DGS is no standard-issue deli. For starters, the Dupont Circle outpost comes with a bar. Further, the kitchen is more respectful than reverential regarding tradition.
Bluefish stands in for herring, because chef Barry Koslow likes that bluefish, which he pickles and drapes with salsa verde, is local and more abundant. I appreciate the way he thinks, and I dig the way he cooks. Koslow’s chopped chicken liver laced with rosemary and sherry and studded with “Jewish bacon” (fried chicken skin) might be the best I’ve had outside someone’s home, while his crisp golden chicken schnitzel bedded on tiny dumplings and garnished with pepper relish is a dish a generous grandmother would feed you.
There’s too much salt in the otherwise appealing matzoh ball soup, but I wouldn’t change a crumb of the bagels, wood-fired rounds from Montreal, or the fluffy cheesecake, which the chef bakes here. Open wide, too, for Andrea’s Delight, which stacks corned beef, Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing into a behemoth enclosed in double-baked rye.
The restaurant’s initials are spelled out on the wall in the cozy upstairs dining room wrapped in brick; District Grocery Stores were a cooperative of Jewish-owned markets in the city at the turn of the 20th century. But today is reflected in the terrific wines selected by co-owner Brian Zipin and the choice cocktails that make DGS as diverting for drinking as for noshing.