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.

The Royal: Cheese Arepas

Vermouth

The Royal is the kind of restaurant where you feel like one of the popular kids just by hanging out there. In fact, to make sure we could match the coolness of our fellow customers we rode a Vespa there and parked it right outside as if to say, no nerd alert here! There’s an ancient looking fire hydrant that spews house made Vermouth for god sakes. The vibe is effortlessly laid back, so you’re going to want to spend time there…which you can morning, afternoon and night thanks to it being an all-day eatery.

Cheese Arepas

The Best Thing on the Menu: Cheese Arepas are a clue that the edibles leans Colombian. Owner Paul Carlson’s family is from the vibrant South American nation, and Chef Lonnie Zoeller’s wife is Colombian, so The Royal comes at the cuisine from all sides. Though cheese arepas are made from but a few simple ingredients, they’re delightful when paired with both the aji sauce they come with in addition to the arsenal of sauce options available for a few cents more. They’re described by color. We like “Orange” because it’s sweet and spicy. Sure there are souped up arepas on the menu, including one that’s stuffed with meat like a sandwich, but here, simple is better. Arepas are definitely having a moment.

Grilled Avocado

Another must-order is the grilled avocado nestled on top of a bed of red quinoa and lentils. This is dish number two that does the trick without introducing any meat. Lonnie’s not using quinoa here because it’s a buzzword that tickles the senses of the gluten-free crowd. The grain hails from the Andean region of South America, which includes part of Colombia. Although the grain has become mainstream, we can’t help but snicker at its mention thanks to this commercial. Especially because the protagonist is an Eagles fan.

The Royal serves morning fare like bagel sandwiches, choripan and Nutella pinwheels from 7am-12pm Monday-Friday, 7am-1pm Saturdays, and 8am-1pm Sundays. Come noon or 1pm they switch over to their all-day menu.

The Royal is located at 501 Florida Avenue NW in the LeDroit Park neighborhood. 

Cheese arepas not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Sally’s Middle Name: Fried Pickled Chard Stems with Ranch

Chard stems

H Street’s latest restaurant, Sally’s Middle Name, doesn’t play by the rules. Your server will not hand you a paper menu because all of the offerings are scribbled on the walls. Nor will your server allow you to tip. In a city whose religion is following the rules, it’s fun to shove some restaurant norms to the side for a night.

If the restaurant reminds you of something that you can’t quite pin down, we’re willing to bet it’s Rose’s Luxury. The space is cool and quirky, the plates don’t match, the service is casual but polished, and some dishes even look familiar (like beef brisket or brined chicken). But, the Best Thing on the Menu is unique to Sally’s Middle Name: Fried Pickled Chard Stems with “Ranch.”

If you dig fried pickles, you’ll love these sour stalks that hit the fryer, especially after you dip them in ranch dressing. Ranch is having quite the resurgence. It’s no longer relegated to serving as the obvious dip for dreary looking carrot sticks at PTA meetings. There’s even a new ranch restaurant in St. Louis.

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The menu at Sally’s Middle Name changes daily, but the stalks seem to stay on, making them a bit of a signature dish. After the stems, the Next Best Thing on the Menu would probably be something from the dessert selection, like these cannelloni-shaped beignets.

Just one word of warning. Portion size doesn’t always match up with price at Sally’s Middle Name. The culprit during a recent meal was a 3.5oz portion of halibut served on a thin ladle of tomato sauce presented on a bread plate for $20. This is partially why, after ordering six dishes, my dining companion and I ended up at Maketto eating fried chicken.

Find Sally’s Middle Name at 1320 H St NE.

Fried pickled chard stems not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Maketto: Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Maketto is getting wedding anniversary level love lately. The Post’s Tom Sietsema penned a rare glowing review and Eater named it one of the best new restaurants in America. Given these fireworks, you’re likely headed there soon.

It’s easy to get distracted at the H Street spot that exudes cool. Should you drink coffee or booze? Should you buy those condoms out of the vending machine? Should you sit inside or outside? Upstairs or downstairs? Should you pick up that gun powder scented candle for your dude friend? These questions about Maketto deserve answers, but your focus should remain on the food because it lacks the watered-down effect some Southeast Asian eateries suffer from.

