Tag Archives: meatloaf

Silver Diner: Not a Greasy Spoon Anymore

I will admit that I’m somewhat of a food snob. On our first date, I warned my boyfriend that if Chili’s or McDonalds was our destination, he would almost certainly be dining alone that night (luckily for both him and me, he hadn’t chosen either of those places). I avoid chain restaurants like the plague, opting for local joints instead. My food elitism is precisely why, when I received an invitation to attend a menu sampling at the Silver Diner, I hesitated at first. I thought to myself, “A chain greasy spoon? No way.”

But when I read the invitation more closely, I was intrigued. The event was slated to unveil Silver Diner’s newly launched Fresh and Local menu to the DC blogger community. I’m a sucker for anything with the words “fresh” and “local” in the title, so I decided to check out the event with my friend Jen, of Fresh Cracked Pepper.

The evening proved once again that you should never judge a book by its cover. My skepticism was proven wrong, and Jen and I came away with mostly positive impressions of Silver Diner’s new initiatives. The event began with introductions from owner Bob Giaimo and Head Chef Ype Von Hengst (pictured above). Giaimo discussed the rationale behind revamping Silver Diner’s menu and his decision to go the fresh and local route. He explained that after a month of conducting focus groups with Silver Diner customers, he discovered an overwhelming demand for fresh and local cuisine. More importantly, he found that diners were willing to pay more for locally sourced ingredients–compensating for the additional costs that the Diner would incur.

Chef Ype then presented the new menu offerings. Having grown up near a farm in Holland, where his mother brought him along to buy fresh milk and vegetables, he is passionate about bringing local ingredients to the Silver Diner. The first round of tastings included a summer citrus salad, chopped asian salad, and a variety of sliders (salmon, pesto turkey, hamburger, tomato mozzarella).

Chef Ype boasted that the strawberries (in the citrus salad) arrived in the restaurant that morning from a farm in Delaware. They certainly brightened up an otherwise run-of-the-mill salad. I also enjoyed the salmon and turkey burger sliders: both were served on whole wheat buns (sourced from a local bakery) and tasted juicy and tender.

Next, Chef Ype served the entrees (as if the surfeit of sliders and salads weren’t enough!): 600 calorie smothered BBQ meatloaf, 600 calorie vegetarian noodle stir fry, gluten free shrimp scampi with Maryland goat cheese and locally grown asparagus, brown rice with edamame, and guacamole pepperjack burger (which used hormone-free ground beef).

The guac burger was delicious: the patty was cooked with a perfectly pink center, and the addition of avocado, cheese, and bacon pushed the burger over the top–in a good way. The shrimp scampi, made with gluten free brown rice flour pasta, was also surprisingly good–and not an entree you’d expect to see at a diner. The earthy asparagus, along with the tangy Maryland goat cheese, added color and sophistication to the dish. The only dish that I wasn’t a fan of was the noodle stir fry (though I do applaud Chef Ype for using whole wheat pasta). The teriyaki sauce was a bit cloying for my taste.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without sampling some dessert: apple pie, chocolate cake, and a gluten free brownie sundae (sorry, no photo of the sundae available). The desserts were decent, but a tad too sweet for my taste. I did enjoy those fresh, juicy Delaware strawberries, which made another appearance atop the apple pie.

The night ended with some fabulous complimentary gift baskets, which included fresh bunches of asparagus, more of those delicious strawberries, Greenberry’s coffee, a Silver Diner mug, and 2 bottles of Virginia-brewed beer.

I think Silver Diner’s Fresh and Local menu is quite admirable. Yes, “fresh,” “local,” and “organic” have become buzzwords in the food community, and there are many restaurants out there that just slap on those labels without doing the legwork. But Silver Diner is not one of those establishments.

After listening to Bob Giaimo and Chef Ype, it’s clear they have done extensive research and found the best local ingredients they can afford: asparagus and strawberries from Delaware, hormone free beef from New Jersey, eggs from Lancaster County, PA, and locally baked buns. Some would argue these locales are not local enough. But in my opinion, that’s close enough and still way better than buying strawberries from, say, Mexico. And, perhaps most importantly, the food is tasty: not all the dishes were winners, but overall, I was very satisfied with my meal.

Head over to the Silver Diner in Clarendon to try their new Fresh and Local menu for yourselves! (The menu will be implemented at other Silver Diner locations soon.) I’m sure you’ll be surprised, like I was, to find that it’s not your typical greasy spoon anymore.

