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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

First Look: GBD

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

The Setup

It's not always this way, but it seems like it pretty often: when an idea happens, it usually comes in pairs as people race to get to that market first. It's most immediately obvious in movies: Deep Impact and Armageddon, Red Planet and Mission to Mars, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. But sometimes, it happens with restaurants too (see: every Italian restaurant coming on 14th Street). This week's edition focuses on the chicken and doughnuts concept, and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group's Golden Brown and Delicious (GBD).

The Vibe

Even if you didn't know GBD was an NRG property, you could probably figure it out. The hallmarks are there: the exposed brick with repurposed wood highlights, the design-friendly typography, the warm brown and crimson tones, the air of relaxed coolness around you. The shop is long and thing, with a grab-and-go counter up front, and a long rowhouse feel to the rest of it, as a small bar and some tables flow back into the shop's space. The interior atmosphere seems like it's dependent on the sunshine streaming in from the bay window; at around 9pm when we stopped by, the space was dim but still buzzy, but one could easily envision a brighter, faster morning for breakfast service.

The Food

The menu is drawn right from a Southern comfort food playbook: biscuits, fried things, sharp sauces. To that end, Official Friend of DCWD Noah and I split two dishes. The first was the chicken fried steak with garlic roasted smashed potatoes and red eye gravy. Now I don't fancy myself an expert on chicken-fried steak just yet; Official Co-Writer/Fiancee of DCWD Texas only introduced me to this feat of Southern cooking just a little over a year ago. Still, in my experience, GBD does an incredible job of keeping the meat moist while keeping the crust crispy.

The second is the former secret menu staple from sister restaurants Birch and Barley/Churchkey: The Luther, a gluttonous sandwich of fried chicken and slab bacon layered between two fried brioche doughnuts glazed in maple-chicken jus and candied pecans (even just typing those words makes side of fries seem irrelevant). If the sandwich sounds like a bit much, you wouldn't be wrong. But you'd be missing out on the incredible combination of sweet and salty and savory that is the Luther. It's like every first McGriddle bite, except if it never got worse. For something so straightforwardly indulgent, it's surprisingly complex (while still being luxuriant). Incredible.

The Verdict

If you know what you're getting yourself into, this place can be awesome.

Food Rating: ****
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Bar Rating:
(out of 5) (less than $25 for two)

GBD Fried Chicken and Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

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