love. This time, I got a caramel vanilla version. Mmm, coffee and a cupcake.
The real treat, however, was the D.C. brunch I consumed on Sunday at a place called Acadiana, a Southern restaurant that serves Louisiana-style cuisine. It's located near where New York Avenue and K Street intersect with 9th Street, which was perfect because my bus was transporting me back to New York from 10th Street and Avenue H in Chinatown.
I arrived at the restaurant before my friend J, toting a duffle bag and huffing breathlessly, the very model of a sweaty and harassed tourist. The place was huge and relatively swanky, with a cool vibe. There was a jazz band playing in the back, and the wait staff looked pretty official in their uniforms. However, they were wonderful and courteous and seated me before my friend arrived, which would never, ever happen in New York in a million years. They even offered to store my duffle!
After my friend arrived we decided on the Prix Fixe brunch, a $32 three-course affair that included a free mimosa. We had a choice between many, many options, and eventually my friend J settled on the roasted sweet corn and blue crab soup appetizer, shrimp and grits as her entree, and beignets for dessert. I opted for fried green tomatoes, eggs acadiana (which were described as "two poached eggs, louisiana crawfish crabcakes, tasso ham hollandaise" and also included home fries) and raisin bread pudding. We toasted to our fabulous choices over blood orange mimosas.
Suffice it to say, the food was AMAZING. The fried green tomatoes were about what you might expect, but they were also topped with shrimp in a tangy dipping sauce, which really added a lot to the crispy tomatoes.
I'm not a huge seafood person, so the fact that I adored the crabcakes is pretty important. They were perfectly seasoned, still retaining a seafood taste without being overpowering. Pairing it with the eggs and ham hollaindaise was a really unusual combination, and one I definitely appreciated.
As far as the raisin bread pudding, words simply cannot express the deliciousness of it. Good things I have a photograph:
Another really, really important thing to mention is that the wait staff at Acadiana is SUPERB. Not only is the atmosphere wonderful (jazz band, huge windows, spacious), the waitress was very friendly and attentive. They must have brought out new silverware for every course I had, my water glass was never empty, and she stopped by randomly just to make sure things were going well. The place is huge and very busy, but she never seemed frazzled or annoyed at our requests. She brought us things we didn't ask for (like new silverware) and things we did ask for (more delicious cheese biscuits with a swirled jelly-and-butter sauce) with a smile. They let us stay as long as we liked, even though the place was rapidly filling up.
So basically, I would encourage anyone heading to the D.C. area to try this place, especially if you're in the mood for a super-filling Southern brunch. J and I walked around the area for nearly an hour, and I was still full to bursting when I arrived home in New York seven hours later at 8 p.m. I guess if you're eating for a full day, $32 isn't so bad. It also doesn't hurt that the food was out of this world and the employees were so hospitable. DEFINITELY a great pick by J!