Beautiful Dish

19 June 8:47 am

D.C. United’s Robbie Russell, John Thorrington, James Riley and Daniel Woolard enjoyed a delicious meal at Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company. Before the players sat down to their meal, RJ Kenney of Rocklands brought Russell to the “Wall of Fire”— a fully stocked shelf of over 100 different hot sauces. The four members of the Black-and-Red indulged in authentic barbeque with their families and friends, and after watching the video, all of us in the office are thinking baby back ribs for dinner. 

With Russell leaving for medical school shortly after this video was filmed, the Beautiful Dish ratings were never solidified. But, the blog will continue and be back in full effect soon. 

22 April 4:13 pm

So here it is, right on time, the rundown from the Beautiful Dish staffers on Share our Strength's Taste of the Nation event from April 8. Apologies to our growing legion of readers (and Professor Robbie Russell) for the delay, but I will happily use the two-year old daughter, pregnant wife plus being injured card in my defense (editors note – I like the nickname Professor Robbie Russell).

Onto the evening...

I've been really excited for Taste of the Nation ever since Professor Russell mentioned it. Some of the best chefs and restaurants in the city combining to support a cause that's very close to my heart = a win-win for me. The Professor was a late scratch due to an illness of unappetizing details that have no place on a food blog. So the Beautiful Dish was ably represented by myself and James Riley at the National Building Museum.

Before I get to the food and drink, I will say that I couldn't, in good conscience, criticize any chef or restaurant donating his or her time for a good cause, so the point of this entry will be to give you a feel for the event as well as some of the food and drinks that really stood out.

Not knowing what to expect, I was admittedly overwhelmed heading inside the museum. There was a line wrapping around the block that we avoided thanks to our VIP tickets. I had no idea there would be so many restaurants and bars represented, a testament to the chefs here in D.C. The whole atrium (what a beautiful space) was full of restaurants serving samples at stalls. If there was logic behind the layout it was lost on me, I got lost, surrounded by every type of food and cuisine you could imagine: Italian, Indian, Japanese, Belgian, French, Mexican (in big numbers), Greek, barbecue, seafood, comfort food, all intertwined with cupcakes, gelato, cookies, with some cocktail and wine bars thrown in to top it off.

I arrived hungry, which was great in the sense that I easily ate three times what the normal attendee would, but maybe at the expense of serving the purposes of this blog somewhat. (Note to self: avoid preoccupation with rushing to taste everything at the expense of taking pictures and remembering details.) If this event is any indication of food trends in the city, which I think a safe assumption given who was involved, braised anything, soups, and burgers are so hot right now.

On that note, will the cupcake bubble ever burst?

It was great to see a few favorites of my new city represented: Founding Farmers, Hank's, Dolcezza Gelato (go for the Salted Caramel) to name a few, and a few others that are worth mentioning.

Belga Cafe, which I went to last weekend, had the best stall/stand, a faux food truck and served up some sort of braised beef with a waffle, not a combo I'd ever experienced, waffles have always been breakfast food for me, but it worked.

I loved Rappahannock Oyster company, just fresh oysters served simply with the usual fixings.

I appreciated the quail egg that topped each mini burger at the BGR stand.

Best drink goes to Matt Ficke of the Columbia Room, who crafted up an amazing cocktail unlike anything I've ever tasted with Green Hat distilled gin.

All in all, it was a great night, a great opportunity for me to get a taste of the city, all in the name of a good cause.

08 April 5:09 pm

We’re kicking off this blog with our most recent trip to Kansas City, Missouri. I will attempt to curb my bitterness at not coming away from our match with a well deserved point (possibly three), and provide you all with an unbiased evaluation of the Bristol Seafood Grill restaurant.

Bristol Seafood Grill
51 East 14th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106
www.bristolseafoodgrill.com
816-448-6007

The Bristol Grille is located in the Power and Light district of downtown Kansas City. This area offers an array of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs that cater to whatever you are up for in an evening, all in the convenience of a few short blocks.

Members of tonight’s dining party include, Perry Kitchen – the youngster, James Riley – the seasoned vet, Mike Gartlan – their Agent and the money bags for this particular evening, and of course yours truly, Robbie Russell – all around great human being and the brilliant mind behind this blog. A couple other people contributed to the creation of this blog, but because they weren't here for this particular dining experience, they don't get credit (editors note – thanks Robbie! Some of the staff went to Jack Stack’s BBQ where we had some of the best BBQ around).

The evening started out with a brisk walk from our hotel, the Kansas City downtown Marriott, which was accompanied by a lot of belly aching from my teammates as to my efficacy with Google Maps, the correct direction of travel, and whether or not this restaurant I had found would be any good at all. James Riley can be quoted as saying “you picked a Seafood joint in Kansas City... Really?” and Perry's only concern was whether or not they would have pasta on the menu. In response I pointed out that I was the one who set up all the reservations, researched the restaurant and put this little shindig together, but as the saying goes 'No good deed...'

Needless to say I got us there on time, where we met Mike Gartlan at the bar. Our reservation was quickly honored by the hostess, but it didn't seem as if there was a shortage of tables. The inside was quite spacious with a separate bar and dining area. The décor was modern and the ambiance was lively. Pop music was being played in the bar area, but was never overpowering or difficult to talk over. There was a smattering of people all around the restaurant, which you could consider full but not packed. All in all not bad for an early Thursday evening. Our party of four was seated in the bar area at a high table for 6.

MENU

With all of that said, here is what we had along with some notes to accompany before we give you our final reviews and rating.

Bread:

  • Sweet Bread Biscuits and Honey Butter.
  • Sweet Breads Biscuits were warm out of the oven. Crispy with excellent sweet and savory flavors combined with the honey butter.

