When Passover eats have you down, and you can’t fathom another cardboard-y crunch, head out to dine, drink and enjoy the bounty of Pesach-friendly eats DC has to offer. It’s your DMV manna, only with more silverware and less sand.
First, let’s say “L’chaim!” to celebrating the “Exodus from winter,” as DGS Delicatessen puts it. The executive chef plays with authentic Ashkenazic fare by using a bone-marrow broth for the matzah ball soup in the four-course prix-fixe menu, served all holiday long. Diners can also enjoy cod, Romanian steak and a super-seasonal crumble with rhubarb. Add another $20 for wine pairings, very appropriate for this holiday.
Seder’s got the (Mediterranean) sea theme at Equinox, where there’s a short, Sephardic-style ceremony on April 22, led by the Kassoff family. Co-owner Ellen Kassoff Gray tells us the food to follow is a “meal that pairs really well with the seder, highlighting Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.” The sumptuous menu: canapés like Sicilian sardines and crispy chicken livers to start, fava bean salad, saffron-spiced lamb sweetened with medjool dates and cinnamon ricotta matzah fritters to finish. And there’s vegan brunch, too! On April 24, enjoy an equally exciting late-morning meal of dishes like “modern-day tzimmes,” charred spring veggies and an interactive matzah brei station.
The fresh breezes of the Mediterranean also caress the plates at Dino’s Grotto and its southern Tuscan menu, offered all week long. Here, it’s duck schmaltz in those matzah balls, followed by a unique three-fish gefilte, veal stew and a spicy fish alla Livornese. What really gets us kvelling is the new Passover brunch (good thing it’s a weekend!), with items like matzah brei with mascarpone and truffle-butter asparagus Parm.
Indeed, Italian’s on the Pesach plate all over DC. For the third year running, Fiola is serving a Passover menu. We’re told that “one of the wonderful revelations that has come out of our research is that many of the Italian dishes we have known and loved come from the Jewish tradition: vegetables ‘alla giudia,’ sweet and sour combinations, pine nuts and raisins and fish soups—of course without shellfish or mollusks, and only fish with scales and fins.” Menu items include fried baby artichokes (a dish dating from the Jewish community of Roman Imperial times), truffle matzah balls, grilled branzino and macerated berries and sorbet. Fiola will also be displaying a seder plate on loan from JFE® friend Joan Nathan. Buona Pesach!
Harking back to olden times is Mon Ami Gabi, serving a traditional Passover menu, complete with a seder plate at the table, homemade gefilte fish and braised brisket. Its new sister restaurant, Summer House Santa Monica, is serving a similar holiday menu, also with house-made gefilte, but this time before a slow-braised beef short rib.
Coyly playing with convention is Met Bethesda, offering avocado-chili matzah ball soup, its famous mustard-maple glazed corned beef brisket and the Untraditional Kugel, made with chocolate and a warm whiskey sauce drizzle.
Though steeped in tradition, Teddy & the Bully Bar is going millennial in 2016 with a Passover Pop-Up. On the first two nights, there will be a prix-fixe four-course seder dinner, with fun mash-ups like chicken liver-stuffed deviled eggs, carrot steak and salmon with radish quinoa. You can get all the goodies to go, too.
Start your big-day prep early (and impress Grandma and Great-Aunt Dot) at Sixth & I, which is hosting a Passover cooking class (More Than Matzah: Recipes That Don’t Fall Flat) as a part of its Seders Across DC initiative with OneTable, taught by chef, blogger and JFE®-er Vered Guttman. Participants are warned to “wear your eating pants.” At the end of the holiday, there will be a Passover Shabbat dinner to accompany the Lay-led Shabbat.
Passover dishes don’t just come on plates—they can be served in bowls, too. Soupergirl is serving a bevy of spoon-friendly delights, including riffs on tradition (garlicky borscht) and trendy seasonal options (gingered quinoa vegetable). There are also non-soup-stuffs, from tzimmes to veggie chopped liver to a unique cashew-date-quinoa pudding.
Moving from one liquid to another…time for a drink, no? Catoctin Creek Distilling Company tells us, “What’s always fun for Passover are fruit brandies. We currently have pear and peach that are a perfect switch from our normal whisky during Passover.” Top it off with a kosher-for-Passover sparkling wine, and you’ve got a gorgeous bubbly drink to lighten up heavy seder meals, like with this cocktail.
At every location across the country, Georgetown Cupcake will be serving Passover macaroons, kissed with caramel or chocolate drizzle. Even more fun: Customers can watch the bakers craft macaroons at the flagship Georgetown bakery live each day of Passover on the 24-hour Cupcake Cam. Over at Sprinkles, dessert-eaters can enjoy the flourless chocolate cupcakes again this year—which also happen to be completely gluten free. “So many of our customers observed Passover, and we knew we had to find them a delicious, homemade alternative,” says a VP, Nicole Schwartz.
And to end on a sweet note of deliverance: Baked by Yael’s got the end of the meal covered with several gluten-free Pesach-friendly dessert options, most notably decadent cake pops in an array of colors (orange or pink with chocolate drizzle, anyone?).
With the exception of Sixth & I and Soupergirl, the restaurants and establishments mentioned are neither kosher nor kosher for Passover.
Top photo: Georgetown Cupcake coconut macaroons.