• 18May

    meridian pintEugene of DC Life Magazine is this month’s Host. The happy hour will be on June 1st from 6pm to 8pm and the venue is the lower level of Meridian Pint. Feel free to stay for trivia night, which begins at 8pm. Please RSVP on the event page.

    Thanks again to everyone who attended last month’s happy hour at the brand new Turkish restaurant, Ottoman Taverna. It was a fun evening.

    -JAY

     

     

  • 10May

    Last week Ottoman Taverna both opened and was the venue for the May DC Food Blogger Happy Hour (DCFBHH). Above are some of  the highlights from the half price happy hour menu (4pm-7pm, presumably Monday-Friday).

    The fig liqueur is soon to be featured in a cocktail. The pomegranate liqueur is featured in the Turkish sangria, which also contains an anise component (which isn’t mentioned in the drink’s description). I very much enjoyed the sangria, but I do like anise.

     

    I’m definitely returning to Ottoman Taverna soon to order more 1/2 price happy hour small plates and Turkish sangria.

    -JAY

  • 28Apr

    From: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/going-out-guide/wp/2016/04/26/ottoman-taverna-is-a-native-sons-ode-to-turkish-cuisine/

    Ottoman Taverna: Wednesday May 4th, 6-8pm.

    This new Turkish restaurant (really it is Ottoman cuisine) will open 2 days before our Happy Hour (it’s already fully built and permitted). I is located at 425 I Street, NW, Suite #107, Washington, DC 20001, located between K & I on 4th Street), which is next to (the opposite corner of) Alba Osteria.

  • 18Apr

    Mezcal: it’s not your frat-boy tequila. Ancient, yet new on the American bar scene, it’s tequila’s stylish post-hipster, more adult cousin. Mezcal’s not sloshing about in shot glasses hidden behind a curtain of overpowering lime, but proudly shining, served neat (see: fine scotch) to showcase a depth and range of flavor unencountered in other agave-based spirits.

    As we know, mezcal and tequila are made from agave, a wide-ranging succulent in Mexico. The major difference between the two is the production method. The piña, or heart of the agave plant, is removed. It’s then roasted, slowly, underground. It’s buried in the earth, covered by hot stones – creating the signature smokiness. The resultant mash gets a special treatment; it is crushed by a stone pulled by a donkey. Then comes the distillation. Tequila, meanwhile, is baked, or more often, industrially processed, leaving in astringent flavors. Finally, mezcals traditionally comes from Oaxaca, where the agave plant is most common. However, like with fine wines (and Scotch), the terroir truly comes out in mezcals. The highly specific local soil imbues the plant with unique flavors, which is why mezcals are really a small-batch liquor.


    This is true for El Silencio, carried at just a few select restaurants and bars across the country, including the one at the Four Seasons in Georgetown. El Silencio is an artisanal mezcal, produced in San Baltazar Guelavila, Oaxaca. The family-run business is now nine generations strong. According to the website, El Silencio uses only “carefully selected 10-12 year old agaves… and the production does not involve any additives or industrial processes.”

    At the bar, master mixologist Torrence T. Swain poured us El Silencio’s two options: Joven and Espadín. Joven is an “ensamble” mezcal, a blend of three different agave plants: espadin, Mexicano, and tobasiche. This double-distilled blend is quite smooth, very different from what might be first expected. The nose is full of floral and vegetal notes, like jasmine and cucumber. The flavor is full of tea and lemon, and ends with a light, white pepper finish in the back of the throat. Joven is something of a welcome mat for mezcal, not too forceful, turning the page on mezcal drinking to provide context that it can be complex and intricate. It’s a perfect mezcal for sipping on a veranda, shaded from a hot tropical sun after a day in the agave fields.
    Espadín, as might be expected, is 100% espadín agave. It’s even smaller batch than Joven, from highly specific agave plants. “It’s ready to do the heavy lifting in a cocktail.” Strong and bold, it’s quite assertive on the palate with a significant bite. The nose is strongly vegetal, and flavor notes feature leather and earth, with a black pepper finish. It’s a more concentrated flavor, better for a mixologist to play with.

    And thus our mixologist tour guide took us down cocktail lane. We landed at the Conejo Loco (“crazy rabbit”), so named because of the mezcal spirit’s origin story related to a rabbit goddess. The mezcal, already a bit smoky, receives a shock of spice, infused with Fresno pepper. An addition of pomegranate juice adds sweetness, a squeeze of lime for citrus, and most spectacularly, it’s served with a sprig of rosemary, which adds an aromatic herbal element. Certainly a great way to use this spirit.

