Saturday, October 3, 2015

Red Feather:

After placing our order at Red Feather for brunch, our server returned with complimentary beignets from the kitchen--and a game plan.

We're gonna need a bigger table

“Well...since you ordered so many things, I think we’re going to have to stagger the dishes so they can all fit.”

David and I smiled sheepishly and agreed that even though it can be challenging to play two-top table tetris with hot plates of benedict and pancakes, it was the wisest choice of action.

feeling very pleased with ourselves after ordering most of the brunch menu at Red Feather

To be fair, we had warned our server that we would be ordering a lot of things off the menu. At a place like Red Feather, it’s hard not to.

After intense negotiation between the two of us, we decided on benedict for David, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, a croque madame, and goetta.

The beignets apparently are a brunch amuse bouche, and they set our expectations very high for the rest of brunch. Light, crispy, impossibly puffy and dusted with powdered sugar, David and I both savored each bite and wondered at how the kitchen pulled such a thing off.

Mind = Blown

The biscuits were a smaller plate than expected, but I actually preferred that--it meant I had more room to steal some of David’s pancakes and also work on my croque madame, which was massive. More on the sandwich later.

The biscuits were also very well made, and the sausage had a little spice to it.

David had insisted on ordering the pancakes, and I was very glad he did. Pancake texture can be tough to nail down, but these were perfect. They absorbed the syrup without losing the nice cake structure and were browned without being burnt.

And you get a pancake! And you get a pancake! And you get a pancake!

David’s favorite brunch item is benedict, and Red Feather excelled at making this as well. Tangy, creamy hollandaise, tasty savory-sweet ham and nicely poached eggs rested atop an english muffin, with a side of crispy breakfast potatoes, also delicious.

Which brings us to the croque madame. I added an egg to the croque monsieur on the menu, turning the sandwich into its similar counterpart.

That's no moon

The bread for the sandwich was a nice eggy brioche, which I liked, though the slices were pretty thick. The gruyere used was excellent, as was the ham. In my opinion, the only improvement to this sandwich would be serving it with something a little sweeter to balance out the ham and gruyere. I’d advocate for a spicy raspberry jam.

To cap off our brunch, I asked about a cocktail I had seen previously, the firefly. David is familiar with my penchant for drinks that are lit on fire, so he wisely did not protest when I ordered it.

When I mentioned it to our server, his response that “I think I can make that happen” make me do a little happy dance (which was really more of a wiggle as I was full of pancakes at that point) in my chair.

The firefly is prepped with a liquor soaked orange which is lit on fire, and then sugar and spices are dusted over the orange to create little sparks. I’m sure it’s more impressive at night time, but I would order this again--the combo of toasted spices, cinnamon and orange reminded me of fall.

So much better than the pumpkin spice latte 85% of the public at large seems to lose their minds about

We’ll definitely be back to Red Feather. Word’s out about the brunch and it was consistently busy while we were there, so I’d recommend a reservation if you have a large group.

Red Feather Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Swampwater Grill:

I nibbled away at the jalapeno popper with as much dignity as I could manage. After the first few bites, the pepper's heat had gone from tingly to exhilarating to whoops-maybe-I-chose-poorly.

I looked over at David, happily munching away on his popper and made a face at him. "What?" he asked incredulously when he saw my reluctance to take another bite of an otherwise delicious bacon wrapped, fried, cheese and chorizo stuffed pepper. "They’re not that spicy!"

I handed my popper over to David as proof. Still doubting, he took a large bite. I sat back, and waited.

"Oooohhhhh no. Ow. Ow. Ow. You got a hot one!"

Vindicated, I leaned forward to take a big drink of my swamp juice cocktail. "Told you so."

As anyone who's eaten their share of jalapenos knows, spicy levels can vary from pepper to pepper. A bunch of peppers may look the same, but one of them is sitting there, just waiting to go all Leeroy Jenkins on your taste buds.

Alright, time's up, let's do this

So we were off to a spicy start for our meal at Swampwater grill. No one seems to know where this place is right off the bat, but when we describe the location ("know where the school is on stilts past the Precinct? Turn left.") people seem to figure it out.

The inside of the restaurant is pretty spacious, though a little dark. The draft list is on the small side, but sports some solid brews, which are served in mason jars.

I opted for a cocktail called “Swamp Juice.” When I ordered it, our server looked at me and asked me one question. "Do you like rum?" To my answer in the affirmative, she replied, "good, because it's mostly rum."

Mostly Rum: Truth

Swamp juice is neon green and you get to keep the cup, both of which are the kind of kitschy things that I love. It indeed had a lot of rum. If you go to Swampwater, get the swamp juice and be prepared for a nap when you get home.

We ordered a variety of other things. Ribs and pulled pork (this was the child's size pulled pork sandwich), etouffee, red beans and rice, a fried oyster po boy, the poppers mentioned earlier, and grits. We also tried a small side of jambalaya.


We enjoyed pretty much everything, but we had our preferences. We liked the red beans and rice over the etouffee. The oyster po boy was excellent.


The ribs and pulled pork were alright, but it's tough when you're competing with Eli's BBQ just down the road. It's a high standard to beat. Swampwater’s grits, however, were some of the best we'd had. The jambalaya was my favorite of all of the sides.

There are weekly specials at Swampwater, from crawfish pies (which they were sadly out of) to smoked prime rib, that we’ll be back to try soon. I’ll just make sure to exercise caution with those poppers then next time we’re in.

