A date down 14th street, and what not to do during a first kiss

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It is finally here, the start of warm weather in the capital. After a dreary, wet, seemingly never-ending winter, the days are starting to get longer and we are beginning to feel a glimpse of springtime temperatures. This means patios all down 14th street are starting to open, and we all begin spending way too time crammed into small spaces with strangers. The Pearl Dive patio is one of my favorite places to spend a beautiful afternoon (unfortunately, 90% of DC residents also share this view so that little piece of sidewalk is often completely filled with people between 5:30pm-8pm most days of the week).

Larry and I made plans to see each other the week after I got back from California, and that Thursday happened to be a particularly beautiful day. We decided to take advantage of it and planned to meet at Pearl Dive right after work. I had worked out that morning, so I just needed to change after getting home and was ready relatively early. I started walking over to Pearl Dive when my good friend and neighbor, Kevin, started a group chat asking who wanted to meet up for happy hour at Pearl Dive. Immediately people responded, making plans to meet there immediately. This caused me to worry just a little…. while I was happy at the idea of seeing friends at one of our favorite warm weather spots, it is a little awkward when you are going on a date to a place where all of your friends are going to be. Especially when this is a relatively early date (this would be our third official date). I got there around the same time as a few other folks and as we all caught up, I told them I was meeting a guy there, and my friend KBS asked me, “Do you think your first kiss is happening tonight?” Well, I guess I had been hoping that it would happen at some point, but we also had not seen each other in two weeks so I was not sure if the momentum was still there from our previous two great dates, or if there was even still attraction there. My other friends then chimed in, “Oh it has to happen tonight. Because four dates is too long to go without something happening.” Well shit guys, way to put the pressure on. So before this conversation, the thought was in the back of my mind, but after this after conversation where everyone vehemently agreed that this kiss just had to happen tonight, my face resembled the emoji with the eyes bugging out and the rosy cheeks. Larry showed up a little bit later, and after introducing him to everyone and finishing up our beers we decided to go somewhere else for dinner.

I suggested Le Diplomate because we both wanted to sit outside somewhere and Le Dip seemed unusually not crowded. We managed to get seated right away on the heated patio where we were greeted by the world’s most enthusiastic server, who we realized was also perhaps the Le Diplomate’s most devoted fan. He was incredibly energetic while describing every dish on the menu and at one point made such prolonged eye contact with me while detailing the mushroom tart that I had to quickly look away. Instead, I focused on Larry’s perfect face (seriously though, how does someone get such flawless skin?) which actually made me slightly more nervous than the server’s intensity. We decided to start with an order of the tuna carpaccio which was drizzled with leek vinaigrette. This was the great light appetizer on a warm afternoon. For my main course, I got the steak frites because red meat prevents anemia, right? The generous serving of hanger steak was perfectly cooked: the outside was crusty while the inside was rosy and tender. This also came with a heaping pile of crunchy French fries, which I dipped into the accompanying butter sauce. Larry went with the half roasted chicken, which he said was extremely good. For dessert we got the chocolate caramel tart, which came with hazelnut ice cream. Originally we were deciding between the chocolate caramel tart and the creme brulee, but our server was absolutely adamant that we order the tart. By adamant, I mean that he actually raised his voice and insisted that we had no choice but to order the chocolate tart. And who is going to argue with that? In the end, I am glad we went with his recommendation, because the chocolate was silky and the tart was perfectly flaky and sweet. Overall, another solid meal at Le Diplomate. I have yet to be disappointed by any experience at Le Diplomate, and am thrilled that I always have this option so close to my place.

