Nick’s Riverside Grill: Dining on the Georgetown Waterfront

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RESTAURANT:  Nick’s Riverside Grill

ADDRESS: 3050 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007 (On the Georgetown Waterfront next to the fountain)

GENRE: American – Seafood

AFFORDABILITY: More on the expensive side for the quality and quantity of food you receive, but that’s probably to be expected given that you are eating on the water in Georgetown. You are paying for the view.

PARKING: Limited street parking available not too far away, but there are plenty of parking garages. A little less than a mile from the closest metro station (Foggy Bottom – GWU).

VENUE: The main reason to eat at Nick’s is the Georgetown view that can’t be beat. Right on the Potomac River with views of the Kennedy Center and the Georgetown Fountain. There is quite a bit of outdoor seating and an outdoor bar. For those who don’t want to deal with the heat, there is also indoor seating and an indoor bar.

GENERAL: I came here for lunch and drinks with coworkers on a sunny June day, ready for a good time with great company. We had a group of over a dozen and did not come in with a reservation. Arriving in the early afternoon on a Friday, we did not expect to have too much trouble finding an outdoor table. There were plenty of open tables but it seemed to be a bit of a struggle for them to combine multiple tables to accommodate our group (we definitely needed to add another table to accommodate everyone and it came to the point where we were going to ask if we could move the table ourselves…) The Hostess and our Server, however, were both kind and service was good – no complaints there.

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View from the outdoor bar

After the meal, we moved to the outdoor bar area and the bartenders were great – social, conversational, and they made some quality drinks. The outdoor bar itself is a little bit closer to the fountain; you still get a great view of the water but it’s a little bit cooler with some shadier spots.

THE FOOD:  As far as appetizers go, we ordered the Chicken Wings, Charcuterie Board, Crispy Calamari, and the Chicken Nachos. The wings were a solid choice – crispy and flavorful and a decent portion. The Crispy Calamari was standard, fulfilling your deep-fried cravings. The Charcuterie Board was kind of disappointing. It just felt lacking in quantity for the price and tasted pretty average. The Chicken Nachos was this colossal dish of nachos with a ton of toppings. Honestly, it could have been a person’s meal. It was definitely delicious and a worthwhile appetizer.

There were several intriguing options to order from for my entrée. I was so tempted to try one of the Indian or Asian dishes; but I realized they would probably be subpar. I ended up ordering the Crab Cake Sandwich (I was by the water, the seafood had to be great, right?) I didn’t come in with high expectations, and was pleasantly surprised with how good the crab meat was. The sandwich itself was pretty great. I’m not a huge fan of coleslaw and the slaw that came with the sandwich did not convince me otherwise. The fries were super disappointing; among the worst I’ve had at a restaurant. Definitely frozen and they gave so many and they were just not tasty or filling. Another thing that disappointed me was that I think seven people at my table ordered the Crab Cake Sandwich and only about half of them came with the white dip/spread for the sandwich.  But overall, the crab meat was absolutely delicious, and I highly recommend ordering the crab cake sandwich or something with crab meat.

For drinks during the meal, I ordered a Ketel Crush and a Dark’n’Stormy. Both were solid cocktail choices. Later on at the bar, the bartenders did a great job of making a variety of drinks

ACCOMODATIONS: They have vegetarian options available.

OVERALL: To quote my coworkers paraphrasing me, “The view was good. The service was pretty good. And eh, the food was pretty good.” Jokes aside, I really did love the crab cake and the venue/bar facilitated a great time with a large group. And of course, the view was phenomenal. It definitely wasn’t the best meal overall, but for the view and experience with friends, Nick’s is definitely worth coming to!

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Meokja Meokja: My New Favorite DC-area KBBQ

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RESTAURANT:  Meokja Meokja – Korean BBQ (“Let’s Eat”)

ADDRESS: 9619 Fairfax Blvd Fairfax, VA 22030

GENRE: Korean BBQ

AFFORDABILITY: This is a pretty tough question to answer for Korean BBQ – it really depends on how much you order and how many people there are. But for the amount of meat and sides my party ordered, Meokja Meokja is comparable to other KBBQ restaurants in the area. Meokja Meokja is in the style of Honey Pig in that it is not all-you-can-eat. However, they have really great deals on their combos.

PARKING: Limited parking in front of the restaurant, but plenty of parking in the lot behind the restaurant (in the bigger shopping complex). Note that Meokja Meokja is not in the bigger shopping complex!

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VENUE: The venue itself is a lot bigger from the inside than it looks from the outside. They have a cute little waiting area with booths, a fun sign, and mesmerizing TV display of futuristic traffic (It sound weird, but I could not stop staring), and a complimentary coffee machine.

