Warm Dishes for a Snowy Day

It's snowing... again! Here are a few of my favorite comfort dishes at local restaurants to enjoy during the cold weather.

Bolognese at Mintwood.jpg
Rigatoni at Red Hen.jpg

Stay warm!

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

Slipstream on Urbanspoon

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