Grabbin' A Bite In DC: Round Two

Grabbin' A Bite In DC: Round Two

     Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It seems we’re joined here once again, circled around this proverbial hearth of the interwebs, to listen to yet another tale of my wild and wondrous adventures in and around the Washington DC area. However, this time, I’ve decided to (once again) stray from the path a little. While it may have been noted that I would try to format the remainder of my posts to fit my “experience: music” template, I’ve decided to stray from this path for a little here in order to bring you another steaming pile of food reviews from the places that have graced my profoundly-privileged stomach. Yet, rather than devise a methodical rating system for each of my restaurants of choice, I’ve instead planned to ad-hoc a scale out of five that best represents each establishment. No, there will be no rationality to each “symbol-out-of-five.” They will simply be the first thing that comes into my mind when I think about that restaurant (probably stemming from the type of food and experience that I had within the confines of their walls). For those of you who can’t get enough of my musical insights, I apologize for the break… we’ll get back to the good stuff next week. On the plus side, I’ll still include a track at the bottom of the page that I feel best describes the feel of the week (I gotta’ include the music). Therefore, without further delay, I bring to you my reviews of three of the places of note that I’ve had the chance to dine at recently. 

Austin Grill

Logo

     The first establishment on our list for this week is a little place known as the Austin Grill. Situated in downtown Silver Spring (and also in Chinatown, DC proper), the Austin Grill sits a mere one-hundred feet from the Silver Spring IMAX theatre. As you may remember from an earlier post of mine, my roommates and me recently traveled to the Silver Spring IMAX theatre to take a weekend off from the typical and to treat ourselves to a something a little special. Dinner was something we were not willing to compromise on… for the most part. While a majority of the other places that we were going to dine at were a tad too crowded, the Austin Grill represented an acceptable wait with a menu that looked equally tantalizing for the cost.

Silver Spring 

     If I had to boil it down into one sentence, I would say that the Austin Grill was overall a good experience. However, I wouldn’t say that it was stand-out. This is not to say the food was bad, but it is saying that I’ve had quite similar experiences at places like Lone Star, Texas Roadhouse, or a variety of other “western-themed-family-restaurants.” But, if there was anything that made the Austin Grill stand out, it was the quantity and quickness that the experience brought with it. I would be lying if I said we weren’t a little nervous with how much time it would take after waiting 10-15 minutes for a table; sitting down not an hour from our movie. However, we were in and out in 45 minutes, bypassing any fears of missing the best part of the movie: the previews (haha). The service was as attentive as I cared to worry about, and the food itself came out in about 10-15 minutes, mimicking the time we spent waiting for a table. But while the overall pace and atmosphere of the restaurant led to a solidly satisfying experience, that’s not where the real meat was on the bone (notice the rib pun).

Ribs

     The food was where the true satisfaction lay. As we sat down, I couldn’t help but gape at the menu, searching through a variety of western themed steaks, chicken, burritos, and other Tex-Mex staples. But, I knew exactly what I would order as soon as I hit the “barbecue ribs” section of the menu. I’m just going to get this out there… I love ribs, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If I had to eat barbecue ribs every day for the rest of my life, I’d probably die a happy man. Well, let me say that the ribs I had at the Austin Grill were pretty impressive. I got a half rack… an obscenely large half rack at that. It’s a good thing I didn’t end up getting the full rack or else I would’ve probably been too full for comfort. The flavor of the ribs was pretty good, but the tenderness is where they shone. The meat was almost falling off the bone: a wonderful sight for any rib enthusiast. Of course my side I got was “Texas-fries,” because every rib-eater needs some fries on the side to add to the rib-down. The fries were, dare I say, outstanding. It’s not often that I think the side is better than the meal, but in this case… this was the truth! The fries were a combination of what makes fries good, and adding a little “Texan” flavor to them to give it a little zing as you munch down on them. Overall, I was completely full after the meal, a lot more full than I expected to be from ordering a half rack of ribs meal. This is another point in Austin Grill’s favor: I got a lot more food than I expected for my moolah. Spending around $15 for a full meal felt good, especially when you can spend just about as much at any number of the lunch cafeterias around DC. Yet, the one thing that held the Austin Grill back was the fact that I felt that I could’ve gotten a similar, if not identical, experience at any other Tex-Mex, western-themed restaurant. With this in mind, I can’t give Austin Grill any higher than a respectable 3 John Wayne’s out of 5. It just seemed to mold to the trend too much to push the food and experience beyond what could easily be offered by any other similarly-themed establishment.

