While in DC this past week for a business conference, I took the opportunity to explore some of our capital’s restaurants. To my great unhappiness, I did not have the time to do the proper due diligence and so was relegated to Zagat and OpenTable via Blackberry (though I have to say Brasserie Beck is absolutely amazing for anyone wanting a review, and I am sad I did not make it this time).
All was not lost, because I managed to find my favorite Belgian beer (for the record, La Binchoise Reserve) at a Belgian bar in the H street corridor. I believe the pub was Granville Moore’s, though by that point in the evening we were just wandering down the street to the next bar so I am not sure. However proximity and description match and I can’t believe there are that many Belgian pubs in that stretch of road. Granville was a deserted, almost intimidating pub that I would not probably have entered sober – but it quickly won me over when the waitress picked out my favorite beer by my description of the label. I love a waitstaff well trained in beer, especially when the place has dozens of fantastic beers. Earlier in the evening we tested The Pug and The Red and The Black, both bars further up H street. The Red and The Black had a good crowd, and good bottled beer selection. The Pug was out of their signature beer on tap, and the crowd quickly dissapated when we turned up… I felt a little of the “outsider” vibe there. All in all, a good stretch of street for some fun bars.

We ate lunch at Georgia Brown’s, an upscale southern style restaurant – down home, done up. I had shrimp and grits, recommended by the waiter. The restaurant begins the meal with peach butter, corn muffins and biscuits. So much sweetness! Savory (bacon?) corn muffins would have set off the peach butter wonderfully, or perhaps a sage butter with the incredibly sweet corn muffins, but the two together were almost candy-like. I waited longingly for my shrimp and grits to kill the sweet taste in my mouth. And it was good, but not as good as I had hoped. Too salty, too rich, too overkill, too “SOUTHERN ECLECTIC.” I wish this restaurant didn’t try so damn hard.

The next night was more successful. Via Zagat on my blackberry (and last minute reservation) I found a small French restaurant called Bistrot Du Coin. When we arrived, it was bustling with activity, and the waitstaff and menu seemed authentically French. We began the meal by crossing two items off of my list of 100escargots and sweetbreads – neither of which I had ever really felt compelled to cross off. My brain betrays me when I try to eat foods it knows I secretly mentally loathe. For years as a child I enjoyed the pork intestine cooked by my mom, until I hit somewhere in my mid-teens and suddenly couldn’t eat it any longer. The escargot had an aftertaste of grub, and the sweetbreads were not saved by the puff pastry (though I’m sure they were actually delicious). My steak au poivre, however, was fantastic. The frites and moules were a hit.

My amazing college roomate Amanda came to visit in DC, and Zagat once again came to the rescue to help us find a vegetarian restaurant. We visited Nirvana, and had one of the most innovative Indian meals I have ever experienced. For an appetizer, we tried the Khasta Kochori, a hollowed puffy bread filled with tamarind liquid, chopped onions, coriander, and a scoop of yogurt. We were directed to eat the pastry by hand, lifting it to our mouths and slurping the slooshy goodness within. Definitely takes skill, and we could not stop giggling. The proprietress, pleased with our delight, came by and told us that they used to serve another appetizer, fragile hollow balls one would scoop tamarind juice with and quickly pop into the mouth. The balls would then explode in your mouth, leaving behind an Indian taste sensation. Take that, Grant Atchez. Unfortunately, the waitstaff broke too many of the balls before serving so they had to discontinue that appetizer.

I managed to top off my DC trip with a visit to Olives. Olives, how I love thee and have sold out my soul to thy sort of chain-restaurant self.