Random Reader Rant and/or Revel

Photo by PoPville flickr user dullshick

You can talk about whatever is on your mind – quality of life issues, a beautiful tree you spotted, scuttlebutt, or any random questions/thoughts you may have. But please no personal attacks and no need to correct people’s grammar. This is a place to vent and/or celebrate things about daily life in DC.

70 Comment

  • I’m sort of fed up with going out to eat in DC.

    Met up with an old friend at a place on 14th Street for a small bite and a bit of wine. We each had two small plates and two glasses of wine. The total was nearly $60 per person once you factored in tax + 18% tip. We mostly had vegetarian dishes, so these weren’t even the most expensive dishes on the menu. And this place is one of the older spots on 14th, basically a bar with food.

    For me, the value proposition is no longer there. For $60/each, we could had some outstanding wine and a great meal at my house. It was nice to go out to catch up with my friend, but I’m sick of dropping at least $50 every time I want to catch a half decent meal in my neighborhood. I feel like you’re either choosing between inexpensive fast food-style place (e.g. Black & Orange, which I really like) or $50 per person minimum to just sit down somewhere.

    Money isn’t even an issue, since I can afford it and I don’t go out that often. But still, I feel like I didn’t get much for my money.

    [/first world problems]

    • I hear ya. My girlfriend and I have stopped going out to eat almost entirely– it’s really hard to justify spending that much. Especially since most restaurants either have problems with the service or ambiance, even if the food is good.

      • Yeah, I’m on the verge of calling it quits for DC restaurants. Unless it’s a really special occasion (anniversary or family in town), I think I’m just going to stick with meals at home or a friend’s house. I’m a good cook and the restaurants just aren’t cutting it – in terms of quality, quantity, and service – if that’s the price they want to charge.

        Small plates starting at $8 and going up to $16 is a joke. And pretty much all the places on 14th Street are guilty of this.

    • msmaryedith

      I hear you. A friend and I went to Mintwood last night and it was really good–but I am not sure it was $200 for 2 good. I think part of the problem is that I am used to meals in New Orleans that cost half as much as DC meals but are 10x better.

      But the freaking “small plate” trend needs to die, though. It’s infuriating to leave a place having dropped $60 and not even feel remotely full. Especially when you look at it as “I basically just ate $1 worth of brussels sprouts but the plate was $10.”

      • not a fan of the small plates, as I agree with all that they drive up the price of a meal and just wind up resulting in an expensive meal.

        I think everyone knows how good a place Founding Farmers is (reasonably priced AND delicious), but just a heads up that you can also bring 2 bottles of wine here and wont get charged a corking fee! After 2, they charge you $15 per bottle to cork, still a good deal all things considered. Just thought I’d throw it out there since I only found this out recently…

        • msmaryedith

          Thanks for the heads up! I really love Founding Farmers and agree that it is a steal as far as DC dining goes, but that’s a great thing to know.

        • Wow, great tip! Do they advertise this? How did you discover this? Did they give you any hassles?

          Their food is great and reasonably priced, in addition to having a very nice ambiance. I’ll plan my next special occasion meal there.

          • i heard about it from a friend and was equally as shocked as you are. The waiters didnt give us any hassle at all (ive done it twice now)…we just brought our bottles with us and told the waiter we heard about the ‘no corking fee’ upon being asked for our drink order. he then brought our glasses and opened the bottle for us 🙂

        • Seems like no one is a fan of small plates but these places keep opening up. I think they’re ok if you just want a snack to go along with drinks (which I believe is what they were originally intended for) and the portions are not laughably small.

          • I like small plates, but there was a time when it was actually affordable to eat out that way. I remember when My wife and I could eat and drink at jaleo and we felt like it was a really good deal. Nowadays no way.

          • Exactly. Small plates, while originally designed for having a small bite to soak up a drink, have now replaced the “dinner” plates at many restaurants. They’ll sell you three small plates at $10 each that don’t fill you up, instead of offering one large filling dinner meal at $20. Then factor in two glasses of wine at the grossly inflated price of $10/each and you quickly have a $60 meal.

            The place I went to last night didn’t have any full dinner meals on their menu. There’s at least 4 or 5 other places on 14th Street doing the same thing.

            If I feel like I’m getting fleeced, I’m not going to go out any more. I’d rather spend my cash at Trader Joe’s or HT’s getting the ingredients for an awesome meal at 20% of the price of going out.

    • I hear you but not real surprising that luxury housing begets luxury restaurants. The same market forces that drive residential rents and purchase prices up also push commercial rents up, which pushes the prices of what they sell up. And in general, food is becoming more expensive.

      • I think there’s a huge demand for non-luxury housing that’s a little more affordable, just as there’s a huge demand for non-pretentious affordable dining. You can either live in a fancy apartment and eat small plates, or live in a totally sketchy one and eat Popeyes. There’s not much middle ground available.

