The Partisan: Corned Beef Belly

Corned Beef Belly

The newest Neighborhood Restaurant Group debut, The Partisan, does things just differently enough to get noticed. The menu at the 100-seat restaurant departs from the typical appetizer, entrée, and dessert menu structure opting instead for a tiered clipboard divided by protein.

While most would tell you to skip straight to the page with pig dishes (including a full pig’s head), the Best Thing on the Menu is Corned Beef Belly with Braised Cabbage, Grated Pumpernickel and Pickled Mustard Seeds. The mustard seeds pop in a caviar sort of way and the meat is salty, smoky and tender. We can’t wrap our heads around what this would be like between two slices of rye with all the fixings of a Reuben.

Another top pick is from the charcuterie menu, which you fill out much like a form at a sushi counter. It’s Red Menace: A Calabrian spreadable sausage called ‘Nduja. During the day you can get it spread between two tigelles next door at Red Apron.

Malort Face

The beverage program at The Partisan is also worthy of some serious cheers and glass clinking. Three booze kings, including beer man Greg Engert, put their brains together to create a program most notable for what’s on tap. Draft beer is familiar, so what’s fresh is Jeff Faile’s decision to put four sprits on tap, including malört. I trust Jeff so whole-heartedly that I tried it. While I know I was supposed to make a face and compare malört to the likes of poison or prison time, it wasn’t that bad. It was like Fernet’s brutish cousin. Here are a few places to try it in D.C.

Furthermore, oenophiles can try one of Brent Kroll’s 25 wine drafts, or a rare wine offered by the glass thanks to new technology.

Click here for more photos from the meal.

Corned Beef Belly not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

You might also like The Arsenal or Birch & Barley.

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.

DC’s Top Food and Drink Trends 2013

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A food blogger’s log of top trends in our nation’s capital, based on too many meals to count. As Heidi would say, you’re either in or you’re out!

Chez Billy Saucisse Merguez

Chez Billy

1. Small plates: You either love them or you hate them, especially if you live and eat on 14th Street. But one thing’s for sure, small plate hate and continued complaining about them is in vogue. Good places to get full-size meals? Chez Billy, West End Bistro, Poste and Table.

Spraga's Brisket

Sbraga

2. Brisket is back. Done right, this cut of meat can steal the show. Where to get it in DC? Roses Luxury, DCity Smokehouse and Garden District. It is also the Best Thing on the Menu at Philly’s Sbraga.

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Del Campo

3. Fernet is having a renaissance. Try it and you’ll taste hints of eucalyptus, saffron, cardamom and chamomile. Most popular in Italy and Argentina, fernet is typically mixed with soda water or it can be used in cocktails as a form of bitters. In DC, you can try it at Del Campo and Urbana.

FB

4. New restaurants are forgoing traditional websites and are opting instead for robust Facebook pages. Or, restaurants are choosing to create a simple single page, meant solely to point you to their social media accounts. This is such a smart money saver. There’s no need to pay an IT company to build and maintain a website when Facebook has built-in infrastructure for diners to interact with their favorite restaurants. Our new favorite spot, Mockingbird Hill, is one example: Their simple web page vs. their Facebook page.

Shaw DC

5. Shaw has become THE neighborhood for new restaurants, including Eat the Rich, Dacha Beer Garden, Mockingbird Hill, Thally, Table and more.

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Casa Luca

6. More than a handful of restaurants are jumping on the charcuterie bandwagon. A trend many enjoy, but others skip due to the availability of fine meat and cheese selections at gourmet grocery stores. If you’re pro-charcuterie visit: Casa Luca, The Pig, Churchkey/Birch and Barley, Proof, Urbana, Vinoteca and Etto.

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Revive Catering

7. Waffles are crushing it, sorry cronuts. DC has some of the best waffles to offer the world including Revive Catering’s red velvet chicken and waffles, B TOO’s blood sausage stuffed waffle and Brasserie Beck’s gingerbread waffle.

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Petworth Citizen

8. Cosmos and appletinis are out. Prohibition era cocktails are in. Big name Founding Farmers has 11 different prohibition era inspired cocktails like a Sazerac and a New York Sour. Then there are places like The Gibson, PX, The Passenger/Columbia Room, Bar Charley and Petworth Citizen.

Oyamel Fried Egg

Oyamel

9. Remember being twelve years old and requesting breakfast for dinner for your birthday? Fortunately, you can relive this small joy by visiting several DC restaurants. Ted’s Bulletin serves breakfast all day long, Oyamel has a killer egg dish and DGS serves “Benedictberg” well into the night.

