The Abbey Coffeehouse

Even my parents like this place! Creative dishes (many of them vegetarian-friendly) include wraps, sandwiches on wonderful breads, and stuffed pitas. Nathan’s Famous (with feta, chicken, spinach, onions, and barbecue sauce) is awesome, but don’t expect any kisses afterwards. Same goes for the buffalo melt; the garlic mayonnaise is so garlicky it’s spicy. Yum! The Zoobilation roll is great, as is the vegetarian Asian wrap (or something like that). Just ask them to heat the rice that accompanies all sandwiches…it tastes better that way. Also make sure you save room for dessert and coffee; the tiramisu is huge and delicious! If you’re up early enough for breakfast, the abbey serves some decent omelettes and French toast dishes. Most of them look ugly but taste great in the a.m.

Update: Sadly (sniff!) the Mass Ave location is no longer, but they’ve relocated to somewhere on Pennsylvania.

R Bistro

Excellent! The menu changes weekly, ingredients come from local sources, and the staff is attentive and welcoming. We decided to visit for Emily’s (belated) birthday dinner. All she’d requested was that “it be new and a surprise”. R Bistro was both.

For starters, the bread (crusty on the outside, warm and doughy on the inside) was perfect, and our salads were exellent.

Christopher had seared scallops served with swiss chard and cheesy polenta. On a whim, Emily ordered ham with potatoes au gratin and sauteed leeks. The server made quite a point in warning us that the ham would be served room-temperature. She appreciated the heads-up, and her dinner was so good that she did that thing where she crosses her eyes and closes them, and raises her eyebrows.

We found the service staff to be friendly and helpful. The owner’s husband meandered about and conversed with the patrons, so it was fun for us to eavesdrop and feel like we’re hip to what’s hapenning in the Mass Ave district.

Dessert and coffee weren’t the highlights of our experience, however. Coffee beans were from Hubbard and Cravens, a local roaster, whose beans are consistently more roasted than we prefer. Compound that with the fact that our coffee was brought to us in a French press, where all but the first cup was over-steeped in over-roasted beans, and the result was disappointing bitter coffee. Next time we’ll have a glass of port instead.

All in all, we are upset with ourselves for not visiting R Bistro sooner. It’s easily a new favorite!

Update 1/2005: Our bad for leaving a year in between visits. Yet another birthday prompted another visit to R Bistro, and we were again highly pleased.

Bread, still crusty and warm. Salad (with spinach, daikon, onions, and fennel) was crisp and tangy, while Chris’s cream of cauliflower soup with caraway seeds was warm, creamy, and smooth (an inspiration for our own attempts at home).

Chris ordered breakfast fopr dinner (huevor rancheros with awesome tortillas) and dinner for dessert (rice pudding with cream saunce) and was very pleased, but Emily totally won on this one. Although it’s hard for her to order coq au vin (just because she hates saying it), the mushroms and pearl onions would have been enough by themselves, they were just. that. good. Add chicken piences that don’t require a knife to eat because they were falling off the bone and some flatbread grilled with olive oil, and she was a happy diner.

Dessert, too, topped off the evening. Cranberry ice cream cake with chocolate crust and a frozen whipped cream and pistachio topping was delicious, and the coffee (what part of it Emily’ didn’t spill on the table) was a little better than previously. Perhaps they shouldn’t grind it so finely if it’s going to be served in a French press (and therefor avoid the dregs at the bottom of the cup).

Again, though, we loved our evening and it was romantic while bustling, private while public, and delicious while creative, labor-intensive, and delicious. The only bad thing is that by the time you read this, the menu will have totally new delicious options to choose from. Have fun!

Agio

A pleasant surprise. Walking past, we’ve peered in dozens of times. While the pink neon-lit patio is too hideous for words, the atmosphere inside is quite pleasant, the walls decked with oil paintings for sale. Service was casual, friendly, and attentive (our waiter, Joey, loved Emily’s “ensemble”), and the meals were memorable

The second time we went, we went in without reservations on a Saturday night. We were seated immediately, but in the bar (read: smoking). It wasn’t too bad though, save for a few short bouts of noisy, smoky patrons with little sense for personal space.

Our waitress this time, Justine, was great. Despite the busy atmosphere, she was attentive and highly reccommended the pomodoro over eggplant parmesan, which Jon and Christine both enjoyed. Chicken piccata and paella made us happy, and the baked goat cheese appetizer was a wonderful start to the meal.

Old Point Tavern

Fun, happening place in the middle of the Mass Ave district. Careful, they’ll card you in the evenings. It’s worth it, though, because their sandwiches are pretty decent, the soup is good, and they offer a pretty satisfying beer list.