Tuesday, March 3 at 11 AM

Ask food & wine editor Todd Kliman a question about Washington area cuisine and restaurant news.

Producer's Note: Due to family circumstances, Todd's chat will be postponed until Tuesday, March 3.

Where can you get a three-star experience at one-star prices? Which hot new restaurant merits the scorching hype?

The answer to all these questions and more can be found Tuesdays at 11 a.m. on Kliman Online. From scoping out scruffy holes in the wall to weighing the merits of four-star wanna-bes, from scouring the 'burbs and exurbs to hitting the city's streets, Todd Kliman covers a lot of territory.

Did you know you can now write your own restaurant reviews on Washingtonian.com? Read here to find out how.

Read the transcript from February 10.

Follow Todd on Twitter!

Dining for Life is coming up on Thursday—check here for full details. 




   Ted Kliman, 1929-2009


   One of my most enduring memories is of riding through the southern Maryland countryside on Saturday afternoons with my mother and father, my father at the wheel, all of us in hot pursuit of the smell of barbecue. My father loved ribs, and thought nothing of getting in the car and driving an hour-and-a-half to Charles County to find them. The name of the places have faded from memory, but not the images: the thick, aromatic smoke curling above the ramshackle white houses, the three of us at a picnic table, licking our fingers or wiping them on the slices of white bread that came with an order, the flies buzzing about our heads.
   My father loved these kinds of afternoons. Loved the quest. Lighting out for a destination, not knowing what you'd find, hoping for the best. And even if it was lousy, which sometimes it was, coming home with a good story.
   Most of the friends I grew up with did not venture beyond meat and potatoes, spaghetti and macaroni-and-cheese, but that was not my experience. We ate everything. Thai and Spanish and French and German and Japanese and Korean and Vietnamese and Indian and Mexican and Greek. My father loved the stuffed grape leaves at Ikaros, in Baltimore, and so I wanted to love them, too. He was the one who turned me on to pupusas. He introduced me to bulgogi and crepes, to hot-and-sour soup and the pleasures of hot pot.
   So long as a restaurant had character, had soul, he loved it. Dives, taverns, pubs, it didn't matter; good was good. His mother scolded him, repeatedly, for taking a ten-year-old to a bar, but my father never listened. I spent many a raucous Saturday night in the late, lamented Henckel's — hard by the railroad tracks and probably once a bordello — chowing down on a Chenckelburger as my father and mother worked their way through the foot-high ham sandwiches and knocked back bottles of beer.
   The other dive he loved was The Irish Pub, in Baltimore. In the summers of '77 and '78, I could have gone to camp, but I chose to stay home. Instead, I spent a few days every week in my father's large, light-filled studio, drawing quietly by myself in a corner as he worked on his towering canvasses. Every other week, we went to the Irish Pub for lunch for the magnificent cheeseburgers, thick and oozing juice.
   You don't realize the imprint these things make on you, don't realize that you are merely picking up a long thread that has been left for you, until you gain some distance on your past.
   When I was in graduate school in the early '90s, I stumbled upon a pool hall and bar whose owner devised a special menu every Friday afternoon to feature the cooking of his grandmother. $6.95 got you a thick slice of grilled meatloaf — you could see slices of garlic and bits of thyme in the meat — skin-on mashed potatoes, gravy and beans. I went back to campus and told my friends, who all said: That dump? And laughed. That night I called my father, who I knew would understand. He said: "Sounds terrific! When are we gonna go?"
   I came to writing about food after having written about seemingly everything else — sports, media, subcultures, business, travel, politics, books. And initially, when someone would ask me how I got into food writing, I would answer that I'd sort of stumbled into it. But at some point I knew that simply wasn't true. I had been preparing since I was a little boy.
   My father got a kick out of my being a food critic, and I loved taking him out to eat with me. We went everywhere. It was a new chapter in our eating adventures.
   He made no distinctions in his mind between a refined restaurant and a casual, unpretentious spot, and paid no heed to reputation or buzz. As an artist, he craved his solitude, which he needed to think and create, and he could be irascible if he didn't have long blocks in the day to work on his paintings and read and refuel the well, as Hemingway put it. But then he longed for contact. He loved the energy of a good restaurant, the sense of possibility in the air. Strangers coming together, blowing off steam, finding community, if only for a couple of hours. A good restaurant restored you, lifted you up, sent you on your way a new man. Often, a host or hostess would show us to a table somewhat out of the way, presuming that a man in his 70s would be looking for a quiet spot. But that wasn't my father, who until several years ago jumped in the car at a moment's notice to drive twelve hours to lecture about his work or about art history at a college or gallery. He preferred to sit at the bar. Somehow, food was always better at the bar. The world looked better at the bar.
