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Againn, Downtown - British-American Gastropub Downtown with GM Romeo Santos - Closed

Downtown Gastropub British American Beers Closed

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#1 DPop

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 10:03 AM

I'm shocked that I haven't heard about or seen this place yet, as I walk by the area quite frequently and hadn't seen much activity. It appears that they have worked fast, as the lighting and tables were already out on the floor yesterday with a beehive of activity inside working to get the place ready. For a gastropub the inside looks very appealling, a huge clean looking space that should be very popular with the legions of office drones that work in the near area. The website doesn't give a whole lot of detail and I'd be interested to hear who is involved in this project that is close to home and looks like it will probably be open sooner than a certain bar on 14th Street that I've been waiting and hoping will be my local for the last year and a half.....

#2 DonRocks

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 10:10 AM

I'm shocked that I haven't heard about or seen this place yet

The visual impression of this webpage, coupled with their motto, conjures up notions of Meshelle Armstrong taking over Commonwealth. :(

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#3 FunnyJohn

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 02:19 PM

There was this blurb from the Sept. 30th edition of "The List":

Againn*UPDATED* - This contemporary gastropub will offer traditional British pub cuisine with a modern flair. Decorated with faux fox heads, dark paneling and a zinc-topped bar the restaurant is slated to open October 27. Look for pub-style offerings in modern ware such as iron skillets, paper cones, etc. An extensive beer and single-malt scotch selection (personal scotch-lockers, anyone?) will also be featured at a lively bar. Againn will feature a raw bar and three private dining areas. (1099 New York Avenue, NW)


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#4 LauraB

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 04:51 PM

Tom Sietsema wrote about it on Sept 8th.

#5 Sthitch

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 09:25 PM

The corporate site seems to be the culinary version of vaporware.

#6 Joe Riley

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 10:05 AM

Nice write-up on this place from Thrill List: Againn

I have a copy of the cocktail list in my hands right now, and I'm jonesin' for a "the bare knuckle boxer" (house-blended madras curry-infused John L. Sullivan Irish whiskey, Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot liqueur, Dolin dry vermouth, Peychaud bitters).

Perhaps I'll prepare my stomach for that cocktail with a "Scottish Highland beef burger" (house made bun, caramelized onions, farmstead cheddar, chips.)

Must...go...there...soon.

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#7 weinoo

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 11:20 AM

It get's the Eater nod today...

Eater

#8 Joe Riley

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 01:03 PM

(By the way - the better address to accurately locate Againn is 11th & New York Ave, just a block below K St.)

Ooooo, this place is good (at least on the cocktail front, I haven't had the pleasure of the pub-grub yet)

The best surprise was seeing Rachel Sergi (ex of Zaytinya) and J.P. (ex of Oyamel) behind the bar. Those two are awesome.

The "bareknuckle boxer" lived up to my expectations, it is just lovely. The whiskey is in complete harmony with everything else.

The "dutch courage" (Bols Genever, yellow Chartreuse, fresh rosemary, lemon, rosemary tincture, egg white) is now my favorite Bols Genever cocktail.

The "mayflower martini" (chrysanthemum-infused Plymouth Gin, Dolin Blanc vermouth, Dolin Dry vermouth, Fee Brothers lemon bitters)should be the "starter" cocktail for any first visit there. It is very pretty, and immensely satisfying.

The "yeoman afternoon" (Hayman's Old Tom Gin, Earl Grey-infused Dolin Sweet vermouth, Orange marmalade, lemon, bitter lemon tonic) is the answer to the question, "So, what kind of cocktails can you make with Hayman's Old Tom Gin that I haven't tried before?" So, so, so good. Difficult for me to describe, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The space is bright, with nice big windows. I have the feeling that Againn will cannibalize some of the Bobby Van's and Brasserie Beck crowd. There is much there to love.

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#9 TinaDC

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 12:48 PM

(By the way - the better address to accurately locate Againn is 11th & New York Ave, just a block below K St.)

