Few may be thinking about food so soon after Thanksgiving, but I’m compelled to mention two newish standouts in my neighborhood (which I consider to be anything within a couple blocks of the convention center).

First, there’s 901 bar and restaurant. Penn Quarter it may be, but I can walk there easily from my home in Shaw. I’ve been remiss in not mentioning 901 sooner. I tried it with three others during Restaurant Week in August. I had a few reservations (no pun intended, really), in that the owner operates Vida spas and Capitol City Brewing Company. In Goldilocks fashion, I find the former too hard, the latter too soft. In other words, I feared there’d be either too little frying or too much. But David Von Storch knows what he’s doing, and this bear found the901 bed to be just right.

Some of the items from our summertime visit seem not to be part of the regular the menu, but most of what I ordered is. The roasted duck quesadilla was amazing, the organic roasted chicken succulent. As a lounge, the drinks were sublime.

As for décor, it seems the place might get noisy at times. Concrete floors and all that. But even with the open kitchen a few feet away, noise was never an issue. On top of that, the staff really went out of their way to infuse the place with some friendly warmth. We’d gladly go back.

A glimpse of kitchen over Fernando's right shoulder

I sort of remember this being tuna tartare....

Wonderful roasted-duck quesadilla, on the menu still

It's a shame I seem to be allergic to scallops, as I really would've like to have dived into these.

Got no problems with chicken, though! Simple and perfect.

Hazelnut brulée?

My key lime pie was better!

Next up is Corduroy. I wasn’t satisfied with the first visit many months ago. I can’t blame the folks at Corduroy, though. It’s just that the pork loin they served me was fashionably pink, and rare pork is a delicacy I’ve yet to embrace. So when my husband suggested trying out the elegant joint’s prix fixe bar menu (about $40, if memory serves), I was hesitant. I gave in, however, for fear of seeming even more of a curmudgeon, and I was rewarded for my compliance.

Like 901, Corduroy serves perfect cocktails. And, as the only people at the bar on weekday night around 8, no waiting! Actually, it was just the two of us and the pleasant and professional bartender till the tail end of dinner, when some rambunctious, suited convention-goers blew in to tie one on. We already had the bar’s prime real estate, the corner, so no worries.

The starter was entirely new to me: Philippine spring rolls. The Philippines must have a Texas-style reputation for size, as these were easily the largest spring rolls I’d ever seen. Thankfully, they weren’t at all heavy, with a peppery finish. The husband, true to form, went for the steak, which I was surprised to see on a prix fixe menu. I opted for the pasta in a tomato ragout, which went down wonderfully – entirely vegetarian, I think. Sadly, I cannot recall dessert. Perhaps I was distracted by the suits at that point. Maybe it was lackluster. Or, there’s a chance it was so good I couldn’t be bothered to snap a photo.

I'd guess about 18 inches, in total, of spring roll-ness.

Fernando's steak

But again, Will wins! The pasta was better.

Regardless, as the CityMarket at O project continues to unfold, bringing more and more people to the neighborhood, be advised that Corduroy and 901 are safe bets in this particular neighborhood.