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Mesmerizing never-ending traffic video

It was nice that it bright inside and the music was good and not too intense for the atmosphere.

GENERAL: I went with a group of friends who are very experienced with the KBBQ options in the area, from Iron Age to So to Honey Pig to Kogiya to several others. It was cool to find a quality place not in Centreville or Annandale.

The service was absolutely phenomenal! Hopefully it continues past their soft opening. David Y. was our server and he was great. Friendly, conversed with us, refilled our side dishes that we were demolishing quickly before we even asked, answered our questions, had perfect timing in beginning to cook more meat for us: he was just on the ball! The other servers and hosts were also extremely friendly. The service alone definitely was better than any other KBBQ restaurant I have been to, so I very much appreciated that. Reading other reviews, it seems like other people also agree that the service here is by far the best compared to any other KBBQ restaurant in the area.

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THE FOOD:  For four people we order the Large COMBO 2 and a Seafood Pancake.

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The water came out in a bottle that was really cool (almost thought it was complimentary alcohol). The cups were super small (could be bigger, because we were constantly refilling), but they were also kind of cool at the same time.

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The meal comes with Banchan which are Korean side dishes that are usually free at KBBQ joints. They vary per restaurant, but Meokja Meokja had a ton, which was awesome (makes you wish you had one of those spinning tables to keep passing them around). The Kimchi, Kale, and Mashed Potatoes were alright. A ton of onion, which was nice. I think the highlight for me was the radish and the other dipping sauce with the onions (not sure of the name), which I thought were extremely delicious. I think my biggest recommendation for them would be to provide everyone with the sesame oil, or at least one for each pair of people. I think that seems to be a more common practice at other restaurants (but they were super expedient in bringing out more for us and gave everyone that sauce with the onion).

Soybean Soup and Angry Egg are complimentary for orders over $30 and the Kimchi Pancake and Corn Cheese are complimentary with all COMBO orders. I didn’t really care much for the soup, but the Angry Egg was nice and fluffy, the Kimchi Pancake was solid, and the Corn Cheese was so good. They kept the cheese gooey by putting it on the stovetop and I couldn’t get enough. Some of my friends wished the corn was roasted, but I was fine with it the way it was.

The Seafood Pancake was really good. Compared to Honey Pig’s, it was crispier, had more veggies, and was less doughy. It was great; I think I liked Honey Pig’s more, but still very happy we ordered it (and it was super large and filling).

COMBO 2 was definitely a good decision. At first, we didn’t think it would be enough meat, but it definitely was.

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Meat!

The Galbi (Marinated Short Ribs) were some of the best I have had at a KBBQ place. It had a nice sweet and savory flavor and was just chewy enough. I could not recommend this meat enough and I really hope they keep getting the same high quality meat.

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MORE MEAT!!

The Bulgogi (Sliced Marinated Ribeye) was really nice – perfect amount of chewiness and had a great flavor.

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Meat again!!!

The Thick-Cut Unmarinated Pork Belly was fantastic – just fatty enough and nice and filling.

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So much meat!!!

And the Thin-Sliced Brisket – also nice and savory.

Again, I loved all the meat and the order they cooked them for us was perfect. The Galbi was by far my favorite, but the others were still really good too. My biggest fear is that like many of the KBBQ restaurants in the area, quality might go down over the years. But right now, the meat quality is really high and definitely worth every penny.

Almost wish they had some sweet ice cream or iced coffee to wash down everything afterwards. That would have been the cherry on top.

ACCOMODATIONS: Wheelchair friendly. Restrooms (nice quality ones, by the way) are not labeled as gender neutral, but there are two individual single-occupancy restrooms.

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OVERALL: Other than some minor food-related recommendations, the only area for improvement would be that because of the size of the tables I guess, occasionally a sizzling hot drop of water(?) would fly off the middle and briefly hit our arms. Could be the tables were too small, and it only happened a handful of times to me, but definitely a safety concern. In terms of safety though, they had all the safety sprinklers and everything above each stove top – that’s probably standard but for whatever reason I have never noticed that at any other KBBQ restaurant, so that was nice.

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safety!!!

So yeah, there were definitely some issues, but overall the experience was so great I can look past all the issues. The meat was phenomenal and hopefully the quality stays this high through the years. The service was expedient and friendly. I’ll definitely be back and I could not recommend trying this restaurant enough if you’re in for a KBBQ fix! My new favorite KBBQ in the area!

