Union District Adds Spice to Mondays

Union District Oyster Bar and Lounge is the place to be on Monday night in Washington, D.C.  It is considered a hip, sexy high-end lounge restaurant space curating amazing food and beverage experiences with an eclectic mix of entertainment.  For more information on the history of Union Market click here.

Atmosphere

I first visited Union District Oyster Bar and Lounge on January 28, 2019.  My first Impression was a good one.  I love the vibe in the building.  The sights, sounds, and decor were over the top.  Chandeliers are used to light the dining area.  Velvet sofas line the walls.  The tables are just large enough to hold food and drinks.  Though the restaurant is intimate, there is space to move around.  There was even an impromtu dance line around the dining area during the live band’s last song.

Speaking of the band, I was fortunate to sit right in the front, closest to the Union Live Band.  This band is fabulous.  It is easy to get lost in the music they play and lose track of time and space.  The waitress had to bring me back to reality to take my order.  The saxophone sounds like the movement of butter over warm bread….smooth.  There were two singers on this Monday night.  They were able to shine, but the band was the star of the evening.  Union smells like dinner, but looks like a night out in the city.  I was blown away. Monday night has never been this exciting.

Union District Live Band

The Sax is smooth!

Food

My friends and I started with the buttermilk fried Calamari served with three dipping sauces including Thai Chili, Garlic Aoili, Cocktail sauce.  The Calamaris was really, really good.  It was light & crispy.  My favorite of the three sauces is the Thai Chili.  It really is the only sauce that is needed.

Calamari

Before coming to Union District, I saw a photo of The Union, which is their Pepperoni Pizza with house made Marinara Sauce.  I knew I had to try it. I did, and it met my taste expectations.  However, it was smaller than expected.   It will only feed one person. I suggest that everyone order their own pizza.  It was cheesy with a hint of garlic and the correct ratio of sauce and cheese.

The Union Pizza

Next, I had the Charbroiled Oysters.  Before I describe these oysters, I must say that my favorite Oysters are from ACME Oyster House in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  Those oysters are impossible to top.

Charbroiled Oysters

The Charbroiled Oysters at Union District Oyster Bar and Lounge were good.  I could have eaten 20 of them. They are prepared with garlic cajun butter, shaved Romano & Parmesan Cheese and served with Lemon and bread.

My only issue with Union is the prices of the food.  The Oysters were $17 for 6 oysters. The pizza is $16, and the Calamari is $15.  That is a steep bill for a Monday night. I loved the food, I just didn’t like the prices.  The prices are the only thing I would change about Union District Oyster Bar and Lounge.  I have learned that the pizza is only $10 during happy hour from 3:00 – 6:30pm.

I would definitely recommend Union District Oyster Bar and Lounge to friends.  It is perfect for a date night or just a night relaxing. There was a group of people celebrating a birthday on the Monday night I was there.  Very excited bunch.  Union District Oyster Bar and Lounge met and increased their excitement.  I will absolutely be back.  I look forward to hearing more from the awesome Union Live Band.  I loved hearing them play and look forward to hearing them in the future.

 

 

 

French Toast Vegan Social

French Toast Vegan Social with Chef Brandon

I thoroughly enjoyed Chef Brandon’s Vegan Social.  Brandon loves to cook and cooks 3 to 4 times per day.  This is his first public cooking event.

On the Menu: Two types of French Toast.

  1. Vegan French Toast made with plant based Multigrain Bread, Oat Milk, Nutritional Yeast, Flax Seeds, Granola, Blueberries, Strawberries, and Bananas  .
  2. French Toast made with Brioche bread and Almond Milk, Nutritional Yeast, Flax Seeds, Granola, Blueberries, Strawberries, and Bananas
  3. Vegetarian Sausage
  4. Toppings: Syrup and Blueberry Paste (made with Blueberries and Lemon Zest)

Beverages:

  1. Mimosas with Champagne, Grand Imperial Orange Liqueur, and Orange Juice.
  2. Earthy Mimosas with Red Beets, Pineapple, Cucumber, Ginger Root, Apple, Mango
  3. Golden Mimosas with Golden, Ginger Root, Mango, Coconut Flesh, Tumeric, Lemon, Lime, Banana

All of the mimosas were great!  Guests really enjoyed the natural fruits and all natural ingredients.

