Rural Society: Bife de Chorizo

Bife de Chorizo

Having demolished some delicious meals at Jose Garces’ flagship restaurants in Philly like Amada and Tinto, we expected big things from Rural Society. The restaurant is so damn handsome, you want it to take you on a date. It’s masculine vaquero cowboy chic, making it a setting where you want to manhandle some meat. Enter, The Best Thing on the Menu: Bife de Chorizo – a 12oz platter of Estancia grass-fed beef from Uruguay. Tom Sietsema digs it too, and for good reason.


The ribeye is kissed by the flames of Rural Society’s already famous parilla, a wood-burning grill that is often the subject of patrons’ Instagram accounts. The outside of the Bife de Chorizo has an incredible sear, and the inside has just enough fat to speed up the melt-in-your-mouth experience. It doesn’t need any sauce, but if you’re so inclined (and if you brought dental floss) throw a few dabs of herbaceous chimichurri on top.


But before the steak course comes out, dabble in some starters like these Empanadas Tucamana. The Latin pierogies are stuff with braised Wagyu beef belly and smoked chile. For something a little lighter, try the octopus carpaccio or the morrones (which is not a Spanish word for morons). Morrones are a build-it-yourself stack of grilled bread, creamy eggplant spread, roasted red peppers and anchovies.

Bife de Chorizo not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Click here for a few more photos of the meal. Rural Society is located inside the Loews Madison Hotel at 1177 15th Street NW Washington, DC 20005.

You might also like Del Campo or BLT Steak.

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.

The Red Hen: Burrata

Red Hen Burrata

There are hundreds of reasons to get yourself down Rhode Island Ave. to The Red Hen. This charming, edgy and entertaining spot has helped put Bloomingdale on the map.

We’ll stick with just a few reasons though, starting with The Best Thing on the Menu: Burrata with Broccolini Marinati, Pickled Red Chiles, Mint & Vin Cotto. Burrata, Buffalo mozzarella’s brother from another mother, is super soft and oozes cream when pierced with a knife. Instead of going the tomato/basil route, Chef Mike Friedman surprises diners with bitter broccolini and peppers that manage to be sweet, sour and spicy. You’ve been warned; once you go burrata you never go back.

There’s also something special to drink at The Red Hen. We’re willing to bet our burrata that you haven’t tried orange wine. Whether it’s a trend or just a fad remains to be seen, but it sure is luscious. There are eight different orange wines to choose from at the restaurant, hailing from Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. The taste will take your breath away. Did someone fortify your wine with Scotch? Is there actually a full bouquet of flowers from UrbanStems in there? No, in fact, orange wine is simply made by producing white wine more like red wine, where the stems, skins, seeds, etc. have a longer maceration period.

Red Hen Rabbit Sugo

Pair your first glass of orange wine with The Best Pasta on the Menu: Saffron Fettuccine with Rabbit Sugo, Cinnamon, Grilled Kale & Mustard Breadcrumbs. Let’s all admit that rabbit is the new duck. And, according to the Twittersphere, duck is the new pork belly. Rabbit, though totes adorbs in the flesh, is elegant and perfect for pasta. This brilliant bowl is a bit autumnal, so we hope to eat it come October (Read: Please keep on the menu!).

Red Hen Octopus

One last can’t miss dish is the Grilled Octopus with Shelling Beans, Frisee, Crispy Capers & Romesco Sauce. The octopus is flame kissed and super smoky and Romesco is the best sauce, it just is.

Though an appetizer, the octopus dish is the perfect size. We have a special appreciation for The Red Hen because it bridges the divide between small plate lovers and big plate purists by offering medium-size plates that can in fact be split among friends without feelings getting hurt. Click here for more photos of the meal.

Burrata 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.

Out of Town Edition – Baume & Brix (Chicago)


This is the first Best Thing on the Menu: Out of Town Edition.

BTM took a trip to one of the food capitals of the country – the windy, deep-dish city of Chicago. With one night to shoot for the culinary stars, BTM headed to newcomer Baume & Brix.

The concept behind Baume & Brix is that each item on the menu, including desserts, incorporates both sweet and savory flavors. The restaurant is appointed like most in Chicago, with a melting pot of exposed brick, industrial steel and polished wood – a terrific backdrop for a melting pot of a meal.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Octopus in the Style of Fun Dip was a treat. The sous-vide (the clever cooking technique involving vacuum-packed plastic bags) then grilled octopus comes ready to dip in three different powders. First you roll a tentacle in a small trough of olive oil, then you choose between a coconut lemongrass power, spicy curry powder and a smoky umami paprika powder. All are outstanding.

While not Alinea or Top Chef owned Girl & the Goat, Baume & Brix is creative, modern, unpretentious and elegant. Adorably, their menu is divided by Explore, Summit, Conquer and Divide.

Been to Baume & Brix in Chicago? Share your favorites in the comments section.