   When he became sick, I was bewildered. It couldn't be. Daddy? He had the energy of a 40-year-old. I had thought he was indestructible.
   He couldn't go out the way he used to, or as often as he used to, but food was still a salve. And still a part of our bond. The day we met with the surgeon to discuss the plan for his cancer treatment, I went out and got a deli tray. Bagels, lox, whitefish. It had been a long and anxious couple of weeks, and most meals he just picked at his plate. But that night, he ate with the old relish.
   Chemo and radiation conspired to destroy what was left of his appetite. But somehow, he always found room whenever I brought him a restaurant meal. I often thought that I could save him through food. Every day it was something different, some new meal to look forward to. One night when he was at National Rehab Hospital last April, following his surgery and an infection that sent him into the ICU for weeks, I snuck in shrimp 'n' grits from Vidalia, corn muffins, lemon chess pie. It had been a long day of therapy, probably not the best time to have taken him such refined cooking. He didn't eat much, a few bites of this, a couple bites of that. But that was okay. It was enough to see him nodding his head in appreciation, the deep contentment that crossed his face.
   He got stronger, came out, learned to walk again. One day in May he told me he was ready. He wanted to go out again, wanted to accompany me on my rounds.
   We covered the area. Virginia, Maryland and DC. High end and low end. On trips into the gallery in Alexandria where he was artist-in-residence this past year, Artery 717, he dug into fried cod and chips at Eamonn's and lunched on the egg-and-bacon salad at Restaurant Eve (in the bar). He discovered Ethiopian and loved it. He slurped back bowls and bowls of pho. And of course, there was barbecue. Lots of barbecue.
   He was in and out of the hospital with one problem or another through the summer and Fall, but he always came out. And almost as soon as he was home and settled in, he was ready to go to another restaurant.
   One day in December, I swung by the house to pick him up to take him to lunch. He was sitting on the hospital bed with his coat on when I walked in the door. "He's been sitting in his coat for three hours," my mom said.
   I figured we would hit a place close by, something simple. He was checking into the hospital the next day to have another surgery.
   We got into the car, and he said: "Let's go somewhere."
   "You sure? Are you up for it?"
   "I've been looking forward to this all day," he said. "Anywhere, anywhere you want. Virginia, wherever. Anywhere you need to go. I've got all day."
   I took him to Present, in Falls Church, a Vietnamese restaurant I had been to before and wanted to write about. It might not have been the sort of place he was drawn to, it didn't have the noise and crackle he loved, but its serenity was comforting, its sense of order. And the menu with its admonishment to live in the moment — in the present — was oddly fitting, with the next day looming so large.
   He was stronger than he'd been. He'd gained thirty pounds since the chemo and radiation — most of it, my mother believed, from restaurant food. He didn't eat much of her cooking anymore, but he ate when he was out, or when restaurant food was around. I told him he'd become the equivalent of a social drinker — a social eater.
   We took our time, and we talked and talked. He was worried about the surgery. He said he didn't know if he would make it this time. Our anxiety seemed to lift, a little, as we worked our way through the meal. He drank two Vietnamese coffees and took a few bites from every bowl and plate that was on the table. When we left, two-and-a-half hours later, the place was empty.
   In the car, I asked him if he wanted to hit another place.
   "You're kidding," he said, giving me a long, appraising look. And then, the old adventurer: "Sure, why not?"
   On second thought, I decided that it was probably best to get back. My mom was waiting for him. Another time.
   For days, he talked about the meal and the coffee. "Terrific, just terrific." He even talked about it in the hospital, in the weeks after his surgery. All his nurses learned just how good the coffee was, how dark and rich, how good a time he'd had.
   That afternoon turned out to be our last excursion. He was in the hospital for 61 days. He never did come out, there was no "another time."
   I lost more than my father, my best friend, and my mentor when he passed away two weeks ago. I lost my restaurant partner. The adventure will never be the same.



