Chat today at 1 pm EDT. Baseball Tonight on ESPN Radio at 10:27 pm EDT (if your local affiliate isn’t carrying the late game).
All right, I’ve been promising this for two weeks but playoff writing took precedence. I had two full days in DC plus a half-day, which turned into five different restaurants plus what I ate at the ballpark. All of these places but one are in the McPherson Square/Farragut area.
Breakfast both mornings was at Teaism, a tea salon that serves a full breakfast with a limited menu, although it was diverse enough for me. The best item – besides the tea, which is loose-leaf and served in ceramic pots – is the ginger scones, crumbly and faintly sweet with chunks of crystallized ginger in the scone and castor sugar on top. Two of those plus the cilantro scrambled eggs – cilantro and diced green bell pepper in eggs, little light on the salt and probably cooked 30 seconds past perfect – was more than enough food, since the egg platter comes with a small fruit salad and triangles of grilled whole-wheat naan. I also tried the tea-cured salmon, which had great flavor (a little sweet, a little savory, like a cup of a mild Indian black tea with a half teaspoon of sugar) and was obviously very fresh (they say they do the curing themselves) but had a chewier texture than good smoked salmon. Teaism’s only real drawback is that it’s not cheap, running $15+ each day including tip.
Worst meal of the trip, by far, was at Kaz Sushi Bistro, an overpriced Japanese restaurant where the focus is definitely not on the food. The fish itself was completely tasteless; the seaweed salad came with a mayonnaise-based dressing; everything was overpriced; and the two people serving as hosts were rude to each other and to at least one group of customers.
Casa Blanca is a small Peruvian (or Peruvian-plus) place on Vermont Ave that is an anti-Kaz in that the focus is on the food and definitely not on the decor or ambience. I ordered chicharrones (fried chunks of pork shoulder) with fried yucca, which was, of course, a bit on the heavy side but crispy and salty with a little bit of a peppery kick. Their homemade tamarind juice is good, a little too sweet for me but given the tangy taste of tamarind, I imagine this is how most people prefer the drink. They apparently also make great empanadas, although those appeared to be for takeout customers and weren’t on the menu. Service is a bit indifferent, and remained so even when I ordered in Spanish. Cash only.
I left the area once for lunch and headed over to Eastern Market to try Market Lunch, where folks apparently line up in great numbers on weekend mornings for pancakes. I had read that Market Lunch had one of the top crab cake sandwiches in the city, and their fries are hand-cut, which sold me. The crab cake was above-average, mostly crab, all lump, lightly seasoned so that the primary taste is of the crab meat, but the crab cake itself wasn’t fresh or even hot, just lukewarm, as if it had been sitting for five minutes. I understand they’re trying to keep people moving, but crab cakes should, at worst, be kept hot if they have to be held at all. The fries were on the greasy side. I suppose if you work in the area and need something fast, this is a great option, but I’m not sure it was worth the Metro* trip.
*Seriously, another city with a crappy subway system. Philly’s system is cash-only and is filthier than Rome’s. Washington’s takes credit cards, but the cost of your ride depends on exactly where you’re boarding and exiting, instead of the single-price system used, oh, everywhere else in the country. And is there a reason the stations are all so dark? You could grow white asparagus down there.
As for Nationals Park, it’s nice, clean, big, and kind of boring. It has forced character, not actual charm. And I’m sorry, you don’t get to put up posters of great players who didn’t play for your franchise – you can take the Senators’ history, by all means, but Honus Wagner is not yours. They get big props for Teddy’s Q stand out in right field. They smoke the meat right there, in a smoker that’s at the edge of the tent, and both items I had were solid. The pulled pork sandwich wasn’t too dry and only needed a little sauce for flavor, while the beef (short) rib was perfectly smoked with plenty of well-browned edges. I’m not sure what’s in the beef rub, but it’s sweet without any heat – a little pepper would balance out the sweetness well. Two quibbles: At $14, the rib should come with something on the side, even the tiny cole slaw that comes with the sandwich; and it seems odd that you have to go to another stand to get a starch like French fries. The Nats also get props for the kosher-food cart across the aisle from the Q. The knish was excellent, smoking hot (not just made, but they had the sense to keep it hot), and the three people working at the cart are animals – everything moved quickly, and when the line started to build up, they moved faster. I saw a little gelato stand up the first base line and wanted to try it, but I was so full from the Q each night that I never had the chance.