The Capitol Square Diner

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I recently checked out DC Capitol Square Bar & Grill, 1500 East Capitol NE. Ensconced in a former barber shop, the two-month-old Capitol Square has already caught on.

Enjoy weekend American brunch, on the paio at DC Capitol Square, 1500 East Capitol St. NE. Photo courtesy of DC Capitol Square

On a glorious fall day that felt like summer inearly November, Peter and I visited for lunch. From Executive Chef Damian Beckett’s African/Caribbean menu we chose Capitol Square oxtail stew and Nigerian tomato stew. The pair of fork-tender, plump oxtails was smothered in rich, savory sauce and escorted by flavorful rice, plantains and sautéed bell peppers and onions. Peter’s Nigerian tomato stew was laced with chicken breast (other protein options are goat or fish), carrots and plantains. Other menu items are curried chicken, as well as curried shrimp and scallops. There’s also Nigerian pepper soup, chock full of beef, lamb, goat and tripe scented with herbs.

At the recent arrival DC Capitol Square, crispy calamari is a weekend brunch favorite. Photo courtesy of DC Capitol Square

Service was excellent but leisurely, Caribbean style. But we were in no hurry. Capitol Square offers something for everyone; we’ve done the weekend brunch, which brings bottomless mimosas, French toast, chicken and waffles, eggs Benedict, sandwiches and burgers. We’ve had the salmon BLT, which was generous and delicious but heavy on the lemon/thyme aioli. DC Capitol Square is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; for more information visit www.capitolsquarebar.com

Your Goose is Cooked

As always, Cafe Berlin, 322 Mass. Ave. NE, will be showcasing its famous roast goose on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There will also be other main choices such as Sauerbraten, venison steak and a vegetarian Shepard’s Pie. For the annual feast, chef/owner Rico Glage will present a prix-fixe, three-course menu for $67. There will be Teutonic mainstays such as oxtail consommé, winter salad, potato pancakes, red cabbage, and German cakes. Seatings on both days (December 24 and 25) will be from 2 to 7:30 p.m. For reservations—highly recommended–menu and prices visit www.cafeberlindc.com.

To cook your own goose, German-born Rico Glage has shared his recipe. 

CAFÉ BERLIN CHRISTMAS GOOSE

Chef Rico Glage

Ingredients:

1 (8 to 10-pound) goose (with innards if possible)

2 apples, peeled and chopped into large chunks (1 to 2-inch pieces)

1 onion, chopped into large chunks (1 to-2-inch pieces)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 ½ tablespoons mugwort*

Kosher salt and pepper

flour or cornstarch as needed

white wine or stock (chicken, goose or veggie stock)

1 roasting pan (we love the one at Hill’s Kitchen “Cuisinart 16 Stainless with aluminum core with roasting rack)

sieve or cheesecloth

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove bag from the goose cavity. Mix chopped apples, chopped onion, thyme, mugwort, salt and pepper. Stuff cavity of goose with mixture. Sprinkle salt on goose exterior.

Place goose on rack in roasting pan. Chop up innards and add to roasting pan. Place pan in preheated oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until internal temperature is 155 degrees F.  (Temperature should be taken on the thickest part of the leg as close to the bone as possible). You can baste skin with fat drippings from the pan periodically.

Remove roasting pan from oven, remove rack and drain fat into a separate container (you can use this fat later to make schmaltz). After draining fat, deglaze the pan with white wine or stock scraping all the good tasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Place roasting pan on the stove at medium heat and bring contents to a simmer. Once the liquid is hot, place goose and innards back in pan without the roasting rack and return to oven. At this point, you can crank the oven up to 400 degrees F to make sure you have a nice crispy skin. Roast until internal temp is 165 F.

Remove roasting pan from oven, remove goose and cover with foil, and place in a warm place to rest for at least 20 minutes. If you cut into the goose immediately, the juice will drain out and meat will be dry.