Hi Todd.

Here in Olney we are so exited about this new place that recetly open Aroma, the are serving amaizing fine Peruvian and Latin food. The chef is the former chef from Latinconcepts and Ceviche in Silver spring we were regulars but now we have this great place.

Any other recomendation for fine peruvian in Montgomery County. Thanks.

The menu for Aroma looks good. It'll be interesting to see what develops over there.

There are a bunch of good Peruvian spots in MoCo.

La Limena in Rockville, which looks like a fast food joint, but has really good food, including fabulous grilled beef hearts and better-than-you'd-expect ceviche. Flor de la Canela in Gaithersburg has both good food and good atmosphere (I love the conquistador-style, high-backed chairs), and its sister place, La Canela in Rockville, is good, too (particularly the first half of its menu).


College Park, MD


I'm a college student at the University of Maryland craving some barbecue, I'm looking for a good carolina style pulled pork in particular. Like I said, I'm a college student so I'm looking for a place that serves up big portions for decent prices. Thanks

I hear you.

I'd check out Levi's Port Cafe, near the Navy Yard, if I were you.

There's also a place near Upper Marlboro that only does take out, and whose name I'm struggling to remember right now — but really, really good stuff. Lots of tang in the meat, lots of smoke. 

Kid-Friendly “Nice” Restaurants

I’d like to make a few plugs for “nice” restaurants that take good care of diners with children.

We have brought our kids to Bistro Bis on a number of occasions, including for brunch and dinner, beginning almost 9 years ago (!) when our first was born. We have always been made to feel welcome by the managers and the waitstaff, and the booths offer a great place for the really little ones to stretch out a bit if tired while not disturbing other guests.

True there is no kids’ menu, but they do offer a few dishes that will appeal to children’s often more limited palates (ours often share the steak frites).

Similarly, we’ve had good experiences at Blue Duck Tavern for brunch, tea and dinner with the kids. They actually do have a kids’ menu with some straightforward, but still delicious, options.

In the warmer months, outdoors at Palena is a hit. I have heard some complaints of poor service, but that has never been our experience at all. The café menu has a delicious burger (they can hold the truffle cheese if you ask), roast chicken, crispy fries and onion rings and, lately, steak frites. The regular menu often has pasta with meatballs. The kids will be happy (but you may want to steal a few bites from their plate!).

Finally, 2 Amys may or may not be someone’s idea of “nice”, but the fantastic specials and unusual wine list coupled with kid-friendly pizza and ice cream make it a wonderful family destination. I’ve found the waitstaff to be patient and kind with the kids, and they always bring crayons and paper as a diversion.

I definitely agree that unruly children are a horror, but in order to learn how to behave in public kids actually need to BE in public. If the parents do their job, I think it’s great when kids eat out at nicer restaurants.

Thanks for writing in.

And it's good to know that those places all seem to do a good job with kids.

As I've written before, I think for me it's more than having a menu of options for kids. It's the welcome, the attitude. I find a warmth and generosity in the family-style Latino restaurants and Asian restaurants and some Ethiopian restaurants that I don't find anywhere else. More than that, a willingness to help out. It's wonderful to see. 

Rockville, MD

Greetings Todd.

So I was reading your review on Mio Restaurant and wondering, as a former major fan of Maestro, is it safe to assume the quality of presentation and food be similar to Maestro or am I expecting too much? Being that the head chef and pastry chef work with Fabio at Maestro and Fiamma.

I think you're expecting too much.

Take it down a couple of notches. But that's not to say it's not good. It's just not at that extraordinarily rarefied level, and it's not trying to be, either. You have to take places as they come. 

I think Mio is one of the more exciting spots to eat in right now in the city. 

Alexandria, Va

Thanks for the chats, Todd – we enjoy them alot!

I would like to try tapas but know nothing about them and am freaked out over the prospect of getting my husband into a dinner disaster, as he is not as adventuresome as I am with food.

Any place you might recommend for tapas newbies?

