Like everyone else, I am a sucker for Banh Mi. It started for me 12 years ago in San Francisco. There was (I hope they are still in business) an amazing Banh Mi shop in the Tenderloin area where my husband used to work. He tried it one day and he told me how great it was. And the next time we went together. Since then we are hooked on Banh Mi goodness.
Time goes by and now we are in a full-on Banh Mi boom all over America. Hardly a week goes by without some article somewhere about these Vietnamese sandwiches. Just last week there was an article in the New York Times. So I was very excited last year when I found out that Dickson Wine Bar would serve Banh Mi last. We were there right away and decided that, not only is their banh mi great, but you can also wash it down with some great wine in a trendy bar at night (if you are lucky enough to get a seat in this no-reservations hot spot).
After several more Banh Mi trials around the DC metro area including Pho 14 in Colombia Heights, a few Vietnamese places in Eden Center and Sauca (food truck), I had decided that I still liked Dickson the best.
However, another opportunity arrived two days ago when my husband and I tried a place called Banh Mi D.C. Sandwich in Falls Church. It was hard to turn down the Pho restaurant next door but we stuck to our plan to get Banh Mi and were glad we did.
We had a grilled pork banh mi with extra pate topping and a combination banh mi. When I looked at the pork one, the meat looked raw but it was just the special color they put in. Like other Asian grilled meats, they use red food coloring. The meat is slightly sweet but it goes really well with salty pate, sour pickles, and spicy chile. I liked it better than the combination which was less exciting with typical lunch meat. But both were good. What makes their banh mi outstanding is their bread. They bake their bread right at the store so it is super fresh. And these sandwiches are a good deal at $3 - 3.50 each.
I still have a soft spot for Dickson - it is much more lovely and trendy, but if you are looking for a simple bahn mi experience, you can't go wrong with this specialty shop. But I'll never give up the pursuit of the perfect bahn mi. If you know a good place, please let me know!
Dickson Wine Bar
903 U St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Banh Mi D.C. Sandwich
3103 Graham Road, Unit #C
Falls Church, VA 22044
It has been a disappointing few months. My husband and I tried several new restaurants since New Year but none of them have been memorable or outstanding in any way. After almost two years of experimenting new places in DC, we recently decided to spend the rest of our short time here by going back to the places we know and like - which is totally fine but I also like the excitment of discovering the new and the wonderful.
That said, because it is a special day, we decided to celebrate this year's Valentine's Day at Restaurant Eve for the first time and fortunately, perhaps unsurprisingly, they did not disappoint us. Because we do not own a car, we tend to go to places in DC where we can go either by a metro or an easy cab ride. We have been wanting to go Restaurant Eve since we moved to DC but we have been procrastinating for that reason. Another reason we waited this long is that it is a very hard to get a reservation. And of course, it is a commitment to pay big bucks. So it has to be a special occasion for us. After going once, I sure wish every day was a special occasion - or that I could afford to go there just any ol' day.
There are three different dining options at Restaurant Eve. There is a lounge where you can get bar food. They have a Bistro where you can order from an a la carte menu. And the third option is their tasting room where you can get a 5, 7 or 9-course chef's tasting menu.
We sat in a lovely corner of the tasting room and from the first moment were giddy with the warm and inviting atmosphere of the room, decor, and service. It is one of the best places to relax and enjoy a long lasting meal with cozy big chairs. They have a wonderful island bar in the middle where all the waiters base themselves to pay constant attention to their customers.
We opted for the 5-course menu which went as follows:
trios of canape : deviled quail eggs, foie gras mouse, and salmon mouse (left)
amuse bouche : pork belly beignet with mustard gribiche sauce (right)
lemon sorbet with chambord form
First Course - Creation
Heirloom beets with honey-ricotta croutons and pistachio powder (left)
"OOO" - oysters, ostera caviar and onions in puff pastry (right)
Second Course - Ocean
Roasted skate wing with cured ham, salsify, caramelized onion and fresh sage (left)
Filet of Scottish salmon with lacquered pork belly, Brussels sprouts and charred pearl onions (right)
Third Course - Earth and Sky
Roasted Beaver Creek Farm's squab with sunchokes, fennel bulb and castelvetrano olives (left)
Rack of Shenandoah Valley lamb with wild mushroom-bone marrow pain perdu
and Romanian red garlic (Right)
Fourth Course - Age
"O'Banon" with Hazelnut lace tuile and sweet potato mousse (left)
"Chester" with Virginia pecan pi (right)
Fifth Course - Eden
Meyer lemon meringue pie (top)
Sassafras cake with root beer popsicle (bottom)
There wasn't a bad dish the whole night. Everything was right on target, and the pace and service were natural, smooth and flawless. The dishes were so complex I can't begin to describe every one, but my favorites of all were the "OOO" from the first course, the Roasted Beaver Creek Farm's squab from the third course, and the O'Banon from the fourth course.
"OOO" was a classic French style dish. Seafood with creamy beurre blanc in a buttery puff pastry cup. It was a basic but amazing dish. The squab was juicy with so much flavor, the puree under the squab was very tasty, and the vegetable garnish was fantastic. The paper thin fennel chip was such a powerful thing and very unique. The O'Banon with hazelnut lace tuile and sweet potato mousse was too good to be true. The texture contrast between the crispy tuile and the soft creamy mouse mixed together in your mouth and gave me absolute pleasure. I wish the hazelnut lace tuile with sweet potato mousse was as big as a cannoli instead of a cigarette. Now that I am thinking about it, my mouth is watering.
The 5 course menu was $120 per person. Yes it is not cheap, however it seems to be a standard price for a chef's tasting menu throughout the DC area these days. Since for most of us $120 (plus wines, tax and tip) is quite a splurge, the whole experience has to be worth the money. And Restaurant Eve is worth it. I loved everything I had that night. They were well crafted and beautiful. They were gentle but flavorful. I would not say it was a jaw dropping experience or the most memorable meal I ever had but it was indeed a wonderful meal with top quality service. Just what you want for a special, romantic night.
110 South Pitt Street
Old Town Alexandria