Thursday, July 29, 2010

Would Give it a Try, Againn....

There seem to be a slew of new restaurants in DC lately. All the better for us foodies who love to experiment! So when making our latest lists of retaurants to hit, I came across Againn (, a contemporary "gastropub" serving British food with a twist. The name of the restaurant is pronounced "ah-GWEN", which means "with us," in Gaelic.

What first attracted our attention was the amazing beer list - Dan loves places who give thought as deeply to the beer list as to the wine list. Againn's thoughful selections include favorite brews from Belgium, Germany Scotland and England - though compared to other local restaurants many of their best selections are inexplicably more pricey . Unfortunately, we were not wowed by the wine selection and the wine by the glass selections seemed a bit anemic. Conversely, what was very nice was the server providing a tasting pour of your selected wine from the bottle at the table.

In addition, for those who know their whiskeys, this restaurant takes it to a new level...offering an extensive scotch list and scotch lockers to keep your beverage of choice on site.

Despite being open since October, the service at Againn still has some kinks to work out. The host who greeted us was snappish, but must have realized as much as he tried to redeem himself with a jumpy compliment to our friend's jewelry. Our waitress seemed to be struggling, she didn't know the menu and took a very long time to get to us for our drink and food orders. That said, the service did get much better as the night progressed.

My friend and I each started with a glass of Chateau Ragotiere Muscadet from the Loire Valley and then moved on to try the Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes from Argentina (the Torrontes was much better!) Our husbands each began with a Scotch de Silly Belgian beer that always gets rave reviews (a must try, if you haven't already!) and later moved on to another of their Belgian favorites, Duchess de Bourgogne.

The menu seemed a bit limited compared to similar restaurants in the nearby area...but it is certainly better to have a smaller menu of expertly executed dishes (as this was) rather than a tome of mediocrity. We had it on good authority that the "pint of prawns" appetizer was wonderful, so we began with that.  Perfectly poached shrimp served stacked in a pint glass alongside a garlic mayonnaise swirled with ketchup and brandy. It was delicious, living up to its recommendation with ease.

For main dishes we chose  the roasted hanger steak served with watercress salad, red wine shallot butter, and chips...the house made bangers and mash served with whole grain mustard mash and onion gravy....and the fish and chips. First of all, Againn has the most AMAZING chips I've seen served in a while. They are completely worth ordering alone as an appetizer or bar snack.   The hanger steak was decadent and delicious due to the marinade and the dreamy shallot butter. The only drawback of the evening was the fish and chips...while the giant piece of battered cod looked beautiful from the top...the underside was the point that the batter tasted burned. Quite unfortunate considering how utterly impressed we were with all of the other dishes.

All in all, we found that British staples go to a whole new level at Againn...quite a nice surprise! While the service struggled to begin, things smoothed out nicely by the appetizers and overall the food was delicious. Diary Rating = B

*Photo credit - The Againn website

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