    Finally, we got a sneak peak of Ocho Cientos Blanco Sotol, also from Mexico. However, instead of agave, it’s handcrafted from the Sotol plant, also called desert spoon in English. It’s native to Chihuahua in the far north of Mexico and tastes nothing like tequila or mezcal. Incredibly smooth, intense, earthy, and herby. Salud!

    – ESC

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  • 08Apr

    What better time than during the DMV’s most famous season – cherry blossoms! – than to celebrate the Best of the District of Columbia? Washington City Paper took over the cavernous DC Armory in Southeast to fete the 2016 winners, announced to the public during the event. WCP is decidedly nonpartisan, making sure everyone gets a voice in the system. Plus, proceeds from the event went to two great charities: Brainfood and World Beats & Life.

    Spraypainting DC pride

    Spraypainting DC pride

    Voting winners were divided between Staff Picks and the Reader Poll. Readers were able to choose faves in standard categories like Best Brewery (Right Proper), Sports Bar (Nellie’s), Movie Theater (E Street), and Lifestyle Blog (Popville), as well as some unique options: Tea Shop (Calabash Tea & Tonic), Local Instagram (Taylor Gourmet), and Place to Take a Tinder Date (McClellan’s Retreat). The Staff Picks are more eclectic: Best Bar and Restaurant for Punk-Rock Parents (Slash Run); Best Old Reliable Gay Bar (Number Nine), Best New (Old) Museum (National Museum of Women in the Arts), and Best Place to Catch a Glimpse of FLOTUS (SoulCycle).

    At a cocktail-attire party, it’s tough to get on a bike, but there was certainly plenty of food and drink to be had to help celebrate. In homage to what has been the opposite of a media darling of late, the DC Metro, each grouping of restaurants was set up around Metro station signs (“let’s go to Ballston!” was probably something said for the very first time by many partygoers).

    Tons of Tunes were enjoyed all evening long

    Tons of tasteful tunes were enjoyed all evening long.

    Mixologists played with lots of whiskeys, coming off winter, but also plenty of gin, hopeful for spring soon. And as would be appropriate, restaurants made efforts to source specifically from DC breweries and distilleries. Highlights included a tropical rum negroni from Don Ciccio & Figli, The Royal’s fruity sling using Catoctin Creek liquor, and a wistful whiskey cocktail by The Gibson called Memories. Waking up the palate was the thoughtful Gina Chersevani of Buffalo & Bergen, serving Bloody Marys overstuffed with pickled veggies as well as to mini-bagels topped with caviar and crème fraiche.

    On the main stage, The Dupont Brass Band gave the crowd some serious funk. Later in the evening, Batala Washington broke it down on drums, celebrating Afro-Brazilian culture, playing sensual samba and reggae music on a chilly early-April evening. Other entertainment came in the form of cornhole and life-sized Jenga courtesy of United Social Sports, making sure that the crowd stayed lively and athletic while throwing back craft cocktails and finely plated small bites.

    Dessert came in the form of heavenly doughnuts, cookies, and Harper Macaw’s sea-salt-and-coconut chocolate bark – but also another kind of bark: Wagtime enthralled the crowd with an absolutely adorable doggie playspace. Never has celebrated all the greatest in DC ever been so “ruff.”

    -ESC

  • 28Mar

    pennsylvania 6April’s HH will be at Pennsylvania 6, a relatively new (less than a year) restaurant specializing in seafood and cocktails. JAY of dcfud.com is this month’s host.

    We’ve written about Penn 6 here: http://www.dcfud.com/2015/12/21/pennsylvania-6-is-a-great-seafood-lunch-destination/ and http://www.dcfud.com/2015/12/02/lady-in-red-a-rendezvous-with-pennsylvania-6/.

    Please RSVP here and keep your RSVPs updated so we can give the restaurant a good count. It’s the “yes’s” that get counted. Thanks!

    -JAY

  • 22Mar

     

    March is in full bloom, even if those blossoms are not quite there yet. And though it was chilly early this week, the celebrations around DC’s perhaps most popular annual event are certainly heating up. They started with a floral bang on Monday evening, March 21, at Chaplin’s Restaurant. In a top-floor nook lit up by the brilliant setting sun, a well-dressed crowd gathered to nosh and cheers to the season.

