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Wonderful Cheese Onion soup at Charley Primary Foods is one particular of our critic’s favored slide comforts. Photograph by Deb Lindsey.
’Tis the year for all items pumpkin-spicy, confident, but also all matters cheeseladen, brothy, creamy, and relaxing. In other words and phrases, ease and comfort food items. And though the strategy is subjective—my balm could be your bore, and vice versa—here are the dishes I have been turning to recently.
French Onion Soup
Charley Prime Food items | 9811 Washingtonian Blvd., Gaithersburg
Onion soup pops up all over the place after the weather will get chilly—who can resist that dreamy cheese pull?—but not lots of kitchens get it right, and no amount of money of Comté can make up for a ho-hum broth. At this steakhouse from Jackie Greenbaum and Gordon Banks, there are no these kinds of issues. Chef Adam Harvey derives his soup from a recipe he acquired many years back at Alexandria’s Morrison Dwelling, and the broth—amped with Worcestershire and lemon—could stand on its possess. But slowly and gradually cooked onions deglazed in port, sherry, and Madeira, as well as loads of gooey Gruyère, make it a bowl to don’t forget.
Kema by Kenaki | 11325 7 Locks Rd., Potomac
If you’re an unabashed lover of about-the-major sushi rolls—bring on the zigzags!—Ken Ballogdajan is a chef you want to know about. His most recent cafe, which he operates with his sister Aki, echoes the menu and rapid-relaxed vibe of his Gaithersburg strike, Kenaki. I was at initial skeptical of this collision of spicy-tuna and shrimp tempura rolls, which will get a dose of umami from shiitakes and bonito furthermore a stripe of zesty mayo. A single chunk in and I was sold.
Spaghetti With Clams
Opal | 5534 Connecticut Ave., NW
Colin McClimans says spaghetti with clams was just one of his father’s go-to occasion platters. At his airily fairly Chevy Chase DC dining space, McClimans’s variation is additional refined. The chef will make his pasta in-residence, for a person, and tints it with saffron. He serves the clams, steamed with white wine and shallots, without having their shells for less complicated feeding on. But he finishes the bowl the outdated-fashioned way, with chili flakes, parsley, and herby breadcrumbs. Most critical, he retains the salty, garlicky soulfulness of the Italian-American vintage.
Virginia’s Darling | 277 S. Washington St., Alexandria
“I appreciate that this dish is owning a instant,” says Nicole Jones, owner of this cute Old City wine bar. “It’s as tremendous-basic culinary-school as it gets.” In fact, she acquired to make the brown-buttery French plate at L’Academie de Cuisine. Her technique is simple: Sizzle the vast, flat filet of delicate white fish in clarified butter right until it turns crispy and golden, incorporate even a lot more butter to the pan, then equilibrium out the richness with loads of lemon juice, capers, and parsley. Sole meunière is the dish that sparked Julia Child’s obsession with French delicacies, and Jones’s rendition tends to make it simple to think about why.
Mac and Cheese
Doro Soul Meals | 1819 Seventh St., NW
As the mother of a 7-yr-aged, I have a ton of mac and cheese in my lifestyle. But the model that chef Elias Taddesse can make at his Ethio-American fried-hen location in close proximity to Howard University is on a degree all its personal. There is almost nothing moderate about it: It’s as sharp as it is creamy, has a zesty kick, and will get its slight sourness from a dusting of breadcrumbs made from injera. There is no improved companion to a plate of Taddesse’s supremely crunchy, berbere-spiced fried chicken.
Vera | 2002 Fenwick St., NE
“I come to feel like I’m sitting down within a Miley Cyrus album address,” states a good friend as we choose in the pulsing, cactus-lined dining area in Ivy City. The cocktails are head-turners (so many bouquets!), and the kitchen area fuses Mexican and Lebanese flavors into flashy, generally skillful share plates. Specified all that, my beloved dish in this article is somewhat homey and subdued. The simple slash of grilled branzino is set atop rice that’s brilliant with turmeric and sided with a trio of sauces that mirror the kitchen’s viewpoint: two vivid salsas and a pool of labneh.
Irregardless | 502 H St., NE
This H Street–corridor bistro is obsessed with Virginia wine. Even its pierogi plate—more cheffy than Polish church supper—owes a thing to the condition. The crisply pan-fried dumplings are crammed with ricotta and Gouda from a Loudoun County farm, then served with pickled rutabaga and fennel in place of sauerkraut. A buttermilk-and-dill sauce adds a bitter-product-like tang.
Bao Bei | 11910 Parklawn Dr., Rockville
It will take a small do the job to uncover this takeout-only, Taiwanese-style bao maker, concealed along the backside of a Rockville strip mall in a communal kitchen with a buzzer entry. Within, you will find twentysomething operator Kevin Hsieh, who has focused himself to crafting these cloud-mild, a little bit sweet buns. He folds them to make Pacman-like sandwiches, the most effective of which is stuffed with luscious soy-braised pork belly, moreover pickled greens and a dusting of crushed peanuts and sugar.
Minimal Blackbird | 3309 Connecticut Ave., NW
What was at the time the mod-Indian cafe Bindaas is now a moodily lit wine bar. Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj flipped the Cleveland Park area to its new concept in September, and it shares a kitchen—and chef, Ryan Moore—with Bajaj’s future-doorway Israeli dining room, Sababa. Moore stays mostly trustworthy to the skinny, crispy Alsatian-style tart, delicately arranging it with onions, bacon, and Gruyère. But there’s a person intelligent Mediterranean tweak. As a substitute of fromage blanc, Moore makes use of a slather of tangy labneh.
Joon | 8045 Leesburg Pike, Vienna
Tahdig—the prized, deliciously crunchy layer of rice that kinds at the bottom of a pot as it cooks—steals the spotlight at this Persian fine-eating home near Tysons, a joint effort and hard work among Iranian cookbook star Najmieh Batmanglij and ex–Maydan chef Chris Morgan. You are going to locate tahdig in several guises—plain and saffron-scented, speckled with dill and fava beans—but the kitchen’s greatest preparing is ladled with bitter cherries that are scented with cinnamon and vanilla. It’s a dish of luxurious contrasts, in between the cherries, fluffy and crispy bits of rice, and aromatic hits of saffron and pistachio.
El Presidente | 1255 Union St., NE
The second wave of restaurateur Stephen Starr’s DC takeover is on us, starting with this theatrical Mexican bar/dining area, which debuted in September close to Union Industry. (Also in the will work for Starr: an Italian marketplace in Georgetown and a takeover of the historic Occidental cafe, between other points.) This early hit on chef David LaForce’s menu borrows from still a different Starr place, El Vez in Philly. I get why the kitchen cribbed the recipe. The crunchy, batter-fried hunks of mahi-mahi accented with avocado and smoky rémoulade quickly became the ideal fish tacos in city.
Crinkle Fries With Za’atar
Kirby Club | 2911 District Ave., Fairfax
Confident, there are much additional interesting dishes on the menu at Rose Previte’s boho-cool Lebanese dining area in the Mosaic District. So you should not skip, say, the kalamata-olive-and-walnut dip or the lamb kebabs. But facet whatsoever you purchase with these crispy and salty crinkle fries, among the a couple of dishes Previte retains close to to make the menu “approachable” and kid-friendly. The snack is definitely all about the dip—a salty-sweet layering of feta and apricot marmalade—and the liberal shake of za’atar, built by regional spice purveyor Z&Z.
This report seems in the November 2023 concern of Washingtonian.