It was still relatively early when we finished our meal, and Larry asked if I still had time to grab a drink (he was on “spring break” for his grad program so did not have to go into the office or school the next morning). I suggested 2 Birds 1 Stone, which is an underground 60-seat lounge/cocktail bar located below Doi Moi. It is run by Adam Bernbach, who also handles the drink program at Proof and Estadio. It was not that crowded on this Thursday night, and we settled into one of the alcoves towards the middle of the bar and people-watched while sipping two whiskey cocktails. I still cannot get over how hilarious I find Larry (also, I find it hilarious that I am referring to him as Larry because I keep picturing Jerry Gergich from Parks and Recreation whenever I type that out). Actually, I cannot get over how insert every positive adjective ever created by the English language Larry is. Every story he tells has me either giggling or actually laughing out loud. He is so smart and well spoken. He is incredibly successful. And he is insanely good looking. I actually feel slightly self conscious when I look at him. There was a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology that suggests for women, dating a less attractive man may result in a happier, more emotionally satisfying relationship. If that is the case, I would have the emotionally unsatisfying, unhappy relationship with Larry because I think the man is the definition of FINE (pronounced “FIONE”). Anyway, I must have gotten distracted by all the giggling and the staring at him because all of a sudden I realized we were one of the last people in the bar and it was almost 2am. This was definitely way past my bedtime. Also, I had spent over seven hours with this man and the first kiss still had not happened. Maybe because of the conversations I had with my friends before the date, maybe because it was so incredibly late, maybe it is because I knew he would be out of town the following weekend, maybe it was because I find him just unbelievably attractive, but I just wanted the first kiss to be so good. But now the date was pretty much over and we had shared as much physical contact as two sleeping infants on a play date orchestrated by their parents.

After our drinks at 2 Birds, Larry mentioned hailing a cab because it had gotten a little colder outside. I did not want to say good bye yet, so I said that we could get the same cab and he could drop me off at my place on the way back to his (also thinking this would give us more time for a potential first kiss). We hopped into a cab, and after I told the driver my cross streets, my brain started going a little crazy. The back of a cab seemed like an awkward place to have a first kiss, and Larry also did not seem like the type of guy who engages in public make outs (nothing against this, and I would take a kiss from Larry wherever I could get one). Now I was wondering if this kiss was going to happen at all, since our night was coming to an end and I am pretty sure by this point I was blabbering nonsense at 345098 words per minute in an attempt to not be super awkward (definitely failed at this). As the cab pulled up to my building, I was not quite sure how to exit. Should I do the awkward good bye hug? Good bye hugs in cars are always so awkward. You both are contorting your body and then you have slid across the seat out the door while praying the fabric of your pants do not make a weird squeaking sound as they rub against the car leather seats. I started to turn my body when Larry pulled his credit card and quickly swiped it. He opened the door and got out of the cab with me, saying, “I’ll just walk you to your door and get call an uber.” Well first of all, that saves me from the awkward car hug good bye. Second of all, that is a smooth move, if he was indeed planning on initiating this kiss. Third of all, now I was back to thinking that the chance for this kiss was back on the table. Fourth of all, this now meant my brain was back to going nuts (should have probably inhaled a muscle relaxer at this point) and I don’t even remember what I was saying but I do remember that I was indeed talking so that’s probably a sign I was just word vomiting gibberish. I am just hoping it was at least English gibberish. Larry pulled out his phone to request an uber, and said to me, “Okay! Uber is coming in four minutes.” My brain then screamed at me, “THERE ARE TWO HUNDRED FORTY SECONDS FOR THIS KISS TO HAPPEN.” Suddenly, an image of a giant clock popped into my head and I started counting down. Note to self: definitely keep an emergency xanax around so things like this do not happen. Larry leaned forward to hug me good-bye, and as I looked to him, we both leaned in and kissed. My first thought was YES! But that is where my thinking should have just ended. I should have just focused on the first thing, which is simple excitement. Instead, I wanted the kiss to be so good, so badly, I tried to talk myself into making the kiss the best. This is never a good thing. You should not think about the mechanics of kissing while you are actually kissing because kissing is a weird, weird thing. You’re mashing and moving your lips against someone else’s and for some weird reason it feels glorious. Kissing just feels fantastic, but there is no logical reason why exchanging saliva with a near stranger is amazing. Well in this case, I started thinking to myself, “Better make sure your upper lip is in sync with his!” Then I tried to concentrate on my upper lip. Have you ever tried to “sync your lip” with someone else’s? I really hope the answer to that is no, and I also hope you never really try because what does it even mean “sync your lip up”?! Then I thought, “Oh crap, is your lower lip in sync? Maybe concentrate on that.” This was followed by, “Shit! You haven’t thought about your tongue at all! Don’t neglect the tongue!” Before I knew it, the uber had arrived (THANK GOD), and he was pulling away (SHOCKING). He kissed me on the cheek and said he would let me know when he was back in town.

As I walked back into my building, I wanted to bang my head against the elevator door. This kiss with the perfect man had finally happened, and it was definitely far from perfect. I had managed to care so much about it that I could not function like a normal human being when the moment arrived.

