Get Your Black-Pudding Fix at Againn

An upscale pub brings all things British (plus 130 kinds of Scotch!) to DC's Penn Quarter. Check out our photo slideshow and the menus.

By: Eliot Stein

>> Check out more photos of Againn in our photo slideshow. 

For all their literary, musical, and theatrical achievements, Britons haven’t traditionally been known for their flair in the kitchen. Fish and chips can be synonymous with crude frying, and mushy peas taste like, well, mush. But thanks to Michelin-starred English chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay—and locals such as Jamie Leeds of CommonWealth—UK cuisine has become de rigueur.

In keeping with this trend is Againn, a British-inspired gastropub that opened last week on the fringes of DC’s Penn Quarter. Contrary to spell check, the oddly named location isn’t a typo—it loosely translates as “are you going?,” “with us,” or “at us,” depending on your Gaelic dictionary.
 

It’s the first solo venture from Mark Weiss, who opened more than 75 restaurants around the world as the former vice president of operations at the Ritz-Carlton. After a year of planning and construction, Weiss has transformed an abandoned space on the ground floor of the Tishman Speyer building into a mod take on the scruffy pubs that he was attracted to while living in New Zealand and London.

Patrons get their first sense of Weiss’s vision when they enter Againn’s foyer, where nine hand-carved fox heads valued at more than $10,000 greet guests. Inside, a forest of dark pine covers the dining room’s booths and 15-tap bar, while Mexican tile runs up the wall toward a leather-paneled ceiling. Many of the restaurant’s 150 wine labels rest in its rear glass cellar, but Againn’s most prized libations—its 130 varieties of Scotch—are displayed in a series of backlit lockers that resemble trophy cases.

Weiss has charged Wesley Morton—formerly the executive chef at Houston’s *17 restaurant—with spiffing up traditional boozy British recipes. Cornish fish soup gets a dash of saffron, the shepherd’s pie is served on a slab of bamboo, and the roast pork with cracklings is drizzled with apple sauce. The menu also features a healthy amount of slangy Scottish fare, such as bashed neeps (mashed turnips and potatoes that traditionally accompany haggis), spotted dick (a steamed pudding with dried fruits), and cock-a-leekie (a leek-and-chicken soup). If you don’t have the stomach for fish and chips, bangers and mash, or Tamworth pork belly, choose something from the gazebo-like marble raw bar holding oysters, prawns, and salmon.

“I’ve always been attracted to comfort food,” Weiss says. “This is very approachable family-style dining—the kind of place where people can come enjoy themselves everyday.”

Yet, if early indications hold true, those planning on coming back everyday might want to call ahead: Againn had more than 180 dinner customers on its opening night.

Againn, 1099 New York Ave., NW; 202-639-9830, againndc.com. Open daily for lunch and dinner.


Bar menu

Scottish Highland beef burger (housemade bun, caramelized onions, farmstead cheddar, chips) $15
Cheese toasties (cheese fondue, farmer’s egg, scallions, brown bread) $12
Black pudding (pan-fried, heirloom apples, onions) $15
Fried Atlantic oysters (lemon mayonnaise, malt vinegar) $13
Ale-battered fish fingers (English egg sauce) $14
Loch Duart salmon tartare (smoked paprika, preserved lemon, toast) $14
Pint of Atlantic prawns (Marie Rose sauce) $15
Chips (malt vinegar, aïoli) $7
Scotch eggs (curry mayonnaise) $13

 

Lunch menu

Raw bar
Selection of East Coast oysters (shallot mignonette, lemon) half-dozen $18, dozen $32
Pint of Atlantic prawns (Marie Rose sauce) $15
Seasonal crab salad (celery root, remoulade, green apple, shaved pecans) $19
Loch Duart salmon tartare (smoked paprika, preserved lemon, toast) $14
Petite shellfish platter (oysters, prawns, mussels, salmon tartare) $45
Grande shellfish platter (oysters, prawns, mussels, picked crab, salmon tartare) $65

Starters
Cured Loch Duart salmon salad (fennel, watercress) $14
Beetroot salad (frisée, walnuts, young goat cheese, honey dressing) $12
Tamworth ham terrine (parsley, capers, shallots) $14
Potted pork (onion marmalade, toast) $13

Soups and sarnies
Potato soup (heirloom apples, cabbage) $9
Ham-and-lentil soup $9
Scottish Highland beef burger (housemade bun, caramelized onions, farmstead cheddar, chips) $15
Fish burger (lemon aïoli, tomato confit, chips) $15
Housemade corned beef (horseradish créme, brown bread, pickles) $14
Cheese toastie (scallions, cheese fondue, fried egg, chips) $12

