From the Florida Avenue Grill, we bopped up to Adams Morgan and enjoyed a low-key brunch sans transvestites. What a drag (sorry). The Orca Platter at the Old Ebbitt Grill was surprisingly easy to devour. Makoto was on the docket, but they currently use smoke signals as their primary form of communication, so that was out. After talking to Amy, we were lined up to hit 2 Amys Pizza, but they have some communication issues to work out as well, so we hit Pho 75 instead. Blessing in disguise; great pho, great video, and the people were super friendly. Another miscommunication, and the Fojol brothers weren’t out on Saturday for the 4:00 PM slot (at a wedding) and I didn’t learn that until 2:00! Double-Ewe Tee Eff, mate! Kipoto Fojol is one heck of a chilled-out mustachioed brother, and we managed to eat there anyway, just not in the first half.
11:00 – Perry’s
Perry’s was the first location I wanted to stay at for the rest of the day. Maybe it was because I was so relaxed after dropping the kids off at the pool, but I am 95% sure that it was because of the White Sangria. No words seemed to work to describe my excitement for this drink. Someday, I will perfect this cocktail and serve it to my wife on our first date; anyone could drink eleventeen of these things without knowing they’re mucho alcoholico.
We had the sushi sampler. It said that it was chef’s choice, so I figured we were going to get some real omakase shit, but we received California and Spicy Tuna rolls because that’s what “chef’s choice” actually means.
I need to vent for a second – I went on a date to Fugakyu after 24 in 24: Boston and Hiro (head chef and the guy I interviewed) wasn’t there. The waiter came up to me and asked me what I wanted, and since I wasn’t paying, I said that I wanted two dishes, $30, omakase. He said that I needed to pick; I said that I wanted something adventurous. He said something to the effect of “I will have to choose it,” and I said that was fine and repeated my adventurous request. He came back with two dishes: five types of Sashimi, and a California/Shrimp Tempura combo. Now, If Hiro was there and knew the waiter did this, he would have been sent home for the day. I didn’t send it back because I asked for omakase, and I hadn’t wanted to raise a stink since it was sort of not my place to say what “Omakase” was, but he basically slapped me in the face for not telling him exactly what I wanted. He’s probably working somewhere else by now, because it was apparent that he had little respect for his position.
The sushi at Perry’s was a nice break from the last two breakfasts we had and was very pleasing to the eye. They used both roasted and black sesame seeds on the outside of the California roll, which added a little something to the flavor and made the rolls more exciting. Perry’s wins the Diametrically Opposed award for 24 in 24: DC since the place was nearly empty when we arrived the minute they opened on Saturday but is packed to the gills with a line outside every Sunday I have ever been to. Twice when I have brunched there, there’s been a longer line behind me than in front of me, and I’d been the last/near the last of the people sat for the show.
I should mention, they don’t serve the brunch on Saturdays.
12:00 – Old Ebbitt Grill
I mean. Just wow.
Let me tell you, Kyle Gaffney runs this operation like Patton. Old Ebbit Grill was my favorite restaurant of the first half of the shoot – we were treated like kings from the second we walked in the door. I thought Kyle was going to hit us with a dozen oysters or something – I was dead wrong. We were served the Orca Platter; named for the order’s propensity to feed a killer whale. Our stomachs were assaulted with the entire raw bar at the Old Ebbitt. I wish I had some of the footage of Scotty and I walking away from this place, because even though we soundly whupped the entire two-tiers of crustaceans, we talked about feeling lighter and more refreshed than we’d felt in the last four hours.
Kyle and Old Ebbit win the Holy Bleeping Bleep award for the most largest, most impressive single item served during 24 in 24: DC. Thank you, Kyle. Thank you.
1:00 – Julia’s Empanadas
For some reason, people in DC call this place “Hoolia’s” Empanadas. I am guessing that privileged white people came up with this pronunciation; just because the empanada is a Latin item doesn’t mean that the “J” in Julia is pronounced as such. Have you ever met a girl named Hoolia? I didn’t think so.
I met with Charles, the co-owner of Julia’s after about twelve phone calls to the place and we synced up for a Friday noon meeting the day before the shoot. I’d had a chorizo empanada to try the day before and it was a bit dry, but I got it at an odd hour, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt when I came back in. My first impression was way off, and I can now see why this is one of the most popular drunk food places in town. We had two (the Chilean and the Jamaican), and the Jamaican was my favorite. I stopped worrying about my health and learned to love the beef patty during my stay in Brooklyn in 1999 and have been a connoisseur of sorts ever since. Julia’s takes the third spot on my top three U.S. beef patties list. I say that because it would be unfair to include the ones I have had on the Caribbean coast of Honduras and Belize; they were on another level down there.