I ate there last night with some friends. You're right, the entrance is hard to find. The entrance is actually on 11th street, even though the address is on New York Ave. So if you're at 11th and NY, walk down 11th street, towards K.

my order of salmon tartare was lightly seasoned and very fresh. the black pudding was delicious! the contents inside the casing was more a mash, and the flavor was not overly heavy. my friends ordered fish and chips and vege pies. everyone was happy with their entrees. i thought the fish and chips dish seemed too minimal, with only 1 piece of fried fish.

we got 2 desserts for the table, toffee pudding and the apple crisp. both were well portioned and tasty. the apple crisp was more baked apples with crumbles on top.

#10 pidgey

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 08:43 PM

For only being open a few days, I was pleasantly surprised at how well put-together this restaurant is. The hostesses at the front were pleasant and helpful, and our waiter was pleasant although still getting used to his job. ("Do you have a beer list?" I asked. "I can read it to you!" Of course there are about 10 different beers on the list, so we end up asking for a printed copy anyway. Of course, then I throw the guy off by ordering the "beer knuckle boxer" cocktail, and boy, does he get really confused."Don't tell my manager," he said with a smile.)

We started with the mussels, and then I had the fish and chips, and my husband had the cock-a-leekie (chicken with leeks). Both were excellent, with the latter being served in a mini Le Crueset pot. A nice touch. We finished with the most amazing dessert--the banoffee pudding (a banana toffee pudding) served in a canning jar. Wow. Although, the jar impeding my ability to get the rest of the toffee out in a somewhat dignified manner.

Now, unfortunately, this place is not inexpensive. Our total came out over $100; not bad considering the quality and quantity of food, but for a weeknight, that's a little pricey. The beers were in the $6 to $8 range, but its a pretty good list. I don't know if they'll be offering a bar menu or happy hour specials, but if they did, I would totally hit that.

#11 Keithstg

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 11:21 AM

We went to Againn after the Caps game on Sunday evening. The restaurant was somewhat sparsely populated, which is a good thing, as they seem to be getting a little time to settle in. Our server was gracious, and well versed in the menu given how short a time the restaurant had been open for. The crab salad appetizer seemed a bit pricey at $19, but we found the dish easily large enough to share, with a very generous amount of jumbo lump crabmeat, representing a good value. The salad was very light and refreshing, which is good considering our other orders were on the heavier side.

Both the steak and oyster pie and the shepherd's pie were served in individual cast iron pans, and were hearty and well seasoned. Our only quibbles were that the top of the steak and oyster pie was a bit overdone, and that the shepherd's pie was light on the rosemary, but those are more personal preferences than anything else. All told, we had an enjoyable, hearty meal in a great atmosphere for around $100, including tip and a chesapeake pale for me, and a domaine chandon pinot meunier for my wife.

The space is beautiful, if somewhat hard to find, as others have noted. We look forward to going back!

#12 Rieux

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 10:03 PM

Went to Againn on Saturday when two friends and I wanted to go out. We knew that Birch and Barley, Cork, Cashions all were going to be lost causes since it was so late. So, since we wanted an 8 pm reservation, we hit up open table around 5 and were surprised to see we could get a table here.

When we got there, it was only half full, and it stayed that way all night. I have no idea why it was so empty, but I kind of hope it stays that way, as it was nice to go somewhere that was not totally cramped and loud. First, the design is great, comfortable, and the tables are nicely spaced. I had the knickerbocker cocktail which was a really great blend of whisky, curry powder, and some other things I can't remember and it was GOOD. Really Good. A friend had the Pimm's which was also good, and the beer I had later was a nice British ale on tap (don't remember the name, but it was not one of the usual suspects).

Between all of us we had a beet salad, the cock-a-leekie, the shepherd's pie, the bangers and mash, and the brussel sprouts. It was all amazing. The one snafu we had was that the onion gravy on my bangers and mash was not that hot, but it was dealt with quickly and they immediately brought me a whole new order (I had taken one bite) rather than re-heat the first one. Service was excellent, attentive, and knowledgeable. The manager also stopped by a couple of times to check in, which was a nice touch.

Finished up with 2 orders of the sticky toffee pudding and one of the banana creme thing. All also very good.

Final damage was just over $50 per person including tip, which we all thought was VERY good value for the money considering all we ate and the 2 cocktails and the beer. We all can't wait to get back. I love pub food and have eaten through the UK and Ireland while living in Dublin. Againn was better than most places I went in Europe, and I thought it was much better quality/experience/taste for the money than Commonweath (which I also like, but, I guess, not as much). Quick, go there before it gets discovered!

