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From whole hams to brunch quiches and feasts for a crowd. By Anna Spiegel
Take home a selection of goodies from Society Fair to make your own feast. Photograph by Erik Uecke.

No restaurant reservations yet for Easter? If you don’t want to whip up a spread from scratch this Sunday, consider turning to local chefs for help. Several butcheries prepare oven-ready hams, lambs, and more, while restaurants can provide entire carryout meals. Note that several require orders to be placed by Wednesday or Thursday.


Locations in McLean and Bethesda

Many chain-market-catered meals can be ho-hum, but from this writer’s personal experience, Balducci’s stands out from the rest—particularly for its honey-glazed ham and citrusy salmon. Most locations offer menus for party catering, as well as à-la-carte dishes in the bistro section.

Butcher’s Block

1600 King St., Alexandria; 703-984-5253

You’ll find a special selection of meats for Easter, including local smoked ham legs and domestic racks and legs of lamb. Not in the mood to cook? Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s adjoining restaurant, Brabo, hosts its first-ever Easter lunch with a three-course menu ($60 per person).

Carolina Kitchen

Locations in DC, Hyattsville, and Largo, MD

The newly opened District location of this Southern spot and its two Maryland siblings offer several to-go feasts for a crowd. The “silver” and “gold” packages serve 12 to 15 ($249 and $325, respectively), and include whole turkeys and hams, mac and cheese, collards, and more; the “diamond” goes for $625 and feeds 20 to 30. À-la-carte turkeys, hams, sauces, and sides are also available. Orders must be placed by Thursday, April 17.


2201 14th St., NW; 202-234-5000

Those looking to go Greek for Easter have two options at this Mike Isabella spot: a three-course Sunday brunch ($39 per person, with à-la-carte options for kids) or items to go. Dishes include dips and spreads; spit-roasted lamb, chicken, and pork shoulders; apricot baklava; and more. Orders must be placed by April 16.

Red Apron Butchery

Locations in Penn Quarter, Union Market, and Merrifield, VA

Those looking to serve an unusual dish for the holiday can try the “lambchetta,” a whole side of lamb loin and belly stuffed with ground shoulder and seasoned with fennel pollen, garlic, and rosemary. More traditional offerings include smoked and brined hams and yogurt-marinated legs of lamb. Note that orders must be placed by Wednesday, April 16.

Society Fair

277 S. Washington St., 703-683-3247; 2413 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 703-920-0315

Easter baskets aren’t just for sweets—here you’ll find brunch bags filled with a ham-and-Gruyère quiche, citrus salad, house-cured bacon, scones, coffee, and sparkling wine ($55). More in the mood to cook? You’ll also local lamb and pork from the butchery, fresh biscuits from the bakery, and more.

Three Little Pigs

5111 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-726-0102

You’ll find oven-ready meats such as marinated legs and racks of lamb, porchetta, and prime rib roasts from this local shop, which emphasizes house-made charcuterie and salumi.

Posted at 02:20 PM/ET, 04/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
From festive prix-fixe meals to casual brunches. By Anna Spiegel
Mintwood Place dishes up its regular delicious brunch for Easter, including a killer smoked salmon Benedict. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Spring has arrived in Washington, and Easter is hot on its heels, coming up on Sunday, April 20. With tons of restaurants hosting celebratory brunches, it can be difficult to decide where to go. We checked in with the top 25 eateries on our 100 Very Best list, which are serving everything from festive multi-course brunches to regular delicious meals. Note that not all 25 are open for Sunday afternoon.

Barlett Pear Inn 

28 S. Harrison St., Easton; 410-770-3300

Take the family on an Eastern Shore day trip for brunch at this charming Easton inn. 

Details: Brunch 10:30 to 2:30

Blue Duck Tavern

1201 24th St., NW; 202-419-6755

Head to this New American spot for buffet-style appetizers and desserts, plus a choice of entrées and sides including jumbo lump crabcakes and local asparagus from the main menu.

Details: Brunch 10:30 to 3:30; $95 for adults, $42 for children 6 to 12, free for kids 5 and under

Bombay Club

815 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-659-3727

Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s elegant Indian eatery near the White House features a buffet menu with classic dishes you can sample alongside optional bottomless Champagne. 

Details: Brunch 11:30 to 2:30; $28 per person, $40 with bottomless Champagne


1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-626-0015 

Michel Richard’s French bistro hosts an “eggceptional” brunch, with a special menu alongside the traditional lunch offerings.

Details: Brunch noon to 2:30; à la carte 

Inn at Little Washington 

309 Middle St., Washington; 540-675-3800

Chef Patrick O’Connell offers a surprise (and rare) special for Easter dining: the ten-course dinner tasting menu for a discounted $138 (typically $218). If you were looking for an excuse to head out to Washington, Virginia, this is a great one. 

