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Dry Rubbed Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

It’s funny how things come full circle. Just over a year ago, I was starting to discover and connect with the DC foodie scene. My cooking posts were tossed in with the other things I wrote about in DC and if you’d mentioned a “food blog” to me, I would have laughed in your face. And well… here we are!

When I got my first crock pot, my inbox and IM windows were flooded with recipes to try and one that worked out well for me was a pulled meat style barbecue. It was ridiculously simple, put meat in the crock pot with a bottle of your chosen barbecue sauce and set on Low for six hours, shredding it at the seventh hour and simmering in the developed sauce. I shared the technique with a friend and ended up getting a mention as a “foodie friend” in her post on Pulled Pork. After looking back at that recipe, I decided to give it a try with a pork shoulder I recently picked up at the supermarket. Instead of a wet sauce, it uses a dry rub and relies on a bit of water and the pork’s fat to develop a sauce as it slowly cooks.

The dry-rub recipe is a “classic” from Cook’s Illustrated and the method is pure crock-pot with just a little bit of fiddling. You normally can leave things in the crock pot and walk away, but this requires some turning early on and obviously some shredding in the later hours:

  • one 6 to 8 lb. pork shoulder
  • 1/4 cup water (optional, depending on how much sauce you want to form)
  • spice rub
    • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
    • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
      (2 tsp if you like it spicy, I substituted chipotle pepper to trade heat for smokiness)
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
    • 4 tablespoons paprika
    • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
    • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon white sugar
    • 2 tablespoons salt

  1. Mix together the spice rub in a large ziploc/oven bag, shaking it to combine the spices thoroughly.
  2. Add the pork shoulder and vigorously shake the bag until the pork is fully covered in the spice rub.
  3. Place the sealed bag in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours/overnight. The longer the pork is allowed to marinate, the stronger the flavor will be.

Crammed into the crock!

On cooking day, remove the pork shoulder from the bag and place it in the crock pot. Discard any leftover spice that didn’t “cling” to the meat.

  1. Add the 1/4 cup of water, if desired, and place the pot on low.
  2. Cover the pot with the lid and allow to cook for 1 hour.
  3. After an hour, turn the pork shoulder over and continue to cook for 1 more hour.
  4. Turn the pork shoulder over one more time and let it continue to cook for another 4 hours.
  5. Check to see if the pork is starting to tenderize. If it is, shred the pork using a fork (or tongs–or bear paws!) and stir the shredded meat around in the sauce created during cooking.
  6. Cook for another 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your crock pot and the desired flavor/texture.

Shredded and ready to serve

If your pork shoulder is closer to 8 pounds, you may need a longer cooking time and vice versa for smaller cuts of meat. Because of the fattiness of pork, it’s hard to mess this one up. Please note, this recipe makes a lot. It would be great made in advance of a picnic or party, but if you’re making this for just yourself, plan on a lot of leftovers!

To appease the BBQ purists out there, I admit that this isn’t barbecue. It was slow cooked using a steamed/simmering method, not slow-roasted over low heat on a grill/smoker. Some people like the charred bits that barbecue brings and if you feel that’s missing from this recipe, I advise that you remove the pork shoulder at about hour 5 or 6, place it on a baking or roasting pan and set it under the broiler for a few minutes per side to crisp up the edges before returning it to the crock pot for shredding. Just be careful moving the pork shoulder around at this stage as it’s quite ready to fall apart.

Even if it isn’t traditional barbecue, it will do for me in a pinch. Especially if I see that a planned cookout might be rained out, this wouldn’t be bad to have in the fridge as a backup dish. And while a sandwich is certainly the most satisfying serving method for the pork, I could also see it going over couscous or steamed rice, rolled up in a wrap with chopped veggies or even tossed with some cheese into an omelette for brunch. As I said, you’re going to have a lot of it, so if you and your guests aren’t feeling piggy–pun intended–when it’s first served up, plan ahead to freeze some or make some unique dishes with the leftovers. Enjoy!

