NOTE: Mark Furstenberg has left the restaurant.
Sometimes you just want a little inspiration at lunch. That's what you get at G Street Food, where on Monday the Vietnamese banh mi might call to you, while on Thursday you might choose a bratwurst with piquant kimchi.
G Street Food is the brainchild of Mark Furstenberg, who in previous culinary lives founded Marvelous Market and Breadline. Under his leadership, both shops answered Washingtonians' cravings, first for epicurean treats, then for homey soups and salads in the culinary wasteland that was downtown. Located just west of the White House, G Street Food does the same today for sophisticated palates in search of a lunchtime adventure.
The concept of G Street is to highlight street foods -- soups, salads, sausages, pizzas and pancakes -- from around the world. There are some standards: the banh mi, featuring roast pork and pickled vegetables on a chewy baguette; the pan bagnat, stuffed with a classic salade nicoise (both $8.75); and a selection of salads, including a deliciously light combination of Indian lentil and eggplant ($5.75).
The rest of the menu varies according to the day. So on Monday, the sausage option ($8.50) is merguez with pickled vegetables; on Wednesday, it's chorizo, topped with garlicky spinach and chickpeas, rolled in an Arabic flatbread called saj. The Tuesday tartine ($8.75) is smoky eggplant with tomato and Parmesan cheese; Thursday is chicken with Roquefort cheese, grilled onions and greens. (Good news: Both options come with G Street's hand-cut, fried-to-order, perfectly salted fries.) For now, there's one pancake option, a socca, made of chickpea flour and topped with a thick stew of chickpeas, spicy harissa, yogurt and cilantro ($5.75). Daily pancake variations will become available as the kitchen gains confidence with its already extensive menu, Furstenberg said.
It's a brilliant concept, with even better execution. Furstenberg has used his far-reaching food network to source top ingredients: for example, smoky bacon from Allan Benton, the legendary Tennessee smoker, that tops a deliciously balanced, crisp pizza along with sweet caramelized onions ($5.25). The sausages come from Simply Sausage, an artisan producer in Landover. And the breads? All made by Furstenberg himself.
Which leaves you with one problem: What to eat? You could go back to your usual sandwich. But we wouldn't recommend it.
-- Jane Black (Good to Go, Oct. 7, 2009)
Need a vacation but can't get away from your desk job? G Street Food's globally minded menu might hold you over ... at least until you finish your coffee.
In addition to the standard assortment of bagel-and-egg sandwiches, there's a long omelet list, including Hungarian (onion, red pepper, tomato and chives), Polish (onions, potato and zucchini), Russian (tomatoes and fresh parsley) and Spanish (potatoes, bacon, peppers and onions). G Street's doughnuts are made in-house and are the size of large bagels; they come plain, chocolate-iced or sugar-coated. They pair well with an Americano or Counter Culture drip from the in-house barista. (As a bonus for coffee lovers, the legendary M.E. Swing is next door.)
Menu sampler: Spanish omelet, $5.75; bacon egg and cheese sandwich, $3.95; donuts, $1.75.
-- Alex Baldinger, April 11, 2012