Tuesday, September 25, 2018

...and we're BACK! Fancy Radish - a plant-based meal to remember

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Two and a half years later, we're back! We sincerely apologize for dropping our blog like a hot potato, but we are excited to return with restaurant reviews from the constantly evolving DC food scene, recaps of our travel, tiny dinner party menus, and new recipes. 

As we make our way back, we will be asking ourselves (and you), are blogs still relevant? We're not entirely sure, but for about four years this was a wonderful creative outlet for us, and we are thrilled that our lives have once again allowed us both the time and energy for this little corner of the Internet. We hope you'll share your reactions and thoughts with us too.  To former readers, welcome back. To new readers, we hope you enjoy :)  Also- check us out on Instagram (we so 2018).  

Since I was flying solo this weekend (update: I got married last month!), Liz invited me to join her, her boyfriend (Adam), and his visiting sister (Rachel) at the new-ish H Street vegan fine-dining restaurant, Fancy Radish. Guys, vegan?? I was skeptical, but after talking to a co-worker who recently had been, she assured me I would love it. I joked that I was going to eat a pre-dinner, but she warned me not to. I am so glad I listened to her advice! 

From the minute we walked into the restaurant, we were very impressed. After checking in with the host, we were immediately taken to a table at the back of the restaurant near the open kitchen. It's like they knew the way to our hearts.  We also appreciated that they honored the reservation time -- too many restaurants seem to treat that as a rough suggestion without regard for the diner's plans.  

We sat down and quickly perused the innovative and adventurous cocktail menu. We quickly realized we had no idea what half the cocktail ingredients were! After some quick Googling and discussion with the waitress, Adam ordered what was essentially an old fashioned - that was served in the world's cutest tea cup, and Liz opted for a mezcal cocktail that the waitress compared to a negroni. I went for a safe choice, wine (rose - duh) as none of the cocktails appealed to my palette (give me all the vodka cocktails). 

After dying over the fact that Adam's drink was served in a tea cup, we all took our first sips. Adam's drink was as promised, but Liz's cocktail was extremley bitter, much more than a negroni. The drink wasn't a hit at first --cringing form the bitters -- but it got better as the ice melted and it watered down a bit.

Next we talked food with the server. Liz and I are very particular about tapas-style meals, and Liz asked the server if she would be able to pace the meal for us. After a sarcastic comment about 'having done this a few times before' I caught on that she was kidding. And she didn't lie - the meal was timed perfectly, like clock-work. Light to heavy, with just enough time between plates to breathe and be excited for the next dish coming our way. 

We started with the "fondue" - which was actually a puree of rutabega (a root vegetable) and served with pickled veggies and bread. The fondue was made with nutritional yeast and miso; and if you hadn't told me it wasn't cheese, I would have never guessed! It had both the texture and umami notes of melty cheddar cheese.  I coudn't believe it was totally plant based.  The bread was similar to a pretzel and made for the perfect dipping vehicle to enjoy the fondue. The pickled veggies were delightful as an acidic off-set to the rich fondue; I only wish there were more.

Next up was undoubtedly my favorite dish of the night. A BLT. I wish I could send each of our lovely readers this dish. The bread was perfectly crunchy, topped with a basil spread and a thick-cut heirloom tomato. The most impressive part of this dish was the "bacon" made from shiitake mushrooms. Again, if you had blind-folded me and told me I was eating mushrooms, I would have laughed. The amount of flavor packed in such a simple dish was impressive. I am still dreaming of it today.

The stuffed avocado and Peruvian potatoes made an appearance next. The avocado was served with cauliflower rice, a crispy rice chip, and a romesco sauce. The group felt this was the least favorite dish of the night. It turns out we are avocado-purists.  There was nothing wrong with it, the other dishes were just that good. The Peruvian roasted potatoes were cooked to a perfect crisp and paired nicely with the zesty sauce - similar to the sauce that would top Peruvian roasted chicken.

The trumpet mushrooms were one of Liz's favorite dishes of the night. Shaved paper thin, the mushrooms took on the texture of pasta. They swam in a savory broth of olive oil, roasted tomatoes, and basil - which we all were scraping off the bottom of the bowl with our spoons.  It only could have used bread to dip in that broth! 

Adam picked the summer squash, but wasn't overly impressed with it. I enjoyed zhoug, which is a middle eastern version of chimmichurri - and the pistachios it was accompanied by - you all know I love a good sauce!

The final two courses were Rachel and Liz's choice. The dan-dan noodles and the ramen. Liz has a thing for dan-dan (typically made with ground pork and chili oil), and has (unsuccessfully) searched high and low in DC for an acceptable version. While the vegan appropriation wasn't quite as good as the real thing (sometimes you just need meat), Liz still loved this dish, as did the rest of us. The texture was enjoyable and the spicy sichuan pepper lended as good variety to the earlier, cooler dishes.

The ramen noodles were also quite good, but the title of the dish was a little misleading. Though the noodles were ramen style, this dish was far from ramen in my mind. The carbonara sauce (minus the egg) was spot-on and gave diners a clue what they were in for.

Well before the end of the meal, all of our beverages were nearing the bottom of their respective glasses. Though overall the service was impeccable, I did find it odd that the waitress never offered to refresh our drinks.  In fact, our server cleared my glass before I was been able to finish my final sip - a huge pet peeve.

Drink-less, we moved on to dessert. I'm a sucker for s'mores and quickly landed on that option. It did not disappoint, though Liz complained that the texture was a bit too gummy for her. I think this is an inherent quality of s'mores and was impressed at the deconstructed version of the dessert. The graham cracker ice cream was a high note for me.

We also tried the carrot cake cup. I am not a huge fan of carrot cake (fruits and vegetables do not belong as part of dessert IMO), but this take on the classic cake was well done. I did have to sort of dig my spoon in to be able to enjoy all the layers as part of one bite though. 

Overall, I was highly impressed with Fancy Radish. The service was spot-on, the food was creative and incredibly flavorful, and the ambiance was enjoyable. I can't wait to go back and in the meantime, I am telling everyone I know to get there ASAP.