Three Blondes Make a Quorum, or, The Time We Found Religion at Happy Hour

Back in November (wow it has been a WHILE. Happy new year, everyone!), the blondes went to Bar Charley for happy hour. It’s been on our must-go list since it opened in the fall, plus we were looking for a fun place to entertain G’s friend from out of town. Although C was missing due to work travel (boo), we had 3 blondes out of the 4 – that’s a quorum, right?

Long story short, we LOVED Bar Charley. A few important highlights:

· Monday is all-night happy hour. Many places in DC do a deal like this on Mondays or Tuesdays (personally, I never understood this concept – I’m an equal opportunity happy-hour-er and all days of the week are acceptable to me, but if bars want to subsidize my Monday or Tuesday drinking that’s fine by me). Also, happy hour specials were available at the tables! That’s rare – usually you’ll find the specials are only available in the bar area.

· Happy hour specials include $5 mixed drinks on tap. We tried both offerings and they were amazing – nice and strong and not overly sweet (the Mai Tai in particular was fantastic).

· On Mondays, happy hour specials include half-priced sandwiches.** Yay! We tried the regular burger and the tuna burger. G and N debated the possibility that the regular burger was the best they’d ever had. I can’t vouch for that, but I will say that the tuna burger was very delicious and unique. I’ve had a salmon burger before, but this was my first time eating a tuna burger. It was made from ahi tuna and came with seaweed slaw, which made me think of sushi. Mmmm. I would definitely get it again. Plus, all the burgers came with salt and vinegar potato chips – homemade, paper-thin, and with just a hint of vinegar. They were perfection – and I’m not a big potato chip person.

· The server was very nice and they kept the water glasses full. Plus, there was a great and laid-back vibe in the entire place. Basically it was the perfect laid-back happy hour for a crowd – food options, drink options, seating options, and good service.

· And last but not least, last night marked the second time that we took the seat of an owner. At Bar Charley, we eyed the front corner window booth and waited until the owner finished up his (or her? Couldn’t see) drink and then snatched up the booth for ourselves. Recall that at a previous restaurant club, Mike Isabella offered C and I his barstool. The 4 blondes, man…we apparently scare the crap out of restaurant owners?

Oh, and I guess I should explain the “time we found religion” title. As we neared the end of the second round of drinks, we started discussing the influence of religion in our upbringings. G and I went to Catholic school growing up, and admittedly it had a big influence on us. One thing led to another, and at one point after finishing our food I recited a Hail Mary for N. G restrained from chiming in because, well, then it might have gotten a little creepy. I don’t know if it was the alcohol or the prayers, but we all had a spiritual experience at Bar Charley – we’re converts and we’ll be back.

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Review: Kapnos

Happy Halloween! I have my candy corn earrings on today to celebrate :). I hope your Halloween is full of yummy candy and is safe and happy, whatever your plans are. Alas, I do not have a Halloween-themed post for you (I draw the line of holiday enthusiasm at the themed earrings apparently).

Those of you who are star-struck among will find my recent trip to Kapnos amusing. Everyone who isn’t star-struck, you should keep reading anyway for mouth-watering treatises on greek food.

My girl bros and I, in our quest to go to new and exciting restaurants around DC, wanted to try out Mike Isabella’s newest restaurant. C and I arrived early, so we approached the host and were told that we couldn’t be seated until blondie #3 and blondie #4 (naturally, that is not what the host actually called N and G but since we are all blonde that is how I have decided to refer to us throughout this post, roll with it) arrived even though we had made a reservation.

So I was miffed, because let’s be honest, sometimes I just enjoy being miffed. The restaurant was completely empty with servers standing around, so there wasn’t a strong rationale for not seating us. Also the bar was more crowded and the host didn’t suggest that we grab a drink there while we wait – he just kind of stood there. So, I was miffed and stomped off to the bar to glare angrily at the bartender, complaining to C all the while. As I stomped, a man in a chef’s uniform stood up from the bar and graciously said, “well I’ve been saving this seat just for you!” and grabs his beer and walks away. It was Mike Isabella!!

I was excited to see him mostly because 1) it is legit when celebrity chefs actually frequent and work in their restaurants, 2) maybe he heard what I was saying and will take my feedback to heart, and 3) because it was just kind of cool.

Anyway. The rest of the evening passed uneventfully and deliciously! The other 2 blondies arrived and we settled down to logistics. What to order off of this huge menu? How to handle the tapas-style with 2 pescetarians, 1 fish-averse, and 1 omnivore? How to taste as many things as possible without emptying our wallets?

Arlington Darling | Review: Kapnos

We eventually decided on ordering the following dishes (check out the menu for descriptions):

  • Tyrokafteri, Revithosalata, and Melitzanosalata spreads with flatbreads
  • Fava
  • Greek fries
  • Charred brussels
  • Seared diver scallops
  • Potato garlic phyllo pie
  • Spanakopita phyllo pie

The spreads were our favorite. Naturally. The greek fries were also a hit, although I was not as enthused as everyone else (see previous allusion to enjoying being miffed, perhaps). The phyllo pies were rated unanimously as awesome – with the potato and garlic edging out as a slight favorite. The rest of the dishes were good and fresh, but did not rock our world. In fact, for the price point and selection of dishes our final verdict was that we might prefer other tapas-style restaurants (e.g., Zaytinya).

Oh also! I forgot to mention that the happy hour specials were decent (and they offer prosecco, rose, and white wine on tap) and you can get the selection of three spreads for only $12, so it’s worth going back just for that.

