Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kapnos - A new Isabella delight on 14th Street

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Image courtesy of the Washington Post

When my friend came to visit from NYC a few weeks ago, I had to put on my foodie game face to wow her.  This girl has tried just about half (definitely the better half) of the restaurants in Manhattan, and I knew how hard it would be to compete with that!  Thankfully, DC has some fantastic new options.  I took her to try out Mike Isabella's newest Mediterranean small plates restaurant on 14th & W: Kapnos.  I breathed a sigh of relief when she told me how much she loved the meal, ambience, and, of course, the company! 

We started off with the Melitzanosalata - an eggplant dip served cold with a charred flavor.  It was well- balanced by the fresh feta and was served with warm fresh pita bread.  There were a ton of delicious dips that appealed to me, and I can't wait to go back and try more of them! 

Next we got the Farmhouse Vegetable Salad, which turned out to be a traditional Greek salad.  No lettuce - exactly like they do it in Greece!  Fresh-from-the-farm cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, onions, and crumbly salty creamy feta cheese.  Yum.  Could seriously have stopped here. But we're not even close to done. 

Then we got the grilled/charred octopus.  I have never seen octopus in this form before, and I was worried it would be chewy because of the thick cut.  To my pleasant surprise the octopus was incredibly tender.  It had a delicious smoky flavor.  It was topped with fresh dill, radishes, and served with a creamy dipping sauce.

Next we got the hen-of-the-woods mushroom.  Usually I love any dish that features exotic mushrooms, but I was a little overwhelmed by the cream on the bottom and cheese on top.  Too much.  The mushroom is such a gem on its own.  I really wish they'd just let it shine without all the fixins. 

Next was the baked halibut with melted leeks and an avgolemeno (egg-lemon) sauce.  We ate it too fast to snap a picture!  I'm really regretting that there is no photo because this was a beautiful, perfectly cooked piece of fish that just flaked apart at the touch and melted with flavor in your mouth.  Although there is no evidence to prove it, this was the best thing we ate all night. 

By this point we were totally stuffed, but we still had one more dish! I always feel bad for the last tapa.  I always over order and it's hard to find anything appealing when you're so full.  That said, the spiced baby goat was still good.  Our waitress described it as having "Indian spices" which wasn't totally inaccurate.  It was definitely more in the Middle Eastern/Indian spice category. It was served over an "ancient grain salad" - which just seemed to be a fancy description for rice.  It was good, not my favorite, but good.  Next time I'll probably try the lamb instead. 

Overall, the charred octopus and the halibut were the winners of the night.  I will skip the hen-of-the-woods mushroom and the goat next time.  Kapnos is a welcome addition to the 14th Street neighborhood.  I can't wait to go back and try more of the offerings!

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