2014 Frederick Restaurant Week: March 3-9 #FredRestWK

2014 Frederick Restaurant Week #FredRestWK

Food photos in this collage were taken by Jennifer Gerlock

2014 Frederick Restaurant Week begins in less than a month!

I was invited to take part in the 2014 Frederick Restaurant Sneak Peek this past Saturday. I had so much fun last year at the 2013 preview, hanging out with other foodies made up of journalists, writers and well-connected Frederick folks! So when the invitation graced my mailbox for this year’s event I eagerly RSVP’d with YES!

Then, a couple weeks later, I realized my daughter’s dance company dress rehearsal was the same exact day, at the same exact time. So I had to decline. VERY REGRETFULLY.

Oh, the choices we have to make as a parent. Also? First world problems.


Luckily my good friend Jennifer from Hip As I Wanna Be attended and enjoyed all the spoils! I begged her to asked her to share a couple of preview picks with me along the way so that I could share them with you guys! Thanks, Jen!


This year, Frederick Restaurant Week runs March 3-9, and includes the following restaurants with price-fixed menus:

Mark your calendars!

For more info visit FrederickRestaurantWeek.com and follow the hashtag #FredRestWK!

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine #HavanaHeat

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine in Washington DC, three days before its grand opening.


Restaurant previews can vary widely from one space to the next. I’ve attended big soirees with naked sushi girls and hundreds of people, to intimate settings that include a Chamber ribbon cutting and individual menu orders.


The Space


At Sophie’s the atmosphere erred on the side of intimate – a group of about 25 people, made up largely of local bloggers. The building reminded me of a row house or a Brownstone, and we had to walk up a short flight of stairs to reach the stoop and entry.


sophie's cuban cuisine, dc cuban restaurants, #havanaheat

The first floor holds a Chipotle-style bar, perfectly placed for those that want a quick grab and go meal over lunch, or after work before heading to the Metro.


sophie's cuban cuisine, dc cuban restaurants, #havanaheat


On the second floor, the owners have created a warm, inviting space that’s filled with dark wood tables and bright yellow walls. Natural light illuminates the room from large windows lining two walls – perfect for a food blogger looking to snap photos with an iPhone and no flash (ha!).


The Food


Sophie’s served us mountains of food {family style} at the preview event. We had plate after plate of succulent meats, tender plantains, and flavorful rice – plus lots of wonderful condiments to go with them.


sophie's cuban cuisine, dc cuban restaurants, #havanaheat


Not gonna lie though, my absolute favorite thing that night were the empanadas – both chicken and beef!


sophie's cuban cuisine, dc cuban restaurant, #havanaheat


About Sophie’s


The Operating Philosophy

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine offers guests the invigorating experience of a bustling, fast-paced Cuban neighborhood restaurant with authentic tasty food made fresh all day from the highest quality ingredients.
James Lambert is elated to bring Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine back to his home – the Washington, DC area! Together with the Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine General Manager, Carlos DiLaudo of Bethesda, MD and Head Chef Ed Reynoso of Beltsville, MD, James welcomes you to the new standard in DC fast-casual dining.
Whether a guest visits Sophie’s for dine in, take out, pick up, delivery, or catering they will work to make your experience a rewarding one. The Sophie’s DC team is accountable to the guests and welcomes comments on how well they are doing upholding these values each and every day.


A Passion for Hospitality

A native of Reston, Virginia, James Lambert first arrived in the District in 1997 to attend Georgetown University. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in international policy. James grew up in and around the hospitality business and his recent participation in the development of a new venture in the Atlas District rekindled his passion for this industry. In discovering Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine, James feels he has found the ideal concept: a unique and exciting new dining option that places high quality, tasty food at the center of its offering.”


A Business Must Serve Its Community

James believes strongly that a business must operate as a fully engaged member of the community and in a fashion where the business’ goals add to the community. This begins with respect for every associate. Sophie’s associates should expect to feel valued as part of a team, to be able to express themselves through their work, and to be able to share emotionally and financially in the success of the enterprise.


Let’s Make it about Fun

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine is an institution in New York. It is fun to visit a Sophie’s. Now it’s time to share this fun with Washington! Sophie’s goal is to provide the guests with an enjoyable, and consistent experience with each and every meal.


Come join the Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine Washington team for a little taste of the flavors of Havana!


 1134 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 | 202-833-1005 | fax: 202-833-1055

www.sophiescuban.com/dc | Hashtag #HavanaHeat | @sophiescubandc | Instagram: sophiescubandc


Disclosure: I was invited to dine at Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine free of charge, but all opinions are my own. And those empanadas really are killer!

