Eat Like Me: March’s Best Dishes

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’00374-04Crop’
courtesy of ‘furcafe’
This month got off to a bit of a slow start food-wise. I had a few lackluster meals and a few blah-worthy chain restaurant lunches that didn’t bode well for a month of culinary excellence. I ended strong though, with trips to Bar Pilar, Urbana and my new love of my (edible H St.) life, Ethiopic. If it wasn’t for a superb crab cake at J&G, the lamb tibs at Ethiopic would take the cake as my favorite dish of the month. I also ate at a lot of old favorites, but tried to branch out. Sometimes it worked (the rice bowls at Surfside), and sometimes I didn’t (why I ever stray from the T.U.B.S. sandwich at Ted’s I’ll never know). But as always, I ate well, and I ate plenty.

Where I Ate: Ping Pong Dim Sum, Lola’s, Vace, Market Lunch, Taylor Gourmet, J&G Steakhouse, Tonic, That’s Amore, Austin Grill, BlackSalt, Taqueria Nationale, The Black Squirrel, Sticky Rice, Surfside, 7th Hill, Ted’s Bulletin, Radius Pizza, Harry’s Tap Room, Ethiopic, Science Club, Urbana, Bar Pilar

Best Breakfast: I’m almost getting tired of saying it, and I promise to go somewhere different next month, but seriously, The Brick at Market Lunch is the best.

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‘day 52: bokeh calamari’
courtesy of ‘ehpien’

Best Drink: At my twenty-first birthday, I very famously told the bartender over and over to “make me anything with champagne and juice.” Needless to say my college bar didn’t exactly do me proud in the cocktail department, so I still long for that perfect juicy, bubbly, girly concoction. I got mighty close the other night at Urbana with The Glass Slipper. It’s Ketel One, ice wine, white grape juice, prosecco and frozen grapes. It’s tangy and bubbly and sweet, and just what twenty-one year old me would have wanted if she know how to order anything but a rum and coke.

Best Appetizer: Though Radius Pizza is most likely my favorite pizza in all of D.C. (cue a flurry of profanity-laden emails), before this month I had never had anything else off their menu. I went out on a limb and ordered the bruschetta, simply because I knew I couldn’t eat an entire pizza, or at least shouldn’t — it’s almost bathing suit season after all. I didn’t read the menu that closely after I saw white anchovies (love!) in the ingredient list, since the other main component was roasted eggplant (hate!). It had all the makings of a culinary disaster, but Radius did me proud. The smokey, creamy eggplant was great against the anchovies, and it was plenty for a small dinner. Plus two beers…and a couple slices of pizza…

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courtesy of ‘jsprig’

Best Thing I Ordered at a Counter: This month’s trip to Surfside found me a bit conflicted. I’ve become seriously tired of all options in my office cafeteria, so I’m trying to order leftover-friendly foods these days. While I love the shrimp tacos dearly, they don’t exactly keep well. So I ventured to another section of the menu this time, and hit the rice bowl section hard. I went with the shrimp (couldn’t stray too far) with veggies in a green curry sauce. I found it to be completely delicious — the light curry flavor was perfect. And while my office was a little annoyed that I heated up something curry-full for lunch, I couldn’t hear their complaining over all the deliciousness.

Best Main Course: As a girl with deep-seeded roots in the Maryland Eastern Shore, I like to think I know my crab cakes. And if you ask most Eastern Shoremen, they’ll tell you the only way to make them is a whole lot of crab meat, a little mayo, a little Dijon, some breadcrumbs and a dash of Old Bay. To gussy the crab meat up with anything fancy would be an injustice to the Eastern Shore and all the crabbers that came before us. So when I loved the crab cake at J&G this month, with its heavy handed ginger application and pink grapefruit suprems, I was shocked to say the least. But it was just wonderful — light and fresh and definitely not Eastern Shore approved.

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courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Best Thing Between Two Slices of Bread: Just like Surfside, I went outside my comfort zone this month at Sticky Rice and ordered the Umeboshi Pork Sandwich. No worries, I still got an order of tots. I’m a creature of habit after all. The sandwich was a monster, and by the way, came with a side order of tots (epic ordering fail!). The slaw was tangy, the sauce was sweet and the wasabi aioli was spicy. And as a bonus, there was enough extra sauce to float my extra tots in!

Best Dessert: It’s Urbana, back again. I went dessert heavy at my dinner at Urbana, and none did my ordering abilities prouder than the Blood Orange Semifreddo (though the tarragon ice cream gets definite points for creativity). One of the reasons I dislike dessert at times is because my idea of the best way to end a meal is not with a huge pile of chocolate. The semifreddo is a great alternative — refreshing and a little sweet but with tons of fruity flavor. Just like sorbet cleanses your palate, this little dose of orange did the trick.

That was my month, how was yours?

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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