Poste: Beef Cheek Bourguignon

Poste's Beef Cheek Bourguignon

Dining at Chef Dennis Marron’s Poste is a bit like a perfect trip to the zoo. If you go to Poste for dinner and dine al fresco, you are privy to a table on the upper patio where you can, with reasonable peace and quiet, observe the lower deck post-work antics and human mating rituals. There is no doubt that Poste’s happy hour is popular, but for those that want a great meal and to watch from afar, book a dinner table.

Set in the 1841 General Post Office building, Poste joins a host of other delicious Kimpton restaurants we have profiled on Best Thing on the Menu such as Zentan and Urbana. Like the other two, there is tremendous attention to detail in the cuisine and the boisterous brasserie atmosphere keeps us coming back.

Though we’re sure to hear disagreements in the form of truffle frites, BTM has selected Beef Cheek Bourguignon as the Best Thing on the Menu. The 72-hour braised short ribs are served with bacon, carrots, baby turnips and Dijon whipped potatoes.

Chef Marron accomplishes the impossible in this dish. Beef Bourguignon is typically a heavy, hibernation indulgence designed to warm you up in the winter. But at Poste, their bourguignon is light enough to enjoy in the summer and you don’t leave weighed down or covered in stew stains. The texture of the beef is divine and the seasoning, perfection.

After such a great meal, we might pull for Chef Marron in the Brainfood Burger Battle tomorrow! Tickets still available.

Beef Cheek Bourguignon not your BTM? “Poste” your favorites in the comments section.

Table: Ricotta Fritters

Table's Ricotta Fritters

Shaw is becoming a more meaningful, flavorful place to dine, and Frederik de Pue’s Table is a big contributor to the trend. Everyday Washingtonians gained big time when Chef De Pue joined the commercial culinary scene after doling out delicious food in diplomatic circles for many years.

If there is one word to describe Table, it’s honest. The proteins are pristine, the vegetables fresh and local, the service knowledgeable and the menus handwritten. The flavors are not the only thing at Table that are neat and clean, the restaurant itself is recognized for its Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL). The décor makes you feel as if you’ve entered a rustic secret garden that only you, and close friends, know about.

For the first time ever, a dessert is debuting on Best Thing on the Menu. This first-ever featured sweet simply can’t be missed. Table’s Best Thing on the Menu: Ricotta Fritters with Orange Blossom Honey and Blueberry Port Compote is a stand out. Warm, gooey mini beignets are stacked high ready to be dipped in sweet and chunky blueberry preserves. No matter how full you are from appetizers and entrées, you can still make room for these. After all, some cultures say you have a second stomach reserved solely for desserts.

Table’s menu changes frequently, but we hope with all of our hearts, that they don’t touch the dessert offerings.

Other notable dishes included the scallop ceviche perched atop a sweet and succulent corn cake, the luxurious and rich duck roulade and their peculiar poultry options, which included guinea hen and squab. In need of some pretty pictures known as food porn? Table’s gallery is something special, and puts other food photography in its place (ours obviously included).

Ricotta Fritters not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Birch and Barley: Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread

Birch and Barley Flatbread

There is much to be said about a perfect pair – bubbly and caviar, peanut butter and jelly (or bacon!), truffles and risotto…. But, there is even more to say about a triumphant trio that unites three flavors that cover every square inch of taste bud.

Birch & Barley’s Best Thing on the Menu: Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread Gorgonzola Cremificato & Caramelized Onions is just that. Figs, prosciutto and blue cheese of any breed go hand-in-hand-in-hand. The figs are sweet and caramelized, the prosciutto savory and salty and the Gorgonzola tart and funky. The onions are a nice addition to this threesome.

The Best Thing on the Menu isn’t the only reason to eat at Logan Circle’s Birch & Barley. In fact, here are five more:

1. Casual Meal or Fancy Dinner, It’s Your Choice

Your meal at Birch & Barley is what you make it. Go for pizza, Brät Burgers and beer or opt for a fine dining experience with menu items like grilled octopus and striped bass. They even offer a tasting menu, so you can put your meal in the hands of the chef and leave the task of decision-making in the dust.

