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Fully reclining chairs, in-theater caviar, and pints of punch. By Anna Spiegel
The first Washington location for iPic Theaters opens with reclining seats and a full in-theater menu. Photograph courtesy of iPic.

One of the swankiest movie destinations in Washington opens Friday: iPic Theaters at North Bethesda's Pike & Rose development, which combines luxury touches like fully reclining leather seats and free popcorn with in-theater menus and an adjoining restaurant, City Perch Kitchen + Bar. Here's what to look for at the 782-seat, eight-screen mega-cinema.

If you're: Premium-Plus Seating ($22)

Expect to relax in a fully reclining micro-suede seat, which comes with perks such as a pillow, a blanket, and free popcorn. The best part: iPad touchscreens allow you to order food and boozy drinks from the in-cinema menu. Dishes are designed by longtime Wolfgang Puck pastry chef Sherry Yard, and include snacks such as braised pork belly empanadas and warm ham-and-cheese biscuits, as well as heartier fare like fish tacos, barbecue chicken pizza, and lobster rolls. All can be washed down with beer, wine, and specialty cocktails, including margaritas and sangria. Groups can order pints of boozy punch that serve four, such as the "roll in the hay" with apple-infused vodka, applejack, and cran-apple tea.

If you're: Premium Seating ($13)

You can still relax in a large leather chair, but you'll have to fetch your own food and drinks from the grab-and-go Tanzy Express. Still, don't expect just slushies and pretzels—guests can order sliders, thin-crust pizzas, bottles of wine, and more.

If you're: eating before the show (or skipping the movie altogether)

Yard's first independent restaurant, City Perch Kitchen + Bar, is set above the theater. Local toque Matt Baker, most recently of Occidental Grill and Brasserie Beck, helms the modern American kitchen. The eatery is set to open in November, and will serve small plates like smoked salmon-topped "everything" waffles and bratwurst in a blanket, rotisserie-grilled meats, sandwiches, and decadent items "for two" such as a whole roast duck with Southern-style sides.

If you're: hoping to impress a date

The in-theater menu boasts some pretty fancy items, which, like the seats, come at a price. Grab premium-plus tickets to Casablanca and order up smoked salmon "potato boats" topped with caviar ($25), and a bottle of Cristal bubbly ($395).

If you're: in bad-date crisis mode

Order an Irish coffee, and sneak out to "use the bathroom"/never return. At least the scorned would-be lover will have a boozy coffee and a micro-suede chair.

iPic Theaters. 11830 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 10/31/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Caroline Cunningham

Happy Halloween, food truck followers! Celebrate today at Truckerboo today from 11 to 9 across from the Navy Yard metro. Enjoy dishes from 15 different trucks, live music, warm beverages, and a costume contest.

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Posted at 10:20 AM/ET, 10/31/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The ten tastiest food stories we're reading this week.
Yes, there's an actual vault where KFC stores its top-secret recipes. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Bon Appétit's guide to what you must buy, cook, and eat in November. On the list: dropping acid. [Bon Appétit] —Anna Spiegel

The latest restaurant critic to forgo anonymity: Dallas Morning News's Leslie Brenner. Here's why. [Eater National] —AS

Finally: the history of candy corn, a.k.a. "the cloying kernel of evil." This is a must for anyone who wants to drop fun facts at their Halloween party tonight. [Slate] —AS

This list of seasonal drinks is supposed to be funny, but I can see a "Yam and Tonic" or "Latke Bomb" popping up at a local bar. [McSweeney's] —AS

In case you were wondering if the secret recipe to KFC fried chicken really is that much of a secret, here's the vault where they keep it hidden. [Gizmodo] —Michael Gaynor

Who needs regular old deodorant when you can rock this "coffee-infused blazer"? The jacket has a special liner infused with the caffeinated stuff that's supposed to absorb odors from your body the way baking soda freshens your fridge. Still, I wouldn't rely on it to get you through an afternoon meeting. [Food and Wine] —Tanya Pai

If red wine is for powerful women and white wine is for wimps, who is Sutter Home pink wine for? Asking for a friend. [New York Times] —Alison Kitchens

