When there’s venison on the menu, I order it, wistfully hoping that a tender hunk of reindeer meat shows up instead, reminding me of that Swedish delicacy (usually served with horseradish sauce or berry compote) that nearly brought tears (of joy) to my eyes after my first mouthful. At District Kitchen, the venison medallions with blackberry sauce ended up being more special than Rudolph himself. The venison was served with pureed cauliflower and braised endive, chard, and spinach. I also ordered a side of kale poppy seed slaw . The slaw was addictive, and I ate it faster than I could ask, “what kind of vinegar did you use in this dressing?” to which the slightly uninformed waitress replied “balsamic.” It was the only hiccup, except those brought on by my hard cider, but remedied by her returning promptly with the correct answer (apple cider vinegar) in an otherwise spectacular meal that was tendered quietly, lovingly, and enthusiastically by the soft-spoken and attentive staff. The part-owner/chef, Drew Trautmann, from the west coast, has also seen to it that the décor isn’t impersonal or over-decorated, as are several wonderful (but impersonal and over-decorated) DC restaurants. The brick walls are warmed by mason jar lamps, and the dining room has an industrial rustic charm softened by the flickering candles (NB: Washington, DC – turn down your aircons!), and the hushed voices of the bartenders and servers who gave us plenty of attention without giving us their names. It’s simple but beautiful design reflecting the menus he dreams up. Speaking of mason jars, here you can order a variety of pickled veg all brought to you in individual wee mason jars. I got the asparagus. Delish.
Even as the room frosted with aircon blasts (we ended up eating outside) and the emergency generator at a nearby establishment whirred to life, nothing was stopping me from enjoying the garlicky greens, the perfectly cooked (rare) tenderloin, and my cold crisp hard cider. When finally a party of six (four of them were dogs) sniffed an adjacent table, I merely glanced at the hostess and armed with menus and good sense, she shushed them away.
District Kitchen, Adams Morgan, Washington, DC