The first thing my sister, Rhiannon, asked me about moving to Washington was: ‘What have you eaten?’ So here is a blog post devoted to our first American meals. I’m afraid I’ve been too busy eating to take photos of the plates, so you’ll just have to make do with my descriptions.
Anyway, our first night we went to Diner (18th St NW). Our host had recommended this place as somewhere that was open 24 hrs, and they seemed to do everything, so we thought it was worth a try. Looking at the menu, and being informed by the guy at the next table that ‘everything here is good’, it seemed only right that our first meal in America should be burgers, washed down with American beer. Rich ordered us two ‘PBRs’, which turned out to be cans of Pabst beer (points to anyone who can remember how this beer featured in an episode of the West Wing), and the waitress brought over two glasses of water – it’s very easy to stay hydrated in this town. The burgers themselves were great – sweet American buns, great meat, and good chips (I use the term advisedly – they actually were much closer to UK chips than the fries I was expecting). The service was good, and the guy at the next table was very friendly – though it was rather surreal to be having a conversation about his forthcoming cruise to Sevastapol and the crisis in Ukraine on our first night in this country that I had been led to believe was fairly insular.
Unadventurously we went to Starbucks the next morning for breakfast, but we made up for this by buying our lunch from one of the food vans Washington’s population are apparently all crazy about. This one was on Farragut Square, and as it had just stopped raining we bought two of their chicken burritos with chips and salsa and ate them in the square as the sun came out. We probably could have shared just one – I’ve always found burritos in the UK rather large, these were huge. Also with hot sauce and fresh jalapenos (rather than the vinegary pickled ones we get in the UK) they were really tasty! Though I really shouldn’t have, I think I ate nearly all of it, and then felt full for the next six hours.
In fact, by the time we got to happy hour at the Lucky Bar (Connecticut Ave NW), around 5pm, I really couldn’t imagine being able to eat the really tempting pulled pork sliders (at $1 each who could help being tempted?), but an hour and a couple of really good IPAs later I’d seen the error of my ways, so we did.
After another IPA (just so you know, American pints are smaller than UK ones), we went to find somewhere for dinner. As we hadn’t yet, we felt we should experience that other American staple – pizza – and the Mellow Mushroom (18th St NW) welcomed us with open arms. Our server was warm and friendly, the atmosphere was fun, people queued for take-aways, and couples made use of the patio heaters, enjoying their dustbin-lid sized ‘pies’ alfresco. Not having learnt from earlier, we ordered the house special in the large size – and it almost defeated us. But it was too delicious to give in, so we persisted with the fresh tomato and garlic sauce, the layers of ham and sausage, and, best of all, the sweet and smoky bacon until we could barely move.
Happily the next day we found the supermarket, and a bakery that just does very plain, cream-cheese bagels, so we gave our digestive systems a bit of a break. I will write separately about the fun and games of attempting to shop and cook healthily in America (I think part of the problem is palm oil…) and, once we’ve had time to sample a few, I’ll post about the great Washington DC traditions of brunch and salads. At this moment Rich is sitting next to me making notations in the Zagat guide to Washington DC restaurants, so I think there will be plenty of food posts to come!