#13 spaztic1215

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 04:06 PM

A group of 8 of us checked out Againn last night for a birthday dinner. We started off with a round of Corsendonk, a Belgian IPA, which tasted like a creamier version of Chimay Blue. Delicious! We then ordered the mussels and brawn to share. The mussels were perfectly cooked, pillowy and fresh, and the bread that they bring out was perfect for sopping up that delicious mussel broth. The brawn is basically a head cheese pate, made from the neck and cheek meat of a pig and slowly braised over a full day. It was served as 2 discs of pate with toast and pickled vegetables. This was good but could've used more salt. Actually both starters would've benefited from more salt.

For entrees, we ordered the rib-eye which was the roast of the day (minimum 2 people to share), bangers and mash, fish and chips, pork belly, hangar steak, and rockfish. Of these, my favorite was the fish and chips and pork belly. The fried-batter on the fish was thin and airy and the fish inside was wonderfully moist. Only one piece though, so it looked a little lonely on the plate. Each pork belly bite was a sumptuous combination of crisp outer fat and juicy inner fat.

The service was very professional and informative, and the manager came out a couple times to wish our friend a happy birthday and to check on us. I also really appreciated the little cute touches like:

- water glasses are actually repurposed bottoms of wine bottles! each one is unique.
- our scotches were served in a glass with one large sphere of ice
- bread was warm and replenished without us having to ask
- their handsoap in the bathroom smells very nice :(

I'm definitely looking forward to going back, I'm a bit worried that their location and the inconspicuous entrance will put this place off most people's radar. But it's very much worth checking out!

#14 DonRocks

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 12:03 PM

I had pretty much of a perfect meal last night at Againn. It's a nice-looking space that manages not to come across as contrived or sterile, and the bar is a comfortable spot for solo diners.

I was happy to see one of my favorite characters in the industry, head bartender Rachel Sergi, who spent the past couple of years running Zaytinya's outstanding bar program. Rachel remains underrated as a bartender, and should be considered in the upper echelon of drink-makers in this area.

The drink list at Againn was designed and developed by a California consulting operation (it's called something like "The Bons Vivants"). I'm not sure if they're the ones responsible for having my pint of Wells Bombardier ($9) on the draft beer list, but I'm grateful to whomever is - this is a great English bitter, expensive though it might be.

I'd ordered the Bombardier, then placed my dinner order, both before seeing Rachel down at the other end of the bar. She came over and we chatted for a bit, then she urged me to try a Bareknuckle Boxer ($10), an award-caliber drink that should be mandatory for everyone who thinks "they don't like whiskey." Try this perfectly balanced work of art and you'll rethink that stance. It paired brilliantly with my Steak and Oyster Pie ($21) with a side order of Brussels Sprouts ($7) made with homemade bacon. Both these dishes were so good that I was completely caught off-guard - I was expecting much more ordinary fare than what I got last night.

To emphasize just how important experienced drink-makers are, I ordered a second Bareknuckle Boxer which was made by another bartender, and it was the difference between a world-class cocktail, and something I wouldn't even give a passing thought to. That having been said, I want to throw out some more kudos to a couple other people: my server, JP, who was the perfect mix of professional, friendly, and welcoming; also the surprise employee of the month, Elli Benchimol, who comes from Zola and Potenza to run the wine program at Againn. I've gotten to know Elli fairly well, and I have the deepest possible respect for her wine palate - she knows what she's doing, and if she's going to be working at Againn full-time (she wasn't there last night, and I didn't actually talk with her), then they've got one heck of a talented team on their hands.

Which brings me to The Cynical Paragraph. Chef Wes Morton came out last night, and we chatted for awhile - he's a super-nice guy, and the kitchen he was running last night put out food that was better than it had any right to be, right down to the perfectly dressed frisee that came with the Steak and Oyster Pie - even the bread and butter was good. I asked Wes if he's going to be the permanent chef, or if he's just here to open the restaurant. He said he hopes to be the permanent chef, but also mentioned that "there's a lot going on" with the company who owns Againn. My advice to everyone, based on the quality of the meal I had last night, is to go to Againn as soon as possible, because my instinct is telling me that it's never going to be better than this. It would be presumptuous of me to forecast "the decline and fall of Againn" a year into the future, but right now they seem to be putting on the full-court press for the critics, and diners should be using that to their advantage.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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#15 DaRiv18

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 10:09 PM

Regardless, it's nice to see more-and-more bartenders in this town who can mix a great drink. Obviously, being decent at something takes effort and diligence (and being great at anything takes many years), but it's pretty clear that many young bartenders in DC are achieving an acceptable level of competence fairly quickly (weeks, perhaps even days); now if we could only find ten people in this area with some depth of wine knowledge ... I wouldn't hold your breath on that one.

