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.
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.
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.