Cochon 555

5 Chefs, 5 Pigs, 5 Winemakers, one cause: to raise awareness for heritage breeds and family owned farms. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may wish to look away now…

I don’t really have the words to describe it. Some people call the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner the Nerd Prom, well Cochon 555 is the Pork Prom, no doubt about it. Pork based dishes, desserts and drinks, some amazing wineries, a demonstration where Butcher Ryan Farr completely… butchered a 216-pound pig. I was lucky enough to attend with Adventures in Shaw, One Bite at a Time and Not Derby Pie. We also ran into food bloggers The Bitten Word.

It was hard to pick a favorite, but I managed to cast my vote–and then maybe have a few more nibbles. Of the competing chefs: R.J. Cooper of Vidalia, Joe Palma of Westend Bistro, Daniel Singhofen of Eola, Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana, and David Varley of Bourbon Steak, it was Varley of Bourbon Steak who was declared the winner. Honestly though, all of us in attendance were the winners. I’m sort of glad I’m fasting for a hospital visit today because I still don’t have any room after last night!

Spotted at Zaytinya: José Andrés and Mike Isabella

Living and/or eating in DC, it’s hardly a surprise to see José Andrés at one of his restaurants, out at a farmers market and just at events around town, but last Friday while Adventures in Shaw and I were having drinks and snacks and Zaytinya may be the closest we’ve been to him.

Jose Andres and Mike Isabella Spotted at Zaytinya

I love the slight paparazzi look to the photo, he knew I was taking their picture, but c’mon, it’s José Andrés! CBS’ 60 Minutes had a great segment on him last night by Anderson Cooper.

But for us to catch him outside, enjoying the gorgeous weather as we were, just having a chat with Chef Mike Isabella… it seemed to bring him down to a more human level. But make no mistake, we were having a serious foodie squee!! moment.

The Sweet Clementini

Of course, anytime is cocktail time. One might argue that the classic cocktail party is more appreciated during the colder months when people gather together to keep warm. And like cookies, cocktails are a sometimes treat. I won’t deny that I enjoy a good drink, but I won’t condone them becoming a bad habit.

That said, I present the Sweet Clementini. An easy-to-sip martini, sweet and tart with a hint of citrus and the color of a lazy Southern sunset. It came about as part of my experiments with sweet tea and vodka–not sweet tea vodka.

I believe sweet tea vodka is a brilliant invention, however sweet/iced tea is a very sensitive subject depending on which side of the Mason-Dixon line you’re on. I was born just north of it, but raised well south of it and my experience of iced tea varies from overbrewed and over-sweetened to sun-brewed and flavorful. My father, bless his heart, likes his tea to taste like brown sugar water. I prefer to be able to detect the flavor of the leaves used, but I do like it pretty sweet, using the ice to temper the sweetness. Still, most sweet tea vodkas ride a middle level, focusing on sweet, almost candy-like alcoholic liquid. I figured, since one can easily make sweet iced tea (I’ll reveal my secret method for fast-brewed iced tea at a later date) and a proper drinks cabinet should always have vodka on-hand, why couldn’t I just add one to the other to suit my own tastes or the tastes of the drink I was crafting?

Sweet Clementini [neé Unnamed 'tini #6]

It’s a very simple recipe and owes more to classic mixed drink than martini proportions:

  • 2 parts clementine flavored vodka
  • 3 parts sweet (southern style) iced tea
  • 3 parts cranberry juice (100% juice–not cocktail–used)

Shake over ice and strain into a martini glass, or make in larger portions and serve over ice. But as you can see, it’s a much more pleasing presentation in a martini glass, especially with the right lighting! The name was given by the folks over at Madtini who host a constant Mad Men-inspired cocktail party on their blog and twitter. There is only one company I know of making clementine flavored vodka, but any citrus–sweet, not grapefruit or lemon–vodka should work, or you could buffer it with an orange flavored liqueur.

Because of the lower alcohol to mixer ratio, this one will not get you instantly hammered, and it probably will raise the ire of martini purists. If you want a more boozy cocktail (or potential shot), change the proportions to equal parts of all three ingredients, but I suspect this is middle of the road enough to be enjoyed by both your lightweight and seasoned drinking buddies. On a warm Spring or Summer day, when you’re hanging around in your apartment with the windows open, or on a roofdeck with friends overlooking the city, I guarantee that a round of these will fit the bill perfectly. I’m going on record now and calling it my signature cocktail for the season.

