Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Carmine’s – More than I Bargained For

My friend Abby works in Silver Spring and I work in Bethesda. Yet, I live by Union Station and she lives in VA. So what does this mean? Well, finding a happy hour spot that is both convenient and good is an ongoing issue for us.

Last night - craving
comfort food and convenience - we headed to the newly-opened Italian eatery in Penn Quarter, also known as Carmine’s. According to their website, “Carmine’s is a family style, value-driven restaurant concept….that serve[s] every meal in the style of an Italian American wedding feast.” The original Carmine’s opened in New York City in 1990 and has enjoyed a loyal following ever since. It is hard not to love the restaurant’s over-sized portions and friendly service.

Carmine’s opened in DC at the beginning of August. Although the original location in NYC has quite a following and always seems to be packed, the Chinatown location was far from cramped. There wasn’t a wait for a table and there were plenty of open seats in the bar.

Happy Hour specials were few, but all a good value. For about $25, Abby and I were able to get 3 Big Berry Cosmos (essentially, large frozen versions of the cocktail), a gigantic plate of fried zucchini and an appetizer portion of meatball sliders. The zucchini was julienned and fried to a perfect crisp, meaning that you could barely taste the veggie itself. For those of you with significant others who won’t eat veggies – give them these babies and they will barely realize they are eating something healthy (never mind that they are fried in oil). The sliders were on a flavorful focaccia bread, but the actual meatball seemed a bit dry. For a restaurant that is known for their 16-wheeler sized portions, the 2 sliders on the plate left something to be desired. But, then again, I do have to remember that those dishes together rang up to grand total of $10.

And I can’t talk about happy hour without mentioning the drink specials. The frozen cosmos were outstanding, and will only set you back $5. [For those who prefer non-mixed drinks, Carmine’s also offers $5 glasses of wine and $4 Peroni pints.] The cosmos are very berry-y, with just the right about of citrus mixed in. And, to top it off, the glasses were huge filled to the brim as well as deceptively strong. So whether you're looking for old-school Italian cuisine, delectable happy hour fare or just more beverage for your buck... Carmine's is where it's at.

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images: capitolbites flickr steam

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