Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wednesday, February 27th - Brown Bag

This is going to be quick, because I'm just not that motivated to write. I want to get to the gym and continue trying to get huge.

So I went to Brown Bag, because I needed a salad. I'm concerned about vegetable intake in my diet right now. Actually, I've done a lot of reading about nutrition lately, but have yet to find a good source regarding the suggested daily intake of vodka. If somebody has a definitive answer on this, let me know.

Brown Bag today was empty at noon. Crazy. So I do the make your own salad thing, which is the norm for me.Consists of:
  • house salad
  • chick peas
  • black bean relish
  • cheese
  • blackened chicken (blackened is key)
  • lime vinaigrette
Total, + a diet coke = $9.63. Acceptable, but pushing it. All in all, its an enjoyable salad. The best part is the end, when there's nothing but like chicken and dressing left. That part is awesome.

Again, not motivated today. Something will be better in the future. Sorry.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday, February 26th - Cafe Phillips

Not even kidding - this is the dullest Tuesday ever. The weather sucks, there's nothing going on - about the only work related thing I've done today is go over some "state of the credit markets" slides from a presentation. Work is slow.

So, I had a place suggested, called Cafe Phillips. Its a sandwich place. But they do fresh carved sandwiches. Since I have no choice but to subsist off of sandwiches in this new neighborhood since apparently that's all anybody ever wants for lunch, I give them a shot.

Wow what an inspiring storefront. Also, there's a Land Rover out front and those cost a lot of money. So if people who have a lot of money are eating here it must be good, because people with a lot of money have good taste and they buy nice things. So I step in, around 12:30, and I think there are two other customers. Note: the Greek Deli probably had a line of 50 at this point in the day. But, true to the word I heard, they do have fresh carved sammiches. I usually like a turkey sammich in this fashion, but, for reasons not fully understood, I chose roast beef. Which brings me to another point about sammich places and lunch places in general: you need to go in with a strategy. If you don't keep your wits about you, its all too easy to order something you don't really want. How often have you gone into a strange city, and ended up ordering something just downright bizarre and terrible, because you lost your cool, and, although you've never liked a fried cod and artichoke sammich, you decide to order it anyway. Too often, friends. Too often. Which is why when traveling with friends, have them order your food for you, assuming they're local. Its just easier.

So I bring it back to my desk.

That's a big roast beef sandwich. Total, including a diet coke, was $8.07. Acceptable. Went with mustard, lettuce, tomato, and provelone - cheese cost extra. And then I bite into it. First thing I noticed was that I expected a hotter sandwich. And maybe moister. The flavor of everything was good, but the tactile part of lunch was lacking. And really, it was just normal wheat bread. Basically, this amounted to above average belly filler, but far from anything I'm craving. I mean, I prefer this to something at Breadline, because that place sucks. But really. If this is what I have to look forward to at lunch, I'm not going to be looking forward to lunch. Its that simple. I mean, dang. Really? This? This is what my lunch is coming to?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday, February 25th - Burro

So I missed a day. Blah. Friday I grabbed lunch with FI4 - went to Nooshi, had a good lunch. A Nooshi review will be posted soon.

Today, though, I needed nourishment. Backstory: Saturday night was our office party that had been postponed for awhile. Well, it finally happened. And I found it necessary to drink about 20 glasses of scotch, and attend while wearing a women's silk scarf as formal neckwear. Don't ask. And after 20 glasses of scotch, a couple of us headed out to another bar, where tequila shots were necessary. Amazingly, I was part of the calm group. Anyways, this led to a Sunday where I did a heady combination of bed and couch time, trying to recover. Finally headed over to a local bar/grill at about 5:30 to grab a cheeseburger and a beer, in hopes that a beer would help. Not sure it did. So today, I'm still kind of hungover and hungry now. And needed something substantial. So I grab YF, and head over to 2000 Penn (by the GW campus) and hit up Burro, at the suggestion of my friend M^2.

Ambiance = 2. If that. This place is tiny and ugly. However, it is quick, and has a beautifully simple menu. That says something. So I get a grande chicken burrito (sans sour cream) and a small drink. Tally - $8.03. Acceptable.

I'm usually a pretty big fan of burritos as hangover food. Something about the giant tortilla, beans, and cheese makes a hungry stomach happy. This guy, one thing good about it is the chicken. They have some pulled, seasoned chicken thats all tender and yummy and in large chunks (not Chipotle style). YF and I were able to enjoy our meals pretty easily, although, as I said, there's not really any seating. But it looks out on some courtyard that I am looking forward to as the weather gets warmer.