… though I’m certain that it won’t be the last.

Lunch at Bourbon Steak DC

Ever since the amazing dinner at Bourbon Steak DC, there was no question that I’d be back, but it’s not the kind of place one can visit every day. Still, when a friend was celebrating a birthday with a Four Seasons spa day and lunch to follow, I couldn’t resist joining.

This post won’t be about the meal, though I could go on about it at length. My dining companions were so relaxed and blissed out from the spa, and I so enjoyed the chance to ignore my troubles for a while that we ended up spending over 3 hours eating, drinking and enjoying their amazing service. No, this post is more about patting myself on the back. I’ve been working on my photography skills, especially food photography and I think I managed to take some great shots during lunch. I don’t have a DSLR yet, but my little point & shoot still manages to take a good photo from time to time.

As in my previous visit, the food was delicious and the service incredible. I’m not kidding about that 3-hour “lunch” but at no time did they ever make us feel rushed. The gorgeous weather and amazing sunshine gave us plenty of light and opportunity to capture our meals. I added what I think are my best three shots from that afternoon to this post: their New York Strip Burger, a lovely tower of Onion Rings and their exquisitely deconstructed Tiramisu.

My full set of lunch photos is on flickr including an amusing behind-the-scenes shot that showcases us for the “beautiful photo nerds” that we are. If you have a chance to pop over to Georgetown while the weather is still Spring-like–which won’t last long in DC–it should definitely go on your to-do list.

Chopper’s Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

We all have our standby recipes that are, first and foremost, easy. They may also be impressive, but like a well-known commercial illustrates, they really aren’t any trouble at all. And then there are those recipes that may happen to be easy, but are also chosen clearly to knock people’s socks off.

Parchment off, ready to travel

I first made this cake nearly 4 years ago when some friends were getting together for a cooking night. I’d never tried making any sort of mousse before, let alone into a cake, so I was pretty nervous about it. Mostly I was nervous about dealing with egg whites as I’d heard so many horror stories about how easy it is to screw up trying to whip them! Armed with that experience though, I was able to triumph this time around with no problems at all. I even decided to add a little snowflake effect to the top of the cake as a symbolic way to say goodbye to DCs snowy season–one hopes.

The recipe is not mine, but comes from Belly Timber, where Chef “Chopper Dave” adapted some recipes to develop a chocolate/hazelnut cake base, a chocolate mousse center layer and a chocolate ganache top. Since this is proper baking, a scale is best, but I was able to make adequate conversions to survive without one. And as the recipe is in three distinct parts, you’re not rushed to make sure everything is happening at once and I had time to make and eat dinner between the mousse setting in the freezer for a while and whipping together the ganache.

I wouldn’t say this is easy for the absolute beginner, but if you’re looking for a recipe with impressive results that draws on basic techniques, this is a great recipe for you. Plus, if you’re serving it to chocolate lovers, it won’t have to be perfect anyway!

Smoked Turkey Legs

It still feels weird to open up the browser to write for this blog when the devastation in Haiti continues. Adventures in Shaw wrote about some local venues and restaurants making donations and the Washingtonian has an updated listing of benefit events still taking place.

Help for Haiti: Learn What You Can Do

One of my Christmas presents to myself was a Camerons stovetop smoker and while I’ve been enjoying trying a few different dishes prepared with it, the main thing I was looking forward to was smoked turkey legs! These tender salty & seasoned treats are often the only reason I go to Renaissance Faires anymore. Those are usually the only places that one feels perfectly at home walking around gnawing on a humongous bird leg. So after a bit of research online for tips and methods, I cobbled together a fairly good recipe to try them on my own. I will note that nowhere online was an “official” recipe. I doubt it’s a trade secret, but it’s more likely that home cooks just don’t have the right equipment and supermarkets don’t have the right supply of legs prepared for “easy” cooking.

While these don’t have the look of legs from the fair, they certainly had the right flavor! The stovetop smoker mainly acts as an enclosed oven with smoke. It uses the heating element (gas or electric) to smolder wood chips while the body heats/cooks the food. Some smoke escapes during cooking, but that just makes the kitchen smell great and is never enough to trip the smoke alarm. Stovetop smokers don’t seem to be made for “slow & low” cooking as some standalone smokers can accomplish, but it does a good job of thorough cooking while imparting a nice smoky flavor to meat, veggies… even cheese and nuts!

