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Table8 launches in Washington, offering hot seats for a price. By Anna Spiegel
Would you pay for a table at the white-hot Fiola Mare? Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Would you pay money for an ordinarily free restaurant reservation? It’s a hot topic in the industry right now, thanks to the proliferation of third-party reservation systems like Resy and Shout that offer seats at popular restaurants for a fee.

Washington gets its first such service with the arrival of Table8, a San Francisco company that launched Monday with 17 local partners, including Fiola Mare, Zaytinya, Osteria Morini, and Del Campo (see the full list here). The app is free, as are reservations at participating restaurants if there’s plenty of space available, or if the diner is picking an off-peak time. Otherwise, the booking costs $25 for a two-person table or $45 for four, and the money is split by the restaurant and Table8. The number of spaces set aside for users varies, but most eateries only hold one or two tables, while others set aside up to five.

It’s worth noting that all the local participants offer free reservations otherwise. The service is geared toward last-minute diners looking for a hot seat. So what do you think—is a reservation worth the price?

Posted at 03:08 PM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
For under $800,000, you get a party-perfect back patio and a walk-in closet to die for. By Caroline Cunningham

Local designer Tracy Morrisʼs handiwork can be seen all over this two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath condo on the north side of Georgetown. High-end accents, such as Nina Campbell wallpaper, Ralph Lauren light fixtures, and Calacatta marble countertops are peppered throughout the 1,000-square-foot residence. A fireplace flanked by built-in shelving lends a cozy vibe to the living room, but our favorite space in the condo isnʼt a room at all—itʼs a custom-built walk-in closet with shelves for shoes, a wall of mirrored wardrobes, and a vanity for all your cosmetics. If you're still not sold, the property also comes with a private terrace perfect for warm-weather entertaining and a location directly across the street from Montrose Park.

3012 R St., NW, #1/2 is listed at $799,900. Take a peek inside below, then head over to Coldwell Banker for the complete listing.

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Posted at 02:46 PM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus a Timber Pizza Co. pop-up. By Anna Spiegel
Fat Pete's (above) is one of the DC Meat Week barbecue spots. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

More restaurant week: The official Metropolitan Restaurant Week is over, but Alexandria Restaurant Week continues through Sunday. Participating spots offer either three-course dinners for $35 or a meal for two at the same price. A number of eateries also serve discounted lunches.

Meat week: Seven days of carnivorous eating have begun. DC Meat Week runs through Sunday, with nightly gatherings like all-you-can-eat barbecue at Hill Country on Monday and a barbecue-eating relay at Pork Barrel on Tuesday. Specials vary by restaurant, so check out the full lineup.

Happy Birthday to the Boss: Anyone craving fried chicken and/or $1 whiskey shots can head to Boss Shepherd’s on Monday for a special celebrating Alexander “Boss” Shepherd. The politician was born in 1873, so you’ll find a fried chicken dinner for $18.73 through Saturday.

Burns dinner: Mad Fox Brewing Company hosts a Robbie Burns dinner on Monday; the culinary tradition honors Scottish poet Robert Burns. The reception begins at 6:30 followed by a five-course meal that includes riffs on traditional Scottish dishes such as haggis, plus beer pairings ($75 per person). The brewery also offers à-la-carte specials throughout the evening, Scotch tastings, and a bagpipe player.

Taste of Napa: Blue Duck Tavern hosts two California winemaker dinners this week. First up on Tuesday is Peter Franus of Peter Franus Winery. Then on Thursday, Michael Mondavi visits the restaurant and pairs his wines. Both meals are four courses, start at 7, and are $155 per person.

Carb-tastic: Paleos need not apply to Osteria Morini’s beer and pasta dinner, happening Thursday at 6:30. The Italian restaurant teams up with DC Brau for a reception and three-course pasta meal paired with the local brews, plus warm chocolate cake and Penn Quarter Porter to finish. The meal is $85 per person; reservations can be booked by e-mailing Alice Mayeron at amayeron@altamareagroup.com.