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Taylor Gourmet

10. Whether you’re curing a hangover, fueling your marathon (or 5K!) training, or just gearing up for a Sunday on the couch watching football, monster sandwiches are the answer. The arrival of spots like Duke’s Grocery and food trucks like SUNdeVICH plus the continued awesomeness of Taylor Gourmet and Stachowski Market & Deli means you’ll never be without a good sando in hando.

Got a trend you’d like to share? Let us hear it in the comments section! Plus, see where we ate in 2013.

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.

Veritas Wine Bar: A Deal on Fun Finds (CLOSED)

VERITAS IS NOW CLOSED. STAY TUNED FOR A NEW COCKTAIL BAR THIS FALL.

Veritas Wine Bar Ganeta Rose   Veritas Wine Bar Sexual Chocolate

Our Mission: Complete a six-person takeover of a corner of Veritas Wine Bar in Dupont Circle and determine the Best Wine on the Menu. But there’s more. We weren’t looking for a face-melting Cabernet or a seductive Bordeaux blend. Instead, we were seeking fun, off-the-beaten path wines with great value. Read on because you can get a dollar off the winning wine on your next visit to Veritas …

Wine bars in DC are few and far between. That’s why we’re extra grateful that we found a true gem that we want to return to time and time again. Because you climb down a few stairs to enter, instead of up, Veritas reminds us a little of the romantic wine “cuevas” you find in Spain.

What else sets Veritas apart from other vinotherapy spots in DC? They have 70 wines by the glass, a great mix of old world and new world styles, unpretentious wine-tenders, and unfussy snacks that are simple, gourmet, fresh and pair perfectly with what you’re drinking. We enjoyed delicious charcuterie, cheese selections with a lot of personality and freshly caught crab served three different ways. Oh, and the best chocolate truffles we’ve ever tasted.

Veritas Charcuterie     Veritas Wine Bar Truffles

When it comes to wine, we sampled:

  • Gañeta Rose from the Basque region of Spain (2012)
  • Geil Scheurebe Kabinett from Germany (2011) that tasted like its cousin, German Riesling
  • Vasse Felix Chardonnay from Margaret River region of Australia (2011) that even “anything but Chardonnay (ABC)” people enjoyed
  • SLO Down Wine’s Sexual Chocolate composed of Zinfandel, Syrah and Petit Sirah from California (2011) which was bold but also enjoyable for every day drinking
  • Coriole Vineyards Sangiovese/Shiraz blend from Australia (2010) that had a big nose of plum and spice
  • Cuvée Del Maule Cauquenes from Chile (2010). This very special wine carries the phrase “Earthquake Harvest.” Immediately after the grapes were picked in 2010, a massive earthquake struck Chile, leaving winemakers to carry out their craft without modernity. No water, no power, no irrigation. In the end, they threw all of the grapes together creating an “everything but the kitchen sink” blend comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carigan, Carmenere, Pais, Merlot and Zinfandel. Kudos to surviving a true make-it-work moment, because this wine was powerfully earth-driven and delicious.

Veritas Wine Bar Wine    Veritas Wine Bar Wine

When the time came to fulfill our mission, we flirted with the success of choosing just one wine, but simply couldn’t pick from our two favorites. So instead, we feature the Best WINES on the Menu: The perfectly balanced, refreshing Gañeta Rose from Basque Country and Sexual Chocolate from SLO Down wines.

Napa Valley’s SLO Down Wines actually began as a bootleg operation and they’re not afraid to say it. A couple of college guys started making wine “knowing it would be used for late night drinking and that the French are annoying,” says the bottle label. The bottle label also recommend that “This be drank immediately, and shared with girls.” They even have entertaining, (Not Safe for Work) videos to enjoy.

Because we love these two wines so much, you can get $1.00 off each glass of the Gañeta Rose or Sexual Chocolate on your next visit to Veritas. Simply mention that you saw this post on Best Thing on the Menu and the secret code: BTM. This offer comes to an end August 31st or until these delicious wines run dry.

Other ways to enjoy Veritas include a wine tasting with Mario Montecelli from Trinchero Vineyards in Napa Valley (July 25) as well as an upcoming class on the wines of Australia (July 27/28). Both events are held at Veritas in Dupont Circle.

Special thanks to Veritas General Manager and Sommelier Jamie Smith for his wisdom and generosity!