2. Beer. Beer, Beer, Beer

Great news! Downstairs at Birch & Barley you are still privy to ChurchKey’s beer bible and daunting draft list. They boast having an arsenal of 555 varieties of artisanal beers. Wine pairings are a thing of the past when you enter these doors.

3. Two Words, Bread Board

You know you’re in for a good meal when the bread arrives. The steaming pretzel rolls get a special shout out. It’s hard to pass by sidewalk diners in the summer and not swipe one.

4. Built-in After Dinner Drink Plans

You’re done eating dessert and the question arises, where to now? How about just heading upstairs for a more boisterous atmosphere, where you’re sure to bump into friends, literally.

5. Reservations, Finally

With 14th Street becoming a lollapalooza of new restaurants, reservations are finally opening up at this highly coveted locale.

Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section. More reasons to love Birch & Barley, share those too!

Win a 24-Course Dinner for Four at Rogue 24

Photo credit: Washington Post

Photo credit: Washington Post

You and three friends can win dinner for four at one of DC’s hottest tables. You will make your way through 24 colorful, surprising and delicous offerings including our Best Thing on the Menu: Sugar Toads.

BTM teamed up with local blog powerhouse PoPville (Prince of Petworth) to bring you this opportunity (a $540 value). Click here for more information and to enter.

Rogue 24: Sugar Toad/Oyster/Nettles/Seaweed.

Rogue 24 Sugar Toads

The Sugar Toads are not a skinny jeans-clad hipster band opening at the 9:30 Club Saturday night. Rather, they’re starring down the street (and down an alley) on the menu of Rogue 24’s new spring menu. Chef R.J. Cooper goes local and gets creative all in one dish with the Best Thing on the Menu: Sugar Toad/Oyster/Nettles/Seaweed.

Sugar toads are actually northern puffer fish native to the Chesapeake Bay, and in recent years they’ve been elevated to a delicacy. If a fried delicacy is hard to wrap your head around, you haven’t tried R.J. Cooper’s blowfish bites. Unlike in Japan where puffer fish (known as fugu) require a special license to slice and serve, these green-eyed ugly mugs are harmless.

Moments before the sugar toads arrive at your table, you are equipped with medical forceps, the perfect utensil for dunking fish sticks into gourmet green goop, or for playing a jumbo-size game of Operation.

Like many modern chefs, R.J. Cooper plays with texture just as much as he plays with flavor. So prepare yourself for a 24-course journey through crunchy, fluffy, gummy, foamy, gritty and beyond.

Rogue 24 is just one example of the recent trend of restaurants asking diners to put the menu away and put their meal in the hands of the chef.  And at Rogue 24, you’re in good hands.


You and three friends can win a 24-course dinner at Rogue 24 – one of DC’s top 100 restaurants 2013. All it takes is a tweet and/or signing up for the Monthly Menu. The link will be released later today  (6/17) through our friends at local blog PoPville. Click here to learn more and enter the drawing.

Urbana: Short Rib Cannelloni and Leeks

Urbana Cannelloni

Southern France and Northern Italy meet for a unique date in a foodie dungeon in Dupont Circle at Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar. We knew we loved the luxurious lounge that locals have been happy to hunker down in for years, but what took us by big surprise was the food.

Urbana has truly upped the ante when it comes to refined flavor and artful presentation. The Best Thing on the Menu: Cannelloni – Rolled Pasta with Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib, Leeks and Truffled Pecorino is a knock out. The shape of the oversized leeks are a play on the shape of the tubular cannelloni and their pickled, tangy flavor goes perfectly with earthy, tender short ribs.

The leg of lamb was a close second, as were many of the other dishes we sampled. We’d love to see Urbana creep up to the upper echelons of cuisine and ratings in DC because they are most worthy.

