Restaurant Round-Up: Summer Restaurant Week 2017
Hi there! I hope you had a nice weekend and are ready to jump into the week! So last week I had the pleasure of indulging in DC Restaurant Week, and I’m still full from that foodiepalooza. I tried three new restaurants and I’m really excited to tell you all about them! Let’s dig in.
Honeysuckle – Dupont
This restaurant is relatively new to DC. I think it opened just a few months ago, and I have been meaning to try it out, for at least happy hour. I saw that Honeysuckle was on the list for Restaurant Week, and I‘ve never clicked “make a reservation” so fast in my life! I have a tradition of enjoying Restaurant Week with my first boss, Teeta, at least once a year. She’s been such a great mentor to me, and I’m really glad that our professional relationship has evolved into a wonderful friendship.
When you open the street-level door, you are greeted by a rather eccentric sugar skull-esque wall art. It’s kooky, but fun. The dining room is down a flight of stairs. I was extra-early for our reservation, so I grabbed a seat at the bar, enjoyed some wine, and chatted with the bartenders about Game of Thrones. Once Teeta arrived, we were promptly seated at a cozy booth of a table. Everything on the menu looked so good, and it was hard to pick what we wanted, so we first picked something easier . . . wine: a nice earthy Bordeaux to guide us through our meal.
For an appetizer I ordered the smoked Icelandic trout with potatoes and smoked olive oil. That’s right—SMOKED olive oil. I didn’t even know you could do that, but gastronomy is getting cooler and cooler every day. I’m not the biggest fish person, but I’ve been trying to branch out of my comfort zone and see if I can grow to like fish, and I definitely LOVED this fish. This was smoked salmon on expert level. It was so soft and just melted in my mouth. Teeta ordered the sugar toads with grits. Sugar toads are in fact not toads, but little pufferfish (that are actually kind of cute). We enjoyed sharing bites of our dishes so that we both could try what each ordered. The sugar toads were flaky and flavorful and the grits were deliciously cheesy.
Next up, entrees. I ordered the arctic char (another fish) with a potato horseradish fondue, and Teeta ordered the duck confit, which was fall-off-the-bone tender and just the right ratio of crispy skin to meat. My char had the most amazing crispy skin. The fish was beautifully tender and perfectly seasoned. I was so sad when I looked down at my plate and saw that I ate it all.
Finally, the most important part of the meal: dessert. We ordered the same this time, since it sounded so decadent that we didn’t want to share bites. We had the “Chocolate and Chartreuse,” which is a rich chocolate cake with a flower liqueur. It was the perfect mix of floral flavor and earthy, chocolatey goodness.
The company was lovely and the meal was phenomenal. This European/Nordic restaurant was a great way to kick off my Restaurant week adventure, and I need to come back here again . . . soon.
G by Mike Isabella – U Street
Let me introduce you to one of my best friends, Alyssa, who up until last Thursday has never been to Restaurant Week. I’m glad I changed that. I saw G by Mike Isabella on the list, and recognized the chef’s name as one of the celebrity chefs in town. I figured, why not give it a try. It’s more of a casual sandwich place than a restaurant, but we still had a great time.
For the appetizer round, Alyssa and I shared the antipasti platter, which had a mix of charcuterie, cheese, and arancini (fried rice balls). It was a nice start to the meal. G by Mike Isabella changed things up a bit with a 4-course meal, instead of the standard three. For the second course, Alyssa and I both ordered a spicy cavatelli pasta dish with a lamb Bolognese. The pasta was extremely filling, and with two courses coming up, we asked to get the pasta to go. For the third course, we both ordered the hanger steak with corn salad and gremolata. I ordered my steak medium rare, and it was cooked perfectly, but was a bit cold. Sadly, the gremolata was oversalted, so it was difficult to eat.
For dessert, I ordered a tiramisu, which was a bit overchilled, so the cream filling wasn’t easy to cut, but it was your standard tiramisu dessert. Alyssa ordered the cookies and ice cream dessert, and the cookies were soft and with the ice cream it was an extremely sweet and satisfying dessert. However, each course was very filling, so it was hard to finish our plates. I might try it again for their sandwiches.
Unum – Georgetown
So my younger brother, Mark (who just turned 21— yay!), was in South Carolina for a week doing some archaeological dig research stuff for school, and we had planned that he would drive up to DC on the Friday he was done, pick me up, and we would go up to New York and spend the weekend with my mom. Well, plans changed around a little bit, and then changed again, so I made dinner plans for Mark and me, and asked if mom would be able to come down and spend the weekend in DC with us. Just like that, she booked a train ticket. I modified the reservation, and we enjoyed a great Restaurant Week meal together.
This intimate, elegant Georgetown modern restaurant sits right on the heart street of M Street NW. Unum also upped the ante a bit and offered a 4-course Restaurant Week meal, and we ordered nearly everything on the menu. Our trick is everyone orders something different so we get to try a bit of everything, and that strategy has yet to fail us.
For appetizers, we ordered the burrata, the roasted cauliflower, and the Caesar salad. The burrata cheese was so smooth and with the perfect bite of a tomato, olive oil, and pesto, it was Caprese heaven. I’m not a huge fan of cauliflower, but I thought it was quite good, and the Caesar salad was served with white anchovies and roasted garlic, which added a nice salty, spicy tang to the salad.
Entrees is where Unum mixed things up a bit. For Restaurant Week you were encouraged to order two options from the seven they had selected. So among the three of us, we essentially ordered one of everything. I ordered the local soft shell crab and the spicy shrimp with squid ink pasta. Of all that we ordered, the crab was my favorite. The parsley garlic butter was herby and fresh, I almost licked the plate. I think there is a common misconception about squid ink pasta, that it has a funky taste. Squid ink pasta is just regular pasta that is a different color, and is just as delicious. The shrimp had a nice subtle heat to it and the tomato sauce, with a note of saffron, was sweet and savory.
My brother ordered the hanger steak rare-to-medium-rare (which is the only way to order a steak, to be honest), and the grilled branzino. The steak was delicious and perfectly cooked. With some blue cheese and broccolini, the meat melted in your mouth. The branzino was perfectly seared and the fish was flaky and flavorful. Mom ordered the beef short rib ragout and the Maryland crab cake, and both were thoroughly enjoyable.
Next up, the Restaurant week grand finale: Unum’s dessert course. I finished my meal with ricotta beignets, and there is nothing better than fried dough covered in sugar, served with blueberries. My mom ordered mixed berries with a pear-champagne sorbet, and it was amazingly refreshing. My brother ordered two cheeses. Yes, you read that right . . cheese. A Humboldt Fog, which is a goat cheese, and Morbier, a French cow cheese, to be precise. When the cheese plate arrived, it had little cornichons and tiny cranberry jam cubes. He looked down at the plate, looked at us, and in his best Russian accent said, “For your dessert, you get pickle.” We all cracked up.
Overall, Unum was a great pick and I’m really happy I ended Restaurant Week here. The best part is, even though we ate a ridiculous amount of food, we didn’t feel like we ate too much. We left with very happy tummies. I definitely will be coming back to Unum to try their other menu items, or just for a drink.
Did you get a chance to dine out at this summer’s Restaurant Week extravaganza? Let me know where in the comments!
*Fun fact* If you missed DC’s Restaurant Week, don’t worry, because Alexandria Restaurant Week is this week through August 27!