Tail Up Goat: Lamb Ribs

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If the pork ribs at Little Serow and the family-style goat feast at Komi had a lovechild it would be the lamb ribs at Tail Up Goat. Did you have this lightbulb moment too? That’s because the new Adams Morgan respite from the ordinary is from alums of the two restaurants. And, boy did they graduate.

The ribs, piled high like campfire logs, stand out as the best thing on the menu because of the exquisite char on the meat that falls off the practically disintegrating bones. Like the accoutrements that accompany Komi’s famous goat, the ribs find Mediterranean flavors (sumac onions, beets, a creamy yogurt sauce and fresh herbs). Think Cava Grill toppers injected with fine freaking dining. An order feeds two ($42).

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The adventurous should warm up to their lamb course by carbo loading first with charred chocolate rye bread and later with cavatelli dressed in octopus ragu. The rye comes with, SURPRISE, a whole sardine sunbathing on a bed of salt. He really announces his presence (unlike those Republican presidential hopefuls botched their debate entry). Break off fleshy fishy morsels and mount them on your rye bread for a bold bite that tastes like finding a Jewish deli in Greece.

Wash everything down with whatever Bill Jensen wants to pour you. He’s a wine savant that turned me on to vino big time through his pairings at Komi. Spot the towhead blonde in the dining room and wave him over for a recommendation. Or, if wine isn’t your thing, feel free to crush mezcal Old Fashioned’s all night long.

With cooking like this, it’s no wonder why the goat’s tail is up, instead of between its legs.

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Tail Up Goat is located at 1827 Adams Mill Rd NW.

Lamb ribs not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Doi Moi: Bun Bo Xao

Bun Bo Xao

Doi Moi is transformative in that it takes you to a different land. This land has exotic herbs, undiscovered textures and the commingling of sweet, spicy, salty and sour flavors. The Best Thing on the Menu: Bun Bo Xao Stir Fried Lemongrass Beef on Vermicelli Noodles, served with cucumbers, pickled carrot, daikon, fragrant herbs, fried garlic, nouc cham and scallion oil, features all of these far-off-land characteristics. We recommend ordering two of this dish if you are dining in a party of three or four. Bun Bo Xao carries the “phet” label, which means spicy, not to be confused with the word “phat” that still haunts us from the late 90s. So, if you like heat, look for the “phet” and “mak phet” menu icons.

There are two ways to do it up at Mark Kuller and Haidar Karoum’s Doi Moi. To determine which option best suits you, we invite you to take Best Thing on the Menu’s very first personality quiz.

DC Diner A: Are you a planner? Do you get patted on the back during performance reviews for being super organized? Do you schedule your haircuts for an entire year at once? Do you always get your oil changed on time?

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DC Diner B:  Do you like surprises? Do you live on the edge? Do you consider waiting in line at Little Serow all a part of the experience? Do you set out for an unplanned evening of exploring neighborhood bars? Do you buy lunch every day because you can’t be bothered to plan ahead?

If you identify more with DC Diner A, we recommend using OpenTable to make a Doi Moi reservation. They take reservations at 5:30pm and 6:00pm, much like their sister restaurant Estadio has done for years. You’ll feel great committing, and a table will be waiting for you. Alternatively, if you identify more closely with Diner B, live dangerously and arrive at Doi Moi at a time of your choosing. Sure, it’ll be a zoo (for good reason, the food is fantastic) but you’ll have all the time in the world to sip tropical cocktails and admire the decor. Anticipation will continue to build as you wait and wait for a table.

In addition to the BTM, we recommend other standouts including the Charred Eggplant with Poached Shrimp (Yum Makuah), Crispy Pork and Shrimp Spring Rolls (Por Pia Tod) and absolutely, without question, the must-order fried bananas dessert (Gluoy Kak). Those who are hungry and aren’t on board with the small plates scene would be best served by ordering the LTOM (Largest Thing on the Menu): Lemongrass and Spice Roasted Half Chicken. Click here for more photos of Doi Moi dishes.

One last tip, Doi Moi finally added their menu to their website so you can take a gander before you dine. Plus check out their vegan and gluten free menu!

Bun Bo Xao not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

If you liked this, you may also like: Rice, Little Serow or Estadio.

