1905: Confit Turkey Leg

1905 turkey legs

Medieval Times called. They want their turkey legs back. It must be because they’re in a different category of deliciousness. These confit gams are a no contest Best Thing on the Menu at 1905. They come with two seasonal sides and pastrami mayo. The menu says leg (singular) so when two showed up, it was like Christmas in March.

It goes without saying that the meat falls right off the bone. The leg only has to catch a GLIMPSE of a knife and fork before it slides onto your plate and into the pastrami mayo, doing all the work for you. You lazy caveman you.

Known first and foremost for its roof deck, 1905 is tucked away at 9th and T Street NW, bridging the Shaw and U Street neighborhoods. It’s perfect for a first or second date because of the favorable lighting, cozy fixtures, cheap(er) cocktails and unobtrusive service.

1905 Hush Puppies

Whether intentional or not, the menu leans a little gluten free. There are spicy quinoa-crayfish hushpuppies and a bunch of sauces involving sorghum. Vegetarians can find solace too. The seared cauliflower “steak” and warm heirloom grain entrees actually give vegetarians a choice instead of a one-dish mandate.

Confit turkey leg not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Restaurant Nora: Beef Tenderloin Tartare

Restaurant Nora's Steak Tartare

When a maître d’ asks how I’d like my steak cooked, I always answer tartare. This usually warrants a laugh or a snarl, because no one likes an off-menu order, especially when it involves making a rare meat mush and folding in delicate herbs. So when I do find a nice tartare on the menu, I rarely (pun intended) pass it up.

After tartaring my way around the District, I have found the best version this city has to offer. It’s The Best Thing on the Menu at Restaurant Nora: Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin Tartare with preserved lemon salad, harissa and lavash crackers. Unlike other local takes on the dish, Restaurant Nora’s tartare is smooth in texture, making it easier to spread on crackers and stack on bites of salad. When steak tartare is as chunky as tuna tartare it can be off-putting. The other factor that makes this appetizer a stunner is the touch of Middle Eastern spices found in a delectable mahogany colored paste.

It’s not surprising that the grass fed cows participating in this dish lived  happy lives, given that Restaurant Nora holds the honor of being America’s first organic restaurant in the country (this went down in 1999).  The cattle (Scottish Highland or Ancient White Park) hail from Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, VA, where they avoid nasty habits like antibiotics and sitting in pens.

Nora's Hot Pot

Not a meat monster? Restaurant Nora has one of the more inspired vegetarian options I’ve seen in a while: A Japanese style nabe hot pot filled with shichimi crusted tofu, soba noodles, bok choy, shiitakes and crispy yams. This is precisely what I was eating when Ralph Nader walked by, so hopefully it made a good impression. …

Great news for Nora fans: This month, the restaurant is celebrating their 35th anniversary. Not too many places can say THAT these days! Head in on any Wednesday in March to enjoy a special  “retro” 3-course menu for $35. Give them a call for more information. 

Beef Tenderloin Tartare not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Prepared Meals Fit for a Foodie

In this special edition, we talk BPM instead of BTM. Prepared meals in this city have come a long way. Though often stigmatized as being flavorless, unimaginative, full of preservatives and sodium and other dining deadly sins, this is no longer the case. So who’s the best out there? What do they offer? Is it worth the price? Where can you get meals? BTM is here to help.

The BPM (Best Prepared Meals) come from Power Supply, which started out as a meal delivery service responding to the paleo diet craze in the Crossfit community. Paleo’s pretty much what it sounds like … you eat like a stone age, hunter/gatherer caveman. Lean proteins, veggies, nuts and (some) fruits. No dairy, no gluten, no added sugar, no beans, no no no no no. This sounds seriously limiting, so the fact that a small local business found a way to make this absolutely delectable is astounding.

Recognizing that there are many ways to eat healthy, Power Supply recently expanded to offer two new lines. The “mixitarian” line is paleo-inspired, but incorporates “good” grains like nutty quinoa and hearty brown rice, while the vegetarian line is well, vegetarian. We put our money where our mouth is spent a week eating the mixitarian meals below.

photo
Roasted Chicken Salad with Strawberries, Onions and Almonds

Power Supply is highly customizable. Each week, you take a look at the menu and decide if you want to order lunches, dinners or go all out and order lunches and dinners. Going out of town the second half of the week? No problem, you can choose to get three meals a week instead of five. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday meals are delivered Monday mornings and Thursday and Friday meals are delivered Thursday mornings.

photo
Vietnamese Spicy Cabbage and Chicken Salad

Where are they delivered to you’re wondering? Your local gym. Even if you’re not a member of a gym, simply look at Power Supply’s list of participating locations and find the gym that’s closest to you. You select your location when using their easy online ordering system.

photo
Beef Stroganoff Spaghetti Squash

Regardless of the line (mixitarian, vegetarian or paleo) Power Supply gets creative with their ingredients and menus, drawing from flavors from around the world. We love when they do takes on African peri-peri, Japanese bento boxes, Mexican rice bowls (made out of cauliflower rice of course) and more. Protein wise, in addition to the traditional chicken, beef and pork, Power Supply changes it up with bison, fish and shrimp dishes. This Beef Stroganoff, for example, creatively uses spaghetti squash as impostor noodles and the creaminess comes from coconut milk.

