Pinea: Charred Octopus

Octopus

Chef Barry Koslow has had some time to settle into his latest culinary foray, Pinea, inside the W Hotel DC. You know him from his Jewish deli days at DGS Delicatessen. His Mediterranean concept replaces J & G Steakhouse, which was ripe for retirement. If you’re a hotel restaurant naysayer, suck it up and pay Pinea a visit because you could easily find it on a cool street in Europe.

The Best Thing on the Menu channels Urusla (but there are no unfortunate souls): Charred Octopus with Saffron Potatoes, Green Olives, Chorizo and Sherry Dressing. The flavors are explosive and slightly reminiscent of paella (at least the kind of paella someone on the Paleo diet would eat because there is no rice). The chorizo adds smoky heat, the dressing is tart, and the octopus is charred to perfection. That last part might be “too soon” for fellow DC chef, George Pagonis, who departed this season of Top Chef because of the way he cooked the pesky eight-legger.

Pinea Lamb Burger

Also outstanding is Chef Koslow’s Lamb Merguez Burger, which can be found on the lunch, dinner and brunch menu. It’s fiery with harissa, but fortunately cucumber yogurt cools your mouth. A $19 burger you say!?!? It is The W after all. The price tag is worth it for the polenta fries alone.

After you’ve demolished the Best Thing on the Menu and the lamb burger, settle up and head down to The Root Cellar. The pint-sized bar serves up some tasty barrel-aged cocktails and a whole lot of whiskey.

Pinea is located at 515 15th Street NW.

Charred Octopus not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

DGS Delicatessen: Holishkes

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DGS Delicatessen, a.k.a. District Grocery Store, brings a dose of originality to Dupont Circle. This reimagined Jewish deli brines, cures, smokes and pickles on premise and lots of love goes into every dish. DGS doubles as a sandwich shop and a sit-down restaurant. The only thing missing? Perfectly crafted bagels and schmear. Those with tips on where to get a good bagel inside the beltway, please share in the comments section. The quest is ongoing.

DGS is owned by third generation cousins, Nick and David Wiseman, who say DGS is a nod to the mom-and-pop grocery stores that lined DC street corners at the turn of the 20th century. They’ve seen success so far, and even got a nod in the  New York Times.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Holishkes are unique because they fuse Ashkenazic and Sephardic ingredients. DGS Chef Barry Koslow’s holishkes recipe calls for brisket stuffed cabbage, sweet and sour tomato sauce that’s as thick and sweet as ketchup, orzo and rye bread crumbs. Holishkes are a traditional dish for Sukkot, an autumn harvest festival. The stuffed cabbage leaves symbolize abundance.

What’s in a name? It’s hard to believe how many names can be given to this succulent stuffed cabbage dish. Popular terms include galuptze, praakes and bolopches. Sephardic Jews make a very similar dish but with lamb instead of beef and call the concoction sarmas or mishi malfouf. Whatever you call them, we dare to say they compete with your bubbe’s.

DGS is a great change of pace for dinner or brunch and they have an unbeatable happy hour. Mazel tov DGS, we hope you’re here to stay.

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