Boundary Road: Bison Hanger Steak

Boundary Road Bison

A stone throw’s from Union Station sits Boundary Road. The menu stays true to the appetizer/entree/dessert formula, eschewing small plates, share plates and other nonsense. What’s even more refreshing is that the most expensive dish is $27 and zero creativity is sacrificed, making it the perfect start to a night hopping around the best H Street NE has to offer.

Chef Brad Walker has a playful menu full of uncommon ingredients like quark and black pepper pierogis, chioggia beets, fregola, porchetta and jagerwurst. He also digs delicious proteins, like The Best Thing on the Menu: New Frontier Bison Hanger Steak with Roasted Cauliflower Puree, Spicy Kale and Sauce Choron. Bison has so much more personality than beef, and it also has less fat, fewer calories and more protein. The creamy cauliflower puree, a creative substitute for buttery mashed potatoes, means a healthy meat and “potatoes” kind of meal.

Boundary Road Foie

A little less on the healthy side is another must-try menu item: The foie gras torchon PB&J with grapefruit Malört marmalade. It’s in the appetizer section, but no judgment here if you draft it for Team Dessert. The dish would be a dash better if the foie was warm, but then it wouldn’t be a torchon. Torchons, after all, are an art. We think Grandpa’s Candy, an Applejack centric cocktail, would pair nicely with this gourmet bite that will have you rethinking your old favorite grade school snack for months.

Sundays are perhaps the most adorable nights to visit Boundary Road. They lower the lights and drop down a projector in order to show films. April promises to bring a lot of rain, so expect movies with this breed of precipitation in the title.

Bison Hanger Steak not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Ripple: Cru Beaujolais Dinner

Ripple

Have you tried wine from all ten Beaujolais appellations? How about trying them all in one night? Oh, and by the way that night is a Monday. This Monday funday wine safari, called a Cru Beaujolais Dinner, was held at Cleveland Park’s Ripple. Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley and her team joined forces with Best Thing on the Menu’s favorite wine shop, Weygandt Wines, which also calls Cleveland Park home. The two were a perfect pairing from the start.

Wines from Saint Amour, Juliénas, and Chénas started the night, paired with farm fresh beets, red onion and orange salad; broccoli raab, tomatoes and chili; and a mini charcuterie platter. All dishes were served family style at this intimate gathering of 40 Ripple and Weygandt Wines loyalists.

Ripple Cru Beaujolais Dinner

Chef Meek-Bradley put together an earth-driven dinner to match the earthy wine. In an interview with Best Thing on the Menu, she shared her inspiration for cooking. “I believe that my biggest inspiration is the farmers and people that I work with,” she said.  “Being from California, I was raised to believe that food is something to be shared with people and nurturing. Also that you should cook seasonally and locally. I try to follow these rules when writing our menu,” she continued.

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After savoring the first course, we moved on to Cote de Brouilly, Brouilly and Régnié, which boldly accompanied the chef’s scallop served with Andouille sausage, sweet corn and uni. The chef took a different approach to the class scallop and bacon combination by going with smoky, spicy sausage instead. And, who doesn’t love a little dollop of uni now and again.

The main course of Berkshire pork shoulder, farro risotto, mushrooms, crispy kale and braised swiss chard was served with the Morgon, Moulin à Vent and Fleurie.

Ripple

Dessert was vanilla bean-ginger panna cotta, which received a pour of the last remaining “cru,” Chiroubles. We no longer trust folks who say you can’t drink red wine with dessert. The pairing was magical.

There you have it, all ten crus were consumed before the check came. But what do we mean exactly? Beaujolais generally refers to the powerhouse wine region of southern Burgundy. There are ten small villages (aka “crus”) that comprise the upper echelon of the area. Experts say that each one has a unique terroir that is imparted during the wine making process. The goal of the dinner was to taste, appreciate and differentiate between the ten different terroirs of neighboring villages. An even playing field was created because all of the wines (except one) were from the same vintage. The grape you ask? It’s gamay.

