This was a good year for Washington area restaurants. While there were a few flameouts (looking at you, Gallileo III) and unfortunate early closings (Ba Bay), for the most part we saw an influx of interesting concepts and cool kitchens. Here are five of our favorite restaurant and food moments from 2011:
Bethesda’s best happy hour deal
Freddy’s Lobster + Clams opened in Bethesda during the lobster roll high water mark. While we expected rustic New England style seafood, we were taken by surprise by the Cans and Clams happy hour. A can of craft beer (the selection does not dissappoint) and a box of fried clams for $10 — an instant favorite.
Wait . . . I’m where?
Seasonal, sophisticated, cool... where am I? At Harth, which opened in April, chef Thoms Elder presents upscale, updated American classics with an eye for the seasonal and surprising. Take his bacon jam, which is made from honey collected from hives on the roof of the restaurant’s building. About that structure: while sipping a classic cocktail in the dining room — which fuses wood, stone and fire to understatedly cool effect — it’s easy to forget you’re sitting on the first floor of the Hilton McLean ... in Tysons Corner.
Shake Shack comes to Dupont Circle
More pixels were spilled on the arrival of New York’s hamburger and shakes chain than just about anything else this year. Entrepreneur Danny Meyer’s first D.C. location opened in Dupont Circle in May to long lanes and fanfare; with tongue firmly in cheek, we argued that the Shack’s opening finally put the District of Columbia on the map.
Let’s have a meat-up
You’ve never shopped for meat like this before: Each month, White House Meats brings locally-sourced, farm-fresh beef and pork cuts to Adams Morgan’s A.M. Wine Shoppe, where customers draw lots to see who gets to claim a particular cut first. Think of it as drafting a schoolyard kickball or fantasy football team, except the first overall pick is a delicious two-pound ham or filet mignon instead of a star player.
Komi’s Johnny Monis is one of the city’s most lauded chefs; because of that, his fare is often inaccessible, with reservations exclusive and prices to match. But Little Serow, Monis’s cubbyhole of a restaurant, is different: top-notch Thai food from a menu that changes weekly, served for $45 per person. The best part? No reservations are taken, so you could even dine at Monis’s table tonight.