    Japanese beer fave Kirin Ichiban was on hand to raise glasses (and elegant ceramic appetizer spoons) in honor of the soon-to-bloom cherry trees around the city. The intimate, exciting reception began with chopstick and fan door prizes, and a live DJ spun beats the entire evening. Pink-clad mixologist shaking things up in front of the blossoms

    Chaplin’s owner Ari Wilder gave us the low-down on the unique cocktails featuring Ichiban. The first was a classic known by many a college-age youngster: the sake bomb. This time, though, the sake was special: the heirloom Sakura Emaki Rose Sake. The second was titled “Bread & Soda,” perhaps an Irish nod as well. It started off with a Bulleit bourbon base, and then sweetened with an international maple-ginger syrup using an Ichiban reduction. The drink was topped off with a toothpick of ginger beer cake also using this beer reduction, as well as a splash of lemon and a touch of cardamom caramel. Finally, The Honzo’s Steel cocktail arrived in a hearty mug with a base of highly floral gin, sweetened with Ichiban orange blossom honey, and turned a gorgeous color of pink with Tozai sake, distilled from plums. Cheers! Ari and his brother have been in the cocktail business for close to two decades, dreaming up cocktails using a range of unique ingredients with interesting interplay on the nose and tongue.

    He also gave us some exciting scuttlebutt: he’ll be opening an all-day breakfast bar across the street, as well as a casual yakitori and karaoke bar on the penthouse level of the building that Chaplin’s currently occupies.

    To pair liquid festivity with the edible type, Chaplin’s offered small bite tastes. These ranged from crispy fried wontons to shrimp gyozu to salmon-seaweed salad and of course, that Ichiban beer bread.

    And so while those trees aren’t necessarily bright pink right now, Chaplin’s and Kirin Ichiban are making the cherry blossom party bloom.

    -ESC

    Chaplin Restaurant & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 08Mar

    Burgers, beer, bourbon, and now brunch! The simply named “B Penn Quarter” restaurant (formerly Plan B Burger Bar) opened a year ago to rave reviews for the three things they do best: huge, juicy burgers, a lengthy rotating tap list that hits all the right hoppy notes, and a refined, specifically sourced bourbon collection numbering nearly 100.

    Recently, the restaurant rolled out the newest addition to the B set. That would be brunch, possibly the most popular meal in this city. The chef told us that beginning a brunch menu was a no-brainer, since people wander in from shopping or the mall, and want to be together for a good meal on the weekend. Of course, brunch here is burger-forward, with the star being the Breakfast Burger – thick slices of bacon sitting snugly under a hefty ground-in-house patty, topped with a local fried egg, cheddar and jack cheese, all stuffed into a gently buttered croissant bun. And, you get fries with that!

    Bourbon makes lots of appearances across the menu, unsurprisingly, including in the bourbon caramel, bourbon maple syrup, bourbon whipped cream for the baked goods, bourbon BBQ sauce, and of course, bourbon-soaked French toast.

    There’s another ‘b’ that makes its presence proudly known – trendy bacon. It’s all over the place. On the burger, in maple syrup, in a Cajun aioli, a bit thicker in the form of porcetta, and used to sauté the just-as-trendy kale. Not a vegetarian paradise, but one unsung hero was the impressive veggie burger, made in-house from three types of beans, quinoa, and sautéed sun-dried tomatoes. Certainly no previously-frozen crumbly way-too-many breadcrumb patty here.

    But back to the best bit: bourbon. Brunch drinks come in many options, but the only one you should really be drinking: the bottomless bourbon sour. Yes there are mimosas and Bloodys, but at a bourbon establishment, drink the bourbon. Other bourbon-forward cocktails include the Kentucky Coffee (like Irish, only, you know, bourbon) and a Ryed the Mule (again, Moscow Mule, but… bourbon). However, real aficionados would get the mixologist’s tasting flight: three pours of hand-selected whiskeys, specifically curated to your tastes. On my gorgeous barrel-wood plank, from left to right:

    1. Whistlepig rye – classic and award-winning
    2. Mitcher ten-year aged whiskey – a clean, bracing bite with a corn base
    3. Templeton rye – to provide that real rye comparison

    We were able to try other dishes, like a super-creamy four-cheese mac ‘n’ cheese, but the star, as we know, is the bourbony, burgery brunch. Bon appetite!