Seeing stars: Michelin-starred Italian chef Stefano Cerveni from Ristorante Due Colombe prepares a collaborative wine dinner at Fiola on Thursday. The five-course dinner is paired with wines from Ca’ del Bosco, and features dishes like red prawn crudo with purple potatoes, “sparkling” risotto, and olive oil-poached beef ($200 per person). Call the restaurant for reservations.

Pop-up pizza: Timber Pizza Co., which operates a mobile wood-fired pizza operation, sets up shop at the Dolezza Factory on Friday for a special dinner. Guests can try the pizzas during the five-course meal, paired with DC Brau brews ($65 per person). The later seating is sold out, but spaces remain for 6 PM.

Posted at 02:10 PM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The newest Mike Isabella restaurant brings island-style Greek to Ballston. By Anna Spiegel
Kapnos Taverna by Mike Isabella opens with island-style Greek cuisine in Ballston. Photographs by Andrew Propp.

Ballston’s growing restaurant scene gets its newest addition on Tuesday with the opening of Kapnos Taverna. The Mike Isabella eatery is a spinoff of Kapnos on 14th Street, with a wholly new menu and a focus on island-style Greek cuisine. Diners can head in for lunch this week, and dinner beginning Monday, February 2. Here’s what to look for when you go.

The best seat in the house: Guests have 165 spots to choose from in the Mediterranean-styled restaurant, including bar-like seating in front of the open kitchen; you might recognize executive chef George Pagonis from his recent stint on Top Chef. The “VIP table,” as Isabella calls it, is slightly apart from the show, tucked away in a corner with a good view of chefs at work, but still plenty of privacy. Want to catch all the action? Pick a table on the second-floor mezzanine, which overlooks the entire dining room.

A second-floor mezzanine dining room provides a great view.

The go-to dish: The shellfish tower. Washington may be swimming with raw-bar plateaus, from Le Diplomate to Fiola Mare, but Isabella offers the first Greek version. The platter can include freshly shucked oysters, lobster, marinated mussels, salmon tartare, cracked crab, and more, served with dipping sauces like tomato-ouzo cocktail, lemony yogurt, and an herb-packed mignonette.

A seafood-centric menu offers shellfish towers, roasted oysters, and swordfish kebabs (above).

Out-of-the-water options: While the menu draws heavily from the ocean, meat eaters and vegetarians still have plenty to pick from. The stellar dips and spreads like smoky feta or charred eggplant, served with warm flatbread, are among the few carryovers from Kapnos; carnivores will also find the signature spit-roasted chicken and lamb with ancient-grain salad and tzatziki. Many new options include more traditional mezze such as spanokopita and falafel, and a lunch menu with five different gyros (a wallet-friendly combo includes a sandwich, spread or salad, and drink for $15).

Cocktails are infused with Mediterranean flavors, while the wine list is mostly Greek.

That wonderful smell: Dried herbs and flowers. A garden’s worth of lavender and eucalyptus hangs from an installation above the bar area, infusing the room with scents familiar to the Greek islands.

Drink like Mike: Barkeep Taha Ismail is behind the cocktails, which are often infused with Mediterranean spices, peppers, and honey. If you’re going with a shellfish tower, Isabella recommends keeping it classy with a gin martini (vodka is also an option), stirred here with floral Dolin blanc vermouth and orange bitters. The wine list is fittingly three-quarters Greek, and you’ll also find at least one beer from the country, Mythos lager.

Pastry chef Ryan Westover creates sweets like lemon cake with lebneh ice cream.

In the future: Brunch, and a big patio. Saturday and Sunday brunch will launch in a few weeks; the 60-seat outdoor space is planned for the spring. This year is also a big one for Isabella in the Ballston neighborhood, with the Mexican cantina Pepita and Yona Noodle Bar coming soon.

Kapnos Taverna. 4000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-243-4400. Open for lunch, Monday through Friday 11:30 to 5. Dinner (starting Monday, February 2): Sunday through Wednesday 5 to 10, Thursday 5 to 11, Friday and Saturday 5 to midnight. Brunch (coming soon): Saturday and Sunday 11:30 to 3.

