Sally's Middle Name
Sharing is Caring
Sally's Middle Name has been attracting lots of buzz since opening in June of 2015. It has joined the likes of other H Street treasures such as Maketto, DC Harvest, H St. Country Club, and Granville Moore's. The menu changes daily and the small plates are intended to be shared - my favorite way to eat. I'm totally the girl that reaches across the table for a bite of whatever my dining companion is eating before I try my own, #hatersgonnahate. Sally's is the perfect place to go with close friends or family for unique flavors; fresh, local ingredients; and impeccable service. Keep reading to find out what we tried!
It was a balmy Summer evening with the impending threat of a thunderstorm. The bright white façade of the restaurant was cheerful and welcoming, even more inviting was the Anthopologie-like decor inside. I was literally taking photos for design ideas to use at my house. We were greeted and told to choose any seat we preferred - win. The daily menu is written on a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard across from the open kitchen, so my girlfriends and I ordered a cocktail and made our way to the board to discuss the evening's fare. Here's what we decided on:
The Argo - Gin, Rhubarb Shrub
A shrub is an infused vinegar, so this cocktail was gin and rhubarb vinegar basically. I love a good shrub, because I love vinegar and find this the only acceptable way to drink it without being judged or having to order a pickle back. This cocktail was light and refreshing and everyone should try a shrub before summer is over.
I'm a sucker for olives - I usually order them at any place that sells them. These olives were unlike any I've ever had. They were rich and earthy, with almost a chocolate-like flavor to them. The bitterness was a fun adventure that I haven't been on before and complemented the velvety texture of the olives. Nothing like spittin' pits to really bring you and your friends together, right?
Green Bean Salad - Fennel, Lemon Balm Aioli
Next up, the chilled green bean salad. This salad came with an incredible lemon aioli (not pictured) that was not listed on the menu. Our superhero server, Pat, was quick to point out that the aioli had raw egg yolk and brought it to us on the side so that my pregnant bestie could enjoy it, too! It's the little things that really take a dinner out from good to GREAT. Thank you, Pat!
As simple as this dish appears (don't judge me for the photo we were too excited to eat it and missed the perfect plating presentation), it was executed just expertly. Blanched haricot vert - still crisp, but tender; sautéed fennel and shallots lent some sweetness; bright lemony aioli for wow factor; and tiny toasted sesame seeds for a barely-there crunch and sprinkle of luxurious toasty-ness. It was gone in 60 seconds....
Thai Chicken Soup
Pat, our server, was adamant about us trying the Thai Chicken Soup - and we were glad he was! The roasted chicken thighs and slippery thick noodles were comforting and light thanks to the fresh herbs and delicate broth. A few whispers of mushrooms imparted a hint of umami and the three of us girls slurped it all up within minutes.
The slippery noodles reminded me of the chicken and dumplings my Aunt Janice makes. Sometimes referred to as Slippery Pot Pie, it is a dish that always makes me think of home cooking and my family. I remember watching Aunt Janice randomly cut up pieces of dough, not worrying about the appearance too much, and drop them into boiling water or stock. The easiest way to make noodles - or dumplings - to feed a crowd!
Roasted Broccoli with Kimchi
What else is there to say? It was exactly that: big stalks of roasted broccoli that were crisp and salty, with bold, fermented kimchi. I ate 90% of this one and can say it was one of my favorite bites of the night. Nothing too fancy, just fresh broccoli cooked right and paired with it's new best friend, kimchi.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Ok. Shit got real when these beauties came to the table. I have loved fried green tomatoes since I did a book/movie report on the, well, book/movie in like fifth grade. My mom and I had a great time making our own from the recipe in the book and it is a fond kitchen memory I have from when I was very young. I'll tell you about the amounts of hardtack we made during the Civil War lessons later...
These fried greens came out piping hot in nice thick slices and topped with flecks of finishing salt that melted into the crispy, flaky cornmeal batter. The tomatoes were tart and tender enough to cut with a fork -- not overcooked or mushy -- and the bright lemon tartar sauce was creamy, cold and tangy - an idea dipper to the hot tomato.
If you only get one thing at Sally's, get these!
Dark Chocolate Duck Ragu with Red Potatoes
When you come to a fork in the road of dessert or another savory course, take the road less traveled and go with a mix of both - dark chocolate duck of course! Pat persuaded us into this savory comforting classic with the kicker selling point being DARK CHOCOLATE. The molé inspired sauce was smooth and subtle with bitter notes from the chocolate and a salty bite from the freshly grated pecorino. Pull-apart duck and wedges of red potatoes tipped us all over the edge into a food coma. But have no fear, no bite was left unfinished.
To sum it all up, I loved it. The food was fresh and local, while staying true to the integrity of the ingredients - no frills or fluff necessary. Each bite made my eyes go wide and my mouth go "yummmmm," which you might think happens often to me, but it really is quite a feat to be impressed by each course. I love places that support their local farmers and know where their food is coming from, even more so when the chefs make those ingredients shine in the most simple preparations - that's the hard part - keeping it simple.