To emphasize just how important experienced drink-makers are, I ordered a second Bareknuckle Boxer which was made by another bartender, and it was the difference between a world-class cocktail, and something I wouldn't even give a passing thought to.

When I read your first excerpt a week ago, I decided to keep quiet. Yes, I do think any new bartender can learn to make the "menu" cocktails fairly quickly, and use the appropriate techniques. But like you, I find that even with a menu cocktail, some bartenders make 'em better than others. Also, I'm willing to bet you'd get a blank look from the same rookie bartender if you ordered, say, a gin fizz.

I'm glad you today emphasized how important experienced drink-makers are. Like any other industry, there are those who do just enough, and others who go above and beyond. My favorite bartenders in town, I suspect, learn most about their craft "off the clock", reading historical cocktail books in their spare time, and expanding their "depth of cocktail knowledge" which cannot be achieved quickly at all (certainly not days, probably not weeks). Unlike chefs, who can command respect and household celebrity status, many creative and innovative bartenders are still stigmatized by their own families for not pursuing a "legitimate" profession. Kinda sad, really.

"All martinis taste good but do not promote fine distinctions in taste or other areas of intellectual discrimination." Raymond Sokolov, How to Cook


#16 jtlewis99

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 01:49 PM

Decided to try out Againn for lunch today. Splurged on their steak & oyster pie ($21), because I haven't yet had a good steak pie on this side of the pond. That is no longer true. The flavor was excellent, and the crust on top was golden brown and delicious, which also helped me to mop up the broth at the bottom. My only quibble was the small salad that accompanied the dish; I didn't like the choice of greens or the dressing, but that was solely a point of personal taste. Since I had almost ordered their ham & lentil soup too, I asked our waitress whether next time it would be possible to substitute a half-order of the soup instead of the salad, and she didn't see why not. My friend had the fish burger (theirs is cod, $14) and liked it a lot. I had a few of his fries and enjoyed them as well; love the aioli. And I'm usually not one to bother mentioning a restaurant's bread & butter, but Don is right -- it is REALLY good.

Am definitely going back, but will probably try some of their lesser-priced items next time (their fish & chips and a few sandwiches are $12, burgers are around $14). Odd that their online menu doesn't have prices on it though. Will definitely go back for happy hour too; they have Kilkenny on draft! :(

James

#17 DPop

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 09:12 AM

My experience last week at lunch pretty much mirrored yours, jtlewis99. Steak and oyster pie was a nice, homey dish that was quite comforting, especially in the miserable weather. Love the bread and butter at the beginning as well. Banoffee Pie was a dessert executed with almost zero finesse and served a little too cold, but I absolutely loved the mashed together flavors in the mason jar it came in.

AGAINN is solid comfort food offered in a very nice setting with an excellent beer, scotch, and whiskey list. My only quibble is that for a Bluebird, steak and oyster pie, and a banoffee pie dessert I shelled out $48 including tip. I think I'll be going for some of the items around or below $15 next time, because as much as I enjoyed my lunch I wasn't particularly crazy about paying Proof and Tosca prices for it.

#18 Sthitch

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 01:37 PM

Wanting a beer for lunch on my last day before the new year, I went to Againn with a coworker. She expressed delight in her fish and chips, and loved the mushy peas, I wish that I could say that same about the “Cheese Toastie.” The dish is basically several pieces of bread with scallion studded cheese melted inside, and topped with béchamel and an sadly unyolky fried egg. The biggest issue I had with the dish is that the béchamel had not been cooked long enough and still tasted like flour and even if it had been made properly I am not sure what it would have added to the overall dish. The most enjoyable part of my meal were the fries and the glass of Brewdog Dogma which really hit the spot.