Sure, the bap buns are fantastic. In fact, Chef Erik Bruner-Yang is so well known for his buns that they pretty much double as his business cards. But, they’re not the Best Thing on the Menu. That honor is reserved for the fried chicken. Giant cutlets come in a sticky bath that should be illegal, especially when served with warm (seemingly fried) bread designed to lap it all up. The portion size is as generous as a grandparent during Christmas and the kick comes from chillies and fried shallots.

Mala Colada

If heat is your thing, pair the fried chicken with a Mala Colada. The tropical beverage carries a welcome Tabasco-level of spiciness. Not into alcohol? There’s more to the beverage program at Maketto, including sipping vinegars and cool flavors of kombucha.

Fried chicken not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Maketto is located at 1351 H Street N.E.

Centrolina: Tonno

Tonno

Bring on the side eye because the Best Thing on the Menu at Centrolina isn’t a pasta. Rather, it’s surf & turf on speed: “Tonno” with rare tuna, bone marrow, charred onion, snap peas and Barbaresco. Chef Amy Brandwein’s CityCenterDC stunner has been open less than two months and we’ve already ordered it twice.

Obviously, you’re not consuming the two main components in isolation. Grab a tiny spoon or fork fit for a squirrel and dig around inside the bone until you have a nice lobe of gelatinous goo and then spread the marrow on a slice of seared tuna. The hot and cool temperature combination is playful, and the wine reduction adds further richness. Is it $30? Yes, but at least you’re not throwing money at 10 different small plates and leaving hungry.

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If you’re going to go down the pasta path, opt for the fusilli with suckling pig ragu and Moliterno cheese. On our last visit, it was an off-menu item Chef Brandwein was playing around with, but we’re happy to see it officially on the menu. Just one disclaimer: the Centrolina menu changes as often as an Italian fashion model, so don’t get too attached to dishes, especially the pastas.

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

Find Centrolina (restaurant and market!) at 974 Palmer Alley NW in CityCenterDC. 

Buredo: The Sofie

The Sofie

If you want to see shock on the level of someone seeing one of the Saw movies for the first time, show a classroom of Japanese students an American sushi menu. Mango! Cream cheese! Asparagus! We’ve taken a cuisine that usually consists of one or two ingredients and exotified it, sometimes even deep-frying entire rolls. Now, consider introducing them to Buredo: downtown’s buzziest lunch pit stop that supersizes sushi rolls until they reach the size of small burritos. Perhaps there will be an eye roll or two, but after one bite, anyone is bound to be smitten.

The Best Thing on the Menu: The Sofie brings together shrimp tempura, avocado, pickled cabbage, carrot, toasted sesame seeds, red tobiko and sriracha mayo for a sweet and spicy mouthful. Is it a little predictable to pick the one roll on the menu that contains both something fried and a liberal helping of mayo? Sure, but the truth’s the truth.

The Hanzo

If you want to swing a little healthier, we also love the Hanzo (yes, the samurai who was a serious badass). This hoagie-sized roll introduces pickled fennel and arugula to the sushi world. They’re joined by yellowfin tuna sashimi, avocado, cucumber, tempura crunch and a lemon aioli.

Buredo is still tinkering with their offerings and hours given the fast casual restaurant is in its infancy stage (they opened July 2). But, the concept proved to be a winner (read: long lines) so they expanded their closing time from 4pm to 7pm. Maybe they realized they planted a restaurant in a city full of workaholics who leave the office at 6pm and are eager to grab a quick dinner before going home to work some more, this time on laptops.

The Sofie not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Find Buredo at 825 14th Street NW.

Thip Khao: Naem Khao

Crispy Rice Salad

Remember that dim-witted man who decided to tip toe across a high wire between two of Chicago’s tallest buildings without so much as a carabineer for protection? Yea, the one who then did it blindfolded? At the end of his stunt he experiences a euphoric release that’s akin to how we felt when Thip Khao opened its doors in the District.

A little distance never kept us from hitting up Bangkok Golden in Virginia, but the fact that a straight shot up 14th Street is all that’s separating us from edible Laotian treasures from Chef Seng makes us tingle.