John WayneJohn WayneJohn Wayne

(Three John Waynes out of Five)

 

Bertucci's Brick Oven Ristorante

Bertuccis

     The next place on our food tour of DC is a place that I have never heard of up until my travels out here, but apparently lives and thrives on the East Coast. The place I’m referring to, of course, is the pizzeria and pasta establishment known as Bertucci’s Brick Oven Ristorante (because apparently spelling your place’s name in Italian-esque spellings makes it more authentic these days… who knew?). Never have I been happier to have discovered a chain restaurant.

Interior 

     The first time I went there was with my mother when she came up to visit me, roughly, two weeks ago. We were looking for a place nicer than a fast food restaurant/bar, but not too fancy of an up-scale, suit-and-tie affair (a difficult situation that we found ourselves in). Bertucci’s seemed to be the right mix of down-home restaurant, with inklings of an original, and more manicured take on Italian food. The restaurant, situated right outside DuPont Circle proper, was a fairly nice place. Everything was in order, our waiter was attentive, the place wasn’t too packed, etc. Things were looking up from the beginning. Not to mention they had an awesome bread and olive-oil appetizer combination that left me clamoring for every last bit of precious olive-oil on the plate they gave us. At first glance, I completely ignored their pizza, figuring it to be simply an addition because the place happened to carry the “Italian food” moniker. Oh how I was wrong. Little did I know that I would have some of the best and most original pizza that I’ve had the pleasure of sampling here in DC at this chain restaurant. Yes, they have the more traditional fares, but it’s their specialty pizzas that really set Bertucci’s apart for this hungry consumer.

     Cue in the “Ultimate Bertucci,” quite possibly one of the most delicious pizza creations I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. Have you ever had a craving for sweet Italian sausage? How about roasted chicken on your pizza? And what about meatballs? Does Rosemary ham make the list of ingredients? How about you add them all together? Yes, the Ultimate Bertucci combines all of these delicious items, along with pepperoni, onto one hulking individual pizza. However, rather than let the flavors of each clash in a massive smorgasbord of pizza madness, Bertucci’s strategically places them on each of the four corners of the pizza, therein creating four pizzas in one! You’ve read correctly: each corner of the pizza has its own unique topping, whether it was the rosemary ham, sweet Italian sausage, meatballs, or roasted chicken… added to the pepperoni already layered onto this massive meat concoction. Simply put, it was amazing… and all for $11.99 as well! I know it sounds strange, but I just couldn’t get over the fact that I had what amounted to four different pizzas in one. It really made the entire pizza-eating experience unique for me, while also marking out Bertucci’s for definite future consumption in the last couple weeks that I have out here in DC.

Pizza

     Overall, Bertucci’s delivered on providing an exquisite meal at a reasonable price. But, with this in mind, I can’t help but feel a little foolish raving about food from a restaurant that apparently covers the entirety of the east coast. Taking this in mind, and considering I marked Austin Grill down for being relatively unoriginal, I have no choice but to dock Bertucci’s some points as well for being a chain and giving a “cookie-cutter” formula across the east. But, my newfound experience of tasting the wonders of Bertucci’s also elevates it above other general Italian restaurants that I’ve eaten at before. This, therefore, nets Bertucci’s, in my mind, a commanding four “Pizza Power’s” out of five… just like the four flavors of pizza that I got in one order. (For those of you confused as to the “Pizza Power” reference… seriously, you needed to watch more cartoons as a kid)

PizzaPizzaPizzaPizza

(Four Pizza Powers out of Five)

 

Metro 29 Diner

Metro 29

     Leading the caboose of this massive eatery addition of my weekly blog comes the wonderfully quaint place known as the Metro 29 Diner in Arlington Virginia. Yet another place that the mother and I excursioned to on our weekend together: the Metro 29 Diner was a place that we happened to stumble upon by accident one Saturday night. We had traveled into Virginia in an effort to find a chain grocery store outside the DC limits where we could possibly find better prices. Yet, in our quest to find such a place, we also found that we needed to eat dinner. Maneuvering around the Arlington area, we stumbled across the Metro 29 as we headed towards a Safeway, not a couple miles away. Deciding to take a chance, we decided to stop and see what they had to offer. However, I had a strange feeling that I had heard the name before.