Details: 4 to close


633 D St., NW, 202-637-1222; 1190 New Hampshire Ave., NW, 202-466-2500

Chef Vikram Sunderam prepares a special three-course menu for the holiday at both the Penn Quarter and West End locations. 

Details: Brunch 11:30 to 2:30; $35 per person


701 Ninth St., NW; 202-638-0800

You’ll find one of the biggest Easter celebrations in DC at this Penn Quarter spot, which hosts a Greek Easter festival April 20 through May 3. Holiday brunch includes traditional dishes such as honey fritters and lamb soup. Look for an outdoor market on the final day. 

Details: Dishes are priced from $7.50 to $10 each



1520 14th St., NW; 202-319-1404

Brunch is often one of the calmest times at this popular 14th Street spot, ideal for splitting traditional tapas as well as brunch specialties like foie gras scrambled eggs with truffle butter. 

Details: 11 to 2 

Jaleo Penn Quarter

480 Seventh St., NW; 202-628-7949

José Andrés puts on the big Easter celebration at sister eatery Zaytinya, but you’ll still find the regular brunch menu here with plenty of Spanish specialties. 

Details: 11:30 to 3

Mintwood Place

1813 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-234-6732

Expect a boisterous brunch at this Adams Morgan neighborhood spot, with dishes such as smoked salmon Benedict and suckling pig hash. 

Details: 10:30 to 2:30.

Palena Cafe

3529 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-537-9250

Spring dishes abound, such as house-made testa with a poached egg and a market vegetable sandwich. And there’s always that burger. 

Details: 11 to 2:30 

Woodberry Kitchen

2010 Clipper Park Rd., Baltimore; 410-464-8000

Sunday brunch brings an array of dishes, from sourdough waffles to breakfast-sausage-studded flatbreads. 

Details: 10 to 2

Posted at 10:45 AM/ET, 04/14/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Start planning your Pesach. By Anna Spiegel
A Passover favorite gets an upscale twist with truffled matzo-ball soup at BLT Steak. Photograph courtesy of BLT Steak.

One of the biggest Jewish holidays of the year is upon us, with Passover starting at sundown on Monday, April 14. Whether you’re observing for religious reasons or just love the related foods, you’ll find an international spectrum of dishes and drinks; think anything from traditional brisket to Italian-style feasts and Mexican sangría charoset.

BLT Steak

1625 I St., NW; 202-689-8999

You’ll find plenty beyond just red meat for this steakhouse’s first Seder menu. Guests can opt for a three-course selection or order dishes such as deviled eggs with challah croutons and pike “gefilte” fish with English-pea velouté à la carte.

Details: Menu; three courses for $60 or à la carte; available April 14 through 19.


1443 P St., NW; 202-299-0018

Chef de cuisine Ben Tenner creates a three-course meal around his family’s recipes. Expect classic dishes—matzo-ball soup, brisket, sweet matzo kugel—which can also be ordered individually.

Details: Menu; three courses for $28 or à la carte; available April 14 through 18.

DGS Delicatessen

1317 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-293-4400

Pesach commences on “Passover eve” Sunday with a family-style dinner from 5 to 9, starring spit-roasted lamb, latkes, and more. Starting April 14 you’ll find a weeklong Seder dinner with modern riffs on traditional dishes, such as matzo-ball soup with bone marrow and roasted bass with spring vegetable ragout and bitter herb broth.

Details: Menu; Passover eve dinner Sunday, April 13, for $35 per person; Seder through April 21, for $45 per person ($20 wine pairing).


818 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-331-8118

Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray throw a farm-to-Seder party on Monday based on recipes from their book, The New Jewish Table. The kitchen collaborates with the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture on the meal.

Details: Monday, April 14, at 7; $90, inclusive of tax and gratuity.


601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-628-2888

Celebrate Passover Italian-style with a multi-course Seder menu from chef Fabio Trabocchi. Dishes include a salad of baby artichokes, fennel risotto with red mullet, and grilled branzino with tomatoes and capers, all of which can be paired with wines.

Details: Menu; April 15 through April 22; $105 per person ($60 wine pairing).

Georgetown Cupcake

3301 M St., NW, 202-333-8448; 4838 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, 301-907-8900

Looking for a sweet finish to your Seder? Try the monthly special: kosher macaroon cupcakes, which come in a toasted-coconut flavor and can be drizzled with chocolate or caramel sauce.

Details: Menu; available through April.

Parkway Deli

8317 Grubb Rd., Silver Spring; 301-587-1427

This Silver Spring institution offers an array of dishes to go (which must be ordered this week). Vegetarians, take note: There’s a meat-free matzo-ball soup option.

Details: Menu; orders must be placed on or before Wednesday, April 9.

Ridgewells Catering

5525 Dorsey Ln., Bethesda; 301-652-1515

Want to host a Seder but daunted by making gefilte fish at home? Ridgewells can deliver a three-course menu or à-la-carte items such as charoset, butternut squash soup, and roast chicken.