#19 leleboo

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 05:15 PM

The bar at Againn last night was all but full when I walked in at 8 p.m., but the crowd had thinned out a bit by the time my dining companion joined me around 8:40. We could have grabbed a table -- there were plenty -- but decided to stay and eat at the bar.

We started with the Potted Pork, confit pork shoulder, onion marmalade ($10 or $12, I forget), along with a basket of really good, hearty bread. The potted pork was fantastic, superbly creamy and flavorful without being too salty, and I'm a goner for any kind of caramelized onion. The toast triangles -- bigger than traditional toast points -- served with it ran the risk of running out before the pork, but I'm not nearly dainty enough to care and just slathered on the spread with abandon, spread-to-bread ratio be damned. Forget about that, though, because it's time to discuss the Corned Lamb's Tongue, warm fingerling potatoes, green sauce, puntarelle ($14). The tongue was out-of-this-world die-happy-now phenomenal.* There was an undercurrent of caraway that really brought home the corning of the meat, and the sauce (which I'm still trying to identify -- almost chimichurri-esque, but less piquant), with the tongue and a bite of the perfectly cooked tiny potatoes, made for a masterful synthesis of flavors. The greens laid delicately on top (to hide the meat from squeamish eyes? hmmm) had just enough bite on their own to work as a palate-cleanser between bites.

If Rachel is there, by the way, ask her for a rye old-fashioned to go with the lamb's tongue. It's a match made in bartending nirvana.

If I hadn't been famished, I would have made a meal out of these two, but somehow we also ended up with two entrees. The Grandmother's Braised Chicken, roasted root vegetables, bacon, pork sausage, marjoram, butterball potatoes contained a leg and thigh of such expertly herbed chicken that it had enough flavor to match the riot of pork and vegetables accompanying it in its Calvados-and-broth sauce. The Tamworth Pork Belly, Anson Mill's white grits, baby mizuna was fantastic, the sear setting off the soft meat in each bite, and the grits, greens, and sauce rounded out the plate to create what might be my new favorite comfort food. (I've forgotten the exact prices of both of these, but both were in the mid-20s, I believe.)

After all that, there was absolutely no need for Sticky Toffee Pudding, stout ice cream, toffee caramel with Guinness ice cream, except, you know: Guinness ice cream. I also quite liked the Banoffee Pie, bananas, caramelized milk, graham biscuit, cream, ganache as well, with its cloud of milky, creamy goodness (and because I like bananas mostly in desserts), but really: Guinness ice cream. (No idea on the dessert prices, in fact. Sorry about that.)

I used to live around the corner from Againn, and I'm frankly slightly sad I don't now, because this food is beyond good, possibly beyond great. More tables should have been filled last night, but my guess is that it's only a matter of time. Until then, I'm going back as often as my schedule will allow. And yes, I'm getting the tongue.**

*I fully expect someone to take this sentence out of context.
**This one too.


P.S. Againn is doing Restaurant Week but with a very limited menu; the above meal came from the full menu.

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#20 pedrsmit

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 08:23 PM

Had lunch on Tuesday at Againn and ordered a BLT and drank four Bloody Marys. BLT was made with pork belly and house sun dried tomatoes. Well done indeed. Crusty, grilled bread. Fatty/meaty belly blended perfectly with the inside part of the bread. Bloodys were accompanied by snappy boiled shrimps. I plan to return tomorrow and only have three Bloody Marys. Hit the spot on a slow, snowy day at the office...

#21 RWBooneJr.

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 11:18 AM

Had lunch on Tuesday at Againn and ordered a BLT and drank four Bloody Marys. BLT was made with pork belly and house sun dried tomatoes. Well done indeed. Crusty, grilled bread. Fatty/meaty belly blended perfectly with the inside part of the bread. Bloodys were accompanied by snappy boiled shrimps. I plan to return tomorrow and only have three Bloody Marys. Hit the spot on a slow, snowy day at the office...

Sounds like this place must be about twelve steps away from your work.

#22 leleboo

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 10:26 PM

Bare-knuckle boxer (happy hour, $5).
Fried brussels sprouts with curry mayo (happy hour, $5).
Potted pork (so damn good, $10).
Crispy skate (saffron, lobster, YUM, enough for two people, $24).
Rachel for company and advice (priceless).
If Chef Wes brings back that corned lamb's tongue, I just might move in.