Preparation is simple, but not quick as it requires brining overnight and up to 24 hours:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (optional: brown sugar)
  • 1 gallon water
  1. You can also add any other seasoning you like to the brine. I added garlic powder, but some recipes have suggested cayenne, onion powder, paprika for color, etc.
  2. After dissolving the spices in hot water, let it get cold in the fridge while you prepare the legs–basically pricking them with a fork in spots to help the brine penetrate. But if you plan to soak them longer than 8 hours, that step isn’t really necessary.
  3. Before cooking, rinse the legs, pat them dry and let them come to room temperature. While they come to temp, prepare your smoker–or oven-smoking method. I used a combination of cherry and alder wood chips
  4. Lightly season the legs with salt and pepper (mostly for appearance) or a dry rub of your choice. I used Cavender’s Greek Seasoning. You won’t need to use much because of the brine.
  5. My smoker has the wood chips in the base, a drip tray atop that and then a rack for the food. Arrange the legs with some space around each one, turn the heat to medium and at the first sign of a wisp of smoke, place the cover on. My cover wouldn’t easily slide over the legs, so I made one out of heavy duty foil for the first stage of cooking.
  6. Most recipes for smoked turkey legs will call for low steady heat for about 4-6 hours, but the stovetop smoker isn’t really about low and slow. I let it cook for 1 hr 15 min and checked the meat. It had reached the right internal temperature and cooked down enough for the proper cover to be used. I turned the heat off and let them continue to cook/smoke for another 15 minutes before removing the legs.

As I said, they don’t have the look of fair legs, but the taste was excellent. The meat was tender and slid right off the bone–with the exception of the brine prep, they were done in under 2 hours which is a passable (though not optimal) cooking time for a nightly meal. So far I’ve used the smoker for poultry and pork chops, but am looking forward to trying out some fish and sausage in it as well. I don’t advocate that anyone become as much of a kitchen gadget person as I am, but I’m happy with this purchase and it allows to recreate some flavors and methods at home that I’d normally have to go out–sometimes to the country–for.

If anyone out there has some great smoker recipes, let me know! I admit to a bit of puppy love with the smoker right now, but I’m sure it’ll pass soon… right?

Ping Pong Dim Sum

One thing I’ve been hearing since moving to a city with a–more or less–proper Chinatown is “Where can you go for good dim sum?” And as it was well before my out and about knowledge, I had no idea, but I knew what people were talking about was the classic concept of the on-cart, a la carte dim sum, pointing and ordering on the fly. I’ve been to places in the area that served dim sum in the area, meaning either small plates or many types of dumplings but not on the carts.

Ping Pong Dim Sum DC - exterior

Ping Pong Dim Sum is one of DC’s latest international imports, with restaurants already in London, Brazil and Dubai. Their impending presence had been known for a while, but a fellow foodie friend and I walked past a week or so before their opening and spoke to the manager about the place. My friend reported seeing them training their staff each night as she headed home from work, so after our conversation, we were looking forward to giving them a try.

This is a restaurant with an active social media presence: @PingPongDC, so they had already been responding to a few of us on twitter. Those in attendance were @Shaw_Girl, @floridagirlindc, @MangoTomato & @urbanbohemian (me).

Ping Pong Dim Sum - 08

It’s a wonderfully designed restaurant, definitely striking notes of “asian modern”. You’ll want to check your coat as the chairs have no backs! A nice combination of oblong and round tables in the dining room seemed to give the servers an easier time making it around the restaurant. We were there for a 12:30 lunch and the place was busy, not crowded. Not too noisy, or at least not so much that we couldn’t hear our own party and the server–though she did have to speak up and lean in a few times.

Their menu is a good balance of dumplings (baked, steamed, grilled and fried) and other options including salads and signature dishes. Definitely some non-salad options here for vegetarians. Our table went with the three set menu options, Seafood, Vegetarian and the “Dumpling Fix” containing a nice sampling. Similar to sushi, you have a piece of paper with the menu options and you mark how many of each that your table is ordering. As the servers come round with your dishes, they confirm it and drop it off. That is primarily because the items may come out in any order and they most certainly did–at times confusing our servers!

