Winter’s Winners—Catch ‘Em While You Can

Written by Anita

January 2, 2012

Stave off the winter doldrums by sampling some of the terrific early winter delicacies now being served up at local restaurants. Don’t delay, or you might be left out in the cold!

Chef Dennis Marron (formerly of The Grille at Morrison House and Jackson 20) recently took the helm of Poste Moderne Brasserie’s kitchen. He offers a menu that reflects the full flavors of French country cooking. Start with the richly decadent chicken liver parfait. Topped with a layer of tart Madeira gelee, it begs to be smeared liberally on the delicate grilled brioche toast triangles that flank it. Pork features prominently here, with a selection of five “plats du cochon,” each highlighting a different cut. Our favorite? The plump coriander and orange-roasted pork belly, served in four thick slices with sweet apple butter, a smear of creamy parsnip puree, and a delicate orange and mache salad. For dessert, try chef Marron’s favorite—a creamy chocolate pot de creme, sprinkled generously with housemade oreo cookie crumbles and finished with a dollop of whipped cream. Penn Quarter theatergoers will find that Poste’s pre-theatre menu, offered from 5-6:30pm, will sufficiently sate them for the evening’s events.

Poste always has been a popular summer outdoor spot, but it now boasts what is sure to be a popular winter outdoor space—a new heated outdoor lounge with a hot cocktail bar. Snuggle up in heated blankets as you sip a variety of hot beverages, including coconut eggnog, hot toffee buttered rum, and bourbon-spiked hot chocolate. Poste hosts a $5 happy hour from 4-7pm daily, which includes selected beers, wines, and frites.

You also can warm up this winter in El Centro D.F.’s cozy underground tequileria, where you can dine and drink concoctions featuring over 200 tequilas, mezcals, and sotols. The spicy heat of the Mojito Mexicano (El Jimador, sour, mint, and chile ginger simple syrup) will help to get your blood flowing. Of course, the tableside blended guacamole is a must here—a chunky blend of fresh avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, and Serrano chile peppers. (Heat lovers can request a side of habenero sauce to blend in to taste.) Follow that up with the pork pipian, a homey dish of spiced pork carnitas served atop a layer of corn puree and zesty green tomato salsa and finished with a tangle of sweet caramelized onions. End your meal with a jiggle-y caramel flan.

El Centro D.F. offers a full slate of weekly activities and specials, including Meet the Maker Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Latin Thursdays, and Bottomless Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. A change of scenery can be found upstairs, on El Centro D.F.’s new rooftop deck with retractable roof. Here, you can sample the rooftop menu, which includes a selection of tostadas, casuelas, and empanadas. Happy hour happens here daily from 5-7pm, offering $4 margaritas, Mexican beers, and red and white wines.

The cozy interior of Cafe Dupont, in The Dupont Circle Hotel, welcomes winter wanderers. Chef Silvan Kramer is spending more time in the front of the house nowadays, leaving the kitchen in the capable hands of executive sous chef David Fritsche. (Both chefs are originally Swiss; chef Fritsche even hails from Greg’s birthplace of Appenzell!)

Meals here start with a soft and crusty baguette, served warm in its paper sleeve. Slices of the rich housemade terrine de foie gras with apple puree and fluffy warm brioche is a perfect starter. Or try the potage de fenouil et de pommes vertes (thick fennel and granny smith apple soup, topped with crispy panko breaded shrimp). Other delectable small plates include coquilles saint jacques (firm, pan-seared scallops with pancetta and a citrusy lemon confit risotto) and  poitrine de porc braisée crème de cassis (crispy braised pork belly, which is first cured for 24 hours on rock salt, accompanied by sweet potatoes gratin and parsnip purée with créme de cassis).  Cafe Dupont serves up a different plat du jour daily, like bouillabaisse on Wednesdays and coq au vin on Thursdays.  What better way to warm up this winter!

Photograph #1 by Scott Suchman

Spotlight Type: