The Wydown

The coffee options are now plentiful in the Logan Circle/Shaw neighborhood: Dolcezza, Peregrine Espresso, BakeHouse, The Coffee Bar, La Colombe, Slipstream, and Compass Coffee, to name a few. But there is one place that has completely won my heart, and that is The Wydown. Why does The Wydown stand out from the others? First up: you can smell the incredible house-made cinnamon rolls, scones, and croissants made by the talented Sophie Camp from a block away. The Wydown might be small, but they make everything from scratch right behind the coffee counter, making it impossible for me to leave with just a cup of coffee.

The Wydown was opened in June of 2014 by brothers Chad and Alex McCracken. Originally from St. Louis, which explains their use of Kaldi's Coffee, however they also use roasters Intelligentsia Coffee as well as PT's Coffee.

Every Saturday morning I wake up and head over to The Wydown for coffee and my go-to pastry: a raspberry rose scone. You heard me. It's the most divine combination of flavors, and has a light dusting of sugar on top and a perfectly dense yet moist center. Sophie also does a killer blackberry lavender scone, and a bacon, sage, and fontina biscuit. On a recent visit there was a long line and when I finally arrived at the counter to place my order, the wonderful staff member manning the cash register reached into the oven and pulled out a scone that he had thrown in the oven when he saw me in the back of the line. He knew my order, and it melted my heart.

Coffee at The Wydown.jpg

The Wydown has a neighborhood feel, the music is always great, and the large garage door at the front is lovely when it is propped open in the warmer weather, but also nice when closed as it circulates the sweet smells from the baked goods and creates an incubator of warmth. My only complaint about The Wydown? There isn't enough seating. But if you get there at the right time and snag a seat, you have pretty much won the day.

The Wydown
1924 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
@TheWydown

The Wydown on Urbanspoon

Slipstream

Logan Circle has become a coffee mecca. The new Slipstream located on 14th Street, which is serving crafted coffee by Madcap, cocktails, and food is another cafe to add to the growing list of options. The space is warm and inviting, and takes a different approach with waitress style service and a menu that provides interesting small dishes to accompany your cup of Joe.

Slipstream was opened by couple Ryan Fleming and Miranda Mirabella. Their concept is unique with their coffee offerings including blends (some espresso and some drip coffee), and single origins from Colombia, Mexico, and Ethiopia. Their menu provides detailed descriptions of the coffees, and from there you can choose your brewing style: espresso, espresso with milk, or drip coffee. For those unfamiliar with the craft coffee approach, the staff is helpful and can talk you through the ordering process. In addition, Slipstream also offers hot drinks such as a Thoughtful Mocha, or an Almond Cashew Milk Cappuccino, as well as cold drinks including an Espresso Tonic. They also have a host of tea options on the menu for those who are less coffee inclined.

At Slipstream's counter one can order a coffee to go, or a pastry from the case. There is also room to perch and read the newspaper. However, for those who are seated in the cafe, there are great breakfast and lunch menu options of artisanal toasts including the goat cheese mousse and avocado which is a favorite of mine. Also on the menu: toast with house-made apple butter and sea salt, and a breakfast bowl with shaved asparagus, lemon, rice, and egg (with the option to add pork belly!) I made the mistake of ordering it without, and it definitely lacked flavor. The pork belly likely adds more depth, or even hearty mushrooms would make the dish more flavorful and substantial.

Slipstream offers a full dinner service led by Chef Jonathan Bisagni in addition to their busy daytime business. His menu is innovative and creative and includes a slow braised pork "banh-mi", a smoked arctic char with yuzu creme fraiche, dill, scallions, lemon zest, and olive oil, and his take on a New England lobster roll. The price point at Slipstream is reasonable, and it feels like a more casual notch down from a regular restaurant setting (in a good way.) The service is slow and a bit disorganized, but I can only imagine the crowds and popularity are more than the owners were expecting upon opening.

Slipstream's concept is unique, and I've enjoyed stopping in for coffee and toast since it arrived in the neighborhood. It also doesn't hurt that they offer a full craft cocktail menu as well as a wine and beer list to appease just about anyone. I always appreciate reading about people who leave the corporate world to build their own business fueled by passion, and I wish Ryan and Miranda a lot of luck with their new endeavor at Slipstream.

Slipstream
1333 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
@SlipstreamDC

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Birthday Dinner at Osteria Morini

I always put a lot of time and thought into where I want to spend my birthday dinner. It's a big decision, and I tend to lean towards selecting places that make me feel at home, and that allow the evening to feel special. This year I decided to celebrate at Osteria Morini in Navy Yard. I have always loved restaurants that fall within Michael White's Altamarea Group, and I love that the restaurant sits on the Southeast waterfront. A group of us arrived to a semi-busy dining room on Saturday evening and we got the night started with a round of Prosecco and some beautiful bottles of Nebbiolo.

The cheese and charcuterie selections are plentiful, but I particularly enjoy their crostinis. Instead of placing the spreads on the pieces of bread individually, they place large scoops of the spreads on the board, and then allow you to serve it yourself on the warm and crusty bread they provide. The Parmigiano "gelato" with aged balsamic is my favorite. Additionally, the stracciatella with ruby grapefruit and pistachio is not to be missed. While everything at Osteria Morini is lovely, the pastas by Executive Chef Matthew Adler are definitely the stars of the dinner menu.

You cannot go wrong here. Above you see pictured the bucatini with crab and sea urchin, the tagliatelle with ragu, the rigatoni with braised wild mushrooms, and the cappelletti with truffled ricotta and melted better. We slurped up every noodle and speck of sauce-- it's hard to imagine anything more comforting to eat on a cold winter night. Important note: Osteria Morini is currently offering a "Morini Mondays" deal where all pastas are $10 all night long. Now you have no excuse to not go!