Interesting question.

You know, I think that with any newbie, the best thing you can do is to show them the food at its best. There are no bad cuisines, only badly prepared food. I'd take him to Jaleo and see what happens.

Ordering right is the key — patatas bravas (fried potatoes), garlic shrimp, Spanish tortilla. These things seem to me to be pretty straighforward to me.

Washington, DC
Have you found out the address or contact information for the Gun Club of Goldvein?

Ah, yes — the Gun Club of Goldvein.

I think Sidd Finch is working there these days. 

Alexandria, VA


Thank you for writing about your Dad. It made me happy … and sad. In the end I teared up … but feel closer to you and to the experience that I love so much … restaurant food; just a little bit more. Much love, Ld

That's really nice to hear. Thank you, LD. It's been such a wrenching 17 months. 

(Incidentally, there was a lengthy and wonderful tribute to my father in the Washington Post last week, if anyone's interested. He was a remarkable man.)

McLean, VA


I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to you commending your RW recommendations.I stuck by your tiered list as best I could, combining your recommendations with places I'd had an interest in.

I started the week off by taking my folks to Teatro Goldoni, which was a great experience for all of us, especially since it's usually a chore to get them into the city.

Tuesday night a friend and I took in Cafe du Parc, and I have to say they do an amazing job of blending great cuisine with a very relaxed atmosphere, which if you ask me is a perfect combination.

Thursday my roommate and I hit up Georgia Brown's, not as highly recommended, but it was the first place I ever went to for RW a few years back, so it was nice to go back.

Lastly, and certainly most importantly, Friday night my friend and I were able to get a table at Rasika, granted it was at 10:15. I'm rather glad I saved this one for last, as any subsequent meals would've seemed pointless, at least for a little bit.

The food was simply amazing, the RW menu had every item I'd hope to try, and the service was exactly how it should be: attentive without the hovering. The fact that they make a mean Champagne cocktail was the icing on the cake.

Thanks again for the ultra-helpful guide to one of DC's finer traditions.

Thanks for writing in, McLean. It sounds like you had one helluva week of eating.
Todd, I am moved to tears by what you wrote. So sorry for your loss.

Thank you.

It wasn't an easy thing to write — hard to type through tears — but it felt like a necessary thing.

Terrible Experience

Last Friday (Feb. 20th), my Ladies Dinner Club (LDC, a 340-member young professional women's networking group) had its monthly dinner at Tabaq Bistro.  The showing of ladies was wonderful, with 30 girls coming by at some point during the evening, but between 24-28 at dinner.
I’m sorry to say, however, that the restaurant experience was the worst for LDC in the three years of existence and perhaps of my lifetime.  After the fun of getting together and sharing time networking with one another, the experience at Tabaq Bistro on 13th and U St. went downhill.  From the beginning, I am told some ladies had extremely poor service, with at least one young woman’s boxed meal completely thrown away by accident, without any reimbursement.
As everyone paid their portion, I started compiling the cash and credit card receipts and handed them to the waiter in even number segments; $500, then $450, etc, as I received them.  In hindsight, I should have kept it all together rather than give it to the waiter in pieces, because the bill was completely messed up. 

Our total bill was around $1300.00, which included the automatic gratuity of $202.00.  As I was doing the math on my blackberry calculator, I realized we were around $32.00 short.  The waiter, however, said we were $70.00 short.  In disbelief, I told him it wasn’t correct.  He brought the cash back to the table, but it was less than I had given him.  He then put a final receipt on the table telling me we were $181.76 short. 

This came from the same waiter that asked me what 13 minus five was and later, when trying to come to a resolution, said he would pay $50 if I paid $117.00 (which doesn’t even add up to the total of the bill under question). 

Because of the poor math I witnessed prior, the astonishing amount they claimed we were short, and the quality of the women that were at dinner, I felt 110% confident that there must have been a simple mathematical error.

In fact, I waited for them to fix the problem.  Instead, I believe they abused emergency services and they called 911 claiming that I was stealing. 