Like a broken record: Le Diplomate brunch

Like I said before, Le Diplomate has turned me into some crazed addict who desperately needs and craves their bread. Despite so many new restaurants opening in my neighborhood, I find myself returning to this warm, bustling brasserie time and time again.

After a brutally hilly ten mile race in 38 degree weather the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I was feeling just a little famished. My sister, AC, and I decided to head to brunch in DC. On the drive there, I started thinking about how badly I wanted some delicious bread to fill my grumbling stomach. When AC said she had made reservations for Farmers, Fishers and Bakers, I literally handed her my cell phone and told her to cancel immediately cancel the brunch there and call Le Diplomate instead. She was a little hesitant, but once I started whining and muttering “the bread, the bread” to her over and over, she relented. Le Diplomate did not have open reservations when she called, but once we arrived there thirty minutes later, they actually had a table available for us on their covered patio.

I immediately asked for the bread as soon as we sat down, and I assume the waiter say the crazed look in my eyes because he hurried off and quickly brought us a basket of their baguette, raisin loaf, and wheat bread. AC started with the wheat (#amateur) while I dove straight into the raisin loaf. When she saw me spreading their soft butter all over the delicious slice, she turned her attention to the raisin bread and we scarfed down the most of that first basket in no time.

As usual, the service was fantastic. Our server took the time to go over the brunch menu with us, and answered all of our questions patiently (“what’s your favorite dish?” “how is the prosciutto?” “can you describe this to me?” “how big is the serving?” “can you help me pick between these two dishes?”). After ten minutes of grilling him, we finally made our selections: the Eggs Boudin Noir and the Poached Eggs Basquaise. We also asked for a second basket of bread.

AC ordered the Eggs Boudin Noir, which consisted of eggs cooked en cocotte, boudin noir (blood sausage), asparagus, apples and a side of grilled bread. AC is already a big fan of blood sausage, but she especially like the boudin noir in this dish. I actually do not like boudin noir that much, but I really enjoyed the bite I took out of her dish. It was so tender and surprisingly light, and the strong flavor of the sausage was carefully balanced out by the sweetness of the apples. And of course, as I have previously mentioned, I have a soft spot for runny eggs in any dish.

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My dish, the Poached Eggs Basquaise, arrived in a little cast iron skillet full of creamy polenta, sundried tomatoes, two poached eggs and was topped with crispy prosciutto. I have actually have ordered this dish before, and loved it so much I could not bring myself to order something else. Just like the first time, it was heavenly. The polenta is just so incredibly creamy, and the prosciutto adds a wonderful crunch to this rich dish. I slurped up this dish using the baguette as a spoon.

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Good thing we were in the corner because we kept making these strange murmuring sounds of satisfaction throughout our meal. And then every time the waiter came around and asked if we were enjoying our meal, we screamed back “YESSS!” I do not think we could have expressed our enthusiasm for our food any more intensely without scaring the other patrons (this is assuming that we had not already scared the people sitting next to us).

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Over the course of our two hours there, we plowed our way through a total of three bread baskets (asking for the raisin loaf and the the baguette each time), and over two and a half bowls of butter. Shockingly, by the end of the meal, we did not have room for dessert. This almost never happens. When eating together, we always make a point to have dessert but after all of that bread, our stomachs just could not accommodate another bite of food. Our walk back to my apartment allowed us some time to digest (about 1/100th of our meal), and gave time for AC to truly appreciate the amazingness that is Le Diplomate. I have successfully converted another person into a fan!

Post-Thanksgiving brunch bonding

My sister is coming home for Thanksgiving break, and as usual, we are excited to eat together. By eat together, I mean the entire process starting from dissecting the menu, to obsessively combing through yelp reviews and pictures to determine the best dishes to try, badgering the waiter with questions, and making strange, perhaps sexual sounding, noises while consuming our dishes. After our always epically delicious Thanksgiving dinner (she actually cooks well, as opposed to me.. who usually just cooks the kale/broccoli and chicken with olive oil combination night after night), we are planning on catching up over brunch on Saturday. Since she lives outside of NYC, she asked me for some brunch recommendations in the area. We do not take eating lightly, so I knew I had to come up with some good options:

  1. Le Diplomate: because like a sick addict, I can’t stay away.
  2. Macon Bistro and Larder: this is relatively new restaurant in Chevy Chase and just started brunch service in September. It has a Southern/French menu (the restaurant is refers to Macon, Georgia and its sister city in France) and has already gotten some positive reviews. If a place has good biscuit and good grits, I am putting it on my list of places to try!
  3. Del Campo: just started an bottomless brunch option for $45 which includes bloody marys and mimosas. I have been here for Happy Hour with AL for fake-roommate bonding, and really enjoyed both the atmosphere and the small grilled meat dishes.

