Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich

Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich

Julien Shapiro of Eat the Rich

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

When Julien Shapiro created the opening menu for Eat the Rich, he consulted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to get some idea of which fish he should use and which to avoid.

The NOAA scientists could not tell him what to do, of course, but they could provide him with data and help him interpret it.

“If you look at the fishing reports, it says the numbers are such, and then you make a conclusion based on what you think is good,” Shapiro told me. “They will say whether it is overfished or underfished or if there is no data.”

To round out his view of the fish available in the mid-Atlantic, Shapiro makes an effort to visit each mid-Atlantic state and check with its Department of Natural Resources to discover local numbers on fish and confirm what is available.

These habits serve Shapiro and Eat the Rich well, as the chef and owners focus on local, sustainable seafood, derived heavily from the Chesapeake Bay.

“We are trying to focus exclusively on Chesapeake seafood. That’s our calling card,” Shapiro said.

Cocktail mogul Derek Brown and oysterman Travis Coxton opened Eat the Rich last year, naming it after a Motorhead song. Coxton is also behind Rappahannock River Oysters, which has expanded locally into Union Market in 2012. Eat the Rich serves those same oysters. Coxton is concerned about being a good steward of the local oyster population, Shapiro said, and the chef applies the same outlook to the rest of the seafood served at Eat the Rich.

Continue reading

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Jesse Miller of Bar Pilar

Jesse Miller of Bar Pilar

Jesse Miller of Bar Pilar

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

Out of art school, Jesse Miller sized up his prospects and took a job at the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge, Md.

The restaurant has one of the best wine programs in Maryland, offering gourmet French food to hungry customers as well as hosting weddings and catering.

At first thankful for a job, Miller ended up staying there for seven years.

“I was lucky enough to get a job there and that’s how this started,” said Miller, now chef at Bar Pilar and its sister establishment Café Saint-Ex. “Otherwise, I would still be trying to paint and living in the street someplace.”

He learned a lot at the Elkridge Furnace Inn that he applies to Bar Pilar, where his friends and customers hail him as an innovative chef.

“I was taught that a chef should accommodate anything at any time for anyone,” Miller said. “If you don’t like our options, we can always do something.

Continue reading

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Amber Bursik of DC9

Amber Bursik of DC9

Amber Bursik of DC9

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

When you hang out with a crowd that goes to see a lot of concerts, as I do, you are occasionally going to find yourself eating in a concert hall.

You might do so in the moment, and you might not expect the food to be too good. So you may find it refreshing when the food at your favorite venue is really consistently great.

Things make sense once you look behind the curtain at DC9, however, and find Amber Bursik in the kitchen. After finishing culinary school, Bursik worked at Georgetown fish house Hook for several years and then popular Mediterranean restaurant Palena for several more before going to work at DC9 a few years ago.

“When I came in here, there was a menu in the place and I had to work within the parameters of the menu in place and the size and capabilities of the kitchen,” Bursik told me. “Because of that, I was told I had to have the burgers on the menu. I could change the burgers, but we had to have burgers.”

In her last five months at the now-shuttered Palena, Bursik was working the grill station, where she was responsible for cooking what many called the best burger in DC.

“It was fun and interesting but at the same time, you are working at this fine dining restaurant and you’re cooking burgers!” Bursik said. “So it was funny to come here and cook burgers again. But we have a great burger because of it.”

Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, Where We Live

Best Rickey: DC Craft Bartenders Guild @ Jack Rose Dining Saloon–8/3/14

Dustin Beruta of Cashion's Eat Place created a yummy vanilla Rickey.

Dustin Beruta of Cashion’s Eat Place created a yummy vanilla Rickey.

Sunday was a perfect day to stand alongside a bar on a roof and drink a refreshing beverage, maybe something a little sweet, maybe something a little fruity.

Seven of the top bartenders in the city were happy to oblige as they faced off under the auspices of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild for the title of best Rickey at the Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Adams Morgan. The seven Rickeys came in a variety of mixtures, and included recipes made from gin, bourbon or rye.

