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Summer is officially over, so that means that it's time to turn our thoughts to heartier food. Steakhouses are known for deal-making, so take advantage and strike a deal of your own at two local steakhouses. If you're still clinging to summer, spend Saturday tasting food in Friendship Heights or eat brats on Barracks Row. As for new restaurants, Lebanese mezze and some new K Street eats are tempting.
Steak for a Steal
If it's a steak you're craving on a burger budget, book lunch at these two top D.C. steakhouses. You'll score prime meat at stellar prices.
Dinner at Prime Rib is not an everyday affair -- the prices and dress code of a tie and jacket make it less than realistic for most -- so that makes this lunch special pretty enticing. For starters, there's no daytime dress code. You may not want to saunter in dressed in Reefs and cut-offs, but you won't be forced to don one of the house sport coats. There is also a very reasonable price tag on lunch. If your perfect lunch is a nice salad, the restaurant offers a two-course salad deal for $14.95. Start with a bowl of roasted tomato soup -- the perfect soup for transitioning into fall -- with your choice of a house or Caesar salad topped with slices of grilled steak or chicken.
If you're looking for a steakhouse lunch, $24.95 will get you a three-course meal. Start with your choice of salad or tomato soup and follow up with the house prime rib, a London broil, chicken piccata, fillet of fresh fish or a prime rib sandwich, all served with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. If you've still got room, dessert is a choice of crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e or key lime pie.
On the Hill, Charlie Palmer Steak serves its Restaurant Week promotion lunch year-round. For $20, you can have a three-course steakhouse meal. Choose from three appetizers -- field greens, a trout or tuna tartare -- two different steaks or chicken for the main course and cheesecake or a chocolate mousse pave for dessert.
The James Beard Foundation is celebrating American cuisine this weekend with Taste America, a national ode to American cuisine. Friday night is an all-star D.C. chefs' dinner at Vidalia. It'll cost you $250 a plate, but Ann Cashion, Jeff Buben, Ann Amernic, R.J. Cooper, Roberto Donna, Bob Kinkead and Ris Lacoste will be featured chefs.
If you're looking to go a bit more casual, head to Williams-Sonoma Saturday from 11 until 4 for cooking demonstrations by Cooper (a recent recipient of the Mid-Atlantic James Beard Award), samples from local cheese-makers and specialty food purveyors. There will be kids' activities and Bob Kinkead will sign copies of his cookbook.
While you're in Friendship Heights, sample fare from the local restaurants at Taste of Friendship Heights, which lasts from noon until 5 p.m. Indique Heights, Clyde's, Bambule, Famoso/M Cafe, Lia's and Gifford's will be participating. Tickets cost $1 each and most food samples require three tickets. There will also be live music and entertainment.
There are plenty of free activities going on this weekend, but I'm particularly excited about Barracks Row Fest. In honor of Oktoberfest, this year's event will feature a beer garden and some German music, but the real draw for me will be when some of the country's top military cooks face off in an Iron Chef competition. You won't be able to try their food, but there will be food vendors offerings brats and sausages along with standard street food.
New Around Town
Less than a week after the opening of Restaurant K by Alison Swope, the notorious K Street suits have already settled in. The menu offers an interesting array of creative takes on American fare, including plenty of salads, a lobster and crab shepherd's pie, two steak choices, a vegetarian pasta and a vegan grit cake. Swope is no stranger to the area dining scene. She previously spiced things up at Penn Quarter's Andale and she's brought some of that experience to K Street. From a bar menu featuring margaritas, guacamole and taquitos to enchiladas and chile rellenos on the lunch menu, she's infused the menu with Mexican touches.
The entree prices range from about $18 for chicken two ways to $29 for the shepherd's pie, but happy hour runs from 5 until 7 during the week and is a good time to visit. You'll find cocktails like the vanilla julep and sangria for $5.95 and discounts on bar offerings like the wild mushroom baklava with goat cheese, gruyere fritters, addictive shoestring fries with chili oil and feta cheese and a duck pastrami sandwich.
The short-lived Courthouse location of Sala Thai has been replaced by Me Jana, a Lebanese restaurant specializing in mezze. I'm skeptical of the price points for large portions, but it seems like the perfect place to go with a group for sampling the mezze. There's a nice array of choices, including shawarma, shish taouk and kebobs, as well as stewed lima beans, zucchini fritters and kibbe. The mezze prices run from $5.50 for a pickled mix of olives, turnips and peppers to $14 for a lamb shank. If you do opt for a main plate, look to spend $28 for the lamb shank with truffled whipped potatoes or $29 for lamb chops.
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