In roasting pan on top of stove, add flour (or cornstarch) to make a roux. Then add wine or stock slowly and bring to a simmer on low heat, stirring regularly. When sauce starts to thicken, remove from heat. Pour sauce through sieve to remove solid bits.

Serves 4 to 6.

*Mugwort is an aromatic plant similar to tea. It’s available at

Mason & Greens, 400 Eighth St. SE and online.

As always, La Plaza restaurant will be open Christmas and New Year’s Day. Sizzling fajitas anyone?

Feliz Navidad

As always, La Plaza, 629 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, will be open on Christmas and New Year’s days. Proprietor Henry Mendoza has renovated the space, adding a gleaming, extended bar. He’s not serving turkey tacos on Christmas, but expect roast gobbler with Salvadoran-style sauce. For menus, hours and to make reservations, visit www.laplazadc.com.

Speakeasy comes to Town

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, but Capitol Hill is about to get a speakeasy—right here by Eastern Market. Side Door is now open Fridays and Saturdays next to Harvest Tide, 212 Seventh St. SE. In his new hideaway, Harvest Tide chef Danio Somosa will create his signature tapas, perhaps blue crab mac-and-cheese, sticky agave wings, dry-aged meatballs. Plus yummy desserts and festive cocktails including espresso martinis and drinks in chocolate-rimmed glasses. But you need the password for admittance! For updates visit www.harvesttidecapitolhill.com.

Another British Arrival

The Brits have been busy lately. A new monarch, three prime ministers, the return of refurbished Big Ben, and now—the arrival of “bad boy” chef Gordon Ramsay. Just in time for the holiday season, British-born Ramsay has touched down in the District Wharf. Located at 665 Wharf St. SW, his Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips showcases its namesake dish: fish-and-chips made with sustainable cod.

Nothing fancy here. I visited recently expecting a cozy, atmospheric English pub. Instead, Ramsay’s is fast-casual. Bright red doors resembling London’s famous telephone booths lead to the brightly lit eatery. After placing our orders, we found seats by a sunny window. From the brief menu, we chose fish-and-chips and shrimp-and-chips (both $16). The shrimp are a better deal; gossamer batter encasing the plump crustaceans melted in my mouth like tempura. However, we thought the three pieces of cod were skimpy. The chips tasted just OK, not worth the calories. (You can also choose chicken-and-chips.) Combos arrived with choice of two sauces, we chose tartar and cocktail.

Chips can be ordered solo, loaded with chorizo, cheeses, jalapenos, truffles or simply sprinkled with sea salt. To accompany these victuals are sodas, beer and wine (no liquor), including Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. When we went, however, they were out of wine so we settled for a Stella Artois beer. 

Orders are served in Union Jack-splashed cardboard containers. Not everything is sustainable; plastic eating utensils are encased separately in more annoying plastic.

Meanwhile, diners will have to wait until later this winter for Ramsay’s upscale Hell’s Kitchen. The tribute to his “Hell’s Kitchen” cooking show will be housed at 652 Wharf St. SW, overlooking the Potomac River. With outposts in Las Vegas, Dubai and elsewhere, Hell’s Kitchen is known for its beef Wellington and lobster risotto. For updates and more information, visit www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com.

Market Watch

Union Market welcomes Yasmine, a Lebanese-style stall hawking “street foods” like lamb kebabs, beef shawarma, falafel, pita-wrapped sandwiches, cheeses and salads. Chefs Chris Morgan and Gerald Addison reunite with beverage director Said Haddad to recreate this zesty newcomer. They both formerly cooked at Michelin-rated Maydan, in Shaw.

Yasmine, named after Haddad’s beloved grandmother, pours arak (a popular Middle Eastern distilled spirit similar to ouzo). The full bar also offers wine and cocktails.

Located at 1309 Fifth St. SE, Union Market is open daily. For individual kiosk hours visit www.unionmarketdc.com.