The culinary highlight of our DC trip was definitely dinner at Sou’Wester on our first night in DC (what a great way to kick off our time in the city)! We were invited to dinner at the wonderful restaurant located in our hotel. They focus on seasonal ingredients and many of their dishes highlight local specialties, like oysters and crab (YUM!) so I had high expectations for our dinner.
The atmosphere is lovely with incredible views of the Potomac river- and every single thing on the menu looked delicious which made it very hard to order! If you google Sou’Wester, you will quickly find that EVERYONE who dines there GUSHES over the hush puppies with honey butter and the pan fried oysters with smoked pepper aoli…so naturally we had to try them both! Honestly, I had no interest in eating hush puppies because I have never had one that I enjoyed…but when these golden beauties arrived to the table, I decided to keep an open mind!
I am glad I did- they were spectacular. Nothing like any hush puppy I have ever had. They had the sweetness of good ol’ southern corn bread- and the perfect fried crispiness that made it crunch and then melt in your mouth. Add the honey butter- and you are in hush puppy heaven!
The oysters were also fabulous (though very surprisingly, I enjoyed the hush puppy more). They were big and juicy and lightly breaded…the perfect flavor when topped with the pepper aoli.
For our next course, we ordered the roast beet salad and the grilled veal sweetbreads. I was super excited about this course. You know how much I LOVE beets- and since I have only had fried sweetbreads, I was anxious to try the grilled variety.
The salad was so good I dream about it. It was served with a light vinaigrette and topped with tangerine and CHICKEN FRIED GOAT CHEESE (what!?) it was so stink in’ good! The light crispness of the beets mixed with the crunchy, salty, creamy goat cheese and the sweet citrus was to die for!
The sweetbreads were 100% the highlight of the meal for Gavin and I both. I know, a lot of people are turned off by them (they are the thalamus gland of the cow)…but seriously, give them a try! These sweetbreads were served on top of a wild mushroom grit cake (I HAVE to figure out how to make this) and served alongside wilted tatsoi covered in a house cured bacon gastrique. I am not kidding you, this combo might be one of the best bites of food I have had this year. Its almost worth a trip to DC just to try it!
By the time we were planning to order entrees, we were (not surprisingly) not super hungry- so we decided to share a dish. Due to my deep love for farro, and sea food, we ordered the Roasted Chesapeake Bay Rockfish served with warm farro salad, compressed cucumber, meyer lemon, and chicken jus. If the sweetbreads were my favorite bite this year- this dish might fall second. It was fabulous! So, fabulous that I am trying my best to recreate it for a dinner party later this month. The fish was flaky, the farro was nutty, and the chicken jus was rich with flavor.
As if we needed anything else, we just had to order dessert! We decided to split the “light” sounding desserts- a Lemon-Raspberry Sundae with ginger candy, raspberry vanilla swirl and lemon frozen yogurt and then a Rhubarb Cloafoutis topped with baked meringue, gingered streusel and rhubarb sorbet. Both desserts were light and refreshing while still decadent and satisfying. The candied ginger won my heart and the light, airy meringue was the perfect finish to an all around wonderful meal.
If you are ever in the DC area, I would recommend a date night/girls night/family night/any excuse to eat here. It was such a treat!