Sunday, November 01, 2009

Land of 1000 Restaurants (and Pounds!) - Part 1

I don't have to travel often for my job and usually it is a short jaunt twice a year but the beginning of October I had occasion (my boss was delivering Congressional testimony, and I was delivering him!) to travel twice within the space of 3 days to Washington DC. Once I drove both ways, but the second time I decided to take the easy way out and took the train.  While it was a lot of travelling in a little time, the bonus was that I got to spend two nights with my daughter and son who live in Shirlington.

I grew up in Winchester VA, a town that is now a DC bedroom community, but I still love visiting Washington- there is so much to do and see and the pace is so different from where I live now.  And as a foodie, there is all manner of food to experience there. One thing I know- if I lived in DC, I would probably weigh a lot more than I do because with so many choices, I would want to experience (and consume) it all!
So, in the land of 1000 restaurants, where did I eat during my visit? The first night, I arrived on a Sunday evening (after making my way through hellatious traffic), and my daughter,her significant other (boyfriend sounds so juvenile) and my son were debating where we should go for dinner. With choices like Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Greek, French, Chinese laid in front of me, I caved in and told them to decide. The guys proposed a Spanish/Latin American Restaurant in Dupont Circle that Gavin had been to and Olu had heard good things about and so we  piled into Olu's car and headed for Lauriol Plaza.  Even though Gavin told me it was big, I was in no way prepared for the modern urban building that looked like it took up a whole block!  And even on a Sunday evening, the place was packed!  Inside, the restaurant offered multi-level dining,and just being there gave you feeling of fiesta- laughter, clinking of glasses, conversation and music- it felt like home, only louder.  I love Spanish and Latin-American food and the reviews I read while waiting for our table made me anxious to check out the menu. While we got settled, our waitress came and took our drink orders, and  delivered salsa and some of the thinnest, crispest chips I have ever had. My son, who is a former sous chef, wanted Ceviche for an appetizer, but they were out so he ordered some mussels instead. Katie and Olu ordered some sweet plantains to split.  I didn't try the plantains, but Gavin's mussels were cooked to perfection, and the broth made me want to ask for more crusty bread to soak up its goodness. When it was time to order entrees, I was conflicted- I overcame my overwhelming desire to order mole, which I do almost every time I am in the vicinity of Mexican food they offered a special of lamb fajitas which sounded amazing, but I decided on Enchiladas de Marisco,  enchiladas stuffed with shrimp and scallops in a seafood sauce with cheese. I encouraged Olu, who was feeling a bit punk,to order the special that was a shrimp with garlic broth that sounded perfect for someone nursing a cold, but he ordered a pork dish instead. Katie ordered chiles rellenos with cheese, and Gavin ordered the Santa Fe Platter that had a cheese chile relleno, a cheese enchilada and a guacamole taco.

Gavin and I have the best luck- besides the fact that his mussels were an amazing app that easily could have made a dinner itself, his combo was full of cheese and had a complexity of spices that was pleasing even to a former chef. Katie was not very happy with her entree, but mainly because it was not what she expected. It was covered in a tomato-y sauce, but when she told our server she adjusted the bill. My enchiladas were amazing! Since seafood has to be cooked just right I was worried that they might be overcooked, but my fear was misplaced because Lauriol Plaza clearly knows seafood.  The seafood sauce was delicately flavored and complemented, rather than smothered the morsels of shrimp and scallops.  I would have loved to try dessert but I was stuffed to the gills, so we headed home.  A great meal and a real dining experience in the land of 1000 restaurants!  If you are in the DC area- check out Lauriol Plaza, you won't be disappointed!


biz319 said...

That sounds like an amazing dinner - I love all things Mexican - but I would have gotten the same enchiladas you ordered!

Deborah Dowd said...

Biz319- If you get the chance you should give them a try!