Posted at 11:33 AM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus—how to do your makeup if you're wearing a floral crown. By Caroline Cunningham

From a tiny bud tucked behind the ear to a full floral wreath, not all flower headpieces are created equal. With the help of Holly Heider Chapple of Holly Heider Chapple Flowers and Remona Soleimani of Bridal Hair by Remona, we created six ways to nail the bridal trend of the season.

BOLD

Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: Start with bright, larger blossoms, such as peonies, Japanese ranunculuses, cabbage roses, or dahlias. Garden roses are also gorgeous in this wreath, but they’ll cost four or five times more per stem than a standard rose. Rely on ivy for your green, and pair this crown with hair that’s half-pulled back so your face is shown in full. This is a fun and fanciful opportunity to allow the wreath to be the focal point of your wedding ensemble; it's perfect with a simple sheath gown.

BRAIDED

Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: For more flexibility in the arrangement, wind a thin wire around individual or small clusters of blossoms, leaving a couple of inches of wire at the end to be woven into your hair. Petite flowers, no larger than a quarter, work best—try white or pink spray roses or mini orchids. Once you have seven or nine clusters, slip them through a waterfall braid, which leaves the weight of the hair hanging loose, or a crown braid, a 360-degree look that weaves all the hair into a single braid to wrap around the head.

TROPICAL

Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: Waxy, dark greens—such as forest green Italian ruscus or slick gardenia leaves—are the star of this crown. Try a bit of podocarpus or Australia’s zigzag wattle to add some spiky geometry to the mix. Many blooms from Southern Hemisphere flowers are too large to include in their entirety, but bits and pieces of flowers such as king protea make unique accents. This thicker, fuller crown works well with simple, understated hair, such as soft, flowing beach waves that can play against the leaves’ dark shades.

WHIMSICAL

Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: Use bark wire—a thin, flexible strand that’s wrapped in rustic, dried materials and can be purchased on a roll—as your base. Wrap it with olive branch for a lovely shade of pale green, and add some hanging amaranthus or tiny, white Japanese pieris japonica buds to one side for a trailing, asymmetric feel. In colder months, add berries or feathers for more texture, and rest the wreath on a wispy fishtail braid. Tease the hair for volume and gently tug on each side down the length of the braid to loosen it for a natural, organic appearance.

HALO

Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: Headpiece designers have taken to the flower-crown trend, relying on freshwater pearls, crystals, ribbons, and feathers to simulate the look. If wilting is a worry or you’re envisioning a more formal feel, these crowns, such as BHLDN’s Pearly Dreams Halo, offer a less fragile solution. Try it with a low chignon for an elegant look that showcases the crown, or keep with the casual, organic trend of flower crowns and allow it to blend in naturally by wearing your hair down.

DELICATE

Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: With wisps of baby’s breath, wax flowers, spray roses, or limonium, this dainty crown works with a more casual aesthetic. Pair it with seeded eucalyptus for your greenery, and weave in jasmine vine or lavender clematis vine for a bit of color—but note that these vine varieties aren’t as long-lasting as others, such as ivy. Lay this crown a few inches from the forehead atop a soft updo, allowing a few pieces of hair to float around your face for an easy, loose look that works perfectly in a garden or forest setting.

MAKEUP TIPS

There are makeup dos and don’ts for every trend, and flower crowns are no exception. We’ve teamed up with makeup artist Abigail de Casanova to help you find a palette that will work with your blossoms rather than compete with them.

Stay away from smoky eyes. For flower crowns you’ll want to go with a softer, more natural look. Instead try: a very thin line of Make Up For Ever Aqua Creamliner in black, with NARS The Multiple in Malibu or Portofino dabbed lightly on the lid. Finish with a light application of Diorshow mascara.

Avoid bright-red lips. Flowers tend to give a bride a softer overall aesthetic, so if you want to go for the dramatic and modern, a flower crown may not be your best bet. Instead try: Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Couture Vernis à Lèvres Glossy Stain to offer a burgundy or rosy pop of color that highlights the shades present in the crown.

