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Our Favorite Dishes of 2016

21 Dec

Now that we’re a family of four, it’s more often than not you’ll see us enjoying Thai carryout or Peruvian chicken these days than dining out at all of the newest spots (and let’s admit it, even we can’t keep up with all of these openings). Nonetheless, we were still able to explore some great restaurants in the District during those very precious date nights, so without further ado, here are our favorite dishes of the year:

Pan Seared scallops – Kyirisan

While we haven’t had the chance to write up our fabulous meal at Kyirisan just yet (rest assured, we will!), Tim Ma’s latest restaurant is serving up one of the best scallop dishes in Shaw if not the entire District. The four perfectly seared scallops are placed atop a bed of rich coconut risotto and, get this, basil ice cream. Our server told us to wait until the dollop of ice cream melted before partaking in this amazing entrée. Patience is a virtue but it paid off, immensely. There’s a reason why this is one of the most-ordered dishes off the menu.

Pan seared scallops

Pork bahn mi – Mi Lay Cay

I’m ashamed to admit that after living in Silver Spring for over two and a half years that my first visit to the Vietnamese staple in Wheaton was only a couple of months ago. I sincerely regret not going there sooner. For starters, their bahn mi sandwich is tremendous both in size and value. Stuffed with generous servings of delicious pork and sandwiched by a crispy baguette, the foot long sandwich will run you just a mere $4.50!

Pork bahn mi

Socca – Convivial

While the fried chicken “coq au vin” gets a lot of the well-deserved hype, the socca is just as good and twice as pretty. The chickpea pancake sets the foundation for a tower of beets, citrus fruit, shaved fennel, and picholine olives. The combination, as eccentric as it sounds on paper, works so effortlessly well.

Socca with beets

Chicken Himmapan – Thai Taste by Kob

Look, I love the Bamee Moo Deang. I really do. But the chicken himmapan might be my new go-to dish after my last few visits to Phak Duangchandr’s amazing Thai eatery. The stir-fried chicken is served with cashews and dried red chilies that make for a spicy yet satisfying entrée.

Chicken Himmapan

Sansa Temple Bibimbap – Seoul Food

Like the aforementioned Mi La Cay, Rachel and I are kicking ourselves for not discovering this Wheaton gem sooner. While neither of us are vegan, the Sansa Temple Bibimbap is a vegan lover’s dream that appeals to carnivores alike. Prepared with sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, avocado, seaweed, and a blend of original and chives kimchi (both prepared-in house), this dish is just one of half a dozen vegan bibimbap preparations Seoul Food makes.

Sansa Temple Bibimbap

Cauliflower soup with Parmesan – Corduroy

It’s no secret that chef and owner Tom Power makes some of the best soups you’ll find in the District, and his trademark cauliflower soup is no exception. Topped with aged Parmesan, the rich and creamy cauliflower soup is an essential dish especially during these wintery months.

Cauliflower soup with Parmesan

Lamb Ribs – Tail Up Goat

The newly Michelin-starred restaurant in Adams Morgan took a cue from its mentor at Komi by serving up a family-style platter of incredibly succulent lamb ribs. Meant for sharing and accompanied with sumac onions, beets, and a wonderful yogurt sauce, the Mediterranean-style dish is worth the visit alone.

Lamb ribs

Sweet Corn Agnolotti – RPM Italian

The Chicago import has been highly buzzed about since they opened earlier this year, but Rachel and I were very impressed with the pastas they were churning out of the kitchen, especially the sweet corn agnolotti. Topped with summer truffles and cracked pepper, the pillows of pasta basically melted in your mouth.

Sweet Corn Agnolotti

Ma Po Tofu – Bob’s Shanghai 66

I’ve been to Bob’s 66 twice this year and have had the Ma Po Tofu each time. And I don’t even like tofu! Yes, the soup dumplings are all the rage but for me to eat tofu and actually enjoy it is quite an extraordinary feat. I guess I really do like tofu. As long as it’s incredibly spicy, that is.

Ma Po Tofu

Shack Stack Burger – Shake Shack

I like Shake Shack. A lot. But you know what? A single cheeseburger isn’t filling enough when I’m at a Nats game. So why not throw a fried portabella mushroom patty filled with melted Muenster and cheddar cheese on top of it? Done.

Shack Stack Burger

 

Convivial: Best Meal of 2016 Thus Far

9 Sep

In what is a really overdue post, Rachel and I dined at Cedric Maupillier’s newest restaurant in Shaw a few months ago and were wowed by every facet the French-American bistro had to offer.

