The Red Hen
The Red Hen is a bit of a magical place. Since it first opened in April of 2013, it has not only put Bloomingdale on the map as a hot Washington, D.C. neighborhood, but it has also brought a new style of Italian-American food to the District. I immediately fell in love with the cozy vibe, the brick interior, the open kitchen, and the inviting bar space that makes this restaurant the perfect neighborhood gathering place. Chef Michael Friedman is delivering his version of comfort food, in a way that has resonated with the Washington scene, and has made The Red Hen one of the best culinary ventures to join the D.C. market in years.
I've been eating at The Red Hen regularly over the past year, and never once have I been disappointed in a meal. Everything from their classic pasta dish of the rigatoni with sausage ragu, to their ricotta crostini which is simple yet perfect, has made this restaurant an instant hit. Just this past weekend I enjoyed the semolina gnocchi with wild mushroom ragu, spring onion, and hazelnut pesto (pictured above.) This is not your traditional gnocchi made into small pillowy dumplings, but instead it was pieces of baked semolina served over top of spring ingredients and flavors. I also fondly remember a fusilli pasta with butternut squash from the winter which was a perfect warm comfort dish for the cold nights we had in December.
In addition to the wonderful food at The Red Hen, the wine program is outstanding and approachable with Sommelier Sebastian Zutant at the helm. With Sebastian's knowledge and expertise from previous roles at Komi, Rasika, and Proof, he has chosen an exciting beverage program, which includes seasonal specials such as a bottle of Ardèche rosé from the Rhone Valley in France for an affordable $30 which I enjoyed this past weekend.
The desserts are also not to be missed. The pecan tart with maple gelato is a favorite, and they'll even let neighborhood patrons take the maple custard with hazelnut crumble to go, as long as you bring the dish back to them within the coming days. It has been almost exactly a year since the restaurant opened, and it still reigns supreme. The Red Hen continues to iterate and impress, and manages to do so in a low-key and gracious manner. I look forward to the evenings where I can perch at the bar with friends over a satisfying meal at The Red Hen, and celebrate the burgeoning Washington restaurant scene.