Silver Diner Clarendon

3200 Wilson Blvd.

Arlington, VA 22201

703-812-8600

Silver Diner on Urbanspoon

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Snowmageddon Cooking: Turkey Meatloaf & Potato Gratin

Snowmageddon redux

The scene above is what I woke up to this morning. And I thought the snow storm last weekend was bad–but boy, was I wrong. The winds gusted at 40 mph, sending tree branches and icicles flying through the air. The streets appeared to be completely abandoned without a single person in sight. The snow continued to fall and pile perilously high. Snowmageddon had indeed unleashed its fury on DC once again. And hopefully, fingers crossed, for the last time.

Although snowmageddon has wreaked havoc on my work and social life (so many snow days!), it has benefited one part of my life: cooking. Snow days are perfect for stocking up on groceries (which apparently, many other Washingtonians thought to do as well) and cooking up a comforting meal at home. There is something so therapeutic about cooking that makes staying indoors all day more bearable: the aromas and flavors spread through your house and make you forget about the frigid weather outside.

I felt like making something hearty and filling that would give me the sustenance I would need to bear the cold. I decided on turkey meatloaf from my Real Simple cookbook (which I highly recommend) and potato gratin from Smitten Kitchen. Luckily for me, I stopped at my Safeway in Tenleytown yesterday, before the store was shopped bare and left unmanned (see the bizarre story here).

The turkey meatloaf was surprisingly delicious. The spinach and parsley added fresh flavor and color to the dish. The turkey was anything but bland and extremely moist. I added extra ketchup on top, which became slightly caramelized after baking and gave the meatloaf an extra sweet and slightly tangy flavor. Even better, the dish cost very little to make since many of the ingredients were already on hand (e.g. wheat bread, eggs, mustard, ketchup). In total, I spent $9.21 on the rest of the ingredients, for a dish which has lasted me several meals.

The potato gratin was also heavenly and so simple to make. I added some leftover parsley from the meatloaf to the potatoes and it tasted divine. The parmesan cheese and milk infuse into the potatoes, making them deliciously salty and creamy. I was amazed at how such a simple dish, with so few ingredients, could pack much flavor. Altogether, I paid $2 for yukon gold potatoes (I thought I’d splurge a little bit) and used milk and parmesan cheese I already had in the fridge.

The soothing flavor and warmth of this food made me feel very nourished and blessed on an otherwise bleak, snowpocalyptic day. For any other DCers stuck at home tomorrow for the snow day, I definitely recommend making these dishes.

Turkey Meatloaf

Adapted slightly from Real Simple

1.3 pounds lean ground turkey
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 32 oz bag of spinach (use about half the bag or 2 cups, and if you have spinach leftover, sautee it with garlic for a lovely side dish), chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 T Dijon mustard
1 large egg white
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup ketchup

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. IN a bowl, combine the turkey, onion, spinach, parsley, bread crumbs, mustard, egg white, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

2. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet and form into a 10-inch loaf. Spread the ketchup on top (I did not measure the ketchup; just spread it on to your liking.)

3. Bake until cooked through, 45-50 min.

Awesomely Simple Potato Gratin

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 large yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low-fat milk
2 ounces cheese, grated or crumbled (Parmesan or Gruyere are the classics, but that doesn’t mean that goat cheese, blue cheese or any of your favorites won’t work as well)
Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9- by 12-inch gratin dish with the pat of butter.

2. Slice the potatoes as thinly as you can (a mandoline works great for this) and arrange them in a layer, overlapping the edges slightly like shingles. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper and don’t be stingy—this is where the bulk of your flavor comes from and a third of the cheese before before repeating this process with your remaining potato slices. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Depending on how thinly sliced your potatoes are, you should end up with approximately three layers, with a third of the cheese and parsley between each layer (I put parsley in every other layer). Reserve the last third of your cheese for later.

3. Carefully pour the milk over the potatoes. It should come up to the bottom of the top layer of potatoes; add more if this was not enough. Bake it for 45 minutes to an hour. Halfway through the baking time, take the gratin dish out of the oven and gently press the potatoes flat with a spatula to keep the top moist. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the gratin for the last 15 minutes of baking. The gratin is done when the potatoes are soft and the top is golden brown, and the milk has thickened.