While the intricate menu mandates several (hundred!) trips, there are some early front-runners for Best Thing on the Menu like Naem Khao—Crispy rice with coconut, lime, green onion, sausage, peanut, cilantro and lettuce wraps. It’s a $10 texture party found in the soup & salad section.

Khao Poon

The Khao Poon noodle soup is silky and teeters between sweet and spicy. Rice noodles dance in a broth made from coconut milk, red curry and shrimp paste, along with a mound of cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots and a protein of choice (chicken/flounder/tofu).

Finally, you can’t go wrong with laab. The dish is commonly pronounced larb, but we’ve sworn that off like a bad habit thanks to some instruction from Chef Seng and other Laotian buddies who say it like a lob in tennis. The signature dish consists of minced meat, fish or tofu blended with herbs, tang and heat. Go with duck if you can.

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If you woke up with your big boy pants on, place an adventurous order from Thip Khao’s “Let’s Go to the Jungle” menu. Extra points if you sing Guns N’ Roses. This menu boasts more authentic tastes like crispy fried intestine with sriracha sauce; spicy blood sausage with peanut and ginger; and rice noodle soup with pork blood tofu.

If possible, save room for a cocktail from the mind of Jack Caminos who took the challenge of making Lao inspired drinks very seriously. It was tough because beer is the go-to beverage in Laos, making cocktails relatively uncharted territory.

Naem Khao (crispy rice salad) not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Thip Khao is located at 3462 14th Street NW.

DBGB Kitchen and Bar: Thai Sausage

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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.

Compass Rose: Khachapuri

Khachapuri

T Street got a new tenant this week, and we couldn’t have asked for a better addition to the neighborhood. So, on your next night out, point yourself towards Compass Rose, an intimate and enchanting row home restaurant from Rose Previte.

You’ll try street food from Peru, Morocco, Turkey, Brazil, India, Lebanon and Chile just to name a few. The Best Thing on the Menu, however, hails from Georgia (the country): Khachapuri – A cheese-filled bread with organic egg and spring butter.

Like pizza in the U.S., Georgian khachapuri varies from region to region. Some look boat-shaped like the one at Compass Rose and others look more like lasagna or a calzone. What’s more amusing is that the dish is so ingrained in Georgian society that the cost of making khachapuri is often used to measure inflation under the moniker “the khachapuri index.”

Other top picks included the Lamb Kefta, Pupusas and Fried Baked Potato. The only miss was the Whole Red Shrimp dish, which oozed something unpleasant. It’s a bummer too, because the booze-soaked pineapple underneath was sinfully good.

Compass Rose Interior

It’s hard not to draw some parallels between Compass Rose and its flowery friend in Southeast—Rose’s Luxury. This can only be a good thing. A very good thing. Each restaurant sports warm brick interiors with secret garden accents and an explosion of Anthropologie cool. Plus, each boasts a menu carrying dishes from many corners of the world along with impressive beverage programs.

Click here for more photos from the meal. It’s not online yet, so here’s the Compass Rose Menu for your perusal.

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

Red Apron Butcher: Sunday Supper

Sunday Supper

People have been putting meat and cheese between bread ever since our favorite Earl, the Earl of Sandwich, couldn’t be bothered to leave his card game to knife and fork his way through a meal. That was on November 3, 1762. Fast-forward 252 years and by god have we (the world) perfected the sandwich concept.

Sandwich shops are popping up in DC as fast as condo buildings with ridiculous amenities. One of the newest to throw their bread into the ring is the Penn Quarter location of Red Apron Butcher located on D Street NW. This new address joins the Red Apron Butchers located in Union Market and Merrifield, VA.

However, you can only get The Best Thing on the Menu: Sunday Supper weekdays during lunch in Penn Quarter. In this messy, nap-inducing hoagie you’ll find pot roast, horseradish mashed potatoes, beet horseradish slaw and Duke’s. Leftovers should fill a sandwich more often (kind of like the Best Thing on the Menu at Capriotti’s)

Burger

Those that insist on the patty approach should try The Dino, a spicy cotechino pork burger topped with broccoli rabe, fontina and tomato aioli on a kaiser roll. It’s like a quick trip to the Italian market (pretend we have one of those).

Sunday Supper not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

You might also like Taylor Gourmet and Bub and Pop’s.