Slipstream: Breakfast Bowl

Breakfast Bowl

Slip into something more comfortable in Logan Circle: a brand new coffee shop and cocktail bar that you’ll want to spend a lot of time in (even though they don’t do wi-fi). The coffee at Slipstream is super science-y, and is so futuristic it might as well appear in the movie Interstellar. The food on the other hand has a slight Asian lean to it and comes across simple and fresh.

When you order something three times in one week, it asserts itself as the Best Thing on the Menu. Such is the case with the breakfast bowl. Traditional breakfast items like scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage and soggy hash browns do not make an appearance. They’ve been replaced with Madagascar pink rice (oooh exotic!) topped with shaved asparagus, a fried egg, preserved lemon, radish slices and optional (but duh!) pork belly. The rice has been generously zested bringing tang to the table to contrast with the smoky pork belly.

Go about eating it expertly: Break the egg so it runs sloppily all over the bowl. Then, break up the pork belly to assure a hint of scorched fat is included in each bite. Finally, use the radish slices as cute little spoons to transport bites to your breakfast bowl loving mouth.

Avocado Toast

Surprisingly, the breakfast bowl has received less buzz than Slipstream’s fancy pants toasts. They include marigold butter and French radish; goat cheese mousse and avocado; and homemade creme fraiche and jam. We’re impressed by the size of their cojones. They have to be pretty big to serve avocado toast on the same street as Cork. There’s little to complain about when you’re topping bread with something delicious, the breakfast bowl is just more satisfying.

Monkey Bread

If you’re just trying to get a pastry with your coffee, go with the monkey bread. It’s basically fried brioche that’s been caramelized. There’s much more to come at Slipstream, including a lunch menu with bento boxes. But before the lunch menu launches, you can get the breakfast bowl throughout the day.

Slipstream is located at 1333 14th Street NW.

Breakfast bowl not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

G by Mike Isabella: Gnudi

G Gnudi

Expecting to see a sandwich? Sorry to disappoint between-the-bread lovers, G by Mike Isabella is more than a scrumptious sub shop. By night, the casual spot changes over to an Italian restaurant serving a tasting menu. The meal begins with an explosion of antipasti encompassing everything from marinated vegetables to fried arancini, followed by a pasta course, main dish and desserts (all for $40!).

The Best Thing on the Menu at our latest meal was a plate of steaming hot gnudi. The G dish hit the spot (get your mind out of the gutter). Gnudi is an adorable Italian way to describe dumplings made from what would normally be enclosed in a ravioli. In other words, you’re eating the filling, which we suppose could also be considered a fun form of gluten free pasta!

Making Gnudi

The dish has a small piece of my heart since I learned to make gnudi on my honeymoon in Italy. It also has a big part of my admiration, because IT IS DIFFICULT. The little balls of filling are tough to keep together once they hit boiling water. When finished though, they match well with a sage brown butter sauce or a simple marinara.

It’s unlikely that gnudi will be at G when you turnover your menu because things change from week to week based on what’s in season. But not to worry – the other pasta dishes look tasty too like this past week’s pappardelle with lamb ragu, peas and pistachio.

Share your favorites from your G by Mike Isabella meal in the comments section.

G is located at 2201 14th St NW, Washington, DC.

You mint also like Osteria Morini or Alba Osteria.

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.

Masa 14: Spicy Tuna Nachos

Tuna Nachos

Masa 14 has a bright and shiny new chef de cuisine, Felipe Milanes, and he just rolled out (literally) a whole line of new sushi like the Rainbow Tropico Roll with tuna, hamachi, salmon, avocado and a mango-papaya salsa. But the Best Thing on the Menu isn’t in roll form however…it’s far more representative of the restaurant’s Latin/Asian fusion persona: Spicy Tuna Nachos. Thick, crispy wontons are dressed in their finest sushi attire: Generous chunks of spicy  tuna tartare plus avocado, cotija cheese, and salsa picante.

Foie Jita

The menu at one of the original 14th Street spots has gotten a whole lot more creative under Milanes, who hails from Panama City. For example, he dares to serve Foie Jitas, like the fajitas you used to get at Chili’s on high school first dates but with foie gras, shallots, poblano peppers, red peppers and guava creme. It ALMOST works. The guava crema is divine, but unfortunately overpowered by the red peppers and onions. Lose those and this dish is a 10.

Other can’t misses include the Scorpion Roll and Pork Belly al Carbon. Look for new menu additions to continue to stream in and await the Twitter war that always follows when favorites are taken off the menu to make room (Just ask Taylor Gourmet). Change is hard. Click here for more photos from the meal.

Spicy Tuna nachos not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Tico: Two Texture Beef Tacos

Tico Tacos

Michael Schlow’s in town. Perhaps you saw him making the short trek from his Columbia Heights pad to his brand new 14th Street restaurant that opened last night. You might recognize him from Top Chef Masters! What’s heartwarming is that unlike some celebrity chefs who pop in to open a restaurant, Schlow’s committed to staying around for more than a hot sec…and it shows.

This is the second Tico to open its doors – the first is in Schlow’s hometown of Boston – but he’s tweaked the menu to match our tastes, like by sprinkling in some Old Bay when appropriate. Overall, the restaurant aims to serve American food with Latin/Spanish twists inspired by Schlow’s travels.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Two Texture Beef Tacos are a lot of fun. Super tender beef is juxtaposed by crispy beef that’s been dehydrated, not fried, and chili and fresh herbs kick up the flavor. Schlow says he pays just as much attention to texture as he does flavor. Look for something soft and chewy to be balanced by crunch in almost every dish.