The arrangement for the 2014 contest was simple and effective. Three bartenders with gin-based Rickeys served their creations upstairs at Jack Rose, while the whiskey-based Rickeys were served by their mixologists downstairs. A reasonable $35 provided unlimited access to all seven Rickeys, allowing the audience ample opportunity to judge their own personal favorite from among the competitors.

The judging panel for the Rickey competition awarded best Rickey to the gin-based “Supafly Rickey,” created by Lukas B. Smith of Daikaya. It consisted of Half Moon Orchard Gin, cured sweet potato soda and a drop of rose water, garnished with a lime and a spray of lemongrass. It was pretty damn easy to drink, and it was probably the freshest and most memorable beverage among an excellent lot. The bartenders ran out of the ingredients for the Supafly Rickey well before the conclusion of the four-hour event.

Daikaya vows to display the Best Rickey Trophy at the bar for the next year, and perhaps they will continue to serve their winning cocktail as well.

Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features

Hot Ticket: International Beer Day @ Piazza Beer Garden, Bethesda, 7/31/14


Tonight’s the evening before International Beer Day, which occurs annually on August 1. To celebrate, Brandon Skall of DC Brau heads to the Piazza Beer Garden, 7401 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, Md., to discuss the ins and outs of brewing.

Cesco Osteria owner and chef Francesco Ricchi also will be on hand to welcome guests, who will enjoy three world beers for $10. Ticketed guests also take home a platinum-lined DC Brau glass.

Show up and pay at the door!

International Beer Day Celebration
Piazza Beer Garden
7401 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, Md.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
6-8pm
$10
21+ to drink

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Ed Witt of The Partisan

Ed Witt in the kitchen of The Partisan

Ed Witt in the kitchen of The Partisan

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays. This week, Mickey talks to Ed Witt of The Partisan, which is probably the only time he’ll revisit a chef previously profiled!

The best show Ed Witt has seen in recent times was Two Man Advantage, a hockey hardcore band from Long Island, in a concert last summer.

To be clear, it’s a seven-man band that play hockey-themed hardcore punk. They put on quite a show.

That the congenial Mr. Witt has a great appreciation for hardcore isn’t much of surprise considering he looks like he fits right in with the punk rock crowd—he’s thin, bald and covered in tattoos. At the moment, he would rather be watching Ceremony, the California-based hardcore punk band, at the Rock and Roll Hotel. But instead he’s talking to me at a table in the back of The Partisan.

In reality, there is nothing Witt would rather be doing than cooking and spending time in his kitchen. And you can tell by the way his eyes light up when he discusses the food at The Partisan, which he opened a little over four months ago with Nate Anda and Michael Babin. For Witt, the experience harkens back to his time at Italian eatery Il Buco in New York City nearly a decade ago.

“When I worked in Il Buco in New York, I was there for three years. And I always wanted to open a place that was similar to that in that style but more American and not so Italian and Old World. It all came together with that,” Witt told me.

Continue reading

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Spike Mendelsohn of The Sheppard

Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery

Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

Back in April during the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, Spike Mendelsohn cooked a whole pig for a feast. He used the pig’s head to make a 10-hour cheese head broth for a soup.

About halfway through, musician Jack Johnson wandered into the kitchen to check out Mendelsohn’s work. A long-time admirer of the folk rock surfer, the chef was over the moon, happy to share secrets of the soup with Johnson and his wife.

Soon, everyone ate the pig, and sat around a fire while Johnson played the guitar for hours. Afterward, they ate the soup.

“That was a pinnacle moment of my life where I got to meet a guy that I’ve always looked up to for numerous reasons,” Mendelsohn told me.

The happy encounter was no accident. Mendelsohn and 14 other chefs had gathered outside of San Francisco for the boot camp dedicated to bolstering the advocacy work of chefs and musicians.

“Not only did I meet him, but I was there as a peer of his. We were there to learn about the same thing and share ideas. As the weekend progressed in boot camp, we sacrificed a pig. It was part of the learning process of where food comes from and what is a good way to sacrifice a pig and what is the wrong way to sacrifice an animal for food.”

Continue reading

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Mike Friedman of The Red Hen

Chef Mike Friedman at The Red Hen

Chef Mike Friedman at The Red Hen

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

Positively embarrassed that I had not yet eaten at The Red Hen by the time it picked up a few RAMMY Awards last month, I recently slipped up to the 18-seat bar that dominates the room for dinner and a chat with Chef Mike Friedman.