If you haven't been? Go now. What the frak are you waiting for?

"He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." ~THHGTTG
"Are you from the future? Do they still have sandwiches there?" ~Montgomery Scott, Star Trek
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Leigh


#23 GennaroE

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 10:49 PM

Bare-knuckle boxer (happy hour, $5).
Fried brussels sprouts with curry mayo (happy hour, $5).
Potted pork (so damn good, $10).
Crispy skate (saffron, lobster, YUM, enough for two people, $24).
Rachel for company and advice (priceless).
If Chef Wes brings back that corned lamb's tongue, I just might move in.

If you haven't been? Go now. What the frak are you waiting for?

Seriously, a fantastic meal tonight.

Those brussel sprouts -- not a mushy one in the bunch, and all nice and browned -- with that delicious curry mayo, were well worth the $5. And the skate, which I was lucky enough to get two tastes of, was truly fantastic - almost certainly cooked in brown butter, and that toasty flavor came right through.

House Made Pretzels with sea salt, spicy mustard (happy hour, $5) were were buttery and delicious, and the accompanying mustard (definitely spiked with horseradish) was pleasingly astringent.
Ale Battered Fish Fingers with english egg sauce (happy hour, $5) were the best rendition of fried fish since a visit to New Zealand and Australia six years ago (even after sitting for 20 minutes prior to my arrival) and the accompanying creamy sauce was the perfect foil to the crisp, slightly oily, goodness.
My entree, Grandmother's Braised Chicken roasted root vegetables, bacon, pork sausage, marjoram, butterball potatoes (19) was rich and comforting on a rainy night, though it might have been more accurately dubbed Grandmother's Pork Stew. A chicken leg and thigh, while fall off the bone tender and delicious, were overshadowed by the slew of lardons and sausage strewn throughout the bowl. The best part, though, was the deeply flavorful juice that all the components were steeped in (and which rendered the roasted carrots particularly fantastic) -- I didn't let a drop get past the the fresh, chewy bread provided with dinner.

Dessert too was great (tried out the much lauded Banoffee Pie as well as the Chocolate & Coffee), but like Leigh said, the best part of all was Rachel's company and advice. When I had trouble deciding on a beer, she provided tastes of three, and I eventually went with her favorite of the bunch, and couldn't have been more pleased.

Really, go now. I'll definitely be back, especially since it's so dangerously close to both my internship and work.

#24 fuzzy510

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 01:50 AM

It's a block away from Metro Center?

That's good!

But that's bad.

But that's good!

(somebody let me know when we're going, 'k?)

#25 Rovers2000

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 06:02 AM

The others did justice to the delicious grub that was had at Againn last night but I have to add one thing...

Rachel made me the best Old Fashioned I've ever had. Bar none. Unbelievable in every way. Go there and try one if you love (or even like) bourbon cocktails. Even if the food weren't fantastic I would go back just for this drink.

Dave

"Make sure that the beer - four pints a week - goes to the troops under fire before any of the parties in the rear get a drop."
-Winston Churchill to his Secretary of War, 1944


#26 csirwillis

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 04:53 PM

The others did justice to the delicious grub that was had at Againn last night but I have to add one thing...

Rachel made me the best Old Fashioned I've ever had. Bar none. Unbelievable in every way. Go there and try one if you love (or even like) bourbon cocktails. Even if the food weren't fantastic I would go back just for this drink.

I had a really good lunch there last week..2 orders of the crunchy brussel sprouts and the Chicken confit sandwich..I would just skip the fries and have more brussel sprouts..ohh and make sure you have a shot of Middleton Whiskey. This would have to be one of the best Irish inspired places to eat. ;)
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#27 bettyjoan

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 11:28 AM

Thanks to leleboo's wicked whim organizing skillz, I was able to meet up with some Rockwellians and others at Againn last week. What a fun place! The beer list was quite interesting, though I wish there had been more hop-crazy options on draft (as a hop-head, I find this to be the case at MANY places, even beer-centric ones). I remember trying the crispy brussels sprouts, which were darn tasty (and I don't even like brussels sprouts very much - proves that deep-frying ANYTHING makes it better). The hot dog was the perfect little bar snack, especially with many many beers. I also had bites of the fish and chips, the chicken pot pie (which wasn't on the menu, but leleboo has mad connections), and the skate, and everything was really good.

