Thanks to the arrival of food incubators and pop-up spaces, D.C.’s restaurant sector continues to get a fresh infusion of new dining options and they all come ready to serve district drinkers top-notch hooch. Desperate for fresh air, Washingtonians are always on the lookout for a seat outdoors, but spring can’t decide if it wants to stay a while or let summer’s swelter set in. Rather than ignore the lure of inventive new spring menus, hedge your bets and look for patio seats with Plan B ready to go. There are restaurants and bars with patios, covered decks, and rooftops throughout the city, and they all have menus to suit the season and your tastes.
At 701 Restaurant, American fare and just-caught seafood are chef Benjamin Lambert’s forte, and his new spring menu includes stellar fruits of the sea including Spanish octopus served with fingerling potatoes, roasted jalapeño, and lemon confit and monkfish with charred onions, lemon sabayon, and wild mushrooms. At happy hour, you can nosh on small plates of sliced Serrano ham, oyster sliders, and a gourmet cheese plate while trying the $7 cocktails made with premium spirits like Green Hat gin and Filibuster bourbon.
Blue Duck Tavern
Restaurants come and go and seasons change, but Blue Duck Tavern continues to offer fine dining’s most elusive qualities: consistently excellent food and service. They prove the axiom that “God is in the details,” and for spring their new menu is spot on. Executive chef Ryan LaRoche and chef de cuisine Brad Deboy’s new menu includes a mélange of fauna like cured Carolina mountain trout with blood orange, chicken-fried pharaoh quail with sweet pepper relish, and roasted Muscovy duckling breast with kumquat marmalade.
The new cocktail menu has some tasty surprises that pair nicely with the spring menu. Consider ordering a Northern Cooler made with Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Campari, and fresh pineapple, or an Abbey Cocktail that’s a blend of Russian Standard Vodka, Lillet, orange juice, and Angostura bitters.
Prequel, the new pop-up space in the former LivingSocial building in Penn Quarter, is hosting their first restaurant concept: Light House DC. Their prix fixe menu costs $57 per person, begins with a welcome ginger bellini cocktail, and includes dishes such as half a Maine lobster glazed in butter and garlic and served with a light salad, and Light House DC’s hand-ground burger prepared with premium beef sourced from Amish farms in Pennsylvania, served on a brioche bun, and accompanied by hand-cut, triple-cooked French fries. Each course is paired with either beer or wine and a choice of small bites are offered for dessert.
Head over to the southwest waterfront all this month and try the beef dishes being offered at Station 4. For National Burger Day on May 28, dinner service will include a 25% discount on the smoked Kobe-style burger prepared with Snake River Farm Wagyu beef, Stilton blue cheese, and grilled onions with a side of duck fat fries; just in case your daily recommended amount of carnivorous calories hasn’t been met. In keeping with the beef theme, executive chef Orlando Amaro’s dinner menu also includes juicy steaks and corned beef dishes for those with a hearty appetite. There is a seared 14 ounce Ribeye Steak made with Angus beef served with Gorgonzola butter and a local Baltimore brisket that chef Amaro marinates for three days, smokes over hickory, and then serves with Bavarian sauerkraut.
J. Wellington Wimpy: eat your heart out. May is National Burger Month, May 28 is National Burger Day and Ulah Bistro is celebrating with an artery clogging Bistro Burger made with half a pound of ground Angus beef on a brioche bun for $12. In fact, the entire month of May is National Beef Month, so check out their other beef-oriented specials like the bistro steak & frites with a 10 ounce New York strip with bone marrow au jus or the grilled steak sandwich with six ounces of New York strip served on a baguette with horseradish cream sauce. C’est si bon!