I was there for hours with two police officers threatening to throw me in jail for theft if I didn’t pay for a bill I knew was wrong.  Whether money was stolen or misplaced by the staff, the error was on them.  I will say again that I knew we were a bit short, but that is to be expected with such a large group and I was willing to compensate for the shortage, but the claim of $181.76 was outrageous.  I was also treated quite poorly (as a common criminal) by the two officers.
I have taken several days to reflect on my experience (after a couple of days of crying at home) and am finally ready to share my experience.
Thank you for your time, consideration, and any help you can offer in sharing my experience.

Wow. Just — wow.

It'll be interesting to see if anybody from Tabaq comes forward today or in the next couple of days to rebut your version of events. 

Regardless, this is a pretty powerful forum, and your story is now out there. 

Vienna, VA

Todd, your message about your father really touched my heart.

It reminds me of my grandfather, who loved rich flavors–especially garlic.

After his wife died, I began eating lunches with him after school, and while our breath may have stunk to high heaven, his 'garlic salad' still lives on in my head.

He had trouble getting around, but I had no problems going to pick up Lebanese take-out, or his personal favorites, menudo, tripe, or liver (which I wouldn't touch, but enjoyed giving him the pleasure.)

Food is truly a special bond between loved ones–i know I cook from my heart, and to share a meal with your father will surely be a cherished memory for you for years to come.

Thanks for sharing these memories.

Food is a bond, you're right, and I'll have a lot to remember him by, but i also know that every holiday from here on out — all those meals, all those smells, all those traditions — is going to be very, very hard. 

Arlington, VA
Prompted by a listing on Washington' 100 Best Restaurants, I recently went to Ravi's Kebob in Arlington. The lamb kebob I ordered was small and full of grizzle. To my surprise in the latest Washingtonian, again this restaurant is touted as excellent. What advice can you give readers on how seriously to take the Washingtonian recommendations?
I'm really surprised to hear that. Ravi Kabob — I and II — is a terrific place. I've had extraordinary meals there, great meals there and good meals there. But I've never had less than good.
Shaw, DC


Terribly sorry to hear of your father's passing. My father too was a maniac for barbecue, but didn't dare eat other barbecue than his own. ( of course, we lived in the sticks in Northern Louisiana…) Maybe they're both in that rib shack in the sky.

On to the business at hand, I owe you feedback on Bourbon Steak. In all it was great, we both enjoyed our meal. The duck-fat fries are the devil, made even more so by the 3 dipping sauces. I was overjoyed before we even ordered! My date loved the scallops 3 ways, which arguably were the best dish on the menu.

About the meat: I like my filet mignon so rare that it tries to graze on my salad, but the method of cooking at Bourbon Steak doesn't really allow for meat to be that blue. But I must say, I loved every bite of my steak! The quality of the steak wasn't overshadowed, or overpowered, by the butter-poaching method. The food was delicious, and worth every penny, but what bowled us over was the service. Very helpful, gracious, prompt and downright fun people. For me, that makes or breaks a restaurant; why would I return to a steak joint if I didn't have a good time? Good time indeed!

I love that, Shaw — so rare, it tries to graze on my salad. You gave me a laugh. Thank you.

I've only been once, but I agree with you, the service was very, very good, at a level a good deal higher than you would imagine a new restaurant would be able to hit.

Worth every penny, that's the question. I enjoyed my one meal enormously, but this is an exorbitant night out, at a time when going out has just gotten a lot tougher.  

Clifton, VA
From that jerk in Clifton. Sorry to hear of your loss Mr Kliman. I lost my dad to cancer 22years ago. Our thought and prayers are with you. Remember the good times you two had together and continue to make him proud.

I'm … speechless.

Wow. Thank you.

wheaton update

I had read that the restaurant behind the grocery Hung Phat was going to be Vietnamese. Although Thai may be a good idea, actually. I've tried twice now to eat at Nava Thai, with no success. Wait times were well over 40 minutes to an hour.

Not that they were full, they just didn't have the staff on hand to handle the people. This time we went on Sunday at about 1:45pm; we were on a time schedule and couldn't wait.

Unfortunately, Ruan Thai was closed, but if Hung Phat does end up doing a Thai restaurant, I guess they can always take the overflow!

Oh, and we ended up at Ferdinand's. Surprisingly, we all really enjoyed our dishes, too. It may not be "fine" dining, but the service was friendly and the food quite good, and a good deal with the Sunday afternoon specials.

