Eat Like Me: December’s Best Dishes

Photo courtesy of
‘Waffle House’
courtesy of ‘Steve Snodgrass’
I learned a lot about myself this month. I learned that white anchovies are the way to my heart if maybe not the best way to a second date. I finally, officially learned that there is a reason I’m not stick thin — because fatty food tastes good. I learned I like whiskey more than I thought (sorry parents!). And I learned that eating at a Waffle House and a Hooters in the same day does not spring me in to spontaneous white trashedness. I also ate a whole lot this month, so it was pretty tough to narrow down everything I loved. As a result, you’ll notice the honorable mention category down at the bottom for those few dishes that came in a close second in the race to the top.

Where I Ate: Ray’s Hell Burger, Cork Market, Charlie Palmer Steak, West Wing Cafe, Ted’s Bulletin, Guapos, Taqueria Nationale, Hooters, The Melting Pot, Mandu, Taylor Gourmet, Ardeo+Bardeo, Waffle House, J&G Steakhouse, Atlas Room, Birch & Barley, White Tiger, Leopold’s Kafe, Dickson Wine Bar.

My Favorite Cocktail: On an especially cold and blustery night, I decided to try out the newly opened Atlas Room on H St. It’s teeny tiny, but perfect for a drink and a shared dish of pasta with a friend. I tried the Blood and Sand, since I was fighting/milking a cold and thought a dose of orange juice would counteract the whole drinking thing. Whiskey, brandy and vermouth are all those liquors that seem perfect for a night in front of the fire and it did the trick for me. Not the most original cocktail on H St. (have you seen this Burning Man concoction?) but sometimes classics are where it’s at.

Photo courtesy of
‘Mandu Korean Restaurant’
courtesy of ‘vincentgallegos’

My Favorite Thing I Ordered at a Counter: Alright fine, Arlingtonians, I surrender. I finally made it across the river and through that weird tunnel in Rosslyn to Ray’s Hell Burger, and I’m officially a convert. I tried the Soul Burger Number One, with its Swiss cheese, cognac and sherry sauteed mushrooms, bacon and grilled onions…it is a serious burger. The toppings are great (and I can’t wait to go back and try the zanier options, i.e. foie gras and bone marrow) but the flavor of the burger was absolutely out of this world. It’s enough to make me invest in learning my way to Arlington without my GPS…maybe.

My Favorite Appetizer: I have a day job that isn’t exactly conducive to fancy eating. We spend most of our meals at our desks, so a nice Sweetgreen salad or a Cosi sandwich is a real treat. After an especially hellacious couple weeks at work, we spoiled ourselves with a little appetizer platter from Charlie Palmer Steak. As part of our schmorgasboard, we had the lobster corn dogs. HELLO. ARE YOU LISTENING? I said lobster corn dogs. They’re delicious in a sort of forth dimensional way that I’m not sure how to put in to words. Trust me, it’s a big ol’ hunk of fried lobster on a stick, you can’t go wrong.

Photo courtesy of
‘Dickson Wine Bar’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

My Favorite Thing Between Two Slices of Bread: I get very excited when a D.C. hot spot is featured in a national magazine/blog/newspaper, and this year one of the dishes that kept popping up on my radar was the banh mi from Dickson Wine Bar. I heard it was great, but I then I read this article, where in an explanation of how Dickson was a great wine bar, all they really talked about was the banh mi. So I finally tried it for myself and it was heavenly. I had the pork belly version (my friend had the Amish chicken) and the tangy carrots and daikon, the spicy peppers and the creamy, life-changing chicken liver mousse were all just what the doctor ordered. Dr. Love that is. (Because I’m in love? I don’t know, I’m too full and happy to think of a congruous joke.)

My Favorite Entree: This may be a bit of a gray area, because though the White Anchovy Flatbread at Birch & Barley wasn’t listed as an entree I ate it as my entree, so it counts right? And truthfully, I couldn’t even finish it, so I think it definitely counts. I’ve been going nutty for anchovies lately, so I was thrilled to see this bad boy on the menu. The huge slab of bread comes with aged pecorino, capers, roasted cauliflower, pine nuts and those little fishy guys. It’s an incredibly complex set of flavors, but everything works well together. I’d recommend it as an appetizer to share (perhaps that’s how it was intended?) but it definitely worked as dinner plus lunch the next day.

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Paige Weaver’

My Favorite Dessert Breakfast:(ed: Honestly, no desserts really wowed me this month, so in its place I give you my favorite breakfast.) I woke up one morning with a hankering for pancakes. As a former Weight Watchers devotee, breakfast breads are usually akin to crystal meth in my book — stay away lest you be hooked. But I couldn’t deny my craving, so I dragged my friend to Ted’s Bulletin for breakfast. I actually ordered the pancakes, but as I waited for him to finish his insanely complicated order, I scanned down the menu to the T.U.B.S. Sandwich, and on a whim ordered it and never looked back. Dieters and vegans shield your eyes, because here come the ingredients: scrambled eggs, a fried egg, sausage, bacon, and a slab cheese on Texas toast. Sounds crazy enough to work, no? If it had been sandwiched between two pancakes instead of toast, I may have found the perfect breakfast.

Honorable Mentions: Shirmp jun at Mandu, Egg Souffle with Plum Compote at Leopold’s Kafe, Cranberry Scones at J&G Steakhouse, Chicken Wings at Charlie Palmer Steak, and Egg Salad with Goat Cheese and Bacon at Cork Market.

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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