Review: Ghibellina

I joined my girl bros (yea, that’s right – I just made that up. girl bros.) this evening for a lovely happy hour at a brand-new spot. Although 14th Street seems like it has a new restaurant or bar opening each week, I am very excited about the recent influx of Italian places – such as Piola and Etto.

Tonight we tried Ghibellina. They have a great happy hour deal, assuming you work downtown (yay, I finally do!) and can get there between 4:30-6:30. They serve wine for $5, beer at various price points (confession…did not pay much attention to the beer), and cocktails for $6. I had the Estate in Toscana – delicious and not too sweet!

Ghibellina | Arlington Darling

Then…the PIZZA. Obviously the pizza. Again, during happy hour they have a great special, with pies under $10. The three of us split 2 pies and it was the perfect amount of food for an early dinner (confession #2…we got Pitango gelato afterwards though). We tried the Margherita di Bufala and the Olive e Carciofi. N and C liked the plain one best, but for once I actually preferred the specialty pizza. I just couldn’t resist the smoky mozzarella and olive flavor!

Ghibellina | Arlington Darling

Highly recommend this spot for happy hour, and I’m excited to return for dinner – the regular menu looks like it has some really unique Italian style dishes. If they’re anything like the pizzas, I’m in. The service and ambiance were great, too.

Ghibellina | Arlington Darling

 

Ghibellina | Arlington Darling

Recap: San Francisco

As you know, a few days ago I returned from my first trip to San Francisco! I went with my bestie, who introduced me (erm, forced me) to a relaxed vacation approach that did not involve planning or having a strict agenda. I was nervous at first, not knowing what we’d be doing every minute of every day, but I can wholeheartedly say that I enjoyed it in the end. We may not have hit everything the Bay Area has to offer, but we did what we wanted and we had a ton of fun. Isn’t that what vacation is all about?

For those of you planning your own trip (whether real or imaginary) to the Bay Area, here is my recap of the top restaurants and attractions that JJ and I enjoyed when we visited.

  • Tacolicious. This was my favorite meal of the trip, by far. Arlington Darling | San FranciscoI know, I know – it’s “just” tacos, right? Yes. But I’d fly back on that horrible redeye flight just to have these fish tacos again. Buttery, flaky, fried fish with creamy dressing and crispy cabbage…mmmmm. JJ loved her meat tacos, and the margarita was decent, too (not too sweet). Total “A+” in my book. Plus, outdoor seating!
  • Cable Car Ride. This was one of my favorite activities! We caught the cable car in Fisherman’s Wharf and took it all the way back to our hotel. It was exhilarating going over the hills, although the wait to board was a little long. I recommend going earlier in the day or trying to pick up a ride at one of the stops vs. the origination points.
  • The Ferry Market Building. For you DC folks, think of this as a combination ofArlington Darling | San Francisco Union Market and Eastern Market (a.k.a. foodie heaven). The Ferry Market Building itself has adorable, if expensive, shops and gourmet food vendors. Then, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays the building and surrounding pier also hosts a vibrant farmer’s market. We bought all the things (see picture of our sourdough bread, cheese, and dried fruit), then took our picnic to Golden Gate Park!
  • Nob Hill. Cutest SF neighborhood ever. We stumbled upon it when wandering around on our first day, and I’m so glad we did. The area hosts the city’s “Little Italy” and adorable tiny streets. While you’re there, check out City Lights bookstore.
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea. I highly recommend a trip down the 101 to Carmel. It’s aArlington Darling | San Francisco gorgeous little town with more art galleries than homes (at least, that’s what it felt like). Brad Pitt has a house there (sadly, we did not see him). If you’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean before, this is a good place to see it! Plus, there is easy access to the 17-mile drive from the town. OH! And I almost forgot – make sure you rent a convertible for the drive. That was a definite highlight for me (thanks to Zipcar for keeping things super simple and for working across cities!). When you put the top down, just put the heat on and bring a sweater or two, hah.

That’s my list! It is not comprehensive by any means – for example, I also enjoyed our wine tour to Napa and Sonoma, our visit to the Japanese Tea Garden, seeing and being seen at Fisherman’s Wharf, the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and SF skyline from the Berkeley Hills, and sipping iced coffee in Yerba Buena park.

What did I miss? I could be persuaded to go back… :).

Review: The Standard

I went to Garden District (back when it was known as The Standard) on Sunday to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday, and I know that my experience was largely shaped by the beautiful weather and beautiful people that I was celebrating with. But, Garden District makes it super easy for you to have a good time. Case in point(s), not necessarily in order of importance:

  1. Garden District is mainly an outdoor venue. Which means, when it is 70 degrees and sunny, like it was yesterday, a gal can get a glorious, glorious first tan of the year :).
  2. You can purchase an entire pig’s head, to eat. Read til the end for my enlightening conversation with the pig’s head.
  3. Donuts.
  4. The food is fried. Vegetarian things are fried. Isn’t being vegetarian the best? I mean, if I can still eat a grilled cheese, a soft pretzel, and hush puppies, I’m a happy gal. (Shhh…vegetables will survive a day without me lovin’ on ’em. I’m eating fried things now, go away.).
  5. There are umbrellas and heat lamps (if the weather turns unpredictable, as it is wont to do).
  6. Donuts. Freshly made donuts.
  7. A huge pear cider that went down so, so easy on a warm spring afternoon.

Garden District, I’ll be back. It’s gonna be a long, hot, glorious summer.

patio at night

 

Me: Hey, pig. I’m not gonna eat you. I’m gonna stand up, actually, so I can be sort of far away from you and in the sun, yet close to my friends.
Pig: …
Me: That’s better. This cider is delicious!
Pig: ………
Me: Want a donut? No? Welp, more for me then. Peace.