Food...I eat a lot of it and if you keep up with me on Instagram you know that it dominates my feed. Last week was a (really) good week in the dining department that included two new restaurants and one tasting meal at a long-time favorite. For 2017 I'm trying to get out of the routine of going to my favorite spots *cough* Le Diplomat *cough* and branch out a bit. For my DC peeps, you have three places you need to add to your list:
If you live in NYC (or travel there frequently) you've might have head of The Smith. They have a number of restaurants in the city and just launched their first space about two weeks ago over in The Penn Quarter. I'm not sure how I would describe the food. It's not a steakhouse, it's not soul, and it's not American...it's...just...I don't know....really good?
For food, we had some incredible dishes. We started The Royale seafood platter (look out Orca Platter...you have some stiff competition) that consists of three tiers of oysters, clams, and tuna with a whole lobster to crown the majestic monstrosity. We then moved into snacks. The Hot Potato Chips are a must (they come smothered in a blue cheese fondue); Spicy Salmon Tartare (they put avocado in this bad boy and it was amazing); and a skillet of the best Mac & Cheese I've had in awhile. Dinner finished with The Prime Burger, the Skirt Steak, and the Roasted Atlantic Cod.
For drink, the spread was equally impressive and. I sampled The Gatsby which is probably a new favorite (gin x pomegranate x prosecco); The Hungry Teacher (bourbon x mint x lime); and the Touch of Evil (Rye x grapefruit x habanero).
The Smith may be a common name, but the food, drink, and interior was furthest from average. The space was packed when we got there so I strongly (strongly) suggest making a reservation ahead of time. Should you heed my warning, there's a massive bar with plenty of bartenders to keep your #thirst quenched and your bodies hydrated.
Somms Uncorked @ Zaytinia
Let me start off with This. Was. Awesome. Zaytinia is on my favorite's list that I've been going to since I was a freshman at GWU. The restaurant is owned by Chef Josè Andres who dominates the DC food scene that features Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese dishes in a sleek restaurant with some prime lighting.
Somms Uncorked has a few noteworthy elements.
One // It's a competition between Andy Myers (he's a Master Sommelier and oversees all things wine for Josè) and another up-and-coming sommelier from the restaurant group. For this event, he was paired with Elli Benchimol, Sommelier for Joe’s Stone Crab.
Two // You get to experience 10 (yes...you read right) wines paired with a five-course meal. Each sommelier chooses the pairing, explains why theirs is the best, and then you (the guest) get to vote on which pairing was better. Spoiler alert: Elli one by a landslide victory...she absolutely nailed it.
Three // You laugh...a lot. For someone who has ascertained one of the highest titles in the wine world, Andy was refreshingly casual, relaxed, and fun. The banter between hime and Elli was great unlike some of the stuffier tastings I've been to in times past.
Four // The food...top notch. Michael Costa (head chef) crafted a completely custom menu for the event that featured dishes adorned with everything from foie gras to truffle. Speaking of truffle, they're doing an entire truffle festival from February 13th - 26th (more information here). Just another reason to love Josè...
Maryland Fry Bar @ Fish by Josè
Let me preface with this is a bit of a hike...but for someone who refuses to leave NW DC (for any circumstance) I can guarantee that the trip is well worth it. Fish by Josè opened a few weeks ago that features The Maryland Fry Bar - it's a customized chef's table with seating up to five where you get to enjoy 11 dishes (yep...you read right yet again) directly from the kitchen. The tasting is ridiculously affordable at $50 per person with the option to upgrade the experience to a riesling pairing (which I obviously did).
The tasting highlights the menu's best of the best. From Spicy Big Eye Tuna Tartare to a grilled California Avocado (so good) to a Fried Quail Egg to the best Chicken Wing I've had in years, the experience was top notch.
A few additional things to note here:
One // If you've never tried Josè Gin & Tonic your life will never (ever) be complete.
Two // The plate design at Fish by Josè might be the most creative I've seen in awhile. I'm not a prick about "needing" a dish to "look" appetizing, but the way each of these 11 dishes were structured added a unique element to the experience.
Three // The Maryland Fry Bar is by reservation only. I believe they do three seatings each night, but if you want to do the tasting you have to book a reservation in advance. The place was busy the night we went so make sure you have something locked down before going.
Four // I know National Harbor is a (royal) pain to get to, but if you go with two or three friends an Uber is like $10/$13 bucks no problem.
And with that, I conclude last week's round-up of some awesome restaurants. I don't think this week will include such opulence...but we'll see what I get myself into.