Rockville Town Square will have more eclectic dining options come summer. Federal Realty brings the news that two separate restaurants, Miso Café and Samovar, will make their debuts in the growing development.
Both eateries are independent ventures. Miso is the sister restaurant of a Japanese izakaya in Annandale, and will specialize in Korean-fusion fare served in a 2,265 square-foot, full-service space. Samovar comes from father-and-daughter team Solijon Nasimov and Ika Nasimova, who currently cater at the Russian Trade and Cultural Missions and Tajikistan Embassy, which represents their home country. The kitchen will focus primarily on Russian cuisine, but also draw from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Live music is also planned for weekends.
The two eateries add to the increasingly global dining scene at RTS, where chef Peter Chang is slated to open his second Washington restaurant in April. Stay tuned for more details.
Passover begins at sundown on Friday, April 3, and most of these eateries will have specials for the festival's full eight days. Some are more kosher than others (l'chaim, Star & Shamrock), but wherever you go, chances are you'll have a bowl of matzo-ball soup waiting for you.
1805 14th St., NW; 202-265-2674
Order by April 1 to take advantage of Cork’s take-out Passover and Easter menu, which includes house-made matzo-ball soup and chicken-liver mousse, as well as a farro salad with kale, pine nuts, tangerines, and feta. Kosher wines start at $15.
818 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-331-8118
Chef Todd Gray’s three-course community Seder features your choice of a brisket served with a balsamic-Malbec reduction, or toasted pearl-barley and forest mushroom risotto. Israeli wines and music—Tina Chancey plays the fiddle, medieval and Irish—accompany the meal, with Haggadahs provided for group readings.
15th St., NW; 202-489-0140
Naturally, the seafood standby’s Passover prix fixe includes gefilte fish with red beet horseradish, as well as wild striped bass en papillote. For vegetarians, the bibb lettuce and chive salad comes with a veggie version of chopped liver.
1423 P St., NW; 202-332-3710
The three-course menu at this neighborhood tavern is veggie-friendly, with vegetarian matzo-ball soup and eggplant parmesan fried in matzo meal on offer. Finish with flourless chocolate cake and meringues and macaroons for the table. Ten percent of proceeds benefit the Jewish Food Experience.
Details: Menu; $40 per person, $20 for kids 12 and under, plus $25 for optional wine pairing or $15 corkage fee; reservations required; available April 3 and April 4, with seatings at 5:30 and 8.
Teddy & The Bully Bar
1200 19th St., NW; 202-872-8700
TR’s favorite watering hole is offering a four-course menu that includes gefilte fish pavé, herring brandade, deviled eggs stuffed with chicken liver, and braised brisket.
1914 Ninth St., NW; 202-686-2966
The prix fixe feast at this Shaw Italian restaurant isn’t exactly kosher, though it is “kosher-style.” In addition to the “Passover Trinity” of chopped chicken liver, gefilte fish, and matzo-ball soup, you’ll start with charoset and leek fritter, get all the veal breast, chicken legs, and fish-of-the-day you can eat, and finish with flourless almond cake.
1317 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-293-4400
No surprise here, where the chopped chicken liver and matzo-ball soup are delicious year-round. The four-course Passover menu starts with the soup (made with bone marrow, mustard oil, and pea shoots) and moves to pan-roasted striped bass, grilled Shenandoah Valley lamb, and an apple and rhubarb crumble. Catering, with delivery, is also available for Seders at home.
1341 H St., NE; 202-388-3833
This Irish bar-Jewish deli is celebrating Passover and its fifth anniversary with a Saturday-night party. Expect Irish twists on the usual Passover dishes, with He’brew and Harp on tap.
1625 I St., NW; 202-689-8999
The Passover menu at this steakhouse isn’t exactly traditional, but it does nod to the Seder with lamb shank, a slow-cooked “62 Degree” egg, and compressed endive served with apricot marmalade and sherry.
600 I St., NW; 202-408-3100
Realtor-chef Renee Peres is hosting two certified-Kosher dinners at this downtown synagogue. The menu is still in the works, but “Jewish soul food” is planned for the buffet-style meal.
Details: $18 in advance, $22 day-of; available April 6 and April 8, 6:30-8:30.
601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-628-2888
Five courses of Italian-Jewish cooking includes canederli in brodo: Italian matzo balls, morels, truffles, and capon consommé. An artichoke salad, grilled branzino (seabass), and rack of lamb round out the meal, with strawberry sorbet for dessert.
Details: Menu; $70 per person, plus tax and tip; available April 7 through April 11.
Happy rainy Thursday morning, food truck followers! You can stave off the wet by chowing down on some delicately seasoned jerk chicken at Jamaican Mi Crazy, or if you're near the CNN building, try spotting Wolf Blitzer in line for tapas at Tapas Truck.
Welcome back to the Great Burger Battle semifinals! Yesterday Five Guys attempted to take on Holy Cow, but the herd mentality was clear: the Del Rey joint beat the homegrown chain with nearly 72 percent of the votes. We’ll see the Divine Bovine again in the next round.