     Well, as it turns out, the Metro 29 Diner was featured on the Food Network as a part of the Guy Fieri favorite: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Offered up by the show as “home-cooking the classics,” Metro 29 presents a refined look at the traditional American food that, for those of us who’ve gown up in this country, have come to know and love. The place itself has a stylized look to it, taking on the appearance of those old-school roadside diners of the 1950’s and 60’s: filled with the sleek aluminum siding and flashy neon side overhead. The place ain’t big on the inside, but it sure does well when it comes to what they’re serving up.

Menu

     Settling in, I found myself unsurprised by the typical menu of classic diner staples. Hamburgers, skirt steaks, salads, sandwiches, you name it they probably had it here. Seemingly taking the “more is better” mantra, the Metro 29 really does have a breadth of options when it comes to chowing down. Yet, don’t be fooled into thinking that this means that they don’t have some honest quality and care thrown into their cooking. Starting off with some traditional chicken noodle soup, I immediately found myself satisfied by what normally has become bland “let’s-wait-until-the-real-food-gets-here” filler. The combination of veggies, broth, and chicken chunks (while not totally original) was surprisingly tasty… eagerly leaving me waiting for the main course. Well it seems that being surprised at my lack of disappointment was par for the course that night.

     I got the roast sirloin for my dinner, topped off with some French fries (you think I like fries a little?), and some corn on the side. What came to me was a massive plate, loaded with beef, with a big bowl of corn on the side and a massive helping of fries. It was almost too much. I probably had enough food to feed at least two of me, but somehow I managed to down it all within about fifteen minutes. Living up to its atmospheric roots, Metro 29’s food fit exactly where I expected it to be: classic, but nothing extraordinary. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but there just wasn’t anything that made it pop in my mind. It was the same kind of fare that you could get from any other typical Americana diner. But, that didn’t keep me from enjoying some of the staple foods of the American diner scene. I felt completely satisfied at the end of my meal, harkening back to my nostalgia of going to a diner much similar back in my hometown called Eros. Overall, Metro 29 was a welcomed surprise, but nothing to flip a gasket about. With this in mind, I have to give Metro 29 a respectable three “Monk’s” out of five.

 Monty'sMonty'sMonty's  

(Three Monks' out of Five)      

Bonus Music

     As for this week’s bonus track… let’s turn to a song that has been ringing through my conscience at work this week: Motion City Soundtrack’s “Everything is Alright.” If you haven’t already heard of Motion City Soundtrack, do yourself a favor and stop right now and listen to this song… and their entire discography. Simply put, Motion City sums up a lot of my high school experience, giving me keyboard-infused power pop tunes to jam to when the times weren’t as upbeat as the music blasting out of my speakers. “Everything is Alright” is one of the catchier and more mainstream tunes that Motion City has released, but that doesn’t keep it from being one infectious little number. Just you wait. Give it a couple days and you’ll be humming this one as you head to work/class/whatever… I guarantee it.

  

Credits:

Austin Grill Logo: http://cdn.wwwthefrugalgirl.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Austin-Grill.jpg

Ribs: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/dining/reviews/blog/AustinFajitas.jpg

Austin Grill Silver Spring: http://www.silverspringcenter.com/My%20Pictures/austin2.JPG

John Wayne: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~scanderson/Web%20Cards/IMG/john_wayne.jpg

Bertucci’s DuPont: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Bertucci%27s_-_Dupont_Circle.JPG

Ultimate Bertucci: http://www.bertuccis.com/uploads/images/ultimate_bertucci.jpg         

Bertucci’s Interior: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_VuiGn4JdpBQ/TM4U1QEbdQI/AAAAAAAAAB8/6SY1hj4YPkY/s320/interior.png

Pizza Power: http://cn1.kaboodle.com/hi/img/2/0/0/154/f/AAAAAkUeebsAAAAAAVT3pw.jpg?v=1222602803000

Metro 29 Diner: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Lw_2mEyz9-U/TEyCKiKj4mI/AAAAAAAAADQ/q7coBGtcsL4/s1600/metro29outside.jpg

Metro 29 Diner Menu: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/198/451150303_74a4e7af88.jpg

Monty’s Diner: http://www.wayfaring.com/waypt/image1/23927/toms-diner-xlarge.jpg

 

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