Am I the only person who thinks candy corn looks like corn? [Buzzfeed] —AK

In the future, the New York Times’s wedding pages will be replaced by videos shot by GoPro cameras strapped to a bottle of Fireball and passed around the party. [Gawker] —Benjamin Freed

This Week in Millennial Food Trends: You know all that noise about how millennials are killing traditional fast food because they prefer “fast-casual” (but often equally unhealthy) chains like Chipotle and Panera? Stop fretting, McDonald’s and Wendy’s! The youth of today still go to fast-food joints far more often than the fast-casual places. [Burger Business] —BF

Posted at 10:06 AM/ET, 10/31/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Think you'll drink $1,000 worth of booze in your lifetime? By Anna Spiegel
Want to drink here free for life? Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Here's an unusual offer: Newish Adams Morgan spot Pop's SeaBar is offering customers the chance to buy free beer and sparkling wine for life. Co-owner Justin Abad, who's also behind neighboring Cashion's Eat Place, is opening up 20 VIP passes on November 1 for $1,000 each, which will entitle the holders to gratis booze at any hour, as often as they like.

Abad says the idea came about when Cashion's regulars began asking how they could be more involved with the new beach-themed venture; similar rewards have been offered in Kickstarter campaigns when owners are trying to open. Here, anyone pledging a thousand will be given a special card that can be used for any beer in the bar—no restriction on bottles, cans, or specials—as well as sparkling wine on draft. Brews generally range from $6 to $8, meaning you'll drink your money's worth in about 143 servings.

The fine print: The card is nontransferable, and you can't buy bottomless bubbly for your friends. While there's no limit on your personal purchases, drinks for others still have to go on a separate tab. Granted, your drinking buddies won't love this arrangement—or that you insist on going to Pop's every time—so maybe best to keep your VIP status under wraps.

Interested? The promo lasts through November or until the 20 memberships are taken. Happy drinking.

Posted at 03:45 PM/ET, 10/30/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Take your Halloween dining to the next level. By Anna Spiegel
Fancy of bowl of brains? Delicious lamb brain karahi does the trick. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Halloween is full of creepy eats, but look beyond sugar spiders and “mummified” hot dogs to take things to the next level. Washington restaurants serve a witches' brew's worth of exotic ingredients, many of which are downright delicious. While you won’t find eye of newt or toe of frog, there’s plenty of brains and blood to go around.

Lamb brains
at Khan Kabob

4229 Lafayette Center Dr., Chantilly

One of Todd Kliman’s favorite dishes, lamb brain karahi, can be found at this Chantilly kebab spot. Don’t worry, you’re not going in Indiana Jones-style. The organ is diced beyond recognition and stewed with an aromatic mix of chilies, tomato, and ginger. Trust me, this is way better than that time your mom mixed pumpkin guts with baby marshmallows for "brains" at a Halloween party.

Calf’s hearts at Mintwood Place

1813 Columbia Rd., NW

It may seem heartless (ha!), but this appetizer is one of the best on the menu. Don’t be shy: The muscles are confited until tender and then wood-grilled and tossed in a salad with dark greens, thin bread crisps, and a poached egg. Is it hearty? Yes. Can we stop with the cardiac punning? Yes. Look for “lamb fries” (testicles) in season, as well.

Duck testicles at Rice Paper

6775 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church

Shredded, ginger-sauced duck arrives with an off-menu surprise: the bird’s “dangly bits” (and no, they don’t taste like chicken). Slightly less adventurous eaters can opt for a boneless-duck-feet salad instead.

Pig's blood at Bangkok Noodle

7022-B Commerce St., Springfield

Going vampire never tasted so good. Order a bowl of yen ta fo, or “pink lady soup,” and expect a heaping tangle of rice noodles, shrimp, squid, fish balls, and watercress in a spicy, pork blood-tinged broth. The flavor is a bit funkier and the aftertaste more metallic, but a tasty dish overall.

