I usually use this intro text in Eat Like Me to pontificate ($10 word! I win!) on what part of dining out in DC I’ve been thinking most about recently. This month I’ve been thinking more about styles of restaurants.
I would be the wrong person to be food editor if I didn’t say that I love every kind of restaurant, and have an affection for most styles of restaurants. I can get behind a chinatown hole in the wall, and love a simple stainless steel tea kettle just as much as I can get behind a Georgetown patio with fire pits and fancy cocktails. I’ve been mostly thinking about what draws me in and makes me love a place more than another.
I think it’s in the details. (For me, most things are in the details.) I think about the places that I love eternally – Againn, Et Voila!, Westend Bistro, and have been trying to figure out what strings them together, aside from the obvious good food. At Againn, aside from the seasonal, thoughtful food, I love the details of the restaurant – the tiles that line the walls are the same tiles used in the London Underground. The fox and hound door knockers on the bathroom are something I make sure to point out to anyone who goes to Againn with me. And the details bring me back to Et Voila!, too. They serve coffee with steamed milk, and wrap fries in newsprint. The skylight adds sunlight and charm. Westend Bistro’s pass lets me take a look into the belly of the operation, and makes me appreciate the work that goes into the food. I’m starting to believe it’s the little things that bring me back to a place time and time again. It’s the little things that make me answer my most hated question of “What is your favorite restaurant” with a different answer each time.
This month the details were where it’s at. Birch and Barley’s pastries, an addition of wasabi to mashed potatoes at Zentan, and the perfect whipped frosting on a Georgetown Cupcake. Lovely, subtle details are available at every type of restaurant, but here are the best of the best of April.
Where I’ve been: Ray’s Hellburgers, Java Green, Kaz Sushi Bistro, Masa 14, Birch and Barley, Full Kee (GROSS ALERT), Zentan, Zola, Locolat, Georgetown Cupcake, Sushi Ko
Appetizer: Doughnuts at Birch and Barley. So you guyyyysssss, I have found my newest brunch crush – Birch and Barley. Tiffany MacIsaac’s huge talent is on showcase during the meal, and I have an absolute crush on the lemon and poppyseed/maple bacon/chocolate doughnuts served warm at brunch at the 14th street eat place.
Bread: Crispy flatbread at Zola. So generally I don’t love cracker-type bread. I like warm, fluffy, carb-ful bread. But this particularly salty, seedy flat cracker bread at Zola (and at Potenza, too!) is the exception to that rule. Lovely, crispy, crunch and addictive, I’ll pass up a steamy roll for this flat bread in a heartbeat.
Main: Waffle with asparagus at Locolat. Locolat is known for their desserts but I’ve gotta be honest, I’m so obsessed with their savory food that I haven’t even gotten to try the desserts. I get caught up in the first part of the meal and never make it to the second. But the first part is OH SO GOOD, that you need to go. Locolat’s Belgian waffles are served with perfectly grilled stalks of asparagus and sprinkled with Parmesan.
Side: Wasabi Mashed Potatoes at Zentan. So sometimes wasabi can make me want to die a little bit. Like when I eat it and it gets all up in my nose and I blink a lot and it’s just not pleasant, you know? But sometimes, when mixed in the right ratio in soy sauce, or when hidden in nigiri, or in mashed potatoes, I see the glorious beauty of wasabi. Susur Lee’s version of wasabi mashed potatoes are shockingly creamy, and when laced with wasabi turn an intriguing green color, and the wasabi elevates a basic mashed potato to something with a kick.
Dessert: Red Velvet Cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake. Can I tell you a secret? For a while I was a Georgetown Cupcake hater. YEAH I SAID IT, don’t say mean things in the comments. I was not a fan. But earlier this month when I got their signature red velvet cupcake, I decided I was mistaken, and now I know what the fuss is about. A perfectly moist cupcake topped with cream cheese icing. Nuff said.
courtesy of ‘dracisk’