Compass Rose: Khachapuri

Khachapuri

T Street got a new tenant this week, and we couldn’t have asked for a better addition to the neighborhood. So, on your next night out, point yourself towards Compass Rose, an intimate and enchanting row home restaurant from Rose Previte.

You’ll try street food from Peru, Morocco, Turkey, Brazil, India, Lebanon and Chile just to name a few. The Best Thing on the Menu, however, hails from Georgia (the country): Khachapuri – A cheese-filled bread with organic egg and spring butter.

Like pizza in the U.S., Georgian khachapuri varies from region to region. Some look boat-shaped like the one at Compass Rose and others look more like lasagna or a calzone. What’s more amusing is that the dish is so ingrained in Georgian society that the cost of making khachapuri is often used to measure inflation under the moniker “the khachapuri index.”

Other top picks included the Lamb Kefta, Pupusas and Fried Baked Potato. The only miss was the Whole Red Shrimp dish, which oozed something unpleasant. It’s a bummer too, because the booze-soaked pineapple underneath was sinfully good.

Compass Rose Interior

It’s hard not to draw some parallels between Compass Rose and its flowery friend in Southeast—Rose’s Luxury. This can only be a good thing. A very good thing. Each restaurant sports warm brick interiors with secret garden accents and an explosion of Anthropologie cool. Plus, each boasts a menu carrying dishes from many corners of the world along with impressive beverage programs.

Click here for more photos from the meal. It’s not online yet, so here’s the Compass Rose Menu for your perusal.

Khachapuri not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Blue Duck Tavern: ‘Dem Bones

Blue Duck Tavern Bone Marrow

The menu at Blue Duck Tavern is a moving target. It changes with the seasons, or with the chef, but there’s one thing that we hope never goes away: ‘Dem bones. It’s as simple as that. We’re talking about The Best Thing on the Menu: Wood Oven-Roasted Bone Marrow with Horseradish Butter and a Parsley Crust.

Marrow is nature’s margarine (and far more spreadable than butter), so don’t miss out on the perfect bite at BDT. First, smear marrow on still-warm toast, then smash a roasted garlic clove on top before digging in. While you’re feeling guilty about calories (Anthony Bordain calls marrow God’s Butter), remember that it contains essential fatty acids and at least eight vitamins and minerals.

Blue Duck Tavern Dessert

Another stunner comes in dessert form. Pastry Chef Naomi Gallego is a wizard of epic proportions. Just look at this deconstructed Meyer Lemon Ice Box Cake consisting of Lemon Cremeux, graham cake, cream cheese blueberry pearls and Tasmanian pepper meringue.

It looks like an underwater ballet set in a coral reef. Sometimes when things get too artsy, they don’t taste as grand. But this sure does. Nothing says where the hell are you summer more than the pairing of blueberry and lemon.

Bone Marrow not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Barcelona Wine Bar: Pulpo Gallega

BWB Pulpo Gallego

A meal this weekend may have tipped the balance to the amorous side of my love/hate relationship with Barcelona Wine Bar. Trying to score a seat at this place had all but transported me back to those tough high school days of desperately trying to snag an invite to the after prom party. Hence, the hate.

Barcelona Wine Bar

It took FOUR tries (spread out over many months) to accomplish the impossible:  An actual table. With seats. With my name on it. It wasn’t on the patio or anything though; we’re not THAT cool.

What made me forgive being turned down so many times was the food. The tapas weren’t half bad, and were a fraction of the cost of Estadio’s renditions. The Best Thing on the Menu tapas title goes to: Pulpo Gallego with octopus, chorizo, fingerling potatoes and pimenton. There’s nothing worse than a rubbery cephalopod in your mouth. BWB’s 8-legger is cooked to perfection.

Traditionally this simple Galician dish is comprised of boiled octopus, potatoes, olive oil and paprika. Fortunately, BWB ups the ante with ground chorizo, adding heat and nuttiness. Slippery onions lend sweetness, too. Click here for more photos from the meal.

BWB Grilled Spring Onions

For those keeping score, here’s how BWB stacks up compared to its competition on certain dishes, in our humble tapas opinion (an opinion garnered from a 7-month study abroad experience in Spain that involved an ogre of a host mother who only cooked hot dogs).

  • Grilled Spring Onions: Estadio > BWB
  • Albóndigas: Boqueria > BWB
  • Croquetas: BWB > Estadio
  • Boquerones: Estadio > BWB
  • Charcuterie: BWB > Estadio & Boqueria

Disagree? Let us hear it in the comments section.

1789: Halibut Cheeks

1789 Halibut Cheeks

Smile, the Best Thing on the Menu at 1789 are Halibut Cheeks with Riesling Creamed Leeks, American Sturgeon Caviar and Crispy Leeks. These half-moons might look like fried pirogues, but they’re actually the very best part of the Alaskan fish.

