Slipstream: Breakfast Bowl

Breakfast Bowl

Slip into something more comfortable in Logan Circle: a brand new coffee shop and cocktail bar that you’ll want to spend a lot of time in (even though they don’t do wi-fi). The coffee at Slipstream is super science-y, and is so futuristic it might as well appear in the movie Interstellar. The food on the other hand has a slight Asian lean to it and comes across simple and fresh.

When you order something three times in one week, it asserts itself as the Best Thing on the Menu. Such is the case with the breakfast bowl. Traditional breakfast items like scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage and soggy hash browns do not make an appearance. They’ve been replaced with Madagascar pink rice (oooh exotic!) topped with shaved asparagus, a fried egg, preserved lemon, radish slices and optional (but duh!) pork belly. The rice has been generously zested bringing tang to the table to contrast with the smoky pork belly.

Go about eating it expertly: Break the egg so it runs sloppily all over the bowl. Then, break up the pork belly to assure a hint of scorched fat is included in each bite. Finally, use the radish slices as cute little spoons to transport bites to your breakfast bowl loving mouth.

Avocado Toast

Surprisingly, the breakfast bowl has received less buzz than Slipstream’s fancy pants toasts. They include marigold butter and French radish; goat cheese mousse and avocado; and homemade creme fraiche and jam. We’re impressed by the size of their cojones. They have to be pretty big to serve avocado toast on the same street as Cork. There’s little to complain about when you’re topping bread with something delicious, the breakfast bowl is just more satisfying.

Monkey Bread

If you’re just trying to get a pastry with your coffee, go with the monkey bread. It’s basically fried brioche that’s been caramelized. There’s much more to come at Slipstream, including a lunch menu with bento boxes. But before the lunch menu launches, you can get the breakfast bowl throughout the day.

Slipstream is located at 1333 14th Street NW.

Breakfast bowl not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Red Light: Black and Tan Donuts

Black and Tan Donuts

New to 14th Street is a seductive dessert and drinks spot called Red Light. It’s not named after a TLC track, but it will be there for you…all though the night (until 2a on Friday and Saturday). It’s named for the era when Logan Circle was replete with scandalous, illegal activity. After a few visits, we can confirm that it’s CrazySexyCool.

Only time will tell if a cocktail and dessert spot can make it in the former Bar Di Bari space, but with dishes like The Best Thing on the Menu: Black & Tan Donuts, it stands a GREAT chance. The donut hole batter contains a pour of pale ale, while the chocolate dipper is made with stout.

El Dorado

Wash down the Best Thing on the Menu with an El Dorado – the best cocktail from bar brothers Ari and Micah Wilder. It packs some heat thanks to the jalapeño garnish and contains Pisco, Yellow Chartreuse, Wilder Bros Pineapple Gomme, Lemon, Burlesque Bitters and Peychaud’s Bitters. 

Red Light offers about 10 rotating desserts, an impressive and reasonably priced cocktail list, boozy slushes, cake shakes and more. Plus, they have one of the best patios on the block. Check them out and note that one thing’s for sure: Taking a date to Red Light as the last stop of the night will definitely help you seal the deal.

Black and Tan Donuts not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

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.

Birch and Barley Brunch: Freshly Fried Donuts

Birch & Barley Donuts

Despite the brunch mammoth Le Diplomate setting up shop two blocks over, you still have to bang down the doors to brunch at Birch & Barley, and for good reason! If you score a scrumptious table, immediately look to the menu’s sidebar under “sweets.” It’s there that you will find the Best Thing on the Menu: Freshly Fried Donuts. You get three per order (two biggies and a donut hole). The flavors?  Toffee-Bacon, Lemon-Poppy Glazed and Bittersweet Chocolate.

Making Donuts

Let’s hone in on the toffee-bacon delight. It’s savory/sweet and sticky enough that your fingers will feel like you were doing arts and crafts with toddlers all day. But you weren’t, you were indulging on a serious donut that will change the way you feel about this humble pastry forever.