Details: Menu; orders must be placed by Thursday, April 10, for the first night and April 11 for the second; $45 for a set menu for ten diners, or à la carte. Delivery and pickup available.

Rosa Mexicano

Multiple locations in Penn Quarter, Friendship Heights, and National Harbor (MD)

This Mexican chain celebrates its 12th annual Passover with Latin twists on traditional dishes, such as sangría charoset, matzo-ball posole, and barbecue beef brisket wrapped in banana leaves.

Details: Menu; April 14 to 22; à-la-carte pricing.

Star & Shamrock

1341 H St., NE; 202-388-3833

Festivities are always a little nontraditional at this Irish bar/Jewish deli, and Passover is no exception. While plans are still in the works, expect a party like an “untraditional third-night Seder,” according to a bartender.

Details: Details will be posted on the bar’s Facebook page when available.

Posted at 11:29 AM/ET, 04/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Proof sommelier Jennifer Foucher busts bubbly myths and shares tips for choosing your own. By Anna Spiegel
Properly toast your honey for Valentine’s Day with true Champagne—preferably in a white wine glass. Image via Shutterstock.

Champagne is the go-to beverage of Valentine’s Day, but many myths surround the bubbly beverage. Here to help is Champagne master and sommelier Jennifer Foucher, who has sourced 103 different Champagnes for her menu at Proof. You’ll find an extended by-the-glass selection in the restaurant for Valentine’s Day—celebrated Friday through Sunday—as well as 25-percent-off bubbles in the lounge area. Want to pop a bottle at home? Foucher offers tips for buying, storing, and serving Champagne, and helps to demystify the drink. Our favorite takeaway? There’s no need to save it for a special occasion. “Champage is for Tuesday. Champagne is for the morning. Champagne is for lunch,” Foucher says. Read on for more of her advice.

Myth: All sparkling wine is Champagne.

We’ve all seen the ads touting bottomless “Champagne” brunch. But unless you’re at a swanky spot like the Four Seasons, chances are you’re drinking Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco, or American sparkling wine, the three other most common kinds of bubbles. True Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France and follow specific production methods dating back centuries. Even non-experts can often taste the difference. Basically Champagne is to sparkling wine what Kleenex is to facial tissue: a particular brand (or in wine’s case, designation) whose name is often misused to describe the product as a whole.

Myth: All Champagne is expensive.

Unlike other sparkling wines, you won’t find many Champagnes offered in the $10 to $20 range, but you also don’t need to drop $75 to $100 for a good bottle. Foucher loves producers from the Aube “department” (or area) of Champagne, which is less well-known but offers top-quality wines from smaller estates. One of her more moderately priced favorites is Dosnon & Lepage, which you can find for $40 at MacArthur Beverages. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, look for Coessens Champagne Blanc de Noir and Jacquesson Cuvée 736, which generally retail between $50 and $60.

Myth: Veuve Clicquot is as good as it gets.

The bottles Foucher likes from Aube tend to be “grower Champagnes,” which means they’re produced by the same vineyard that grows the grapes. Like meats or cheeses from smaller farms, these wines tend to have more individual character than mass-produced labels like Veuve. Foucher doesn’t consider the latter a bad buy, but advises staying away from budget-y large-production bottles such as Moët Imperial and Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top, which are priced similarly to the suggestions above but offer a lower quality. One of the larger producers she recommends: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, which you can find in many liquor stores and wine shops for around $90.

As with the Champagnes themselves, Foucher gravitates toward smaller wine shops for her purchases. Some of the best for Champagnes she’s found in the area: MacArthur Beverages in the Palisades, Arrowine in Arlington and on K Street, and Cork Market on 14th Street.

Myth: Champagne pairs well with strawberries.

“Champagne is great with just about everything except dessert and spicy food,” says Foucher. Though Champagne and strawberries are a frequent pairing, brut (dry) bubbly doesn’t taste as good after biting into a sweet berry or hunk of chocolate. “You don’t want the wine to be drier than than the food,” says Foucher. If you’re planning to pair sparkling with desserts, go for demi-sec (semi-dry) or Prosecco, which runs sweeter.

Myth: Buy Champagne chilled and store it in the fridge.

It’s tempting to grab a cold bottle from the wine-store fridge, but Foucher warns that the bottles may have been sitting in there for months. That means the fragile corks may have dried out, which will make the bubbly taste stale. The same thing can happen at home, so store your bottle away from light, heat, and vibration (read: not the kitchen). An hour in the fridge won’t hurt once it’s time to chill, or fill an ice bucket.

Myth: Champagne should be served in flutes.

Flutes may feel festive, but Foucher prefers drinking quality Champagne from white-wine glasses. Flutes make it difficult to smell the wine or swirl air into the glass, which allows the wine to breathe and develop its flavor. (Yes, you can swirl Champagne just like a fine Cab.) Coupes are another common vehicle, but Foucher finds that the wine loses its bubbles faster. If you do find yourself sipping from a coupe, here’s a fun Valentine’s Day legend: The glasses were originally modeled after Marie Antoinette’s breast.