    -ESC

    Plan B Burger Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

  • 16Feb

    For people who were looking for a good time and fancy themselves a connoisseur of the amber brew,  the Port City Brewing Anniversary bash was the perfect place to be. Alexandria’s own outstanding craft brewery delivered a weekend of festivities to celebrate their fifth year in business and the debut of their COLOSSAL V beer, and also some of their recent achievements in winning multiple awards for their craft beer, which has been a combination of their sheer hard work, and standards of quality and spirit to deliver some of the finest craft beer to DC and surrounding areas.

    If success could be measured by the love and affection of the professionals and the public, Port City has definitely made it. 2015 saw them take home the coveted Small Brewing Company of the Year Award at the Great American Beer Festival. They have firmly established themselves in the DMV, with over 300 bars in the region serving up Port City’s finest, and over 800 retailers stocking their beer.  This presence has helped them reach wider audiences, and with people clearly getting a taste of their beer, Port City Brewing Company also took home the Best of D.C Readers Poll award. With a string of awards stretching right back to their inception in 2011, Port City Brewing Company continues to grow strong. With the company having grown a staggering 35% in the past year and set to do the same again this year, there seems to be no stopping them.

    Their 5th Anniversary party took place at the brewery on Saturday and Sunday (5th to 6th February).  With tasty food being served by some of the finest food trucks around, live music, and a selfie station. The party will also see Port City unveil their limited edition beer COLOSSAL V, which they are releasing in bottles for the first time so that you can take some home.

    “Colossal V is a rich, full-bodied ale that hews close to the English tradition of old ales, with a dark mahogany color accentuated by ruby highlights. Flavors of toffee and dried fruit are complemented by a subtle hop presence. This beer is specifically crafted for cellaring, and will be the Port City’s first anniversary beer to be bottled, enabling customers to age bottles at home. It is “colossal” because it is a milestone brew.”

    -EWL

  • 21Jan

    The snowy January afternoon of January 17 was no match for the warmth exuded by Chefs Behind Bars, an event with a straightforward mission: help end childhood hunger. Guests gathered at Prequel, the restaurant incubator downtown, which hosted the event in its two-level, industrial-cool bar/lounge space.

    The conceit: unique and playful. Seven celebrated area chefs are taken out of their element (the kitchen) and sent to work with ingredients of the liquid kind – behind a bar, of course. Each crafts an original cocktail in attempt to beat out the other six, later crowned champion of this annual chef-cum-mixologist-for-a-day competition.

    The chefs featured: Matt Baker (Gravitas), Jen Carroll (Requin by Mike Isabella Group), James Martin (District Supper), John Critchley (Brine), Hamilton Johnson (Honeysuckle), Liam LaCivita (Bar Civita), and Yuki Nakandakari (Ocopa). To make sure everyone was well taken care of, servers kindly paraded the room with chicken biscuit sandwiches and bacon-jam crostini. The nibbles were courtesy of Prequel’s current popup, the Southern-inspired restaurant Honeysuckle.

    Given that each cocktail is so expertly, one might say painstakingly, put together, choosing a winner might be an unenviable task. Luckily, the judge’s panel was made up of DC food celebs, so your author was not included.

    When it comes to drinks, interactivity is key. The winner in that department: Brine, which managed to truck in an ice luge to channel for its super-cool gin-based drink. Imbibing like this is a slippery slope. The yin to this chilly yang was led by Jen Carroll, the lone female chef among this impressive cadre. She brought us wine cask-aged rum set off with passion fruit tea – and a cinnamon stick lit afire. And when there’s fire, there’s smoke, no? James Martin mixed mescal with herb ash foam to produce a frothy masterpiece, and Hamilton Johnson, whose food also graced the space, made a drink using Maker’s, blood orange liqueur, and smoked tobacco. Thankfully, no call to DCFD was necessary. There was also a ton of local love. Matt Baker partnered with brand-spanking-new local distiller One Eight Distilling, using its District Vodka over charred pineapple syrup and Thai basil essence. At the end of the event, the Judge’s Choice Award went to John Critchley, of aforementioned ice-luge fame. Not unlikely that this was the first time an alcoholic ice luge helped end childhood hunger.

    DC’s Taste of the Nation event hosted Chefs Behind Bars as a sneak peek for the huge charity Taste of the Nation 2016 event, to take place on April 4. All proceeds from the tickets support No Kid Hungry, which works to end childhood hunger by supplying healthy breakfasts and lunches.

    -ESC (Evan)

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