Entrées
Fish and chips with mushy peas (English egg sauce) $21
Roasted Loch Duart salmon (roasted beets, horseradish crème) $23
Steamed mussels (organic cider, chips) $20
Steak and chips (roasted hanger steak, red-wine/shallot butter) $24

Pies and bangers
Fish pie $15
Vegetable pie $14
Shepherd’s pie (Blue Rooster Farm’s lamb, mashed scallions) $20
Steak-and-oyster pie $21
Bangers and mash (onion gravy) $22
Black pudding (mashed potatoes, onion gravy) $18

Sides
Mashed potatoes $7
Chips $5
Braised greens $7
 

Dinner Menu

Raw bar
Selection of East Coast oysters (shallot mignonette, lemon) half-dozen $18, dozen $32
Pint of Atlantic prawns (Marie Rose sauce) $15
Seasonal crab salad (celery root, remoulade, green apple, shaved pecans) $19
Loch Duart salmon tartare (smoked paprika, preserved lemon, toast) $14
Petite shellfish platter (oysters, prawns, mussels, salmon tartare) $45
Grande shellfish platter (oysters, prawns, mussels, picked crab, salmon tartare) $65

Roast of the day
Monday
Ayrshire Cornish chicken (brussels sprouts, bacon) $24

Tuesday
Leg of Shenandoah lamb (roasted fall vegetables) $32

Wednesday
Roast pork with cracklings (bubble and squeak, stayman-apple sauce) $27

Thursday
Dover sole with brown butter (braised romaine) $38

Friday
Scottish Highland beef ribeye (Yorkshire pudding) $36

Starters
Cornish fish soup (croutons, saffron mayonnaise) $13
Cured Loch Duart salmon salad (fennel, watercress) $14
Beetroot salad (frisée, walnuts, young goat cheese, honey dressing) $12
Tamworth ham terrine (parsley, capers, shallots) $14
Steamed mussels (organic cider, crusty bread) $14
Traditional brawn (piccalilli, toast) $15

Entrées
Fish and chips with mushy peas (English egg sauce) $21
Roasted Loch Duart salmon (roasted beets, horseradish crème) $23
Grilled rockfish (baked lentils, pork hock, braised greens) $24
Cock-a-leekie (braised chicken, leeks, prunes, brisket) $26
Tamworth pork belly (heirloom apples, cabbage, crackling) $23
Bangers and mash (onion gravy) $18
Cast-iron-roasted hanger steak (bone-marrow persillade) $32

Pies and bangers
Fish pie $15
Vegetable pie $14
Shepherd’s pie (Blue Rooster Farm’s lamb, mashed scallions) $18
Steak-and-oyster pie $21
Pork-and-garlic sausage (mashed potatoes, onion gravy) $18
Black pudding (mashed potatoes, onion gravy) $18

Sides
Welsh rarebit $7
Bubble and squeak $7
Bashed neeps $7
Mushy peas $7
Chips $7
Braised greens $7


Dessert

Banoffee pie (bananas, toffee, graham biscuit, cream, ganache) $9
Heirloom-apple cobbler (Calvados cream) $9
Spotted dick (maple-rum custard, raisins, currants) $9
Pear-and-almond tart (clotted cream) $9
Sticky-toffee pudding (toffee sauce, stout ice cream) $9
Chocolate Cambridge cream (pecan shortbread, jam cookie, ginger snap) $9
Stilton and honey $19

Cocktails
Mayflower Martini (chrysanthemum-infused Plymouth, Dolin Blanc, Dolin Dry, lemon bitters) $10
Lady Macbeth (Hendricks or Square 1 Botanical, St. Germain, lemon, rosewater, egg white) $12
Haig and Peaches (Haig Pinch, peach lambic, Aperol, Benedictine, lemon, vanilla/rooibos tincture, egg white) $14
Yeoman Afternoon (Hayman’s Old Tom, earl-grey-infused John L. Sullivan, Rothman & Winteres Orchard Apricot, Dolin Dry, Peychaud’s) $10
The Bare Knuckle Boxer (house-blended madras-curry-infused John L. Sullivan, Rothman & Winters Orchard Apricot, Dolin Dry, Peychaud’s) $10
Dutch Courage (Bols Genever, yellow Chartreuse, fresh rosemary, lemon, rosemary tincture, egg white) $12
Coup D’État (Pineau de Charentes, Cava, lemon, cinnamon tincture) $10
Daiquiri Mélange (Rhum JM eleve sous bois, Averna, lime, chicory tincture) $12
Pimms Cup No. 13 (Pimm’s no. 1, your choice of spirit, English cucumber, mint, lemon, ginger, Angostura, seltzer) $10
Le Cheval Noir (Calvados, Leopold Brothers Three Pins, hot water, house made quatre epices/honey syrup, lemon) $12

 

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