DBGB Kitchen and Bar: Thai Sausage

Sausage Duo
Guest post by Aaron Tidman

In June 2013, when Daniel Boulud first announced that he signed a lease to open a local branch of his DBGB Kitchen + Bar at CityCenterDC, the entire DC culinary community gasped and began the countdown to opening day. That day arrived with much fanfare on September 13, following two pre-opening receptions – one for the residents of CityCenterDC (wooing neighbors is always a smart move) and one for media, local chefs, and friends. José Andrés, Patrick O’Connell, Nora Pouillon, Carla Hall and Ris Lacoste were in the house.

There’s already a DBGB in New York, so Boulud and Executive Chef Ed Scarpone put a DC spin on the menu with dishes like “The Crabbie,” a local nod to the Chesapeake. It consists of a perfectly cooked, juicy beef patty topped with a Maryland crab cake. Although this burger could compete as one of the best in DC, Maryland natives like myself have particularly high standards when it comes to crab cakes, and the thin layer of crab got a little lost.

Other dishes follow in the tradition of a proper French bistro, including Tarte Flambée, Oeufs Mimosa, and Coq au Vin. But, The Best Thing on the Menu is surprisingly: the homemade Thai sausage. All of their homemade sausages are stunners, but the pork-based Thai version stands out thanks to lemongrass, red curry, green papaya slaw with peanuts, basil fried rice, and a quail egg.

We also liked the Vermont (a pork and cheddar sausage with hash browns and a red onion crème fraîche, which tasted like an upscale baked potato with the fixins’), the Tunisienne (lamb and mint merguez with harissa lemon braised spinach and chickpeas), and the Boudin Blanc (truffled pork sausage with apple and pommes mousseline). Order a sausage duo (or two!) so you can sample more than one at a time.

Baked Alaska

Find that second stomach of yours when it comes time for dessert because Boulud’s Baked Alaska competes for the Best Thing on the Menu title. A perfectly molded trio of pistachio and vanilla ice cream plus raspberry sorbet is flambéed tableside using chartreuse. (We requested extra chartreuse for greater effect.) The servers are well trained, but trim your eyebrows before you order this finale. If you’re a chocolate lover, try the Chocolate-Chocolate, a sundae with chocolate chip cookies, chocolate truffle cocoa nibs, chocolate fudge, and chocolate whipped cream. It’s like taking the Acela straight to heaven.

One last note – Caroline Bowker, DBGB CityCenter’s new sommelier and bar beverage director, has done a wonderful job of putting together a cocktail and wine list that both pays homage to DBGB’s French roots and incorporates domestic selections – including one of our local favorites from Virginia, RdV Vineyards – that pair well with the restaurant’s dishes.

Aaron and Boulud

Special guest post by Aaron Tidman, pictured above with Boulud. Follow Aaron’s adventures @atidman.

DBGB Kitchen and Bar is located at 931 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20001. 

Thai sausage not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Crane and Turtle: Sautéed Maine Scallops

Scallops

The doors to Crane & Turtle just opened, giving Petworth’s Upshur Street yet another upgrade. Benches outfitted in sea-colored upholstery  line the walls of this shoebox sized French/Asian restaurant from Paul Ruppert, and an ellipse of counter seats look into the busy kitchen. Its small size may be an adorable anomaly in this city, but in Japan (where charming corner cafes dominate) Crane & Turtle would fit right in.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Sautéed Maine Scallops with Chorizo Tapioca Dumplings, Arugula and  Gingered Coconut Foam is something you’d expect to see somewhere exquisite…like CityZen. Oh wait, Chef Makoto Hamamura was a fixture in that kitchen for seven years, so it all makes sense. He’s a true talent and now has a spot to call his own.

The scallop dish may just be the best thing we’ve eaten THIS YEAR. Perfectly seared scallops sit in a bubble bath of coconut foam and bitter greens where they are joined by tapioca dumplings stuffed with single pearls of chorizo sausage. The party of textures is divine.

Fish

Other top dishes on the menu include hay smoked crudos and cherry gazpacho with clams and kakiage. If it’s possible to have one gripe though, it’s with the “drunken fish” dessert. It’s presented like the traditional Japanese festival dessert called “taiyaki” which has now autocorrected to teriyaki ten times. Ahhhh. The treat is typically a piping hot fish-shaped pancake filled with a sweet red bean paste central to most Japanese desserts. Crane & Turtle’s take is a chilled taiyaki cake that’s been soaked in booze (very fitting for the summer months). But why the fig filling instead of adzuki beans? Fig seeds are gritty and turn the dish into a Fish Newton.

Click here for more pictures from the meal.

Maine scallops not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

2941: Smoked Burrata Ravioli

Ravioli at 2941

If you’re married, you’ll face immediate regret upon dining at 2941. The high ceilings scream special occasion and the naturescape (albeit man-made) on the other side of the widows is picturesque enough for your big day. Even Frida Kahlo would envy tying the knot there, given the funky art punctuating the walls.  The decor isn’t the only thing that changed for the better after the recent renovation, so did the food.

Classically trained, adorably accented French Chef Bertrand Chemel has a habit he can’t kick. He spends every day trying to make his customers happy, which can be a challenge given the eclectic mix likely to wander into a restaurant accessible only by traversing a ganglion of highway intersections in Virginia. What he settled on thematically is Upscale Casual Modern American French Mediterranean Cuisine, which takes a full breath to say. But only one bite to enjoy.

The Best Thing on the Menu is a prime example: Smoked Burrata Ravioli with Escarole, Spicy Duck and Arbequina Olive Oil. France and Italy share a border. They also share secrets. When Chef Chemel was working for Daniel Boulud (yes THAT Boulud) he had chance to learn pasta making from Andrew Carmellini. That is why an uber-talented French chef can pull off pasta. The ravioli dish is smoky because of the burrata, bitter from the escarole and gamey due to the spicy duck sausage. Try this along with the pillow-top mattress gnocchi and minty lamb orcchiette.

2941 Lamb

Another stunner is the Elysian Fields Farm roasted lamb loin with gnocchi alla greca, semi dry tomato, feta cheese and garlic-mustard jus. Further evidence that lamb > beef. We also can’t stop ourselves from mentioning that the 2941 dessert menu is an (unintended?) hat-tip to Justin Bieber. Don’t skip the Never Say Never selection.

2941 Table

Despite our fawning over the space, there is one bad seat in the house. According to sommelier Jonathan Schuyler, it’s next to the big, beautiful amethyst because it’s a sobriety stone. In Greek, amethyst means not drunk or a remedy for intoxication. So, if you want your wine to work its magic, sit elsewhere.

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