From the modern interior that seeped in an abundance of sunlight to the straightforward menu (actual entrees!) to the impeccably executed food, Convivial is a gem in Shaw and rightfully deserves its #4 ranking in Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best Restaurants 2016.”

Escargot in a blanket

As fans of Mintwood Place, where Chef Maupillier first made his mark in the District, it was great to see a refreshing take on his beloved escargot hushpuppies with escargot in, well, a blanket. Crunchy and delectable, this is the appetizer you need to start your meal off with.

Soccer with beets

The socca, however, is an absolute must-order just on presentation alone. The chickpea pancake sets the foundation for a tower of beets, citrus fruit, shaved fennel, and picholine olives. The combination, as eccentric as it sounds on paper, works so effortlessly well and is the epitome of a summer dish – light, refreshing, and full of flavor.

soft shell crab meunière

Rachel’s soft shell crab meunière was a delight, which was complemented by sweet corn and hazelnut grits.

fried chicken "coq au vin"

Naturally I had to try the fried chicken “coq au vin” which was just as good as it sounded. The doubly fried and braised chicken was incredibly juicy, bursting with notes of red wine, yet maintained a satisfyingly crunch after each bite.

key lime pie with speculoos crust

The key lime pie with speculoos crust was an outstanding dessert and rivaled any slice originating from Key West. Topped with slices of kiwi, Rachel and I would buy an entire pie if we could.

And while the food was incredible, the service was top-notch as well. Our friendly waitress helped us navigate the menu and was continually checking up on us.

Furthermore, given the quality and size of portions, I honestly think Convivial is one of the better values in the city. Both of our entrees were under $20, and considering the work Chef Maupillier and Co. are doing in the kitchen, I tip my hat to them for offering five-star food at such an affordable price point in a city that’s getting more expensive by the year if not month.

Convivial is an exceptional restaurant and both Rachel and I are comfortable in saying in that it’s been our best meal of the year so far.

Convival Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Our Favorite Dishes of 2015

30 Dec

With a three year-old and a house in the burbs, DMV Dining shifted towards exploring more family-friendly dining options this year than routinely dining in the District proper, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying a variety of amazing dishes regardless of venue. And while we were able to have a date night or two in the city, there’s a multitude of terrific options outside the D.C. border. With that said, here are our favorite dishes of 2015:

Pork Lychee Salad – Rose’s Luxury

First of all, we’re just proud of the fact we were able to walk into Rose’s on a humid summer day and get a seat within half an hour (it can be done!). After coming off that high, we were brought back to cloud nine with their incredible pork lychee salad. Composed of pork sausage, habanero, peanuts, and raw onion, it’s a combination of ingredients that somehow works, and works well. Like, really well.

Pork Lychee Salad

Shoyu Ramen – Ren’s Ramen

I’ve expressed my love for Ren’s Ramen countless times, but it really is one of the best ramen shops in the area. Despite the lack of parking, the Soup Nazi-reminiscent list of rules posted on the front door, and cash-only policy, it’s still worth the trip to Wheaton. My go-to is their Sapporo-style Shoyu ramen. For $10 you get a heaping bowl of soy sauce flavored soup prepared with Tonkotsu broth, roast pork, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, scallions, onion, and ground pork. It’s a rich and hearty ramen that makes for an ideal wintertime meal.

Shoyu Ramen

Palak Chaat – Rasika

What needs to be said? This is a quintessential dish at a classic venue.

Palak Chaat

Baklava – YiaYias’s Kitchen

This Beltsville restaurant servers up some incredible gyros (although I’m still partial towards Marathon Deli in nearby College Park), but the baklava stands out as one of their top dishes. With endless layers of filo held together by honey, it makes for a wonderfully sticky treat.

Baklava

 

Injera Plate – Ethio Express Grill

Silver Spring’s Ethio Express Grill marks the first time Ethiopian food has entered the incredibly popular fast-casual market, but rest assured quality is not compromised despite the express moniker. Their trademark platter features grilled beef (tibs), hot sauce, ayib cheese, collard greens (gomen), spicy lentils (miser), and split peas (kik), and is accompanied by warm injera bread. It made for a quick, affordable, and certainly delicious lunch.