9 Dragons Restaurant at Charles Town | #ad

I was recently invited to try 9 Dragons, one of several restaurants located in Hollywood Casinos at Charles Town Races.
I know what you’re thinking. All the way in West Virginia?!?! Well, even though Frederick, Md., is now considered to be a commuting suburb of both Baltimore and Washington D.C., people often forget that we’re not that far from our neighboring state to the left either.
The 35 minute trip is quite scenic coming from Frederick. A good portion of the drive to Charles Town runs along the bottom of a mountain next to the Potomac River, with views of the White Horse Rapids and glimpses of quaint Harpers Ferry.
My husband and I rode over for a 6:00 PM reservation on a Sunday evening. Parking was a breeze with the  large garage sitting adjacent, and directly connected to, the casino, and after a quick elevator ride we found ourselves winding through the slot machines towards the restaurants.
9 Dragons has its own entrance among the hustle-bustle of the casino, and once we were inside we couldn’t hear any of the outside noise – it was actually very relaxing.
We had one purpose on our trip over: try as much sushi as possible.
The 9 Dragons 6-page menu is expansive, filled with an array of Hong Kong-style entrees and appetizers, along with an extensive wine list that [surprisingly] doesn’t include Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc by the glass. My world didn’t end, however, as I was enticed to instead try Fume Blanc, and it was fabulous substitute for my usual tart, crisp white wine preference.

wine, 9 dragons, asian food, sushi, restaurants, charles town
Sushi options are plentiful. We must’ve picked 8-10 different rolls to try I lost count, and each one was expertly put together and tasted exquisite. I believe we both said, “This may be some of the best sushi I’ve ever had…,” more than once. It’s true.

sushi, 9 dragons restaurant, charles town

sushi, 9 dragons restaurant, charles town

sushi, charles town, 9 dragons

sushi, 9 dragons, restaurant, charles town

There were two other things that caught my eye on the menu, and despite the fact that we ordered a table full of sushi I still couldn’t pass up trying them.
The first was the pork dumplings, steamed and then fried and served with the traditional soy sauce based dip. These were very good and held up well to dipping, bites and being handled by chopsticks.
dumplings, pork dumplings, 9 dragons, charles town

The second was the BBQ roasted pig belly, served golden and crispy with a sweet bean sauce on the side. You know how pork belly melts in your mouth, like a slab of bacon on steroids? Yeah, that. It was my husband’s first time trying pork belly, and I’d say he’s a convert.

pork belly, BBQ, asian BBQ, 9 dragons, charles town

More than anything, we felt the service was stellar. Whether it was because the restaurant knew I was there as a guest, I don’t know, but watching how the other tables were being handled leads me to believe good service is just “business as usual” at 9 Dragons.
Our server was attentive without being overbearing and hover-y (yes, that’s a word). She was also on top of it when we managed to knock over a cup of freshly poured, very hot tea that soaked most of our table. Grace is not one of our specialties, but it seems to be one of theirs.
9 Dragons may not be a restaurant you’d think of first when deciding on a weekend night out, but after our dinner there I’d ask that you consider. Make it a destination and play some card tables or slots, or check out their live music lineup at the H Lounge – often times the show is free!
Disclosure: 9 Dragons covered the cost of our meal in full, but all opinions are my own.

Family Meal | Chicken Pot Pie Fritters, Burger & Fries

I’ve been to Bryan Voltaggio’s Family Meal in Frederick, Md., a couple of times now, despite my pitiful first attempt last July. Each time I visit my goal is to try something new off the menu.

Except, there’s one thing that I can’t help but order every time.

Chicken Pot Pie Fritters.

Family Meal Chicken Pot Pie Fritters

Think about all the creamy gooey-ness on the inside of a chicken pot pie, rolled up and coated with a light breadcrumb and then flash-fried just enough to get the filling hot on the inside, and the coating crispy on the outside.

They are AH-MAY-zing. In fact, I could eat an entire platter full. All by myself.

Bryan, you nailed this one.

So, I was able to sneak out for lunch today, and landed at Family Meal. I got the Chicken Pot Pie Fritters (shocker), and a burger and fries. Or, to be more specific: A burger with cheddar, caramelized onions and bacon.

Family Meal Cheeseburger
And Duck Fat Fries. Trust me; worth it.

Family Meal French Fries

I still have yet to try a Boozy Milkshake, but that’s on my radar for an after work visit.

What’s your favorite thing to get at Family Meal?

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