Urbana has been celebrated as one of DC’s best bars for treating regulars like royalty (see DC Eater article). It’s not too often that you find a hotel bar (Kimpton Hotel Palomar) and restaurant as beloved or frequented by locals. Urbana has also been named as one of DC’s hottest restaurant bar scenes. So, next time you’re ready to dine in Dupont, take a turn down the other side of P Street for some great eats.

Cannelloni not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Best Thing at the Market: TaKorean Bulgogi Beef Tacos

TaKorean Bulgogi Beef Tacos

The reimagined Union Market is a hipster oasis amidst otherwise gloomy, industrial surroundings. If you haven’t made the trip to NE, now’s the time. BTM recommends making a morning of it by renting bikes from Capital Bikeshare and heading over for a feast, corn hole and some outdoor adult beverages.

Though the outside of Union Market resembles a Home Depot with its white and orange color scheme, the inside is polished, vast and has a very Brooklyn vibe. Developers imagine a day when the surrounding area will feature “a vibrant mix of retail, restaurants, hotel, entertainment, incubator space for new food concepts,” and more.

The Best Thing at the Market: TaKorean Bulgogi Beef Tacos pack in the flavor, fusion and fun. Korean BBQ tacos have finally made their way east after many successful decades on the West Coast. DC native Mike Lenard’s TaKorean opened its food truck windows back in 2010. They offer bulgogi beef, tangy chicken and caramelized tofu tacos with two kinds of slaw, cool lime crème, sriracha, fresh cilantro and sesame seeds on corn tortillas. Their tortillas are impossibly warm and fresh, which propelled TaKorean past other contenders for Best Thing at the Market accolades.

TaKorean’s popularity prompted them to open a non-mobile shop out of Union Market. Several other food trucks have also set up shop at the market, allowing them to expand their offerings and bring in some cash over the weekend when food trucks would otherwise be dormant.  You can mix and match tacos and toppings for a great meal on the go or at the market.

Also available at Union Market – Buffalo and Bergen, Curbside Cupcakes, DC Empanadas, Red Apron Butchery, Righteous Cheese and more.

Bulgogi Beef Tacos not your Best Thing at the Market? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Out of Town Edition – Zahav (Philadelphia)

Zahav: Crispy Haloumi

In this out of town edition, we take you to an edgy Israeli restaurant perched atop a plaza overlooking the historic Old City neighborhood of downtown Philadelphia. James Beard Award Winning Chef Michael Solomonov, born in Israel, also pulls from Morocco, Turkey, Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt to create a memorable feast of small-plates style dining.

Zahav, which means gold in Hebrew, leaves a great first impression by bringing out a selection of Middle Eastern salads known as salatim. The selection ranges from smoky eggplant to spicy fennel and is a bit reminiscent of the “banchan” snacks you receive at the start of a Korean BBQ meal.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Crispy Haloumi with Golden Raisins, Carrots and Pine Nuts appears in the “Mezze” section and can’t be missed. Haloumi dates back to the Medieval Byzantine period, originating in Cyprus. Made from sheep and goat milk, this cheese was born to be grilled (or fried) because of its ability to withstand high heat without melting.  It’s traditionally served with watermelon or mint, but the possibilities are endless.

At Zahav, very salty crispy haloumi is paired with a sweet, golden raisin compote. The sweetness and the saltiness together are a match made in heaven, much like the salted caramel craze sweeping the nation.

It’s important to eat the BTM immediately when it arrives at the table or else face a significant change in consistency.

Zahav is fine dining at its finest, but with reasonable prices and a lot of personality. For $39 you can feast on salatim and hummus with fresh pita, two selections from the “Mezze” section, one grilled dish from the “Al Ha’esh” category and finally, a creatively concocted dessert. We recommend the Halvah Mousse with Chickpea Praline, which is made from tahini and has a nutty taste. Paired with berry jam, this dessert is an adult peanut butter and jelly sandwich that even those with nut allergies can eat!

