30 July 2010

Restaurant Review - Distrito

University City Dining Days was July 15-29.  In keeping with my history of procrastination, BB and I went on the last night to Distrito, one of Jose Garces' places.

Forgive me in advance for not adding accent marks to the Spanish.  I'm just not that kind of motivated.

I should have had an inkling of what to expect after viewing the website's primary color scheme, but I wasn't prepared for the pink.  Very, very pink.  Pink walls, pink t-shirts, pink napkins, pink plaid chair coverings.  You get the idea.  The whole space is pretty kitschy, what with the wall of luchador masks, glittery tabletops, and the Beetle that is a booth, but it's (surprisingly) not overwhelming.  It is, however, a loud space.  I don't know if the place is always packed on a Thursday, but there weren't many free tables upstairs.

Dining Days, for those of you who may not know, is when restaurants in a specific area offer fixed price menus.  Much like Restaurant Week in any given city.  Distrito was offering three courses for $30.  I will mention that Distrito's menu descriptions veered dangerously close to Elements-style, but was saved by adding slightly more information.  Example: sangria sorbet, as opposed to simply sangria, or grape.

First course was ceviche; yellowtail and octopus.  While I enjoyed the octopus more than I thought I would, the yellowtail was fantastic.  Very citrusy with a slight, lingering burn.  There was also refrieds (I tried them but really not my thing), and guacamole.  The guac was tasty enough, but oddly salty and a little light on the lime.  Bear in mind that I'm a little sensitive to saltiness, so what I call salty is probably perfectly acceptable to many other people (I'm looking at you, JR).

Second course was queso fundido with shredded duck and peppers, head-on shrimps with a raisiny sauce, rabbit with a pineapple mole, and diver scallops.  The fundido was gooey and delicious, served with silver dollar tortillas.  I'll admit that the shrimp eyeballs threw me off a bit, but I was a brave little soldier and just chopped them off.  The spice rub on the shrimp was, again, a bit salty, but otherwise subtly spicy.  There was no sucking of the head though.  The salsa served with the scallops was fruity and yummy and the rabbit...well, the rabbit tasted like chicken.  The mole was tasty.

Dessert was chocolate flan and tres leches cake.  The flan was more of a bitter chocolate pudding, but it did have the spicing of Mexican hot chocolate.  The tres leches was very good, with a brown sugar crunchy topping and tropical fruit accompaniment.  Oh, and there were drinks: white sangria (white wine, orange liqueur, apricot brandy) for me, and Dock Street Rye IPA for BB.  The sangria was good, but the beer was on the bitter side (OK, super bitter) and didn't have much character.  Then again, I don't like IPAs, so maybe you shouldn't listen to me.

The bathroom situation is a little unique at Distrito.  There are 4 individual stalls; 2 men and 2 women.  Or so I believe.  I didn't really inspect all the doors, so there could have been a handicapped stall I didn't notice.  Anyway, there's the stalls, and then a central handwashing station that is in full view of the dining room.  I'm wondering if it's Garces' way of shaming people into washing their hands.  Even weirder, I was telling my coworker, Mo, about the bathroom situation, and she said the only other place she saw that type of set-up was at another Mex place.  Is it a Latino thing?  Can I apply a sterotype here?

There were many other things on the menu that looked worth trying, so I would like to go back at some point.  There are some chef's tasting options which are probably worth checking out.  How could I resist ordering a Frida Kahlo tasting?

21 July 2010


I was listening to BBC News this morning on my local NPR station and heard a crazy story.

People lie all the time to get laid - this is not new information to most people.  If I wear a padded bra and have sex with some dude, can he say it was rape because he wouldn't have boned me if he knew my true cup size?  Or what if I used to be a man?  Or a man who used to be a woman?  Or any lie at all that a person would tell in order to get some ass?  Where is the line drawn?  I don't believe that some lady who is embarrassed that she banged an Arab should be able to bring rape charges against him.  This wasn't a case of a boss using a position of power to tap that, right?  This was two people who met at the supermarket and decided that porking in a nearby building would be the best way to wrap up their respective trips.

OK, I know I wasn't there, but obviously force isn't the issue here.  Stupid lady needs to own up to her mistake and move on.  Stupid dude needs not to be boning chicks while he's married.

