Crane and Turtle: Sautéed Maine Scallops

Scallops

The doors to Crane & Turtle just opened, giving Petworth’s Upshur Street yet another upgrade. Benches outfitted in sea-colored upholstery  line the walls of this shoebox sized French/Asian restaurant from Paul Ruppert, and an ellipse of counter seats look into the busy kitchen. Its small size may be an adorable anomaly in this city, but in Japan (where charming corner cafes dominate) Crane & Turtle would fit right in.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Sautéed Maine Scallops with Chorizo Tapioca Dumplings, Arugula and  Gingered Coconut Foam is something you’d expect to see somewhere exquisite…like CityZen. Oh wait, Chef Makoto Hamamura was a fixture in that kitchen for seven years, so it all makes sense. He’s a true talent and now has a spot to call his own.

The scallop dish may just be the best thing we’ve eaten THIS YEAR. Perfectly seared scallops sit in a bubble bath of coconut foam and bitter greens where they are joined by tapioca dumplings stuffed with single pearls of chorizo sausage. The party of textures is divine.

Fish

Other top dishes on the menu include hay smoked crudos and cherry gazpacho with clams and kakiage. If it’s possible to have one gripe though, it’s with the “drunken fish” dessert. It’s presented like the traditional Japanese festival dessert called “taiyaki” which has now autocorrected to teriyaki ten times. Ahhhh. The treat is typically a piping hot fish-shaped pancake filled with a sweet red bean paste central to most Japanese desserts. Crane & Turtle’s take is a chilled taiyaki cake that’s been soaked in booze (very fitting for the summer months). But why the fig filling instead of adzuki beans? Fig seeds are gritty and turn the dish into a Fish Newton.

Click here for more pictures from the meal.

Maine scallops not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Petworth Citizen: Grilled Short Ribs

Petworth Citizen Short Rib

Chef Makoto Hamamura may have made a huge culinary switcheroo from fine dining to elevated bar food, but he hardly touched the vowels and consonants in his place of employment – moving from Cityzen to Citizen.

Petworth Citizen is a neighborhoody restaurant and bar located in (you guessed it) Petworth. They churn out creative cocktails and some of the best bad-for-you-but-who-cares food around.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Grilled Beef Short Ribs with Grilled Romaine Lettuce and Smoky Ranch also happens to be the most expensive thing on the menu. Demonstrating how reasonable this literary-inspired spot is, the short ribs will run you $16. Calling the sauce ranch is almost a crime. It’s SO much more than ranch. Impossibly smoky. Grilling lettuce is spreading like wildfire in DC. Rose’s Luxury does a mean job at it too.

Other menu winners? The fried chicken sausage sandwich, which reminds us of our favorite “convini” grab and go lunch in Japan as well as the Asian-inspired fried chicken wings.

As of this week, Petworth Citizen will now be serving brunch. Our friends over at Prince of Petworth have the menu for you to take a look at. They offer both chicken and waffles AND shrimp and waffles. Hmmm. We’re also looking forward to taking a book and leaving a book in their planned reading room, which they proclaim will the best place to hang out on Sundays if you’re not into football.

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

You might also like The Pig, Bar Charley or Chez Billy.

Chez Billy: Saucisse Merguez

Chez Billy Saucisse Merguez

Stop what you’re doing and skip the 14th Street small plates scene and hop on Bus 52 or 54 instead. Get off in Petworth (home of our favorite prince) and visit Chez Billy for an impressive meal full of small miracles:

  • The portions were the right size.
  • The cocktails were inventive and worth their value.
  • The mackerel was fresh, not fishy.
  • The harissa wasn’t too spicy.
  • The beef bourguignon wasn’t too wintery.
  • The dessert wasn’t too sweet.
  • The service was so friendly we could have stayed all night.

We came away enjoying every last bite and will be back to try more dishes. Heck, we’ll even dry more dishes if they feed us in blueberry panna cotta.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Saucisse Merguez – Grilled Spicy Lamb sausages, White beans, Charred Scallions and Harissa was a standout. Why anyone makes sausage with meat other than lamb, we’ll never know after trying these rich, gamey links. The scallions were a special treat, reminding us of our very first post from Estadio and the warm heat of the harissa brought everything together.

Other notables included the boudin noir (warm blood sausage terrine), chilled corn soup with pickled cantaloupe, the confit de canard (confit duck) and the special of the day, short rib beef bourguignon. The Chef had just returned from honeymooning in France, and boy were we the beneficiaries. While this was a BTM contender, we try to stay away from recommending specials in case they do a disappearing act before you get to the restaurant.

Chez Billy Boudin Noir

Boudin Noir

Chez Billy Chilled Corn Soup

Chilled Corn Soup

The atmosphere is charming, which should come as no surprise since the building is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Its rich African American history, having originally housed Billy Simpson’s House of Seafood and Steaks, saw the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Martin Luther King Jr.

So, in sum, step away from the small plates and step into Chez Billy for some modern French fare that is sure to impress (and at prices, that again, are a small miracle).

Saucisse Merguez not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section. 

If you liked this, you may also like Le Diplomate, Le Pain Quotidien or Poste.