Just this past week Bon Appetit Magazine named Washington, D.C. the "Restaurant City of the Year". We are super proud to see our town finally getting the recognition that it deserves when it comes to the culinary scene. One of the places touted in the article that bestows this award upon our fair city is Bad Saint, a tiny Filipino restaurant located in Columbia Heights. I showed up on Sunday evening at 5:30pm (which is exactly the time that Bad Saint opens). It was 100 degrees outside and I figured people would opt to stay inside. I was wrong. The line was about 60 people deep. So, we waited for a few minutes until we made it to the front of the line and were greeted by the friendly host. Bad Saint has it down to a science. She told us exactly when to expect to be seated, asked us if there was anything in particular we did not eat, and took our phone number so she could text us when our table was ready.
We went over to Room 11 and ordered a bottle of wine while we waited for our table. Turns out most of the people sitting around us were doing the same thing. Just about an hour later (at the exact time the hostess had predicted), we got a text and went over to Bad Saint and we were seated immediately. The restaurant was HOT. With a tiny space and an open kitchen on a 100 degree day, I imagine it wasn't far off from what it's like eating dinner in the Philippines. Each dish was better than the next-- the tiger shrimp with passion fruit and cucumber was cold and refreshing, and I also loved the corn salad. The rice noodles with wood ear mushrooms was mild in spice, but had a delicious flavor as a result of the lemon oil. The littleneck clams with sausage and chile are a must. The sauce was spicy and had me sweating. But nothing made me sweat like the fried chicken with palapa and burnt coconut. It was a good thing we had a bottle of rosé to counter the heat.
The service at Bad Saint was excellent, and the restaurant exudes character and authenticity. This is exactly the kind of place that makes me proud of our city's restaurant scene, and I have no questions as to why Bon Appetit felt the need to honor this unassuming spot in Columbia Heights doing great things.