Thanks for the report.

And good to hear about Ferdinand's.

It's a hard transition Nava is trying to make — that new space is huge. And having to serve and satisfy all those customers, can change what a restaurant is. I hope they can weather this. 

arlington va

I'm sorry for your loss Todd. It sounds like you had a great relationship with your father.

Oddly enough, I logged on today to ask you if Present was a good place for me to go to this weekend for my birthday dinner. I think I'll have to go after reading this post.

What dishes should we get besides the imperial rolls that i've heard so much about?

Well, the coffee, for one …

I don't have the menu in front of me at the moment, and the dishes have elaborate, fanciful names, so just realize that whatever I mention may go by a different name at the restaurant.

I really like the clam hash, served in a giant sesame cracker, the crab fried rice, many of the soups are good (and can be shared by two), the fried whole fish (with a special nuoc mam made just for it), the bun … 

Really good stuff, and very reasonably priced. 

Albuquerque, NM

We lived in DC about 10 years ago and are coming in for a week's visit in March. I'm trying to navigate the "Dress Code" lingo.

For example, Business Attire, Smart Casual, Business Casual, Casual Dress. My husband no longer owns a suit or jacket. So what can we get by with? We're thinking Blue Duck Tavern and Westend Bistro as our fanciest evenings.

You'll do just fine. It's a different city, in some ways a very different city.

Both Blue Duck and Westend call themselves "smart casual," which means … actually, not much. It's marketing.

You'll see a lot of people in the dining room wearing jeans — it's just that they're designer, and they paid too much for them.

You can get by in most restaurants in the city — with the exception of places like 1789, Citronelle, and The Prime Rib — without a jacket or suit. I think it's a sign of progress, but I know there are an awful lot of people out there who vehemently disagree with me.

Alexandria, VA
I just wanted to let you know how much your entry for today, recounting the adventures in food and the relationship you had with your Father, moved me. Thank you for sharing and I am truly sorry for your loss.
Thank you — that's really kind of you to say; I appreciate it.
Gaithersburg, MD

Hi Todd, hope you can assist me.

My birthday is coming up and I love steakhouses, especially dry-aged steaks. Capital Grille and Craftsteak (Vegas) are my favorite!! Standbys that I also dine at include Ruth's Chris, Smith and Wollensky's, and at last resort, Morton's.

I like to try a new steakhouse and can't decide between Bourbon Steak, BLT Steak, Charlie Palmer, or the Palm. Which one would you recommend?

Looking forward to a nice juicy medium rare steak!

Bourbon Steak or BLT Steak, pick 'em.

Drop back in and let us know about your meal — I'd be interested in hearing which one you chose, and how things turned out. 

And — happy birthday. 

Hi Todd! I'm very excited about landing a reservation at Komi. Do you know if they would accommodate a vegeterian for the selection of mezze?
Good question. I would imagine they could. You ought to give them a call and find out.
Vienna, VA
This was brought to mind after watching Top Chef last week—but my favorite poultry is roast quail, and I'm thinking Squab is something I'd like to try as well—any suggestions on where to find it in the DC area?

The question is, who has it on the menu at the moment.

Menus change so often these days, particularly at the high end spots, where no dish, no matter how great, perches for too long. But I'm remembering excellent preparations of squab at Palena and Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar.

Bethesda, MD

I'm the person who asked you about CoCo Sala prior to restaurant week. Well we wound up going and had a fantastic time and a very good meal.

They had a special restaurant week menu with limited choices, but their food menu is kind of limited anyway, and everything I would have wanted was on there. The portions were very tiny- but the food was soooo rich and heavy that we were all stuffed by the end of the meal.

The salads were great, the mac n cheese was super rich and buttery and the swordfish slider was cooked perfectly and was also really good. The service was friendly- in fact, they offered to seat us even though our fourth person was not there yet.

One side note, have you ever noticed that ALL the waitresses are unusually busty and wear extremely low cut dresses? My friends and I (all women) couldn't help but notice this phenomenon – it was very amusing!

That's funny. I wrote about the "breastaurant" concept a few weeks back for NPR, where I write a weekly blog, and had a lot of fun talking about a burgeoning Texas chain that's taking aim at Hooters.

