Guest post by Gabe Stutman
The Queen Vic is yet another reason why H Street is NOT going to be the next Adams Morgan. I’ve heard whispers from longtime DC residents such as myself that the rapid, bar-heavy development on H is similar to that of 18th Street years back – that eventually H Street will be overrun by suburbanites and underage drinkers every weekend night, making it nearly impossible for a local to have a peaceful night out. While this post is not meant to hate on “bridge and tunnel” metro-area residents (“bridge-and-beltway,” if you will?) or Adams Morgan, for that matter, (there are a lot of terrific institutions there that should not be missed – Tryst, Amsterdam Falafel, The Diner, etc.) I believe I speak for myself and a number of fellow H Street residents when I say that I do not want an Adams Morgan-esque nightlife to take hold in the Atlas District. The Queen Vic, in the sheer quality of its food and drink offerings, not to mention the inventive, fresh and friendly concept developed by owner Ryan Gordon (who also owns a stake in The Pug), serves as a prime example of the high-quality food service that will continue to mark the H Street corridor as a beacon for DC’s cultural renaissance, rather than a late-night spot for binge drinking 19 year-olds from Fairfax.
The food, as mentioned, was stunning. My girlfriend/dining partner/British food aficionado insisted on certain items that, needless to say, I’d never heard of, but put my faith in her based on her experience across the pond (she spent a year studying in London). We started off with welsh rarebit (never heard of it? me neither), a creamy, grilled-cheese like concoction with a subtle bite added from a homemade mustard. I would recommend ordering even more of the homemade mustard on the side, as sometimes it was hard to experience its full flavor as it competed with the creamy goodness of sharp cheddar melted on top of some crunchy toast, which I believe was also home-made. In addition to the rarebit we indulged in some roasted marrow bones and pan seared chicken livers, both confronting us with tastes so new and so satisfying that we had to tell all our friends afterwards (don’t you love food experiences that tell a story?). The marrow was brought out to us as two giant beef bones, which immediately grabbed the attention of our fellow diners. As we began to scoop out the marrow and spread on toast, we noticed a meaty creaminess that was extremely rich, but with a sprinkle of large grain salt (also included with the dish), each bite initiated a medley of flavors to excite and satisfy the palate, the sharpness of the salt breaking up the potent fatty flavor of the marrow. Washing it all down with a Bellhaven Scottish Ale, I suddenly began referring to my girlfriend as “me lass” and screaming at whatever football match was on TV, my British roots emerging out of thin air. And I don’t even really have British roots.
The chicken livers were, well, livery. If you like liver I would definitely recommend getting it – the portion is generous, and the dish is again served with homemade toast, perfect for spreading the gooey-er portions of the meat for those used to eating their liver in the form of pate. The dish was served with lardens, smokey cubes of pig fat which added a crunch and a salty sensation to the dish, rounding it out nicely.
For our mains, we split the welsh seafood bowl and the chicken tikka masala. The seafood bowl was outstanding, and came with such a flavorful garlic broth that I immediately proclaimed the dish to be better than any seafood competitor in the area (yes, that includes Granville Moores). The seafood was fresh, all line-caught as we were informed by our very knowledgeable waiter, and delicious. The tikka masala was good, but lacked the proper spice to be considered a great imitation of the indian favorite. No biggie though – the portion was large, and we were able to pack it up for the next day’s lunch.