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Stone’s Cove Kitbar: Meeting My First ChefTender

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RESTAURANT:  Stone’s Cove Kitbar

DATE OF VISIT: 5/30/17 #TacoTuesday

ADDRESS: 2403 Centreville Road Herndon, VA 20171 (Two Locations)

GENRE: Several Seafood Inspired dishes, burgers, steak

PARKING: Plenty of parking around the restaurant and in neighboring lots

AFFORDABILITY: Entrees are in the $10-$20 range and are fairly large and filling. You are definitely partly paying for an experience, which I will describe below.

VENUE: The restaurant itself provides a really cool experience. It is a self-dubbed “KitBar” meaning that the restaurant “combines the design of a kitchen and a bar to create a large communal table that surrounds the kitchen”. Essentially, a majority of the seating is alcoves of bars surrounded by the kitchen, which is in the center. Your hosts are “ChefTenders” i.e. Chefs and Bartenders. Not only fully trained to provide you your drinks but they also cook all your meals in the center of the restaurant for you to watch. This isn’t a Hibachi-style restaurant, it’s just literally that the seating is around a bar/kitchen that is in the center of the restaurant. I went with a group of five and will admit the bar seating, although shaped in alcoves, can still make it a little bit hard to hear. But this is definitely a fun venue for large groups and I do recommend trying out the KitBar experience at least once!

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly. Did not take note if there were gender neutral bathrooms.

GENERAL: This is definitely a versatile restaurant. A decent variety of options that is the perfect spot for a group of co-workers to grab lunch or for family or friends to visit in the night. The service was phenomenal. Although you start out with one main ChefTender they all come and check on you and they were all ridiculously friendly and thorough that it made for such a pleasant experience. The KitBar experience is a ton of fun and it is a great restaurant for sharing food (plenty of sharing plates within arm’s reach and both the Flatbreads and Appetapas – meals that double as entrées or appetizers (if I’m not mistaken) – were great for sharing). It was also a cute touch how the menus doubled as placemats.

THE FOOD: I ate the Soup of the Day (a Corn-Tortilla Soup), Mackinac Roasted Flatbread, and the Fish Tacos.

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The soup of the day, which of course varies per day, was a Corn-Tortilla soup for me. I am typically not a huge fan of soups of this style, but this one was delicious! It had a perfect amount of sour cream in it and none of the flavors were too overbearing. The crackers were the perfect addition to the soup to add a bit of crunch and it wasn’t overloaded with beans. Definitely would order again. The quantity was a little bit low for a $4 soup, but it was still a decent amount.

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The Mackinac Roasted Flatbread is bacon, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, onion, and cheddar with jalapeno mayo (optional additions of chicken, steak, or shrimp). The entire platter (not pictured) is shareable with five people (or more if you are okay with portions less than pictured). Overall, it was a really good appetizer. Lots of flavor from the jalapeno mayo (wasn’t spicy, don’t worry!) and it was easy to place in your mouth. The bacon provided the perfect amount of crunch.

My main entrée was the fish tacos. Three sizable fish tacos for $12 bucks are definitely filling – good bang for your buck. Now this was my first time ever having fish tacos, and honestly I think they were really good. It was a little bit of a weird sensation for me because the soft tortilla and the fish at the bottom of the taco was really warm, but the jicama green apple slaw and chipotle lime cream cold, like ice-chilled. That bothered me a little bit, but maybe that’s how fish tacos are? Maybe not the biggest fan of fish tacos in general, but it was filling, had good flavor, and I think was really awesome for a fish taco; I just don’t think fish tacos in general are for me (not with the varying temperatures at least).

I think the next time I go I will order the Margarita Crab Wraps for myself. I had been eyeing them for a while. I strongly recommend the Island Hopper Tacos too. I almost ordered them myself – I thought the combination of flavors may have been a bit too sweet or tropical for me at the time, but my ChefTender and my colleague who ordered them had lots of praise for them! Seems like a really good bet (and again, three pretty large tacos for $12!)

ACCOMODATIONS: Did not seem to have a ton of vegetarian options beyond salads (a lot of dishes have seafood with them). There are two really delicious looking flatbreads that are vegetarian and I bet it would be easy to make the other flatbreads or some of the other items without the meat.

OVERALL: Filling meal with a great experience, from awesome ChefTenders to an overall unique dining experience. Definitely do recommend trying out the KitBar at least once, you arrrrrrghonna have a great time (okay the restaurant isn’t pirate themed but like it’s the sea and the word “Cove”). But in all seriousness, the service and the experience at Stone’s Cove Kitbar made up for me not completely falling in love with my entrée, and even then I still did enjoy the experience of eating my entrée.