Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Slate Wine Bar + Bistro Food Review

Duck Breast Egg Rolls

It's Restaurant Week in the nation's capital, which means three lunch courses for $20.14 (and an unofficial license to order dessert.) I'll be honest: I have a list of places, I save for such occasions. Slate Wine Bar + Bistro in Glover Park was tops on my list (thanks to some much-hyped Duck Breast Egg Rolls) so I braved the rain, humidity and more rain to finally try them. If you could see the wide grin on my face, you'd know they lived up to their billing. Thank you Restaurant Week, and thank you Slate Wine Bar + Bistro.

Slate may not be the biggest eatery on this popular stretch of Wisconsin Avenue, NW (directly across the street from Whole Foods Market) but it's definitely the most stylish. Two floors of blue walls, chic wood floors and crisp white tablecloths compliment the soothing sounds of Lorde and Amy Winehouse, as an attentive staff busies itself, delivering plate after plate of scrumptiousness. It's enough to make a man (or woman) appreciate Restaurant Week (did I mention three courses for just $20.14?)

Slate Burger with Applewood Bacon & Fried Farm Egg

After taking a seat near the bar, I waved off the friendly advances of a server with menu in hand; and notified him of my intentions to order something very specific (and long-anticipated.) As luck would have it, all of my must-haves were included on Slate's Restaurant Week menu. All I needed was something good to drink, and manager/owner Danny Lledo remedied that with a fresh-squeezed lemonade that cooled me down in no time flat. As for food, choosing a starter was a no-brainer... the aforementioned Duck Breast Egg Rolls, served with honey mustard sauce. I was very tempted to order Fish & Chips or Fish Tacos for my entree; but I opted for the Slate Burger with applewood bacon and a fried farm egg ($2 extra.) Dessert? Slate's popular Hot Fudge Brownie, although their Fresh Fruit Tart looked just as appetizing/sinful. Rule #1 for food critics - Stick to the game plan, or risk the wrath of the "What if" gods.

Slate Fries

Before my egg rolls arrived, I darted upstairs to catch a glimpse of Slate's second floor mezzanine. It's a great space (with its own private entrance) and an idyllic spot towards the front, overlooking the bar area. Individual restrooms (one each for men & women) were clean & comfortable. When I came back to my seat, I was greeted by a gorgeous plate of four open-faced egg rolls stuffed with duck meat, carrots, corn and various spices. On each end of the plate, different sauces. The current honey mustard (sweet, delicious and the perfect compliment to duck) and a soy-chili sauce that's probably better served in the fall/winter. Kudos for a crisp and flavorful crust, and a standing ovation for the filling. Bottom line: You won't find better egg rolls in all of DC.

Hot Fudge Brownie

Timing between courses was perfect (great service all-around) and within minutes, I was staring down an impressive plate of burger and fries. The burger was served inside a brioche bun, and sported a perfectly fried egg on top. It normally comes with cheese and herb mayo, but adding that to a fried egg is close to sacrilegious in my book. Bacon was crisp and just salty enough, although I'd prefer a little more seasoning from the burger itself. Thankfully, it wasn't an issue, given the flavorful egg; but it's worth noting all the same (if for no other reason, than to prove Slate isn't perfect... but darn close.)

Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade

Speaking of perfection... The fries. OMG, the fries. Deliciously crisp, golden brown and thin, they arrive perfectly seasoned with salt and pepper (why don't more chefs add pepper beforehand?) I've lost interest in fries of late (too many, perhaps?) but these were entirely devoured inside of three minutes. Absolutely fantastic. P.S. Bonus points for the fries' complete lack of greasiness. P.S.S. Loved the dill pickle too!

With a solid burger and impeccable fries in my rear view mirror, I moved on to dessert. Hot fudge brownies are a dime a dozen; but Slate's is nothing close to what I was used to. For starters, the brownie is warm and flaky with a generous scoop of rich, vanilla ice cream drenched in chocolate sauce with a splash of butterscotch (I love butterscotch.) End result? Yet another empty plate. At this point, I couldn't even recall the horrendous weather outside.

Second Floor Mezzanine

Slate Wine Bar + Bistro appears to be much, much more than a place to grab a burger and fries; but I'm a man on a mission (at least on a first visit.) They're about to celebrate their second anniversary, with an updated menu: I can't wait to try it. Brunch beckons, with the promise of fruit-filled donut holes and Chicken & Waffles; and let's not forget the same burger I had yesterday (minus the bacon & egg) at Happy Hour for just $6. Click here to see all their menus.

Conspicuously absent from my review? Wine. I don't pretend to know much about it, so I won't bore you with my lack of knowledge; but word on the street says Slate has an impressive selection (click here to see for yourself.) What I do know is this: Slate Wine Bar + Bistro is stylish with little to no pretense, and downright delicious food. That's enough for me (not including the wine.) Bottoms up!