The food and the wine both impressed, so we will surely return to Ripple to dine off of Chef Meek-Bradley’s menu. The Chef recommends her Carrot Cavatelli with Lobster. “People seem to love the combination and say the dish is rich, yet light at the same time,” she said.

Now that we’ve taken Ripple special events for a test drive, we happily recommend their upcoming Farm Dinner Benefitting the American Cancer Society on September 4th. Learn more here.  Before dinner, be sure to check out Weygandt Wines across the street. Tim O’Rourke and his team are always pouring samples over a great map of France and will enthusiastically educate you on what you’re drinking.

Been to Ripple? Share your favorite dishes in the comments section.

Ghibellina: Gnocchetti con Pesto di Cavolo

Ghibellina Gnocchi with Kale Pesto

It’s no secret that Americans have been sustaining a healthy obsession with kale since the super food became a super trend in 2012. Chances are, you’ve had a friend, neighbor or yoga instructor climb onto a leafy-green soapbox to tell you why you should be eating kale … every day.

You’ve probably heard that it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat, can help reduce your risk of certain cancers, and packs in fiber without the calories. Kale me crazy, but what we’d like to throw in there is that it’s cheap, affordable and most importantly, versatile. Virgin kale consumers don’t have to dive into the deep-end by sticking a straw into a raw green smoothie. There are plenty of more palatable ways to sneak kale into your diet.

Enter Ghibellina, the 14th Street newcomer and the Best Thing on the Menu: Gnocchetti con Pesto di Cavolo. Gnocchi as light and fluffy as a Four Seasons down pillow come adorned with kale pesto, walnuts and taleggio. While it’s fun to cut pizza with scissors (one of the better gimmicks we’ve seen in a while),  we were more excited about the kale pesto as a fun take on an Italian classic. The BTM comes in two sizes, so you can enjoy it as an appetizer and still get the full experience of using sheers to slice your main-course pizza pie. We found a gnocchi with kale pesto recipe if you’d like to give it a whirl at home.

Ghibellina was in the same 14th Street draft class as Etto and Le Diplomate, and is faring extremely well. It fits that the Italian gastro pub serving up Tuscan cuisine has found a niche for itself doing happy hour, since the majority of the restaurant is bar seating, with only a few tables tucked away. Their fantastic happy hour is offered Tuesday-Sunday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and specials include 1/2 price pizzas, Imperial Pints (20oz not 16oz) at $3.50-$4.00, $5 wines and $6 specialty cocktails.

We look forward to trying Ghibellina for brunch because we love the quirky nature of an Italian joint serving Challah French Toast.

Gnocchetti con Pesto di Cavolo not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

If you liked this, you might also like: Firefly and Urbana.

Commissary: Portabella w/ Chickpea Puree, Purple Kale, Chevre, Quinoa Risotto & Red Pepper Coulis

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Commissary is exactly what it bills itself as, “Your Neighborhood Place.” It’s like the college sweatshirt you have been wearing since even before you got accepted as a student ten years ago. It’s familiar, cozy and the perfect fit for many casual occasions.

Commissary’s brother and sister eatwelldc restaurants receive greater fanfare, especially The Pig, where you still can’t walk in on a weekday. However, there are some real innovative dishes appearing on Commissary’s menu that are equally worthy of foodie applause.

The pizzas, burgers, tacos and other fare at Commissary do the trick, but these types of dishes are hard to ruin. What’s difficult, however, is creating a filling, creative, flavorful and innovative vegetarian dish that will please carnivores and herbivores alike.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Portabella w/ Chickpea Puree, Purple Kale, Chevre, Quinoa Risotto & Red Pepper Coulis can be found in the “Dinners” section of the menu.

We recognize that the photo looks a bit like a crime scene, but give the complex flavors and array of textures a chance. The brightly-colored red pepper sauce is so much more fun than a tomato-based sauce. Enjoy the BTM, but note that it does not translate well to take-out.

This BTM was recommended by a blog fan and boy, was she right! Have a dish you think we should dive into? Contact us at bestthingonthemenu@yahoo.com.

It will be interesting to study how Commissary and Logan Tavern fare with the upcoming Logan Circle grand openings.  Stay tuned!

Stuffed Portabella not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.