<![CDATA[away from my desk - Blog]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:29:00 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Siné Irish Pub & Restaurant // trivia night]]>Tue, 12 Jan 2016 22:15:28 GMThttp://awayfrommydesk.weebly.com/blog/sine-irish-pub-restaurant-trivia-nightAs a child, I proudly bore the bookworm label. I quite literally wandered sidewalks, parking lots and hallways with my nose in a book, and got pretty skilled at navigating potholes, puddles and poles with my mind and sense absorbed in whatever great literary work I was buried in at the time - more often than not one of the Boxcar Children books or Babysitters Club adventures.

I also have childhood friends with wonderfully embarrassing stories about the time I decided to rewrite an encyclopedia on animals - presumably so there would be a second copy, although now I can't for the life of me think of why I would have to take recreating an encyclopedia on at the age of 6. 

​I was a BrainQuest fiend, a master of Juvenile Trivial Pursuit, and a pursuer of all kinds of fun facts. So when as an adult I realized trivia was combined with beer and prizes, I was both a little upset that no one had given me an award for my fun fact knowledge before, and mostly excited that my childhood geekiness might be rewarded with money for bar snacks.

Unfortunately, I haven't spent the last decade brushing up on pop culture, sports, American history or the myriad of much more obscure topics that pop up in adult trivia. So while I'm set if you want to know what SAD stands for as a condition related to sadness in winter (Seasonal Affective Disorder - I learned about it in a mental health session as part of my training as a college RA in Minnesota, where many months are cold and grey, and put residents at risk of seasonal depression), or if you need someone to identify the seal of the Department of the Interior (a bison - I know because majoring in geography leaves you with some random bits of knowledge, and because I love bison)... overall, I'm no longer the trivia whiz I was in elementary school.
Despite the fact that I'm no longer a trivia great, I still love the guessing, thinking and (potential) winning. I also dream of being a regular at a bar or pub, and going to a trivia night regularly would be a step in the right direction. So I began my quest for trivia domination - or at least a good time with great company in a fun environment.

Sunday night I checked out Siné Irish Pub & Restaurant, where an accommodating waitress helped me and my teammates squeeze into a table at the back of the trivia room, and brought us chairs. We arrived just in time to get seated with our sheets for trivia, and the District Trivia call began the night's festivities. At Siné, trivia questions get progressively hard from beginning to end of each 5 rounds, with the first question of each round being the easiest, and the last significantly more likely to stump players. Between rounds there are worksheets of various types (puzzles, pictures, fill in and music) that add to your score - they had us naming government departments with glimpses of their seals, matching famous figures to their last words, naming movie directors and trying to figure out song titles and artists from brief music clips.

The questions were, I thought, mostly fair - but the rounds weren't thematic, which I think makes trivia a lot more fun. The caller also did a good job of managing the crowd and leading the night - though she didn't seem to be having much fun. District Trivia definitely knows what they're doing. They run trivia nights at a ton of DC area restaurants, bars and pubs, and even have a podcast (as we were reminded a few times throughout the evening) - but I'm looking for a more current events centered trivia night, which didn't come up at all.

While the trivia was good, Siné wasn't a great fit for me and my teammates. The table of 50-somethings right next to us wasn't participating in the trivia night officially, but they had no problem yelling out answers and making derisive remarks about questions through most rounds of the night. I'm not sure if they were drunk or just trying to be funny, but they were definitely rowdy. Beyond that, though, the restaurant had an area that was clearly meant to be mostly for trivia, but was used for all patrons. Understandable, especially when the place was as packed as it was - we nabbed the last table anywhere near trivia when we arrived on time. That said, I'm learning that I'm more interested in a trivia night where the crowd is all participating in the game - probably something I'll find at a bar or pub, but not at a family-friendly restaurant.

