Eat Like Me: January’s Best Dishes

Photo courtesy of
’264/365 – estadio’
courtesy of ‘dracisk 365/365′
It was a big month for me food-wise this January. I ate at a lot of new to me restaurants that treated me well (Estadio, Masa 14, Againn, Room 11) some new to me restaurants that didn’t treat me so well ([redacted]), and some old favorites that stayed my favorites (Tackle Box, Ted’s Bulletin, Market Lunch, Sticky Rice). And it was a big month for favorite dishes, so much so that some of my standards aren’t making this month’s best dishes list. Fear not, Brick sandwich from Market Lunch and tater tots from Sticky Rice, you’re still numero uno in my heart. Especially you, duck confit from Cork, Mommy loves you most of all.

Where I Ate: Rocklands BBQ, P.J. Clarke’s, Room 11, Hot n Juicy Crawfish, H St. Country Club, Dangerously Delicious Pies, Tunnicliffs, Urbana, Tackle Box, Againn, Nellie’s, Taipei Tokyo, Smith Commons, ThaiTanic, Market Lunch, Ted’s Bulletin, Estadio, 7th Hill, New Season, Tally Thai, Cork, Birch & Barley, Sticky Rice, Masa 14.

My Favorite Drink: I am sadly not a cocktail person. I get nervous at the sight of a drink menu, and really start to freak out when I just have to order something from a bartender sans tidy ingredient list. But I really want to be a cocktail person, since though my ability to shotgun a Busch Light worked for me in college, it isn’t really becoming of a gal approaching the big 3-0. Enter the beautiful and talented Jenn Larsen, who let me tag along with her to the very new and very hip Church & State. It was there that I tried my very first Moscow Mule. Served in a fabulous art deco glass, it was perfectly balanced (as I learned from Jenn, that’s the key!) and really drinkable. What I learned that night is that there are drinks out there that won’t burn your insides AND will get you drunk. Thanks, Jenn!

Photo courtesy of
‘bangers & mash @ againn, DC’
courtesy of ‘PlantainsandKimchi.com’

My Favorite Appetizer: I finally, finally made my way over, mid-snowstorm, to Estadio after months of saying I was going to do it. I thought I would be in trouble because I wasn’t terribly hungry, but with some strategic ordering, we had a great meal. The best thing I ordered happened to be the first dish that came out of the kitchen — the grilled octopus. I’m a real sucker for octopus, so I wasn’t surprised that I liked it, but perfectly cooked octopus is unfortunately hard to find. Well cooked and really succulent, I was (as I usually am with tapas) disappointed that it was such a small portion. Tapas, schmapas, give me a whole octopus next time please.

My Favorite Thing I Ordered at a Counter: I love me some Tackle Box, there’s no doubt about it, and while I think the Maine meal is just about as great a deal as you can get, I have a hard time passing up the lobster roll when I’m there. At $19 it’s not exactly cheap, but for a special crustacean treat, I can’t think of anything better. The lobster is positively busting out of the buttered roll, it is almost too much to handle for anyone but a seasoned pro like me. Though there isn’t a ton of filler, the filler that is there is creamy and flavorful but binds the lobster in a way that doesn’t leave me with a lap full of lobstah. Delicious AND easy clean up. A double whammy!

Photo courtesy of
‘”Maine Meal” from Tackle Box’
courtesy of ‘aliciagriffin’

My Favorite Main Course: I know that hanger steak is not exactly the most prestigious of cut of beef, but it’s becoming one of my favorites. And where did I least expect to find hanger steak? At a friend’s bachelorette party at Urbana. I passed over the dainty scallops and the figure-friendly salmon for a big ol’ hunk of beef. It just melted in my mouth, with a sauce so succulent and rich I felt like I could bathe in it. But I let my beef bathe in it instead, probably a little more acceptable in a bachelorette setting. Or really any setting, I guess.

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

My Favorite Thing Between Two Slices of Bread: Though I’ve been wanting to try Againn for some time, it never quite reaches the top of my list since, well, British food isn’t exactly my idea of culinary perfection. But I’ve been proven wrong many times before, so I made a trip to Againn for lunch and was proven wrong once again. The house-made corned beef sandwich came as close to perfection as I could possibly imagine. The meat was so juicy and tender and so unbelievably flavorful, and it was piled high on brioche bun with just a touch of zesty horseradish cream. With sandwiches like this, what’s the deal with British food and it’s bad reputation? I’m thinking maybe it has something to do with blood sausage? Bangers and mash? Something else kind of gross sounding?

My Favorite Dessert: Though this month included my inaugural trip to Dangerously Delicious Pies as well as my first Berger’s Cookie (it was a Baltimore theme I guess) the award for best dessert goes to a tiny pizza joint on Capitol Hill. As an afterthought one night we decided to visit Seventh Hill instead of trekking to Chinatown for pho, and as an afterthought post-pizza, we blithely ordered the Nutella calzone for a little something sweet. The stars aligned that night, because I may have found heaven in a pizza crust. It’s a simple concept that doesn’t leave room for error, but why no one else is constructing this masterpiece I’ll never know. Perfect for sharing, it’s a large calzone filled with Nutella. It’s definitely rich, but we found ourselves fighting over the last piece nonetheless.

Photo courtesy of
‘Interior, Masa 14′
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

So that was the month. Filling, eh? The truth is that the thing I ate this month that I may have loved the most isn’t even on this list. What is it? The donuts (bacon and lemon poppyseed) from Birch & Barley. And why didn’t they make the list? I don’t have a damned clue where to put them. Are they an appetizer (they came out before my meal)? Or a dessert (they were mighty sweet)? Whatever they are, they are amaze-balls, as American literary scholar Miley Cyrus would say.

Ashley Messick

Ashley is a born and bred Washingtonian who left for college but came running back to the District as fast as her little legs could carry her. By day she is a Capitol Hill brat, but by night she is a lean, mean, eating machine. It’s her goal in life to steal Anthony Bourdain’s job…by whatever means necessary. Contact her at Ashley (at) welovedc (dot) com or follow her on Twitter.

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