Like myself, Friedman often enjoys eating at bars. It’s more casual and you can talk to the bartender and the people around you. Stroll in for a pasta and a glass of wine and you’ve struck gold. On this particular visit, I’m also very happy to hear David Bowie and the Talking Heads on the restaurant’s sound system, which makes me feel right at home. Friedman’s business partners Michael O’Malley and Sebastian Zutant decide what’s on the radio at the restaurant, he told me.

While good music does indeed make for a comfortable bar experience, there’s way more to The Red Hen, of course.

“Bars drive business to a certain extent. We didn’t want to have a restaurant that was a bar. We wanted to have a restaurant that was a restaurant,” Friedman said. “There is a central bar at The Red Hen where everybody dines. It’s the overflow for people that can’t get tables. It’s rare that you see it three seats back. We usually send people around the corner to Boundary Stone, which is our local bar. And they wait until they get a text from us saying that their table is ready.”

DC restaurants generally have been getting back to basics when it comes to food, Friedman said. And good neighborhood places have been able to excel by taking a more casual approach than some fancier DC staples.

Friedman compared the latest wave of DC restaurants to the scene in Paris some six years ago, when sous chefs were leaving Michelin-starred restaurants to open small bistros of their own.

“We are not at that level Paris was at, but certainly here you are seeing that new wave coming,” Friedman said.

Continue reading

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: A Rock and Roll Reintroduction

Several months ago, I was standing at the bar in Clyde’s of Georgetown, talking to friends Tim and Patrick, when Tim recommended that I read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Patrick enthusiastically agreed, and given that both men are sharp but usually quite different in their tastes, I made a note to take it on a plane to Las Vegas.

And I thoroughly enjoyed it, in large part because you got a sense of Bourdain’s New York City in the 1970s and 1980s—a place where for him food, music and vice came together vividly in kitchens, dive bars and streets. I particularly enjoyed his mentions of slipping into CBGB’s for a show and his nods to the punk rock heroes of his past. Afterward, I read three more Bourdain books. With his success as an author, his world got a lot broader but it was still read like an adventure in rock and roll.

I began to contemplate my own community, made up of venturesome people who go to see concerts at the 9:30 Club, the Black Cat, DC9, the Howard Theatre, The Fillmore, DAR Constitution Hall, and many other places around town. They live in these establishments and associated places—places that don’t host shows but serve fine food and drink. I’ve occasionally eaten with my fellow music admirers at some of these places; I’ve sometimes grabbed a dinner alone before or after a show; and I’ve made lists of interesting places to eat when recommendations are made. Man cannot live on music alone, after all.

Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Hot Ticket: American Beer Classic @ RFK Stadium, 7/12/14

On Saturday, July 12, join the American Beer Classic at RFK Stadium. Prices for this beer festival will go up after midnight Thursday.

The American Beer Classic will feature about 100 different breweries and roughly 500 different beers.

For $65, you can buy a general admission ticket for one four-hour beer tasting session from 6-10pm.

For $95, you can buy a VIP ticket for an extra hour of beer tasting 5-10pm. The VIP session includes priority access to education sessions (details of which are coming soon).

You also can purchase a “designated driver” ticket for $25, and check out the festival without the beer samples. Designated drivers get access to a Designated Driver Lounge with food and nonalcoholic beverages.

After midnight Thursday, prices go up although tickets will still be available.

Breweries include Dogfish Head, Abita, Atlas Brew Works, Elysian Brewing, Green Flash, Heavy Seas, Moylan’s, Sam Adams, Schlafly, Uinta, and many others!

American Beer Classic
RFK Stadium
Saturday, July 12
GA Doors @6pm
VIP Doors @5pm
$65-95
21+ to drink

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Hot Ticket: VinoFest @ Union Market, 6/28/14

A lot of great specialty festivals are taking place around DC these days. Music festivals, beer festivals, food festivals, and others are giving us more and more options every weekend this summer.

How can it get any better? Perhaps with VinoFest, this Saturday, June 28, at Union Market, which combines two festivals into one with a festival of wine and a festival of music!

