Urbana Reloaded: Monkfish

Urbana Monkfish

Urbana’s has a shiny new chef, Ethan McKee. That means a brand new Mediterranean menu and it’s safe to say that the fish dishes steal the show.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Monkfish with Merguez, Roasted Peppers and Fennel comes in Le Creuset-like serveware. This firm fish won’t win a beauty contest any time soon but it sure goes well with smokey meat. Typically monkfish is served with bacon or prosciutto, but at Urbana, Chef McKee uses gamey, sweet and spicy merguez sausage.

Pair the monkfish with an herbalicious house-bottled fernet cocktail to cut the jammy tomatoes and salty sausage. Fernet is having a real renaissance. Del Campo is also bottling its own fernet and cola. Fernet’s an awesome aromatic flavored with the likes of chamomile, cardamom, saffron, and myrrh. The booze? It’s typically made from grape distilled spirits.

Urbana Cod Fritters

Other top fish dishes on the new Urbana menu include the Salt Cod Brandade Fritters with Celeriac Remoulade, which are nice and fluffy thanks to being soaked in milk, as well as the Spanish Dorade which comes will kale that rocked our world.

Save room for dessert and pick whatever they’re serving with their exquisite honey-thyme ice cream.

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

Firefly: Goat Cheese Gnocchi

Firefly: Goat Cheese Gnocchi

Escape for an evening of enchantment and whimsy when you enter Firefly, a true fairytale of a restaurant. Adorned with beautiful birch bark and a central tree, you get the sense that you are in for an ingredient-centric meal that features sustainable food as the star.

Thanks to local-born Chef Daniel Bortnick’s strong command of produce, you can enjoy four seasons of flavor no matter what the month. Spring claims our favorite dessert of warm zucchini bread with basil corn ice cream as well as the halibut served with carrot puree, spring pistou, fingerling potatoes and snap peas. Summer highlights include fried green tomatoes and a farro salad full of a garden’s treasures. There are hints of fall in the smoked lamb shoulder, another winner. Finally, winter is represented in one of Firefly’s signature dishes, a personal pot roast, which we would likely be writing about if it wasn’t 100 degrees.

But the Best Thing on the Menu: Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Morel Mushrooms, Sweet Corn, Squash and Truffle Vinaigrette stands alone atop of the flavor pyramid. Replete with earth-driven umami goodness, this winning dish combines elements of all four seasons. Needless to say, it warranted multiple orders from our table.

In a city that loves customization and catering to dietary needs, Firefly takes their menu options to the next level by offering gluten free dinner, lunch, brunch and dessert menus in addition to the cutest kids menu you’ve ever seen. It appears Chefs Danny Bortnick and Todd Wiss know their clientele, which is made up of primarily locals despite being housed in a Kimpton Hotel.

Think you’ve experienced all the magic once dessert is through? Just wait for the whimsical way they deliver the check.

Goat Cheese Gnocchi not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Poste: Beef Cheek Bourguignon

Poste's Beef Cheek Bourguignon

Dining at Chef Dennis Marron’s Poste is a bit like a perfect trip to the zoo. If you go to Poste for dinner and dine al fresco, you are privy to a table on the upper patio where you can, with reasonable peace and quiet, observe the lower deck post-work antics and human mating rituals. There is no doubt that Poste’s happy hour is popular, but for those that want a great meal and to watch from afar, book a dinner table.

Set in the 1841 General Post Office building, Poste joins a host of other delicious Kimpton restaurants we have profiled on Best Thing on the Menu such as Zentan and Urbana. Like the other two, there is tremendous attention to detail in the cuisine and the boisterous brasserie atmosphere keeps us coming back.

Though we’re sure to hear disagreements in the form of truffle frites, BTM has selected Beef Cheek Bourguignon as the Best Thing on the Menu. The 72-hour braised short ribs are served with bacon, carrots, baby turnips and Dijon whipped potatoes.

Chef Marron accomplishes the impossible in this dish. Beef Bourguignon is typically a heavy, hibernation indulgence designed to warm you up in the winter. But at Poste, their bourguignon is light enough to enjoy in the summer and you don’t leave weighed down or covered in stew stains. The texture of the beef is divine and the seasoning, perfection.

After such a great meal, we might pull for Chef Marron in the Brainfood Burger Battle tomorrow! Tickets still available.

Beef Cheek Bourguignon not your BTM? “Poste” your favorites in the comments section.

Zentan: Fire Dragon

Zentan's Best Thing on the Menu: Fire Dragon Roll

Jiro dreams of dragons, or at least he will after just one bite of DC’s most flavorful sushi roll.

Zentan may have welcomed new star chef Jennifer Nguyen, but we are pleased to report that their sushi roll menu remains unchanged. This is the second scare we’ve had in a couple years, as The Hamilton yoinked Zentan’s head sushi chef when they opened down the street in 2011.

New chef and all, you can still sink your chopsticks into The Best Thing on the Menu:  Fire Dragon – Spicy Tuna, Barbeque Eel, Avocado and Tobiko. This vibrant, saucy, sexy roll features a perfect marriage of spicy tuna and eel. No longer do you have to fight with your dining companion about whether to get the spicy tuna roll or the eel roll. Carpe diem.

Speaking of rolls, Zentan did roll out the red carpet for their new chef in the form of a fancy new website. Check it out by clicking here.  It appears Chef Nguyen, formerly of Morimoto in Philadelphia, has brought a lot to the table including a “Miazaki Beef Hot Rock” served in the traditional cook-it-yourself style, Avocado Sashimi, Pekin Chicken with Bao Buns and so much more. So even if you don’t touch the raw stuff, you’re in for a great meal at Zentan. Plus, the newly re-designed roof deck bar is now open, just in time for another sweltering summer in DC.

Danny Bortnick, Kimpton’s DC director of restaurant operations (and Chef at Firefly), told the Washington Post his ultimate goal is for Zentan to be “one of the top five Asian restaurants in the city.” Congrats Danny, you’ve more than made it.

Fire Dragon not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.