Posted at 03:30 PM/ET, 02/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to say hello to 2014 (preferably with bottomless mimosas). By Anna Spiegel
Welcome in the new year at the recently opened Agua 301 in Navy Yard for New Year’s Day brunch. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Who says the bubbly has to stop flowing on New Year’s Eve? Plenty of spots around Washington offer New Year’s Day brunch on an unconventional Wednesday, whether you’re looking to stave off a hangover with bottomless mimosas or toast 2014 with a celebratory meal. Read on for pig roasts, all-day brunching options, and a cold pizza special (yes, that’s a thing).


1527 17th Street, NW; 202-332-6767

Bottomless is the word at this Dupont Mediterranean spot, where you can sip endless mimosas, bloodies, and booze, and eat your fill of hot and cold mezze, egg dishes, sandwiches, and more. The price tag is fairly gentle at $33 (a la carte is also available).

When: 11 to 3 (last seating at 2:30).

Agua 301

301 Water St., SW; 202-484-0301

This Navy Yard modern Mexican spot just opened, and is serving its first brunch on New Year’s Day.

When: 10:30 to 3.


523 Eighth St., SE; 202-813-3039

Ring in 2014 with bottomless brunch cocktails and plates like the Balkan burger, eggs Benedict, and more for $35 (here’s a menu). Extra good news for night owls: the “morning” meal runs until 4.

When: 10 to 4.

Bar Pilar

1833 14th Street, NW; 202-265-1751

Late-risers can get brunch all-day at this 14th Street staple. Given you may have over-indulged, dim lighting and ample bacon are draws.

When: 11 to close.

Blue Duck Tavern

1201 24th St., NW; 202-419-6755

If you’re bouncing instead of dragging out of bed, why not treat yourself to an elegant meal at the Park Hyatt? The short rib hash with poached eggs with a side of gouda grits is hard to pass up (here’s a sample menu).

When: 11 to 2:30

The Coupe

3415 11th St., NW; 202-290-3342

This Columbia Heights spot is open 24-7, so it’s no surprised they’re dishing up New Year’s Day brunch. The special of the day is bubble and squeak, a pub staple of corned beef, fried potatoes, and brussels sprouts topped with two eggs.

When: All day.

The Diner

2453 18th St., NW; 2-2-232-8800

It’s a casual affair at this Adams Morgan staple, with pitchers of mimosas ($22 vats serve six), and brunch specials like pumpkin pancakes and a Reuben benedict.

When: All day, but Benedicts end at 3.

El Centro DF

Both Georgetown and 14th Street locations.

The only thing better than Mexican brunch? Unlimited Mexican brunch. These twin cantinas pour bottomless micheledas and agua frescas and offer endless plates of ceviche, huevos rancheros, tacos, and more for $35 (check out a sample menu).

When: Georgetown (10:30 to 4), 14th Street (10:30 to 3).


1310 New Hampshire Ave NW; 202-956-6650

Cheap cocktails may be in order after a night of splurging. Head over for $3 mimosas, $4 bloodies, and dishes like eggs with country sausage and red eye gravy.

When: 9 to 2.

Farmers Fishers Bakers

3000 K St., NW; 202-298-8783

A big night out calls for a big meal the next day. The Farmers Market buffet brunch should do the trick (and it’s a good deal at $30 per person).

When: 10 to 2:30

Founding Farmers

Both Downtown and Rockville locations

We think 2014 should be the year of more brunch. Sister Founding Farmers spots agree, offering their weekend afternoon menus on both New Year’s Eve and Day.

When: Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 to 2.

Granville Moore’s

1238 H St., NE; 202-399-2546

It’s a no-frills New Year’s Eve at this no-cover spot, followed by a casual “hangover brunch” the next day.

When: 11 to 3

Masa 14

1825 14th St., NW; 202-328-1414

Masa serves its usual decadent brunch: an unlimited selection of small plates, lychee bellinis, bacon bloodies, and more for $35. You can order a la carte, but what's the fun in that?

When: 10 to 3 (last seating at 2).

Mussel Bar & Grille

Both Bethesda and Arlington locations

Start the year off with a warming bowl of mussels and some grilled bread for dunking at Robert Wiedmaier’s sister restaurants.

When: 10:30 to 3:30

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace / Black Jack

1612 14th St., NW; 202-986-8778

The regular brunch menu is in effect at Pearl Dive, while Black Jack is throwing it’s great all-day happy hour starting at 3 (half-price beers! two-for-one oysters!). A hangover special may prove handy: a dive burger and Shiner bock for $10.

When: Pearl Dive (11 to 3); Black Jack (3 to close)


555 Eight St., NW; 202-783-6060

Start 2014 with a pig roast (why not?) and bloody Mary bar during an all-day brunch-tacular. The aforementioned swine is served starting at noon, but early-risers can order from the normal brunch menu at 8.

