Thursday, February 4, 2010


Last night Mark and I attended our very first food blogger happy hour at Againn, a "contemporary British Isles Bistro," at 1099 New York Avenue, NW.  Walking into the restaurant, I noted that the owners had done a great job recreating the feeling of a pub, all dark wood and dim lighting - a very cozy space.  We had a great time, chatting with fellow DC foodies and sipping some of Againn's creative (and cheap, at $5) happy hour drink offerings - I particularly enjoyed my "Coup d'etat," a refreshing, not-to-sweet concoction with pineau des cherentes, cava, lemon, cinnamon tincture.  Afterwards, we decided to stay for dinner with two of my close friends who, coincidentally, had come to Againn to unwind after work. The food was really solid, the service was excellent, and the company was even better - all in all, a pretty great night.

Click below to see what we ate!

Now, onto specifics.  I started out with the Corned Lamb's Tongue, with warm fingerling potatoes, puntarelle (a salad green which tastes like endive, chicory and arugula somehow had a love child), and green sauce.  I liked the flavor profiles, which were bright and warm at the same time, and loved the soft and almost creamy texture of the potatoes.  The lamb's tongue was a little tough - I'm used to tongue being cooked until extremely tender.  Even so, the meat was very flavorful.

 Corned Lamb's Tongue

Mark started with the Caramelized Belgium Endive Salad, with poached d'anjou pear, stilton, and roasted pecans.  I don't remember too much about this dish (remember, I had just been at happy hour before the meal!), but Mark seemed to like it. 

 Caramelized Belgium Endive Salad

Given the frosty weather outside, for my entree I chose Grandmother's Braised Chicken, with roasted root vegetables, bacon, pork sausage, marjoram, butterball potatoes, as it sounded fantastically warming.  The presentation was outstanding, with our friendly server bringing the small dutch oven in which the chicken had been cooked to the table, and spooning it onto my waiting plate as the warm rich scents of the dish wafted around me.  The chicken melted in my mouth (giving me the texture that I had been looking for with the lamb), and the braised root vegetables and potatoes did just the trick in warming me up - I could almost picture someone's Grandmother back in the kitchen, preparing this meal just for me. 

Grandmother's Braised Chicken

Mark went with the Tamworth Pork Belly (whenever a restaurant offers pork belly, nine times out of ten, one of us will order it), with Anson Mill's white grits, baby mizuna, and a smoked tomato jus.  I liked the crispy skin of the pork, with all of its salty, fatty goodness, although both Mark and I would have liked the meat to be a little more tender.  I don't remember much about the grits and the jus, which I guess says something.  Mark thought it was a solid dish overall.   

Tamworth Pork Belly

For dessert, I had a great after-dinner cocktail, but sadly, don't remember what it was called.  I do remember that I liked it a lot.  Mark had the Banoffee Pie, with bananas, caramelized milk, graham biscuit, and cream, ganache.  He thought it was okay, but didn't seem to love it.*  It was presented very prettily, though.
Banoffee Pie

I do want to take the time to say that the service was really phenomenal, both at the bar and at the table.  Despite the craziness of have some 50 food bloggers milling about the restaurant, the staff at Againn was so friendly, warm and attentive, it really did make me feel like I was sitting down at my neighborhood pub instead of an upscale DC restaurant.  I would recommend it on the service alone, but the good food and drink offerings are worth a try as well.

*Update:  Mark just informed me that he did like the dessert.  Sigh - another memory falls casualty to alcohol...

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