af&co. Travels – Marcelle Goes to Washington D.C.
This past Labor Day weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. It was my second time exploring the city — this time around, the food was what I was most excited for. Naturally, I made a D.C. “hit list” before heading back East. I won’t bore you with all the details, but rather highlight a couple of different places I found particularly unique and outstanding in their own ways.
La Vie – We came to La Vie for the cocktails, but of course had to order a couple of bites to go along with our drinks. I tried both the Cucumber Nasturtium Martini (vodka, dry vermouth, cucumbers, nasturtium) and Relaxed Coconut (Don Julio Reposado, coconut water, corazon bitters). These were both listed under the “Strong, Don’t Drown” section of the cocktail menu, which I thought would be perfect given that I tend to gravitate more towards spirit forward and less towards sweet. They were exactly what I wanted — strong but not too strong, crisp, simple. The presentation was gorgeous. For quick eats, we tried the Crispy Brussels (charred brussel sprouts, coriander, honey lemon yogurt) and Truffle Mac n Cheese. To our dismay, we were not ecstatic about either of the bites. Luckily we already had made dinner plans to follow. If you’re ever in the area, I would recommend going here just for the sheer beauty and ambiance of the restaurant and bar. The space is sprawling across the fifth floor of a waterfront high rise, overlooking the new D.C. Wharf District. Its varying rooms and aesthetic of each are really something else. Some of the seafood dishes looked delightful as well.
Tail Up Goat — With its eclectic pasta presentations, open face bread options, and unique bar program, Tail Up Goat climbed to the top of my D.C. hit list. Unfortunately, however, they did not have any reservations available throughout the entire weekend. We refused to miss out on this one, so my group of four ended up going at 9:30pm on a Sunday. They close at 10pm. Yes, we were those people, and no, I did not feel good about it. But the good news is, we were able to sit right away (and we were not even the last ones trying to get in). The restaurant is located on a poorly lit side street within the rather residential Adams Morgan neighborhood. The restaurant exterior is unassuming to say the least. We even had a hard time finding it. There is nothing outside of the restaurant to clearly indicate that it exists — it’s next to a One Medical office and other homes, with outdoor signage that is almost nonexistent. When we made it inside, the space was almost as dark as it was outside. We sat down at the bar immediately as there were no tables available. One of the owners was there and periodically checked in with my group. She provided us with some of the context behind their newly opened concept and my friend realized that she had met one of the chefs in the Virgin Islands — what a crazy, small world we live in! We tasted a variety of different plates and cocktails and loved each one. To start, the cocktails were strong, seasonal, and well-balanced, yet a bit too far on the sweet side for my taste. I tried the Musetta’s Waltz (mezcal, palo cortado sherry, lime, falernum and ginger beer) and Milko & Honey (barrel-aged gin, lemon, lavender-turmeric-infused honey). Some of the dish highlights included: Roasted Carrots (I seriously couldn’t stop eating these), Red Fife Brioche (chicken liver mousse, orange and plum jam), Farro Sourdough (eggplant, yogurt, grilled radicchio, hazelnut picada, farro miso), Capunti (tuna conserva, chicories, nebechan, charred lemon, sumac, smoky + cheesy breadcrumb), Pappardelle (spicy pork ragu, spicy kohlrabi, porky breadcrumbs), and Bone-In Pork Chop (collard greens, bacon, rutabaga, cauliflower, nasturtium gremolata, benne seeds). My mouth is still watering thinking about the Pappardelle! Can’t wait to go back, but next time I’ll reserve a table far in advance.
Milk Bar — I’m a sucker for a great dessert — sometimes I think I could eat sweets during all meal periods. I had been dreaming of Christina Tosi’s treats ever since I first saw her episode on Chef’s Table. Everything about her Milk Bar locations screams adorable, delicious and craveable. The pink branding and simple white space throughout aligns perfectly with what they’re all about. While there, I tried the Cereal Milk Soft Serve ice cream (of course I opted for extra crunch, because how could you not?), and every single cookie sold. You read that right. Every. Single. Cookie. The lineup included the Confetti Cookie (sugar cookie, birthday sprinkles, birthday crumbs), Compost Cookie (pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, graham cracker, butterscotch, chocolate chips), Corn Cookie (pretty much just corn), Cornflake Marshmallow Cookie (cornflakes, marshmallows, mini chocolate chips), Chocolate Chocolate Cookie (chocolate cookie dough, chocolate crumbs, salt), and the Blueberry & Cream Cookie (sugar cookie, milk crumbs, blueberries). Everyone raves about the Compost Cookie, but to my surprise, I ended up liking the Blueberry & Cream Cookie the best. I definitely need to go back to taste through Christina’s cakes and ice cream shakes. I may just splurge and order a cake or two in the meantime…