I must say, I was transformed by this vegan social.   As you can imagine from the name of my website, http://www.baconandbellini.com, I love bacon.   I always said that I could not be a vegan because I.Like.Bacon. and I.Like.Butter. Well, Chef Brandon successfully convinced me that I could live without butter.  He introduced me to vegan butter, specifically, Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter made from plants. It is actually Cashew Cream fermented with live cultures. Believe me when I say this vegan butter is amazing.  I ate at least 3 tablespoons of it at this event. I had the butter on English muffins and on the vegan french toast. I was blown away by the taste. My next test for this butter is to bake a cake with it. Stay tuned….

Many of Chef Brandon’s recipes are from cookbook “Thug Kitchen”.  Everyone enjoyed the breakfast. I am sure there were many more vegan converts.

Listen as Chef Brandon discusses his vegan lifestyle and his favorite vegan dishes.

 

Government Shutdown Restaurant Specials

Happy New Year 2019!   This year has already started with a challenge.  The United States Government is shutdown. More than 800,000 government employees will have to live without a paycheck until the government shutdown ends.

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A lot of Washington, D.C. area restaurants have done their part to help furloughed federal employees with the costs of daily living.  I have compiled a list of restaurants who are offering meal specials during the shutdown.  These specials require government ID.

Free Food

Let’s start with Chef José Andrés, who vowed to feed government employees until they get paid again.  Check out the details here as explained in this Food & Wine Article. Think Food Group, which includes Oyamel, Zaytinya, America Eats Tavern, China Chilcano, Beefsteak, Jaleo will offer free sandwiches for federal employees and their families from 2:00pm – 5:00pm at all Washington, D.C. restaurants.

Here are more free food offers.

  1. &Pizza  – Multiple locations offer FREE PIZZA for federal employees from 6:00pm – 8:00pm for the duration of the shutdown.
  2. District Doughnuts – Free coffee with every purchase.
  3. Baked by Yael – Free coffee, cake pops, and bakery classes.  Zoo workers get complimentary bagels and bites.
  4. Carmine’s – Free meatball sliders from 2:00pm – 4:00pm for government employees.
  5. Charlie Palmer Steakhouse – Free Chicken Sandwich with government ID.
  6. Olivia Macaron – Free cup of coffee with any purchase with government ID.
  7. Ri Ra Irish Pub – Free Shepherd’s pie during lunch or dinner during shutdown.
  8. Taco Bamba (Chinatown location) – Free traditional Taco during the shutdown.
  9. The Alex at the Graham Hotel – Free glass of Prosecco with any purchase during evenings and during weekend brunch.
  10. Gregory’s Coffee – Free coffee.

Meal Discounts

  1. The Carolina Kitchen – $8.99 shutdown carry-out specials on Monday through Friday from 5:00pm – 8:00pm for Rotisserie Chicken, Fried Whiting, Baked Fish, 2-piece Fried Chicken.  All of these meals come with 2 sides. Caesar Salad is also $8.99.
  2. Catch 22 – 15% off for government employees.
  3. City Winery – $1 glasses of City Winery wine on tap.  Must show government ID.
  4. BBQ Bus – 20% off entire menu for Federal Employees.
  5. Carmine’s – “Hard Times” Cocktail for $6, plus Happy Hour menu all day at the bar for the duration of the shutdown.
  6. Charlie Palmer Steakhouse – Blue Point Toasted Lager with fries for $12 during lunch at the bar, for the duration of the shutdown.
  7. DC Reynolds – $6 sandwich and non-alcoholic drink from 11:00am – 2:00pm Monday through Friday.
  8. Haagen Daz (Georgetown location) – 20% off purchase with Government ID
  9. Pizzeria Paradiso (Georgetown location) – Get 2 appetizers and any 12-inch pizza for $30 with government ID or business card
  10. Pennsylvania 6 – Extended Happy Hour from 3:00pm – 9:00pm during shutdown
  11. Ristorante Piccolo – 20% off bill during the shutdown
  12. Leon – 50% off until the shutdown ends.
  13. The Big Stick – 18% off all food and $4 draft, house wine, and rail drinks from open – 7:00pm.
  14. Gordon Biersch (Navy Yard location) – 20% off final bill for the duration of the shutdown.
  15. Nando’s Peri-Peri (Navy Yard location) – 20% off food (excluding alcohol) through the duration of the shutdown.
  16. Rasa – 25% off and all-day Happy Hour through the duration of the shutdown.
  17. Due South – Happy Hour pricing begins at 2:00pm
  18. District Winery – Half price tastings at the Tasting Bar & Half price bottles at the Bar in Restaurant Ana, weekdays only.
  19. Willie’s – All day Happy Hour for federal employees.
  20. Tara Thai – 10% off any order.
  21. Punch Bowl Arlington – 25% off on all food, beverages, and games.
  22. Mad Fox Brewing Company – 20% off food.

