DC9, courtesy of rockcreek

When I think DC9, I don’t really think food. But they are upping their game, hiring former Palena and Hook chef Amber Bursik to helm their kitchen. Bursik will be making Southern-inspired bar food that is simple and honest.

She is redoing their menu, introducing some tasty sounding items like 24-hour marinated fried chicken and the Herbert Burger, which is topped with fried green tomato, bacon, and Tabasco aioli. I applaud the mission of  doing classic bar food well – I look forward to trying their new items.

Fabulous crab cake from Next Door

Fabulous crab cake from Next Door

Last night I was able to eat dinner at Ben’s Next Door. If you remember, I was skeptical about the “celebrity” chef they had brought in. But man, I was proven wrong. This was southern soul food done well. Nothing too fussy or fancy, just good.

First, they have their full menu available now. I’m not certain when this happened, but it’s good to see that the kitchen is in full swing. Here’s a taste of the menu (pictures of it after the jump) – appetizers range from $6 to $13, with spicy buffalo wings, crab cakes, soup, salad, and Savannah dry rubbed ribs. Entrees are a bit pricey, from $17 to $24, with fried chicken, duck fricasse, and braised beef short ribs. Sides are $5 to $8 and include fries and mac and cheese.

My two companions and I ordered an assortment of everything: spicy buffalo wings, crab cakes, roast tomato soup, mac and cheese, and fried chicken. The spicy buffalo wings were very good: spicy, but also complex, I swear I tasted some teriyaki in there. Man, the crab cake (as there was only one for $13) was out of this world. Very good, nearly all crab, I didn’t see any filler. Well cooked, at least an inch thick, it was good. The table of women next to us, who admitted to being a little drunk, said that the crab cake was the best they’d ever had in their lives. I might agree with that statement.

The roast tomato soup was fine, but nothing that blew me out of the water. The mac and cheese was very good, creamy and cheesy. The fried chicken was also great, but the “perfect” mashed potatoes they came with were not my standard of perfect, it didn’t seem like any cream or butter had been added to them, and they were a little bland. A down note on a good dinner.

For dessert the options were apple caramel pie, chocolate coconut pecan pie, and coconut cake, all for $8. We wanted the coconut cake, but were informed they were all out, so we split an apple caramel pie and a chocolate coconut pecan pie. The apple pie was good, the chocolate coconut pecan pie was too sweet for my taste.

The service was fine, though it did seem like our waitress had a waitress in training following her around, which was a little odd. We got seated right away at 8 on a Saturday night, which was great, the restaurant was full but there didn’t seem to be a wait.

I was very impressed with the food and will totally be back. One note though: the Ben’s inspired food – you can only order it at the bar.

More photos after the jump. (more…)

Posto on 14th street

Posto on 14th street

I finally dined at Posto last night. After writing about it and hearing about it, I was happy to finally experience it for myself. And, well it met and beat my expectations.

The food: so good. I had the house cured olives (good, but it’s hard to make olives taste bad in my book) and the polenta with sausage to start. The polenta was very good, comforting, warm, a little spicy, perfect for a cold rainy night.

Main dishes were the scallops with a lentil ragout and the cinghiale (aka wild boar). The scallops were good, I didn’t instantly think lentils would work with scallops, but they did. It was another warming, comforting dish for winter. The cinghiale, the first I had ever had, was chewy (as to be expected after seeing a recent Iron Chef featuring the ingredient) but so flavorful, so good.

For dessert (because I was feeling decadent, hadn’t had a ton to eat all day, and had just scored my first job interview since losing my job) cranberry and mixed berry cobbler and poached pear with chocolate panna cotta. A nice finish to a great dinner, and I appreciate that the desserts offered weren’t the expected ones you often find at restaurants (usual suspects: flourless chocolate cake, apple pie, creme brulee, ice cream of some sort).

The service: attentive, friendly, nice, in two words: very good. The waiter was very enthusiastic, the hostess and manager were chatty and friendly as well.

The dining room was noisy. I even noticed that they’d put foam at the bottom of the tables to absorb some of the noise, but it wasn’t doing much good. It wasn’t terribly loud though, conversation wasn’t impossible. Though, it’s not a place you’d take a date for a quiet, romantic dinner.

In short, Posto surpassed my expectations for what I hoped it would be: a nice, tasty neighborhood option. I will definitely be returning on a regular basis. Plus: I learned it offers takeout, which will be an awesome alternative to some other options in the neighborhood.

After the jump: more photos. (more…)

Ben's Next Door, open

Ben's Next Door, open

After hearing from my roommate that she’d spent part of New Year’s Eve at Ben’s Next Door (and being incredibly jealous) I had to check it out and see if it was open. It is, sort of: it’s had its soft opening; there is a full bar and some small plates from the chef as well as Ben’s classics re-thought. A full menu will be available in a week or so. I also learned from friendly Rob that there is a possibility of them serving BRUNCH on the weekends. That got me very excited.

The place was relatively crowded for a bar that hadn’t even opened yet. I have a feeling it will be packed on weekends. There were a few glitches to be expected from a place that had just opened: I sat at a high table near the bar with a companion and it wasn’t quite clear if we were supposed to order from the bar or if a server would attend to us. The management staff though was very attentive, stopping by often to see how our experience was.

The menu itself is small for now – small plates from the chef (who was also walking around and introducing himself to diners, as well as giving autographs) and a few classics from Ben’s, but more upscale. The beer menu is extensive (prices ranged from $5 for a Bud to $10 for Chimay), and well priced: Delirium, on tap, was $7. Wine is available by the glass ($6 to $14), and champagne by the bottle as well as glass.

I wish I hadn’t eaten dinner before I went or I would have more room to taste some of the dishes. I plan to be back real soon to offer a more detailed report. More pictures from Next Door after the jump. (more…)

Posto has posted their menu on their website. The prices look very reasonable, with the most expensive dish a $22 Cinghiale – grilled wild boar chops with wild mushroom and black olive sauce. The primi plates hover around $10, with the pizza a little above $10, the secondi pasta plates around $15, and the secondi meat plates around $20.

Their wine list looks nice as well, with 4 oz and 6 oz pours available. The cheapest bottle is $24 with the most expensive at $200. There are a lot of choices in between.

I’m really looking forward to having a meal there. I promise an update post with my thoughts soon.