Stachowski Market: Pastrami Sandwich

Stachowski's Pastrami Sandwich

Just finished a marathon? Just woke up after a bachelor party? Training to challenge Takeru Kobayashi in a hot dog eating contest? We have the perfect meal for you: The Best Thing on the Menu at Stachowski Market in Georgetown. Roll up your sleeves, bring some friends and try the Pastrami Sandwich: Thick slices of pastrami on pumpernickel w/mustard on rye. Taken to go, and all wrapped up, this sandwich has the girth of a regulation NFL football. They even  slip in some extra bread, knowing full well that you’ll be making sandwiches for days. Check out our leftovers?!

Leftovers!

The pastrami is smoky and salty and definitely needs to be paired with mustard. We heard it had been boiled over night and it’s served hotter than well, the Redskins season. Other tasty sandwishes (sandwiches you wish you were eating while you read this) include the 4 Meat Grinder, Turkey Club and Kielbasa.

This charming shop has some of the warmest service we’ve experienced in a while, and you can tell that they take pride in serving their products.  In addition to their 11 sandwiches they also have a charcuterie collection worth ogling, as well as meat ready to take home and cook including some exotics like venison T-bones. It’s an understatement to say that Jamie Stachowski is a master of meat.

Stachowski's Menu

Busy downtowners that don’t have time to cook dinner after a long day lobbying or setting things straight in Congress, can swing by Stachowski’s on their way home from work to pick up prepared meals to take home and enjoy. Recent meals have included Spaghetti Bolognaise: Smoky beef simmered with a merlot red wine sauce served with Caesar salad and Mojo Kabobs: Grilled, marinated chicken served over a bed of seasoned rice. Georgetown too far to schlep to Stachowski’s? You can pick up their products at area farmer’s markets.

Pastrami Sandwich not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Thally: Roasted Duck Breast

Thally Roasted Duck Breast

If Thally is a sample of what the unfolding Shaw restaurant boom will bring, we’re in for a fun ride. The new restaurant by Chef Ron Tanaka and his partners in crime is impossibly creative and simple at the same time.

The drink prices ($7 and $8 wine!) and entree portion sizes (not guilt-inducing, nor small plates!) weren’t the only things refreshing at Thally. The restaurant doesn’t feel the need to spell out every detail of how its dishes will be presented on the menu. Rather, they keep it simple and allow guests to be wowed with whimsy when dishes arrive at the table. The compressed watermelon and heirloom tomato salad for example, doesn’t let on that it will come out shaped like sushi with acompanying ginger and wasabi. They trust their customers will pick up on, and enjoy, the surprise.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Roasted Duck Breast with Sunchoke, Kale and Taggiasca Olive Sauce wins out on the merits of flawless execution. The perfect medium rare sear and criss-crossed rendered duck fat are executed to such a high level that we wonder whether Chef Tanaka learned these tricks during his time at Citronelle. Other standouts include the Crab Roulette, Carnitas Sope and Pan Seared Rockfish. For photos of these dishes plus the watermelon salad sushi click here.

Though modern in decor, the restaurant’s name is, in part, a throw back tribute to the Tally-Ho stables built in the neighborhood in 1883. The restaurant seats about 70 and takes reservations through OpenTable. Our post comes on the heels of a positive Tom Sietsema review. See what he had to say.

Roasted Duck Breast not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Doi Moi: Bun Bo Xao

Bun Bo Xao

Doi Moi is transformative in that it takes you to a different land. This land has exotic herbs, undiscovered textures and the commingling of sweet, spicy, salty and sour flavors. The Best Thing on the Menu: Bun Bo Xao Stir Fried Lemongrass Beef on Vermicelli Noodles, served with cucumbers, pickled carrot, daikon, fragrant herbs, fried garlic, nouc cham and scallion oil, features all of these far-off-land characteristics. We recommend ordering two of this dish if you are dining in a party of three or four. Bun Bo Xao carries the “phet” label, which means spicy, not to be confused with the word “phat” that still haunts us from the late 90s. So, if you like heat, look for the “phet” and “mak phet” menu icons.

There are two ways to do it up at Mark Kuller and Haidar Karoum’s Doi Moi. To determine which option best suits you, we invite you to take Best Thing on the Menu’s very first personality quiz.