When: 8 to 4.


2121 P St., NW; 202-956-6650

Here’s something different: a $10 cold pizza special that includes a chilled margherita pie and bloody. If you prefer something less leftover-like, the regular menu is served.


781 Seventh St., NW; 202-393-2929

Richard Sandoval is all about bottomless brunch. You’ll find more of the same at his Latin-Asian spot, this time with drinks like passion fruit mimosas, ceviche, sushi rolls, dim sum, and more.

When: 10:30 to 2:30

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 12/23/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to eat, drink, and dance the night away. By Anna Spiegel
Feast on unlimited tapas and then get dancing at all three locations of Jaleo. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Trying to decide between feasting and partying on New Year’s Eve? Luckily you don’t have to. The following restaurants mix both, offering special eats, live music, bottomless bubbly, costumed soirees, and more. Just make sure to book reservations before it's too late.

Al Dente

3201 New Mexico Ave., NW; 202-244-2223

Roberto Donna whips up a four-course meal (think Buffalo mozzarella with caviar and lobster gnocchi) starting at 9:30, while a DJ starts spinning at 10 for dancing until the early morning. [Event page]

Details: The dinner and party is $60 per person (otherwise a la carte until 8). Wine pairings are pretty affordable at $25 and $35.

City Tap House DC

901 9th Street, NW; 202-644-9433

Penn Quarter’s newest beer-heavy restaurant pairs a four-course menu with an open bar after-party from 10 to close. Dishes include the likes of kale-pomegranate salad and bucatini with rabbit bolognese. [Event page]

Details: Those who opt for the menu ($50 per person) from 5 to 11 can add the $50 open-bar option (regularly $75 without dinner).


2121 14th St., NW; 202-332-9672

Channel Bourbon Street on 14th Street with a New Orleans-inspired fete that includes three or four-course menus, a DJ, and a gratis glass of bubbly for the second seating. [Event page]

Details: The 6:30 seating with a three-course menu is $39 per person, while the second at 9:30 offers four courses for $59.


All three area locations in Penn Quarter, Bethesda, and Crystal City

All three locations of José Andrés’s Spanish spot serve unlimited tapas from the New Year’s tasting menu after 8 (earlier seatings are a la carte). After 10 a DJ starts spinning in DC, while those in Bethesda and Crystal City can dance to a live band. [Event page]

Details: The tasting menu is $90 in DC, and $85 in Bethesda and Crystal City.

Old Ebbitt Grill

675 15th St., NW; 202-347-4800

Go old-school with a Love Boat Cruise-themed party with live music from Yacht Rock Schooner, an international buffet, open bars, and more. [Event page]

Details: Tickets start at $125.

Mari Vanna

1141 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-783-7777

You'll find Russian Santa Claus, karaoke, a costume contest, caviar, and President Putin's official New Year's address all under one roof. [Event page]

Details: Three package options for bubbly and caviar start at $150, with a 9 o'clock New Year's dinner menu included in all.

Masa 14

1825 14th St., NW; 202-328-1414

Book after 9 for a prix fixe menu with dishes like duck confit steamed buns and drunken adobo pork. What makes this a party? The option of bottomless Champagne service for $40. [Event page]

Details: There’s more casual options early on, but the post-9 pm “premium” menu is $75, with the option of bottomless champagne.

Nopa Kitchen + Bar

800 F St., NW; 202-347-4667

Ashok Bajaj’s American brasserie celebrates 2014 with a three-course menu for the second seating, including dishes like butter-poached lobster and roasted duck, plus a DJ for dancing.

Details: The set menu is $100 (it’s a la carte before 8).


5335 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Suite 201; 202-803-8020

Chef Bryan Voltaggio hosts a supper club with an Italian-style feast, never-ending punch bowl, and music from Brooklyn’s Blue Vipers. [Event page]

Details: Tickets start at $175 per person.


7121 Bethesda Ln., Bethesda; 301-656-5515

Head to Bethesda row for a Speakeasy Soiree, including a three-course dinner, poker, live entertainment, and more. [Event page]

Details: Packages vary, starting at $78 for a reservation after 6:30 (early-birds can get dinner for $45, but it doesn’t include the party).

Satellite Room

2047 Ninth St., NW; 202-506-2496

This retro diner-bar tucked behind the 9:30 Club goes punk rock for New Year’s eve with a DJ, Champagne toast, and regular dinner menu (including boozy milkshakes!) until 2.

Details: That’s it! No cover here.

Sonoma Restaurant

223 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 202-544-8088

Get a taste of Venice on the Hill with this Venetian Masquerade, which includes a three-course menu with dishes like truffle-ricotta ravioli and foie gras-topped veal tenderloin. Head up to the lounge after for the masked party and roulette. [Event page]

Details: You can opt for just dinner or the party (which starts at 8:30), but the combination is $79.

