Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Check out the master Index of Posts to view a list of all the restaurants that I've visited. Or, see the Interactive Dining Map and The Best Thing I Ever Ate, a list of my favorites dishes of all time. Contact me via email at kevin at kevineats dot com.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Plate by Plate 2014 Ticket Giveaway

Plate by Plate

On the evening of Saturday, August 2nd, Project by Project will be hosting its 12th annual tasting benefit, Plate by Plate. PbP is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit centered around issues relating to the Asian-American community. Each year, the group chooses a particular theme to focus on, and partners with a charitable organization in that space. This year's theme is mental health, with the partner being Pacific Asian Counseling Services, a local nonprofit that provides culturally-sensitive, language-specific counseling to immigrant families. As always, the upscale tasting will showcase the talents of some of LA's top restaurants, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages from a variety of leading purveyors. After three years at Downtown's Vibiana, this year's event will be held at the Petersen Automotive Museum in the Miracle Mile. To get an idea of what Plate by Plate is like, be sure to check out my report from last year's event.

Barbershop Ristorante
Bistro LQ
The Church Key
Del Rey Deli
Drago Centro
Faith & Flower
Fifty Seven
Fluff Ice
Jonathan Club (Sally Camacho)
Lexington Social House
Little Bear
Maison Akira
Mills + Company
The Park's Finest
Patina Pastry
Peking Tavern
Petty Cash
Saint Martha
Short Cake
Starry Kitchen
Superba Food + Bread
Wood & Vine
Zarate Restaurants
Plate by Plate 2013
1886 at The Raymond
Bird Pick Tea & Herb
Bobo's Cold Brew
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks
Café Dulcé
CNS Enterprise
Gekkeikan Sake
Goose Island
Ketel One
Kirin Ichiban
Los Angeles Ale Works
Monster Energy
Old Orange Brewing
San Vicente Cellars
Stella Artois
Tap It Brewing
Ventura Limoncello
Voss Water

Tickets are currently on sale at $150 for general admission. However, I'm giving away a pair of VIP tickets (giving you access to the preview hour and VIP lounge), valued at $250 each. In past giveaways, I've asked contestants to leave a comment with a brief blurb about what they're looking forward to most about the event. This year, though, we're attempting to better make use of social media, so we'll try something different. Here's what needs to go down:
  1. On either Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (pick one), post something about this giveaway, for example, "I just entered for a chance to win two VIP tickets to @ProjectbyProjectLA's Plate by Plate! Check out" Be sure to include the Eventbrite link and the proper PbP tag (@ProjectbyProjectLA for Facebook, @pbpla for Instagram, @pbpla for Twitter).
  2. Leave a comment here with: (a) your name, (b) an email address to reach you, and (c) a link to your post above (be sure to make it a public one).
Please submit entries by noon PDT on July 24th. We'll select the best one (hopefully you can come up with something more creative than my example above) and announce the winner Friday. Good luck!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Estadio (Washington, DC)

Estadio Restaurant
1520 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Thu 06/12/2014, 05:40p-07:10p

Estadio Exterior

Given that I'd visited Doi Moi just days prior, I thought I'd give its Logan Circle predecessor a go. Opened in 2010, Estadio ("stadium" in Spanish) is the second restaurant from Chef Haidar Karoum and Mark Kuller. The place serves up Northern Spanish cuisine--specifically focusing on the Basque and Catalan regions--as interpreted by Karoum and Chef de Cuisine Ruffino Bautista (an alum of both Proof and Asia Nora). Estadio was a hit right from the start, garnering a "Best New Restaurant" semi-finalist nod from James Beard in 2011, and also winning the "Best New Restaurant" Rammy from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington that same year. Since then, it's remained a fixture on the DC dining scene.

Estadio Interior
Penned by Grizform Design, Estadio is a festive sort of place rendered in warm tones and Spanish tile, iron, and reclaimed wood. Think old school charm with new school kick.

Estadio Menu Estadio Drink Menu
As for Estadio's menu, you get a long list of small plates meant for sharing--pintxos, tapas, raciones--joined by a nice array of cheeses and charcuterie. To pair with the food, you'll find a pretty decent beer list, low proof-y type mixed drinks from Bar Director Adam Bernbach, as well as a lengthy list of mostly Spanish wines managed by Wine Director Max Kuller. Click for larger versions.

