Saturday, January 05, 2008

And then there was lunch at Les Halles. Like a lot of people, I hadn't visited the restaurant (chain) until reading Anthony Bourdain, famously the former executive chef at Les Halles New York on Park Avenue. When I finally decided to stop in for lunch on a warm, sunny day in D.C., I decided the only thing to order was the house speciality: steak frites.

I ordered the steak rare, and it arrived perfectly done, along with the surprisingly light and tasty frites. The small salade of fresh greens was a refreshing complement. Steak lovers should remember, however, that the hanger steak served at the Les Halles is considerably chewier than you'll find at most fine dining restaurants. Anyone used to ordering filet mignon is well advised to do a few jaw exercizes before visiting.

As always, the meal was preceded by a basket of sliced baguette and butter. The bread's crust was a little less crusty than I expected, but was still good. The butter, unfortunately, was hard chilled and difficult to spread. A slightly softened serving of butter is always one of my favorite small touches at any restaurant.

On this particular late summer day, I felt an Amstel Light (or two) would support the meal quite nicely. While the service overall was rather indifferent, my second beer was solicited and brought with lightning speed. Classic restaurant management: always push the alcohol.

And always upsell. In this case, though, I upsold myself. After finishing my steak and the last of the frites that were still above room temperature, I decided that the only proper way to round out this mid-week indulgence was with a crisp glass of Champagne. The Taittinger Brut NV was, at $16 a glass, a bit higher on the food chain than I'm used to, but all the more satisfying for it.

>>Taken September 18, 2007
The Friday Blue Plate lunch special at The Mad Hatter in DC is a favorite of local office workers, and for a good reason. Where else are you going to get a chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetable, and a basket of french bread and corn bread for only $7.95?

A fine ending to the work week, and well worth the trip from anywhere downtown. They also have a Sunday brunch with unlimited champagne for only $16.95. Unlimited? Oh, yes: best deal in town.

>>Taken August 10, 2007
Back in the office lunch room with the gyro platter from down the street. They include so much meat, the single pita is soon eaten up, leaving behind more lamb strips atop the rice and tzatziki.

>>Taken July 26, 2007
What's better than a leisurely summer lunch on the sidewalk? Here I am, looking at Megan and Zach at The Bottom Line in Washington, D.C. and waiting patiently for my food to arrive.

And here's one of the things that The Bottom Line does well - classic fish and chips with a fine-grained coating and a notable absence of the kind of thick breading that ruins so many other deep-fried fish dishes.

The fries are well-seasoned with Old Bay, and the cole slaw's not half bad either.

>>Taken on July 23, 2007
Garlic fries from Gordon Biersch in Tyson's Corner. Only for serious lovers of salty garlicness.

You can cut through that salt, garlic and oil with a speciality cocktail like this pomegranate capirihna. Delicious and good for you.

>>Taken on July 21, 2007