Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Tulips

IMG_5467

Who doesn’t love free champagne?  A few weeks ago, before we headed to The Improv to see Vir Das, we had dinner at Tulips – a new restaurant, by the well-known D.C. restauranteur, Reese Gardner.

Formerly Irish Whiskey, the space was transformed into a light, airy, yet cozy three floors of great craft cocktails, a drool-worthy menu, and refreshingly chic spaces.

Having spent time in Irish Whiskey, I was surprised to see there was actually a basement level, which is where their restaurant goers are led to.  Given the name of the restaurant, there were tulips in every nook, mini crystal chandeliers above every table, and of course, champagne glasses on every table.

Our waiter was fantastic – he was sensitive to my gluten-allergy, walking me through the menu to make sure I ordered correctly and then poured us complimentary champagne!

We started with cocktails and an appetizer: Cuban Night and Midway (which we highly recommend) and the deviled eggs with caviar (which we also highly recommend). For entrees, my other half ordered the Lobster Roll (which he still raves about) and I ordered the spaghetti squash (which I still crave).  We would have ordered dessert but we were both pretty full.

IMG_5468

There have been comments online about portion size. If you have a large appetite, yes, this place may not be for you.  However, given portion sizes in most of D.C.’s finer restaurants, it’s right on par, if not, a bit more generous.

We highly recommend this place for date night, brunch, dinner, drinks, and events.  We’ll certainly be back!

Gluten-friendly score: 10

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Washington Nationals Opening Day 2017

IMG_8968

Every year I’ve lived in D.C., and so long as D.C. has had the Washington Nationals in our backyard, I’ve wanted to go to Opening Day.  There’s something so special about taking the day off work with a few thousand other people, meeting up with friends, having a few drinks (and plenty of ball park food), and watching one of America’s oldest sports.

This past Monday, April 3rd, my other half and I were lucky enough to snag two suite tickets to watch the game (in style).  We were even luckier to wander the stadium and run into friends, making it one of the most memorable games (and Mondays) I’ve been to (had).

If you have never been to a game here, I highly recommend it.  It’s one of the best baseball stadiums in the country!  Not only is the park itself so beautiful, but the surrounding areas of Navy Yard/Waterfront – are being built up to include some really great bars and restaurants.  Walking distance from the stadium, you can visit The Bull Pen, Scarlet Oak, Cantina Marina (my favorite, and where we ended up after the game), as well as many others.

If you don’t have time to explore the neighborhood, note that there are so many food and drink options to choose from, within the ball park, that you truly don’t have to leave.  Note that for those who are gluten-free they have two gluten-free stands in the park, including one by Centerfield!

Happy baseball season!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Compass Rose

Okay, while this wasn’t a date with my other half, it WAS a date with my girlfriend for her birthday!

Compass Rose has long been on my list of places to try in D.C. and it absolutely doesn’t disappoint!  It’s a place I definitely want to go to again and again – especially if I’ve got a hankering to travel to another country 🙂

Compass Rose’s menu is amazing – allowing you to sample small plates from all over the world, while being in an atmosphere that is reminiscent of any Western or Southern Asian countries.  Bonus points for them bottling and serving their own FABULOUS rosé!

My suggestions on what to order, especially if you have a soy and/or gluten allergy like we do:

  1. Pasteles (El Salvador) – ask for a side of rice, as opposed to the sides listed on the menu
  2. Broccoli Rabe (Italy)
  3. Bhel Puri Chaat (India)
  4. Asado (Argentina)

For dessert, we ordered an orange creme brûlée from Catalan.

On a gluten-free friendly scale, this place is a 10. I definitely recommend making reservations for this highly busy place!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: RPM DC… for Valentine’s Day!

img_8520

Yeah, we’re the cheesy, in-love couple that made reservations for Valentine’s day… two months in advance!

Actually… that is the standard for RPM in D.C. – the new (ish), hip, upscale Italian restaurant that has taken the district by storm.  First established in Chicago by Bill and Giuliana Rancic, their upscale Italian concept made it’s way south to the already vibrant restaurant scene in the Nation’s Capital, and there are absolutely no signs of it slowing down.

img_8516

What to Order

Cocktails: Being the cocktail lovers we are, we each tried a different cocktail at the bar.  I chose the “Spritz and Giggles” (I don’t recommend it) and he chose the “Ten Cent Pistol” (we both HIGHLY recommend), prior to being seated at our table.

