The only question you'll be asking at D.C.'s Yola ($) is for seconds.  This new café is a twist on the typical coffee shop.  There are muffins, coffee, and Wi-Fi.  The biggest draw to Yola is their yogurt bar.  Don't worry- it's not yet another frozen yogurt shop. Yola only serves fresh, seasonal yogurt.

Choose between the all organic yogurt flavors, including strawberry, black cherry, peach, maple, natural Greek, or plain.  Servers scoop up your choice of flavor into a tall plastic cup.  Now, for the fun part...toppings. The best part? You get an unlimited amount (as long as it all fits into the cup).

I chose natural Greek yogurt with agave nectar, blueberries, coconut shavings, kiwi, raspberries, strawberries, granola, and dried dates.  I would've chosen more had there been room! Other toppings include bananas, mango, almond slices, muesli, walnuts, and even savory flavors such as cucumbers and dill.

Greek yogurt with Granola, Fruit, & Agave Nectar
The café itself is very charming, with exposed brick and wooden tables strewn throughout for the ultimate coffee-shop vibe. Yola offers other tasty treats, such as pumpkin muffins and veggie pesto sandwiches on foccacia. It's definitely worth a visit if you are in the Dupont area!

Siroc's Sister: Vento Restaurant

Vento ($$), a restaurant owned by the same people as one of my favorite's, Siroc, is a cozy Italian trattoria in West Dupont.  Like Siroc, Vento is known for their homemade pasta.  The pasta is made on-site at Vento for both restaurants. Vento is dimly lit with dark mahogany furniture- perfect for a romantic night out. 
The food did not disappoint. Fresh focaccia and olive oil hit the table first.  I couldn't help munching on the fluffy bread while I waited for my appetizer. The hand rolled gnocchi were out of this world.  At first, I was apprehensive about the Gorgonzola sauce the dish comes with because sometimes Gorgonzola can be overpowering.  The sauce was light and not at all what I expected.  It perfectly complemented the baked Bosc pear, which sat on top of the pasta.  One great deal that Vento offers is half and half portions of their pasta. If you are like me and cannot decide which one to order, this deal allows you to try more than one for the same price.
Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce and Baked Bosc Pear
The Lamb Steak with a Roasted Garlic Aioli was perfectly tender and seasoned. It was some of the best lamb I've had in a while. Vento does not hold back on portion sizes here, so come hungry! The lamb came with roasted fingerling potatoes.  The strip steak was also great, although next time I would order it medium-rare instead of medium for more flavor.  The steak was served on a bed of arugula alongside roasted red potatoes.
Lamb Steak with Roasted Garlic Aioli

Strip Steak with Cracked Pepper, Marinated Tomatoes and Arugula
For dessert, I was tempted by the spoonfuls of homemade Tiramisu, but with the recommendation of the waiter I ordered the Chocolate Ganache layered with Crushed Biscotti and a Raspberry Cream.  This hit it out of the ball park.  The ganache was so rich and the crushed biscotti cookies were a nice crunchy surprise. The dessert came with fresh raspberries on top.
Chocolate Ganache Layered with Crushed Biscotti and Raspberry Cream

I will without a doubt be coming back soon (they can't keep me away from that Gorgonzola gnocchi!) Their brunch menu also looks appetizing, with Pancakes with Roasted Bosc Pear with Ginger-Pear Syrup or Poached Eggs with Crabmeat on Brioche with a Spicy Hollandaise Sauce.  The brunch prices are very reasonable, which is a relief in D.C., ranging from $4.00- $16.00.  Vento is conveniently located near the Dupont metro.  It is in an up and coming area on P St., where a lot of new restaurants are moving in.  Reserve quickly before word spreads about this new Italian hot spot!

Fish Lovers Unite for Black Salt

Black Salt ($$$) sold me at its name (who needs love at first sight when you have restaurant at first name?).  This fish restaurant is tucked away in the Palisades of D.C. I never would have heard of it had it not been for a friend who visited D.C. and gave it rave reviews.  As a fish lover, I was excited to find a place that specialized in seafood dishes.

You would never guess how nice of a place Black Salt is upon entering.  There is a big fish counter and a hoard of wooden tables casually thrown together. Ten feet behind this room is their dining room, with white table cloths and all.  The room is bright and beautiful, with very spaced out tables (this always wins me over). Even the chairs are comfy.  The funny thing is that the menu is the same for the upscale dining room and the casual eating area.

This was my last Restaurant Week stop, but it was the restaurant I was most excited to try.  After taking a good twenty minutes to decide what to order (everything sounded so good!) I decided on a Squash Soup with Spiced Mascarpone and Toasted Sunflower Seeds. Soup seemed like a silly choice to order in a seafood restaurant, but I decided that it matched best with my entree. Boy was I glad I ordered it- this has to have been the most incredible soup I ever tasted (Sorry, mom!).  It was sweet, but savory, and the sunflower seeds gave it a nice crunch. I could easily eat that soup every day for the rest of my life.
Squash Soup with Spiced Mascarpone and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Next up was their Provencal Seafood Stew, which came with shrimp, fish, mussels and a saffron white wine broth. It was equally delicious as my appetizer soup.  The broth was really light and the saffron highlighted the fish flavor.  The seafood was moist and only had a simple seasoning. My only wish was that there were more shrimp!
Provencal Seafood Stew
My friend had Louisiana Poached Eggs with crab meat and a spicy cayenne hollandaise sauce.  Just when you thought it couldn't get any better than poached eggs and crab meat- it was on top of toasted corn bread. I have to say that the combination was incredible.  The sweet corn bread balanced out the spicy hollandaise sauce.
Louisiana Poached Eggs with Crab on Cornbread
For dessert, we split the Chocolate Chambord Truffle Cake with a raspberry compote and a Key Lime Pie with blueberry compote. While the Key Lime Pie was tart and tasty, the chocolate dessert took the prize. It was so rich and moist- I was licking the plate clean.
Key Lime Pie

Chocolate Truffle Cake with Raspberry Compote
Overall- A+. I hate to bump Zaytinya out of the number one spot for restaurants in D.C., but Black Salt definitely won me over. Their normal menu can be a bit pricey, but they have lunch specials, which includes a 18$ three course meal during the week.