Crispy Haloumi not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section

Le Diplomate: Sea Scallops with Spring Peas, Orzo and Carrot Vinaigrette

Le Diplomate Scallops

At last, Philadelphia food mogul Stephen Starr has made his DC debut with Le Diplomate. We hope that this cousin to “Parc” in Philly is the gateway drug to many more Starr restaurants like Alma De Cuba, El Vez and Jones making their way down 95 South to the District.

The restaurant interior, as well as the patio seating, has succeeded in capturing a French feel. This holds especially true for the “Garden Room,” which is appointed with green tiles and a glass ceiling, lending a very Gatsby vibe to your dining experience.

Chef Adam Schop churns out wonders from the kitchen including The Best Thing on the Menu: Sea Scallops with Spring Peas, Orzo and Carrot Vinaigrette. What the menu doesn’t tell you is that the carrot vinaigrette packs a curried punch. This perfectly balanced dish took us by surprise. Come for the frites; come back again and again for the scallops.

There’s something on the menu for every season at Le Diplomate. When November rolls around, we’ll be sure to visit and order two helpings of the Beef Bourguignon to prepare for hibernation.

One note of caution, if you make your dining decisions based on decibels, Le Diplomate reaches the upper echelons of being boisterous. But to most, that’s part of the charm.

The talk around Logan Circle tables these days seems to center on determining if the mussels are better at B TOO (Previously covered on BTM here) or Le Diplomate. We want to hear from you, share your favorites in the comments section.

Ah love: Bacon & Smoke

Cary Kelly

Q & A with Ah Love’s Cary Kelly

Boutique olive oil and balsamic vinegar store, Ah love, is bold, playful and full of flavor. Their boldest move? Putting bacon back on the table for vegans and vegetarians, a food magic trick that left us stunned.

Best Thing on the Menu was given the exclusive opportunity to spend one-on-one time with Ah love Owner & CEO, Cary Kelly, who is as innovative and sophisticated as her store and products. Her primary passion lies in supporting small producers that she has personally met at food shows, through her travels or over the internet.

For example, Cary’s main olive oil producers are 5th generation olive farmers from Southern Greece that have a connection to the greater DC area (two sons went to Virginia Tech). Cary works closely with the producers on developing new flavors and each March, they come together for a harvest party at the store.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Bacon Olive Oil is subtle, smoky and just short of a miracle considering it is flavored solely with herbs and vegetables, making it 100% vegan. While Cary admits that olive oil purists cringe at the thought of putting such a spin on one of the purest products on the planet, customers keep coming back for more. Ah love is hosting a Bacon Bonanza on Thursday, June 6th from 5:00-9:00pm at Ah Love’s Shirlington Village location. The party is open to the public and will feature treats like bacon brownies and bacon mousse. All bacon related products are 15% off, so it is the perfect time to pick up a gift for dad.

Also on the shelves of Ah love is President Obama’s favorite olive oil, The Smoked Olive. The president was so sold on this cold-smoked concoction that he ordered it for the Inaugural Ball. The Smoked Olive and Cary Kelly were featured in the Washington Post. You can also see Cary on WJLA.

Other best sellers include the 25-Star Balsamic Vinegar (stars are indicative of how long a balsamic vinegar has aged), the fig balsamic and an addictive spice blend called Olive Oil’s Best Friend.

Ah love can make your life better in hurry. Here’s how: Cary’s oils and vinegars pack so much flavor that they’re all you need to make an impressive, quick dish that’s suitable for entertaining. In addition to being quick and easy, the oils and vinegars are easy on your waistline and your wallet. Our favorite at-home recipe involves drizzling honey ginger white balsamic vinegar on roasted salmon. Click here for recipes.

One last tip from Cary: Have a spoonful of balsamic after a big meal despite feeling full. Balsamic vinegar has been around since the 10th Century and was originally used for medicinal purposes. It is known to level blood sugar and can counter even the biggest meal. Learn how balsamic is made.

Ah love opened a second location this past November, so you can also visit them in the Mosaic District.

Tell us about your favorite Ah love products & recipes in the comments section.