Please comment here or on my instagram page Bacon & Bellini on Instagram if you were able to benefit from any of these deals.  If you know of additional restaurants not listed here, please notify me, and I will add them.

Stay strong, be encouraged, and enjoy all of life’s bites.

 

Holiday Burgers?

It’s the Holiday Season.  To foodies like me, it’s the time of year, when everyone is a foodie.  Food is at the forefront of all holiday celebrations. Over the 2018 holiday season, I have enjoyed all of the usual holiday classics including Fried turkey, smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, baked macaroni and cheese, collard greens, green beans, lasagna, seafood pasta, yellow rice, and more.   Let’s include the yummy desserts, the chocolate cake, lemon pound cake, sweet potato pie, cookies, cookies, and more cookies.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas dinner, they was another dish on my mind this holiday season…….HAMBURGERS.  In between the 2 days of cooking in preparation for Christmas, my sisters, cousins, and I were on the search for the perfect hamburger.  We tried a few hamburger places in between Christmas shopping and cooking.

When I returned home, I still had a taste for a good juicy burger.  Where will I go, I thought to myself?  Well, none of the burger places I visited around Christmas were in my city.  I went on a Target run, and on my way home from Target, I saw a restaurant sign and my eyes lit up.  BGR The Burger Joint.  I had never eaten at BGR. But this is as good a time as any I thought, so I went in.  I ordered what I normally order at burger places, the bacon cheeseburger with BBQ sauce.  At BGR, this is the Western BBQ burger, a burger with bbq sauce, cheddar cheese, applewood bacon, and crips onion rings.  I ordered my pattie medium well. Now, this was a GOOD burger. I asked for the crisp onion rings on the side.  I’m glad I did.  It was difficult enough to get one bite of the whole burger without the onion rings.   Side note: the onion rings are really big wide onion rings.

BGR1

My burger was so tasty.  The beef tastes fresh. The ingredients are high quality.  The cheese was melted perfectly. The lettuce looked like the lettuce looks on a commercial.  It was curly, and crisp. I had fresh tomatoes that covered the entire burger. I was so satisfied.  The grill master’s name is Evan. After I finished my burger, I told him that it was great. It really was.  This burger made my day. It turned my frown into a smile. I look forward to returning for another burger. If you are looking for a great hamburger and see a BGR sign, be sure to stop.  You will be satisfied too!

Wait, I was so focused on the hamburger, I forgot to mention the milkshake.  The seasonal milkshake of the day is the Egg Nog Shake. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I like Egg Nog.  I usually have my egg nog with rum and brandy included. Although it was alcohol free, this milkshake was delicious.  It tasted just like egg nog. The shake is thick and requires a big straw. So go, enjoy the burger and finish it off with a milkshake.  Happy Holidays!

BGR2

Yelp Review of the Day

It has happened again.  My review has been selected as “Yelp Review of the Day” today.  Review of the day (ROTD) is selected based on the number of useful, funny, and cool votes a review receives by Yelp users.   It is not often that a review wins “Review of the Day.”  Some Yelpers never win.  Check out my review!  Today is an exciting day!