Smile even wider sweet cheeks, because 1789 just announced that this summer (June 2- Sept 12) they will offer a deal every day except Saturdays. Choose ANY appetizer, entree and dessert for $45. We have departing deep-pocket Georgetown students and the Congressional recess to thank for this seemingly impossible price point.

1789 Lamb Shoulder

Chef Anthony Lombardo says he uses more lamb than any other restaurant in the city. One look at the lamb shoulder entree, which has as many wheels of lamb as a tricycle, and this factoid is no surprise. However, if you show up expecting this entree to be on the menu, you could be cruising for a bruising. The restaurant’s whole animal philosophy means a different lamb dish every night. After all, when was the last time you saw any animal with an endless supply of shoulders.

1789 Dessert

Finish the night with something over-the-top decadent from Pastry Chef Ryan Westover. There’s something special about a man covered nearly full-sleeves of Batman tattoos who can put together elegant dessert after elegant dessert like this Peanut Butter Chocolate Cream Pie for Two. Doesn’t it look like some kind of dinosaur nest egg from Jurassic Park?

Halibut Cheeks not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Red Apron Butcher: Sunday Supper

Sunday Supper

People have been putting meat and cheese between bread ever since our favorite Earl, the Earl of Sandwich, couldn’t be bothered to leave his card game to knife and fork his way through a meal. That was on November 3, 1762. Fast-forward 252 years and by god have we (the world) perfected the sandwich concept.

Sandwich shops are popping up in DC as fast as condo buildings with ridiculous amenities. One of the newest to throw their bread into the ring is the Penn Quarter location of Red Apron Butcher located on D Street NW. This new address joins the Red Apron Butchers located in Union Market and Merrifield, VA.

However, you can only get The Best Thing on the Menu: Sunday Supper weekdays during lunch in Penn Quarter. In this messy, nap-inducing hoagie you’ll find pot roast, horseradish mashed potatoes, beet horseradish slaw and Duke’s. Leftovers should fill a sandwich more often (kind of like the Best Thing on the Menu at Capriotti’s)

Burger

Those that insist on the patty approach should try The Dino, a spicy cotechino pork burger topped with broccoli rabe, fontina and tomato aioli on a kaiser roll. It’s like a quick trip to the Italian market (pretend we have one of those).

Sunday Supper not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

You might also like Taylor Gourmet and Bub and Pop’s.

Toro Toro: Cachapas

Toro Toro Cachapas

If $79 doesn’t sound like a deal to you, give us a moment to change your mind. That’s how much the Rodizio Experience costs at Richard Sandoval’s latest iteration Toro Toro. By latest iteration, we mean they opened this week. We also dare to say it’s Sandoval’s best DC concept to date.

For that chunk of change you get unlimited small plates (there are 27 to choose from), unlimited sides (there are six), plus the entertainment of handsome young men visiting your table with skewers of seven different kinds of meat (and one hell of a grilled pineapple). Someone might want to get these strapping lads some cougar repellant though…

Toro Toro

The rodizio meats were all executed well, especially the chorizo, which tastes a bit like it made friends with a Kiełbasa. But, the Best Thing on the Menu is a small plate selection: Cachapas a.k.a. duck carnitas served under corn pancakes topped with oaxaca cheese and tomato jam. The good news is that you’ll be ordering this dish multiple times, so you’re likely to get the pronunciation down at some point. Wherever they eat this for breakfast, that’s where we want to move.

Another top pick from the small plates section is the seared seafood ceviche. Prawns, calamari, and scallops swim in a milky ginger, sweet potato broth that gets some help from habanero peppers.

If you want to experience Toro Toro with the vibe volume turned up to 10, check out the grand opening party featuring DJ Robbie Rivera from 10 PM to 3 AM on April 5th. Get your tickets here.

Cachapas not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Boundary Road: Bison Hanger Steak

Boundary Road Bison

A stone throw’s from Union Station sits Boundary Road. The menu stays true to the appetizer/entree/dessert formula, eschewing small plates, share plates and other nonsense. What’s even more refreshing is that the most expensive dish is $27 and zero creativity is sacrificed, making it the perfect start to a night hopping around the best H Street NE has to offer.

Chef Brad Walker has a playful menu full of uncommon ingredients like quark and black pepper pierogis, chioggia beets, fregola, porchetta and jagerwurst. He also digs delicious proteins, like The Best Thing on the Menu: New Frontier Bison Hanger Steak with Roasted Cauliflower Puree, Spicy Kale and Sauce Choron. Bison has so much more personality than beef, and it also has less fat, fewer calories and more protein. The creamy cauliflower puree, a creative substitute for buttery mashed potatoes, means a healthy meat and “potatoes” kind of meal.

Boundary Road Foie

A little less on the healthy side is another must-try menu item: The foie gras torchon PB&J with grapefruit Malört marmalade. It’s in the appetizer section, but no judgment here if you draft it for Team Dessert. The dish would be a dash better if the foie was warm, but then it wouldn’t be a torchon. Torchons, after all, are an art. We think Grandpa’s Candy, an Applejack centric cocktail, would pair nicely with this gourmet bite that will have you rethinking your old favorite grade school snack for months.

