You will not find a Washingtonian more grateful for the warm-ish weather that we’ve had this fall. I’m decidedly NOT a winter girl, and I’ve been known to curse coats and whine incessantly about the cold. While winter in DC is just something I must tolerate, sometimes I can assuage my pain with a really great bone-warming dish. I was lucky to run across a lot of those in November, and without really meaning to, my list of favorite dishes wound up being a list that could double-time as a ‘great winter dishes’ list as well.
So when you head out to spend your hard earned dollars on a meal, here are some dishes that are best bets for spending wisely. And to boot, they’ll even keep you warm.
Where I’ve been: Degrees, Et Voila!, Masa 14, Againn, Firefly, Zola, Zengo, Sou’Wester, Kora, Rustico, Sticky Rice
Cocktail: Fall punch at PS 7′s. Is it cliche yet, to put a drink from Gina Chersevani on a best-of list? I hope not, because it is always well deserved. One night after a long happy hour in Penn Quarter, a friend and I headed to PS 7′s to finish off the night and snag some flat bread (love the nutty goat or the eggplant) for dinner, and Gina served up her fall punch, laced with cinnamon, star anise and orange.
Bread: Hushpuppies and honey butter at Sou’wester. While I hesitate to mention Sou’Wester on a best-of list, mainly because I agree with Tom Sietsema when he called Sou’Wester “pretty pedestrian“, the hushpuppies are truly enjoyable. They were one of the only dishes I liked from my meal there (huckleberry cheesecake being the other dish) but my goodness, I felt like I was back in the South at a fish camp somewhere when I popped one of these into my mouth. The honey butter was almost translucent from whipping the honey into the butter, and the hushpuppies were the perfect flavor and texture. So, if for some reason you find yourself at Sou’Wester, get the hushpuppies. They were the best “bread” I had all month, hands down.
Soup: Cornish Fish Soup at Againn. If you had told me that a fish stew was going to end up on my Eat Like Me for November I’d have maybe given you a judgmental side-eye stare and murmured something like ‘yeah, uh huh…’ at you and turned back to my conversation. Not that I have anything against fish, or soup, just that I can think of a thousand other cream-based bisques or purees that I’d guess would wind up here before a stew. Well, surprise, surprise. The fish stew at Againn landed in front of me, and my God I adore it. I already talked about how I was unexpectedly a big fan of Againn, but this dark-broth heavy winter soup was savory, and I enjoyed the saffron mayonnaise and croutons served with it.
Appetizer: Yucca at Masa 14. I wholeheartedly expect yucca to be good whenever I see it on a menu. Sometimes it is light and fluffy, other times it can be dense, with a granulated texture that allows you to pull layers of the root apart. The yucca done by Chef Antonio Burrell at Masa 14 is a good combination of both, and served with chimichurri, garlic and a lime aioli dipping sauce. The best thing about the yucca order? For a mere $5, we were served three giant fried slabs of the root, and a few more thinner fry-sized pieces. You get a ton of bang for your buck with this order.
Main: Quiche at Et Voila! Out of all the places I ate this month, Et Voila! was by far my favorite. Tucked into a block in the Palisades, this under-the-radar gem is absolutely delightful. Chefs Claudio Pirollo and Mickael Cornu are a dream team of French and Belgian cooking, and this small eatery serves up sophisticated classics like Casserole de Moules au Pastis, pommes frites, and the stunningly simple brunch dish of Quiche aux poireaux (leek quiche), Fluffy, light and with a spot-on crust, I was thrilled to devour my slice of the pie, and highly recommend a trip to the Palisades to anyone who will listen. (The beer list is fantastic, as well.)
Dessert: Toffee Pudding at Againn. I love a good toffee pudding – there’s something so heartwarming about a moist date cake spread with warm caramelized sugar and topped with cold ice cream. Againn’s was no exception – sweet, steaming and lavish, it is certainly one of the best wintertime desserts in DC.
So where have you been this month that you loved? Any dishes that you can count on to keep you warm on a winter’s night?