I wandered into Isabella's the other night with some friends, hungry, just as the kitchen was about to close. Chef James very graciously made us a number of tapas and came out and chatted with us afterwards. I interviewed Chef about the local items on his menu back in April of last year. I had the best slow-cooked chicken tapas in a red sauce- I can't remember what it was called but it was outstanding. And I also had a few excellent seafood dishes. Chef James says that he is putting 15 new items on the menu in the next couple of weeks, so be on the lookout.
I also stopped in to Volt last night and checked out their menu for DC restaurant week; they have an all-new 3 and 4 course prix fixe menu ($35 and $45) for dinner. Lunch prix fixe is I think $20 for 3 courses. Restaurant Week is a great way to try a fine dining restaurant at a cost less than what you would normally have to pay. But I will warn you-the Washington Post Going Out Guide is full of comments from people who could not get reservations because the place is so busy. My advice to you, that I probably should keep to myself, is to go at an off time and eat at the bar, because the food is the same and the company is great. There is also an a la carte restaurant week menu and I saw duck confit for $14. Not bad. I also talked to Danny Garland last night, who works for one of Volt's meat suppliers, and was impressed with how he really connects the farmer to the restaurant in terms of meeting the restaurant's high standards and needs for various cuts, types of products, etc. Needless to say, a lot of these farmers are local to the region.
I went to an excellent little Greek deli called Aleko's in Middletown the other week. I am going to do a more complete writeup about them soon, but was impressed by their commitment to fresh homemade food that uses lots of local ingredients and caters to people with food sensitivities.
I also made my way out to Joannie's on Carroll St. near the canal and was super-impressed by how Joannie was willing to whip up a homemade gluten-free and dairy-free quiche on the spot because I was hungry for one. Joannie also uses a lot of local ingredients and caters to people with food sensitivities. She also has poetry nights on Fridays, dance parties, a thriving local scene, a seamstress operation, and waffles. I'll be writing more about her too. We are going to share some recipes. I have a great gluten-free chicken and dumplings recipe, and a pork loin with cherry gravy that is to die for.