Well, at least a city bigger than this one. Short Story: A couple of weeks ago, two of the Shop Tart’s children were singing in Washington, D.C. with their choir. They were supposed to leave on Thursday, but one of them really didn’t need to miss school, so she offered to drive him a day late. A very gracious young man who has met the Shop Tart exactly once agreed to let her stay in his apartment in Dupont Circle, as he would be out of town for the weekend. Wasn’t that nice?
On Friday, she texted a friend in New York.
There was a little back and forth, a bus ticket was purchased, and dinner reservations were contemplated (but not secured). Don’t you love friends who just say yes? After driving through a snow storm — at least by her standards — in Virginia, the Shop Tart and her son arrived in DC just after midnight. Saturday morning, she deposited him with his choir and went in search of a pair of Spanx (she had forgotten hers) and brunch, to be enjoyed while she waited for her friend’s bus to arrive.
She headed straight to Kramerbooks and put her name on the list for the Afterwords Cafe, hunting for a book while she waited. A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family suited her mood and she settled in with the book, a cup of coffee, and the free muffins and fresh squeezed oj that come with every breakfast. The Café Veggie Hash & Eggs was darn perfect.
Turnip, parsnip, rutabaga, butternut squash, asparagus, carrot, red pepper, and onion — how amazing does this look?
When her friend arrived, dropped at DuPont Circle by the fancy bus from New York, the ladies headed up the street to Bistrot du Coin, perfect for a late lunch, including a lovely glass of sancerre.
Still full from brunch, and already anticipating dinner, the Shop Tart decided on a light salad. Hooray for the French, because they can flat out put together a salad!
That night, the ladies still hadn’t made dinner reservations. While they looked up places on the internet and texted friends in the know, they raided their host’s fridge and found a half bottle of delicious grüner veltliner. They never did make a reservation anywhere, and decided to brave the elements to walk a half mile to Hank’s Oyster Bar, where they were told the wait would be two hours.
The Shop Tart had a hunch. Based on her experience, the wait is never two hours, because when it gets that long, people leave. The ladies sat at the bar, where the Shop Tart had a delightful Rye Manhattan, and the trout dip was just ducky.
After an hour (ha!), the ladies were asked if they would be willing to sit at the oyster bar for their meal. Mais oui! And there were snacks!
And there was a bottle of grüner veltliner! (For those of you doing the math: There was a total of about five drinks, over nine hours, and no one was even driving, so. In general, should you have five drinks in a day? Absolutely not. But it was vacation, and there was a lot of food involved.)
The oyster bar was just fine, but the Shop Tart didn’t like having to juggle her coat and bag, and she felt a little crowded, because she is an old woman. Some guy who seemed in charge walked by and she mentioned that they might like to move to a table, if one opened up. He was super nice about it and they were re-seated withing three minutes. The oysters were tasty.
So were the fried oysters. Mmmmmm...fried oysters.
The Shop Tart cannot honestly remember what this was — maybe tuna tartare? — but it was delicious.
As usual, she was craving leafy greens and fries, so she ordered the two sides as her meal. They were a really pleasant surprise — she had been having a bad run with over-salted food, and these were perfect. The fries were crispy and just salted enough; the greens were cooked to exactly the right consistency. This plate may not look so interesting, but it was delicious.
The next morning, the ladies wanted brunch. Specifically, biscuits and gravy. Oddly enough, this is an easy dish to find in Brooklyn, but a little bit tougher to locate in Washington, DC. A quick search of the Googles turned up the Florida Avenue Grill, less than a mile’s walk from the apartment.
The Florida Avenue Grill is nothing short of awesome. They have an old school counter, where you can watch the cooks at work, creating true culinary masterpieces. They have booths, worked into the small space in odd ways. The ladies were offered a booth with only one bench, so they sat side by side and watched the door. The crowd was varied, from young hipsters (they’re everywhere, n’est-ce pas?) to church ladies. The staff was as nice as any the Shop Tart has ever experienced. The coffee was perfect.
The first thing to arrive was a bowl of the best biscuits the Shop Tart has eaten, and she has eaten a lot. Seriously, flaky, warm, buttery, light, but not too light — perfection.
Soon, her friend’s biscuits and gravy arrived. Hooray for biscuits, and the gravy had plenty of sausage.
The Shop Tart’s meal took the longest and — in spite of the fact that she had eaten more than her fair share of biscuits — she ate the whole thing. Salmon cakes, two eggs over easy, and sides of bacon and grilled onions and peppers. She dares you to find anything wrong with this meal. It was ridiculous. RIDICULOUS.
After brunch, she dropped her friend at the bus station, went to see her children sing, and hit Whole Foods to replace her absent host’s wine and buy him some fancy cheese and a couple of steaks to say thank you. Then she got back on the road to Columbia. Her dinner on the way home consisted of a Diet Coke and some spicy potato chips. Pretty darn great.
What will you be eating this weekend? The Shop Tart has been meaning to get to Henry’s for brunch, so that may have to happen. She’s also planning on seeing Seussical at the Columbia Children’s Theatre. And she’s attending Le Bal du Moulin Rouge tomorrow night. On Sunday, she’ll head to Harbison Theatre for Squonk Opera. Will you be there? No? Well how about just say yes. Because she has two tickets to the Sunday matinee to give away!
How will you win these tickets? Leave a comment below — something about brunch. Or art. Or road trips. Any comment will do. One lucky winner will be chosen tomorrow afternoon, before the Shop Tart heads out to the gala. (No, she still doesn’t know what she’s weeeeaaaaaring! You could tell her that in the comments, too.) Good luck!
Happy Shopping and don’t forget to tell them you read it on the Shop Tart!