Gypsy Soul: Grits

Gypsy Soul Grits

The doors to R.J. Cooper’s new restaurant are now open – beckoning people from the burbs to try his adventurous, eccentric cuisine. While most of the Gypsy Soul menu screams of the South, there are dishes that pull from other corners of the world like a Greek-inspired lamb neck entree which was mighty tasty thanks to tzatziki. And yet, this is the very first time in BTM history that a side dish stole the show.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Yellow corn grits with foraged mushrooms and preserved truffle should simply be called holy shit grits. The elevated crock of comfort food can be found under the “Heirloom Grains & Tubers” section of the menu. Our advice? Order two so you can take one home and eat it the next morning for breakfast/brunch. The mushrooms are fairy tale tiny, and then there are truffles. Truffles, truffles truffles.

Fried Chicken Cracklings

Other can’t miss dishes included a big bowl of fried chicken skin cracklings served with snake oil (don’t worry, it’s just hot sauce) and roof top honey; a crazy combination of bone marrow and sea urchin; and a confit pork dish that incorporated Oktoberfesty accoutrements like sauerkraut and a sweet pear butter.

We’re guessing your question is – should I hop in my car and head out there? Is it worth it? Answer: Yea, most def. If you can, try to make the trek from the Dunn Loring-Merrifield metro stop, so you can take full advantage of their cocktail program, which also involves inventive ingredients like an herbaceous marjoram popcorn syrup.

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

Gypsy Soul is located at 8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax, Va 22031. 

Rogue 24: Sugar Toad/Oyster/Nettles/Seaweed.

Rogue 24 Sugar Toads

The Sugar Toads are not a skinny jeans-clad hipster band opening at the 9:30 Club Saturday night. Rather, they’re starring down the street (and down an alley) on the menu of Rogue 24’s new spring menu. Chef R.J. Cooper goes local and gets creative all in one dish with the Best Thing on the Menu: Sugar Toad/Oyster/Nettles/Seaweed.

Sugar toads are actually northern puffer fish native to the Chesapeake Bay, and in recent years they’ve been elevated to a delicacy. If a fried delicacy is hard to wrap your head around, you haven’t tried R.J. Cooper’s blowfish bites. Unlike in Japan where puffer fish (known as fugu) require a special license to slice and serve, these green-eyed ugly mugs are harmless.

Moments before the sugar toads arrive at your table, you are equipped with medical forceps, the perfect utensil for dunking fish sticks into gourmet green goop, or for playing a jumbo-size game of Operation.

Like many modern chefs, R.J. Cooper plays with texture just as much as he plays with flavor. So prepare yourself for a 24-course journey through crunchy, fluffy, gummy, foamy, gritty and beyond.

Rogue 24 is just one example of the recent trend of restaurants asking diners to put the menu away and put their meal in the hands of the chef.  And at Rogue 24, you’re in good hands.

FOR A LIMITED TIME: WIN DINNER FOR FOUR

You and three friends can win a 24-course dinner at Rogue 24 – one of DC’s top 100 restaurants 2013. All it takes is a tweet and/or signing up for the Monthly Menu. The link will be released later today  (6/17) through our friends at local blog PoPville. Click here to learn more and enter the drawing.