More pig's blood from the Pig

1320 14th St., NW

While the restaurant’s pig’s blood sundae was a tad gimmicky, this dessert riffs on sanguinaccio, a traditional Italian chocolate pudding made with pig’s blood (which, yes, is still a little gimmicky). Expect to taste more cocoa than the red stuff, with a bonus root beer-poached pear.

Bullfrog at Hong Kong Palace

6387 Leesburg Pk., Falls Church

This Falls Church Chinese is a treasure trove for offal eaters, with dishes like braised intestines, “tripe-delight” soup, stir-fried kidneys, and more. Those with a taste for amphibians should try the stir-fried bullfrog with pickled peppers.

Skin at Jack Rose

2007 18th St., NW

Fried chicken skin isn’t exactly exotic, but starting your meal with a bowl of crispy epidermis isn’t everyday eating, either. It should be. Chef Russell Jones’s preparation is downright addictive: airy, super-crunchy puffs dusted with paprika and dunked in lime aïoli. If you’re squeamish, think of it as poultry popcorn.

Posted at 12:30 PM/ET, 10/30/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Caroline Cunningham

Happy Thursday, food truck followers. Warm up on this October afternoon with cream of crab soup from Feelin' Crabby and sweeten your day with pumpkin spice doughnuts aboard Mama's Donut Bites.

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Posted at 10:40 AM/ET, 10/30/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A new Oceana study shows many shrimp are not what they seem—especially in Washington.   By Anna Spiegel
Shrimp: not always what they seem. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Think your shrimp is plucked wild from the Gulf? Chances are the crustaceans could be farm-raised--or even members of a surprising species—according to news released today by Oceana. The environmental advocacy group released an in-depth study on Thursday that used DNA testing to show the widespread misrepresentation of shrimp in the US; 30 percent of the 143 products investigated were not what they seemed. The survey included a spotlight on Washington, with some unsavory results.

Unlike other popular water-dwellers like Atlantic salmon or Yellowfin tuna, shrimp—the most widely consumed seafood in the US—are mostly sold as, well, shrimp. One of the most prevalent designations, "Gulf", doesn’t really say much about the crustaceans except that they hail from the Gulf region; the shrimp could be farmed or wild, sustainable or not, with no indication of their type.

“There's no requirement at this stage to track our seafood," says Oceana senior scientist Dr. Kimberly Warner. “What distinguishes shrimp is that we're given hardly any information about it. It's so rare—especially in restaurants—to get any information other than that it's shrimp.”

Given it’s tough to tell where your cocktail is coming from, the consumer guidelines for what constitutes good and bad choices can be just as confusing. The Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, which publishes one of the most comprehensive guides, contains a thorough lisitng for shrimp. Still if you don’t know much beyond the fact that Gulf shrimp are on the menu, you could be eating one of the best options (caught wild), or crustaceans on the “avoid” list (caught wild in Louisiana, which doesn’t enforce the same strict regulations protecting turtles and other sea-life from trawl gear). Outside the US, issues range from loosely-regulated aquaculture and treatment with chemicals, to reports of human trafficking and forced detention within the Thai shrimp industry.

Even when some description is given, it’s not always accurate. In Washington, all of the “Gulf rock shrimp” tested turned out to be impostors. Though the bait-and-switch isn’t necessarily a health concern—unlike when stomach-upsetting escolar is sold as “white tuna”—consumers pay a premium for the lobster-like taste of the rare crustaceans. At least in the cases caught by Oceana, more common (and less pricey) brown and yellow leg shrimp were subsituted.

Overall in our area, 33 percent of samples from restaurants and markets were misrepresented. Supposedly “wild” shrimp turned out to be farmed, grocery stores sold shrimp with no country-of-origin labeling, and a bag of imported “salad-sized” (small) crustaceans contained two species not known to be sold in the US. All of this raises the issue of traceability: where does the product come from? Is it safe to consume? Is the fishery sustainable and responsible?

“It means the consumer should ask a lot more questions about where their seafood were coming from,” says Warner. “If they don’t speak up, it’s hard for the regulators to do anything.”