13 July 2010

It's Still The Little Things

They have been doing a fair amount of construction around my desk recently, and today they laid down industrial Saran Wrap to protect the carpets.  The reason this is awesome?  Because there are air pockets between the layers and walking across it is like walking on bubble wrap.  Poppoppop.  Fantastic.

12 July 2010

Restaurant Review - Elements Princeton

BB and I got cleaned up for a visit to Elements on Saturday night.  We were smack-dab on time, but still had to wait a few minutes for our table.  And those tables are oddly wide, or long, depending on how you want to look at it.  I felt like they could have been shorter by about 4 inches, especially since the noise level was a bit high.  Not an intimate place to have a meal, but the space was inviting with a vaguely Zen design scheme.  

Our server, Giovanni, came to the table right away to ask about water preferences and wine lists.  The water took longer than I would have liked, but I got over that.  There was a little bread basket with some pretty tasty foccacia and crispy, cheesy things.  Dining entertainment (for me, anyway) was provided by the table next to us, which was populated by two women and one guy.  More on that later.

There were some changes to the menu from what I had seen online, but no big deal there.  I had  hard time choosing an appetizer, and eventually decided on the tuna tartare.  Not adventurous, but it contained things I found tasty so I figured I wouldn't be disappointed.  BB went for the foie gras.  

Side note- this is what the menu descriptions were like:

foie gras
bitter chocolate, sour cherry, granola 
tuna tartare
avocado, rice, nori

To me, that's  equivalent to describing a dog as: dog; fur, eye, claw, but oh well.  The foie gras was served pate-style and was a bit on the salty side.  It was very tasty despite having the consistency of spray cheese.  The sour cherry goop accompanying it was perfect.  My tartare, as predicted, wasn't new and exciting but it was yummy.  

Entrees: lamb for BB; short ribs for me.  The short ribs were fantastic.  Rare, tender, served with panzanella...so good.  I was sad to have to leave a few bites behind.  I've had some good luck with short ribs (see Sepia review).  The bite of lamb I had was good, and BB seemed satisfied with his choice.

I wasn't super pleased with my wine selection.  I wasn't familiar with many of the vineyards on the list, so I had done a bit of research.  I settled on a 2007 Lucky Country Shiraz.  It was on the tannin-y side when opened, but mellowed with airing.  Unfortunately, it never developed any real complexity.  It was acceptable but no more.  I felt bad that I hadn't chosen better since it was my job.  BB is a beer connoisseur and I feel like he would have made a better beer selection for me than I did with the wine for him.  Alas.  It wasn't terrible, just not great.

We bypassed a sweet dessert for the cheese plate.  There were three cheeses: a bleu (which I did eat, thankyouverymuch), a sheep's milk cheddar (I think), and a brie (my fave, of course).  BB liked the sheep's milk the best, probably because it was served with a grainy mustard.  The brie got a blueberry compote, which was surprisingly tasteless.  Elements has a good tea selection, and their coffee was more than drinkable.

OK, I know you're waiting for my comments on the table next to us.  First of all, they weren't quiet by any meaning of the word.  As I said, the place was on the loud side, so I can't say the threesome was a particular nuisance.  The two women were of Eastern European extraction, the dude was Latino, I think.  They were the kind of people where you wonder just why they chose Elements.  The dude was reading the description for the foie gras appetizer and professed a desire to vomit.  Then don't get it fella.  No one is forcing you to eat delicious fancy food.  They ordered apps and then after those were done, all three of them disappeared.  Purses were left behind, so I assumed it was an en masse smoke break, but they were gone for almost half and hour.  Bit of weirdness.  When ordering entrees, one lady asked if the ham could be left out of the dish.  She doesn't eat ham.  Then order something else without ham, lady.  I will say that Giovanni asked about food allergies, but it's not fucking Burger King people.  Part of the experience is seeing what the chef pairs with what and opening yourself to new flavors.  Anyway.  It was free entertainment and it was fun witnessing the Philly Russian Princess syndrome outside of my neighborhood.  "Yes, Sveta, I will buy you things and hold your bags and pay for your friends just so I look like a stud."

Rereading that paragraph makes it seem that it wasn't nearly as entertaining as it was.  I didn't take notes so I'm sure something got lost between Saturday night and Monday morning.

Would I recommend Elements?  Yep, I would.  It is on the pricier side, but the portion side is good, and the food well worth experiencing.  I can't speak to their bar, but the drink selections looked pretty decent and they had a reasonable beer menu, too.