Dirty Dinner: The Best Thing We Did All Summer

Pulling up to the expansive, 165-acre Calleva Farm, you are greeted with warm smiles, fresh popcorn, beaming red barns, friendly livestock, overwhelming rustic charm and a sense that, at least for the evening, you’re family. The summer series of Dirty Dinners at Calleva Farm provides locals and urbanites alike the opportunity to escape for an evening of homegrown good times.

Calleva Farm Dirty Dinner Hayride Dirty Dinner Guests on Hayride

A great first impression is made when a plaid-clad tractor driver pulls up to offer hayrides of the property during the welcoming social hour. Equipped with a crisp “mocktails” and skewers of fresh fruit, you’re whisked away to learn about all the moving parts of life on a farm. There’s something to be said for seeing where your food comes from, only hours before you eat it. It helps us DC folk who are accustomed to convenience and perfection understand how much work truly goes into a meal.

Calleva Farm Pig Dirty Dinner Table Setting

After the social hour, which also allowed us to get up close and personal with livestock, Dirty Dinner guests were ushered via dinner bell into what can only be described as a glass dining terrarium, open yet protected from the rain. It was like the best possible outdoor wedding: simple, natural, rustic, authentic and overflowing with heart. As an added bonus, we were serenaded throughout dinner by local band Smoke N Mangos.

Smoke N Mangos at the Calleva Farm Dirty Dinner Dirty Dinner at Calleva Farm

The guests varied in age as well as in their connection to the property. Young city dwellers that luckily made reservations before the summer sold out rubbed elbows with older couples whose kids went to camp at Calleva. We straddled the median line between these two groups at Table #4 allowing us to hear the din of new DC parents enjoying a night out without kids (they rented a party bus so they could enjoy the local West Virginia wine) and at the same time, the chatter of seasoned couples providing insight on what makes Calleva so special, spirited and innovative.

The Best Thing on the Menu wasn’t any one dish, but rather the ingredients as a whole. Most of what was served at the Dirty Dinner came from the farm and the few exceptions came from within a 50-mile radius. It was like mounting the summit of the local food movement. It goes without saying then, that the word that most perfectly encapsulated the dinner was fresh. Sauces, spices and perfect plating stepped aside to let ingredients take center stage. We devoured three kinds of hummus with just-picked veggies, “cucumber noodles” with pesto sauce, Moroccan chicken thighs, homemade pizza and so much more.

Dirty Dinner Pizza and Bean Salad Dirty Dinner Menu

The dish that really got guests talking was the snakehead fish, which was served with purple potatoes and a salad of fresh herbs including dill and Thai basil. Snakehead fish is actually an invasive species wreaking havoc in the Potomac, so we diners happily did our part controlling the population. Top DC restaurant Little Serow occasionally has snakehead fish on the menu, accompanied by similar herbs. Kudos to the culinary team of Eric “Flash” Hill and Ben Ritter on a great six-course meal that was a celebration of local flavors.

There are about 20 spots left for the September 14 Dirty Dinner. Click here to book. Also keep an eye out in January, when dates are released for 2014. Best Thing on the Menu will be sure to inform you when they begin taking reservations.

Calleva is a family operated farm that hosts kids year-round for educational experiences. Three brothers, Nick, Alex and Matt Markoff have joined forces and combined their respective backgrounds to bring outdoor experiences to our area. Learn more about Calleva programs here.

Click here for more pictures from the Dirty Dinner.

Little Serow: Si Krong Muu

si krong muu pork ribs / mekhong whiskey / dil

If you’ve navigated the spicy, salty safari that is Little Serow, you know the Best Thing on the Menu (BTM): Si Krong Muu (pork ribs / mekhong whiskey / dill) is the very last dish. Repeat diners have learned to strategize and save room for these sweet, succulent, falling-off-the-bone pork ribs that have become a signature dish at the small hipster Thai restaurant on 17th Street. We are grateful week after week to see them remain the grand finale, while the rest of the menu undergoes weekly construction.

The BTM is worth the early-bird-special line-up that begins promptly at 4:30pm each night. The restaurant, while delicious, does not take reservations. This is a bit tough for the DC dining crowd to wrap its head around but frankly, the line is the best advertising you can’t buy.  If you don’t make the first seating, don’t give up. Chances are they’ll take you at 7:30 or 9:30 and the bars in the area are quite accustomed to watching customers wait for what an Agora bartender called “the text of magic.” When your table is ready, Little Serow texts you and you have ten minutes to get back to the restaurant and reclaim your rights to Si Krong Muu!

Si Krong Muu not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.