Manchego

… Like these manchego fritters, which you dip in a sticky, fruity sauce on the side. This dish is symbolic of how vegetarians can go buck wild at Tico, because a large portion of the menu celebrates seasonal vegetables, and they’re used quite creatively. A standout is an order of edamame falafel tacos. Click here for more photos from the meal.

We couldn’t be happier about this addition to the neighborhood. They’ve thought of everything. The artwork lining the walls is the work of Schlow’s wife; Schlow himself built all the music playlists; and Schlow committed a whole lot of resources (read: cash money) to build an acoustically sound dining room to make sure you can still hear your dining partners in a lively atmosphere. The guy literally had someone poke thousands of holes in tin tiles to ensure that sound would get trapped instead of bouncing right back down to disturb diners. Cheers to that.

Two texture beef tacos not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Red Light: Black and Tan Donuts

Black and Tan Donuts

New to 14th Street is a seductive dessert and drinks spot called Red Light. It’s not named after a TLC track, but it will be there for you…all though the night (until 2a on Friday and Saturday). It’s named for the era when Logan Circle was replete with scandalous, illegal activity. After a few visits, we can confirm that it’s CrazySexyCool.

Only time will tell if a cocktail and dessert spot can make it in the former Bar Di Bari space, but with dishes like The Best Thing on the Menu: Black & Tan Donuts, it stands a GREAT chance. The donut hole batter contains a pour of pale ale, while the chocolate dipper is made with stout.

El Dorado

Wash down the Best Thing on the Menu with an El Dorado – the best cocktail from bar brothers Ari and Micah Wilder. It packs some heat thanks to the jalapeño garnish and contains Pisco, Yellow Chartreuse, Wilder Bros Pineapple Gomme, Lemon, Burlesque Bitters and Peychaud’s Bitters. 

Red Light offers about 10 rotating desserts, an impressive and reasonably priced cocktail list, boozy slushes, cake shakes and more. Plus, they have one of the best patios on the block. Check them out and note that one thing’s for sure: Taking a date to Red Light as the last stop of the night will definitely help you seal the deal.

Black and Tan Donuts not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

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.

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.

Lupo Verde: RA2 Pizza

Lupo Verde Pizza

Lupo Verde is the newest Italian stallion to set up shop on 14th Street, falling in line after Ghibellina, Etto, Mcafe Bar and Posto. Lupo Verde stands out because of its cheese shop operation, which we’ll try when spring gets its act together, making picnics possible. Oh, and the dashing Italian chef (Domenico Apollaro) and Italian owner (Antonio Matarazzo) are standouts too. They grew up in neighboring towns in Italy.

Antonio Matarazzo

Get ready for some intense menu handholding. You will get a walk through of every menu category in terms of portion size and the “prescribed” number of items you MUST order per category. Don’t you wish you had a little card that you could display on your table that said something like This Isn’t My First Rodeo? Kind of like the Green GO/Red STOP card at Brazilian steakhouses?

We’re glad we went rogue and ordered too many pizzas, because that’s how we discovered The Best Thing on the Menu: RA2 Pizza with Mozzarella, Stracchino, Mortadella, Pistachio, Radicchio and Honey. This pint-sized pie doesn’t rely on tomato sauce to sting you with flavor. Nuts and honey, plus some bitter greens do the trick.

Lupo Verde Pasticcio

Other top picks? The Seppia al Forno from the Antipasti section. It turns out squishy cuttlefish covered in shoestring fries is a winner.  So too is the Pasticcio. Though we wish they would call it what it is: Mac and cheese inside a pastry shell. Your inner child will thank you.

RA2 Pizza not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

The Fainting Goat: Porchetta

Fainting Goat Porchetta

A block off the intersection of 14th and U Street sits The Fainting Goat: Middle ground between the cheaper but more blasé food of U Street and the more inventive, but sometimes overpriced, food of 14th Street. Read: Food that doesn’t know how great it is yet!

The menu categories at TFG – nibble, graze, chomp and feed – hold no more than four selections each, making the menu easy to conquer for four diners willing to share. Start with The Best Thing on the Menu: Porchetta sandwich with fennel, dill and parsley on cibatta. It blew our hoofs off.

So what the pork is porchetta? It’s been popping up on a lot of menus lately, and for good reason. Typically a whole pig is prepped (we’ll spare you the gory stuff) then lovingly layered with stuffing, meat, fat and skin. Next, it’s rolled, spitted, and roasted with a heavy hand of salt and sometimes garlic, rosemary, fennel or other herbs. Thank you Italy, we were grateful for Barolo, but this is better. At TFG, the chef spreads cibatta with a miracle paste made of fresh dill and fennel before generously applying the porchetta.

 Is it criminal that we didn’t go with goat for the BTM? Perhaps, but we gave it a good hard try – two different ways in fact. The Fainting Goat offers their namesake meat as an appetizer tartare and a juicy seared entree. Our BTM pick doesn’t so much shun the goat, as it does celebrate the best damn sandwich we’ve had in months.

The Fainting Goat Garden

Other top picks? Seared scallops that taste of vanilla, and a bowl of warm winter vegetables called “The Garden,” that’s topped with caper-sized mustard seeds. Click here for more photos of the meal.

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