Don’t load up on harsh, heavy makeup. Flower crowns work best with understated palettes. Try Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover foundation and Inglot AMC Cream Blush. Start simple, and add more if needed.

Posted at 11:11 AM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Expert advice to make those long workdays less taxing on your body. By Torie Foster
Image via Shutterstock.

It can have serious ill effects on your health, and yet almost all of us have succumbed to it: poor posture.

Bad posture can lead to a higher risk of arthritis, faster joint deterioration, and decreased lung capacity. Those who sit at a desk and on a computer all day—a.k.a. most of us—are particularly at risk, since your head is tilted, you’re leaning over, and you’re sitting, which strains your head and back muscles. Bad posture can also impair your sleeping patterns, your ability to exercise healthily, and your mood.

“Everything comes from your spinal column,” says Sheila Amon, a chiropractor in Kensington who has more than 29 years of experience. “You get fatigued because your muscles are holding you up in the wrong posture.”

Here are Amon’s tips for keeping your posture aligned throughout the workday—even while at a desk.

1. Replace your office chair with an exercise ball.

It might sound a little silly, but it works wonders, says Amon. Sitting on a ball requires a tight core and straight posture. If using one, be sure to avoid sitting “Buddha style” with your thighs spread out. Instead, make sure both knees are directly in front of you, and keep the ball from moving by tightening your stomach muscles.

2. Perform a few simple exercises at your desk throughout the day.

Amon recommends doing the “chicken wing,” which involves putting your arms parallel to the floor and doing a rowing movement while squeezing your shoulder blades. “The turkey” is another suggested exercise—jut your head forward, keeping your jaw parallel to the floor, and then bring your head back. This exercise “re-educates and strengthens the neck and upper back muscles to proper posture,” Amon explains. A third exercise to open up your chest cavity is to bring your arms behind your back, grab one wrist, squeeze your shoulder blades, and then move your arms away from your back.

3. Make sure your desk is set up properly.

Place your monitor at eye level to align your head with your shoulders, and adjust your chin so it’s parallel to the floor. Keep your knees at hip height and a 90-degree angle to your thighs, and both your feet on the ground. Place your mouse close to you to avoid problems in your shoulders, wrist, and neck. If you use a standing desk, elevate one foot about six inches, using a phone book or a box, to take pressure off your lower back.

4. Get up every 45 to 60 minutes.

Whether it’s to step outside, walk down to a colleague’s office, or make a quick trip to the water fountain, it’s a good idea to take a break from sitting. Keep Amon’s analogy in mind: “The body is 80 percent water. Moving water is healthy water; we’re not stagnant water with mosquitos running all over it.”

5. Practice confidence.

When we feel good about ourselves, we open up our chests, sit up straighter, and breathe more deeply, Amon says. To keep these practices top of mind, she recommends using an egg timer, an alarm, or sticky notes. She also suggests putting reminders in other places, such as on the refrigerator door and TV remote, to prompt yourself to sit up, even after you’ve clocked out for the day.

Posted at 10:47 AM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
For $300, you can have mink hairs glued to your eyelashes. By Caroline Cunningham
Photograph by Shutterstock/Serg Zastavkin.

Let’s be clear here: These are not your run-of-the-mill faux eyelashes that you can pick up from Sephora for five bucks. No, these are eyelash extensions, and they involve an individual long, full lash being painstakingly attached, one at a time, to your natural cilium, until each eyelash has a taller, better-looking buddy glued to it.

K.P. Murray, who trained to become a licensed esthetician at DC’s Aveda Institute, noticed in 2010 that there was a growing market for eyelash extensions, but no local salons that specialize in the service. So in 2012, she opened her own: Elle Lash Bar, the only salon in the area that’s devoted to eyelash services, including extensions, perming, and tinting.

