First Bite: B Too
There's another new restaurant that just opened on 14th Street: B Too. Lately there has been almost a new opening a week, and there are so many places to try, and so many more on the way in the upcoming weeks. B Too is brought to us by Chef Bart Vandaele of Belga Café on Capitol Hill. The restaurant serves Belgian classics, and some dishes have been remade with a modern twist to update and elevate the cuisine. I stopped in last night without a reservation and was able to be seated in the downstairs area of the new restaurant. The downstairs has a great bar area with some couches, as well as tables for seated service. It's a nice space, and B Too is quite large with plentiful seating between the two floors. I should mention the restaurant was operating under a soft-opening as they are getting the kinks worked out, but things seemed to be off to a good start.
We started by ordering the root vegetables and the Brussels sprouts with crispy duck confit and duck fat. Both were technically sides, but we decided to have them as appetizers. The dishes were piping hot and very flavorful. The Brussels sprouts in particular had a richness to them, and they had a great crunch. On a regular night I probably would have gone for the mussels because they are a favorite of mine, and because it is a specialty at B Too with over six different preparations, but last night I decided to try the salmon. The plate arrived with a very playful presentation (see above), and the fish had a potato crust with rhubarb, tomato, and salsify on the plate. I must admit that I found this combination a bit random-- salsify is a heavy root vegetable, while rhubarb is a sweet perennial vegetable often used in summer pies. Then throw in the tomato and I was a bit confused. The salmon itself was excellent. It was cooked perfectly and the crust was so crispy and delicious. In addition there were dollops of puree on the plate that I dipped the fish into to provide an extra kick of flavor. The other elements on the plate were good, but felt off to me. My friend went for the Belgian steak with frites and this was definitely a good choice. Classic, your choice of sauce, and a nice side salad. This was a great dish.
The dessert menu had a lot of great options, but I felt we had to go with a waffle to round out the evening. We decided on the chocolate waffle with pistachio ice cream. The waffle was great, and I loved the pistachio pairing, but there was a glaring shredded orange pile on the plate that kept making me think "one of these things is not like the other." It looked like carrots which I thought couldn't be, and turns out it was a type of orange. However, I didn't think it added anything and thought it should have been left off the plate.
The last thing about B Too was the music. For a classic Belgian spot, they were playing very loud Latin music in the basement which seemed really out of place. For those who have met Bart though, it sort of fits his fun and playful attitude, so I'll leave it at that. I noticed by the time our meal was over there was smooth jazz in the background. I wonder if someone said something?