Wines: Once we were seated (in one of the best tables at the restaurant), I took a look through the wine list and was so deliriously happy to see Blackbird Vineyards, owned by the magnificent Michael Polenske, on the list of recommended wines.  Naturally, we splurged for the Paramour 2013 – one of the smoothest reds I’ve ever had.  It’s on the pricier side of the spectrum but well worth it (it’s also worth to check out their site and order in bulk).

Food: The biggest thing to note is that the food menu is designed to eat in courses.  All of the plates are small enough for two people, to enjoy more than one (usually 2-3), without feeling full.  We shared the prosciutto with peppers (this will “change your life” and is a must), the gluten-free pasta Pomodoro (big enough to share as a side dish), and the filet mignon (it’s cooked to perfection at medium and was absolutely amazing).  For dessert:

The green apple gelato with kiwi and the black cherry Panna Cotta are both highly recommended and just big enough to share!

This place is on the top of our list to go back to and on a gluten-free scale of 1-10, comes in at a 10!  We highly recommend you make reservations at least a month in advance for non-holidays.  Enjoy!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Captain Gregory’s

Each weekend, my other half and I try to find a different place to eat and drink (I have a long list) in the D.C. area.  This past weekend, we headed to the following places in Alexandria, VA:

  • Haute Dogs and Fries (it’s gluten-free friendly with gluten-free buns) for incredible gourmet hot dogs – no picture, I was hungry
  • Sugar Shack (not gluten-free friendly but the boyfriend loved the variety of gourmet donuts) – no picture, my boyfriend was hungry
  • Captain Gregory’s (a speakeasy inside of Sugar Shack)

While I could easily write great things about all three, it was the last stop that left a lasting impression.

Why Speakeasies are the Places to Go

I love speakeasies because of the unparalleled, overall experience you get from the minute you’re at the door, until the minute you leave.  Usually established by craft cocktail masters, they understand the importance of immersing you in a different world, while ensuring what you are drinking is complete perfection.  The bonus: When the speakeasy has story.  (Read about why Captain Gregory‘s is in Sugar Shack.)

How to Get In

Once you’ve pulled the rum flag, right inside the front door of Sugar Shack, a wooden wall opens just enough for the hostess to make sure you have a reservation (yes, you need one to enter).

img_8463

The Experience

When you’re welcomed in, you notice that it definitely is an intimate place (it seats only 21 people at a time).  The decor is “old school nautical” with old, green velvet seating, tea lights, lighting the old wooden tables, and a rather large canoe, anchored to the ceiling.  Jimmy Buffet was softly playing out of the speakers, which at some point, I started to feel like I was on vacation (sign of a good weekend).

img_8464

When our waiter came over, he was thorough in going through the menu and their philosophy on their craft cocktails.  Their entire cocktail/food menu is redone everyday, which is a lot to plan for.  But what I loved more was that all of their syrups, juices, bitters, and other ingredients are made fresh each day.  Having once been “attached” to a bartender, I know how much work and care goes into doing this.  It’s what separates a drink at bar from a craft cocktail experience.

What We Ordered

Considering the menu changes everyday, there’s no way for me to recommend particular drinks or food. However, I will say that my drink (called D.A.R.L.I.N.G), which included lemonade, absinthe, lavender, as well as several other liquors and juices, was absolute perfection.  You’ll notice the lavender sprig and the elongated ice cube (about the length of a stick of butter) – even down to details, they got these drinks right (note the drinks are about $13 – $18 a piece).

As for food, considering I already had a gourmet hot dog, and my boyfriend had that plus an orange creamsicle donut, it was up to me to pick my dessert.  It’s been years since I’ve had Panna Cotta and they knocked this lemon-flavored one out of the park!

We were only able to be there for about an hour but definitely plan on coming back we highly suggest you venture out there as well.

Enjoy!