I can't speak to the food at Siné, but my Blue Moon came with the standard orange slice garnish, so no complaints there. I'd give Siné's trivia night 4/10 rowdy 50-somethings. It just wasn't the right setting or trivia for me, but service was good and it was a nice looking restaurant if you're into Irish food.
PS: My rating system is based on the one Gilmore Guys (a podcast by Kevin Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe run, covering all things Gilmore Girls, which I have recently begun listening to fanatically). So thank you, Kevin and Demi, for introducing me to irreverent rating, which is much more fun than reverent rating.
<![CDATA[the blog begins // rhodeside grill]]>Mon, 11 Jan 2016 22:19:29 GMThttp://awayfrommydesk.weebly.com/blog/the-blog-begins-rhodeside-grill
Brunch is very, very important in DC (and Arlington), and I've been shirking my duty over the last few months. The city is teeming with all sorts of brunch places - they range from boozy cereal milkshakes (everyone should try these at least once) at Shaw bar Satellite Room, to lush sweet potato pancakes at Tupelo Honey in Arlington's Courthouse neighborhood.

In the New Year, one of my unofficial resolutions is to eat more brunch. This is a little problematic, as I'm also working on exercising more and eating more salad... but I'm crossing my fingers that my 2016 goals aren't TOO contradictory, because long-term happiness (gym-attending) and short-term happiness (brunch-eating) are both important. Or so I'm saying, a week and a half into the year.

I started my brunch close to home, in Arlington. Rhodeside Grill offers a pretty classic brunch menu, with a couple of unexpected twists. As a vegetarian, I'm used to taking my Eggs Benedict with spinach instead of Canadian ham - but I'm a sucker for alternatives to sometimes mushy greens. So when i saw Fried Green Tomato Benedicts on the menu, I was sold.

This is big for me. I've been vegetarian for about 14 years now, but tomatoes are definitely not my forte. I'm also a recent onion convert (I still can't bring myself to eat them raw), and I can really only tolerate mushrooms and eggplant when they're expertly disguised in soup or seriously unhealthy amounts of marinara sauce and cheese.

So with a little trepidation, I put on my adult-iest voice and ordered a the Fried Green Tomato Benedict, with a side of fresh fruit (because healthy). The hollandaise was creamy and a tiny bit spicy, which was a great addition to the otherwise mildly spiced dish. And the tomato was happily delicious as well, though it slipped out of its breading every now and then. I was a little overwhelmed by the greasiness of it all - I'm not sure what I was expecting from a fried green tomato, but the oiliness of it all threw a wrench in my health goals for the day. The potatoes it came with were pillowy with crunchy exteriors, and mixed with skillet peppers and onions. Breakfast potatoes are my biggest brunch weakness. Even more than benedicts, they determine my rating of a brunch. So they more than made up for a slightly slippery, heavy main dish.

However, the pièce de résistance of the brunch menu at Rhodeside is an unlimited waffle and omelette option. They offer all the omelette fillings you could dream of, plus an amazing selection of fresh fruit to top your waffle. You also have access to as many breakfast potatoes, biscuits with gravy and bacon strips as you can eat. A word to the wise - they also have bowls of whipped butter and whipped cream out, unlabeled and next to each other. Don't make the mistake of taking gobs of whipped butter, as my unsuspecting brunch-mates did - it doesn't go as well with fresh fruit as the slightly sweet and light whipped cream. 

Oh, and this all costs $15. For all you can eat EVERYTHING. The same as my benedict and fruit cup. 
From what I heard of the waffles and omelettes, they were fairly standard buffet fare. But for $15, they've got to be one of the best deals in the DMV!
The biggest downside to brunch was the wait for the check. We sat for about 30 minutes after we finished eating before we got the bills. Our waitress was very sweet, but must have gotten distracted - it was as though she'd forgotten we were there at all! So if you visit, be prepared to wait, or be more aggressive than we were about flagging your server down.

Overall, I'd give my meal 6/10 greasy tomatoes (and to be honest, the service was mediocre at best) - but if you're in the market for a brunch buffet, I would highly recommend the waffle and omelette option. PLUS, there was no wait at 11:30 on a Sunday, and tons of space. If you have the hunger and time, Rhodeside Grill is definitely good bang for your buck.