DC Diner A: Are you a planner? Do you get patted on the back during performance reviews for being super organized? Do you schedule your haircuts for an entire year at once? Do you always get your oil changed on time?

or

DC Diner B:  Do you like surprises? Do you live on the edge? Do you consider waiting in line at Little Serow all a part of the experience? Do you set out for an unplanned evening of exploring neighborhood bars? Do you buy lunch every day because you can’t be bothered to plan ahead?

If you identify more with DC Diner A, we recommend using OpenTable to make a Doi Moi reservation. They take reservations at 5:30pm and 6:00pm, much like their sister restaurant Estadio has done for years. You’ll feel great committing, and a table will be waiting for you. Alternatively, if you identify more closely with Diner B, live dangerously and arrive at Doi Moi at a time of your choosing. Sure, it’ll be a zoo (for good reason, the food is fantastic) but you’ll have all the time in the world to sip tropical cocktails and admire the decor. Anticipation will continue to build as you wait and wait for a table.

In addition to the BTM, we recommend other standouts including the Charred Eggplant with Poached Shrimp (Yum Makuah), Crispy Pork and Shrimp Spring Rolls (Por Pia Tod) and absolutely, without question, the must-order fried bananas dessert (Gluoy Kak). Those who are hungry and aren’t on board with the small plates scene would be best served by ordering the LTOM (Largest Thing on the Menu): Lemongrass and Spice Roasted Half Chicken. Click here for more photos of Doi Moi dishes.

One last tip, Doi Moi finally added their menu to their website so you can take a gander before you dine. Plus check out their vegan and gluten free menu!

Bun Bo Xao not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

If you liked this, you may also like: Rice, Little Serow or Estadio.

Zentan: The Other Side of the Menu

If you haven’t visited Zentan recently, you haven’t experienced Zentan reloaded. Executive Chef Jennifer Nguyen who has experience at Pod, Buddakan and Morimoto in her back pocket has turbo-charged and transformed the menu with innovative takes on classic Japanese cuisine.

Hamachi Sashimi

Hamachi Sashimi

Two years in Japan taught us that there is so much more to Japanese food than sushi, which is why you need at least two trips to Zentan to truly get the full experience. One night, make a meal out of their spy themed sushi rolls and outside-the-box nigiri. Another night, experience the Best Side of the Menu: Cooked delicacies including robata skewers, pork belly, black cod, hamachi kama and so much more.

Zentan Miyazaki Hot Rock

Miyazaki Beef Hot Rock

One of Chef Nguyen’s smartest moves is taking advantage of the experiential dining craze. We no longer want to just eat our food. We want to learn about it, understand where it comes from, interact with it and even, cook it ourselves. If this appeals to you, order the Miyazaki Beef Hot Rock and cook beautifully marbled beef right on your tabletop. But don’t get lost in your glass of wine, these delicate slices only need three seconds per side.

Fall Preview: Uni Risotto

Fall Preview: Uni Risotto

Best Thing on the Menu had the opportunity to “spy” on some fall menu items that are set to debut soon, including uni (sea urchin) risotto that is punctuated with edamame and grilled mushrooms and sprinkled with parmesan cheese to give it salty stickiness. We are fully confident that this will be the must try DC dish for fall. Look for our @BTMenu tweets to find out when it debuts on the menu. Also coming soon, Chef Nguyen’s ramen. DC loves its ramen.

Click here for more photos. See a recent Q & A with Chef Nguyen in the Washington Business Journal. See our previous post about Zentan.

Share your favorite Zentan dishes in the comments section.

Oyamel: Breakfast for Dinner

Oyamel Fried Egg

Oyamel could be the underdog when it comes to ranking Jose Andres’ restaurants in DC.  Jaleo behaves as the flagship of the operation, minibar is elusive and mysterious and Zaytinya continues to produce memorable meals time after time.  It turns out that unassuming Oyamel is underrated. Sure, the butterfly decor is a little like a science museum, and the clientele seems to be mostly tourists. But, as is always the case with Best Thing on the Menu, it’s the food that counts.