Injera Plate

Szechuan-style Duck – Crane and Turtle

Chef Makoto Hamamura is doing incredible things at Paul Ruppert’s Petworth restaurant, where Japanese cooking wonderfully intertwines with French cuisine. Paired with pea shoots, braised Yuba, and dan dan sauce, the savory, perfectly cooked duck was the highlight of an outstanding birthday dinner.

Szechuan-style duck

The Hot Mess – Frankly Pizza

Frankly Pizza has been one of the biggest additions to what has been a somewhat lackluster dining scene in Kensington. Starting off as a mobile wood-fired pizza trailer back in 2011, Frankly Pizza opened its doors in 2014 and has been incredibly busy since. All of their pizzas are outstanding, but the Hot Mess really stood out. Topped with mozzarella, pickled jalapenos, caramelized onions, bacon, Gruyere and Romano, we had to get this amazing pie to go since the wait for tables was so long!

The Hot Mess

Crispy Miso Kushi-Katsu – KAZ Sushi Bistro

Chef Kaz Okochi’s downtown restaurant is more than just a sushi spot, albeit a great one. From an extensive sake menu to an array of small plates, KAZ also offers some popular Japanese street food such as these incredibly delicious panko-crusted pork and onion skewers. Topped with sweet red miso sauce and Japanese mustard, this deep-fried delicacy makes for great bar fare.

Fried pork skewer with miso and mustard

Brisket Buns – Momofoku CCDC

The opening of David Chang’s latest venture in CityCenter brought much ballyhoo to the District, and while no restaurant can match that amount of hype, Momofoku delivered when it came to its brisket buns. The combination of pickled red onion, cucumber, horseradish sauce, and slow-roasted brisket is well worth the wait.

Brisket buns

Dry fried Eggplant – Peter Chang

We haven’t even had time to write about our wonderful dinner at Peter Chang’s Rockville spot from last week yet (rest assured, we will), but the dry fried eggplant was an exceptional dish and nothing like I have had before. They were essentially eggplant fries sans any trace of grease while the outside remained delightfully crispy. Topped with chilies and Sichuan pepper, this isn’t even the spiciest dish on the menu, but if you’re a fan of heat then the dry fried eggplant is a must-order.

Dry fried Eggplant

Our Favorite Dishes of 2014, Part II

19 Dec

Ok, my turn. Here’s what I would call my favorite, or most memorable dishes of the year.

Mushroom Tart – Le Diplomate

We finally made it to Le Diplomate earlier this year, and we made sure to do our homework to see what people recommended the most. We settled on the mushroom tart for our appetizer, and it could have easily been a meal in itself. Arriving to the table at room temperature, the buttery, flaky crust combined with the pioppini mushrooms and grated truffle pecorino made for an outstanding first course. Perfect to split between two people, it’s a great if not filling dish.

Mushroom Tart

Faux Ribeye – Corduroy

This dish has a bit of a story to it: Brett took me out for my birthday dinner, and we wound up at the bar at Corduroy. Little did I know that the main event was a surprise party that Brett had planned for me at City Tap Room. We have wanted to do the bar menu at Corduroy for years, and I was so glad we finally did. It’s seriously the best deal in the city. For the entrée, I decided to try the “faux ribeye,” which was a shoulder cut that was prepared like a ribeye. This was easily the tenderest piece of meat I had this year. It was perfectly charred on the outside and was paired with creamy mashed potatoes and Bok Choy, and was a huge cut of meat. I’m not sure how often the dish appears on the bar menu, but I believe it’s sold with a side of fries at Baby Wale.

Faux Ribeye

Primavera Pizza – Campono

If I could choose my favorite or most unique pizza of the year, it would be the primavera that we tried at Campono, the pizza and sandwich spot tucked away at the Watergate near the Kennedy Center. Topped with asparagus, favas, broccoli, leak cream, parsley, scallions, and a mozzarella blend, this is not your classic white pizza. But that’s a good thing as this was a terrific, unique combination of ingredients and really hit the spot.

Primavera pizza

Herban Garden – City Burger

While we love a great burger, I’m always up for trying unique veggie burgers too. My favorite has been the popular version at Woodmont Grill, but City Burger’s Herban Garden may be a new front runner. The patty is a blend of fried quinoa and black bean, and topped with lettuce, pickled red onion, and herby mayo. The result is a crunchy, satisfying alternative that isn’t greasy or bland. Now my biggest dilemma will be whether to get the Classic City Burger or Herban when we visit.

