Neighborhood: 14th Street
Somehow we're going to try and get to as many of the influx of 14th Street restaurants as possible (given that it's our neighborhood right now). Our first attempt starts with the new 14th Street offering from Top Chef contestant Chef Bart Vandaele, B Too with Official Friend of DCWD HR Intern.
In many ways, B Too is like a lighter, brighter version of Chef Bart's first restaurant Belga Cafe. The same color scheme composed of beiges and tans and browns, with dark wood tables surrounded by leather-upholstered casual plastic chairs. A large 16-seat chocolate brown-wood paneled bar takes up the front of the house, while an assortment of four-tops, two-tops, and rounds are in the back in an L-shape around the open kitchen. There are a few differences from Belga, like the large animal-skins on stretched frames on the walls, and a downstairs dining area. All in all, it's a charming scene, one that fits in well with the new and improved 14th Street, and one that is bustling and vibrant.
Let's just say that our trip to Belga Cafe wasn't exactly a home run. So we came into this meal with guarded optimism. And the meal began unevenly: Dressed Gingerly, a cocktail of trippel delirium, Bulleit bourbon, Domaine du Canton, and lemon juice portends a delicious honey-forward deep sip, but instead delivers an overly sweet mixed drink heavy on the Domaine.
Similarly, the brussels sprouts (as the menu indicated, a 100% Belgian dish) were a treat: a wonderful mix of the rich oiliness that only duck fat can provide. Brussels sprouts and rich, salty meat seems like a pretty ubiquitous European meal, but these were a little better than others. The confit chunks were rich as well, and this was a lovely side dish/starter.
There are some deficits with our frog legs dish too. As most who've had frog legs know (or escargot, for that matter), frog legs are great in so far as they are properly sauced; without a heavy dose of butter or cream, legs are quite flavorless. Therein lies our dish: presented more like drumsticks, our legs can't soak up enough of the creamy tomato and garlic butter sauce to stay unbland. Even hints of the Ricard anise liqueur aren't enough to pick it all up.
On some levels, very much another Belga Cafe in our neighborhood. If you like waffles, that's great news. If not, prepare for some up and down dishes.
Food Rating: ** 1/2 (out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Suits Scene
Cost: $$$ (out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)