Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Suggestions for things to do in Johnson City, Tenn.

Last week I asked Facebook friends of things I should see and do while in Johnson City, Tenn. I am planning a trip there in a few weeks and was wondering what I shouldn’t miss.

Besides warnings about zealous traffic cops, one friend suggested Pal’s for hotdogs and fries. I’m hoping to get a few more ideas before I head there in a few weeks.

Shalimar Restaurant

Last week I made a whirlwind trip to Kentucky. While there I got to see family. Unfortunately it was all too brief. The holidays are around the corner so I’ll get to see them again soon, and Chris and Sidney will be able to join me.

One evening, my in-laws and I went to Shalimar Restaurant in Louisville, Ky. Chris and I have gone with them before and enjoyed it. My in-laws go fairly often.

This Indian restaurant is tucked away in a a strip shopping center. If you’re not up for Indian, the center also has Chinese and Mexican restaurants a couple doors down.

Shalimar features lamb, goat, chicken, seafood and vegetarian dishes. While we looked over the menu, naan and chutney were brought to the table. The chutneys were mint, tamarind and onion.

I selected nav ratan korma, which is a cream-based dish with cauliflower, potatoes, chickpeas, lima beans, peas, green beans, carrots, cashews and raisins. My in-laws selected chicken curry and chicken kadal, which is chicken served with bell peppers, tomatoes and onions. Each of us received our own bowl of rice, and we, of course, shared the dishes.

For bread, we choose two rotis, which made eight triangles. They were good, but were sort of wet. It didn’t seem to be from butter or grease. Rotis are baked or cooked on a griddle, not fried. So I think it must have been from sitting covered under a heat lamp.

The vegetable dish was my favorite. The variety of the vegetables provided a lot of different textures and tastes compared to the chicken dishes. The curry was good. It wasn’t the most amazing curry I’d ever had, but it was good. This was the first kadal I’ve eaten. It was tasty, but very similar to the curry, in my opinion.

The service is friendly and the atmosphere is nice. The table settings include white linens, cloth napkins and candles, so there is an air of formality, but it’s not stiff. There’s more of a relaxed feeling. It’s not so formal that you would be uncomfortable dining with your kids or wearing jeans.

A couple of great eats in Richmond

We found a couple of new great places to eat in Richmond, Va. — Patrick Henry’s Pub and Grille on East Broad Street and Alamo BBQ on Jefferson Avenue.

We ate out on the patio at Patrick Henry’s on a brisk Tuesday evening. Lucky for Chris, Tuesday’s special is burgers. He got a medium rare patty with swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard. He paired it with Yuengling and great onion rings. That’s high praise coming from me. I’m not a big fan of onion rings because they’re usually greasy. That wasn’t a problem with these. I’d get them as a side if we ever eat there again.

I settled on a blackened salmon sandwich, though I thought it tasted more like the fish was coated in paprika and not a mixture of seasonings and didn’t appear “blackened.” It was delicious, nonetheless, and included roasted red peppers (one of my favorites!), red pepper aioli and spinach. I also ordered a side Cesar salad and chardonnay.

I would love to live somewhere on Grace Street so we could walk to Patrick Henry’s on a regular basis. The service and atmosphere were great and the food was even better.

The Alamo is a walk up and order joint. Besides pork and chicken barbecues, the restaurant also offers vegetarian options, such as a portobello barbecue sandwich or taco. I couldn’t pass up the pork, so I got a pulled pork sandwich and a side of rice and black beans. Chris got a chicken sandwich and sweet potatoes.

It was really cool outside and there was only outdoor seating. So we quickly ate and headed back to the car. The food was good, so I hated to eat and run instead of savoring it. During colder days, plan to order to go.



Sweet Water Tavern, Falls Church, Va.

Sweet Water Tavern was where we spent our evening on a recent Friday. It turned into an early birthday meal, which was a great choice. (My birthday was the next day.)

I had a glass of pinot grigio to go with a mahi mahi, cheesy polenta and vegetables.

My meal

Chris had a salad, mashed potatoes and a 12 oz. ribeye.

Chris' meal

Dessert was a white chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream (Chris) and a chocolate waffle (which chocolate sauce in between the two halves) and vanilla ice cream and whipped cream (me).

