Eat Like Me: October’s Best Dishes

Photo courtesy of
‘West End Bistro’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

Am I becoming a snob? It is possible. When I started this whole endeavor, I swore to myself that I’d never become that obnoxious girl, who sniffs a plate, turns up her nose, and sends it back to the kitchen with a wave of her hand. That’s just not who I am. I’m the kind of girl who unashamedly adores Olive Garden – iceberg salad, processed breadsticks, mozzarella out of a bag and all. But lately? You guys, I’m getting nervous for myself. I think I’ve caught the foodiot disease. I find myself overhearing a joke about truffles, foie gras, lobster and caviar being the major food groups and think it’s so funny that I repeat it to my friends. Boys half-joke that I’m intimidating to take out to dinner because “where could a guy take a foodie like you?” To which, I vigorously shake my head in over-compensating protest, saying, “no, no, I’m like anyone else! I like Taco Bell. I swear!” And yet… I find myself becoming more and more obnoxious.

I think it might actually stem from the quantity of food I’ve put in my pie hole this year. I’ve been blessed enough to try a tremendous amount of places, and with that much dining out, and that much input, I’m bound to start being increasingly judgmental. Right? It’s only natural. This month has been one of the most ridiculous eating months of my life. And yet, of all the months of Eat Like Me that I’ve written, I didn’t struggle to come up with the contenders. There were clear winners. And this could be for a number of reasons, but I think one of them is that I’m getting snobby. I’m sorry! I tried not to. And don’t worry, I still love Potbellys. And I can talk about other subjects. But between you and me, reader, I’m on a slippery slope. (Just look at my Twitter feed. Obsession at a whole new level.)

So what does all this snobbery amount to? Well, a stiff cocktail for me later for admitting my problem, but also a great Eat Like Me for October. I’ve been to some outstanding places, from real DC classics like Oval Room or Obelisk, to new up-and-comers like Kellari and neighborhood spots like Evening Star Cafe. And I have to say, this list of dishes is by far my favorite. So without further ado, the best of my October meals.

Photo courtesy of
‘Busboys and Poets’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

The Contenders (Also known as Where I’ve Been): Inox, Evening Star Cafe, Los Tios, Obelisk, Restaurant 3, Eat Bar, Palena Cafe, Ristorante Tosca, Equinox, Belga Cafe, Zola Wine Kitchen, Oval Room, Potenza, Bourbon Steak, Faccia Luna, Restaurant 3, Busboys & Poets, Kellari, PS 7′s

Bread Basket: Olive Bread at Inox You know that unmistakable fresh-out-of-the-oven texture that just-baked bread gets? Sort of smooshy and delicious feeling? Inox’s bread had the perfect warm just-baked thing going on. Tinted just slightly purple-grey, spread with butter, the Olive Bread (and all the rest of the meal at Inox, frankly) is certainly worth the schlep to Tyson’s Corner.

Salad: Butter Lettuce Salad at Zola My parents came to visit, and we did the pre-theater menu at Zola before going to Capitol Steps. Both my Mom and I got this butter lettuce salad, and both wound up scraping our plates. My mom even tried to recreate it for a dinner party she threw recently. A fresh butter lettuce head is chopped in half, and sprinkled with roasted Marcona almonds, oranges, little cubes of ancient gouda, and all of it is tossed in sherry syrup. Tart, cheesy, perfect textures. Mmm, I’ll food dream about this salad for months to come. Odd, because I hardly ever find myself fantasizing about salads.

Appetizer: Carrot Carmel with Virginia Scallop at Evening Star Cafe Well, now I’ve already written about the Carrot Carmel at Evening Star when Donna and I did the write-up for the Farm Fresh feature. But truly, carrots in a way I didn’t know they could exist. Sugary, the precise right texture, a flavor profile I wouldn’t have expected, all topped off with a seared scallop.

Main: White Truffle Risotto from Tosca. Risotto is perfectly fall. Consider a big bowl of fatty rice, warm, creamy, starchy. Tosca’s is absolute perfection, and then, as if it could get any better, Chef Massimo comes out and tops it with fresh white truffle. This dish takes no short cuts, and is one of the best things I’ve eaten in a very long time. Before I met this risotto, my favorite main dish of the month was Short Ribs and Veal with Foie Gras at Inox, which sounds divine doesn’t it? It is. But then I met the risotto, and had to leave the foie. It was like breaking up with George Clooney for Brad Pitt. It had to be done, but they were both gorgeous.

Dessert: Ricotta Cheesecake from Palena. This cheesecake was light, but without being too fluffy, sweet without being saccharine or heavy. Paired with pear, it was the perfect ending to a classic meal at one of DC’s dining institutions. (Side note, Palena has unexpectedly sophisticated cocktails. Try them.)

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

3 thoughts on “Eat Like Me: October’s Best Dishes

  1. I don’t think you’re a snob, unless you judge others for what they like. And you could like completely icky food and be obnoxious about that – being obnoxious has nothing to do with the quality of the food and all to do with how you talk to and treat others.

    As for liking high-quality, I say: embrace it. No guilt. Admit it and be happy :-).

  2. These posts lost me ever since they included a list of “contenders”: anyone who can afford to dine out 19 times in 1 month is not someone I can relate to, especially in this economy. Even if restaurants are footing the bill for publicity it’s just far too depressing to read about all the food I’ll never have the money to eat.

    There’s nothing wrong with being choosy, but even Tom Sietsema is kind enough to praise food without bragging about it. Not all of us can have steaks and $11 cocktails on a regular basis!

  3. @A.B. No way will I judge anyone else on what they like – that’s the beauty of food – it’s totally subjective.

    @yup I realize I’m lucky (I even say so in the intro) and am disappointed you think I’m bragging. The premise of this feature is to single out the creme de la creme of dishes, that way when you *do* decide to spend $11 on a cocktail (or get spendy on ANY dish for a special occasion or fun night out) you can get an excellent one for your money. People prioritize spending in very different ways, some shop, some go to concerts, some head out to bars or sporting events. I unabashedly adore food, so I tend to throw my cash in that direction. To each their own, but I hope when (if) you do decide you want to splurge on food you’ll have a better idea of good places to do it.