Gypsy Soul: Grits

Gypsy Soul Grits

The doors to R.J. Cooper’s new restaurant are now open – beckoning people from the burbs to try his adventurous, eccentric cuisine. While most of the Gypsy Soul menu screams of the South, there are dishes that pull from other corners of the world like a Greek-inspired lamb neck entree which was mighty tasty thanks to tzatziki. And yet, this is the very first time in BTM history that a side dish stole the show.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Yellow corn grits with foraged mushrooms and preserved truffle should simply be called holy shit grits. The elevated crock of comfort food can be found under the “Heirloom Grains & Tubers” section of the menu. Our advice? Order two so you can take one home and eat it the next morning for breakfast/brunch. The mushrooms are fairy tale tiny, and then there are truffles. Truffles, truffles truffles.

Fried Chicken Cracklings

Other can’t miss dishes included a big bowl of fried chicken skin cracklings served with snake oil (don’t worry, it’s just hot sauce) and roof top honey; a crazy combination of bone marrow and sea urchin; and a confit pork dish that incorporated Oktoberfesty accoutrements like sauerkraut and a sweet pear butter.

We’re guessing your question is – should I hop in my car and head out there? Is it worth it? Answer: Yea, most def. If you can, try to make the trek from the Dunn Loring-Merrifield metro stop, so you can take full advantage of their cocktail program, which also involves inventive ingredients like an herbaceous marjoram popcorn syrup.

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

Gypsy Soul is located at 8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax, Va 22031. 

Etto: Roasted Cauliflower Pizza

Etto Pizza

My father had a unique way of getting boys to steer clear of me in high school. Right before date night o’clock, he would send me to the local pizza joint to pick up his pizza. This sounds innocent enough – a man’s gotta eat. But, he insisted on his favorite topping each time: anchovies. That anchovy stench would seep deep into the seats of my Ford Focus. It even clung to my clothes and my hair. So naturally, I developed an aversion to anchovies that lasted until my most recent trip to Etto.

It was there that I tried the Best Thing on the Menu: Roasted Cauliflower Pizza with capers, pine nuts, anchovies and bread crumbs. The anchovies are so briny that no other salt source is needed, and they add just enough subtle funk to make the pizza memorable. Etto, after all, has a real love affair with these little fishies, as they also serve them as a part of their salads/small plate selections. But back to the pizza, which is like none other in the city (Except maybe 2Amys, which is from the same owners). What differs slightly is the dough and how it’s cooked.

The flour is milled in house. In fact, you can see the mill in the back of the restaurant. What results is a crust with billiard ball sized bubbles that you and your friends will fight over when divvying up slices (also just like high school). The restaurant recently opened up their sweet little patio, so there’s a better chance of getting a table and eating The Best Thing on the Menu al fresco. Also try Etto’s strong selection of small plates, they make a good warm up to the main event.

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

Etto is located at 1541 14th Street NW. 

You might also like Casa Luca or Lupo Verde.

Glen’s Garden Market: Loxy Lady

Loxy Lady

Glen’s Garden Market is more than a grocery store. It’s so alive, innovative and community-driven that it practically has a heartbeat. Danielle Vogel, owner and 4th generation grocer, is always dreaming up ways to make Glen’s more exciting, whether that’s a run club, craft beer garden party, or even bootcamp. There are many ways to enjoy this Dupont Circle market, one of which is stepping up to the sandwich counter in the back of the store and ordering The Best Thing on the Menu: Loxy Lady.

This is not the thin, somewhat slimy, overly orange lox you’ll find at a grocery store, or even a Jewish deli. Rather, between two slices of toasted rye, you’ll find full salmon fillets, dill chèvre, red onion and locally grown tomato. The salmon fillets are brined for 12 hours before being smoked and seasoned in house. It’s super smoky and provides for an incredibly fulfilling meal. In fact, it may have you subbing goat cheese for cream cheese forever.

Glen's

There’s another top way to glean the most out of Glen’s Garden Market: The last consecutive Thursday and Friday of each month, Chef Travis Olson, prepares a multi-course meal to be enjoyed around a communal table supper-club style. The stars of the meal are both the local produce and proteins Travis utilizes as well as his technique (he once cooked at the #1 restaurant in the world – Noma in Copenhagen!).

Click here for more pictures from the tasting table experience.

August 28 and 29 are already sold out. However, set a calendar alert because seats for September 24 & 25 (which are a Wednesday and Thursday this time around) go on sale September 1st at 10:00am. Visit http://glensgardenmarket.com/ or sign up to receive updates.

Loxy Lady not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Glen’s Garden Market is located at 2001 S Street, NW. 

Food Wine and Co.: Fried Tater Tots

Tots

Load up that SmarTrip card because Food Wine & Co. in Bethesda is definitely worth visiting. Chef Michael Harr pushes the boundaries just enough to have slightly daring food in the suburbs. That being said, The Best Thing on the Menu is not so fancy but still frickin delicious: Fried Potato Tots with Gruyere Cheese and Spicy Ketchup.

The tots are more like mashed potato squares than the typical basket weave tots you find at fast food establishments (or that Napoleon Dynamite subsists on). Chef Harr must spoon out the silkiest, smoothest mashed potatoes, lace them with cheese and drop them straight into the deep fryer – definitely not something to try at home. They’re comforting, funky thanks to the gruyere, and of course warm & gooey. Nevin Martell digs them too, and other tots in the area.

Calamari

For something a little more refined (but not quite as sinfully satisfying) opt for the grilled calamari appetizer because of its layered flavor profile. Chef Harr combines tender grilled calamari with arugula pesto, pickled raspberries, pine nuts, peppercress and croutons for crunch.

As far as entrees, you can’t go wrong with either their decadent truffle burger or the lamb burger topped with a biting tomato harissa jam.

Click here for more photos from the meal.

Fried Tater Tots not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Food Wine & Co. is located at 7272 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

Rural Society: Bife de Chorizo

Bife de Chorizo

Having demolished some delicious meals at Jose Garces’ flagship restaurants in Philly like Amada and Tinto, we expected big things from Rural Society. The restaurant is so damn handsome, you want it to take you on a date. It’s masculine vaquero cowboy chic, making it a setting where you want to manhandle some meat. Enter, The Best Thing on the Menu: Bife de Chorizo – a 12oz platter of Estancia grass-fed beef from Uruguay. Tom Sietsema digs it too, and for good reason.

Parilla

The ribeye is kissed by the flames of Rural Society’s already famous parilla, a wood-burning grill that is often the subject of patrons’ Instagram accounts. The outside of the Bife de Chorizo has an incredible sear, and the inside has just enough fat to speed up the melt-in-your-mouth experience. It doesn’t need any sauce, but if you’re so inclined (and if you brought dental floss) throw a few dabs of herbaceous chimichurri on top.

empanada

But before the steak course comes out, dabble in some starters like these Empanadas Tucamana. The Latin pierogies are stuff with braised Wagyu beef belly and smoked chile. For something a little lighter, try the octopus carpaccio or the morrones (which is not a Spanish word for morons). Morrones are a build-it-yourself stack of grilled bread, creamy eggplant spread, roasted red peppers and anchovies.

Bife de Chorizo not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Click here for a few more photos of the meal. Rural Society is located inside the Loews Madison Hotel at 1177 15th Street NW Washington, DC 20005.

You might also like Del Campo or BLT Steak.