ROTD_Yelp

To read my full review and to see my review on the front page of YELP, visit Yelp Review of the Day

 

He Fed an Island, and Inspired a Nation

Just four days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Chef José Andrés arrived in Puerto Rico to volunteer in the Hurricane Relief efforts.  He volunteered by cooking meals for the survivors.  What began as a small project developed into a 12 kitchen network where Chef Andrés fed 150,000 people a day for a total of 4 million meals.

I had the privilege of attending the book discussion and book signing for Chef Andrés’ book, We Fed an Island.  The event was held at Busboys and Poets 450 K Street NW, Washington, D.C.  It was wonderful.  I sat on the front row in what I believe is the best seat in the house.  Check out my pictures of Chef Andrés book discussion with led by Busboys and Poets owner, Andy Shallal.

Despite being a world renowned Chef who owns multiple restaurants, Chef Andrés had the time, desire, and heart to be of service to the community.

Chef Andrés is very humble.  When asked how he sees himself, he simply said, “I’m a cook.”   While in Puerto Rico, there was little to no access to resources, yet, Chef Andrés made it happen.   He said that a cook does not need a lot of resources.  The Earth itself is a resource for a cook.

Also during the discussion, Chef Andrés told stories of his childhood and his first experiences in the kitchen.  He discussed family life, and the life of a restauranteur.   He is heavily aware of current events and utilizes his skills as a chef to make a difference wherever he can.

The book signing was included with a ticket for the event.  Busboys and Poets was a wonderful location.  The restaurant was very organized.  Buy the book, be inspired.  Find an island to feed. Just be great.

WeFedAnIsland_3

Pictured: Keiristin just before the book discussion & book signing

Recently, for his humanitarian efforts, Chef José Andrés was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Well deserved.

Follow baconandbellini on instagram to watch footage from this event. https://www.instagram.com/baconandbellini/

 

Kitchen Cray

Let me tell you about my first visit to Kitchen Cray.

I believe the Lobster Mac was carved out of pure butter.  It is rich…and buttery… and creamy… and cheesy…and just good!  It is perfectly seasoned. Each bite is so delicious. Once I started eating, it was difficult to find a place to stop.  Each forkful was better than the forkful before it.

KitchenCray1

The Lobster is seasoned and fried with a light crisp.  The sweetness of the lobster adds contrast to the macaroni and cheese.   The dish is very filling. When I ordered, I imagined that the lobster tail would be the only lobster, but I was pleasantly surprised to find lobster throughout the macaroni and cheese.  I would most definitely order the Lobster Mac again.

KitchenCray2

If you have starved yourself all day, waiting to eat the Lobster Mac, you will feel it.  I felt the first few bites moved through my body. I could feel the energy from the yummy ingredients.  I would caution you. If you must eat healthy, or eat a special diet, then only have a few bites of this dish.   Although, it is super tasty, I would recommend also ordering biscuits or french toast to accompany it. You will need something sweet to cut the savory richness of this dish.

While waiting for my food, I saw other dishes being served.  Everything looks appetizing at Kitchen Cray. The Chicken and French Toast is wildly popular.  At least 50% of diners ordered Chicken and French Toast. I look forward to my next visit. I want to taste everything on the menu.

KitchenCray3

I visited Kitchen Cray because I heard so many great things about it.  I decided that DMV Black Restaurant Week was a great time to dine at Kitchen Cray.  Kitchen Cray is located in an office plaza in Lanham.  Although it is not in a shopping area, it was packed. I waited 1.5 hours for brunch on Saturday.  There was a DJ playing upbeat R&B music. The restaurant was bustling even at 3:00pm.  Go for brunch.  Go for lunch.  Now, on Fridays, go for dinner.  Eat and enjoy!

