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Showing posts with label Barbecue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barbecue. Show all posts

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hill Country Barbecue

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Gallery Place/Chinatown/Penn Quarter

The Setup


With Official Friend of DCWD Juju in tow, we met up two family friends at Penn Quarter barbecue outpost Hill Country.

The Vibe

If you knew nothing about the restaurant but its name, you could probably make an educated guess at its decor: lots of exposed brick and wood everywhere, from the creaky floor to paneling on certain side walls, to the bar. Giant metal stars and Texas paraphernalia abound on the walls, and the sounds of country twang over the loudspeakers. The space itself is giant: a giant square bar in the front, then a gaggle of four-tops across an expansive floor, with a downstairs bar. It's fun and festive, albeit with a lot of competing noise to work with.

The Food


The food ordering system starts with the "market" in the back, which consists of a few counters: sides, sandwiches, meats. There you'll pick out your dishes, either in combination or a la carte. On this trip, I ordered the Longhorn Brisket Chomp, a combo which includes 1/3 lb of lean brisket, a side, and some cornbread (obviously for my side, I picked the mac and cheese).

With my future in-laws being Texan born and bred, I've had my fair share of Texas barbecue to date. That being said, especially since the meat itself is purportedly shipped in from Texas, these meats were quite enjoyable. Perhaps a bit less moist than I would have liked it (though, in their defense, I didn't order the moist brisket), but each piece provided some nice smoky flavor.

The Verdict


Definitely matched up well with the Texas barbecue I've had in the actual Lone Star State.

Food Rating: ***
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Party in the USA
Vibe:
Noisy
Cost:
$$
(out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Pairing
: The Caps are back in town. And down the street from here.

Hill Country Barbecue Market on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Smoke and Barrel

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Adams Morgan

The Setup


Official Friend of DCWD Jeremy has been singing the praises of $5 Taco Tuesday night at Smoke and Barrel for some time now. So, when Official Friend of DCWD Swizzle and I were looking for a place to meet on a Tuesday night halfway between her house in Woodley Park and mine on U Street, Smoke and Barrel came to mind quickly. As this was a working dinner, we were in need of a semi-quiet place to converse and opted for the main level dining room as opposed to the louder basement bar, Bottom of the Barrel.

The Vibe

While the basement bar feels more like a sports bar, the main level dining room is a bit more polished, though it still maintains a relaxed and casual atmosphere. In the front of the space there are large bay windows with two- and four-tops, then a wall of half-booths that lead back to the main level bar and six-seat high-tops.

The beer list is extensive and Smoke and Barrel has a decent number of draft beers. Our waitress that evening was very knowledgeable, quick to point out a couple of substitutions, and happy to provide suggestions based on our general preferences.

The Food

Like I said, the real draw for us was their Tuesday night special: three tacos and a side for only $5. I mean.... three tacos... and a side... for only $5. Yes, please! Smoke and Barrel does have a strict no substitutions rule on this deal and you have to order three of the same taco. They offer brisket, pork, chicken, veggie chili, or smoked tofu tacos and you can have them traditional (with lettuce, tomato, and cheese) or BBQ style (with coleslaw, pickles, BBQ sauce, and cheese). Wanting a chance to try multiple tacos, Swizzle was kind enough to go veggie with me for the evening and we opted for the tofu and veggie chili offerings (BBQ style of course). Swizzle was a Smoke and Barrel Taco Tuesday veteran and strongly advised me to join her in going with a side of the jalapeno cheddar grits (spoiler alert: I did not regret it).

I will sing the praises of the veggie chili tacos to anyone willing to listen. To be fair, the smoked tofu was pretty darn good in its own right, but the veggie chili taco was by far the clear winner. And I just keep coming back to the fact that its only $5. Sure, the BBQ sauce was a little sweet for my taste, and I've had chili with a little more depth of flavor, but combined with the coleslaw and pickles, it creates a solid dish. The jalapeno cheddar grits also made for great side and were super creamy. The jalapeno didn't pack nearly as much punch as I expected, but the flavor was there and the grits were well cooked. 

The Verdict


I think you would be hard pressed to find a better deal in the city. The tacos and grits are solid, the beer selection wide, and the service exceedingly hospitable.

Food Rating: *** 1/2 
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Quiet Drinks to Frat House
Vibe:
Chatty to Energetic
Cost:
$
(out of 5) (less than $25 for two)
Pairing
: Head over to Columbia Station for some live jazz.