On top of your pasta fest, make sure you save room for dessert at Osteria Morini. Executive Pastry Chef Alex Levin is the best in town, and he was overly generous on my birthday and allowed us a taste of so many delicious treats. The banana caramellata with caramelized banana marscapone, chocolate crema and pecan crunch is a showstopper, and the peanut butter rice pudding with concord grape gelato sorbetto was a favorite at our table.

Osteria Morini serves wonderful food, but the staff is also incredibly helpful and friendly which makes it an even more fun place to celebrate. I'm so glad I chose to spend my birthday my friends over delicious bowls of pasta and gluttonous desserts at Morini.

Osteria Morini
301 Water Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
@OsteriaMoriniDC

Osteria Morini on Urbanspoon

New Year's Day Brunch at Medium Rare

There is something very refreshing about a small and tailored menu. To me it says that the restaurant knows what it does well, and is dedicated to focusing on those items and ensuring they are always done right. Enter Medium Rare, the D.C. go-to for steak frites, which was opened by Tom Gregg and Mark Bucher in Cleveland Park back in 2011. The restaurant was an instant hit, pulling its inspiration from Parisian spots such as Le Relais de l'Entrecôte which serve high quality steak frites, and nothing else. And in recent years it has expanded with a second outpost in Barracks Row. However, Medium Rare is also known for their brunch, and every year they do a New Year's Day pajama brunch that my friends and I decided to attend just a few days ago.

The restaurant is warm and neighborhood casual, and on January 1st the music was on-point. Loud, but not too loud, and playing hits by Bruce Springsteen, Gin Blossoms, and Goo Goo Dolls. Many people arrived in robes and flannel pants, all of which was applauded for this special occasion. The staff wore party hats, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The brunch menu consists of a few classics:

  • Steak Frites
  • Steak and Eggs
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Egg Frites and Sausage
  • French Toast & Sausage

The deal is hard to beat-- for $23 you get your choice of drink (bottomless Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers, Mimosa, coffee and fresh orange juice), your choice of an appetizer (salad or yogurt parfait), and an entree. Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday at both locations.

There is no question you should go to Medium Rare for their steak frites, but you absolutely should make a point to join them for brunch as well. That french toast is not messing around.

Medium Rare
Cleveland Park: 3500 Connecticut Avenue NW
Capitol Hill/Barracks Row: 515 8th Street SE
@MediumRareDC

Medium Rare on Urbanspoon

2014 Year In Review

It has been a long year. I am really looking forward to 2015 and a ton of new possibilities, but I always like to take a minute to look back and appreciate the amazing things I ate, saw, and accomplished over the past year.

  1. In January I celebrated my 30th birthday and started the year off with a bang by visiting Florence, Italy for a week. I ate my way through the city by indulging in pizza, pasta, and wine at every turn. Some of my favorite spots along the way included Coquinarius, Il Santo Bevitore, Trattoria 4 Leoni, and Cantinetta Antinori. You can read about my trip to Italy here.
  2. Some of my favorite restaurants that opened in 2014 include Lupo Verde, Compass Rose, and Crane and Turtle. All are great additions to the Washington food scene, and they all seem to be great fits for their respective neighborhoods of Logan Circle/14th Street and Petworth. You can read my review of Lupo Verde here, and of Compass Rose here.
  3. Given D.C.'s close proximity to New York, I get the opportunity to head up to the city often. This year I tried many new spots as well as classics including The NoMad, Locanda Verde, Lafayette, Toro, El Toro Blanco, and Pearl & Ash. You can read about the amazing tagliatelle with crab at The NoMad here, and about my weekend in NYC here.
  4. In June I took a trip to Virginia wine country in Middleburg with my friends Tammy and Alejandra. We stayed at The Salamander Resort & Spa, and enjoyed visiting Phillip Carter Winery, Three Fox Vineyards, and Boxwood Winery. We also enjoyed meals at The French Hound and Market Salamander. You can read about my trip to Middleburg here.
  5. Towards the end of the summer I took a vacation to Paris and the south of France. I spent a few days in Aix en Provence eating croissants, strolling through the cobblestone streets, and enjoying the French countryside. I visited many of the perched villages in the Luberon such as Bonnieux and Roussillon. It was an amazing trip that I will never forget. You can read about my trip to France here.
  6. A big thank you to DomiCile Magazine for featuring me on the cover of their fall issue. I had the opportunity to dish about all of my favorite neighborhood spots, and how much I love living in Logan Circle. You can read the issue here.
  7. There are always many fun and festive food events throughout the year to enjoy. In 2014 I had a wonderful time at the RAMMY Awards celebrating the best of food and drink in town. I also enjoyed the opening party of DBGB with Daniel Boulud, and I had a great time judging the annual Lamb Jam contest. More information on this year's RAMMY Award winners here, and the results of the 2014 Lamb Jam here.
  8. Earlier this month I took a trip to Healdsburg, CA and loved exploring wine country. Favorite meals were enjoyed at Scopa, Chalkboard, Bistro Ralph, Barndiva, and The Fremont Diner. I also loved visiting Ridge Vineyards, Arista Winery, Lambert Bridge, and Iron Horse Vineyards. You can read about my trip to Healdsburg here.
  9. Thanks to Brightest Young Things for this 2014 food round-up featuring many of my favorite D.C. food writers (and me!) You can read about all of the hits and misses of the restaurant scene this year here.
  10. I bought a condo this year in Logan Circle, and I am so excited for all of the entertaining and dinner parties I can do in my new space. I plan to renovate the kitchen in 2015, so this place will be in tip top shape in the coming year for eating and drinking.

I hope all of you had an enjoyable 2014 filled with good meals, good friends, and good drinks. Cheers to a great 2015.