Today we have two very different teams: Smashburger, a Denver-based chain with 11 Washington locations, and Burger Tap & Shake, a Foggy Bottom eatery from chef Jeff Tunks. The former likes to smash its patties thin on the griddle for crispy char, the latter leans plumper on its buttered brioche bun. Both go strong on toppings, from Smash’s avocado and ranch-sauced club to the Benton’s bacon, buttermilk blue, and ‘shrooms crowning BTS’s Big Daddy.
So who packs a better patty? Show us in the polls.
Washingtonians will have a new spot for steak-frites as of Thursday, when Maxime opens its doors in the longtime Guards location. The casual French bistro from the Bodega and Thunder Burger owners announced they’ll debut for dinner, serving a concise brasserie menu in a rustic French setting. Owners Ben Kirane, Moe Idrissi, and Joe Idrissi formerly ran an Italian eatery, Rialto, in the same space, but wanted to change over to a more casual, high-energy concept.
While classics like onion soup, mussels, and quiche are options, the focus is “La Formule,” a set meal priced at $19.95 that includes steak, “secret sauce,” salad, frites, and a baguette bread basket. The formula is similar to that of Medium Rare, or for those who remember 1970’s dining in Georgetown, Le Steak. Chef Ryan Fichter also offers a marinated portobello mushroom or salmon filet as red meat alternatives.
The 75-seat eatery aims to be a neighborhood spot, with wallet-friendly dishes and a wine list that keeps bottles at $45 and under.
Stay tuned for more details around the opening.
Maxime. 2915 M St., NW. Open daily, 4 to 11.
One of the most anticipated openings of the spring is almost here: Bonchon is set to open its first DC branch in Navy Yard on March 30. The Korean fried chicken has earned a loyal (if not slightly crazed) following in the greater Washington area, with ten branches from Annandale to Rockville dishing up the crunchy, double-fried birds. Hour plus-long waits can form at peak times. A single branch blew through 10,000 wings on Super Bowl Sunday.
New dishes, same chicken
The inaugural District location, located just three blocks from Nationals Park, comes courtesy of Thomas An and Paul Choi, who’re also behind the Arlington and Centreville branches of the franchise. The menu will be similar to Arlington’s, though the team has added new Korean-fusion dishes, such as a bulgogi steak and cheese wrap and bulgogi sliders stacked on brioche buns with homemade kimchi slaw. More traditional additions include japchae, glass noodles sautéed with vegetables and beef, and a Japanese-inspired crab rice ball wrapped in seared salmon. Crunchy wings, drumsticks, and legs are a given, slicked in spicy or soy-garlic glaze.
A large bar, outdoor patio to come
Local architecture and design firm GrizForm is behind the decor, as is the case with the Arlington shop. Though not a sports bar, drinkers can post up in the 90-seat lounge area equipped with televisions for watching the game playing out at nearby Nationals Park. A full bar is armed with 30 bottles and 16 draft beers, a blend of Asian brews like Kirin and Sapporo alongside local craft drafts such as Port City and Bold Rock Cider from Virginia. Wines and spirits mirror the mix, with sakes and sojus as well as Western liquors. A separate dining area roughly seats 65, with classic Bonchon red and black hues mixed with wood tables and surfaces. Once the weather warms next season the eatery can fit 60 to 80 guests on an outdoor patio.*
Separate takeout space
Bonchon locations are known for swift takeout business—the double-fried chicken holds up particularly well—and the DC location will be no different. A designated takeout counter is located at the back of the eatery for picking up orders, particularly handy on game days or for lunch. Though details are still in the works, the team plans for special to-go packages for home Nats games.
Happy hour, late night
The fried chicken spot is angling to be a place for all times of day. Happy hour will run Monday through Friday, 4 to 7, with discounted prices on five draft beers, select bottles, and dishes like the bulgogi sliders. While the cheaper offerings won’t be served when the Nats are playing at home, the kitchen will remain open late for post-game revelry; 11 on weekdays, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Win or lose, late-night Bonchon is still winning.
Bonchon Navy Yard. 1015 Half St., SE.
* This post has been updated from an earlier version.
“Vegetables, unleashed” is the fitting tagline for chef José Andrés’s new restaurant, Beefsteak (as in tomato, not steak of beef). The fast-casual, garden-oriented eatery began its soft-opening run last Friday, and has been doing swift business out of its home in George Washington University’s Science and Engineering Hall; Andrés tweeted "I want to cry...@beefsteak 150 people in the first hour!"
The enthusiasm, both on the part of the owner and customers, is telling. More than a way to appeal to lunchtime masses, Beefsteak is a passion project for the chef—even for Andrés, who seems pretty passionate about everything. He's described the vegetable-centric, wallet-friendly concept as one that could improve the diets and lives of Americans, and one day feed millions (this just in: a second Beefsteak is planned for Dupont Circle, among other locations).
“This is not a salad bar,” says Andrés in a YouTube video that describes Beefsteak’s raison d'être. “This is not vegetarian or vegan. This is not a health food restaurant. This is great food, fresh, good for you, made right in front of you while you watch, and affordable to many.”
Here’s what to look for when you go. Stay tuned for more information about the official opening soon.