Sundays are perhaps the most adorable nights to visit Boundary Road. They lower the lights and drop down a projector in order to show films. April promises to bring a lot of rain, so expect movies with this breed of precipitation in the title.

Bison Hanger Steak not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

The Best Things About #WestEndWednesdays

Westend Bistro Veal

There’s a new bar crawl in town and it has NOTHING to do with souvenir cups, beads, costumes or hooking up with strangers. Rather, you’ll drink exquisite wine paired with food from four standout restaurants in the West End. It goes by the hashtag #WestEndWednesdays and hopes to serve as the solution to a very specific problem: The dramatic explosion of 14th Street, Shaw and H Street coupled with the consistency of old standbys like Penn Quarter and Dupont Circle. These factors have bumped the West End section of our city outside the top five neighborhood dining destinations, and for no good reason.

#WestendWednesdays is a four-stop progressive dinner. April’s follows the path of hors d’oeuvres at Marcel’s followed by an appetizer at Ris, main course at Westend Bistro and dessert at Blue Duck Tavern. Each month the order rotates. Sorry for those who live and die by Blue Duck Tavern’s apple pie.

Ris

Standouts on the April menu include roasted veal loin with foie gras ravioli from Westend Bistro and a Portuguese seafood stew from Ris. If these sound appetizing, it’s a shame. April is sold out, and most #WestEndWednesday dishes are off-menu. But based on the expert preparation and creative wine pairings, May is promising too.

Tickets for May go on sale April 2nd at 10:00am and cost $100 before tax and gratuity. In order to retain an air of exclusivity, #WestEndWednesdays are capped at 12 diners. You’ll eat together at a communal table, so brush up on your schmoozing skills. Tickets for May will be available here: https://www.giftrocker.com/secure/events/?c=westendwednesdays&b=Y&q=gt1586

Spice 6: Naan Pizza

Spice 6 Naan Pizza

There’s nothing better than food that proves you wrong. Fast casual CAN be flavorful. Fast casual CAN mean from-scratch cooking. Fast casual CAN be so good that it warrants a trip down Rhode Island Avenue to Hyattsville, MD.

Meet Spice 6, a fast casual Indian restaurant that only shares one thing in common with the Chipotle concept: Speed. Spice 6 hasn’t conformed to be bland. Those who fervently avoid shy spices and mild flavor will see what we mean, especially if they go off menu by requesting Vik’s hot sauce.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Naan Pizza is innovative, yet familiar enough that Indian newbies will feel comfortable. Load up a freshly baked round of naan with a sauce (Tikka Masala, Kadai Masala, Korma Masala or Spinach Masala) plus a protein (chicken, lamb, veggies, tofu or house made paneer cheese). Complete your pizza with a few more toppings and mozzarella cheese before it goes back in the oven for a hot sec. Then, BOOM New Delhi Domino’s to the face.

In choosing your protein remember that lamb is the reigning defending, undefeated, undisputed champion of Indian food. It’s not like chicken, which just sits there soaking up sauce. The owner, Vik Singh, must really trust his Nepali Chef, Upendra Thapaliya. Being a strict vegetarian, Vik’s never tried the meaty parts of his menu. Don’t worry Vik, your chef’s got it under control.

Spice 6 Chaat

Another top pick is the chaat, a typical Indian street food. In a year when street food is king (even Anthony Bordain is opening up a street food hall in NYC), the chaat is a must try. Fried strips of naan are topped with a savory pile of chickpeas, herbs and sauces (the best of which is a sticky sweet tamarind chutney). Wash it all down with a mango lassi.

Naan pizza not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

You might also like Rasika or Bombay Club.

1905: Confit Turkey Leg

1905 turkey legs

Medieval Times called. They want their turkey legs back. It must be because they’re in a different category of deliciousness. These confit gams are a no contest Best Thing on the Menu at 1905. They come with two seasonal sides and pastrami mayo. The menu says leg (singular) so when two showed up, it was like Christmas in March.

It goes without saying that the meat falls right off the bone. The leg only has to catch a GLIMPSE of a knife and fork before it slides onto your plate and into the pastrami mayo, doing all the work for you. You lazy caveman you.

Known first and foremost for its roof deck, 1905 is tucked away at 9th and T Street NW, bridging the Shaw and U Street neighborhoods. It’s perfect for a first or second date because of the favorable lighting, cozy fixtures, cheap(er) cocktails and unobtrusive service.

1905 Hush Puppies

Whether intentional or not, the menu leans a little gluten free. There are spicy quinoa-crayfish hushpuppies and a bunch of sauces involving sorghum. Vegetarians can find solace too. The seared cauliflower “steak” and warm heirloom grain entrees actually give vegetarians a choice instead of a one-dish mandate.

Confit turkey leg not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.