Chefs describe eggs as a wonder ingredient: Crack a shell, and a dish magically becomes creamier, richer, silkier. In their softer forms — with pillowy whites and runny centers — eggs add a textural layer to dishes as varied as soup and pizza (their neutral flavor means they play well with others). “There’s this oozy-ness to them that’s fantastic,” says chef Mike Isabella, who incorporates the breakfast staple into many lunch and dinner dishes at his restaurants Graffiato and Bandolero. Read on for four dishes that make the most of eggs’ versatility.
The queso fundido ($12) at Georgetown’s Bandolero is a familiar dish given an elegant upgrade (no Velveeta-like puddles here). Chef Mike Isabella elevates his chorizo-poblano version of the Mexican dish by topping it with a creamy egg, served sunny-side up. When stirred in, the egg melds with the cheese and other ingredients, keeping the texture smooth. The blend also doesn’t seize up as it cools. “I wanted it to be more like a fondue than that typical queso you get in the black skillet that goes all hard about five minutes after it’s served,” Isabella says.
Bandolero, 3241 M St. NW; 202-625-4488.
Easy Does It
At H Street noodle shop Toki Underground, chef Erik Bruner-Yang adds a soft-boiled egg into all of his bowls of steaming ramen ($10; extra eggs are $1.50 each). Before commencing the slurp-and-scoop routine, diners can stir the egg into the broth. Swirl enough, and the egg disappears. Traditionally, ramen is served with a boiled egg that’s firmer, Bruner-Yang says, but he went with a softer version for a few reasons. He liked the richness it imparts, “like the yolk you’d find on a carbonara.” And soft-boiled eggs, which slip out of their shells, cut down on labor costs, since previously, “we basically had one guy whose only job … was peeling the boiled eggs.”
Toki Underground, 1234 H St. NE; 202-388-3086.
In H &Pizza’s Farmer’s Daughter pie (shown at top, $8.64), zesty sausage and chili oil get mellowed out with house-made mozzarella — and eggs cracked over the concoction. By the time the pizza emerges from the broiler, the egg whites are set, but the yolks remain soft. Anthony Pilla, a member of the pizzeria’s culinary team, says egg isn’t exactly a traditional topping (you might find it in Rome, he says, but never in Naples, where it’s simplicity or bust). The Farmer’s Daughter is “like the perfect brunch food you can have any time,” he says. And when customers raise an eyebrow about the egg on their pie, “I tell them to man up,” Pilla says. “I say, ‘You’re gonna try this egg on a pizza, and it’s gonna make you happy.’ ”
H &Pizza, 1118 H St. NE; 202-733-1285.
Egg whites are a common drink ingredient; yolks are more esoteric. But back in Colonial times, egg yolk was the foundation of a popular cocktail, the flip (which also typically contained ale and rum). The Atlas Room’s La Rosa Flip ($12) has such distinctive malty, coffeelike flavors that you might not even realize there’s an egg in the mix. Bar manager Chris Surresco adapted the recipe of spicy Cruzan Black Strap rum, stout and egg yolk from a drink at one of his favorite New York speakeasies. The egg yolk is “not a strong flavor,” Surresco says, “but it gives that noggy mouthfeel.”
Atlas Room, 1015 H St. NE; 202-388-4020.