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Restaurant Week Review: Grillfish

January 12, 2010

Well folks, it’s that time again…Restaurant Week! Every year (twice a year, actually) DC does Restaurant Week, where you can get a 3 course lunch menu for around $20 and a 3 course dinner menu (sometimes with booze or coffee included) for around $35. The only real variation in price each year (aside from the $5 hike for dinners) is based on what year it is – e.g. this year, since it’s 2010, the price of a 3 course lunch menu is $20.10.

I have a four-person DC Restaurant Sampling Crew that I gather each season to sample our local cuisine, all of whom are my coworkers.

MeLisa (AKA Lisa and Melissa)*


Estepeter. AKA Esteban (right) and Peter.

This is the perfect group to analyze restaurants with because we all four have very differing tastes. Peter is a vegetarian with a die-hard affinity for chocolate, Esteban likes the more outlandish spices (or at least the most creative combination of normal spices possible), and Melissa and I go halvsies on who’s got the bigger sweettooth or bigger desire for bacon in a given scenario.

For this year’s Restaurant Week, I’ve decided to keep a low profile, since my wallet’s still recovering from Christmas, but you’ve gotta have at least one in there, and this week’s was: Grillfish.

Grillfish is a seafood restaurant located fairly close to my offices, and there were at least 2 vegetarian options on the menu, so 12:45 this afternoon found the Restaurant Week crew seated and being served by our friendly (and, as was pointed out by several of my dining colleagues, our very hunky) server Chris S.
In many restaurants, Restaurant Week gives rise to a special menu – either as a cost saving measure on the part of the restaurant (boo, hiss) or as a chance to showcase some otherwise unattainable dishes (yay!). In the odd case out, however, a restaurant will simply open their menu to the diner, allowing any combination of appetizer, entrée and dessert that can be squeezed out of their normal menu. Grillfish fell somewhat into this final category, as they opened the whole appetizer and dessert menu, though they did limit the entrée to those on the “lunch” section of the menu.

I took a ton of pictures using Esteban’s new Droid, and you can see, the quality’s pretty good! I didn’t remember to start shooting until Este reminded me halfway through our entrées, so I only have shots of most of those and the desserts.

First up were the appetizers – we had 2 orders of fried artichoke hearts, and 2 sautéed crabcakes. The artichoke hearts were excellent – lightly breaded but super-piquant and tasty. The crabcakes were stellar as well, with quite a bit of crab mixed with some tasty vegetables (I saw at least some purple onion in there – not sure what else). Definitely an A+ for those two items.

On to the entrées. We had, starting with me, the Mussels in Garlic and Wine sauce (with fries):

Moules Frites!

These were decent – not the best mussels I’ve had in this city, but the cream sauce was tasty. The fries were delicious – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. All in all an OK dish, though they were definitely shown up by the mussels I had Saturday night at Radius.

Next up: Melissa! She had the crab and shrimp quesadilla.

Crab and Shrimp Quesadilla

There was a lot going on with this dish – I tend to like my quesadillas a little simpler, with just cheese, whatever meat is starring in this feature, and maybe one or two spices to kick it up. There was a lot of veggie and herb action in this one, which was tasty, but yeah…not the best quesadilla ever, but fairly decent.

Peter had a veggie burger, but as his burger was half gone and fries nonexistent by the time I got around to photographing, he got skipped. Too bad for him.

And finally, Esteban:

Le Mixed Grill

I have to admit – I had some serious plate-envy when I saw his dish come out. I love the dipping sauces and dainty portions of swordfish, salmon, scallops, and shrimp (and maybe one other fish – can’t remember). I didn’t want to steal any of his food, so I didn’t have any, but Este said basically the same thing as the rest of us – it was tasty, not the absolute best, but definitely worth going back for.

So. Up to this point, I think we were all sortof mid-happy to high-happy, since the appetizers were really good and the entrées were decent. But then we ordered dessert…

For Peter, the obvious choice was the most chocolatey thing on the menu: the Chocolate Fudge Cake.

A dish of chocolatey goodness, with a little ice cream for levity's sake.

Chocolate cake’s not really my thing, but this sucker was good. Also – they have this Black Russian sauce, which is basically Kalhua and Vodka (plus chocolate?), which was like a punch to the mouth…very strong, and very tasty.

Then there was mine – a slightly less enticing-looking brownie sundae.

Brownie Sundae with Caramel Pecan Sauce

The caramel sauce was really good, as was the ice cream. The brownie? Not so much. Just not very well-done, and there were definitely better things on the table.

Esteban got one of the richest peanut butter pies I’ve ever had:

Peanut butter AWESOMENESS.

(see his thumbs up?) This was delicious – incredibly rich (perfect for sharing) but a perfect combination of peanut butter, cream cheese, and Oreo crust. Yum!

And finally, as if you have room after all these photos, was my favorite thing we had today: Melissa’s bruléed cheesecake. They basically took a really fantastic cheesecake, sprinkled it with granulated sugar, and flambéed the hooey out of it.

I feel this picture should be accompanied by choirs of small children singing its praise.

Mmm…the flavor and crunch of the burnt sugar just completed the bite to this smooth, creamy slice of heaven. I could have eaten the whole thing myself, but because I’m such a nice person, I let Melissa’s baby have it. (Did I mention that Melissa’s pregnant?) I’m such a nice person, I know. All I got was  a crappy brownie, but nooo…the baby gets a slice of…wait. Sorry. Right. Selfless. Me. Got it.

Anyways, it was, all in all, one for the “win” column, though it might be the kind of restaurant you stick to for drinks and appetizers, or appetizers and desserts (a meal I think far too few people make use of). An enjoyable time was had eating, laughing uproariously (at far too inappropriate jokes to be repeated here), and ogling our hot server. Chris S., if you’re reading this, we were all impressed with your “chiseled jaw,” your “Popeye forearms,” and “a butt you could eat your dinner off of.”**

Cheerio, Restaurant Week 2010, and hello PB&J sandwiches for the rest of the week.

Tip of the Day:
As a sidenote, Grillfish is offering their Restaurant Week special for lunch and dinner throughout the month of January. Many DC area restaurants are doing the same, as a way to drum up business in a slow economy. Check with your favorites to see if they’re offering the same special!

*People at work are always confusing Melissa and I, so we compromise by each answering to “MeLisa.” Until I saw this picture I never truly understood why…

**Not to be confused with the phrase “A butt you could bounce a quarter on.” The “butt” comment was by a male in our group, though he maintains that it was intended to reflect things girls say about guys in general, not something he was saying about this guy in particular. I’m still not sure I believe him…despite, of course, the existence of his very lovely girlfriend.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2010 7:33 pm

    LOL! That’s a great review – you seriously could be a professional writer (oh wait, you kind of already are!). I agree with your review of my quesadilla (which until now I never realized how difficult that word is to spell!) – it was yummy and yes, I ate the whole damn plate, but not the best I’ve ever had. It did have a very generous amount of seafood in it though, so I was happy.

    And what a fun lunch – probably the most fun lunch I’ve ever gone to. Ever.

  2. Val permalink
    January 12, 2010 9:29 pm

    Thanks for inviting me, folks!

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