VinoFest promises chart-topping musicians, art exhibitions and a big selection of wine in a curated experience that includes local and imported wines, food vendors and music concerts.

Tickets are still available!

For general admission at $75, gain access to wine tasting and music concerts

For VIP access at $125, gain premier access to the concerts, wine tasting and an exclusive VIP lounge with Belvedere Vodka-sponsored open bar w/ catered apps and deserts.

For a concert pass at $50, enjoy the full concert lineup without the wine tasting. Food and beer vendors also are on site for those looking for an a la carte bite or drink!

The wine tasting includes a to complementary glass of sparkling wine as well as a four-hour session of wine tasting from 2-6pm.

Music acts include:

  • Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation
  • Jesse Boykins III
  • See-I
  • Jetty
  • DJ Spinser Tracy
  • Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes
  • Body Language
  • Bonnie Rash

VinoFest is presented by VinoLovers, a DC-based startup that has launched a new wine subscription club that personalizes wine selections to the taste of each member. A portion of proceeds benefit two national charities:

  • Bike2TheBeach, a nonprofit that promotes the benefits of bike riding
  • Dreams for Kids DC, a nonprofit that creates opportunities for at-risk youth through service, leadership and social activities

VinoFest’s stated mission is to “blend philanthropy, entrepreneurs, tech, art, music, and food all in one explosive summer party!”

Tickets available online.

VinoFest
Union Market
1309 5th St. NE
Washington, DC 20002
Saturday, June 28
Wine tasting: 2-6pm
Concerts: 2-10pm
21+

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Hot Ticket: American Beer Classic, 7/12/14

After the success of the SAVOR American Craft Beer Festival last May, it’s easy to call DC a beer town. Other big beer events are taking notice and rolling into the city as well.

Next up is the American Beer Classic on Saturday, July 12, at RFK Stadium. Today is the last day to buy tickets before a scheduled price increase! The American Beer Classic is anticipating the participation of about 100 different breweries and roughly 500 different beers.

For $60, you can buy a general admission ticket for one four-hour beer tasting session from 6-10pm.

For $90, you can buy a VIP ticket for an extra hour of beer tasting 5-10pm. The VIP session includes priority access to education sessions (details of which are coming soon).

Breweries include Dogfish Head, Abita, Atlas Brew Works, Elysian Brewing, Green Flash, Heavy Seas, Moylan’s, Sam Adams, Schlafly, Uinta, and many others!

Prices go up after midnight tonight!

American Beer Classic
RFK Stadium
Saturday, July 12
GA Doors @6pm
VIP Doors @5pm
$60-90
All ages

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: SAVOR Craft Beer Experience @ National Building Museum — 5/9/14

Jim Koch of Boston Beer Co. elaborates during his salon.

Jim Koch of Boston Beer Co. elaborates during his salon.

Jim Koch, the founder and brewer of the Boston Beer Co., led a room full of beer aficionados through describing the flavor notes in a batch of Sam Adams Triple Bock from 1994.

“It’s a beer that’s almost old enough to drink itself,” Koch quipped as he likened the taste of the sugary, complex beer to a port.

Koch regaled the audience with tales of his rare beers, including how the Triple Bock (which evolved into Sam Adams Utopia) became the first beer to break 14 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) due to an epiphany he had in a Home Depot. Basically, he thought, if the companies responsible for bourbon barrels were releasing the used barrels to garden stores for use as planters, why could his brewery not purchase them and use them for aging beer?

Previously, many brewers thought combining techniques for beer and liquor would prove to be illegal in the United States. But a quick trip to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in D.C. paved the way for that to happen, and a brewing revolution began.

Continue reading

Food and Drink, Interviews, Music, People, We Love Arts, We Love Drinks, We Love Food, We Love Music

Spotlight: Carlie Steiner and Tea Time DC

Hey DC, it’s time for tea with one of my new favorite bartenders, Carlie Steiner. I first met Carlie a few weeks ago, and after a few coffees and a rather short meeting, we were already scooting all over town in her new Vespa, Sophia, shooting back and forth about classic cocktails, and quickly becoming fast friends.

