Washington, D.C. – 11/14/16 – Maketto

As much as my dear friends in DC may dispute it, the food scene is really turning around.  When we couldn’t fathom waiting in line at Bad Saint in the rain, we ended up at Maketto and it was hardly a consolation prize.  A mashup of Cambodian and Taiwanese which results in some delicious dishes in a funky, casual space that is not DC in a great way.  And in the year of fried chicken, another great addition with this fantastic five spice caramel version.

braised pork steamed bao, braised pork, hoisin sauce

crispy gruyere dumplings, chinese beef chili, fermented mustard greens

spicy laab and bone marrow, mixed herbs, spicy ground pork, chilis

wok fried rice noodles, mushroom sauce, local vegetables

maketto fried chicken, five spice caramel, housemade bread

Washington, D.C. – 11/13/16 – Momofuku CCDC & the Dabney

Momofuku CCDC
Much of the improvement in the DC dining scene can be attributed to the opening of branches of restaurants from elsewhere.  And while I try to avoid places that I can find at home, in this case having a Momofuku only a short walk from the convention center was pretty fantastic.

Brisket buns

Momo bap

The Dabney
Once again Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants list has not lead me astray.  The influence of Chef Langhorne’s time at McCrady’s is definitely apparent.  Such a cozy vibe just perfect for a place with only a wood fire.  Everything was wonderful and a repeat visit will certainly be made my next time in DC.

18 month broadbent’s country ham, biscuit & house condiments

Pork rillette, grilled ciabatta, mustard seed, ramps, fennel & herbs

Maryland blue crab, sunchokes, bearnaise & aleppo

Winter squash cooked in the fire, goat feta, walnuts, mustard greens & fresh horseradish

Confit potato salad, broadbent’s bacon, parsley, pickled mustard seed & cured egg yolk

Whistle pig farm pork cabbage wraps – pork loin and shoulder, roasted cauliflower, fermented chili, apple, peanuts, pickles, herbs

Fruit crumble

Washington, DC – 7/14/16 – Jaleo and Pineapple and Pearls

I happened to find myself on this block around lunch time and as somehow I had never previously visited Jaleo, decided it was a perfect time.  The G&T was exactly right for this exceedingly hot day even by DC standards.  And the two salads I ordered made for the perfect summer lunch.  Unfortunately I seem to have forgotten to take notes on the menu.  Heatstroke perhaps?

Pineapple and Pearls
There was so much that I absolutely loved about Pineapple and Pearls even though I did not walk away with the same effusive comments as many reviewers have had.  Even in seemingly well designed dining rooms I tend to not take notice unless there is something exceptional and too many these days tend to be on the generic side.  This room is easily my favorite that I have been in this year and I wanted to take almost every element home with me, from chairs to lighting fixtures to the flatware (which will be on my Christmas list this year).  It was a perfect mix of modern and mid-century modern and so well done that you could not stop looking at each element.

The fennel & absinthe one-bite bonbon started the dinner off on an excellent foot and a beautiful vintage coupe glass certainly did not hurt.  The subsequent 3 small bites were all fantastic and even the oyster I actually very much liked and they are not one of my favorite foods.  So much thought was put into the bread course that instead of being a side actually it was its own course and worthy of being such.  The egg drop soup and summer red curry were perhaps too many soups for a mid-summer menu, and while both were very good, were not great.

Upon arrival at Pineapple and Pearls guests are offered a welcome cocktail in the entry space which serves as a daytime coffee shop serving a lunch menu.  On the lunch menu, posted boldly on the wall, was fried chicken and after standing there for 5 minutes looking at the menu fried chicken was all that I could think about.  Absolutely brilliant to have a take out box in which was found a quite ‘dinner’ upscale version of a fried chicken wing.  The desserts were all excellent and as a whole far overshadowed the main courses of the menu.  The only slight disappointment were the donuts provided to go which were unfortunately stale by morning.  However the shortbread and cold brew coffee were a perfect breakfast snack and a lovely reminder of the previous night’s dinner.  The other quibble I had is that pours on drink pairings were very sparse.  I was trying to drink slowly to make small pours last through multiple courses but it was never slowly enough.  I couldn’t help but feel that I would have gladly paid for an additional glass of wine or two.

Fennel & Absinthe Bonbon

Asparagus, Pineapple & Country Ham

Baby Elotes

Oysters & Vodka

Black Pepper Pain Au Lait

Green Garlic Egg Drop

Fluke “Veronique”

Sweetbread Stuffed Chicken Wing

Summer Red Curry & Coconut Rice

Strawberry Shortcake & Brillat-Savarin

Coffee Kakigori

Crispy Buckwheat & Honeycomb Ice Cream

Chocolate Souffle

Washington, DC – 7/10/16 – Kinship

While I don’t agree with the recent assertions that Washington DC is the restaurant city of the year, it very well may be the most improved.  After a very long and stressful work day Kinship provided a calm oasis in an extremely well designed space that did make me think “Am I really in DC?”  Overall a very solid meal with some unexpected and creative menu items like the lobster french toast which was certainly a loose interpretation but delicious.  My only small complaint would be that the amount of dashi gelee overwhelmed the tuna tataki but once I pushed the majority of it aside, a delicious dish.  If I lived in the neighborhood exactly the type of place where I would want to be a regular.

Yellowfin tuna tataki – spring onion and butter pickle salad, shiso tempura and dashi broth

Pan seared redfish – shrimp and ham hock jambalya

Sauteed atlantic halibut – spring asparagus, royal trumpets, potato confit and tarragon-asparagus emulsion

Parker house rolls

Beef rib eye

Lobster french toast

Washington, DC – 10/1/15 – Little Serow, Jack Rose and Dram & Grain

Little Serow
Luckily it had been pouring down rain all day and so the line at opening was much shorter than I expected.  This New Yorker certainly appreciated the generous table spacing and I quite like a set menu and not having to make any decisions.  While my favorite dish of this meal was the pomelo, I shockingly loved the tofu and it is one of my least favorite ingredients out there.  I will say that for some reason I was expecting the spice level to be much higher than it actually was.  Perhaps previous reviewers can’t tolerate spice or the cooking style has changed in this regard?  Regardless a fantastic experience.

nam prik num
finger chilies/shallots/bla ra

dtam som o
pomelo/lemongrass/rock shrimp
sai oua
pork/garlic/lime leaf
 laap pla duk chiang mai
catfish/galangal/lanna spices
 tow hu thouk
 het grapao
 si krong muu
pork ribs/mekhong whiskey/dill

Jack Rose and Dram & Grain

The whiskey collection is certainly impressive and I still wonder how the bartenders know where anything is located.  Quite fun flights.  We then retired downstairs to Dram & Grain as we all love a hidden speakeasy style cocktail bar.  Unfortunately it was literally so cold that I remember little else about the experience and could focus only on how badly I wanted to leave.  Perhaps in summer this will be a better bet.

Washington, DC – 9/30/15 – Masseria & Thip Khao

Despite the protestations of two dear friends, there are great cocktails to be found in DC, but perhaps just not at the places you would expect.  We stopped at Masseria only for a pre-dinner drink but ended up having a second round and a few snacks.  Such a fantastic space that feels like you are anywhere but DC…perhaps SoCal….maybe Austin. I’m definitely looking forward to returning for dinner!

Thip Khao
Unfortunately we ordered so much, and debated dishes for so long, that two months later I have no idea what anything was.  Suffice it to say it was all fantastic.  My only complaint is that it was so loud that conversation was actually impossible.