According to Murray, the trend actually dates back to 1916, when film director D.W. Griffith said he wanted an actress with lashes that “brushed her cheeks, to make her eyes shine larger than life." Wig makers started using human hair woven through gauze to create imitation lashes, and in the ’60s, Twiggy’s dramatic long-lashed look inspired women across the country to imitate her. Today, thanks to Jennifer Lopez’s use of red fox fur at the 2001 Academy Awards, mink hair is the fiber of choice for glossy, lighter-than-air lashes.

If you’re ready to jump on the extensions bandwagon, do note: The lash application takes about an hour and a half, and it isn’t cheap; a basic set will run you $225 to $300, and getting the mink kind adds an additional $45 to your bill. Plus, your natural lashes shed every two months, so you’ll need a 45-minute "relash" appointment every two to three weeks to maintain the look.

So why do women do it?

For one thing, no more mascara. “We get a lot of complaints about mascara. Many women feel it’s messy and a pain to deal with and remove,” says Murray. “Extensions are so popular because it provides women with a long-term alternative. It will make your lashes look like you're always wearing mascara.”

For another thing, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. “It's actually about low-maintenance beauty for women on a day-to-day basis. It seems high-maintenance, but it's really done for low-maintenance reasons,” says Murray. “Many women maintain them as an everyday addition to their beauty routine because it’s easier than mascara and makes you look absolutely beautiful.”

Elle Lash Bar. 621 Pennsylvania Ave., Ste. 2; 202-488-1444.

Posted at 10:43 AM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The craze has become a full-blown cliché. By Britt Peterson
Third-floor additions, similar to this V Street NW condominium, were dubbed "third-floor popups." Photograph by Hong Le.

In recent months, Washingtonians have taken the air in a pop-up “parklet” and popped into a pop-up cat cafe. Some have even attended pop-up weddings at the National Museum of Natural History. Where did the pop-up revolution come from?

Pop-up stores caught on in the 1990s as quickie marriages of convenience between Halloween costumers and Christmas shops and landlords with vacant storefronts: The flash retailers got a no-commitment place to sell reindeer headbands; real-estate owners got a few weeks’ rent for fallow properties.

In 2002, big-box retailers such as Target, tiptoeing into urban markets, experimented with temporary locations, as did high-end labels like Commes de Garçons. By 2009, when Target’s pop-up debuted in Georgetown, the Washington Post was still appending “so-called” to the term. But the qualifier has come off as a blitz of restaurants, art happenings, and, recently, Ferguson, Missouri-related protests put it into circulation as a noun and a verb—Chez le Commis will pop up at Le Bon Cafe on Nov. 17, Washington City Paper announced last fall—and, at last, as a cliché. “At some point, marketing people started saying, ‘If we call it a pop-up, people will come,’” says Svetlana Legetic of the online magazine Brightest Young Things. “It became such a catchall that it means nothing.”

If “pop-up’s” fizz has generally gone flat, in Washington it’s downright negative. In 2007, a rowhouse renovation at Upshur Street and New Hampshire Avenue added an extra floor, breaking the street’s otherwise even roofline; on the Prince of Petworth blog (now called PoPville), a commenter bemoaned the “third-floor popups.” For NIMBY activists, “pop-up” has since become weaponized—and capitalized, as in former DC Council member Jim Graham’s rendering, POP-UP, when he wrote in 2013 on a U Street listserv about his plan to ban pop-ups, evoking James Bond’s villainous opponent, SPECTRE.

Last June, a developer told the Post, “I put too much thought and work into my homes to call it a pop-up.”

But it’s this sense of a glib putdown that seems destined to live on in Washington. Like those annoying ads that pop up on cheap websites, it’s gotten under our skin.

Posted at 10:36 AM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
A talk with local bloggers and a French/English karaoke night. By Jason Koebler
L'Alliance Française hosts a bilingual karaoke night on Wednesday. Image via Shutterstock.

Posted at 10:13 AM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By John Scarpinato

Happy Monday, food truck followers! The snowy weather is keeping many trucks from the road, but you'll still find warming eats like macaroni and cheese at CapMac, or pizza and tater tots from DC Slices.

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Posted at 09:17 AM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()