        • *ding*ding*ding*

          Not all of us want stainless steel, marble bathrooms, designer cabinetry, and Brazilian old growth rainforest wood floors at $600K. But that’s all developers seem to be building because of the massive returns it generates. Even people who can afford that don’t necessarily want it because they’d rather have their liquidity in other investments, instead of tying it all up in their house.

          There’s definitely a HUGE market out there for more reasonable, non-luxury housing in DC that don’t require you to over-leverage yourself. But no one wants to go for it. Same goes for non-pretentious restaurants.

        • Demand is not the only market force. I’m sure there is a ton of demand for $1500/mo. or $300k spacious one-bedrooms along the 14th St. corridor. But land values and construction costs being what they are, those prices are not happening in that area – unless you have some sort of taxpayer-subsidized housing.
          You could find those prices in a more “sketch” area; so might an aspiring restauranteur who can’t afford (or doesn’t want to) to pay premium rent that would require charging premium prices.

    • My husband and I go out to eat a good bit and rarely end up with bills over $50 for the two of us (with tax and tip). We typically share drinks and appetizers but have our own entrees. And this is all around Logan and Dupon Circle – not sure how you easily get to $60 each time (I guess the drinks?!). We also us groupon a good bunch so that can help.

  • The Tea Party is coming to town and bringing White Nationalists galore. They’re going to be at this cute little dueling piano bar in National Harbor. A few people got together to petition the venue to stop hosting hate groups. Bobby Mckey’s ALSO hosts events for the LGBT community. Rick Santorum is on the guest list.


    • There’s a certain level of irony that they’re hosting an event at a piano bar, considering that older gay men probably make up 80% of their usual clientele.


      • To be honest, I suspect this particular “dueling piano bars” is more the domain of drunk frat boys or convention goers screaming over Elton John and Billy Joel numbers. I tend to associate those types of places with Bourbon Street/Beale Street/Inner Habor/Power City Live etc.

        Fair play to you with your petition – it’s important to be a concious consumer. But remember, the Tea Party in principle exists to address the quite real issue of deficit reduction/entitlement reform and runaway government spending. The fact that they attract dubious elements of right wing/Christian fundamentalism isn’t necessarily central to (or helping) their cause.

        I’m a loud and proud Obama supporter, but I do try to embrace healthy debate and free speech, even when I find the subject matter noxious.

    • saf

      I am so grateful that this year CPAC is in MD, rather than at Woodley Park. So much easier to ignore them.

      That said, the fact is, this group will always bring in those types. It’s important to point out that their choice to support hate will result in lost business.

      • Amen!
        whenever they’re in Woodley, it’s am embarrassment – at least this way they are contained and not venturing out where there are minorities and homosexuals!

        I made the mistake of once meeting a girlfriend for brunch at Open City during CPAC because I didn’t know it was CPAC since I have a soul…let me tell you, if you have to advertise how much you love America by wearing red, white, and blue and lots of slogans on buttons, you have issues.

  • Rave: 236,000
    Rave2: 7.7%
    Rave3: Friday
    Rave4: Caps! 7-1!!!
    Rave5: Shamrock Bar Crawl tomorrow with a big group of friends.

    Rant: Agree with above poster. DC is expensive. I can afford it, but its annoying.

  • Rave: Had a very educational macaron class with Winnette from the Sweet Lobby. Can’t wait to try again at home; I think they will turn out so much better now that I’ve gotten expert advice.

    Rant: Refinance saga continues. We’ve been at it since September and this is the 4th time we’ve had our closing cancelled at the last minute. Fingers crossed that it happens on Monday.

    Another rave: Weather looks nice for this weekend!

    • msmaryedith

      Oh man, a friend gave me a macaron cookbook–I attempted them one time and it ended in tears! They are HARD! Hope your lessons helped 🙂

      • It’s not worth your tears… just get your macarons at Le Caprice on 14th. They’re perfection in three small bites.

        • I actually don’t have much interest in buying macarons (I live two blocks from the Sweet Lobby but only get them for myself once or twice a year). I guess I’m more interested in the culinary challenge. It drives me crazy that I can make a three tier 300-serving wedding cake in my tiny kitchen but can’t manage to turn out a decent macaron.

      • I was in tears the first time I made macarons too… which must sound ridiculous, but after you’ve spent so much time and money and effort on something it’s hard not to get emotional when it fails.

        • msmaryedith

          Exactly! They’re expensive to make and to have whole batches just flop is demoralizing. Glad I’m not the only one to shed tears over them 🙂

        • But are you the Caroline who always gets amazing food pictures posted on PoP? If so, celebrate your success, and try again in two or three days. Pastries can be hard to perfect.