Chris' dessert

My dessert

I almost finished this before remembering to snap a photo for you. Oops! It was that good.

Great atmosphere and food. Lots of people were there with their kids. The place was busy, so it appears to be a favorite among the Falls Church residents.

The waiter, Kunal, was also celebrating a birthday in August. He and the staff made me a birthday card, which I though was really sweet.

Happy birthday!

Hope you had a good one, too, Kunal!

Café La Ruche

Café La Ruche is a small French cafe on 31st street in the northwest section of D.C. During our visit to Georgetown, we stopped here for lunch.

Across the street are some quaint buildings.

Neighborhood of La Ruche

The menu features several brunch items. Chris picked out sausage, eggs and a croissant for lunch.

Chris' lunch

I got an avocado and shrimp salad with eggs, beets and onion. We also shared a mimosa.

My brunch

Sidney wasn’t left out either. The owner brought her a bowl of water.

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.

After visiting the National Arboretum, we headed to Dupont Circle, which is in the NW quadrant of D.C., for lunch.

A side street in Dupont Circle.

A side street in Dupont Circle.

We parked on Massachusetts Avenue NW and walked over to Connecticut Avenue NW for Kababji Grill, a Lebanese restaurant.

Chris got chicken and rice served with khyar bi laban (cucumber yogurt). He seemed to really like his dish, especially with the yogurt on top of the chicken and rice.

Not a great picture, I know.

Not a great picture of the chicken and rice, I know.

Cucumber yogurt

I got feter kabab sandwich (portobello mushroom wrap with lettuce, tomato, garlic paste and pickles) and shorbit al Addas (lentil soup). I really loved the soup, which was thin and light. The portabello is the best I’ve ever had.

Lentil soup and a portabella wrap.

Lentil soup and a portabella wrap.

Next we stopped up the street at hello cupcake for dessert. I had the Heart of Darkness cupcake, which is chocolate with chocolate ganache on top, and Chris got the Tiramisu cupcake. The store is really cute and the staff is friendly. You can grab a cupcake to go for $3.25. Well worth the visit!

Some yummy cupcakes from hello cupcake in Dupont Circle.

Some yummy cupcakes from hello cupcake in Dupont Circle.

After scarfing down the cupcakes, we took a short walk around Dupont Circle in the drizzling rain.

Corner in Dupont Circle

Rain in Dupont Circle

Fountain in the middle of Dupont Circle

Fountain in the middle of Dupont Circle

One thing that will probably always come to mind about this neighborhood — honking. There are some really angry drivers in this area. I swear one driver laid on his horn for a minimum of 1.5 minutes!

I think this is in large part due to the craziness that is Dupont Circle, which is by far the craziest and most confusing traffic circle I’ve ever seen. It could be more accurately described as a traffic corkscrew. Walking around the National Mall later, I couldn’t help but notice how much quieter it was, despite the emergency sirens and other noise.

Other than the stressful honking, Dupont Circle is a really interesting and beautiful neighborhood. However, instead of driving, consider taking the Metro.

Where to Eat: Tommy Condon’s, Charleston, S.C.

While in Charleston we relied on coupons to help scope out and select places to eat.

During our rainy walk around the historic district of Charleston we stopped in at Tommy Condon’s, an Irish pub at 160 Church St. Since we ate there for lunch we got $3 off an entree. If we’d ate there for supper, it would have been $5 off.

Right now, the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has a coupon to the restaurant for buy one entree, get another free.

For lunch, Chris got fish and chips and I got shrimp and grits, a dish you should try anytime you’re in or near the Low Country (or here). We also shared a cup of She-Crab soup, another Low Country dish that I wanted to eat before leaving the coast.

Mmmm … she-crap soup with some sherry! A perfect way to begin the meal.
Shrimp and Grits, which included tomatoes, ham and green onions. I’ve never had shrimp and grits with tomatoes before, so that was a welcome surprise.
Chris’ delicious lunch of fish ‘n chips. It wasn’t even greasy. Not in the slightest!
Fun Fact: This is the only type of seafood Chris will eat.

Tommy Condon’s should be your go-to place for a quick bite if you’re walking the Museum Mile or exploring historic Charleston. There are other restaurants in the area, most within walking distance, so be sure to check them out, too.