Trip to Washington, D.C.

photo courtesy of flickr

This past weekend involved a quick trip up to our nation’s capital. While we didn’t have much time for exploring the food scene up there, we did have a couple of noteworthy culinary experiences.

For the ride up, seeking to avoid a boring fast food meal, I had conducted extensive research into alternative places to eat along the way. I confined my search to places not far off the interstates (I-85 and I-95) that were also cheap and quick. Luckily, we were approaching Richmond around dinner time, so we decided to head downtown the place of the top of my list, Buz & Ned’s BBQ. Getting there in rush hour turned out to be a slow haul, but it was worth the detour. It’s a small space but service is quick: just place your order at the counter and they’ll call your name within a few minutes. I got a pork bbq sandwich that was oh so good. The meat was magnificently tender and smoky, doused in a tangy sauce, and served on soft bun. Unfortunately the side items, including hush puppies and some cinnamon bourbon apples, were just average at best. But I would definitely go back for the bbq – it was fabulous.

The next day, for my friend’s bachelor party dinner, we headed to downtown DC for an all out meat-fest at Fogo de Chao, the upscale Brazilian steakhouse located just blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. The place is huge but it was packed with everybody from families to dressed-up couples. Fogo de Chao features scores of different meats, of course, sliced for you tableside, but they also have a tremendous “salad” bar. The latter contains many tempting items such as prosciutto, good salami, a giant wheel of parmiggiano-reggiano, other fine cheeses, and side items from roasted potatoes to an assortment of green vegetables. There are also huge slices of crusty bread, but you’re better off going with the small cheesy-poofy rolls that come straight to the table. These are quickly followed by the meats – ribeye, bottom round, filet mignon, bacon-wrapped chicken, pork tenderloin, lamb chops, sausages, and on and on. As if that weren’t enough, they also bring out mashed potatoes, rice & beans, fried bananas, and crispy polenta. It just keeps on coming until you flip your card (pictured above) from green to red: STOP! My favorites were the tender filet mignon, the succulent chicken, and the delectable lamb chops. Everyone else loved the rib eye steak. I found the cuts of meat, with the exception of the filet mignon, to be inconsistently cooked. I got some really overcooked pork loin and steak pieces. The little sausages were quite average as well. And all of the side items, save perhaps the crispy polenta, were lackluster. But, we certainly got our fill. At $50 a head (not including drinks), I doubt I’d ever go back, but it was a neat experience with a group of great friends.