Appetizers:

Shared Fried Seafood Sampler.

Crab Cakes with apple slaw.

  • Top Notch with large chunks of crab, Good ratio of breading to crab! Very Crabby

Fried Calamari.

  • Very Average, A bit chewy with a great deal of breading!. Not the best, but not the worst either. Thankfully not too greasy. High quality ingredients seem to come through though

Shrimp Scampi.

  • Excellently prepared, tender and flavorful, surrounded by a delicious cream and garlic oil. Good enough to sop up with our bread.

Sweet Potato Fries.

  • Small and barely noticeable. Seemed to be more of a filler to be eaten along side the calamari.

Three dipping sauces.

  • Sweet and Sour sauce, Mango Tartar, Creole Remoulade.
  • All added something to the flavors of the appetizer, but all very heavy with cream.

Two Orders of Lobster Mac & Cheese

  • Unremarkable amounts of Lobster in the orders. “You can get more lobster at a food truck in Seattle,” said James Riley. Pasta cream sauce was subtle with a good amount of cheese. Not quite thick enough to be considered a full comfort food but maybe that is a good thing.

Lobster Bisque—Mike Gartlan

  • Creamy and rich, small chunks of lobster throughout. Can’t handle much more than was served but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Side Caeser—Perry Kitchen, Robbie Russell

  • Too much dressing and too much cheese.

Entrees:

Mixed Seafood Grill-- Robbie Russell

Charred Ahi Tuna-- Mike Gartlan

Chicken Penne-- Perry Kitchen

6 Ounce Filet Oscared—James Riley

Dessert:

Key Lime Pie

  • Perry Kitchen's all time favorite dessert so we will rely on him for an opinion. “Thought it was pretty good but too fluffy and the crust was a little overpowering. A graham cracker crust would have been better,” said Kitchen. I agree, and the mango sorbet didn't do anything to help the dish. It became bland slush when eaten along side the pie. Cocktail fruit addition seemed to come out of cans, seemed cheap

Opinions Notes:

  • James Riley was initially skeptical of seafood in Kansas City.... especially having lived in Seattle and LA, but he has since recanted this statement.
  • The Surf and Turf Combos on the menu were numerous and varied. You could essentially pair any fish with any type of steak available and have it cooked to order.
  • Mike Gartlan, who paid for the whole thing, was quoted as saying, “considering everything involved in the meal, it was worth the price.”
  • Great Ambiance. Relaxing, modern sleek. Great for conversation with lively background. Unfortunately didn’t try the drinks, but the wine selection seemed varied and tasteful.

Ratings:

Food: 7
Presentation: 5
Atmosphere: 8
Price: 4
Overall Rating: Nutmeg City

Our next posting will be evaluating some of DC's finest chefs, restaurants and mixologists at this years Taste of the Nation charity function. It is happening TODAY at the National Building Museum. We encourage all of our readers to join us there, seeing as this event is helping to raise funds necessary to help feed our hungry children. The host of this event, Share Our Strength, is a charitable organization that seeks to bring awareness to the plight of our nation's hungry children.

Learn more and buy tickets here. We hope to see you there.

We’ll also be trying out D.C. United Bar Partner Rockland’s BBQ later this week, so be on the lookout for a review on that.

NEXT HOME MATCH: April 13, 7:00 p.m. ET vs New York Red Bulls

08 April 8:33 am

As a Major League Soccer player, you are given the opportunity to travel all around the country and in some special instances, the world, multiple times in every season. Amazing as this is, it also comes with the burdens of constant repetitive stays in strange hotels, eating in different restaurants on every trip, and spending most of your days with your roommate scanning the internet or television for some way to keep your attention occupied. MLS teams cover tens of thousands of miles each season and visit between 12-15 different cities, all the while being far away from your family and friends, with mostly nothing but your teammates for company.

You have to find ways to avoid going nuts spending all your time with the people you work with (in the hopes of not losing it and going ballistic on them). Nothing breaks this monotony better than a good meal with good company, and surpasses the sense of satisfaction that comes from a great dining experience. This is what we like to call “The Beautiful Dish.”

The goal of this blog is to enlighten our readers to the different, excellent possibilities for great dining experiences in each of these cities as found by the members of their local MLS franchise. We will search for that elusive “beautiful dish” in each city that can succeed in breaking up the monotony of a long travel day, and make your short visit that much more. We will spend our time visiting the different restaurants in each city using suggestions from home team players and organizations as well as spending much of the time examining our own D.C.'s best eateries and dining experiences. Of course, suggestions from readers and fans are most welcome (just send a note to the editor, Ryan Tronovitch at Rtronovitch@dcunited.com).

Please understand that none of us are what you would call “culinary experts” and are at best self-proclaimed foodies. All the knowledge we can share is: we know what we like and hope you like the same...but you are more than welcome not too. We will analyze the restaurants from the perspectives that we consider important, and of course we will employ a rating system that reflects our chosen profession. Each restaurant will be graded on the following categories, with all the scores being added into an overall grading:

  • Food(and at times drinks)
  • Presentation
  • Atmosphere
  • Price

The Overall score will be as follows:

  • RED CARD: Straight Dismissal
  • YELLOW CARD: Proceed with Caution
  • DRAW: Neither good nor bad but can swing in either direction. Sometimes a point is good, sometimes a point is bad.
  • NUTMEG: Sometimes you put the ball through the opponents legs in a game, and you haven't won but you are very happy with yourself for a good while after.
  • UPPER 90: Best you can get. You're making Sportscenter's Top 10 plays of the day, and are a 'beautiful dish' finalist.

See the authors in action this weekend at RFK Stadium as they take on the New York Red Bulls Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Tickets still available