Counting My Blessings: 10 Years of Been There, Eaten That

This week marks the ten-year anniversary of Been There, Eaten That. Writing this restaurant blog has often been anxiety-inducing, frustrating, even maddening, but ultimately it’s been rewarding. While I’m slowing down in more ways than one, I still care deeply about supporting restaurants and for better or worse, articulating my feelings online.

It’s a weird time to be a restaurant blogger. Everyone is struggling. The fact is that we don’t know which restaurants will make it to the other side. Since we are stuck in this alternate reality for who knows how long, it’s best to adjust expectations and learn to adapt.

I’m taking this opportunity to count my blessings. To commemorate a decade of blog posts, here are ten eleven things I’m grateful for at this moment in time, when carryout is pretty much my status quo.

  1. No reservations. Enjoying food from a favorite restaurant without thinking about reservations weeks or even months in advance is now a thing. Our takeout meals from Anju, Bad Saint, Bresca, Cane, The Dabney, and Maydan have been soul-satisfying and memorable. Some of my favorite pre-pandemic dishes can now be enjoyed in to-go containers. While this isn’t comparable to the full dining experience, there is still joy to be found in jerk wings from Cane, Korean chili-braised chicken thighs from Anju, grilled dorade from Maydan, and grilled steak and summer berry cobbler from The Dabney. Let’s hear it for spontaneity.

    Maydan Grilled Dorade

  2. Double the pleasure. Partaking in food from two restaurants simultaneously is possible. This is exciting! We pick up dishes from Komi- currently operating as Happy Gyro- for my husband, and sister restaurant Little Serow for me. The fact that I can enjoy hammered beef and crispy rice salad, while he feasts on a Double Freak-a-Burger and tomato-braised romano beans is a win-win I didn’t know I needed. There are endless options. I’ve mixed and matched food from Nama and Centrolina, Bad Saint and the Greek Spot, Hatoba and Albi, and Muchas Gracias and Sfoglina. It’s like eating at a food hall with no boundaries.
  3. Delivery options that don’t suck. My husband and I pick up our food so that restaurants can avoid delivery charges. Here’s an exception- Neighborhood Provisions from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group has in-house delivery, and patrons pay just $7.00 for door-to-door service. I don’t realize how good it feels to have dinner arrive on my doorstep, until the doorbell rings and there it is. Weekend Date Night features rotating three course meal kits designed by NRG chefs. The Oaxacan dinner from Birch and Barley’s Chef Jarrad Silver is a winner. If they repeat this offering, don’t skip the spicy vegetable chileajo with chili de arbol sauce, cotija cheese, and crispy squash blosssoms. We shake things up with cocktails prepared to complement the meal. You can also add to your order with prepared foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, wine, beer and more.

    Neighborhood Provisions Weekend Date Night Oaxacan vegetable chileajo

  4. Hood Drops. The mash-up between a pick-up and delivery is a ‘hood drop, which is when a restaurant designates drop off spots on specific days. I don’t think this existed in the pre-Covid era, but the truth is I don’t remember that far back. Hooray for Shouk and PLNT Burger- two vegan/kosher restaurants that are all in on the concept. I’ve been observing Meatless Mondays since January. I’ll take Shouk’s flavor-packed cauliflower bowl or eggplant burger any night of the week. PLNT Burger just launched the Crispy Chik N Funguy, which involves deep fried mushrooms masquerading as spicy chicken. Some items travel better than others, but for a weeknight option this is a treat.
  5. Supporting a Mission. When so many people are struggling, it’s a bonus when you can support a restaurant and a cause at the same time. RASA serves free meals to furloughed employees and their families, school children, and hospital workers through their Feed the District fundraiser. The fast-casual Indian restaurant operates in DC’s Navy Yard neighborhood and just opened a second location in Mount Vernon Triangle. Muchas Gracias, the terrific Latin American pop-up from Executive Chef Christian Irabién, helps support immigrant workers. A taco platter with steak fajitas and a spicy margarita hits the spot. This is feel good food in more ways than one.
  6. Just desserts. The days of ordering one dessert and getting multiple forks to accommodate your entire party are over. I’m not mad about this. I can now order Chef Alex Levin’s Rich Decadent Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce from Alta Strada or Nama and have it all to myself. I can also swing by Ellē and pick up pineapple chili lime scones and s’mores pie and savor bites over the course of a few days. I carefully consider dessert offerings on takeout menus, and order something I can pop in the freezer to dig out one afternoon when I need a pick-me-up. This gives Home Sweet Home new meaning.

    Alta Strada and Nama Decadent Chocolate Cake

  7. Creativity rules. Restaurant owners must get creative to keep their business afloat. Clarity Chef/Owner Jonathan Krinn turned his Vienna, Virginia parking lot into a tented village for diners. For those who aren’t entirely comfortable with eating on a restaurant’s patio (insert raised hand emoji) this is the perfect compromise. The special-occasion food is elegant and sophisticated, and the service is appropriately distanced yet super friendly. I put on a nice summer dress and shoes with heels and revel in a meal that features rice flake crusted Chesapeake Bay softshell crab, herb roasted lamb loin, and strawberry bread pudding. Krinn recently added an oyster, smoked barbeque, and crudo bar on the patio, and offers smoked barbecue to go seven nights a week.