I’ll preface this by mentioning that they had been open for just over a week when we had our lunch. I say that because while the food was good, they still have a bit of work to do to get into their groove. Three dishes were brought to our table that we didn’t order, the first of which was described so lovingly by the server that we thought it was an amuse-bouche! Thankfully none of us tucked into it before he returned and admitted his mistake. After the third mistaken item arrived, we’d pretty much resolved that whatever hit the table next would be claimed regardless.

When we did get our items, there was a little confusion–since we’d all ordered set meals–as to which dish belonged to which diner. We did sort it out, more or less, but it turns out that we may not have been 100% certain about what we were eating. I say this, not as a foodie but as an ignorant American: I could have used a legend similar to the ones appearing in Whitman Samplers. Even though we suspected while eating, that we might have been served the wrong dumpling platters, a second look today at the menu and my photos seems to indicate that we got the right items.

I don’t have any physical or ethical food allergies, so it didn’t bother me except from the consumer’s standpoint of getting what you ordered. Obviously the restaurant and servers are still a little green, but as many of the dumpling items look the same, a little education as to what filling was in what dumpling would have immediately made it clear whether we had the correct dishes or not. The more I think about it now, I believe it was strength of flavors that gave us that thought more than anything else. As delicious as everything was, there was very little distinction of flavor from one dumpling to the next and anything with seafood (prawn or scallop) in it, overpowered the entire dumpling.

Even so, I will visit again, but I’ll be more careful about what I order and ask more questions when it arrives. Once they start having a happy hour, I suspect the place will be very popular. The options on their drinks menu are quite varied. The ones we had showed a great command of mixology with fresh ingredients and creativity. If they combine those drinks with some happy hour food/drink special prices, it will make the perfect after-work spot. They told us there are plans for both after-work and late-night happy hours in 2010, so I’ll keep an eye out, but for now I’ll give them another month or two to get settled into their new home.

Ping Pong Dim Sum (US): Twitter & Facebook
Ping Pong Dim Sum on Urbanspoon

Bourbon Steak DC at the Four Seasons

Everyone treats themselves, especially around this time of year. You’re in a shop or online, looking for gifts and you see the perfect thing… for yourself. You throw caution to the wind and say "Why not? I deserve this!" Well, as you might have guessed from where it resides, Bourbon Steak DC is like that, a dining treat for the well-deserving individual be it yourself and/or others. An advance look at the menu also confirmed that. It’s not super expensive, but definitely a "steakhouse" and the prices are higher than your neighborhood "steak place" but the dishes are a serious cut above and everything else about the place, service, atmosphere, etc. lends itself to the experience.

Complimentary Champagne & my cocktail, The Corpse Reviver (No. 2)

Bourbon Steak is a place that could be pretentious, it could be home to horror stories of snooty hosts and maître d’s but clearly chooses not to be so. Still, when the lovely woman behind Adventures in Shaw (Shaw Girl or SG for short) suggested it to our little family of friends, bloggers and foodies, I had a bit of trepidation. I’m a classy enough guy, but it’s so rare that I go someplace really classy. The prices didn’t scare me off so much as the idea of "Will I feel out of place?" The answer was a resounding "No!" but let me back up a bit to explain why.

As anyone should know, the DC foodie crowd is on twitter and we are quite active. As I mentioned the other day, we really appreciate local eateries that have a strong and active social media presence. Not to swipe her story, but SG happened to mention on twitter that she was looking for a local source for duck fat. She soon got a response from Bourbon Steak DC’s twitter account that they would check for her and they came back with an answer. The mere fact that she was just throwing out a question into the wilds and they took it upon themselves to answer encouraged her to check them out and make us a reservation. And when you get the twitter foodies excited about an upcoming meal, we aren’t quiet about it at all. So we were commenting to and about @BourbonSteakDC and they were responding right back. Most notably, I noticed the dress code on the website–I’m not a fan of having to dress up for dinner that isn’t business or a date. I mentioned this on twitter and within 30 seconds Colleen, the person behind their twitter account, sent me a note clarifying things. It’s that attention to hospitality, especially for customers that haven’t even eaten there before, that sets a higher bar for dining out.