As of now the menu (sample) includes four pre-designed combinations, all $7.99. At the first station, heartier vegetables are chosen and lightly boiled to-order in a water bath right on the assembly line, such as in the Naked bowl that mixes yellow squash, potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. The warm garden melange is then moved onwards, getting a ladle of sauce (roasted garlic yoghurt), raw veggies (tomatoes, radishes), and finishing touches (crushed almonds, drizzles of lemon and olive oil). Other creations include the stir fry-esque Kimchi-Wa with white rice, or our first-impression favorite, the Eden, a green vegetable lover’s paradise with quinoa and citrusy cilantro sauce.
Customers are encouraged to make their own creations, with many more choices on the customizable menu (sample) than at an average salad bar. Start by picking the seasonal cooked-to-order vegetables, followed by an optional grain, sauce and/or dressing, and a plethora of toppings that range from raw vegetables like cucumber and romaine, nuts and cheeses, and crunchy additions like sesame seeds, toasted seaweed, and crispy onions. Certain combos can be more substantial—say steamed vegetables with bulgur, spicy tomato sauce, and mozzarella—or forgo grains and sauces for a lighter mix of vegetables, seeds, sprouts, and lemon-honey dressing.
Optional animal protein (but no beefsteaks)
As of now all bowls, pre-designed and DIY, are $7.99. Upgrades come in the form of four choices for “something meaty,” which cost an extra $2 to $4. While the vegetarian crowd can bulk up with half an avocado or runny sous-vide egg, carnivores can opt for sliced roast chicken or salt-cured salmon, both made in-house. The fish we tried was flecked with dill and delicately flavored, and made a tasty addition to the Eden bowl with its complimenting asparagus, cucumber salad, snow peas, scallions, quinoa, cilantro, and yoghurt.
Just because we’re talking counter-order vegetables doesn’t mean Beefsteak is indulgence-free. In addition to house-made beet-apple juice and lavender lemonade, guests can opt for local beer from DC Brau and Flying Dog with their meal. A fridge case also holds wine from Infinite Monkey Theorem, and Oregon’s Union Wine Co. pinot gris and pinot noir. And of course, José Andrés-brand potato chips for snacking.
Veggies at play
The decor is playful in Andrés-ian fashion. White vegetable crates cover part of the ceiling, while cartoonish images of their contents run along walls, like a self-peeling potato in the window. The small-ish eatery is designed for takeout as much as dine-in, so seating can be fairly limited during busy times. Better make like an anthropomorphized pepper and be willing to walk with your meal.
Beefsteak. 800 22nd St., NW. Open daily,10:30 to 10 (soft-opening hours and menu options may vary).
Welcome back to the Great Burger Battle semifinals! It was an exciting first round, and now we’re off to the next with eight heavyweight patty joints. The newest winner to join the group is Plan B Burger Bar, a last-minute entry who took over from the Plan A pick, Black & Orange (now closed). Better late than never: the triple B managed to throw Bobby's Burger Palace down and out. See the current standings below.
It’s a battle of the bulk with today’s two teams. Del Ray eatery Holy Cow knows how stack a patty, with arm-dripper combinations like the Holy Pig topped with pulled pork, slaw, and barbecue sauce from sister joint Pork Barrel BBQ. But can this local shop out-oink Five Guys, now an international chain known to bring home the double-bacon burgers?
Both satisfy our most carnivorous cravings, but only one patty can proceed. Rate your stomach rumblings in the poll.
It wasn’t too long ago that our Facebook newsfeeds began to be overtaken with status updates swooning over the wonders of Trader Joe’s “cookie butter.” The grocery chain’s decadent spread—a sweet paste with spicing reminiscent of gingerbread—may be modern, but the basis of the bestselling stuff is something that’s been popular, at least in Belgium, for decades: speculoos cookies. Now pastry chefs at restaurants of all levels—and even Ben & Jerry’s—are capitalizing on our appetite for the cinnamon-and-clove-scented confections. Let’s start with the humble end of the spectrum:
Ben & Jerry’s (area grocery stores) — The cookies hit the ice-cream aisle in the new Spectacular Speculoos, a vertically layered pint holding caramel and vanilla ice creams and cookie butter.
Et Voila! (5120 MacArthur Blvd., NW; 202-237-2300) — What Oreos are to kids in the States, speculoos are to children in Belgium—so it stands to reason the treats would crop up at this Flemish and French bistro, which serves ice cream made by infusing milk with the aromatic cookies.
Mintwood Place (1813 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-234-6732) — Crumbled speculoos take the place of traditional graham crackers for this rustic Adams Morgan restaurant’s Key-lime pie.
Blue Duck Tavern (1201 24th St., NW; 202-419-6755) — Pastry chef Naomi Gallego reimagines grandmotherly tea and cookies by pairing Earl Grey custard with speculoos and mandarin-orange sorbet.
Quill (1200 16th St., NW; 202-448-2300) — The Jefferson hotel’s swank cocktail lounge accents its tart lemon custard with caramel containing a dose of cookie paste.
This article appears in our April 2015 issue of Washingtonian.