Smoke and Barrel on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 28, 2012

First Look: The Pig

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: 14th Street/Logan Circle

The Setup


With Official Friend of DCWD Hannah eager to both have another DCWD meal and to meet Official Girlfriend/Co-Writer of DCWD Texas, we selected a brand new addition to the EatWellDC family: The Pig.

The Vibe

Like the other restaurants in its restaurant group (Commissary, The Heights, Grillfish among them), The Pig sets itself up as an open casual but modern urban restaurant. What do I mean by all those adjectives? For one, the feeling is that of a restaurant in a post-industrial setting, with exposed ceilings and concrete floors; light fixtures are repurposed or vintage; and the floor plan is open with a seamless flow between the rows of booths on either side, the line of four tops in the middle and the bar section in the back. But overlaying all of it is a veneer of modern touches: an unfinished butcher's block bar, and a sleek grey and birch-brown color scheme, evident in the walls and wood accents, with large pictures of liquor tax stamps to decorate them.

The space is lively with sound flooding in multiple directions, and as both a new restaurant and one in a very nice stretch of 14th Street, one that seems constantly busy. For now, the crowd is varied: adventurous-eating hipsters from Logan Circle, urban partyers on their way to U Street, tourists that wandered a little farther north than expected. They also don't take reservations between 6 and 9:30 (a smart move), so this mix of people tend to congregate around the bar. And on this crowded Thursday night, that's where we ended up taking a perch.

The Food


Let's just get this out of the way: a restaurant that is serving weird parts of the pig? I was already coming into this meal with high expectations and excitement. To wit: my first order of the crispy pig ears salad, a bed of arugala with caramelized onions, seared tomatoes, and a marrow vinaigrette. I was expecting giant flat pieces of ear, but instead they presented more like tiny cracklings. This was a perfectly good dish, but in many ways, didn't meet the lofty wants I had for it: the ears were delicious but only when you got a piece big enough to have any meat to it; the marrow vinaigrette felt a little lost.

Along with the salad, we ordered three more cuts of pig that Hannah hadn't eaten before. First up, a braised cheek in a bed of stone grits topped with spanish sofrito. If the salad missed its expectations, the cheek far exceeded them, making it one of the favorite dishes of the night. The cheek was braised perfectly, meaty and falling apart in lovely shreds. The grits were creamy and soft whereas the sofrito provided a nice crunch to the dish. The three of us ended up fighting most over who would get the last bite.

My pick was the porchetta, a rolled terrine-like mix of roast stuffed belly, brains, hazelnuts, and greens slathered in hog gravy. Despite the Halloween quality of the ingredients, the dish tasted positively like a hearty sausage, with a herb-forward rich flavor. It wasn't crazy good, but it was definitely a dish that fell in line with the restaurant's tagline: handmade food and drink.

The last of the first round small plates was a piece of charred belly, with a celery root puree, watermelon jam, and pickled rind. At least that's what the menu said: the watermelon jam was lost among the other strong flavors, and its sweet counterpoint would have been a nice touch. That being said, the belly was charred beautifully and the puree was just as creamy and smooth as the grits on the dish before.

Still, the best dishes of the night were actually the two sides (therefore, also making them the two big surprises of the night). First was the boar spoonbread: a soft baked cornbread dish with boar chunks, truffles, and mushrooms. Like a beautiful bread pudding, it was gooey with beautiful luscious chunks of boar and the to-die-for flavor of truffles all throughout. If I could have this over and over again, I absolutely would.

Similarly, the truffled mac and cheese was so good, we actually did eat it a second time. With a rich sharp cheese (gruyere perhaps?), it stood up to the much more expensive but just as delicious mac and cheese around the city.

To finish, we split the lard-berry shortcake, a shortcake made with lard, topped with a berry compote, fresh berries, and a ginger whipped cream. A perfectly good shortcake, but nothing to really call home about.

The Verdict


One of the most promising new restaurants, and already the best in its restaurant group.

Food Rating: **** 1/2
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Party in the USA
Vibe:
Noisy
Cost:
$$$
(out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)
Pairing
: Head next door to the newly opened Buffalo Exchange for cool vintage secondhand clothes and accessories.