The Source

575 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-637-6100

Those looking to feast will find five and seven-course tasting menus at 6 and 8:30, plus "live action stations," a DJ, and Champagne toast. [Event page]

Details: The two menus are $125 and $150 per person, plus optional wine pairings.

Teddy and the Bully Bar

1200 19th St., NW; 202-872-8700

Party presidentially with unlimited cocktails, dinner and dessert buffets,  and DJ Huck Finn (Tom Sawyer is jealous). [Event page]

Details: Packages vary by ticket, but you’ll have to buy “gold” ($110 per person) for dinner.

Trummer’s on Main

7134 Main St., Clifton; 703-266-1623

La Fête Rouge (i.e. Red Party) brings options of three and six-course menus, red-hued everything, and surprise entertainment. [Event page]

Details: The first seating, 5:30 to 6:30, is for the three-course ($84 per person), while the second from 8:30 to 9:30 includes the more elaborate menu ($145 per person).


1940 11th Street, NW; 202-332-9463

This U Street neighborhood bar does it up for New Year’s with an open-bar Champagne party on the (heated) outdoor plaza, and a five-course menu with optional wine pairings in the restaurant. [Event page]

Details: Seatings for the dinner are at 6 and 9 ($65 and $75, respectively). The party is regularly $75, but is $50 for dinner guests.

Posted at 12:34 PM/ET, 12/20/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Red Apron Butcher’s Nate Anda shares his secrets. By Anna Spiegel
Make a festive holiday table with a perfectly roasted goose. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Roasting a whole holiday goose sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The fatty nature of the bird means you’re in less danger of drying it out like its Thanksgiving cousin, and the rich meat doesn’t call for as many accoutrements. Red Apron Butcher meat master Nate Anda walked us through his straightforward method, and offered tips for cooking a perfectly crisp-skinned, moist meat honker (the size in mind is six to eight pounds). At a loss for where to find one? Call your local butcher, or pre-order one online from Anda.

Keep the surface tight.

Anda sets the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and then positions the 6 to 8-pound bird so that the skin stays firm and uniform as the fat renders. This will help the outer layer crisp and give it an attractive, even texture. To do it: Trim the excess fat around the cavity, pulling chunks off with your hands, and fold the wing tips under the goose. At the other end, fold the neck flap under the goose and secure it with a skewer or tooth pick.

Prick the skin so that the fat renders.

Geese are particularly fatty birds. While this makes them rich and delicious, you’ll want the excess to render (i.e. melt off) during roasting so it doesn’t overwhelm the meat. Before cooking, prick—don’t slice or jab—the skin with a sharp knife or roasting fork at a 25 to 30 degree angle. This will help the rendering process, which will yield about two cups. Anda recommends removing the liquid fat from the pan every 30 minutes to avoid frying the goose. Make sure to save it in a glass container for later use; it’s even tastier than duck fat, and can be used to fry potatoes, saute vegetables, or as a butter substitute.

Flavor the bird.

Just because it’s not (technically) safe to cook your stuffing in the cavity doesn’t mean you should forgo the area entirely. Anda seasons the center liberally with salt and pepper and fills it with a fennel bulb, red onion, and garlic bulb (all halved), plus sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and oregano. He then squeezes a whole lemon into the space for a citrusy kick, adds the rind in with the rest, and ties the legs together with butcher’s twine. You won’t eat the “stuffing,” but it’ll add flavor throughout the bird.

Reduce the heat.

After an hour of cooking at 400 degrees—which achieves a nice, crisp skin—turn the temperature down to 325 degrees for the next 1.5 to 2 hours so you can thoroughly cook the meat. You’ll want to pay attention to the color of the goose (ideally golden brown at the end), and temperature, which you can gauge by sticking a meat thermometer between the leg and breast, not touching the bone. The bird is done when it reads 180 degrees F.

Let it rest.

Cutting into your perfectly roasted goose too quickly will release the tasty juices. Let it rest on a cutting board for at least 20 minutes before carving. Anda likes to serve it with a simple gravy made from the pan drippings or fruit compote, plus a side of Brussels sprouts.

Posted at 10:02 AM/ET, 12/20/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
From bottomless feasts to breakfasting with Santa. By Anna Spiegel
Get your fill of bottomless bubbly at one of many holiday brunches. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Brunch: it’s not just for Sunday anymore. Plenty of restaurants are celebrating the holidays with weekday brunches, as well as several options for Christmas Eve and Day dining. Get in a festive mood (or tackle the stress) with unlimited bubbly, eggs Benedict, and more.

Christmas Eve


1837 M St., NW; 202-558-9545

Unlimited brunching just got more expansive. This Dupont Spanish spot offers bottomless tapas and brunch drinks over the course of four days before and after Christmas. Plenty of tortilla Espanola and sangria for all. [Menu]

Details: December 23 through 27 (closed Christmas Day) from 10:30 to 2; $39 per person.


