La Tasca

Food Decor Service Cost
16 17 19 $36

Full Review Pending.

Paella Negra $18.95 – Squid ink paella with seafood
Fritura Mixta de Pescado $6.75 – For seafood lovers! Deep fried squid, scallops, and shrimp
served with lemon, sea salt and garlic mayonnaise
Patatas Bravas con Ali-Ali $4.25 – The best known tapas – deep fried potatoes in
a spicy sauce and garlic mayonnaise
Brocheta de Gambas y Vieiras $7.25 – Grilled skewers of shrimp and scallops wrapped in bacon

From Zagat:

These handsome hermanas (now including locations in Rockville, Alexandria and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor) “transport you to a Spanish fiesta” with walls that are “decorated from floor to ceiling”, flamenco dancers and a generally “lively atmosphere”; the “reasonably priced” “tasty tapas”, “huge selection of sangrias” and a “happy hour with free paella”, plus “friendly service”, make it “great for big groups”; the less enamorado, however, diss the “noisy” “Disneyland” vibe.
Food: 16, Decor: 20, Service:16, $30
Chinatown (722 Seventh Street NW & G/H Street, Gallery Place Metro 202-347-9190), Rockville (Row at Rockville Town Square, 141 Gibbs Street & Washington Street, Maryland 301-279-7011), Alexandria (607 King Street & St. Asaph Street, Virginia 703-299-9810), Arlington (2900 Wilson Boulevard & Fillmore Street, Virginia, Clarendon Metro 703-812-9120)

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McCormick & Schmick’s

Food Decor Service Cost
12 14 13 $35

I have visited McCormick & Schmick’s twice, and M&S Grille once. The scores may seem a bit harsh for a restaurant that has a pretty good reputation in general, but I don’t want to waste my time any more at this establishment in order to get a less biased score.

The first time I visited McCormick & Schmick’s was with a certificate at the Mclean (Tysons Corner) location. We had never tried oysters before and thought it a great chance to sample a bunch by getting the 7-different-types-of-oyster sampler. Until recently, I have been turned off of oysters because of this experience (healed by a trip to Japan where I ate clams and fried oysters at Ceiba). The oysters were slimy, salty, and not fresh at all. There was no flavor to the oyster itself, just the taste of briny ocean (or bay?) water. All in all, a mediocre experience and they made us feel cheap and like little kids when we presented our gift certificate.

The second time (9/17/08) was at the Chinatown location, again with a gift certificate. [I think I’ve established that this restaurant is –not– worth paying full price for.] I ordered the Sea Scallops and Ginger Pink Lemonade; my boyfriend ordered Fried Oysters and a beer.

The service at the bar while we waited for our table was fine (reservations are a must), but the service at our table was horrible. Our waiter didn’t know anything about any of the drinks (I specified that I wanted a mixed drink with ice as opposed to a martini because martini’s are not as enjoyable for me because of their flavor singularity and strength) and then because of this explanation, I received a Pink Ginger Lemonade (pink lemonade and ginger vodka) that was very weak and basically a waste of $8.50. Not to mention the fact that he looked at my boyfriend’s ID for a good, solid minute before handing it back to him.

The food looked a little eerie when it arrived; small, rubbery, chewy and flat-flavored scallops spread in a circle around the plate with artichoke leaves and a pile of congealed, plain, and poorly spiced potato slices in the center—all atop a thin, flavorless sauce; Crispy-looking but slightly mushy inside fried oyster strips with tartar sauce and thick steak fries and coleslaw. The scallops actually seemed to have bits of grit in them as I was chewing them and I couldn’t finish the five small scallops I had and the artichoke leaves tasted like buttery grass. The first oyster strip I had (with tartar sauce, mind you) tasted like a low-class version of it’s Ceiba cousin but the second strip I had tasted horrible and I ended up spitting out the green-ish gray mush onto my plate and ate a couple out-of-the-grocery-store-bag-tasting fries to get the taste out.

Before dinner, we had hard, stale bread (but were starving so scarfed it down) with cold, plain butter and at this point, I was getting sick from the horrible food. Not to mention that the waiter never checked on us, and when he brought the food said ‘Excuse me’. Usually that just means the food is here and he’s going to pause our ongoing conversation while he sets the food down and asks us if we need anything, but no, he kept the plates hovering and when I looked at him, he said ‘Move your plate please’, in a condescending voice I would use when talking to a six year old child who didn’t know any better. (Which is particularly offensive to me since I went to etiquette school). So I moved my plate out from in front of me, to the other side of the 4 person booth table. He also looked down at us when we tried to give him the gift certificate, saying he would ‘get it later’, and when we were done with our food, we had to ask the bus-boy to get our check for us. The waiter dropped the check off as he walked by, not even giving us a chance to tell him about our horrible experience or ask if we wanted refills or dessert.

The decor is also bad here. We sat at a too-high table with a picture of a trout at it, but the wall-paneling and clunky lights + fish shaped bronze sculptures ‘swimming’ up the walls was still better than the slightly lower-class Mclean location.

