I prefer eating in instead of eating out because it is healthier and saves money. I don’t purport to be a grand culinary master, but I do think that the more one cooks and eats in, the better one becomes at cooking, making eating in more appealing. There are a wealth of really fantastic restaurants out there, many in the DC area. I enjoy eating out, but my most frequent complaints about restaurant meals are: 1) too much fat and 2) too much salt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for some good bacon or duck fact for depth of flavor, but bacon-wrapped pork belly in clarified butter is too much.
In my opinion, a great dish delivers flavor, evokes emotion, and escalates the ingredients without overpowering the dish with richness. To me, this is what sets apart the really great dining. This is also why I admit that my opinion of dining might differ from the mainstream. I want to enjoy a delectable meal without feeling as though my heart is palpitating and my arteries are shrinking after I eat it. Does this put me closer to the “health nut” side of life? Probably. For example, I’ll hardly ever be a frequent diner at a restaurant with great homemade doughnuts. Don’t get me wrong I love a great homemade doughnut (if you are in DC, I recommend the Birch & Barley for these) – but I eat doughnuts like twice a year. Not as my “go-to” breakfast food. After all, I can make my food taste good by dropping in a stick of butter, adding a cup of heavy cream, or topping it with cheese and bacon. For me, the true culinary treat coaxes out the natural flavors of the ingredients — food that is fresh, simple, and doesn’t rely solely on fat for its flavor.
In 2012, I ate 108 meals out. That’s just over 2 meals out per week and most of the mediocre meals were at lunch or in a rush. To see a complete list of my eating out in 2012, click here. For 2013, I will continue to strive for less processed food and fewer meals out. To see a complete list of my eating out in 2013, click here. If you know me personally, you know that I do my restaurant research so that when I do eat out, especially when I travel, I strive not to settle for a mediocre meal. Below are some of my favorite restaurants. They vary in price, though many are on the pricier side. You’ll notice I’m a fan of ethnic cuisines, especially of the East Asian variety!
DC AREA FAVORITES
China Garden – Arlington, VA
Village Bistro – Arlington, VA (they could also be considered contemporary French cuisine)
Yechon – Annandale, VA
Zaytina – Washington, DC
Pho 75 – Arlington, VA
MY DINING FAVS IN OTHER CITIES (There are plenty of great restaurants in all cities. Below are just places I’ve tried and enjoyed based on my trips to these cities, whether it was a one day business trip or a 10-day vacation to the city)
Uchi – Japanese
Mama’s – Korean (apparently there is a location in Indianapolis too, but I’ve only gone to the one in Bloomington)
The Purple Pig
Terra – Contemporary (not Italian)
NEW ORLEANS, LA
Luke -Franco-German brassiere
NEW YORK, NY
Bianca – Italian
Blue Apron Red Rooster – Modern Cuisine