The Republican Convention is over and amidst the historic Democratic Convention celebrations, the nation’s capital has plenty of ways to celebrate right here. Our food scene has changed dramatically in the last eight years, a fact confirmed by our city’s inclusion in the touted Michelin Guide. As evidence we’ve got it goin’ on with our food scene this week in D.C., we encourage you to travel the world one sip or bite at a time. Depending on your appetite, you can sample wine and cocktails from Turkey, enjoy Balkan cuisine for lunch, share a cold treat with man’s best friend, sample very old wine from the island of Madeira, and sip fruit cocktails from a Paris-style boutique hotel.
Ambar, the nation’s capital’s first Balkan restaurant, is now offering new summertime lunch dishes that highlight tasty seasonal Balkan fare. The new lunch menu includes healthy, gluten-free dishes, and fifteen open faced sandwiches highlighting chef Ivan Zivkovic’s talents and what’s fresh from the farm. Specials also feature a discount price on any two sandwiches along with a glass of house wine, a beer, or freshly squeezed lemonade infused with rosemary or mixed berry lemonade for only $16; or you can try a signature salad with a glass of house wine, a beer or lemonade for $13. Those with a heartier appetite can add a cup of soup and dessert for $5, and if want to watch your waistline, the open face sandwiches, soups and salads provide the calorie count of the dish so one can be watchful at lunchtime.
ENO Wine Bar
If you don’t know about the Summer of Riesling campaign that’s now an annual event, head to ENO Wine Bar in Georgetown for their version of a Riesling Revolution. They have added 25 hard-to-find German and Austrian Rieslings to their wine list that you can’t find anywhere else in Washington, DC. The selection includes rare finds and organic wines that are the perfect wine for food, heat, and fun since they are brisk, crisp, and often are lower in alcohol. The Mid-Summer Riesling flight includes stunners like:
• Kunstler “Estate” Trocken, 2014: A dry, racy Riesling with hints of mineral and cox-orange apples
• Darting “Ungsteiner Weilberg” Kabinett Trocken, 2014: A refined off-dry Riesling with citrus fruit, herbal tones and nuances of balsam
• Minges “Pfalz” Kabinett, 2014: A spicy and zippy Riesling with hints of talc and eucalyptus that feints dry, but finishes with sweet pineapple notes
To highlight the diverse tasting notes of each Riesling, ENO has created a trio of Summer Mini-Tarts to accompany each wine. The trio consists of savory, sweet and spicy selections that include:
• A savory tomato tart to pair with the Kunstler ‘Estate’ Trocken Riesling
• A sweet peach tart to pair with the Darting ‘Ungsteiner Weilberg’ Riesling
• A spicy crab tart to pair with the Minges ‘Pfalz’ Riesling
The specialty wine flight is priced at $18, and the accompanying mini-tart trio is priced at $12.
Other German Riesling and Austrian Grüner wines by the glass such as the Dönnhoff Estate Riesling Trocken, 2015 and Hirsch Grüner Veltliner, 2014 start at $12.
Macon Bistro & Larder
Fans of Macon Bistro & Larder now have another reason to head over for great drinks and food: they’re offering a new “Yappy Hour” menu for everyone, including furry friends. Available now through September 3, every Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. the new “Yappy Hour” menu is served exclusively on the front outdoor patio. Thanks to Macon’s general manager. Andra 'AJ' Johnson, and owner/executive chef Tony Brown, there are $6 house red and white wine, $6 beer, and complimentary dog treats for Yappy Hour. Plus, there are doggie popsicles($3 each)made with chicken or beef broth, white peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and a stalk of asparagus as the stick; popsicles for kids made with strawberries, blueberries, and orange juice; and adult flavors ($7) made with Smooth Ambler Greenbrier gin, strawberries, blueberries, white peaches, and orange Juice.
Judging from the weather forecast for the rest of the summer, some cooling cocktails are in order, and we recommend you pay a visit to the charming lounge at Jardenea in the Melrose Georgetown Hotel. Thanks to, Millian Palma, the lounge/restaurant manager, and mixology guru, there are reviving drinks made with colorful tropical fruits, garnishes, and flavor infusions. Pops of fresh pineapple, grapefruit, and watermelon juice are beautifully blended with aromatic infusions like cashew fruit and orangecello. Go for Watermelon Agua Fresca made with Stolichnaya vodka, lime juice, watermelon juice, and mint simple syrup, or try the Cucumber & Basil Collins with Hendricks gin, cucumber juice, basil simple syrup, lemon juice, and soda water.
When you are the only Forbes-Five-Star restaurant in D.C., you can offer elevated dining and drinking experiences that are out of the ordinary. Such is the case at Plume, the fine dining restaurant at the Jefferson Hotel. They are currently offering tastings of rare, vintage Madeira and appellation-style rums designed to tempt collectors and enthusiastic imbibers. Old is cool in Madeira and if have the money, you can taste one of the oldest wines in the world: 296-year old Madeira that dates from 1720. However, the taste will cost you plenty; it’s $1,720 per 2 ounce pour, to be exact. If a higher ABV is what you crave, Plume also has flights of rum produced in countries that exported to the U.S. during Thomas Jefferson’s era, so look for different ages of rum from islands in the French Antilles such as Martinique, Barbados, and Guyana — to name a few.
Pack your bags and ready your palate for a spirited virtual visit to Turkey at Ottoman Taverna. This incredible new restaurant from Turkish native son, Hakan Ilhan, is a fantastic food destination that serves enticing cocktails and wines, thanks to a new beverage program. Guests can explore a drinks menu that includes domestic and international craft beer, Turkish influenced cocktails, undiscovered wines, and traditional spirits. Two of our favorite cocktails include Istanbul Nights, which is made with Smyrna black grape Raki, Dolin sweet vermouth, Aperol, and fresh lime juice, and Turquaz, a lovely pink drink made with mezcal, beet extract, and fresh lime juice. Try some of the unique spirits that hail from Turkey, Greece, and Lebanon, like Raki, Ouso, and Arak, and if you want to sample the wide world of wines you can try domestic wines and wines from Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Israel, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia.
For more Washington DC dining and travel news, click here. Summer Whitford is the D.C. Editor and a food, drink and travel writer at The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @FoodandWineDiva and on Instagram at thefoodandwinediva. Read more of her stories here.