Herban Garden

The Chessie – Byrd Stadium at the University of Maryland

While you won’t be able to get this item till next fall, if you happen to be at a Maryland football game next year and with a group of people, do yourself a favor and get the Chessie. We had heard so much about it we knew we had to try it, so seven of us split this colossal pretzel topped with mounds of crab meat and cheese. It came in a pizza box and, and despite everyone in our group having at least two bites, we still couldn’t finish this monster. It definitely lived up to the hype.

The Chessie

Saffron Zucca – Red Hen

Whenever friends ask what would be a great go-to restaurant for a night out, I almost always say the Red Hen. The last night I went with some girlfriends, we each got a pasta dish and everyone agreed mine was the best. The Saffron Zucca with came with a butternut squash puree, wild mushrooms, sage, and toasted almonds. Each bite was perfect, and it was so rich that I was able to save a few bites to take home so Brett could see how amazing it was.

Saffron Zucca

Spicy Crunchy Tuna Roll – Moby Dick Sushi

Tucked within the Wheaton Triangle, Moby Dick offers top quality sushi and creative rolls. Their spicy crunchy tuna roll is now a must every time we order from there. It’s not like any other roll of the same name we’ve ever had. Instead of a tuna roll dusted with tempura flakes on top, the entire roll is battered tempura style. And yes, it’s as good as it sounds.

Moby Dick Sushi

Chocolate Ganache Torte – Fresh Baguette

The torte at this authentic French bakery on Bethesda Avenue, tucked behind the crowded Giant, was easily one of our favorite desserts of the year. But I could say the same thing with their chocolate tart, or even the amazingly simple but perfect butter croissant. Bottom line, PAUL better watch out for some steep competition when they open in Bethesda.

Chocolate Ganache Torte

Our Favorite Dishes of 2014, Part I

18 Dec

This year was not only about revisiting old favorites in the District, but also discovering new culinary destinations (at least to us) in Wheaton and Silver Spring after moving to Forest Glen earlier this summer. While there’s plenty of amazing items from more formal venues, there’s just as good dishes from unassuming, inexpensive places as well. With that said, Brett takes a look back at some of his favorite dishes of the year. Be on the lookout for Rachel’s favorite dishes tomorrow.

Cacio e Pepe – Fiola

First of all, how great is the Presto lunch deal? For $22, one can partake in a beverage and lunch entrée at the bar of Fabio Trabocchi’s flagship restaurant during the workweek. Anyway, I ordered the traditional Cacio e Pepe just earlier this week and it’s arguably one of the best pasta preparations you will come across in the District. Prepared with homemade spaghetti, Roman Cacio cheese, and crushed black peppercorns, the pasta was exquisitely light and creamy yet packed with robust flavor. While Cacio e Pepe is one of the simplest Italian recipes, Fiola takes this classic to new heights.

Cacio

Boudin Blanc – Marcel’s

If there’s one dish to order at the elegant Marcel’s, Robert Wiedmaier’s crown jewel of his local restaurant group, it’s the Boudin Blanc. The meticulously-prepared handmade sausage, stuffed with a blend of chicken and pheasant, is wrapped in a lightly-browned casing yet melts in your mouth after one bite. Topped with black truffles and situated under a bed of butternut squash puree, caramelized onions, and Madeira sauce, this is fine-dining at its, well, finest.

Boudin Blanc.

Cream of Corn with ramps, pesto, and soft shell crab – Roberto’s 8 at Al Dente

It’s such a joy to not only have Roberto Donna back in the District, but also offer a personal cooking experience akin to his Laboratorio del Galileo days. Roberto’s 8 was an incredible meal, full of whimsical cooking and gorgeous presentations, but it was Donna’s cream of corn with ramps, pesto, and deep-fried soft shell crab that made us sit back, take a collective breath, and simply say “wow”. Rich, creamy, and accompanied with a crunchy soft shell crab, the soup was just heavenly.

Cream of corn

The Brisket Champ – DCity Smokehouse

While I’ve already written about how The Brisket Champ was arguably my favorite sandwich of the year, it deserves mentioning yet again. The smoky, tender brisket is piled high and topped with crispy onions, housemade pickles, and sandwiched between two slices of Texas Toast. This is legitimate barbecue, folks.

The Brisket Champ

Fried Chicken – Boss Shepherd’s

There’s fried chicken, then there’s fried chicken. Chef Jeremy Waybright’s takes great care in preparing this immensely popular dish at the recently-opened Boss Shepherd’s. Brined for 12 hours, the half chicken is artfully presented on a wooden plank with not one but three dipping sauces (housemade smoked egg yolk sauce!) as well as a warm, flaky buttermilk biscuit. Enough food for two, this is some of the best fried chicken you will come across in D.C.