1310 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 202-861-1310

Visiting family may call for discount brunch cocktails. Drop by for traditional brunch with dishes like lemon-ricotta pancakes and eggs Benedict, plus $3 mimosas and $4 Bloodies. [Menu]

Details: A la carte brunch is served from 9 to 2.

Jackson 20

480 King St., Alexandria; 703-842-2790

Early birds, take note: you could be sipping mimosas before 10 am (or 8, but that’s less acceptable). Dishes include the likes of biscuits and gravy or eggs Chesapeake. [Menu]

Details: A la carte brunch is served from 7 to 2:30.

Christmas Day

Blue Duck Tavern

1201 24th St., NW; 202-419-6755

Looking for an elegant and delicious way to spend Christmas? This airy Park Hyatt spot delivers both. A choice of seated entree and sides is bookended by a generous appetizer buffet to start (think raw bar, salads, and cheeses), and a dessert station to finish.

Details: Served 10:30 to 3:30; $95 per person and $42 for children between six and 11 (kids under 6 are free).

The Colonnade

2401 M St., NW; 202-429-2400

The Fairmont’s special occasion brunch features live music and stations for sustainable seafood and eggs Benedict alike. The price includes unlimited bubbles and valet parking. [Menu]

Details: Served from 11 to 2; $99 for adults, and $50 for children.

The Grill Room

1050 31st St., NW; 202-617-2424

This Georgetown boutique hotel serves a three-course meal with items like chopped lobster salad, pastrami hash, and classic eggs Florentine.

Details: Two seatings at 10:30 and 2; $75 per person.

Piola DC

2208 14th St., NW; 202-986-8729

Looking for a casual Christmas option? Piola offers their all-you-can-eat pizza brunch (including egg-topped pies), bottomless cocktails, and a few holiday specials.

Details: Open at 11; $15.95 for unlimited brunch pizzas, and bottomless cocktails for another $15.

Seasons Restaurant

2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-342-0444

The typical Seasons brunch stars an impressive raw bar, unlimited bubbly, and multiple stations for carved meats, omelets, salads, and more. Christmas generally brings an expanded version of the same. [Sample menu]

Details: Served 10 to 3; $110 per adult (which includes unlimited mimosas)

Society Fair

277 S. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-683-3247

Those who prefer to brunch in their pajamas on Christmas can pick up a “breakfast bag” from Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong’s market. Think cinnamon rolls, an egg casserole, and fresh juice. [Menu]

Details: Orders must be picked up by Wednesday, December 24 before 5; $40 per basket.

And more!

Café Saint-Ex

1847 14th St., NW; 202-265-7839

Get Fido in the holiday spirit with a “Wagtime Brunch” Think doggies in a blanket and hot drinks for humans, and homemade treats for pets. Dress your dog in it’s holiday best worst for the Ugly Fashion Dog Show.

Details: Sunday, December 15 from noon to 3.

Roof Terrace Restaurant

2700 F St., NW; 202-416-8555

This is the last of three brunches with Santa at the Kennedy Center’s restaurant. You’ll find a buffet with everything from a raw bar to French toast, kid-friendly foods, and a gratis glass of bubbly for adults.

Details: Sunday, December 22 with seating beginning at 10; $45 adults, $20 kids ages 4 to 11.

Hunter’s Head Tavern

9048 John S. Mosby Hwy., Upperville; 540-592-9020.

Head out to the Middleburg environs for Boxing Day Brunch in Virginia’s hunt country. The regular lineup of pub-y items are offered, so save room for bubble n’ squeak and chicken pot pie. [Menu]

Details: Thursday, December 26 from 11 to 2:30

Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club

7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 240-330-4500

Catch Nat “King” Cole’s brother, Freddy Cole, over brunch at Bethesda’s concert venue-restaurant.

Details: Sunday, December 29 at 11; $50 per person.

Posted at 02:57 PM/ET, 12/13/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Washington chefs embrace the Italian-American tradition. By Anna Spiegel
Relish seafood pastas, crudos, and roasted fish all in one meal during Feast of the Seven Fishes. Photograph via Shutterstock.

I love going to restaurants for meals that are hard to recreate at home, and if there’s any such one, it’s the “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” The Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition was borne out of Catholic principles, which call for abstaining from meat on certain holy days. Regardless of religion, feste dei sette pesci is a custom worth adopting. Unless you’re equipped with a fabulous fishmonger and/or Italian grandmother, it’s best to leave the seafood-filled spread to the professionals. When done well, you’re in for an early Christmas present; a parade of aquatic delicacies that involves seven (or more) fish and shellfish dishes over multiple courses. Here are seven options around Washington, including a few that are available over multiple days.

Al Dente

3201 New Mexico Ave., NW; 202-244-2223

Chef Roberto Donna prepares a traditional seven-course feast with dishes like clam stew with spicy sausage and pasta tossed with shrimp and mussels. [Menu]

Details: Served now through December 24th at dinner; $45 per person.