Other brunch menu standouts at Birch & Barley include the corned beef hash, whiskey French toast and a side of PA-style scrapple (mmmmm pork mush).

If you really dig the donuts at Birch & Barley, there’s no excuse for failing to try GBD. There, you’ll find donuts from the same mastermind, Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac, AND fried chicken. They have a maple bourbon glazed donut also topped with bacon, plus a PB&J donut that revolutionizes the elementary school lunch original.

Freshly fried donuts not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

The Pig: Bacon-wrapped Apples

The Pig's Bacon Wrapped Apples

We’re confident you have eaten many bacon-wrapped somethings in your time – scallops, filet, shrimp, dates … but we have a new one for you. Wrap your head around the perfect fall treat, The Pig’s Best Thing on the Menu: Bacon-wrapped Apples with Rosemary Honey, Buttermilk Blue Cheese and Pistachios. Sticky. Sweet. Smokey.

EatWell, the restaurant group also behind Commissary, Logan Tavern and more made a foray into creative, meat-loving cuisine with The Pig. It has turned out quite well, and we’re impressed by the frequent and seasonal updates to the menu. Sure, they’re pork-centric (and possibly pork-obsessed) but they’re anything but pork only. A testament to this is that the BTM runner up is their Grilled Octopus with Smoked Pork Sausage, Cherry Tomato, Potato, Squid Ink and Piquillo Pepper.

In the mood for a large plate? See the “Supper” section of the menu and don’t hesitate, even for a second, to get anything other than their amazing BBQ pork butt.

Another nod goes to The Pig for offering both wine on tap and a choice between glass and a glass-and-half pours.  Swine and wine, it turns out, are a great match. Check The Pig out this Halloween for their Zombie Apocalypse Halloween tasting menu.

Bacon-wrapped Apples not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

You might also like:  Green Pig Bistro or Garden District.

Stoney’s: Super Grilled Cheese

Stoney's Super Grilled Cheese

Sure, there are a lot of good sandwiches in DC. Maybe you’ve been wowed by fish gyros, piled-high pastrami, tofu banh mi or foie gras-topped duck burgers. None of these match up to Stoney’s Best Thing on the Menu: Super Grilled Cheese. Eating the world’s most perfect iteration of what mom used to make, paired with a cold one, never gets old. They can even serve it with Campbell’s-like tomato soup!

What’s so super about it? Bread that seems to be two parts butter, one part bread fried so crisp you can hear a cacophony of chewing on any given evening; tripled-up slices of melty American cheese the color of a harvest moon; thick-cut bacon, tomato and tangy red onion. Not feeling so super? Try the plain Grilled Cheese, Grilled Ham N Cheese or go gourmet with Rocket Cheese (arugula, Swiss cheese and grape tomatoes on multi-grain) or Chesapeake Cheese (4oz crab cake, Swiss, alfredo sauce and spinach on multi-grain).

If this isn’t enough to stop falsely labeling Stoney’s as a dive bar, you can also try their Salmon BLT, Super Meatloaf Sandwich, or Boss of the Sauce Burger while watching your team play on a big screen or challenging your office mates to trivia. The only thing that remotely places them in this category is their very fair prices. The Super Grilled Cheese (with fries) will run you $9.95 or get it half off on Thursdays during happy hour (5:00-7:00pm).

We’re looking forward to their second location on L Street, just one more way to maximize our Super Grilled Cheese intake.

Super Grilled Cheese not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

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Ted’s Bulletin: Pop-tarts!

Ted's Bulletin Pop Tart

Pop-tarts are so in right now that they’re being used as a measurement calibration for Smartphones. So, where can you get them in DC? Well, there are a couple of places but Ted’s Bulletin was first. While we eagerly await a toaster strudel competitor to open across the street, here are our thoughts on Ted’s on 14th.

When you enter Ted’s Bulletin, you also enter the 1930s. Prepared to be comforted by jazzed up diner dishes in the afternoon and evening and true breakfast staples in the morning. We particularly like their Walk of Shame Breakfast Burrito, Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup and their Meatloaf with Mingo County Ketchup Glaze. Oh and throw in their adult milkshakes.