Fried Chicken at Boss Shepherd's

Bamee Moo Deang – Thai Taste by Kob

Since moving to Silver Spring, we’re a stone’s throw from Wheaton which hosts not one but three of the best Thai restaurants in the metropolitan area. The newest entrant, Thai Taste by Kob, carries its own niche by offering a stunning array of authentic Bangkok street food. The Bamee Moo Deang, one of nearly 100 dishes that Thai Taste offers on its lengthy if not intimidating menu, features egg noodles with succulent honey roasted pork, fish ball, and wonderfully spicy bok choi. Needless to say that I’ve never had a dish like this before, but now I can’t wait to try the restaurant’s other countless offerings.

Bamee

Room 11 – Taco Choco

Columbia Heights’ Room 11 is best known for its outstanding cocktails and cozy atmosphere, but they also make one hell of a Taco Choco. A spinoff of the ice cream truck classic, Room 11’s version takes it to a whole other level. Large enough to split between two people, the crunchy seven inch waffle cone is stuffed with rich vanilla ice cream and dipped in chocolate and peanuts. Not only was it one of our favorite dishes of the year, but it was also our favorite dessert of 2014, too.

Taco

Floating Market Noodle Soup – Nava Thai

Every time we get carryout from Nava Thai, we always include an order of their renowned Floating Market Noodle Soup. Full of complex flavors, ranging from tangy to sweet to ultra-spicy, the rice noodle soup is topped with bean sprouts, watercress, and fried pork rinds. It’s one of the most authentic if not unique broths we have come across, and while I’m fan of all things spice, I still have yet to venture ordering the default spicy (three pepper) version. The medium spice preparation still requires me to take a breather or two before the next spoonful, but rest assured, it’s always finished.

FloatingMarket

Be sure to check DMV Dining tomorrow for Rachel’s favorite dishes of 2014!

Our Favorite Dishes of 2013, Part II

31 Dec

Okay, my turn. Most of Brett’s dishes I agreed with (although as much as I loved the brisket at Rose’s Luxury, it was a little too fatty for my taste). Here are a few others that I loved from this year, and would get again in 2014 in a heartbeat.

Brussels Sprouts – The Red Hen

We went here for my birthday, and it was a perfect meal. I loved everything we got, but my favorite part might have been the side of Brussels sprouts that we ordered as an afterthought. They were perfectly crispy without being too dry or too oily, and were served atop a garlic and dill aioli. I could have eaten an entire dish of it all to myself.

Brussels sprouts

Popcorn Soup with Lobster – Rose’s Luxury 

Brett already mentioned the brisket, which was the main event of our meal. I have to say the standout dish for me was the popcorn soup with grilled lobster. The only way I could describe the flavor was that it was similar to eating a buttered popcorn Jelly Belly. You know it isn’t popcorn, but it sure as hell tastes like it. It was smooth and velvety without being heavy, and the lobster pieces found at the bottom were the icing on the cake. It was so unique that I felt like I with every spoonful I had to comment about how much I was in awe of the dish.

Popcorn soup

Schmutzy Fries – DGS Delicatessen

We’re already big fans of DGS, and have been before for brunch and lunch. We decided to check it out for dinner when my brother and sister-in-law were in town, and we instantly decided to start off our meal with an order of the Schmutzy Fries. It was basically poutine, or disco fries from a New Jersey dinner, but the toppings instead were what you would find on a Reuben: corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss, Russian dressing, and harissa. In other words, amazing.

Schmutzy Fries

Pork and Crispy Rice Cake in a Sweet and Sour Sauce with Vegetables – Sichuan Jin River 

So this may not be the real name of the dish, but it was how it was described to me. Between the crispy rice cake that soaked in the sauce to comb-shaped Chinese mushrooms, I couldn’t get over how delicious and complex this dish was. After getting something like this, it makes it hard to go back to a generic Chinese takeout place.

Pork and crispy rice cake in a sweet and sour sauce with vegetables

Olive Oil Ice Cream – Jaleo 

I would say that hands down the most unique dessert we had in 2013 was the olive oil ice cream dish at Jaleo. What seemed like a simple dish on paper was actually a scoop of olive oil ice cream surrounded by fresh grapefruit, a grapefruit granita, and topped with candied grapefruit. If you dipped your spoon so you had every component together for each bite, it was a perfect blend of flavors.

