Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

Adams Morgan is unique slice of Washington, DC life. There are nightclubs, restaurants and small shops. You can find reggae, blues, jazz, and karaoke. Good eats include Ethiopian, Peruvian, French, Mexican, a 24-hour Diner, and of course, Jumbo Slice. Now there is Jack Rose Dining Saloon to complement the southern tip of 18th Street.

I walked in one very hot day in May of this year, uncertain about what my very near future held. Unlike most unopened restaurants in my past, this place looked fully built and ready to serve! The huge granite bar, the comfy booths, and all the wooden detail. beautiful! Then I saw the upstairs Open Air Terrace, semi-private Tiki Bar, Scotch room, and balcony overlooking the smaller pubs below, and I was convinced that this was going to be a cool place. Chef Michael showed me around and gave me a detailed plan of his menu for the downstairs Dining Saloon as if I was already hired and getting ready for service that night. It was basically a done deal; my new challenge would be to become a whisky expert. With well over a thousand whiskies lining the walls like books in a library, it was sure to become a destination for aficionados of the brown spirit. Someone would have to be able to talk about them.

Jack Rose has been an idea long in the making - to essentially become the largest whisky bar in the world. The bulk of the collection are single-malt Scotches, however there is a very large selection of American bourbons and ryes, even some white whiskeys and little-known selections from several US states outside of Kentucky and Tennessee. The Irish collection is nothing to scoff at either, rounding out the western end of the bar. The curious will also be delighted to find the award-winning Amrut from India, as well as single malts from Japan and Austria. A significant number of rums, gins, tequilas, vodkas, and cordials take up some space as well. However, anyone seeking their favorite Ardbeg, Caol Ila, or Talisker, or hoping to find a rare or special release of Macallan, Bruichladdich, or Springbank should be delighted at what they find.

Contrary to what my mentor, Harvey, says that "Who drinks whisky with food?", Chef Michael has put together a cozy and eclectic, non-traditional-yet-familiar menu to make Jack Rose also a food destination. Some favorites so far have been the Buttermilk Fried Frog's Legs, the grilled "New Caesar", and the Braised Local Pork Belly - for starters. The grilled ribeye Steak Diane is sumptuous and captivating, and the Pennsylvania ? Chicken with beet and goat cheese dressing will re-affirm your love for the often maligned poultry. New items for the fall include Boneless Bison Short Ribs, a Muscovy Duck Breast, and a Stuffed Saddle of Rabbit. I think we can get people to eat with their Scotch. In fact, I have already begun working on pairings. Dessert, anyone? Try it with a Willett rye. Ever try chocolate with a port-aged Bushmills? How about vanilla ice cream with Jack Daniel's Honey? Or Cabrales cheese with a sherried Scotch? I have. I think we can make it work.

I will look forward to your visit.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

To Remember

Ten years.

It has been quite a decade.  We all remember the horrors of that September morning.  I won't re-live it here, but I wonder what did we discover about America that day... and the days that followed?  I will always remember demonstrations of extreme heroism, kindness, and patriotism.  We were angry.  We were vulnerable.  We were full of grief.  Quite frankly, we were dumbfounded, and we were scared.  However, what struck me following the horrific attacks of that day, was how we were all American again; we were a people.  We were determined to overcome being dumbfounded and scared by being proud of who we were... or at least, who we were supposed to be.  We have all grown up knowing stories of American courage - from George Washington to Martin Luther King, and beyond.  We tapped into that because it is part of the American identity; we do love a comeback, and we have a core belief that good will conquer evil.

Of course, we should never forget the lives lost and the practical lessons learned from September 11th, 2001, but the discovery I hope we all will share ten years forward is just how good we can really be.  May God comfort those still grieving, protect those still defending, and fill us all with the will to recapture that American spirit.