Saturday, January 6, 2018

Red Hen

Red Hen is an Italian-influenced American restaurant located in the historic Bloomingdlae neighborhood of Washington, DC. Michelin Guide gave them the Bib Gourmand rating writing, "The look is farmhouse funky complete with reclaimed timber, exposed brick, and a wood-burning oven in the kitchen, but don't let the country-cute appeal fool you: there's a CIA-trained chef manning the stove. It's largely American with an Italian accent, plus a few offbeat ingredients (shichimi togarashi and za'atar) thrown in for good measure. Pasta is a sure thing, and the crowd favorite, mezze rigatoni with fennel sausage ragù, is sealing testimony that simple isn't boring."

For our first meal out in 2018, I was excited to dine at the Red Hen.  Keith had gotten us a reservation about a month prior, which we had to cancel, so our expectations were built up.  We ventured out on this frigid night and were happily seated right away in the boisterous open area.  We ordered a bottle of 2015 Perticaia Sangiovese Blend from Umbria, Italy.  It was a light-medium bodied red that paired well with our entire meal.

First we shared the Tuscan Chicken Liver Mousse topped with roasted fig conserva and fresh thyme, served with toasted baguette.  The mousse was rich and smooth with loads of flavor.

As a lighter contrast, we shared the Fresh Burrata with a bright broccolini marinati, salami, brown-butter pine nuts, cherry mostarda and breadcrumbs.  The crunchy textures of the vegetables contrasted nicely with the creamy globe of fresh cheese.  This was a delightful dish.

For a middle course, we shared the Squid Ink Linguini with calamari, cannellini beans, pea shoots, fresno chilies and breadcrumbs.  The pasta had a nice toothy bite and the squid pieces were so tender.  We loved this pasta dish, and eyed others on the menu, but decided to save room to try other items instead.

Keith decided we should share one of the main entrees, too.  We chose the Grilled Free-Range Chicken served with mushroom risotto, parmesan and herb pesto and topped with fresh arugula.  The meat was plentiful - I enjoyed the white breast, while Keith had the dark leg.  The mushroom risotto was warm and comforting for this winter's night.

Though we were full, we couldn't pass up on dessert.  We settled on the Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts with chocolate glaze, nutella-whipped ricotta, hazelnut praline, and mascarpone gelato - a description of all of Keith's favorite things.  Satisfyingly, the taste matched the decadent description, with the spice of the pumpkin cut by the chocolate and the sweet mascarpone.

We had a fantastic meal at the Red Hen; I only wish it was closer to my neighborhood so that I could come back more often.  It's not that convenient to a Metro stop either. The food lived up to the Bib Gourmand status.  The price is worthwhile, but we knocked it a bit due to the high prices in wine bottles and the ambience was inviting and warm but a bit too loud for a romantic dinner out.

What Micky Eats...

UPDATE: This restaurant was awarded Bib Gourmand for 2020.

Total Rating: 4.5
Food: 5, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 3

The Red Hen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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