The Pig on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 2, 2012

DCWD Travels: Anderson's BBQ, Dallas

Deep in the heart of Texas, next to a hospital and a gas station, is one of the state's best kept secrets. At least that's what Official Girlfriend of DCWD Texas's brother-in-law P (nay, every member of her family) has been telling me about Mike Anderson's BBQ, a diamond-in-the-rough barbecue place in an otherwise nondescript section of the city. Having been revealed as a foodie way before my arrival, the five-day trip has seemingly been anchored by the question “So when are you going to go to Anderson’s?” as if to say, “You can’t call yourself a food lover until you’ve had authentic Texas barbecue, and so we’re giving you only the best.”

It’s funny then that a restaurant with this much acclaim can look so conventional at the outset. Anderson’s looks much like one would expect any other roadside pitstop to look like: orange and neon green signage on a brown decor, a brick and tile building set up cafeteria-style and decorated like a cabin, but with Texan and rodeo paraphernalia. To wit: the space is centered around a tray sliding line, loaded with a veritable panoply of salads and sides, which  almost demand that you get a BBQ plate. At the head of this line is the carving station where the meat is ordered. The smells emanating from the grill behind are indiscriminate, insofar as they all smell delicious.

P talks me into the aforementioned plate, which features a sandwich with two meats and two sides. I order a beef brisket and pulled pork sandwich, coated lightly with barbecue sauce, and flanked by my choice of fried okra and garlic and cheddar smashed potatoes, and a large sweet tea. Everything about this was fantastic: the tenderness of the brisket, the sweet tanginess of the house BBQ sauce, and the heart-attack level awesome of the smashed potatoes. The pulled pork is okay, but my best bet would have been the Polish sausage that P lets me sample. That and the brisket on a soft bun would have been something to behold indeed. 

Taste Test: 4 Forks (out of 5)
Perfect for: Barbecue fans

Mike Anderson's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Munchies: Standard

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: 14th Street/U Street

The Setup


It was our first dinner as official residents of the area, and so Official Friend of DCWD Rajistan and I wanted to celebrate as big as we could. So with it being 5pm on a Wednesday, we decided to head to a place we could normally not get a seat: Standard, the new beer garden on 14th Street.

The Vibe

Standard represents the picture perfect beer garden, not the least of which because it occupies the old Garden District space on 14th Street. Out front and caged in by a tall iron fence is the garden patio space, covered fairly well by umbrellas. Seating consists of picnic bench tables and one high table that sits six across in the center of the space. The inside of the restaurant is vaguely reminiscent of a Belgian bar, with clean white shelving holding the beer glasses, golden beer taps, and bar seating.

The Food


The only other time I was in a beer garden was in the venerable though commercialized Hofbrauhaus in Munich. On that occasion, two liters of beer led to a very nice veg out session in the Olympic Park. Emboldened by that past experience, I peer pressured Rajistan into getting a liter of the Hofbrau lager with me... a liter I wouldn't even be able to finish. Weaksauce, Kim.

Standard serves barbecue in addition to its beer, so we each ordered a sandwich and a side: for me a barbecued brisket with hush puppies, for Rajistan pulled pork and slaw with buttermilk onion rings. In many ways, Standard compares directly with fellow neighborhood bar American Ice Company, since they both are beer and bbq purveyors. By that metric, I have to declare Standard slightly ahead, with their buns being just that much more buttery and the barbecue a skooch more flavorful. Of particular note was my brisket, which was very nice with a good tang.

As for the sides, the onion rings were a little more on the boring side for some reason (I don't know that the buttermilk was better or worse than other onion rings) The hush puppies were sort of the same, best described as "the sort of hush puppies one might reasonably expect in the South." I'm sure my Yankee taste buds just weren't too excited about it.

The Verdict


A nice chill place to relax and get beer in quantity... if you can score a seat at all.

Food Rating: ***
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Party in the USA
Vibe:
Noisy
Cost:
$
(out of 5) (less than $25 for two)

Standard on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Munchies: Carnivore BBQ

This week's Monday Munchies (which is quickly becoming The Food Truck Report) brings us to Carnivore BBQ, one of the newest barbecue trucks that has hit the DC scene.

Well, truck is being generous. Unlike most of DC's food trucks, which are built into what look to be old UPS vans, Carnivore looks like it's been built into the bed of a converted pickup with a hatchback over it.

Two charming gentlemen greet you and offer you either the beef brisket or pulled pork, the two options from the truck. Both are topped with a NC-style sweet slaw (what seems to be a light coleslaw with a little hot pepper, and oil replacing the mayonnaise) on a sesame seed bun.