Which brings me to the point of going west like this: co-eds. YF and I stop by this Italian deli that's right there to check out the menu, and an absolutely amazing one is in line. I mean, yeah, its cliche that "I keep getting older, and they stay the same age", but dang grandpa. Dang. I mean, this was special.

Oh, and another point. Apparently I'm not the only one commenting on expensive sandwiches.
Check it out here.

Yup, I have a kindred spirit out there. This makes me smile.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thursday, February 21 - Chipotle

I'm a day late with this post. Bite me.

So I have to review some report comments, and need to sit down and take some time to think about edits. So I go to my favorite haunt for this - the Chipotle in DuPont (aka Gazuza Chipotle).

Now, I realize that there is another Chipotle at 19th and M. But the line there is ridiculous - you'll be in line a good 20 minutes most days. Its fine for ordering in and picking up, but if you need to sit down and read something, hells no. Plus, its nice to stretch the legs, and in the springtime its never bad to get out, walk a few more blocks, and enjoy the springtime fashions. And, from the old office, I believe that it was actually quicker. Plus, I have a Greenpeace girl who tries to get me to sign up every time. And every time, I say no. Note: when it is below freezing, do not try to get people to sign up for global warming awareness. 1) its too damn cold to be standing around outside and 2) when its this cold, I'm starting to think its a farce - I ain't buying. Talk to me when its 75 degrees in January, and I'll sign up.

So, I go in, and easily get a table to sit down and read and enjoy my burrito bowl. I can't justify the burrito anymore - that shell is ridiculous. I'm pretty sure it will fill a 16 oz cup. I don't need that. So my standard order is:

  • bowl
  • rice
  • black beans
  • chicken
  • medium corn and hot salsa
  • quacamole
  • cheese

Final calorie tally: 997. (source: Not bad, honestly - I know that people always complain about the calorie tally there. Look - if I consume 1,000 calories per meal, three meals per day, I'm doing just fine. I walk a mile to and from work each way every day, go to the gym, and this walk alone is probably 3/4 of a mile. I need 3,000 calories per day. The sodium scares me, though. This bad boy hits my sodium number for the day. That's kind of scary. I have blood pressure issues. Total cost, including soft drink - $9 something. For a quantity of food I normally can't finish. Acceptable.

Also: I realize that part of this blog is being anti-chain. I know this. But I like Chipotle, dammit. Plus, they claim to try to buy organic and local whenever possible. So I can support it. Being owned by Colorado hippies, however, I don't condone this.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday, February 20 - Asian Bistro

First off, being the idiot I am, I signed up for a 10 mile race in two months. I am not in this kind of shape, for those of you that know. This is going to be ugly.

So by about noon thirty today I have a raging headache from working on the report from hell, which I hoped to have done by noon. Actual time sent in for review? 5:00. Not making friends with my reviewer with this one. But trust me, it was a pain. So I decide to take a walk to the old neighborhood, and hit the Asian Bistro at 19th and L.

I usually like this place. The wait can be a few minutes, and it can be hit or miss. But usually I'm pretty sure that the food is reasonably healthy - not the spring rolls of course, but lean chicken, rice, and salad - you can do worse. The daily specials rotate, and I'll admit I've had some bad ones. But part of me likes it for take out, because its not jsut normal chickenese. So today's special, at least for me, is the Spicy Peanut Tofu. I consider myself a bit of a tofu fan, and always enjoy trying different ways. Note: I make a mean peanut butter tofu myself.

So I trek it back to the office. Note #2: not in a good mood today, due to report from hell. And this is what I got:
That is a giant pile of tofu in peanut butter and hot sauce, in case you're wondering. Final tally, after tax - $8.25. Most things here run about a buck more than that, but not terrible. And its good pork fried rice (quothe my coworker one day after bringing it back to my office: "What smells so good? Its YOU. I WILL EAT YOUR FOOD." Caps were necessary. She was hungry.) All in all, it wasn't bad. I'm sure that sauteed tofu and a giant pile of peanut better (there were other vegetables in it, btw) isn't the healthiest, but I don't care today. I've downed about 24 oz of coffee, 24 oz of diet coke, and am just trying to keep going through the report from hell. I'll give lunch a 5 today - not inspiring, not demoralizing. At least its not a damn sandwich from Breadline. That place sucks.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday, February 19th - Brown Bag

OK, this is going to have to be a quick one. I'm still at work, trying to put together the report from hell. I spent most of the day fighting spreadsheets. Not fun. So I had to quickly leave and grab something from Brown Bag (18th between H and I).