Olive oil ice cream

Okonomiyaki – Maketto 

This was a Japanese-style pancake with so many layers to it. Pork belly, shrimp, shaved mackerel, vegetables. There’s a lot going on in this dish that I was fortunate enough to try at the Maketto pop-up at Hanoi House earlier this fall. If this is any indication of what’s to come from Erik Bruner-Yang’s new restaurant opening in early 2014, then you can be sure to wait hours for a table here just like people do at Toki. If only we can make it to either one!

Japanese fish cake

Grilled Trout – Et Voila 

We went here back in February, and it still stands out as my favorite fish dish of the year. Sometimes simple is better, and this was perfectly grilled trout. The grill marks added a smoky flavor to the fish, and the champagne sauce with leeks was lovely to dip it in.

Grilled trout

Our Favorite Dishes of 2013, Part I

30 Dec

It was quality over quantity in our dining adventures this year, and with visits to new restaurants such as Rose’s Luxury and Ghibellina, it’s been an exciting year for eating in the District. With that said, Brett takes a look back at some of his favorite dishes of the year. Be on the lookout for Rachel’s favorite dishes tomorrow.

Rose’s Luxury – Smoked brisket platter

I don’t know what’s more amazing: that Rose’s Luxury was hands-down our favorite dinner of 2013, or that the place has only been open for four months. While each dish was stellar, it was the family-style platter of smoked brisket that was truly outstanding. The smoky, thick slices of beef are so juicy and tender that a knife is not necessary. Making a sandwich with the accompanying Texas toast, pickled cabbage, and horseradish sauce was a real treat.

Smoked brisket platter

Rappahannock Oyster Bar – Crab Cake

Let’s face it: anything you order from Rappahannock Oyster Bar is going to be good, especially the Lamb and Clams, but their crab cake is the best in the city. Yeah, I’m going there. Using only lump and backfin meat, the portion is very generous given the affordable price of $14. Lightly crispy on the outside and topped with a dab of remoulade, it’s hard to find a better preparation of this Maryland staple in the city.

Crab cake

Range – Skillet Corn Bread

One of the best values in Bryan Voltaggio’s massive Friendship Heights restaurant, the iron skillet corn bread is large enough to share amongst four people. But it’s the bacon marmalade that really makes this dish shine. Spreading it over the warm, flaky corn bread creates a flavor combination that leaves you wanting more. And more. And more.

Skillet cornbread with bacon marmalade

Ghibellina – Stracotto

One of the many great new restaurants that opened along the 14th Street corridor this year, the casual offshoot of Acqua Al 2 really stood out with its excellent pizzas and freshly-prepared pastas. But it was the Stracotto, Ghibellina’s version of pot roast, which made this visit a memorable one. Prepared with white wine and tomato, I took my time enjoying the succulent, tender beef with each forkful.

Stracotto

Rasika West End – Banana Avocado Chaat

Both locations of Raskia are always a tough table for one simple reason: they consistently serve up some of this city’s very best Indian cuisine. And while each visit requires an order of their Palak Chaat, it was the banana and avocado preparation that left an indelible impression. You wouldn’t think at first that these two flavors go together at all, but when you pair up a bite of the grilled, crispy banana with the creamy avocado, it’s pretty much transcendent.

Banana avocado chaat

Acqua Al 2 – Filetto al Mirtillo

I’m a big steak fan, but reading over the menu description of the Filetto al Mirtillo made me do a double-take. A hand-carved filet mignon cooked in blueberry reduction sauce? But our friend insisted we order it, and well, he was right. Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine pairing up a tender, medium-rare filet with blueberry sauce, yet somehow, the duo worked. Chalk it up to the subtle flavor of the sauce, which added just a hint of blueberry without overshadowing the steak.

Filet with blueberry sauce

Be sure to check DMV Dining tomorrow for Rachel’s favorite dishes of 2013!

Our Favorites Dishes of 2012

28 Dec

As we near the end of 2012, we take a look back at some of the most thrilling dishes this calendar year has offered us from restaurants in the District. It proved difficult to cut the list to only so many choices, but we narrowed it down to what we thought were our most memorable dishes of the year. With so many new restaurants opening up, we can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring. We’ll just have to spend wisely since we pay for daycare now.

