Sunday, August 25, 2019

b DC Penn Quarter Food Review

Old Bay Fish 'n Chips at b DC Penn Quarter

b DC Penn Quarter is known for two of my favorite vices (bourbon and burgers) but as you may remember, I don't drink until after six (PM, no need to snicker) and I had a hankering for Fish & Chips on one of the hottest days of the year. Lucky for me, the Connecticut-based b Restaurants likes to keep their options open. That means choices galore, and a road meal less traveled, but quite possibly... even more delectable.

Atmosphere: You couldn't ask for a better location (Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, alongside the U.S. Navy Memorial.) Inside, cozy and spacious with a bright, sprawling bar in the back, crimson red light fixtures and a row of eclectic metallic wonders + carpet on the ceiling (yes, carpet on the ceiling.) Fun, fun, fun.

Southern Sliders with Fries

Food: I didn't plan on eating much (it was 100° outside, lunch, etc.) but it's hard to leave good food on the plate. That includes an appetizer of Southern Sliders (pulled pork & chicken, with southern-style cole slaw on top) and a ton of well-seasoned fries for $10.19. Talk about value. The brioche buns were soft & toasted, and stayed together, despite their moist/tender contents. The fries were 10x better than my previous visit (almost five years ago) and you could easily order this as your entree... and still run the risk of not cleaning your plate.

Housemade Cheesecake

Next up (and perfectly timed, so I didn't have to rush) a giant plate of two perfectly fried Wild Alaska Pollock fillets, atop a crisscross stack of hand-cut fries, sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. Turns out, the fries were marinated for 24 hours, and tasted completely different (but just as delicious) as the ones I had with my sliders. When was the last time you had two completely different kinds of fries during the same meal?

Back to the fish, which sported the best/thickest/most flavorful batter in the entire DMV. The fish itself was dynamite (second only to Slapfish, for Fish & Chips) so it goes without saying, "odds are, you're gonna love it." The Cajun remoulade adds an extra kick of heat; but truth be told, it's unnecessary. I suggest sticking with a few drops of malt vinegar. The cole slaw is great too, unless you like yours with tons of mayo (which I don't.) P.S. It bears repeating: The fish batter is truly unbelievable.

Last but not least, a Housemade Cheesecake that changes weekly. Mine had a unique chocolate chip cookie topping with no fruit in site. My first thoughts? Uh oh, this is gonna be heavy. Wrong! The cheesecake filling is so soft, so fluffy, it might bring tears to your eyes. The inner goodness comes with a thin layer of whipped cream for added decadence, not to mention the perfect contrast to the scrumptious (and heartier) exterior. When you consider it only costs $6.99, it makes sense to order one to go every week (if only I lived downtown.) Dessert for lunch: Could this be a thing? God, I hope so.

Service: Top notch, across the board. Attentive, but never intrusive, led by a superb professional server (Robert) energetic table runners, and a warm check-in by executive chef Cici Suess, when she heard how much I liked loved her dessert. Ditto for other customers, which proves it's no fluke.

Shazam Test: Noisy at first, but a nice mix of The Drums, Lower Dens & The Strokes after.

Value: Portions are humungous. Three generous sliders and a mound of fries for a tenner? In-sane! Even the dessert (a mere $6.99) is a literal mouthful, meant for two, possibly even three people.

Bottom Line: Next time, I'm coming for dinner... and (lots of) bourbon. This is one of those rare downtown eateries that's equal parts casual, friendly and upscale, with delicious, generously-sized portions for a fair price. What more can you ask for?