This is one of my favorite places, and has been since the old office. The noodles suck, but the sandwiches are pretty good, and the build your own salad goes pretty well. I usually opt for the salad, but today it was cold, and I wanted a nice hot sandwich. I got the San Francisco sandwich today.

Sourdough bread, with roast beef, dijon, red peppers, and artichokes, all nicely toasted. Not typical, so there are creativity points there. I like that - if I have to get a sandwich, I want something toasted, and I want some creativity. It was delicious, and it wasn't crowded. Sometimes it can get a little full, but they do a pretty respectable job of moving people in and out. Final tally (including a diet coke) was $9.02. Acceptable. Its a delicious sandwich, its quick, it will continue to get high remarks from me.

Now, back to the salt mines. Might be a late one tonight. But hopefully that will make for an easy day tomorrow. And that I don't get ripped in my review. Always a fear with a property like mine.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday, February 15th - Penn Grill

Day after Valentine's Day, and it seems like there is nobody in the office. Does everybody just get soused and sexy with their significant others on V-Day, and then phone it in the next day? I'm curious about this, being a perpetually single human being (one Valentine's Day with a girlfriend in my 28 years on this planet). But anyways, it was a sunny, beautiful day here in our Nation's Capital, and I was in a chipper mood. So I also didn't mind taking a nice walk lunch. After discussing the CMBS market and risk underwriting to YF, it was time for lunch. So we decided to go over to 20th Street, and Penn Grill.

I would just like to point out one thing about going this far west. You get closer to George Washington University. Which brings us to 4 of the most beautiful words in the English language:

  1. G
  2. Dub
  3. Co
  4. Eds

(I attempted to point out a pair of these in the photo above using my superior MS Paint skills)

OK, back to food. Choices include hot sammiches, cold sammiches, or stir fry. I opt for the stir fry, and go heavy on the chicken, a little tofu, some veggies, a bit of beef, and try to stay light on the noodles that hold it together. YF opted for the philly cheesesteak, an aggressive choice, but, lets face it, sometimes we need some fatty, bad for you food. Anyways, stir fry is pay by the pound. My total tally, including a $2 bottle of Diet Coke came out to $8.45. Acceptable. Especially for a lot of food, which is what you get. (I apologize - I forgot my camera at lunch. Won't happen again.) The quality here is, actually, not bad. Time is an issue - selecting stir fry ingredients and then having them prepare them isn't the fastest option. But its tasty. And although they advertise low sodium and msg, I'm still pretty sure it wasn't the heart-healthiest option. But not terrible, either. YF stated that his cheesesteak was pretty good, though the fries weren't necessary, and went largely untouched. Really: there is no nutritional value to fries.

Back to the co-eds: there was this nice dark haired one in skinny jeans who came in about the same time as us, and ended up eating with a couple of male friends of hers. Then there was this pair at the table in front of us, neither was bad, one bordered on awesome. Then there was definitely this one that was awesome, taller, with some sort of slightly above the shoulder length dirty blond hair. Note: I assume that any girl wearing jeans is in college. She looks young, not in businesswear, etc. If you work at a place that has casual Friday and you can wear jeans, I'm calling you a co-ed until I can't deny that you're over 35. That simple.

All in all, Penn Grill is legit. Good value, good food, good scenery. A little slow on service, but on a Friday like this, who cares. And, they have outdoor seating when the weather is a little better. Nice perk.

Now, to go drink. I'm not going into the bar reviewing business just yet. But Bar Pilar is the starting off point tonight, fyi.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday, February 14th - SoHo

First off - just found out that I'm going to be the best man in a wedding this summer. Which means that the bachelor party planning has begun. The wheels are turning, my friends. The wheels are turning.

So I skipped breakfast today, because I'm an idiot, and I don't keep enough food in my place. Its kind of ridiculous - there's not much cabinet space in my kitchen, so its hard to keep too much around. No excuse, but still. So today, I head west, past the hated Breadline (communists). I heard rumors of a decent burrito place at 19th and H or something like that. I walk the block, but I don't see it. But there may be some potential on I, between 19th and 20th. Kaz Sushi is over there, which has already won me points. However, I finally settle on SoHo Cafe, which is a hot/cold bar.

Hot/cold bars are such risky propositions. By nature they have to be crappy. And remember, I came from the land of cashew chicken, and the Great Wall Super Buffet. Nothing will ever beat the Great Wall Super Buffet on Sunday after a rough weekend, also. That thing was awesome. Despite the fact that a couple of my friends from college were eventually banned from there for playing with food or staying too long or not tipping well enough or all of the above or something.