A while back we double ordered the Best Thing on the Menu at Kapnos. Well, we had another repeat BTM order at Oyamel, and this time it was breakfast for dinner. The Best Thing on the Menu is most certainly Huevos Enfrijolados. This dish is composed of a fried organic egg with black bean sauce, house made chorizo, salsa verde and a corn tortilla. This brunch munch is perfectly balanced and delicately composed. We didn’t even know you could fry an egg like that.

Oyamel also knocks it out of the park when it comes to tacos. At most DC taco haunts you pick your protein: beef, pork, chicken or fish. But at Oyamel, there are four different types of pork tacos alone, plus adventurous folks can try Chapulines (grasshoppers!) an Oaxacan classic. Learn more about them here.

Don’t rule out Oyamel next time you’re in Penn Quarter. It’s a little easier to get a table, the food comes out fast and fresh and you can order two of anything.

Huevos Enfrijolados not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Bombay Club: Club Thali

Bombay Club Thali

It a small plates world, Bombay Club offers the Indian way to eat a little bit of everything. These samplers are known as “thalis” and the Best Thing on the Menu is most definitely the Club Thali – fish, chicken, lamb, vegetable, dal, lemon rice and raita. Thali eaters are privy to the holy trinity of curry proteins: chicken, lamb and fish along with veggie accompaniments like lentils and spinach as well as the requisite starches, naan and rice. We have yet to go to another Indian restaurant in DC that offers thalis, but will certainly be on the lookout. For more on thalis, check out CNN’s coverage of Mumbai’s best eats.

Bombay Club was Ashok Bajaj’s first restaurant, opening its doors before Rasika and Rasika West End, which also serve delicious and adventurous Indian, but with less of a Washington feel. Steps from the White House, Bombay Club has a real special air to it. The dining room is elegant, the service is top notch and the quiet atmosphere lends itself to easy conversation.

Our waiter informed us that Bombay Club is of great importance to Bajaj, who visits daily (sometimes several times) to ensure that everything is meticulously in its place. This makes sense seeing that the restaurant has hosted the likes of U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, President Nelson Mandela, Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford to name a few.

Bombay Club Lamb Shank

In addition to being a little more formal and stately than its Indian cousins Rasika and Rasika West End, Bombay Club is also a little more spicy. We particularly liked the lamb shank dish, which tasted like Christmas on a plate and brought some gentle heat.

Club Thali not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Volt: Young Carrots (What’s Up, Doc)

Volt Carrots

The carrot is a humble food. It’s typically one of the first foods we enjoy as babies; a popular dieter’s on-the-go snack; a cartoon meal for Bugs Bunny; and the food our mother’s tell us will aid our vision. But, the carrot dish at Volt stood up against the likes of calamari and bacon smoked pasta Bolognese, lamb necks braised with hulled barley, corn dumplings and many other winning dishes.

The Best Thing on the Menu was none other than: Young Carrots charred backed in an aromatic salt crust, dressing made from the carrot’s green tops and marsh samphire, soured sheep’s milk ice, pickles of icicle radish, bitter and sweet lettuces. Like other molecular gastronomy chefs, Top Chef Bryan Voltaggio somehow creates the illusion of that you’re pulling carrots directly out of the dirt by using culinary magic tricks.

Our meal at Volt was a tale of two tasting menus. We experienced both the protein-driven tasting menu and the fruits & vegetables tasting menu. It was fun to pick a head-to-head matchup winner each course —  A long delicious boxing match that ultimately had the vegetarian tasting menu coming out on top. We feel we’re really putting our money where our mouth is, seeing as though we chose Volt as one of the top five surprise picks for vegetarians earlier this summer.

Even the dessert on the vegetarian tasting menu won out: Meyer Lemon aerated white chocolate, pudding of ruby grapefruit, sorbet of celery hearts and leaves, coriander blooms, crisp cardamom and bitter cocoa.

Meyer Lemon Dessert at Volt

A visit to Volt is worth the trip to Frederick, MD. Unfortunately, the drive precludes most DC diners from taking advantage of the wine program, but the food should more than make up for it. One last tip, Volt has a parking lot that’s free for diners located immediately adjacent to the restaurant.

Want to try one of Bryan Voltaggio’s creations a little closer to home? There’s always Range.

Young Carrots not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.