Bacon & Bellini Presents: A Hollywood Halloween

B&B Halloween

Bacon & Bellini Presents: A Hollywood Halloween

Ghosts, Goblins, Ghouls, and Great Gatsby inspired Gowns were all in the building at our first Halloween dinner party.   This year’s theme was “Bacon and Bellini Presents: A Hollywood Halloween”.  Guests were asked to dress as their favorite movie character or favorite movie star.   In attendance was a real life Bond girl, who knew 007 James Bond! There was also a Beyonce look alike in Formation, plus characters from Dreamgirls and Miss Congeniality.  One of the guys brought the movie Stomp the Yard to life.   Of course, the Wicked Witch of the West traveled all the way from OZ to make an appearance.  Gold gowns as seen in Harlem Nights flowed across the floor.   Plus, a certain Prince announced that he was Coming to America.  As for me, I dressed as my favorite superhero, Storm from Xmen.

I greeted my guests with signature Hollywood Halloween punch, made with Bacardi Dark Rum, Cranberry Juice, Orange Juice, and a few other secret ingredients.   Sangria was also available as an additional drink option.

For dinner, we dined on a variety of Italian dishes including Lasagna, Chicken Marsala, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Caesar Salad, House Salad with Italian dressing, fresh baked bread.   There were a multitude of desserts, including, my world famous homemade Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate frosting, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, and a pumpkin yellow cake with buttercream frosting.

Twix and Kit kat Halloween candy was in all directions all around the room.   Take a look at this sneak peak this fabulously frightening dinner party.

National Chocolate Day

Throughout the year, we celebrate many holidays, however, this holiday is one of the best.   October 28th is National Chocolate Day!  Chocolate is wonderful.  Chocolate is one of my best and closest friends.  Sweet, creamy, rich, fulfilling, and always puts a smile on my face.  Chocolate. Is. Everything.

Take a look at some of the Chocolate treats I am enjoying today, on National Chocolate Day.

Gourmet Chocolate

Gourmet Chocolates from SPAGnVOLA, a real chocolate factory!

Chocolate Wine

There is something for the wine connoisseur. Have you tasted Chocolate Wine??  It’s good!

Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes

I love to bake.  I made my favorite Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate frosting.  mmm mmm mmm

What is your favorite chocolate treat?

 

Happy Birthday Keiristin!

Happy Birthday Queen Keiristin!

Happy_Birthday_Keiristin1
September 28th is a holiday in the Bacon & Bellini world, because it is our Founder’s Birthday.  We picked some of the coolest locations in the Baltimore and DMV area to celebrate.

Here’s a glimpse of Keiristin’s birthday from her perspective.

First stop – Lunch at Gertrude’s
Gertrude’s is located in the beautiful Baltimore Museum of Art.  Lunch on the patio was perfect.  A scenic view of the fountain and scultures was a wonderful backdrop to a scrumptous meal.

Gertrudes1
I had Gertie’s Crab Cake.  For those unfamiliar with the area, Baltimore has the best crabcakes in the nation.  Gertie’s is known for their Broiled “all-lump” Baltimore-style cake, served with basil-caper tartar sauce.  I also had bread, homemade fries, and fresh fruit. Simply. Delicious.   I understand why Baltimore’s crab cakes are so popular.

Crabcake

Lunch was topped off with Raspberry Sorbet surrounded by “Happy Birthday” written in Chocolate!

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After lunch, I viewed the artwork inside of the Baltimore Museum of Art, including the new exhibit “Tomorrow is Another Day” by Mark Bradford.  Other well-known artist, Amy Sherald (known for her famous portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama) also has exhibits in the museum.
I also looked at a few pieces of Art by Picasso, and I fail to realize why his artwork is still viewed as the best. To me, it is just a painting….nothing remarkable.

Next Stop – Dinner
I had dinner with family and friends at The Smith on U Street in Washington, D.C.   The Smith was bustling with people.  I had the Blue Catfish Schnitzel with blackened spice Risotto, melted leeks, and zucchini. The dish was just OK. It was filling, but I will not order it again.

Catfish_theSmith
After dinner, to unwind, we went to Point of View on the rooftop of the W Hotel in Washington, D.C. POV has fabulous views of Washington, D.C. The music was current, the drinks were great, but average $17 each.
Overall, I enjoyed my birthday in both cities. I have a feeling that this new year will be great.

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Queen Keiristin on her birthday