SoHo appears to be a little higher quality than most. I've been to the one near my apartment (13th and K) for breakfast before, and it was legit. So I was curious about lunch. I finally decided on the following selections: fried rice, general tsao's chicken (aka "chickenese"), mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and corn/mixed vegetables. They actually had a whole roasted turkey available for carving, as well - a good sign, I think. Final tally: $7.45. Acceptable.

So I get back to the office, and a coworker asks where I went. I tell her, and she swears that SoHo has the same ownership as Met Cafe, another hot/cold bar closer to the office. And its terrible. I went there once, brought food back, and after one bite wanted my money back. For real. I have never had such an immediate angry response to heat lamp chickenese. So anyways, I'm eating at my desk.

I don't know what I was thinking with the meatloaf. I love meatloaf. I love Greek Deli meatloaf. The integrity of this meatloaf is questionable. Though the mashed potatoes weren't terrible, for hot/cold bar mashed potatoes. Corn was alright, and the chickenese was actually fairly good for a place like this. That was actually a bit of a surprise.

I really wish some place could get a hot/cold bar concept right. It has to be able to be done. I mean, there are tons of chefs out there who can produce mass quantities of food. I mean, have you ever had the buffet at the Bellagio? They do it right. That thing is awesome. I think the key would be higher quality food, and less of it. And rotate it. Have sort of theme days. But less food, so you have quicker turnover and less heat lamp time, and work on the quality. Make it healthier. I think this is possible. Healthier would be the key, I think. How hard would it be to have less fried stuff, more lean meat? It has to be able to be done.

Overall: not bad for a hot/cold bar, better than most. But not absolutely delicious or anything. Sure, I could go back. But I'm not craving it or anything. Now its afternoon and I can't focus on anything. Blows. I've been fighting this damn spreadsheet all damn day. Awesome. I'm angry.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday, February 13th - Leftovers at my Desk

The weather is crappy, I'm hungover, and I don't feel like trying too hard. Leftovers at the desk. I feel like crap, its crap outside, I may as well eat crap. I'll take a do-over tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday, February 12th - Some Greek Place in International Square

Today just kind of sucked. I skipped breakfast this morning, and I'm out of powerbars in my desk, so I was dying for some food. But my stomach kind of hurt, too. So I didn't really wait for anybody, and went and grabbed lunch by myself at around 11:40 or so.

I received an anonymous tip that the Greek place in International Square was pretty legit. (Note: anonymous source was also pretty cute, also. Once again proving what every man has yet to figure out: just because an attractive woman tells you something, don't necessarily act on it. "Of course I should buy those test tube shots!" "Why yes, this suit does look good on me - I'll take it!" "Sure I'll go to that bar with your friends!" "That's funny - I also love photography! Let me buy tickets for that exhibit!" etc. I'm 28 years old. I should know better by now.) So I mosey myself up to International Square, and in doing so, effectively sidestep lunch invitations from YF and The Ex. So I guess I broke even there.

For those of you who don't know it, International Square is a massive office located at the Farragut West metro stop. And in the basement they have this giant food court, with several offerings - Greek, Cajun, Chickenese, Five Guys, etc. Its a pretty huge complex, all in all.

So I go up to the Greek Deli, and look over the selections, and, honestly, nothing really looked appetizing to me. So I panicked and orderd the Gyro platter. While waiting, though, I spotted some meatballs that looked like they might be alright. Damn. But eventually, my gyro platter arrives. Total tally, $8.25, incl. tax. Acceptable.

For those of you scoring at home, that's a pretty big gyro. And it came unassembled. I'm trying to figure that out. A good thing about being unassembled - that meant that none of the sauce was on there already, which is a good thing. I don't normally care for a lot of that crap, and it eventually just spills everywhere anyways. So I assemble the thing. Not bad, not great. But I'm not sure about my review today, since my stomach just wasn't working right, really. I will say this - there was enough meat for two gyros - that's a good thing. The potatoes and salad were just kind of eh. But, I did leave enough for a second snack this afternoon.

Overall - I want to try the meatballs. I screwed up on that part. Though I love a good gyro. The best are drunk gyros. I had a friend who loved the drunk gyro. The only point of drinking all night was to be able to sit on the curb at 3:00 am and savor the gyro. It was awesome. But I'll try this place again, I guess. Acceptable price and quantity of food, good speed, average quality and service.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday, February 11th - Ecco Cafe

First things first: its ridiculously cold today. I purchased a Diet Coke this morning from the CVS in my apartment building, and there was ice forming in it by the time I got to 16th Street. Not even kidding. My ears were killing me by the time I got to work.

