One of the reasons Passover is so meaningful to us is the timeless story it tells. Wherever we may be in life, the triumph over adversity and the struggle for freedom speaks in myriad ways.
The other reason, of course, is food. So when the struggle of cooking brisket for 25 is a task taller than Red Sea reeds, it’s time to get out of the house and check out what DC’s manna-from-the-desert food scene has to offer us during this year’s holiday, from the traditional to the trendy.
First on the list is Logan Tavern, which is serving dinner and a DIY (also BYOH—that’s Bring Your Own Haggadah). On April 11, while you and the family talk plagues, choose from two seatings for a three-course meal that starts with salad and matzah ball soup; has a choice of brisket, salmon or matzah-meal eggplant Parm; and ends with flourless chocolate cake and a spread of macaroons. Don’t miss the optional wine pairing. Plus, a portion of proceeds will benefit Jewish Food Experience®. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy a festive atmosphere and excellent fare, while also supporting the work JFE does on behalf of DC Jewish life®. Reservations are a must.
Equinox also is inviting the community for a full-on, interactive, “traditional-ish” seder on the first night of Pesach. Upon arriving, guests will be greeted with a crudité platter of lightly pickled spring veggies, followed by a Mediterranean-inspired three-course meal. It’ll start with pasture-egg shakshuka; mains are either a rack of lamb or vegan truffle lentil cassoulet; dessert is a flourless chocolate cake and apricot sorbet. There’s an optional Israeli wine pairing, which we most certainly advocate.
Chef Todd Gray shared, “We wanted to showcase popular signature dishes, like the pistachio-crusted lamb from our cookbook, The New Jewish Table, plus a few new favorites like lemon pistachio hummus, which will be available at our new restaurant, Manna at the Museum of the Bible. A few of the dishes, like the shakshuka, have an Israeli influence—again, a nod to the dishes we’ll be serving at Manna.”
DGS Delicatessen also wants you to celebrate—“celebrate the exodus from winter,” that is. Uniquely, the DGS prix-fixe menu, served the entire week of Passover, is inspired by the ceremonial seder plate, with each dish directly corresponding to one of its traditional elements. The beitzah, for example, sees a coddled egg over asparagus and “schmaltzy” potatoes, while the haroset is transformed into a date-hazelnut cheesecake. Tradition just got a bit cheekier!
Also offering a weeklong menu, April 10 to 18, is BLT Steak. There, you’ll find a more traditional take, with perhaps a touch of southern-European flair. The menu sports items like pickled deviled eggs, salmon over chickpea salad and zucchini fritters.
Meanwhile, sister restaurants Summer House Santa Monica, Mon Ami Gabi and Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab will all be offering prix-fixe menus on April 10 and 11. The first two will serve up more traditional-style dishes family-style, with soup, gefilte fish, brisket and flourless chocolate cake. Joe’s mixes it up a bit with an intriguing an Alaskan halibut en papillote—like gefilte fish, but elevated.
Blending the classic and the contemporary is Teddy and The Bully Bar, with its own prix-fixe menu on April 10 and 11. Chef Demetrio notes that some dishes, like the broccoli and cheddar latkes, “are created using unexpected flavors and exciting preparations. One of the dishes I’m most excited about is the Shiraz-braised brisket, with horseradish jus and sweet onions.” Other highlights include liver-stuffed deviled eggs and a rhubarb pie.
While the story of Passover takes place on one side of the Mediterranean, Fiola borrows tradition from the other. The manager tells us, “Italy’s Jews were frequently isolated from other Jewish communities in Europe, and so they developed their own style of cooking as well as distinctively Italian traditions.” Indeed, this menu, served during lunch and dinner April 10 to 18, features some characteristic and dramatic Italian flavors. Note the pine-nut haroset, truffled matzah balls, rack of lamb over asparagus and basil-infused strawberry merengue. Buona Pesach!
On the same note, Dino’s Grotto explores traditional Italian and Sephardic, as well as owner Dean Gold family favorites. April 10 to 17, the restaurant will serve family-style meals (so, yes, you can ask for seconds!), as well as items a la carte. Features include house-made gefilte from mahi mahi, salmon and rockfish; duck schmaltz matzah ball soup; and charamie, a North African–Jewish fish dish summered in spicy tomato sauce.
Even farther West is Star and Shamrock—Irish-inflected Passover for the whole mishpacha. On the menu, starting April 11, will be items like house-pickled eggs and beets as well as oven-baked herbed potatoes. One highlight? Go for brunch the second weekend, and there’ll be an Easter–Passover menu.
More than matzah ball soup: that seems to be Soupergirl’s motto this year. Offering seven soup specialties just for the holiday, this shop’s gone all out. Especially hot options are the “cream” of spinach and ginger-quinoa vegetable soups. Owner Sara’s also offering seder sides, like a chopped “liver.” Why all the quotes? Everything’s pareve, vegan and K for P. Orders must be placed by April 3.
Beyond just noshing, Pesach is all about getting your learning on. Sixth and I Historic Synagogue has two options for classes: Seder Aid on April 3 and The Artisanal Seder Plate on April 4. There will also be three community and social-justice focused seders: Black Jewish Unity Seder: Celebrating Connected Histories on March 28, Justice Seder on April 10 and the Community Seder, also on April 10. On April 10, there’s also a Sephardic Passover Seder.
As we know, Passover is the story of a triumph: it deserves a just dessert. To that sweet end, Baked by Yael is crafting some incredible delights. On the sweet menu, there are gluten-free cookie bars, black-and-white cookies, raspberry bars and, of course, cake pops. The shop will also be bringing back the crowd-favorite Matzah Bliss: chocolate-and-caramel-covered matzah that, according to Yael, “will forever change how you view matzah.” And Georgetown Cupcake will this year again be crafting Passover macaroons, available in plain, caramel drizzle and chocolate drizzle. They’ll be sold at all locations across the country.
Finally, when you want to move beyond Manischewitz, Catoctin Creek’s got the tipple you need. It’s a riff on the classic Old Fashioned, but without whiskey, of course. In its place is pear brandy, a touch fruitier, but just as sophisticated. And so together we say, L’chaim!
Soupergirl, Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, Baked by Yael and Catoctin Creek are certified kosher.
Logan Tavern, Equinox, DGS Delicatessen, BLT Steak, Summer House Santa Monica, Mon Ami Gabi, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab, Teddy and The Bully Bar, Fiola, Dino’s Grotto, Star and Shamrock are not kosher.