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Dining in the District

Follow along as we dine and drink at the best sous vide spots in Washington DC.


BY NEVIN MARTELL

Over the last decade, the nation’s capital has become a culinary hub of rare distinction. Bon Appétit dubbed it “Restaurant City of the Year” in 2016, while the Michelin Guide recently began handing out much-deserved stars to luminaries in the region. As DC’s star rises, plan a trip and get a taste of the hot spots offering sous vide dishes worthy of all the recent buzz.

FOR ECLECTIC BITES ALONGSIDE ELECTRIC COCKTAILS
Tim Ma’s Kyirisan (1924 Eighth St. NW) is a great spot for catching a bite and a drink or two. Larger booths at the center of the room boast deep blue banquettes—tables for smaller parties ring the outskirts—and the modern minimalist decor includes triangular golden sconces dotted with air plants and slender gold light fixtures that seem to float above diners. Clever cocktails are always on rotation, but get the refreshing “Don’t Worry, Climate Change Is a Myth…” (gin, ginger, cranberry, lime) if it’s on deck. Plates are designed for sharing. An evergreen favorite is the sous vide duck confit with well-caramelized Brussels sprouts and an apple cider gastrique for a touch of tang.

FOR BRUNCH WITH A MEDITERRANEAN MENTALITY
Opened since early 2017, Arroz (901 Massachusetts Ave. NW) is this Spain-meets-Morocco-with-a-touch-of-Portugal restaurant in Mount Vernon Square. The weekend brunch is a surefire way to get a great start to your day and sample the prodigious talents of executive chef Michael Rafidi. Go for burger bocadillos built with melt-in-your-mouth slabs of sous vide Berkshire pork belly, capelets of Mahón cheese, and a secret sauce amped up with guindilla peppers, or choose the juicy bavette steak dressed with cilantro-rich mojo verde and complemented by sunnyside-up eggs and blistered shishito peppers. Wash either down with refreshing cocktails by beverage director Taha Ismail, such as grapefruit-infused rosé sangria or a house G&T with notes of cucumber and lime.

FOR GREEK MEZZE UPDATED TO PERFECTION
The groundbreaking Greek restaurant Kapnos (2201 14th St. NW) soars under the leadership and creativity of executive chef and partner George Pagonis. Beef souvlaki gets the sous vide treatment, because the chef prizes consistency. “The meat is always going to be medium-rare, no matter who’s working the grill that day,” he says of sous vide cuts finished on the grill. Marinating with chilies, harissa, and Korean gochujang gives the skewers a kick, and they’re served over a bed of garlicky skordalia potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

FOR SOPHISTICATED WHIMSY IN A ROCKING SETTING
Grab a booth in the dusky dining room at Hazel (808 V St. NW) in the north end of Shaw. It’s kitty-corner from the iconic 9:30 Club, which inspired some of the restaurant’s artwork, so it’s perfect for a pre-gig bite or an after-show dinner. Chef Rob Rubba has a cheeky sense of humor, so his best dishes are equally playful and palate pleasing. Case in point is his steak tartare, which comes with a caramelized onion dip (just like your aunt used to make it!), crisped-golden house-made tater tots, and a cheery egg yolk cooked to perfection using sous vide. For the tastiest results, mash all the components together, so every bite yields a bit of each flavor.

FOR HIGH STAKES WITH KILLER STEAKS
Bryan Voltaggio teams up with his brother, Michael (you might recognize him from Top Chef, too), for the Voltaggio Brothers Steak House (101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md.). The winning concept inside the MGM National Harbor casino takes the idea of a house literally, so each room evokes a home space—from a library-inspired bar to a dining room that nods to a ’70s-era family room. The best bites are the most surprising, such as the Big Eye Tuna. This riff on steak tartare comes with a sous vide egg yolk “pudding” made by combining the cooked egg yolks with grape seed oil and salt. As for cocktails, the brothers give beverage director Dane Nakamura access to the kitchen, so he employs sous vide to create baked apple-brown butter bourbon, which powers a fantastic mint julep. It’s the perfect way to toast the end of a long day eating and drinking your way through DC.

 

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