I should stop here and say that this entry could never be long enough and certainly won’t be brief. Our experience was that good and I’m hoping that my dining companions write about it as well so that you can read about it from different perspectives.

Truffle butter rolls.

After a few of us arrived by various means–one slight drawback about the Four Seasons for DC residents is that it isn’t easily reachable via metro–we checked in, checked coats, weren’t admonished for being early and were invited to have a drink in the bar area while we waited for the rest of our party. Oh my word, the bar! It was gorgeous, of course, more of a lounge in and of itself and their cocktail menu is extensive: hand-squeezed juices, small batch cordials, house-made bitters and syrups and house-grown herbs. Enjoyed by our party were a Sazerac, a Corpse Reviver (No. 2), their Hot Cocoa and Spiced Cider. The latter was with Maker’s Mark and the former… I can’t recall. Hopefully either SG or MM will write about it. We were still soaking in the luxury when they informed us that our table was ready and offered to either let us finish our drinks and close out the bill in the lounge or transfer the drinks to our table, both on the bill and literally. They would have gladly taken the drinks over for us and since I was having a stemmed cocktail, I took them up on it. What’s the point of classy if you can’t take advantage of it?

As MM does in his Yelp review, it may be best if I try to break it down into courses and I apologize in advance, because I know I won’t be able to remember what everyone around the table ordered.


Duck fat French Fries. 3 styles, 3 sauces

I was coaxed into ordering the Fresh Louisiana Gulf Shrimp (Cocktail) by our server who was insidious when it came to our indecision. He never directly suggested we order something, but was instead a gentle and calming voice just over your shoulder pushing you over the edge from an “No, perhaps not” to a “Yes, definitely.” Also around the table were the Iceberg Wedge salad, Ahi Tuna Tartare (prepared tableside) and Roasted Chestnut Soup (with Foie Gras). For those of us not partaking in a starter, they provided lovely house treats: Duck Fat French Fries in 3 seasoning styles with 3 sauces and Truffle Butter Rolls. Truffles are slowly, but surely, making their way back into consumer market, but subtly. Often in–now–not too expensive oils, or butter. I didn’t always have much of a taste for them, but now I can’t get enough when in the right dishes.

There was more than enough of everything to go around and to share. I nabbed a bite of the tuna tartare and a slurp of the soup which definitely wins for at least presentation. The server sat the bowl down and it was empty, save for a few roasted chestnuts and slices of foie gras. Just as I thought to ask “And… where’s the soup?” the server poured it in from a small carafe and the sensory experience tripled. And I was only sitting next to the person that had ordered it.


I believe everyone ordered a steak. It was our first time there, save one, so it made sense to order what they’re named for. We got 16 Oz Boneless Rib Eyes and 14 Oz Dry-Aged New York Strips at varying temperatures. Their steaks are butter poached and then finished on a wood-fired grill. I’ve never had them in that style before and unfortunately it isn’t the kind of thing that’s easy to repeat at home without tons of clarified butter on hand. Our steaks arrived exactly as ordered and when we did order them, our server didn’t talk down to us or turn up his nose when we specified a temperature. He simply confirmed it, told us “that’s pink throughout” or “that’s pink with a warm red center” and that was that. Now, I would like to know what they’ve been advised to say should a customer order a steak in a manner that would–in most opinions–ruin it, but I imagine that they would still be polite about it.

16oz. Boneless Rib-Eye w/various sides.

Even though everyone was excited about the Black Truffle Mac & Cheese, their side orders are sort of family style in that one side is definitely bigger than a one-person serving, but you’d still want to order at least one side for every two people. In addition to the mac & cheese we ordered the Red Pontiac Potatoes w/Hand-Churned Butter, Roasted Spaghetti Squash w/La Quercia Prosciutto, Wood-Roasted “Magical” Mushrooms and Sautéed Brussels Sprouts w/Apples & Bacon.