That being said, we have to go with the pack on this one. The Best Thing on the Menu: Chocolate Salted Caramel Pop-tarts are a must-try. If sugar content wasn’t enough reason to sample this childhood staple turned trend, here are some fun facts about pop-tarts:

  • Kellogg actually swiped the toaster pastry idea away from Post, who originally had the idea for “Country Squares.” They revealed their revolutionary breakfast product just a bit too soon and lost big time. Whomp whomp.
  • The first four flavors when pop-tarts hit the shelves were blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, apple currant and strawberry. Brown sugar cinnamon, still the king today! That’s a lot of accolades seeing as though pop-tarts now come in 29 flavors.
  • You may have seen this warning on the box “Due to possible risk of fire, never leave your toasting appliance or microwave unattended.” There’s a good story here… If you weren’t concentrating hard in grade school in 1992, you might remember that a dude named Thomas Nangle sued Kellogg after his pop-tart got stuck in the toaster and caught on fire. A couple years later a groovy professor at Texas A & M performed an experiment showing that STRAWBERRY pop-tarts (strawberry specifically?!) when left in the toaster can produce foot-high flames. It apparently happened again more recently in 2001.
  • The original pop-tart mascots name was Milton.
  • We’re hopeful they don’t break when airdropped, because in 2004, our military dropped 2.4 million pop-tarts in Afghanistan.
  • Though now discontinued, at one point there was a Hello Kitty Meowberry pop-tart.
  • Never trust anyone who eats his pop-tarts cold out of the box. It’s hot and gooey or the highway.

It’s fun to feel comfy cozy eating inside Ted’s Bulletin on 14th. The atmosphere makes you want to stay a while and we’re particularly enamored by the fact that they play Gone with the Wind on old-timey TVs, have newspaper-looking menus and recognize that breakfast is the best meal of the day by serving it at all times!

Pop-tarts not your BTM? Share 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?

or

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.

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.

Garden District: Summer Feast for Two

Garden District

As we embark on the last real month of summer, we thought we’d share the perfect summer feast for two at Garden District, formerly known as Standard. Although there’s a fresh new name paying homage to the previous tenant, we’re pleased to see the menu remains unchanged.  The American South meets Bavaria at this community-driven Logan Circle smokehouse. There’s really something special about drinking German beers from steins that goes all too well with American BBQ.

The platter making up The Best Thing on the Menu consists of the pulled pork sandwich, barbecue brisket sandwich, hush puppies and Mexican style grilled corn. The biggest benefit of this platter is that it draws influence from different regions.  The chef, Tad Curtz, is not a monogamist when it comes to his ‘cue. He’s got vinegar-based North Carolina BBQ in one corner of the menu and sloppy, saucy Texas style in another.

The only sin we committed (besides gluttony) was not calling ahead to order a head.  For $25 bucks the chef will present you and your team of hungry hungry hippos with a full pig head so you can go after the jowls, tongue and beyond. While some might call this omission an epic fail, we’ve chosen to look at it as a reason to go back to Garden District, and soon. Before we know it, the Redskins will be under the lights, the leaves will be on the sidewalk and we’ll be asking where summer went.

The gates open at 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon on the weekends. We tell you this because thanks to top-quality beer and BBQ and an onslaught of great press, they’re due to be packed.  Just this month Garden District was named on Parade’s list of best BBQ. In an era of competitive reservations on 14th Street, it is somewhat refreshing that Garden District doesn’t reserve seats. Instead, you’re encouraged to grab some bench next to strangers and enjoy the camaraderie of consuming summer together.

Oh, and don’t forget the donuts! They’ll be available for just a dollar this weekend as a part of the neighborhood’s Mid City Dog Days (Aug. 3-4, 2013).

Our perfect platter for two not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section. Oh, and do rub it in (with salt) if you remembered to order the pig head.

If you like this, you might also like: Lincoln, Teddy and Ben’s Chili Bowl.