photo
Pineapple Stuffed Chorizo Burgers with Side Salad

We’re nearing the end here, so it’s probably time to talk about cost. These five meals cost us $66 bucks. That’s about $13 a meal. It’s a little less if you set up a recurring order. Before you stop reading, consider how much money you spend on groceries to pack lunches that you end up throwing out at week’s end because of impromptu lunch meetings or trips out of town. Addicted to Seamless.com or that build-your-own bibim-bap place across the street? Dining out adds up as well. What you’re getting with these meals is value, variety, nutrition and convenience.

photo
Jerk Chicken and Papaya Salad

If you can’t tell already, we’re smitten with Power Supply. Truth be told, we subsist on their meals when we’re not trying DC’s latest and greatest food for Best Thing on the Menu. One last added bonus for our gluten-free friends? All three of Power Supply’s lines are gluten free.

Check out current menus:

Click here for strict paleo.

Click here for paleo-inspired mixitarian meals.

Click here and scroll down for vegetarian.

Power Supply not your BPM (Best Prepared Meals)? Share your favorite prepared meal company in the comments section.

Volt: Young Carrots (What’s Up, Doc)

Volt Carrots

The carrot is a humble food. It’s typically one of the first foods we enjoy as babies; a popular dieter’s on-the-go snack; a cartoon meal for Bugs Bunny; and the food our mother’s tell us will aid our vision. But, the carrot dish at Volt stood up against the likes of calamari and bacon smoked pasta Bolognese, lamb necks braised with hulled barley, corn dumplings and many other winning dishes.

The Best Thing on the Menu was none other than: Young Carrots charred backed in an aromatic salt crust, dressing made from the carrot’s green tops and marsh samphire, soured sheep’s milk ice, pickles of icicle radish, bitter and sweet lettuces. Like other molecular gastronomy chefs, Top Chef Bryan Voltaggio somehow creates the illusion of that you’re pulling carrots directly out of the dirt by using culinary magic tricks.

Our meal at Volt was a tale of two tasting menus. We experienced both the protein-driven tasting menu and the fruits & vegetables tasting menu. It was fun to pick a head-to-head matchup winner each course —  A long delicious boxing match that ultimately had the vegetarian tasting menu coming out on top. We feel we’re really putting our money where our mouth is, seeing as though we chose Volt as one of the top five surprise picks for vegetarians earlier this summer.

Even the dessert on the vegetarian tasting menu won out: Meyer Lemon aerated white chocolate, pudding of ruby grapefruit, sorbet of celery hearts and leaves, coriander blooms, crisp cardamom and bitter cocoa.

Meyer Lemon Dessert at Volt

A visit to Volt is worth the trip to Frederick, MD. Unfortunately, the drive precludes most DC diners from taking advantage of the wine program, but the food should more than make up for it. One last tip, Volt has a parking lot that’s free for diners located immediately adjacent to the restaurant.

Want to try one of Bryan Voltaggio’s creations a little closer to home? There’s always Range.

Young Carrots not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Kapnos: Roasted Duck Phyllo Pie

Kapnos: Duck Phyllo Pie

At Top Chef Mike Isabella’s foray into Greek cuisine, we ended our evening with a little game called Duck Duck Dinner. The Best Thing on the Menu: Roasted Duck Phyllo Pie with Cress, Cherries and Pistachio Yogurt was so good, we called in a second order for dessert. The plate shuffling and utensil conundrum we caused our server by throwing an appetizer in with our dessert order was as awkward as a duck on water-skis, but when it came to devouring a double dose of the BTM, we didn’t care.  Tender shredded duck fills freshly-baked phyllo dough and the tart cherries and tangy pistachio yogurt are the perfect accompaniments. Each order comes with two triangles, so order accordingly or you’ll contribute to making doubling-up at dessert a true trend.

Duck wasn’t the only protein we were passionate about at Kapnos, which translates to “smoke” in Greek. It should come as no surprise that all of the spit-roasted meat was divine. We tried the lamb, suckling pig and the baby goat. If you’re only a table of two and need to pick one, definitely go for goat, which by the way is increasing in popularity.

Contrary to its meat-centric menu and carnivorous vibe, Kapnos has the potential to be a real haven for vegetarians. There are 20 items on the menu that are purely vegetarian. For herbivores sick of cobbling together a meal out of side dishes, you can call Kapnos home.

Finally, a word on imbibing. Come to Kapnos with an open mind when it comes to the wine list. Simply saying, “I’ll have the Greek wine to go with my Greek food” won’t get you very far, as there are an overwhelming number of hard-to-pronounce varietals offered. Perhaps this is one of those situations where you really do need a sommelier, or at least an oenophile server. Just for fun, here are seven top Greek varietals.

Roasted Duck Phyllo Pie with Cress, Cherries and Pistachio Yogurt not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

If you like this, you may also like: ZaytinyaAgora, or Kellari Taverna.