    Clarity soft shell crab

    Clarity tented village

  8. Destination dining. Who doesn’t miss travel? I can’t watch a food and travel show without getting a lump in my throat. I once found “Somebody Feed Phil” endearing, but viewing it now brings on a serious bout of FOMO. It’s time to indulge in some make-believe. Breakfast at a sidewalk café in Tel Aviv isn’t in the cards for the foreseeable future, but I can sit on Alta Strada’s patio and eat shakshuka on a humid summer day. Trips to Peru and Argentina are in the distant past, but I can feed my nostalgia with crispy chicken empanadas from Serenata at La Cosecha Market, which I wash down with a spirited Latin-infused frozen cocktail. Mexico City comes to life with takeout from Cielo Rojo in Takoma Park. The food is perfection. I enhance the presentation with brightly colored placemats and ceramic pottery which I picked up in a Mexico City market a few years ago. If it’s a summery island breeze you crave, stop by Coconut Club for Chef Adam Greenberg’s coconut chicken. The restaurant also features a Beach Picnic Window on Thursday’s – Sunday.
  9. Pop-ups abound. Opportunity knocks for those who are willing and able to take advantage of it. Now popping up is a mobile location of Timber Pizza in a neighborhood just behind Rockville Pike near White Flint, and a pretty pink mobile trolley car in Bethesda as a second location for Call Your Mother. Last year I would have told you this was my dream for Montgomery County. I would never have predicted it would come true in the midst of a pandemic. Another pop-up that has my attention- Chef/Restaurateur Mike Friedman is channeling his Jewish roots with Delikatessen at All-Purpose Shaw. The weekend takeout menu features bagel sandwiches, deli classics, latkes, and black and white cookies.

    Call Your Mother trolley

10. Pace yourself. If you have ever felt fatigue somewhere in the middle of a multi-course tasting menu, you can now take things into your own hands. Many restaurants are offering multi-course meals for takeout, and you can choose your own adventure.  Rooster and Owl, Bresca, Centrolina, and Gravitas are just a few of the restaurants where you can order a set menu and stick a fork in it according to your own timetable.

Rooster & Owl 4-Course Dinner

Kuya Ja chicken wings

11. Home is where the heart is. There was a time when I would joyfully hop on the metro on a weeknight to explore a DC restaurant. Now I barely leave the house during the week. When I do seek outside sustenance, I don’t stray too far. I’m grateful for Hollywood East, Kuya Ja, Bangkok Garden, Frankly Pizza, and Full On Craft for being in close range and keeping me sated. I hope to visit more often in the coming months.

Many of my friends and family have been following my posts since the beginning, and I appreciate their unwavering support and patience over the past decade. I’m also extremely grateful for the friends I’ve made along the way as a result of this blog. They join me in an insatiable desire to explore food and seek knowledge about what it is we are eating. I count my blessings every day and look forward to a future when we can share a meal together without a care in the world.

Albi, 1346 4th St SE, Washington, DC

Alta Strada (DC), 465 K St NW, Washington, DC

Anju, 1805 18th St NW, Washington, DC

Bad Saint, 3226 11th St NW, Washington, DC

Bangkok Garden, 891 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD

Bresca, 1906 14th St NW, Washington, DC

Call Your Mother (multiple locations) Bethesda 8804 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD

Cane, 403 H St NE, Washington, DC

Centrolina, 974 Palmer Alley NW, Washington, DC

Cielo Rojo, 7056 Carroll Ave, Takoma Park, MD

Clarity, 442 Maple Ave E, Vienna, VA

Coconut Club, 540 Penn St NE, Washington, DC

The Dabney, 122 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC

Delikatessen at All-Purpose Shaw, 1250 9th St NW, Washington, DC

Ellē, 3221 Mt Pleasant St NW, Washington, DC

Frankly Pizza, 10417 Armory Ave, Kensington, MD

Full On Craft Eats & Drinks, 4007 Norbeck Rd, Rockville, MD

Gravitas, 1401 Okie St NE, Washington, DC

The Greek Spot, 2017 11th St NW, Washington, DC

Hatoba, 300 Tingey St SE #170, Washington, DC

Hollywood East Cafe, 11160 Veirs Mill Rd, Wheaton, MD

Komi/Happy Gyro, 1509 17th St NW, Washington, DC

Kuya Ja, 5268-H, Nicholson Ln, Kensington, MD

Little Serow, 1511 17th St NW, Washington, DC

Maydan, 1346 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC

Muchas Gracias, 5029 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC

Nama, 465 K St NW, Washington, DC

Neighborhood Provisions (multiple locations)

PLNT Burger (multiple locations)

RASA (multiple locations)

Rooster & Owl,  2436 14th St NW, Washington, DC

Serenata, 1280 4th St NE, Washington, DC

Sfoglina, 4445 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC

Shouk (multiple locations)

Timber Pizza, 809 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC (see website or call for Rockville and other mobile locations)





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