From Zagat:

The “daily fresh-catch offering can’t be beat” say habitués hooked on this “clubby” chain “classic” where the “plethora of choices” “cooked as simply pr as complicated as one would like” and “knowledgeable servers” make it “a safe bet for a biz lunch” or “excellent for a family celebration”; though the “dissapointed” suggest that the “overpriced”, “uninspired” “fish factory” fare is a “let-down”, barflies insist that “great specials” during happy hour deliver “real value”.

Food: 21, Decor: 20, Service: 20, $41

Penn Quarter (901 F Street NW & 9th Street, Metro Center Metro 202-639-9330), Golden Triangle (1652 K Street NW & 16th/17th Street 202-861-2233), Bethesda (7401 Woodmont Avenue & Montgomery Lane, Maryland 301-961-2626), Arlington (2010 Crystal Drive & 20th Street, Virginia 703-413-6400), Reston (Reston Town Center, 11920 Democracy Drive & Discovery/Library Street, Virginia 703-481-6600), McLean (Ernst & Young Building, 8484 Westpark Drive/Leesburg Pike, Virginia 703-848-8000)

Pork Chop Fried Rice & Chocolate Stars Bento

– Pork Fried Rice – Chocolate Soy Cookies – Blueberry yogurt
– Banana
– Grapes
– Green Tea soymilk

This rice was -so- good, and I made it with leftover porkchops my dad had made. I added egg and baby spinach. These chocoalte cookies are from the Korean supermarket (can’t remember if it was Hmart or Grandmart) and are super yummy and aren’t bad for you because they’re soy crisps with a thin thin layer of chocolate on them.

Banana was free from work, yogurt was free from Giant, grapes were free from boyfriend. Perfect, filling bento.


Food Decor Service Cost
25 22 25 $45

Located in Metro Center, this member of “Passion Foods” is a multi-faceted restaurant. With many different dining areas (casual with wicker chairs, business casual with simple wooden tables and plants, lounge, and private rooms with doors), Ceiba really can give you anything you want. You can come here for happy hour, a romantic evening, or an office meeting.

The staff was very attentive to us (we stated on the reservation site,, that it was our anniversary, and we were given a great location in the more upscale dining area, “Happy Anniversary” was printed at the top of our menu and written on our dessert plate). Many of the dishes sounded very interesting, but we were only able to get 3 appetizers because the portions were so generous (as opposed to other restaurants that might charge $20 for an appetizer that is eaten in 2 small bites). In fact, we chose a more tapas approach to the experience and ate only three appetizers and no entrees (and of course drinks and dessert), therefore being able to sample many more dishes.

We ate: Crispy Fried Oysters with Mango Torilla Slaw, Chipotle Remoulade (11), “Hot Lava Stone” Queso Fundido with Shaved Ribeye Steak, Poblano Chilis, Oaxacan Cheese and small yummy tortillas (13), Grilled Argentinian and Mexican Chorizo sausages with Roasted Eggplant Raisin Chutney, Sweet and Sour Mustard, Warm sugar Canela Dusted Churros with Dark Rich Hot Fudge (and a candle w/ happy anniversary written in chocolate), Almond Marshmallows, and caramel and almond popcorn (this was complimentary and tasted like a non-sticky, grown up version of Cracker Jack). For drinks, the Dark and Stormy [Goslings Black Seal rum, Goya ginger beer & fresh lime ] (a little too much rum for us) and Yucatan Sunset [Bacardi Razz rum, Citronge, mango puree, fresh orange juice & grenadine] (had pockets of just fruit juice and just alcohol taste…). Both drinks came with little neon-orange bulls on the side of the glass. I see how this would be appropriate in the lounge area, and it was cute for a souvenir, but not style-appropriate for where we were dining.

Overall, it was a great experience, and I would love to go back for their $5 mojito happy hour (with comp. food) or for lunch or dinner again so I can try the rest of the menu that we were too full to eat (like the red snapper, jumbo shrimp, or grilled octopus salad). In the end, you don’t pay just for the food, but for the experience as a whole, and it was worth it, because they made us feel special. [Not to mention the super-cute parrots painted on a mural behind us and on the outside of the restaurant]

From Zagat:

With “wonderful” South and Central American-inspired dishes “bursting with complex flavors” and presented in “beautiful” Downtown digs, this “happening” Nuevo Latino is as “great for an anyday meal” as a “business lunch” or a “special occasion”; so start with a “mean caipirinha”, move onto the “must-have” ceviche sampler, then get an “amazing” crispy whole fish before enjoying the “best part” – complimentary “caramel popcorn brought with the bill.”

Food: 24, Decor: 24, Service: 22, Cost: $48
701 14th Street. NW (G Street, Metro Center station) 202-393-3983

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Simple Ocha-zuke Bento

– Ochazuke . Mikan Fruit Jelly
– Turtle brownie
– Green Tea soymilk

I was super lazy today and just brought rice and a packet of Ochazuke (green tea powder mixed with other things such as nori (seaweed) and crackers) that I had bought in Japan. I added the hot water at work and it was super yummy! I like ochazuke when its more rice and less watery/ochazuke-y, otherwise the ochazuke flavor is too strong for me.

I made the ochazuke in my super-convenient coffee cup that I use for soup, oatmeal, and coffee of course.

I also used my awesome United Colors of Bennetton compact silverware that I bought in Japan (at LoFt) =^_^=.