Tanqueray 10 Gin & House-made Elderflower Citrus Tonic
Tanqueray 10 Gin & House-made Elderflower Citrus Tonic [$12.00]
The Spanish are quite the fans of the G&T, and this refreshing, reworked version was a fine start to the meal, with its sweet, citrus-y flavors pairing well with the aromatics of the gin.

House Made Country Pâté with Pistachios & Cherries
House Made Country Pâté with Pistachios & Cherries [$11.00]
A combination of cherries and pistachios added some fruity, nutty notes to Estadio's take on pâté de campagne, though I really wanted it to be more in-your-face porcine, with a grittier, less gelatinous consistency. It was still pretty tasty though, especially when taken with the combo of cornichons, mustard, and arugula.

Boquerones [$5.00]
Boquerones were delightful, the fishy, yet elegant savor of the anchovies proudly conveyed, set off by their treatment in vinegar and the lushness of olive oil.

Deviled Egg Stuffed with Ensaladilla Rusa
Deviled Egg Stuffed with Ensaladilla Rusa [$3.00]
I had to give the huevo relleno a go, natch, and it turned out to be one of the best I'd had in a while, the tangy, celery-laced potato salad working beautifully with its base of egg.

Croquetas de Jamón, Pickled Cucumbers
Croquetas de Jamón, Pickled Cucumbers [$8.00]
Croquettes of ham were appropriately rich, creamy even, and were tasty, though not all that interesting. Great use of the crunchy, piquant pickles, however.

Tortilla Española, Alioli, Sweet Hot Peppers
Tortilla Española, Alioli, Sweet Hot Peppers [$10.00]
Estadio's version of the traditional tortilla española was one of the best I've had. You had the expected, utterly satisfying combo of egg and potato of course, but the sweet heat of the red pepper, along with the creaminess of the alioli, really took things to a higher level.

El Cid
El Cid [$10.00] | Spanish Brandy, Cointreau, Rye, Lemon, Pineapple
My next cocktail was also a winner, displaying a great interplay of flavors between the brandy, whiskey, and orange liqueur, everything underscored by a fruitiness from the lemon-pineapple combo.

Grilled Octopus, Potato-Caper Salad & Pimenton
Grilled Octopus, Potato-Caper Salad & Pimenton [$13.00]
Octopus was well-prepared, arriving tender and with a lovely bit of char savor to go along with its inherently saline flavors. What took this over the top, though, was the incorporation of that potato salad, which imparted both crunch and acidity to the dish that really evened out the pulpo.

Rhode Island Calamari a la Plancha & Salsa Verde
Rhode Island Calamari a la Plancha & Salsa Verde [$12.00]
Sticking with the cephalopod theme, the squid was also on point, supple yet with a bit of bite, and loaded with focused, bitter char flavors that played well with the zesty salsa verde.

Grapefruit, Bourbon, Amontillado
Grapefruit, Bourbon, Amontillado [$9.00]
My final cocktail of the evening was one of Estadio's so-called "slushitos," and indeed, the drink arrived pleasantly slushy, a cooling, fun concoction showing off a delectable balance of citrus and sweet-spicy flavors.

Sautéed Pea Shoots, Olive Oil & Sea Salt
Sautéed Pea Shoots, Olive Oil & Sea Salt [$8.00]
Pea shoots were quite nice, their bright, bitter qualities moderated by the incorporation of sea salt and olive oil. Nice crunch on those shoots, too.

Bacalao Crudo, Jalapeño, Avocado, Orange & Olive Oil
Bacalao Crudo, Jalapeño, Avocado, Orange & Olive Oil [$11.00]
I don't think I'd ever had salt cod in crudo form, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Think meaty-yet-tender slices of fish, with an ingrained saltiness and a palpable finesse, effectively countered by its various accoutrements, the jalapeño in particular forming a fitting foil.

Sherry Float, Vanilla Ice Cream, Housemade Maraschino Cherry
Sherry Float, Vanilla Ice Cream, Housemade Maraschino Cherry [$9.00]
Despite being rather full by this point, I had to try at least one dessert. The sherry float didn't let me down, giving up all the classic goodness of the traditional treat, but with the additional gravitas of sherry. Loved those crunchy bits, too.

Chalk Estadio up as another successful venture from Karoum and Kuller. Save for a few nits, the food was really quite good, classic in essence, but with the Chef's liberties well incorporated, and the drinks delivered as well. I'll have to give Proof a go next time I'm in town...