  • Rant: DC Council Hearings are a shit show. Every year its the saaame people glossing over the real issues. Screw sex ed…let’s talk about services for children with special healthcare needs. Or why there are so many key positions open in the Department of Health, and how this is affecting programs and service delivery.
    Come one man…stop the foolishness.

  • saf

    Rant – Safeway construction. Stupid trucks.

    • SAF, did I send you the contact information if they are starting too early, or if they are leaving the engines running. I owe that info to one of your neighbors too, but I have to dig it out, since I can’t access the anc account anymore.

      • saf

        I got some info from the developer, and some from you. I think I have the correct information.

        Really, my biggest problem is that the trucks are RIGHTBEHIND my house all day starting as early as possible. It’s noisy. The house shakes. My trash cans and my fence are at risk. My back alley is unusable, my back yard will be unusable all summer. Now that the trucks can’t go out the front we have trucks coming AND going.

        It is worse than the metro construction was.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Rant: Heard on the news this morning that Congress is expected to extend the federal worker pay freeze.

    Rave: No plans this weekend.

  • Rant: Fingers still smell like onions from my attempt at sweet potato and black bean chilli last night. Which, by the way, did not turn out well!

    Rant: Opened my purse this morning to find sticky lip gloss on everything.

    Rant: No work to do today. Please put me out of my misery.

    Rave: TGIF!

  • Rant: Almost every time I go out to dinner I end up with a migraine. Last night’s is still around this morning. So many foods are migraine triggers for me they’re just hard to avoid. And so many places use seasonings that are migraine triggers, so even if I can avoid the food triggers the seasonings are hard to avoid. Ugh – it just kills my social life.

    • novadancer

      You might want to try food intolerance testing. I did this at a naturopathic dr, and found I had a whole slew of issues with the biggest culprit being rosemary.

      • Thanks! I’ll look into that. I’ve not done any actual testing, but I have done an elimination diet. It turns out that when I added back eliminated known migraine triggers, pretty much all of them trigger migraines (or at least really bad headaches). I know how to avoid most of the foods (usually involves ordering a veggie plate when I’m eating out), but it is really hard to avoid some of the seasonings (restaurants seem to sneak stuff like Lowry’s, Accent, or MSG into damn near everything these days). It is really unfortunate, because I used to be a pretty adventurous eater.

        • That’s sad, although the commenters above would probably say it’s not worth going out to eat anyway. 🙂

          Are you staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, etc? I read a book about migraines that said they’re caused by a buildup of triggers and not just one thing. So you might be able to eat trigger foods as long as there aren’t a few other triggers present (strong smells, loud noises, bright lights, dehydration, stress, exercise, sleep deprivation). Does that make sense? I’ve eliminated migraines almost entirely by drinking lots of water and avoiding certain foods or environments or activities if I feel a headache coming on.

      • Be careful, though… since naturopathy isn’t real medicine, and people who practice it tend to be quacks.

        I say that with respect. I just don’t think people should be putting faith in a person whose medical knowledge isn’t really up to modern, Western snuff.

        • THANK YOU. My girlfriend has been seeing ayuverdic and naturopathic doctors recently and I feel she’s putting way to much faith in them. One of them has her on a diet that involves drinking melted in ghee in the morning, taking 50 herbal pills a day (not exaggerating), and eating a very restrictive diet that I think will make it hard to get proper nutrition. I wonder how rigorously the effects of all this have been studied.

        • novadancer

          eye roll. It’s an ALCAT test that a nutritionist can do to… just happened to get it while I was seeing a n/p…

  • Rave: Finally got the opportunity to try Greek Deli thanks to a doctor’s appointment near by. Holy moly that is good.

    Rant: So full, just want to take a nap.

  • pablo .raw

    Rave: Friday
    Rave: lunch at Waterfront’s “zebra girl”
    Rave: consultant work going well
    Rave: photography tomorrow

  • Rant: General blah feeling the last few days. I need an attitude adjustment.

    Double rant: Went to a Korean spa on Monday (not Spa World), and they used irish spring soap for the exfoliation. I’m a little sensitive to perfumed soaps to begin with, but my skin has totally freaked out. I look like I’m covered with a combination of a heat rash and acne. Lovely.

  • Rave: First chiropractic adjustment in ages – took up a big chunk of my morning but I feel soooo good now.
    Rant/Rave: Jelly legs from a killer spin workout on Wed and riding two horses on Thurs. Hopefully building more muscle.
    Rave: Looking forward to a wonderful weekend full of friends, beautiful weather, yummy food and an 8k race with my husband.

  • MsNesbitt

    Rant: Group project always make me wonder how my classmates got into grad school in the first place.

    Rave: It’s snowing in NYC and it’s beeaauutiful!

  • Rant: I’m tired of not being inspired to cook. I’ve got very little energy when I get home (whether it’s pregnancy or my mandated lack of gym time, which I hope ends soon). I’m not hungry. I’ve had matzo ball soup from Hymies on the Main Line (yum…folks brought me some last week) two nights in a row.