1100 New York Ave., NW; 202-216-9550

Chef Nick Stefanelli whips up a modern Italian feast that includes plates more adventurous (grilled eel with onion compote) and familiar, like seared cod with tomatoes, capers, pine nuts, and olive oil-crushed potatoes. [Menu]

Details: Tuesday, December 24th; $65 per person.

Cafe Milano

3251 Prospect St. NW; 202-333-6183

This sceney Georgetown spot is decked out for the holidays and serves a traditional feast over seven courses, bookended by gratis bubbly to start and traditional Christmas Eve treats at the end. [Menu]

Details: Tuesday, December 24th; $95 per person.

Fiola offers one of the more decadent feasts this year, with oysters, caviar, and lobster. Photograph by Scott Suchman.


601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-628-2888

The Feast of the Seven Fishes isn’t the only Christmas Eve tasting menu offered at this swanky Italian spot, but it sounds wonderfully indulgent. Think oysters with Osetra caviar, ahi tuna and foie gras, and wild cod with black truffles. [Menu]

Details: Tuesday, December 24th; $145 per person (a children’s menu is available for $25).

The Grille at Morrison House

116 S. Alfred St., Alexandria; 703-838-8000

Chef Brian McPherson takes a modern American approach to the meal in Old Town, serving courses like red prawn thermidor over Anson Mills polenta and potato-crusted sea bass with caviar and a wine-poached egg. [Menu]

Details: Tuesday, December 24th; $85 per person.


3435 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-686-2966

If you hadn’t heard, this Cleveland Park neighborhood spot closes soon and serves its last feast of nearly nine years. Owner Dean Gold promises no less than nine fish. [Menu]

Details: Served Thursday, December 19th through Tuesday, December 24; $59 per person/$30 for kids (a children’s menu is also available).

Liberty Tavern

3195 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-465-9360

The restaurant’s name doesn’t scream Italian, but we’re big fans of chef Liam LaCivita’s pastas and pizzas (he’s half-Italian, after all). You’ll find a mussel-topped wood-oven pie, spaghetti with clams, and more, all served family-style. [Menu]

Details: Available through December; $55 per person (with a two person minimum for the family-style format).

Posted at 11:05 AM/ET, 12/12/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Restaurant Eve toque shares tips from his upcoming cookbook. By Anna Spiegel
Chef Cathal Armstrong shares his father’s method for roasting a perfect bird. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

“I’ve cooked probably 3,000 turkeys in my life, and every one has always been spot-on for this recipe,” says Cathal Armstrong, chef/owner of Restaurant Eve.

He learned the method from his father, and a version of the failproof recipe will appear in My Irish Table, Armstrong’s first cookbook, debuting in spring 2014.

While there are many ways to tackle a turkey, Armstrong swears by his: The bacon-wrapped bird first steams in the oven, ensuring moist meat, and is then roasted at a higher temperature to crisp the skin. Health departments don’t recommend stuffing the turkey, but as chef says, “if you decide to be risky like your grandmother,” make sure you take the weight of the stuffing (about a pound here) into account for the cooking time.

Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing

Serves 8 to 10


For the turkey:

1 (15-pound) turkey, such as those from Fields of Athenry Farm (available at Society Fair)
1 package pork bacon
1 roll aluminum foil
Cooking twine
1 pint chicken stock

For the stuffing:

1 pint chicken broth
½ pound diced bacon
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large Idaho potato, diced
4 cups sourdough bread, diced
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
5 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

For the pan gravy:

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts chicken stock


Make the stuffing and turkey:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, thoroughly combine the ingredients for the stuffing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rinse the turkey cavity and pat it dry. Fill the turkey cavity with the stuffing. Tie the legs together tightly. Cover the neck cavity with foil to ensure the skin doesn’t burn and the stuffing stays moist.

Place the turkey on a baking rack set inside a baking sheet, or place turkey on a traditional turkey baking pan with a raised rack.

Cover the breast of the turkey with strips of bacon, followed by a layer of foil to cover this area only.

Pour 1 pint of chicken stock into the baking sheet or pan. Place in the oven.

Cook the turkey for 15 minutes per pound, plus 15 minutes to begin (about 4 hours total for a 15-pound turkey). One hour from finish cooking time, remove the foil from the stuffing section and the breast section, along with the bacon. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. If you want to test the doneness of the bird with a meat thermometer, the target temperature is 165 degrees.

Make the pan gravy:

Once the bird has been removed from the oven, add a small amount of chicken broth to the pan drippings. With a whisk, get the drippings and the liquid moving around.

In a separate bowl make a roux, mixing the flour and butter together.

Set a saucepan over medium heat and add the roux, followed by the chicken stock and pan drippings. Gradually add more chicken stock, stirring, to adjust for consistency (it should be the texture of a light soup). Bring the mixture to a boil until it thickens to a brown gravy. Once it has a thick consistency, remove from the heat and pass it through a fine strainer.

Posted at 01:52 PM/ET, 11/22/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()