Cream + Butter= La Chaumiere

This homey French bistro was my second Restaurant Week stop.  La Chaumiere ($$$) is a classic French Country style restaurant in Georgetown.  It is upscale and attracts an older crowd, but is still a great spot to eat on a cold night.  There is a fireplace in the middle of the restaurant and empty old wine bottles line the wooden beams.  It's a cozy space because all of the tables are so close together.
Top of Fireplace at La Chaumiere
To start, I ordered the baked mussels.  Anything covered in melted parsley butter and garlic is a winner in my book.  I was hoping that the taste of the mussels would be more highlighted, but nonetheless ce sont magnifique!

Baked Mussels with Parsley Butter and Garlic
For the second course, I split Marinated Salmon in Puff Pastry with a Champagne and Dill Sauce and a Spice Crusted Cornish Game Hen.  The salmon was very rich and filling.  It was cooked very well and was not soggy or overcooked in the pastry.  The game hen was not my favorite dish because the breading was overwhelming.  The sauce that was served with it, though, was excellent. Both dishes were served with some of the creamiest mashed potatoes I've ever had- so how could they be anything but amazing?  Butter and cream seemed to be the theme of the night.

Salmon Marinated in Puff Pastry, with Spinach & Dill Sauce
At last, dessert! I had the profiterole, which is undoubtedly one of my favorite desserts so I could not resist ordering it. The soft vanilla gelato melted into the puffed pastry.  I scooped it all up with their homemade chocolate sauce and it was perfection! My only complaint was that it was too small.

Overall, La Chaumiere was great. Their wait staff was a little rude- but perhaps they are trying to truly imitate the French demeanor. If you decide to go, prepare for one rich and heavy dish after the other. But, if you can handle your butter and cream, go for it!

Southern Comfort is Good for the Soul

At last, I am able to delete Vidalia ($$$) from my list of "Restaurants I Want to Try" (to the right). Vidalia has graced the Washingtonion Top 100 list, among many other publications, so it would be a shame for me to leave D.C. without going. This upscale Southern restaurant satisfied my comfort food craving.
I went for D.C.'s Winter Restaurant Week, which offered a three course meal for $35. I was impressed at the start with Vidalia's bread basket, which, in my opinion, is one of the most important parts of the meal. A vidalia is a type of onion, so Vidalia aims to include vidalia onions in most of their dishes. The bread was no exception as a warm, onion focaccia was promptly delivered to our table. A sweet onion butter was served alongside it and both were simply phenomenal.

To start, I had the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, with a sweet corn salsa. I have to tip my hat off to the chef for packing so much crab meat into the appetizer. Most restaurants skimp on the meat and overcompensate with bread crumbs. The meat was combined with a savory, salty seasoning, which complemented the sweet corn salsa.
Crab Cake with Corn Salsa and Crab Butter

For my second course, I had the Beef Short Rib with a root beer jus and potato purée. Initially, I was skeptical of the root beer jus because I am not a fan of root beer. I was happily surprised because the jus was very subtle and actually went well with the tenderly cooked short ribs. The ribs themselves were not as flavorful as I hoped, but the potato purée was creamy and delicious.

I ordered the Lemon Chess Pie for dessert, even though this choice seemed a bit on the boring side. Who can hate on a classic if it is done well? Fortunately- it was excellent. The pie was tart and creamy. It went perfectly with the sweet berry compote and chantilly cream that came with it. This was definitely the highlight of my meal. I also tried Vidalia's signature Peanut Butter Crunch cake, which was incredible. Then again, you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate. The cake was layered with chocolate ganache cake, chocolate cream, peanut butter cream and topped with a milk chocolate feuilletine.

The ambiance of the restaurant was very nice. The tables were spaced nicely and the decor was simple and clean. Vidalia is always changing their menu so I plan on returning soon. Some other dishes I hope to try include their Shrimp & Grits, Spiced Crusted Duck Breast with a Fig & Duck Confit Bread Pudding, and their Baked Macaroni with smoked ham. I am also excited to try Chef Buben's other restaurant, Bistro Bis.

Busboys & Poets

Busboys and Poets ($$) is one of the must-sees in all of the D.C. tour books, so I thought I would give it a try to see what all of the fuss was about. This U St. restaurant is known for its clientele of writers and artists. There is a book store in the restaurant, with books pertaining to black history and culture. The restaurant is surprisingly spacious. There is a stage in the back of the restaurant where poets, authors, and musicians read or perform.
Hot Chocolate
Now for the good part..the food! I ordered a mixed green salad with poached pear, caramelized onions, pecans, goat cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette. It was delicious! I would definitely order it again. My only critique is that it was over-dressed, so maybe next time I will order the dressing on the side.
Poached Pear Salad with Goat Cheese, Pecans, Caramelized Onions, & Balsamic Vinaigrette
A friend ordered the Oaxaca Omelet, with black beans, cheese, pico de gallo, and guacamole. It looked very appetizing! Next time I visit, I want to try the avocado and havarti cheese panini or the peanut butter and banana with agave nectar sandwich. Agave nectar is one of my new favorites- it is similar to honey, but even better!

Busboys & Poets is an eclectic hang out spot that is definitely worth stopping by, whether it is for a coffee, a book reading, or a complete meal.