    Rave: plans to hit Wegmans this weekend and pre-make some things like soup and stuffed shells.

    Rant: the cost of day care in this city. WTF? $2k a month? OR an 18 month wait list? I don’t see how people do it. We aren’t high-up GSs, but neither of our jobs has child care centers with priorities. I can’t imagine how regular people do it, or poor people. Answer is, they don’t – they skimp on things and don’t save for their or their kids futures. This is my fear, esp given the uncertainty of federal employment (yes, losing 20% of my income will matter)

  • You’re cooking up a HUMAN. This takes a lot of energy. Cut yourself some slack.

    And, look into nanny sharing. Our best family-friends in DC are the family we met for purposes of nanny sharing over six years ago. Our kids are like siblings. And the price was right and the care was excellent.

    • We really liked nanny share while we waited to get into first baptist CDC down in Dupont. Check out DCurbanmoms to find one….

      • Be careful not to damage your sense of humanity by lingering too long on DCUM. They often have their hatchets out.

        • been on there – the infertility folks are generally a great support for all who post there, and lovely women in a due date thread – but generally the anonymity there eggs on trolls. We’ve found a couple to try to start a nanny share since we’re looking to start around the same time, but the cost of that isn’t sustainable, either, given the taxes, insurance, an supplies you need for that (food for the nanny, a double stroller, vacation/sick day care for the nanny etc). but we’re checking out all options.

          and I can’t cut myself slack – that’s how I am. I want to cook and provide healthy food stuffs for us, but I find I’m all “here’s a bagel…enjoy”. That’s not good!

  • Rant: Been pretty healthy these last few years, so haven’t been to see the Doctor. Need to go see my Doctor, but stupid policy has booted me as a patient since I haven’t been for some time, and now am considered a “new” patient and they may not be taking new patients! Been going to this office for 20 years and they have all my medical records! “New”? WTF! I sometimes hate bureaucratic senseless operations.

  • We’re totally pregnant! Out of the 1st trimester and everything points to a healthy baby. Saw legs and feet and arms and hands today on the sonogram. I was excited before, but I’m more excited now. I’m also super freakin nervous and scared, but I’m sure I’ll do fine. I know my wife will b/c she’s an absolute rock star! Still praying for no complications and a healthy baby going forward.

    • Congratulations. Your enthusiasm is awesome. Being a parent is one of the greatest joys in the world – except for the whole perpetual sleep deprivation part.

    • Mazel tov! can’t WAIT for the first tri to be over so I can actually tell people I care about (not that I don’t care about POPville…but…you know, like my sister and stuff).

      • Emmaleigh504

        You haven’t told your sister? I thought people still told siblings & parents even if they don’t tell the world. I get not telling the world, but I would want my sister’s support for any good or bad developments. But my sister and I are pretty close, so maybe I’m projecting.

        • No only my mom (and spouse) knows because of the whole ivf thing and the support she gave me. She knew hen results were in so it wasn’t realistic to withhold

  • Semi Rant: I have a big decision to make and I don’t know what the right answer is. I keep hoping that something will just click but so far it hasn’t. With major life decisions in the past I have always been pretty confident that I was making the right choice.

    • Use Freakonomics Experiments! https://www.freakonomicsexperiments.com/

      On a serious note, I am with you. I often look back and wonder where I conjured the strength to make big decisions and changes. But then I also think that I haven’t lost that ability/power/chutzpah and that I will be able to do it again. And I’ve probably learned to make better decisions now. So good luck!

      • I’ve used the coin toss before – what is most important is your immediate reaction right after you see the result of the coin toss. Happy? Disappointed? This is an indicator of your unconscious preference. You may still make a different decision, but this can be useful information.

  • It will sell quickly.

    But then you’ll need to find another place to live and rents are out of control right now. So yeah, it’s a Catch 22. The only people who should be selling are those who have plans to downsize, are willing to move to a crappier area of DC, or are leaving the metro area entirely. If you’re looking to get into a bigger place or a nicer neighborhood you’ll be competing with tons of other people.

    If you’re a Baby Boomer or already retired, this an AWESOME time to sell that large house and downsize. This opportunity won’t come again to get such high prices. Once interest rates go up and budget cuts start finally coming through, prices are going to flatline or decline.

  • skj84

    Rave: The weather this weekend sounds like it’ll be beautiful! 60 degrees and sunny is exactly what I need.

    Rant: Broke. I think I need a second job. I hate working 2 jobs at once, but I may not have a choice.

    Rave: Brother and Sister in Law coming down to visit next week. It’ll be good to see them.

    Rant: I feels like I barely get to see Brother since he got married. He spends a lot of time with Sister in Laws family which is great, but its almost like he neglects mine. I’m glad he gets along with his inlaws, but I miss him.

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