Posted at 08:29 AM/ET, 10/30/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Pumpkin-carving parties, all-you-can-eat feasts, hangover brunches, and more. By Caroline Cunningham
Try spooky food specials, head to a costume party, or drink zombie cocktails for Halloween. Photograph via Shutterstock.

"Mummified" bacon dogs and Shack O’Lantern shakes at Shake Shack

Multiple Locations

Spooky specials include a Vienna all-beef hot dog that’s been "mummified" (a.k.a. wrapped with bacon, and pumpkin-maple mustard) for $4.50. Chase it with pumpkin and marshmallow-infused vanilla Shack O’Lantern shake for $5.50.

When: Now through Friday, October 31.

Mystery beer dinner at Mussel Bar & Grille

7262 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda

Reserve a seat for a four-course meal with a mystery menu that features seasonal food paired with Halloween-themed beers. We’d tell you more, but we’d hate to spoil the suspense.

When: Wednesday, October 29, at 6.

Pumpkin carving and zombie cocktails at Kimpton’s Helix Lounge

1430 Rhode Island Ave., NW

Design a winner at the Kimpton Hotel’s tenth annual pumpkin carving contest, which will award the “most local-themed” and the “most ghoulish” with a gift certificate to the lounge or a one-night weekend stay at the hotel. Sip an $8 cherry-and-blood-orange flavored Zombie Gut Punch with Smirnoff vodka, or take advantage of the $6 Sam Adams Octoberfest brews.

When: Thursday, October 30, from 6 to 9.

Party with your pooch at Jackson 20

480 King St., Alexandria

Dress up your dog and strut down the runway in the restaurant's outdoor courtyard, which hosts a costume contest to benefit the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Registration is $15, and you can sip Halloween-themed cocktails from head bartender Andy Nelson or sample pup-themed beers from Dogfish Head Brewery and Flying Dog Brewery while your canine enjoys complimentary treats and fresh water.

When: Thursday, October 30, at 5.

Pirate party, beer dinner, and brunch at Republic

6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park

A weekend of festivities stars on Thursday with a six-course "Belgian Americaine" beer dinner, with pairings by cicerone Brett Robison. The festivities continue on Friday with a Pirate Party, including a costume contest, “zombie killer” rum cocktails, and live music from One Word and Tony Grasso. Wrap up Halloween weekend with the Day of the Dead brunch on Saturday.

When: Thursday, October 30, at 7; Friday, October 31, at 10; and Saturday, November 1, from 11 to 2:30.

Trick or Treat mini dozen from Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

1308 G St., NW

Stop by the shop or food truck to pick up a $20 mini dozen that includes flavors topped with Halloween candy, such as vanilla-glazed doughnuts sprinkled with Kit Kats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or Snickers, as well as Nutella-glazed and PB&J doughnuts.

When: Thursday, October 30, through Friday, October 31.

Costume Contest and Pumpkin Brews at Drafting Table

1529 14th St., NW

Don your Halloween best and head to this 14th Street bar for a chance to win the costume contest and a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant. At the very least, you can pick up a free Brooklyn Brewery T-shirt and sample seasonal ales, such as the Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest, Pumple Drumkin spiced ale from Cisco Brewers Inc., or Post Rode pumpkin ale from Brooklyn Brewery for $4.

When: Friday, October 31, from 4 to 2.

All-you-can-eat appetizers at Dino’s Grotto

1914 Ninth St., NW

Come in costume for the Grotto’s Halloween party. The $19 ticket gets you all-you-can-eat appetizers, including “zombie eyes”—meatballs in red sauce—and deviled eggs, free candy, and specialty drinks such as $6 Jack O punch made with pear-infused vodka, or $8 hot buttered rum cider.

When: Friday, October 31, at 7.

Disco is Dead at The Passenger

1021 Seventh St., NW

Dig out your best bellbottoms for this disco party hosted at the Warehouse Theater, adjoining the Passenger. You'll find plenty of themed cocktails to fuel boogeying to the tunes of DJ Honest Lee. Tickets are $5 at the door after 9.

When: Friday, October 31, from 5 to 3.