If there’s one piece of advice I can give about the food and bev scene in DC, is don’t follow places, follow people. No matter where you go and what you like, I guarantee that if you develop a relationship with a bartender, server, manager, barista, whatever, you will love wherever it is they are working or whatever it is they are doing. Try to get less caught up in what new bars are opening and instead try to make connections with industry people that you like and respect, because if I follow them wherever they go, you’ll have the same great experience every time. And Carlie is one of those people to follow.

Fairly young to the DC bar scene, Carlie started in New York at culinary school, where she honed her skills as a chef, learning valuable techniques to put to use behind the bar and in the kitchen. It’s no wonder then that she was hired right out of school to work the bar at José Andrés’ Minibar, where she made such an impression that she was moved over to his new, experimental cocktail lab, Barmini. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Lupo Verde

I hope our last article got you in the mood for aperitivo hour, because that’s what’s on the menu this week. Specifically, the menu at Lupo Verde; and with Campari, Cocchi Americano, Zucca, and Fernet all in their rail (best rail in the city, I tell you), it’s going to be aperitivo time for a long time.

But first, I have a confession: I don’t like Negronis. They’re Italian cocktails 101, I know, and this must seem like blasphemy, but it’s the truth. I’ll freely admit they taste great, but I can never appreciate the gin, it just gets lost amidst the campari and vermouth. At home I don’t waste the gin and mix Americanos. When I’m out, if I want something a little more high test, I go for a Negroni Sbagliato instead.

But the Negroni at Lupo Verde is a Negroni worth mentioning. The addition of Barr Hill gin in the Annarella is a total game changer. The earthy honey flavor makes the gin take center stage. I could be biased, Bar Hill is my favorite gin, I just can’t get enough of that honey infused junipery goodness, but this is the most memorable Negroni I’ve ever had.

And speaking of riffs on classic Italian cocktails, an Americano variation? Hell yes! Classic juniper bite from the gin, interesting earthiness from the addition of pisco, but the muddled coffee beans are the all star. Especially since they’re left floating in the cocktail. Forget your vodka Red Bull, this is how I’m going to get my late night buzz from now. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Top Drink Picks for Spring

Pay no attention to forecast of snow, spring is upon us. Now is the time to start thinking about what you’re going to be drinking. I get excited about a few very specific things once the weather warms up, mainly wine and spritzes. Weird, I know, but don’t knock it until you try it.

Winter is the time for brown spirits and red wine. Come spring and summer I do a total 180 and switch almost exclusively to white wine. This season I’m most excited about the whites coming out of Greece. Last month I was raving about a crisp assyritko from Santorini, since then I’ve been exploring whites from all over Greece and the eastern Mediterranean. Turns out they’re damned good and easy to find in DC. My favorite spots have been Iron Gate in Dupont and Dunya in Shaw, which has one of the best roof decks in the city.

The rocky soil and salty sea breeze make for great wines to pair with light springtime fare. Look for a wine with light citrus notes and a great minerality to pair with a golden beet and goat cheese salad. Or that salty assyritko with any seafood. My favorite is fried oysters. Totally non traditional, but it’s the best fried oysters and white wine you’ll ever have. And albeit the first fried oysters and white wine you’ve ever had.

Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Ivy and Coney

Just as that bitter taste lingers in your mouth for what feels like forever, malört has managed to linger in the DC drinks scene since it broke out in late last December. This is due in no small part to the massive hype it’s been generating, getting continuous press and even a bar dedicated to it.

The malört craze started with Boundary Road, which was the first time I saw malört on a DC menu, and Bar Pilar who featured Malört Bombs on their Anti-Valentine’s Day Menu. But the real stuff, Jeppson’s Malört, as of now, is only behind one bar in the city, Ivy and Coney.

Ivy and Coney is DC’s shrine to this bitter Chicago spirit. Opened in late December, Ivy and Coney has been making waves for it’s no frills, divey neighborhood bar take on midwest taverns. Come to drink the inexpensive beers, eat cracker jacks and the Chicago-style hot dogs and coneys. And, of course, shoot malört. This isn’t a place to get fancy, it’s a place to have an unpretentious beer and a snack after work, and see your friends’ malört face. Continue reading

Adams Morgan, Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Roofer’s Union

Welcome to the rest of your spring and summer, people. You’re going to be spending it with me, going out in Adams Morgan. I was skeptical, just like everyone else, when I heard 18th Street was undergoing a bit of revival, but then I went to Roofer’s Union and I finally saw the light.