I picked the brisket, based on the description that it had spent in 22 hours in a smoker, and topped with the sweet sauce (my other options being hot or vinegar). The beef was decent, though probably a less tender than I wanted it, and I guess I wanted something to be done with the bun (heated up, toasted, something to make it more than something out of a bag). The slaw though was good for me (I'm not generally a fan of the mayonnaise-y part of coleslaw), and it matched well with the meat. In general, it was a good bite, though probably not the best food truck around, but at the least, better than the other BBQ trucks I've had.

Taste Test:
3 Forks (out of 5)
Perfect for: BBQ in the middle of the day

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Munchies: American Ice Company

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: U Street

The Setup


Thanks to a DC Food Blogger Happy Hour, Official Friend of DCWD Rajistan joined me for a visit to American Ice Company.

The Vibe

Blink and you'll miss it on the street, as it blends into the rest of the block at night. American Ice Company is set in what seems to be an abandoned warehouse, and keeps that Factory Girl vibe going on the inside. A fairly sizable patio with picnic benches starts out the space before you see the inside, which has all the hallmarks of converted spaces: exposed black brick, open ceilings, hanging gaslights, and simple chalkboard menus.

Seating is composed of the aforementioned patio, some booths along one wall, high bar tables with stools, and a dozen or so seats along the marble-topped bar. This is a bar first, a barbecue place second. And the bartenders ranged from hip and friendly, to decidedly unamused by the mass of food bloggers there. So there's that.

The Food


The food choices are therefore pretty limited for American Ice Company: three forms of barbecue with the typical sides attached to them. It's because of this limitedness that we're attaching this to our Monday Munchies series.

On this trip, Rajistan ordered a brisket sandwich, me a pork sandwich, and we shared some chips and queso (I swear, I can always be made to pay a premium for melted cheese). The sandwiches were okay, with my pork being a little bit better than Rajistan's slightly dry brisket. Our inability to locate alternative barbecue sauces was a little disconcerting. On the other hand, the coleslaw was good as well, not overwhelmingly mayonnaise-y.

The plus side was the beer list, split into jars (draft, served in mason jars), and metal (cans). Good mix of microbrews on tap and in cans. Was definitely impressed that they had Goose Island on tap.

The Verdict


Basically a cooler, hipper Old Glory East. Definitely will be my go-to bar for pre-9:30 club shows, but not necessarily worth a trip out there by itself.

Food Rating: ** 1/2
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Hipster Hangout to Frat House
Vibe:
Energetic to Noisy
Cost:
$
(out of 5) (under $25 for two)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Old Glory

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Georgetown

The Setup


As is becoming habit for us, Official Friend of DCWD Rajistan and I ventured up M Street in search of food, where we ended up going for barbecue at Old Glory.

The Vibe

Old Glory, to me anyway, is a bar first, which incidentally prides itself on its barbecue. Because of that, the decor is like that of any number of semi-divey sports bars: large wood bar, wood furniture, stained wood plank floor. Seating is marked by mostly long tables or booth seating by the bar, at least on the first floor anyway. Decor is kitschy: southern state flags, a sizable collection of Elvis paraphernalia, and trophies over the doorway from presumably BBQ contests.

The Food


With some sweet cornbread already in the tank for the bread course (like almost uncomfortably sweet), both Rajistan and I ordered barbecue sandwiches and split them halfway. I got a pulled pork sandwich, served on a kaiser roll, and Rajistan ordered the chopped BBQ brisket which came pre-sauced with jalapeno, onions, molasses, and Memphis barbecue sauce.

Now seems like the appropriate time to discuss the cool thing about Old Glory: each table comes with six different barbecue sauces from six regions of America: Kansas City, Texas, Memphis, Carolina, Lexington, and Savannah. If one fact emphasizes the regional differences in barbecue styles, it is these sauces. Me, I put some Kansas City on my pulled pork, and it tasted okay. Nothing crazy incredible, but decent meat on both sandwiches. The sides were a little lazy, I guess: crude fries and decent mac and cheese but topped with shredded cheese.

The Verdict


One of my standard verdicts: good, but nothing to call home about. Definitely what I wanted at the time, but fairly certain there are plenty of people I know who could probably barbecue better.

Food Rating: ** 1/2
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Frat House
Vibe:
Energetic
Cost:
$$
(out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Pairing
: Head over to Lush and buy each other some interesting off-the-wall soaps. Do what you want with them...

Old Glory BBQ on Urbanspoon