No Tricks, All Treats dinner at Morton’s The Steakhouse

Multiple Locations

Dine on a four-course All Hallow’s Eve offering at this steakhouse chain. Menu options include baked five-onion soup, chili-glazed salmon, Chicago-style horseradish-mashed potatoes, and double-chocolate mousse. Tickets are $35.

When: Friday, October 31.

Skull sugar cookies at Taco Bamba

2190 Pimmit Dr., Falls Church

There're no tricks when you drop by for Mexican candy and $3 skull-shaped sugar cookies by Buttercream Bakeshop’s Tiffany MacIsaac.

When: Friday, October 31, through Saturday, November 1.

All Saints Day bourbon bash at Acadiana

This New Orleans-style celebration includes live jazz, all-you-can-eat barbecue pork, braised short ribs, chicken satay, smoked mashed potatoes, bacon-bourbon pralines, specialty cocktails, and bourbon tastings. Tickets are $60.

When: Saturday, November 1 from 6 to 9.

Day of the (Un)Dead at The Yards

300 Tingey St., SE

Enjoy free admission to this block party, complete with live mariachi bands, street performers, fortune tellers, face painters, a celebrity “graveyard,” and a beer garden.

When: Saturday, November 1, from 6 to 10.

Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 10/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fresh options for dining and drinking. By Anna Spiegel
Righteous Cheese in Union Market offers free fromage and beverage pairings. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Free wine and cheese at Righteous Cheese

1309 Fifth St., NE

Now this is what we call a good deal. The Union Market vendor launches weekly "open house nights" on Thursdays from 5 to 6, where you'll find different varieties of fromage paired with drinks and learn how to replicate the duos at home. Up first this week: the best cheeses to match with hard cider.

Denizens Brewing Company brewery tours

1115 East-West Hwy., Silver Spring

Check out Silver Spring's new brewery during Saturday and Sunday tours, held at 1, 2:30, 4, and 5:30. Reservations can be made online, with an intimate ten spots allotted for each. Guests can also get growler fills and nosh on BBQ Bus ’cue (or falafel burgers for vegetarians).

New happy hour and dishes at Brookland's Finest

3126 12th St., NE

Both early and late-night crowds can get in on the new happy hour at this neighborhood joint, with discount beers, wines, and cocktails ($4 to $6) from 4 to 7 Monday through Thursday, and nightly from 11 to close. Chef Shannan Troncoso also adds more autumnal dishes to the menu, such as a bone-in pork rack with sweet potatoes, and kale salad with pumpkin seeds.

Saturday brunch at Mio

1110 Vermont Ave., NW

Head to this Latin spot for creative brunch dishes such as fried green tomatillos with Oaxaca cheese and roast vegetables, pork belly with mofongo balls, and a Benedict with roasted poblano hollandaise. Service runs from 11 to 3.

Fall/winter menu arrives at Mari Vanna

1141 Connecticut Ave., NW

Cozy up to warming dishes at this Russian bar/restaurant, which launches a new lineup on Thursday. Items include beef-stuffed pastries, lamb kabobs served atop flatbread, and pumpkin soup. Imbibers can try new flavors of house-infused vodkas, such as apple-cinnamon and coffee.

Lunch and brunch at Mama Rouge

3000 K St., NW

The Georgetown waterfront's newest restaurant begins lunch and brunch service, in addition to dinner. Look for French and Southeast Asian dishes like spicy herb-fried chicken, pork-belly bánh mì, and savory crepes.

Fall menu at Joe's Stone Crab

750 15th St., NW

The downtown power spot launches new dishes on Thursday, which include a king crab Louie, a grilled seafood platter, and an old-school filet Oscar (crab-topped filet with asparagus and béarnaise sauce). Also for the wheat-free crowd: a gluten-free brownie sundae.

Posted at 12:11 PM/ET, 10/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Caroline Cunningham

Happy hump day, food truck followers. There’s rain in the forecast for later today, so get out while you can for pulled pork and bacon mashed potatoes from BBQ Bus, and white pepper-smoked beef tenderloin aboard Chef Seb.

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Posted at 10:12 AM/ET, 10/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()