Julia’s Empanadas wins the Why Have I Never Heard Of It? award for 24 in 24: DC. I lived here for five years, I am one of the biggest late-night eaters that I know, and I had never tried an empanada from Julia’s. I have to say I was never much of a Golden Triangle frequenter and I almost always stayed on the North Side of 18th Street as far as Adams Morgan goes (and we parked down by Florida, so I wouldn’t pass it on the way, either).
2:00 – Ray’s Hell Burger
Bone Marrow? Foie Gras? Epoisse? Yes, those are the kind of toppings that you can get at Ray’s Hell Burger. You have as many options as you can dream of here because they have a stock of everything that anyone has ever tried on a burger. I think they have three types of bacon here. And you know me and bacon. We had the Big Poppa Burger. I don’t know why they called it the Big Poppa, but I think Mr. Wallace would have liked it more with bacon. They must have been going for a “black and blue” style on this one with the blue cheese and sauteed onions. Did we like it? You decide.
Ben was skipping this one: his stomach was turning a bit and he didn’t need it agitated by Bed-Stuy’s finest. Ray’s Hell Burger takes is runner up in the I Finished All That category and wins the Best Buzz award for 24 in 24: DC. I had to say that as far as low-budget places go, this was the stop I was looking forward to the most, due in part to the meteoric rise to success the Ray’s had seen in the last year and part to the conversation I had with Michael Landrum. That guy is a pro.
3:00 – Pho 75
Probably the most hilarious stop of the trip. We haven’t set anything up with the owners of Pho 75 ahead of time, so they have no idea who we are. That’s OK because they could care less about the camera floating around the restaurant and are more than happy to let us do our thing.
I love pho and would venture to guess that 90% of Americans have no idea what it is. We sit down at what is almost the only open table in the restaurant at 3:00 PM and order a large white meat chicken pho (my measuring stick for what a proper pho place is). To this date, my favorite pho is still at Pho Nam in Gaithersburg, but Pho 75 gives them a run for their money. The chicken is tender, the vermicelli is slightly firm to the tooth, and the broth (as always) is to die for. I squirt a half pint of Sriracha into the bowl, slurp the first of the noodles up, and take a shot of chili oil to the eyeball. I now know how pepper spray works and I am fearful of it. Those Jackass guys earn their money.
Just an aside on this broth; I read a recipe for the broth that took 24 hours to make, and it was a bit more than set-it-and-forget-it. Asian cultures have perfected cuisines because they’ve had 3,000 years to figure them out, trying things that worked and didn’t work; learning spice combinations, making curries and stocks just right. There are some advanced culinary techniques that are going on behind those doors, pho’real.
Pho 75 wins the Ease Of Use award for 24 in 24: DC. Get in, have great pho, film it, get out. Thanks for making my stay a pleasant one, H.V.I.C.
4:00 – Fojol Brothers
One hint for the Fojol Brothers – even the sisters should get mustaches. Kipoto’s girfriend was working the truck and the facial hair would have really given her that uniquely Fojol je ne sais quoi. I do know what it would have given her, but Citronelle is one of the next restaurants we are eating at and I am in the mood for some French. I think I might go to Paris to do the ultimate 24 in 24 and rassle me up a French girl. The four greatest things to come from France are #1 French Fries (OK, OK. pommes frites) #2. Foie Gras (which we will be having at 7:00 PM) #3. Champagne, and #4. Audrey Tatou. Maybe I just saw L’auberge Espagnole at a delicate time in my formative years, but she could be Julia Roberts to my Hugh Grant any day. If only I owned a bookstore . . .
Oh, I’m supposed to be reviewing restaurants? My mistake; I got on that wistful fall in love in Paris track again. Guys can have that fantasy, too, can’t they? Part of my fantasy for the day (segue) was finishing 24 in 24: DC without a hitch, and the Fojol fiasco made me question that a bit. On Thursday, when I’d interviewed the guys, they said that they wouldn’t have the truck out, but they’d make it happen for me during the day, and I read that as, ‘no problem, Hagan. We’ll meet you out.’ Apparently, what they meant was ‘We’re going to a wedding that day and you can meet us after 6PM.’ Holy F. It all worked out as they were three blocks away from our path on the way to Cashion’s. I got there, slammed the intro out with a heck of a lot more swearing than usual. As the food was delivered, I kid him about his Zagat ambiance rating, and he took it in stride.
So the Fojol Brothers of Merlindia serve Indian food out of a truck from the 1950s; the food rocks, but the show shouldn’t be overlooked. They’re dressed in Turbans, snowpants, and glued-on mustaches for their day. They are some quick-witted and thoughtful guys. I was there a week prior to the shoot, and as their day wound down, they gave out the leftovers to a crowd of homeless guys hanging out around the truck. They say they have a charitable agenda and walk their talk. These guys win 24 in 24: DC’s Humanitarian award for their community focus.