To make a long story short, everything was delicious. I’m not even a fan of spaghetti squash or Brussels sprouts but I had no trouble finishing the modest portions that I scooped onto my plate. My steak was perfectly cooked to medium-rare. Even though it was a Rib-Eye cut and there was some fat, it didn’t have that “strip o’ fat” that sometimes surrounds a steak even in the nicest of restaurants. Tender throughout, nicely seasoned–I usually ask for salt with my steak, didn’t have to this time–and such a thick cut of meat that not only did we make naughty jokes about our steaks, we all had trouble finishing them off.


By now, I have to say that I was full. Honest to goodness, “can’t eat another bite” full. So I passed on dessert, but thankfully the rest of the table wasn’t similarly afflicted and they brought spoons for all of us, anyway. I got to sample a bit of:

  • Tiramisu (mascarpone mousse, espresso sponge, cocoa sorbet)
  • Bitter Chocolate Cake (hazelnut ice cream, milk & honey ganache)
  • Coconut Candy Bar (milk chocolate, praline caramel, Marcona almonds)
  • Michael’s Root Beer Float (sassafras ice cream, root beer sorbet, chocolate chip walnut cookies)

Well, not the last one as its owner was pretty selfish–though he did share the cookies, and not the candy bar since I’m not really a fan of coconut. The tiramisu literally made me yell “Shut. UP!” it was so good. Yeah, I know, you can’t take me anyplace nice. An ordered Maker’s Mark on the rocks was low on rocks, heavy on Maker’s Mark–I heard no complaints. Coffee arrived in a cafetière–french press for you yokels–and fresh herbal tea in a small steeping pot. The meal began and ended with elegance, so nice!


I can’t really say enough about how welcome they made us feel. Just because we mention a restaurant over and over on twitter or in our blogs, you don’t really expect them to be responsive or even care. It’s not about getting their attention, it’s about discussing what we love. Even so, Bourbon Steak was very appreciative of us “waving the flag” as the manager said.

A lovely welcome, twitter style

In addition to their already great hospitality, they were expecting “the twitter foodie party.” Both the manager and their social media person came out to say hello, welcome us and thank us for choosing the place and talking it up online. I will disclose that they gifted our table a bottle of complimentary champagne, but this was not a payment for the free PR, just in appreciation of it. We’d have eaten there even if their twitter account wasn’t as active as it is. And while foodies appreciate freebies, we never demand them. In fact, as I’ve said before, I think it’s very brave for any restaurant to host foodies, especially those with blogs because we do talk about what and where we eat.

If you’re on twitter, you can ask any of us about our experience: @Shaw_Girl, @floridagirlindc, @mazzie, @theblackdog2071, @stopthepota & @urbanbohemian (me). Some of our accounts are locked to friends-only, but we can still see @-replies. And you can contact @BourbonSteakDC directly with any questions about the restaurant.

And while I’m now biased towards our server, from looking around the dining room, it seemed that each table was getting the same attention to detail, expertise and advice with the menu and their choices and I didn’t see anyone that looked impatient or as if they weren’t having a good time. We were not rushed, our server didn’t linger or completely vanish and the only time he did sort of hover was after we’d requested the bill.


To be frank, it wasn’t cheap. For our party it came to about $100 per person before gratuity. Comparing this to other places you could get steak, or even picking up a nice cut from the butcher, it is high, but every piece of the experience made it worth it. Not that I don’t want to try butter poaching a steak at home, but as I said, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Comparing it to the all-you-can-eat Churrascaria downtown which comes to about $50 per person before drinks, this was a bit more upscale and a very different experience. Also, as is apparent from the menu, it is perfectly possible to have dinner there and not spend that much but still have an excellent meal.

This would be an grand (and impressive) choice to have lunch with a client–especially if it’s expensed, or celebrate a special occasion with a group or someone special. If you’re planning a stay (or stay-cation) at the Four Seasons, even though all of Georgetown is available a few blocks away, I’d still suggest you reserve a table at Bourbon Steak.

A good meal, great friends and a restaurant that goes above and beyond to make their guests feel special. It might not be tomorrow, but I’ll definitely make plans to back to Bourbon Steak DC soon!

Bourbon Steak DC: Twitter
Bourbon Steak on Urbanspoon