Sally’s Middle Name: Fried Pickled Chard Stems with Ranch

Chard stems

H Street’s latest restaurant, Sally’s Middle Name, doesn’t play by the rules. Your server will not hand you a paper menu because all of the offerings are scribbled on the walls. Nor will your server allow you to tip. In a city whose religion is following the rules, it’s fun to shove some restaurant norms to the side for a night.

If the restaurant reminds you of something that you can’t quite pin down, we’re willing to bet it’s Rose’s Luxury. The space is cool and quirky, the plates don’t match, the service is casual but polished, and some dishes even look familiar (like beef brisket or brined chicken). But, the Best Thing on the Menu is unique to Sally’s Middle Name: Fried Pickled Chard Stems with “Ranch.”

If you dig fried pickles, you’ll love these sour stalks that hit the fryer, especially after you dip them in ranch dressing. Ranch is having quite the resurgence. It’s no longer relegated to serving as the obvious dip for dreary looking carrot sticks at PTA meetings. There’s even a new ranch restaurant in St. Louis.

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The menu at Sally’s Middle Name changes daily, but the stalks seem to stay on, making them a bit of a signature dish. After the stems, the Next Best Thing on the Menu would probably be something from the dessert selection, like these cannelloni-shaped beignets.

Just one word of warning. Portion size doesn’t always match up with price at Sally’s Middle Name. The culprit during a recent meal was a 3.5oz portion of halibut served on a thin ladle of tomato sauce presented on a bread plate for $20. This is partially why, after ordering six dishes, my dining companion and I ended up at Maketto eating fried chicken.

Find Sally’s Middle Name at 1320 H St NE.

Fried pickled chard stems not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Maketto: Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Maketto is getting wedding anniversary level love lately. The Post’s Tom Sietsema penned a rare glowing review and Eater named it one of the best new restaurants in America. Given these fireworks, you’re likely headed there soon.

It’s easy to get distracted at the H Street spot that exudes cool. Should you drink coffee or booze? Should you buy those condoms out of the vending machine? Should you sit inside or outside? Upstairs or downstairs? Should you pick up that gun powder scented candle for your dude friend? These questions about Maketto deserve answers, but your focus should remain on the food because it lacks the watered-down effect some Southeast Asian eateries suffer from.

Sure, the bap buns are fantastic. In fact, Chef Erik Bruner-Yang is so well known for his buns that they pretty much double as his business cards. But, they’re not the Best Thing on the Menu. That honor is reserved for the fried chicken. Giant cutlets come in a sticky bath that should be illegal, especially when served with warm (seemingly fried) bread designed to lap it all up. The portion size is as generous as a grandparent during Christmas and the kick comes from chillies and fried shallots.

Mala Colada

If heat is your thing, pair the fried chicken with a Mala Colada. The tropical beverage carries a welcome Tabasco-level of spiciness. Not into alcohol? There’s more to the beverage program at Maketto, including sipping vinegars and cool flavors of kombucha.

Fried chicken not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Maketto is located at 1351 H Street N.E.

Centrolina: Tonno

Tonno

Bring on the side eye because the Best Thing on the Menu at Centrolina isn’t a pasta. Rather, it’s surf & turf on speed: “Tonno” with rare tuna, bone marrow, charred onion, snap peas and Barbaresco. Chef Amy Brandwein’s CityCenterDC stunner has been open less than two months and we’ve already ordered it twice.

Obviously, you’re not consuming the two main components in isolation. Grab a tiny spoon or fork fit for a squirrel and dig around inside the bone until you have a nice lobe of gelatinous goo and then spread the marrow on a slice of seared tuna. The hot and cool temperature combination is playful, and the wine reduction adds further richness. Is it $30? Yes, but at least you’re not throwing money at 10 different small plates and leaving hungry.

Strozzapreti

If you’re going to go down the pasta path, opt for the fusilli with suckling pig ragu and Moliterno cheese. On our last visit, it was an off-menu item Chef Brandwein was playing around with, but we’re happy to see it officially on the menu. Just one disclaimer: the Centrolina menu changes as often as an Italian fashion model, so don’t get too attached to dishes, especially the pastas.

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

Find Centrolina (restaurant and market!) at 974 Palmer Alley NW in CityCenterDC. 

Buredo: The Sofie

The Sofie

If you want to see shock on the level of someone seeing one of the Saw movies for the first time, show a classroom of Japanese students an American sushi menu. Mango! Cream cheese! Asparagus! We’ve taken a cuisine that usually consists of one or two ingredients and exotified it, sometimes even deep-frying entire rolls. Now, consider introducing them to Buredo: downtown’s buzziest lunch pit stop that supersizes sushi rolls until they reach the size of small burritos. Perhaps there will be an eye roll or two, but after one bite, anyone is bound to be smitten.

The Best Thing on the Menu: The Sofie brings together shrimp tempura, avocado, pickled cabbage, carrot, toasted sesame seeds, red tobiko and sriracha mayo for a sweet and spicy mouthful. Is it a little predictable to pick the one roll on the menu that contains both something fried and a liberal helping of mayo? Sure, but the truth’s the truth.

The Hanzo

If you want to swing a little healthier, we also love the Hanzo (yes, the samurai who was a serious badass). This hoagie-sized roll introduces pickled fennel and arugula to the sushi world. They’re joined by yellowfin tuna sashimi, avocado, cucumber, tempura crunch and a lemon aioli.

Buredo is still tinkering with their offerings and hours given the fast casual restaurant is in its infancy stage (they opened July 2). But, the concept proved to be a winner (read: long lines) so they expanded their closing time from 4pm to 7pm. Maybe they realized they planted a restaurant in a city full of workaholics who leave the office at 6pm and are eager to grab a quick dinner before going home to work some more, this time on laptops.

The Sofie not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Find Buredo at 825 14th Street NW.