It is wonderful when someone is a good eating partner. I love eating out with someone who is just as excited as I am about a new place, is willing to try anything, and most importantly, willing to share their food (if your dish has fries, I am going to pick at them).

Le Diplomate: the drug I just can’t quit

Friday was supposed to be one of those relaxing nights where I met up with a good girlfriend at a neighborhood bar to dissect her latest potential relationship over one glass of wine. My plan was to be in bed by midnight so I could get a peaceful nine hours of sleep before a Saturday morning gym session. Well, three and a half glasses of wine later, followed by a shot, and another shot that I tried to avoid taking by slickly dumping it into my glass of water (this failed so miserably because brown liquor is not disguised easily by clear water)….  this resulted in a slightly painful Saturday morning. After dragging my butt to the gym to sweat out as much grape juice as I could, I desperately needed nourishment. Specifically, I needed carbs. All I could think about by the time I got out of the shower was swimming in a massive loaf of crusty bread. Le Diplomate’s bread basket was the answer.

Luckily, there was no wait for the outside tables on their “heated” patio (I say “heated” because there were heat lamps present but we could not actually feel any warmth from them). I got a table at the very front corner, facing 14th street (a prime people watching stop) Although it was a wonderfully sunny day, it was pretty cold and I appreciated that they had fleece blankets on their chairs for people to bundle up in. KBS met me a few minutes later, and we flagged down a waiter to request bread as quickly as possible. KBS ordered the burger, replacing the fries with salad (not even going to pretend I wasn’t extremely disappointed because I wanted to do the thing where someone orders fries and says “oh take as many as you want” before realizing I take that literally).  I ordered the Croque Madame . And then we threw in a side of a bacon because neither of us has gout, yet.

The bread basket was divine, as always. I love their beautiful raisin loaf and loaded up a few slices with their perfectly soft butter (remind me of this sentence when I ask why I don’t have a six pack). My Croque Madame was absolutely delicious. The bread in this dish was amazing. It was so thick and managed to absorb the sauce mornay and egg yolk without falling apart or getting soggy, it was light, it was fluffy, it was slightly sweet, it was perfect. It was just so perfect. KBS enjoyed her burger as well, and we both loved the crunchy, salty, fatty bacon of course. We sat on the patio for two hours, soaking up the sun and watching the Saturday 14th street scene as we tried to digest the wonderful meal we had inhaled. One of many things that keeps me coming back to Le Diplomate is the service. Our waiter was attentive without being overbearing. He brought me coffee, even thought I had not ordered it, and poured me another cup as we paid our bill to “warm [me] up before the road.” Those little gestures make a big difference, and I always leave my meals with a smile. I also leave my meals there with the urge to unbutton my pants to accommodate my new bread baby.

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Le Diplomate: leave no carb behind

Le Diplomate, located on 14th street, has showed no sign of declining popularity after it opened a little over a year and a half ago. After a few dinners and two brunches there, here are my thoughts:

  1. Do not EVEN THINK about saying no to the freshly prepared bread basket.
  2. Their brunch options are awesome. Any place that serves steak tartare/raw meat before 2pm gets a thumbs up in my book.
  3. The Burger American is just so fine. It has the perfect fat content, the bun holds together, and the cheese is perfectly melted (note: they only serve it well-done). Also, it is so reasonably priced ($15) compared to some of the other “gourmet” burgers in DC.
  4. You may think you won’t be able to finish those fries. But if you believe in yourself, and you misjudge the waistband of your jeggings, anything is possible.
  5. The side of bacon is a surprisingly large serving. Each slice is incredibly thick and perfectly salty.
  6. The service is wonderful. Two weeks ago, after we mentioned that our friend had just passed the Maryland bar exam to our waiter, he brought out three celebratory glasses of champagne, and the manager came by to congratulate her on this accomplishment. So thoughtful!

In conclusion: I’m not coming here during those random months when I decide I’m going to try to be paleo because seeing the beautiful carbs here will make me cry.

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