SwampWater Grill & Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Revolution Rotisserie:

A few weeks ago, some of my co-workers stopped by my desk. “We’re going to Revolution Rotisserie for lunch. Want to join us?”

Though I usually go home for lunch, I was tempted. However, I still hadn’t been to the restaurant with David, so I had to follow the rules: David and I would have to check it out together before I went without him. After David broke the pact and went to Taste of Belgium without me a few years ago (and then was busted red-handed on Twitter), I’ve been careful to not commit the same transgression.

So I politely declined and mentally penciled the restaurant in on one of our free weekends. This past weekend, David and I stopped by for Sunday brunch.

Brunch features a variety of the pita sandwiches that they have on the regular menu, along with several more brunch-y themed items.

After much debate, we elected to go with splitting the chorizo poutine. I chose the Nelson Mandela pita sandwich, which is Mexican inspired, while David went with the Harriet Tubman, featuring chicken, muffaletta olive salsa, tzatziki sauce, and hummus.

While deciding, we briefly pondered the titles of the pita sandwiches. Named after revolutionaries, I suppose, but one has to wonder how Gandhi would feel about being associated with a chicken wrap (he was a strict vegetarian). Was Nelson Mandela a big fan of chipotle ranch dressing? Have they finally discovered Ben Franklin’s famous asian slaw recipe? These are questions we may never have answered.

I couldn’t decide between a cheekily named punch and bottomless mimosas, so why not both? I thought the punch was a little on the sweeter side, but it was delicious and refreshing after the walk up on a warm morning.

William Wallace Bravebooze

The tater tot poutine with chorizo had a nice spicy kick, which was managed by the fluffy, crispy tots. I wished the egg on top was not over hard and was a little more “oozy” though, that would have knocked the dish out of the park.

us fork-dueling over who gets which tater tot

David enjoyed his pita and ate the whole thing, prompting him to come straight home and take a big nap. In the end we liked my pita better, with chicken, nicely seasoned black beans, tomato, chipotle ranch, crunchy Frito-style corn chips (great idea), and just the right amount of cilantro.

Harriet Tubman
Nelson Mandela

The staff were friendly and the inside of the restaurant is bright and welcoming. The draft selection is on the smaller side but solid. Prices are very reasonable for the portions.

I have a feeling once word gets out, this place won’t be quiet for long. Also, the restaurant is right next to Washington park, making it perfect for take-out and a picnic.

I’ll be back soon. I’m especially curious about the half rotisserie chicken and their mashed potato bowl.

Revolution Rotisserie & Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quan Hapa:

“Don’t look directly at the Sriracha. Don’t look directly at the Sriracha.” I silently chanted to myself while I sat at our table at Quan Hapa and carefully twisted the top of the bottle open.

This post is part review, part PSA. When opening Sriracha, don’t look at it. And for the love of all that is holy, point it away from your face.

Of course, there is a story behind my statement; a few years ago, when I was really enamored with Sriracha and was putting it on everything like a madwoman, I was in the kitchen turning the nozzle to “open.” I looked down as I was opening it and the bottle gave a little ‘splurt,’ which catapulted Sriracha upward. DIRECTLY INTO MY OPEN EYES.

The searing pain was immediate and my brain abruptly shut off. David heard my whimpering and discovered me clutching my eyes and spinning around in a circle in the kitchen like a short-circuited Roomba. He led me to the bathroom where we flushed my eyes out.

Happily, there was no such incident at Quan Hapa because that would have seriously derailed our review. We’ve been meaning to go there for quite some time, but it never seemed to pan out. This past weekend, we decided that we were going to make it happen.

David started with a beer he had never had before, which reminded us of a cream ale. It was rainy and cold outside, so I opted for some hot sake, which was served in a fun little can. We were too early for happy hour, but Quan Hapa’s looks solid.

I was curious about the wings and David wanted a salad. The wings were hot and juicy--though a little messy with the sweet nuac mam (fish sauce) and honey glaze. The nuac mam added a little funkiness which I enjoyed.

David’s hapa salad (I appreciated that the server did not try to set it in front of me for once) had some crispy sweet potatoes, some kick from watercress, and a nice coconut milk curry dressing.

For entrees, David selected the modern pork belly banh mi. On the menu it lists pickled papaya, but we didn’t really taste it in the sandwich. The pork belly was excellent, but we missed the usual addition of fresh jalapeno or paté. Le’s still wins for best banh mi for now.

If you want spice, try the sambal, but beware, it will destroy you

I’ve been wanting to try the ramen, so getting something else was out of the question. I chose the Hapa ramen, but I also added fried tofu, which I highly recommend. You can also build your own ramen if you’d like.

roll that beautiful broth footage
fish cakes!
The ramen broth was very flavorful but not too salty, and I enjoyed the little white and pink fish cakes. The noodles were springy, and the egg was expertly poached. The pork belly was crispy and the flavors reminded me of red-cooked pork. It was a little large to try and eat with chopsticks, though.

About those chopsticks: Quan Hapa uses plastic chopsticks, which I can understand the reason for, but when eating ramen, take it from say... playing Bayonetta on ‘very easy automatic’ vs. ‘normal.’

harder to beat than Grace and Glory in Chapter 6

I will definitely be back for the ramen and to try happy hour. Quan Hapa has a nice draft list and sake selection. Also of note: They take reservations, which is rare for smaller restaurant, and even rarer for a smaller restaurant in OTR.

Quan Hapa on Urbanspoon