Hooters, by the way, has got to be one of the few business that actually did well last year — profits up 4 percent. And the Texas Chain — Twin Peaks is the name — is going great guns.

One look at the website and you'll understand why — the waitresses at Twin Peaks make the ones at Hooters look like Mouseketeers.

Shaw, DC
Re: Komi and vegetarians. We went once (two meat eaters and a seafood-eating vegetarian) and we let them know the deal at the start of the meal. They very thoughtfully accommodated us, and it was delicious.
I'm not surprised. Thanks for chiming in.
Arlington, VA
2941 currently has squab, I haven't had it I ordered the Guinea Hen, and that was great, best meal at the table, so hopefully they do the squab well too.

There you go, Vienna. And not too far from home, either.

Thanks for the tip, Arlington.

Washington, DC

Hi Todd.

Love the chats! I even followed along while living abroad.

On to the question…My husband and I, along with another couple are going to see The Capitol Steps on Saturday night. We want to get an early dinner beforehand, and a night cap following the show. Any suggestions? Thanks!

That's loyalty!

The show's at the Reagan Building, so you're right around the corner from Cafe du Parc. It's not as charming a spot as it is when it's warm and you can sit outside, but the bistro cooking is often excellent, and the wines by the glass are good and relatively inexpensive. If they have it, look for the pork belly, a square of crisp-skinned meat that yields wonderfully to a little pressure from your fork.

After the show, I'd think about heading over to Central Michel Richard for a drink (good wines, inventive cocktails) and dessert. 

Annapolis, MD
Todd — Have you been to Punk's Backyard Grill in Annapolis yet?
I haven't. Any reco's?
Shaw, DC
RE: Squab Expensive way of going it, but Le Paradou does an amazing squab dish with figs and foie gras. At least, it used to be a staple on the dinner menu.

i loved that dish! A very livery squab, lots of savor, beautifully cooked, and the figs and foie gras were absolutely perfect with it.

As it happens, the current menu has a variation of it, with plum pudding, dates, foie gras and red cabbage. 

Gaithersburg, MD


Our hearts go out to you and your family in your time of sorrow. With heartfelt condolences, Fred

Thank you, Fred.
Silver Spring MD

My last meal with my dad was a margarita at a pretty sappy Mexican joint right down the street from his hospice. He didn't say a word but really enjoyed his margarita.

Then at the end, we asked him how he felt and he said he was "dying for a cigarette!" (which pissed my mom off!) which was true since he was at an end stage smoker's cancer.

While I may have had issues with him and have lots of rough memories, I also ahve that last day and seeing him enjoy something so simple.

It sounds like you are really missing a good friend and iflluential person in your life. If we all go out with people feeling like that about us, we have lived full lives.

He did, he lived an amazingly full, rich life. He lived the life of two people. He was and is arger than life to me.

I miss him enormously …




Alexandria, VA-Thank you

Dear Todd,

Your opening missive brought tears to my eyes as it resonated with me. I lost my mother last November-that hospitalization and surgery was her last, too. She did not come home.

Prior to her surgery for a heart condition, she was relegated to picking her meals from the hospital's"cardiac" menu, but I managed to sneak in a little cannoli for her, which she loved.

Her appetetite had waned in general over that past several years, but I relished the times she visited my husband and me in VA, when I cooked her favorite foods-lamb chops and stuffed cabbage to name a couple.

It brought me joy to see her nourished and happy. She cleaned her plate, which was increasingly rare.

Food connects us and leaves indelible marks on our memories. Not so much for the sight, the smell, or the taste, but for whom we share it with. Thank you for sharing your father's story with us.

You're very welcome.

It's astonished me, these last few weeks, to hear stories like yours, and to learn how many people have been through the misfortune of losing someone in this way.

I remember, at the beginning of his illness, going out to lunch with Phyllis Richman. She listened, and shared her own stories, and said by way of advice: Food helps. Never forget that.

It does.

Thank you all so much for your well wishes today, and for all the kind thoughts and prayers over the last few weeks. I am so deeply grateful for all your sentiments. 

I'll see you all next Tuesday at 11 … 

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