Brett

The Source – Duck Bao Buns

If there’s one dish to order among the 30 or so at The Source’s fantastic dim sum brunch, it’s the duck bao buns. Chef Scott Drewno lacquers the duck overnight while the warm, soft buns encase the succulent, crispy meat stuffed inside.

Duck bao buns

Stachowski Market and Deli – Pastrami Sandwich

This sandwich single-handedly raised the bar for all other sandwiches in the DC area. Not only is it large enough to feed two people, but the pastrami is some of the juiciest, most flavorful you will ever come across. Sandwiched between two slices of hearty pumpernickel as well as a smear of spicy mustard, this is a pastrami lover’s dream. You’ll have lunch and dinner covered for just $12.

Pastrami Sandwich

Mintwood Place – Escargot Hushpuppies

Chef Cedric Maupillier was able to devise one of the most inventive plates of the year by combining a classic French recipe with down home southern cooking. Wonderfully crispy on the outside and delicately rich on the inside, the escargot hushpuppies are the one appetizer you should order at Mintwood Place without question.

Escargot hush puppie

Corduroy – Broken Arrow Ranch Antelope

It’s been years since we last went to Corduroy, but after having a wonderful dinner there back in October, it’s the one restaurant we need to visit at least once a year, if not more. The Broken Arrow Ranch antelope was just one of the many reasons we need to come back. The antelope was one of the most delicious, most tender pieces of meat the two of us have ever come across in our years of dining.

Broken Arrow Ranch antelope with scalloped potatoes

The Pig – Charred Belly

It goes without saying that The Pig was one of the best restaurants to open in the area in the year 2012. We had several outstanding dishes, but the charred belly takes the cake. Beautifully presented atop a heap of celery root puree and watermelon jam, the pork belly was succulent and smoky. We came this close to ordering another plate of it.

Charred Belly

Bourbon Steak – Brown Sugar Bananas

What happens when you compose a dessert consisting of the following?

–         Banana cake

–         Peanut ganache

–         Fried Captain Crunch ice cream.

That’s right, perhaps the most amazing dessert ever. Good answer.

Brown Sugar Bananas

Minibar – Espardenyes with Bone Marrow

Out of all the cleverly-devised dishes at Minibar, the espardenyes with bone marrow stood out as the best tasting item out of the 27 plates we tried that night. You wouldn’t think that sea cucumber and bone marrow would complement each other, but somehow, they did. I would personally love to see this dish offered as a larger portion at one of Jose Andres’ other area restaurants.

Espardenyes with bone marrow

Rachel

District Commons – Pretzel Bread

When we decided to check out this fairly new restaurant before a show at the Kennedy Center, someone gave us a tip – “make sure you order the pretzel bread.” Good thing we did, because I’m still thinking about how good it was 11 months later.

Pretzel Bread

Fiola – Black Truffle Gnocchi

Another dish from early in 2012. We decided to go here for a Valentine’s Day dinner because I had gone in late 2011 with some girlfriends and couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. I made Brett order the lobster ravioli (obvs) and the black truffle gnocchi was hands down one of the most decadent dishes I had this year. Sure the truffles were overpowering, but who doesn’t love truffles?

Haven Pizzeria Napoletna– White Clam Pizza

Everyone knows Pete’s Apizza, and while they still rank as one of our favorite pizza places in the DMV, they now have some close competition with the arrival of Haven. We got an order of their white clam pizza and boy was it tasty. Not something you would have everyday, but a nice salty, garlicky, and buttery treat.

White clam pie

Blue Duck Tavern – Braised Beef Rib

I’m not sure if it was the meat itself or the incredible housemade steak sauce that blew us away, but we couldn’t get enough of this dish served family style at Blue Duck Tavern.

Braised beef rib

Agora – Mücver

We’re a sucker for zucchini cakes every since we had our first bite in downtown Athens on our honeymoon. These are hands down the most authentic ones we have had in the DMV, and would go back to Agora in a heartbeat just to have them again.

Mücver

Black Market Bistro – Brioche French Toast

Not sure why it took us so long to go here for brunch, but their French toast is hands down the best I have had in a restaurant in a long time. Simply prepared, and perfect.