Good food, good drinks, friendly staff, great concept, you know the deal. The team from Ripple isn’t messing around. The drinks menu reads like my wish list–sour beers, Gansetts (Rhody pride!), amari, quinquinas–and the food is certainly a step above Jumbo Slice. Though one thing they have in common is I’m certainly going to start craving that andouille at three AM.

But what sealed the deal for me was when “Too Afraid To Love You” came on the radio. I was relaxing at the bar with beer before work and realized this would be my new go to spot if I lived around the block. Which is exactly what Adams Morgan had been missing for so long, a low key spot to hang out.

I’ve spent too many nights drinking too many whiskies at Jack Rose, followed by pints next door at Blaguard, and a bleary-eyed brunch at Cashion’s. But that was all that could get me up to Adams Morgan for a long time. Now there’s Smoke & Barrel for even more whiskey and even more pints, Dram & Grain for fancy cocktails, and mainstays of the neighborhood like Bourbon and Tryst. Slowly Adams Morgan is changing from a destination neighborhood to a more central hub, like 14th Street or Shaw.

And Roofer’s Union is going to play a big part in changing Adams Morgan’s image. I really digged everything I had there, the food, the drinks, the vibe, but what stood out to me was the downstairs bar. All the drinks are the same–beer, wine, cocktails–but there’s no food. That means less of a wait during weekend dinner rush and less of a crowd during happy hour. Which is great news for those of us just interested in the drinks and not the crazy Adams Morgan crowd.

Most people will file into the downstairs bar and have a few drinks while waiting for a table to open up upstairs. But if you’re really there for the drinks, downstairs is where you want to camp out all night. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Café Saint-Ex

I haven’t frequented Cafe Saint-Ex for very long, but to be fair I haven’t frequented anywhere in DC very long. But in the time that I’ve spent at Saint-Ex I’ve noticed their slow and steady change from a great neighborhood bar to one of the tops spots to get a drink in DC.

Let’s be real, we all know Saint-Ex. We’ve all been there for more than a few unforgettable nights and, of course, a few that we can’t remember. The 14 street staple opened in 2003 and since then the upstairs bar has been the go to spot for an afterwork drink, whether you’re 9 to 5 or stopping by for last call after a night behind the stick, and downstairs Gate 54 has taken on iconic status for its late night dance parties. While Saint-Ex may already be a DC standard, they prove with their new food and bar menu after all these years they’re still good enough to go round for round with the biggest names in the industry.

Driving the new bar menu is Ben Wiley, formerly of Jose Andres’ Think Food Group, and Noah Broaddus. One look at the menu and you can tell they took a serious, no frills approach to making good, simple drinks. Nothing too crazy, nothing too complicated, but all ridiculously good. Each drink is flavor-driven, with a focus on quality while still being approachable. As Noah puts it, “it’s all about bringing people into the fold.” Saint-Ex is and will always be the spot to drink a beer and get a shot on 14th, but now you can be sure to get a killer cocktail too. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Perfect Pairings at Flight

This photo perfectly sums up my night at Flight, DC’s newest wine bar in Chinatown. From the moment I stepped through the door, I was seduced by the simple, yet sophisticated amber-washed interior. So seduced that I forgot to take enough photos of the amazing food and wine. Sometimes drink writing is harder than it looks.

Luckily I snapped a photo of the tomato soup cake before we devoured it and drank all the madeira. I’m sure you’re a little curious, just like I was, as to what exactly tomato soup cake is. Put simply, think carrot cake only made with a can of tomato soup instead. But that just doesn’t do it justice. I was with a professed carrot cake hater who went crazy for it. I did too, of course. It’s spiced and sweet like carrot cake, but with a great tomato zing to it.

Spicy, sweet, a little fruity? Sounds like a perfect match for a glass of madeira. And hats off to Mike behind the bar for the awesome recommendation. Continue reading