Plate it AGAINN, Sam

Written by Anita
February 7, 2010

Photos courtesy of Powers and Crewe Photography

(Ok, we know it’s supposed to be pronounced “Ah-guin,” but that makes for a less catchy title….) Open since October, AGAINN has quickly become a popular DC happy hour destination. Featuring artisanal cocktails, an international wine list (100 by the bottle and 23 by the glass), an extensive beer menu (40 bottled beers and 15 on tap), and over 80 varieties of whiskies (including 47 Scotches), it offers something for everyone. Its happy hour, Monday to Thursday, from 4-7pm, features several food and beverage selections for only $5. Feeling more flush? A premier private Scotch locker is yours for $500 a year. We sampled several of AGAINN’s housemade cocktails, created by San Francisco mixologists Scott Baird and Josh Harris of the Bon Vivants. Try the spicy Daiquiri Melange, with Rhum JM “eleve sous bois,” averna, lime, and chicory tincture. More delicate palates will appreciate the Lady Macbeth—Henrick’s or Square One botanical gin, St. Germain, lemon, rosewater, and egg white (with a fragrant dried rosebud afloat). But it would be a mistake to think of AGAINN as simply a neighborhood watering hole. In addition to its libations, it offers a variety of traditional and sophisticated food. Sure, AGAINN offers the type of pub fare you’d expect (including shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and bangers and mash), but we found its less traditional offerings to be the most appealing. Start with the loch duart salmon tartare—a refreshing puck-shaped melange of raw salmon, zesty smoked paprika, and tangy preserved lemon topped with a raw quail egg and peppery petite cress. This is a place where you want to dive into the bread basket (Atkins, be damned!), which is filled with warm, firm, nutty bread that begs for a slathering in creamy butter. We loved grandmother’s braised chicken, which is perfect for the season’s snowy weather. The dish features a stewy mix of fork-tender braised chicken, buttery roasted root vegetables, bacon, beef brisket, hearty pork sausage, and butterball potatoes swimming in meaty juices. Or try the Tamworth pork belly—hearty slabs of rich pork belly, perched atop creamy Anson Mill’s white grits and a bed of piquant mustard greens, and bathed in a smoky tomato jus. No meal is complete without dessert! The sticky toffee pudding has been getting a lot of early buzz, but we preferred the banoffee pie—layers of fresh-cut bananas, caramelized milk, crunchy graham biscuit crumbles, whipped cream, and rich chocolate ganache served in a charming glass preserving jar. Want to check out AGAINN for yourself? You may have already missed the Address to a Haggis Dinner and DC Food Bloggers’ Happy Hour (both featured on GregsListDC!), but there’s still time to purchase tickets for the Anti-Valentine’s Day Dinner on February 13 or the Barley Wine Dinner on February 22. Or stop by AGAINN for its new Sunday brunch, which includes housemade cranberry and cornmeal scones, an “English Style” breakfast, and $5 Mimosas and Classic Bloody Marys.
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