Monday, January 25, 2016

Restaurant Week Preview

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup from 1789 Restaurant

Restaurant Week Snow Delay!
by Susan Barocas (Contributing Editor)

Even #Snowzilla can’t keep the DMV’s talented and dedicated restaurant community away from their posts! Our city’s 19th Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week goes on this week, regardless of snow plows, mountains of snow, snowed-in Metro service or whatever else may come.

Winter Restaurant Week, January 25-31, is a great time to support your favorite restaurant or take advantage of the special pricing and menus to DC area newcomers on the thriving food scene. During this week, over 250 DC area restaurants offer a three-course fixed price lunch for $22 and/or dinner for $35. Some have developed special Restaurant Week menus, while others allow you to order off the menu. You can try restaurants from City Center, 14th Street, Shaw and Penn Quarter to Bethesda, Old Town, Arlington, Silver Spring and beyond.

I’ve long been a Restaurant Week believer as I can remember, making it a point to try new places during both the winter and summer events, while also checking in at some of my favorites. “Make new friends but keep the old,” as we used to sing in Girl Scouts! This year I got lucky and was able to knock four off my list, by participating in a special media preview of just a very few of the dishes. So I’m already ahead of my Restaurant Week game plan!

Roasted Cauliflower from Tico

We started off with Tico’s a crunchy, refreshing cabbage salad with salsa verde and almonds. A second, dare-I-say-healthy dish featured roasted cauliflower (today’s “it” vegetable) with cojita cheese, chipotle aioli and crunchy fava beans. The aioli gave it just the right amount of zip while the roasting deepened the flavors.

Short Ribs from 1789 Restaurant

The roasted butternut squash soup from 1789 Restaurant was velvety, savory warmth studded with spiced pepitas and a beurre noisette. The first of two excellent short rib dishes followed, this one with rich with pearl and cippolini onions, oyster mushrooms, pommes purées and Bordelaise sauce.

Ten 01

Ten 01’s short ribs went a different but equally flavorful way, accompanied by smoked cheddar grits and garlicky greens with a hefeweizen and horseradish jus. By the way, I didn’t know either. Hefeweizen is an unfiltered, Bavarian-style wheat beer with wonderful full flavor.

Chicken Milanese from Ris

Our host restaurant, Ris, is a DC favorite, and its preview dishes reminded us why. The cauliflower was a perfect party of flavors and textures, served with roasted spaghetti squash and French green lentils, pine nuts, raisins, pomegranate seeds and mint, lemon, honey and Greek yoghurt. Tender Chicken Milanese was cloaked in a lemon and parmesan crust and served with golden garlic roasted potatoes and the nice balance of a prosciutto and arugula salad.

Crown of Cauliflower from Ris

I thought I had paced myself throughout the tasting; but by the time we got to dessert, I was so full, that I just had to keep reminding myself I had to taste everything for my work... Riiight. Raisins and Kit Kat pieces (you read that right) studded Ten 01’s coconut rice pudding with crunchy, chocolatey surprises, while Ris gave us the sponge cake goodness of one of Australia’s favorite desserts, Lamington with raspberry filling, coconut and chocolate glaze and refreshing raspberry sorbet. There was just enough space left for one of my favorites... pavlova, prepared here with the warm tropical flavors of kiwi, banana, pineapple and passion fruit.

Whew! The things a gal has to do for work. And the thing is, there are still 246 other restaurants to try!

As if all this good food at great prices isn’t enough, check out the Diner Rewards Program. When you book a reservation through at participating restaurants during Restaurant Week and opt in to receive emails on exclusive deals on meals and other food related events, you are automatically entered to win prizes.

Starting Monday, updates will be posted on the RAMWDC websites; but be sure to double-check with individual restaurants before going to see what they are offering plus any altered hours or cancellations because of the storm.

The Restaurant Association has some good advice for all of us this week: Dig out. Dine out. Eat up. Sounds like a plan to me.

Update: Seems every (snow) cloud does has a silver lining... Restaurant Week has been extended through February 3rd. Way to go Mother Nature!