So I go down to talk to my coworker and usual lunch cohort. He mentioned that it was too cold, and that he would just have to go next door to ABP and grab something, because its too cold to walk anywhere. Somehow, I managed to talk him out of this, and we tried a new place: Ecco Cafe, at 17th and G.
So, we walk into the place, and a couple of things stand out. One, it smelled tremendous. That was a good sign. Second, the menu was huge and varied - pasta, salads, sandwiches, pizza, etc. But definitely Italian. So I went with some sort of pasta with chicken marinara sauce. YF, my cohort, had some sort of sub.

Please note the banana. You buy something, and you get a free treat - choices were candy bars, chips, or fruit. That's a pretty sweet bonus. I like unexpected treats like that. Also, they have all sorts of extras for your food - oregano, parmesan, crushed red peppers, etc. These folks take care of you. I like it. The food, well, it was good. Not great, but good. However, the sheer selection is going to make us come back several times - going to have to try more stuff off the menu. And perhaps the best part? We were able to eat there, and it wasn't crowded or loud and stupid, and it was quick, and it was relatively cheap. I'm sure that was a $2 bottle of water I got, but still made it out for under $10.

Overall, it was a decent place. I'm sure that whatever I had was relatively healthy, and seemed to have fresh ingredients. Plus, its hard finding quick Italian places sometimes. Mainly, though, its an option that isn't Breadline. Because Breadline blows. We ran into some coworkers on the way back, and we had an Executive Vice President comment that Breadline is run by pinko communist bastards. So that's the official word - a sandwich at Breadline is a sandwich for Stalin. Its un-American. French baguette my ass.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday, February 8th - Wasabi

Its Friday, and I was hankering for sushi. But today was an eat at the desk day, since I was in hurry up and wait mode with a couple of clients. So I tried a new place - Wasabi ( to grab some take out. Approximately 355 yards from the office.

I grabbed the large Maki Box to get out. Price (including tax) $13.20. Yes, I know that this started because of complaining about the price of Breadline. But sushi is always going to be on the higher side, I know this. Seemed to be a lot of GW kids or something in there, because somehow I'm pretty sure I was the oldest patron in the joint.

So I gets back to the office.

First, I am not going to complain about the quantity of food. That's a big effing box of stuff. The box actually did end up defeating me, and I made the mistake of throwing it away in my trash can in my office. Mother of god I hope the cleaning people take care of the trash quickly tonight, because this could get rank in a few more hours. Quality, well, there could have been something to be desired. I know, you can't expect much for take out pre-prepared sushi, but I still prefer Nooshi for that sort of thing. Plus, there appeared to be some jacked up looking avacados in one of my rolls. Wasn't terrible, but definitely not my favorite sushi place, and I'll probably stick to other outings. I give the place high points for speed, though - didn't take too long for me to get there, get in, and get out.

Verdict: still not happy with food in the new neighborhood. But this didn't kill me. I just don't think I'll go back. Unless they have good salads or something.

First Blog

I am a huge fan of lunchtime here in DC. Or at least I used to be. I work downtown, and recently we moved offices from 18th and L to 17th and Pennsylvania. It might not seem like a big move, but the effect on my lunch has dramatically impacted my quality of life. I used to look forward to lunch every day, because I had so many wonderful choices within a short walk of my office. See the following map of my favorites:

  1. Mackeys
  2. Asian Bistro
  3. Nooshi
  4. Greek Deli
  5. Luigi's
  6. Crepeway
  7. Couscous Cafe
  8. Chipotle
  9. Panang
  10. CF Folks
  11. Naan and Beyond
  12. Colombia
That is 12 delicious choices within 1/4 mile of the old office. Twelve delicious options where I could effectively not be stuck with either a salad or a sandwich. Asian. Greek. Italian. Indian American. French. Everything. All right there. So obviously, lunch was exciting for me every day. And I'm not even counting the chains - Potbelly, Au Bon Pain, Subway, etc. (I'm counting Chipotle because I like it, dammit.)

Then, we moved.

Here is the new map:

  1. Breadline - sucks
  2. BS Chain
  3. BS Chain
  4. BS Chain
  5. Brown Bag
  6. Corner Bakery
  7. Swings Coffee
  8. The Exchange
  9. Penn Grill
So there you have it. Pretty much everything there is a salad and sandwich place. Any my main complaint, of course: the first time I went into Breadline, I purchased the soup and sandwich combination. And it cost me $11.13. I didn't even get a beverage with this. And it wasn't that good. Sure, it was better than Cosi or ABP, but still. $11.13. For that price, I want real food, and not an overpriced, underdelivered sandwich and soup.

What frustrates me is that I'm sure there are quality places in the neighborhood to eat. I just haven't found them yet. But I'm losing hope. But I will not cease my explorations.