Orange and vanilla bean French toast

Best Meals of the Year in DC:

Corduroy
Minibar
Little Serow
Bourbon Steak
Mintwood Place
Blue Duck Tavern

Best Meals of the Year Outside DC:

Eleven Madison Park (New York, NY)
Le Pigeon (Portland, OR)
Flour + Water (San Francisco, CA)
Faidley Seafood (Baltimore, MD)
Woodberry Kitchen (Baltimore, MD)

Our Favorites Dishes of 2011

30 Dec

As 2011 draws to a close, we are proud to celebrate our first full year of content by listing the top dishes we have encountered over the last twelve months. The task proved difficult as we have come across some thrilling, creative, and downright delicious foods across the DC area. So, without further ado, here are our absolute favorites from 2011:

Brett

Graffiato – Roasted Potato Gnocchi: Graffiato was one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year, and it did not disappoint as Chef Isabella’s gnocchi was one of the best pastas we had come across this year. Incredibly delicate, it was accompanied with braised pork shank and burrata. Just exceptional.

Roasted Potato Gnocchi

Fishnet – Fish Tacos: I have already been to Fishnet twice since they opened just last month and I can’t wait to return once they reopen next week. I was fortunate enough to have their fish tacos on my most recent visit, which were comprised of pieces of fried salmon, coleslaw, sour cream, garlic, and lime wrapped in a freshly-grilled tortilla. Between the fresh ingredients and terrific execution, it’s one of my top new restaurants of the year.

Fish Tacos

Obelisk – Burrata: The homemade burrata at Obelisk was simply heavenly. Drizzled with olive oil, it’s one of the best cheeses you’ll find in DC. Soft and creamy with just a hint of salt, I wish I had a plate of it in front of me right now.

Burrata

Komi – Roasted dates stuffed with mascarpone cheese: While Komi might have been our top dining experience of the year, I always think back to this dish when recalling this wonderful meal. A perfect balance of sweet and salty.

Inn at Little Washington – Tuna Pretending to be Filet Mignon: Sheer decadence. Topped with seared duck foie gras and accompanied with charred onions and a burgundy butter sauce, it doesn’t get much better than Chef O’Connell’s signature dish. This flawlessly cooked piece of fish makes the visit to the Inn worthwhile by itself.

Pepper crusted tuna pretending to be a filet mignon

Palena – The Palena Cheese Burger: The best burger in DC. ‘Nuff said.

The Palena Cheese Burger

Jerry’s Seafood – The Crab Bomb: Ten ounces of pure jumbo lump crab meat, no filler. It’s a rite of passage for any resident in the DC metropolitan area.

Crab Bomb

Marathon Deli – Gyro: While there are a multitude of places where one can buy a gyro in the area, Marathon Deli in College Park serves up the best. Between the blend of lamb and beef, feta, tomatoes, onions, and homemade tzatziki, it’s one delicious gyro. The combo meal is a hell of a value, too.

Marathon Deli Gyro

Rachel

Central – Lobster Burger: There were lots of things I wanted to try at our first visit to Central this summer, but I couldn’t resist ordering Michel Richard’s famous lobster burger. Between the combination of the warm bun, the crunch of the parmesan crisp, and the incredibly juicy lobster, this was certainly one memorable burger.

Lobster Burger

Atlas Room: Chicken Wonton Soup: When we asked our friends what to get at Atlas Room, their first response was, “get the wonton soup.” Generally, soup isn’t the most standout item in a meal, but it was the best decision I made that night. The soup featured chicken dumplings, shitake mushrooms, and a savoy cabbage broth with crispy onions. I’ll go back to Atlas Room again for the soup alone.

Kushi – Black Sesame Gelato: We had so many wonderful bites during our dizzying meal at Kushi, but I have to say the best was the black sesame gelato to end our meal. It was such a distinct and unique flavor that I nearly forgot all the sushi and grilled items we consumed that evening.

Black sesame gelato.

Trummer’s on Main: The Titanic Drink: Trummer’s holds a special place with us since we went there during the weekend of our one-year anniversary. They have many tasty cocktails there, but the signature drink of champagne and vodka was truly outstanding, let alone the witty presentation. With a mound of ice floating in the glass with muddled grapes sunk at the bottom, it’s easy to see why this cocktail is so popular.

Titanic

Fiola – Lobster Ravioli: I just went to Fiola a few weeks ago and haven’t been able to stop raving about this dish. One and a half pounds of lobster meat, some in wonton-like dumplings, and the rest floating in a lobster sauce. May be my favorite dish of 2011.

Lobster Ravioli

America Eats Tavern – Hush Puppies: We just tried America Eats this week (review forthcoming), and I’m still thinking about those wonderful hush puppies we ate there. They were warm, buttery, and somehow incredibly light and crispy. They tasted even better dipped in the corn butter that accompanied it. Yum.