Service was incredible - attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable. And even though it was crowded and our group was large, the bar was a really nice gathering place. I look forward to visiting again!

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#28 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 12:03 PM

It's definitely becoming a hot spot. Last evening's people-spotting independently yielded the following having dinner: more Rockwellians, a certain well-known mixologist, and a WaPo scene correspondent. All obviously there to partake of the fine potions and pub grub.

The dinner fish-and-chips are excellent, the bar snack version merely okay (the batter doesn't crisp up nearly as well when applied to finger-sized pieces). House-made malt vinegar. Brawn (pork head charcuterie)!! I can understand if the DC market is too timid to make it worth their while, but I do wish they'd bring back some of the offal, if only occasionally.

Dave Hsu
--------"Cuisine represents a knife edge that separates attractive stimulation from death."--- Art Ayers


#29 cjsadler

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 12:10 PM

The beer list was quite interesting

I'm loving the Brewdog Dogma that's on tap here. Unfortunately it's $12 a glass.

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#30 DonRocks

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 10:14 AM

Which brings me to The Cynical Paragraph. Chef Wes Morton came out last night, and we chatted for awhile - he's a super-nice guy, and the kitchen he was running last night put out food that was better than it had any right to be, right down to the perfectly dressed frisee that came with the Steak and Oyster Pie - even the bread and butter was good. I asked Wes if he's going to be the permanent chef, or if he's just here to open the restaurant. He said he hopes to be the permanent chef, but also mentioned that "there's a lot going on" with the company who owns Againn. My advice to everyone, based on the quality of the meal I had last night, is to go to Againn as soon as possible, because my instinct is telling me that it's never going to be better than this. It would be presumptuous of me to forecast "the decline and fall of Againn" a year into the future, but right now they seem to be putting on the full-court press for the critics, and diners should be using that to their advantage.

Don't say you weren't warned. ;)

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#31 LizH

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 09:00 AM

After having my son a little over a year ago I have not had many opportunities to get to many new restaurants this past year or so, but in the past two weeks I have had the chance to try Againn and Birch and Barley. They both were similar, but I found the B&B to be the better of the two. I fount both to be the place to go for rich heavy food and I think both could maybe throw in a few lighter items to balance out the heavy ones.

Most of the entrees chosen by my group at Againn fell on the heavy side, even my friend who had a "veggie" pie that they made for her said that it was pretty rich. There are very few vegetarian items on the menu (and none were entrees) and the pie was not on the menu, it was a special order. She liked the pie, but it would have been nice to have at least a choice. She did appreciate that they at least suggested making the vegetable pie for her. It seemed to be filled with the same roasted winter vegetables that we ordered as a side. They were great, but I was so filled up by my entree I couldn't finish them. I had the Braised Lamb, which I liked but I couldn't finish as it was too much of the same. Portions were huge, but between the beans and the lamb, I felt it needed a break in the flavor to appreciate the richness. My husband had the pork belly, which he liked. We couldn't make it to the desserts, as we all barely finished our entrees, so I can't comment (but how does anyone have room)?

I only had one drink, as I was driving, but we did find the cocktails to be very interesting and a would recommend heading to the bar if that is your thing (as others have noted). I was surprised there were not more beers on the menu (since it was a gastro-pub), and would say beer-wise I would head to Birch and Barley first. I will post my thoughts on B&B on their listing, but to summarize, I thought that while both restaurants have very hearty menus, I found I left Againn wishing there was a few more subtle tastes along with the bold ones. I am curious if the restaurant will change their menu for spring and summer, as I couldn't imagine eating anything from that menu come July in DC.

My biggest complaint of the night was that despite having a reservation we were not seated until 50 minutes after our reservation. While they did give us a complementary drink, I think the delay in sitting down to dinner made it even harder to eat such a heavy meal so late into the evening. We all had to rush home to babysitters and having to pay for almost an extra hour of babysitting kind of put a damper on the end of the evening as we all rushed home.

#32 leleboo

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 07:12 PM

Pay no attention to the fact that cocktails are no longer on the Happy Hour menu. Instead, note that every single wine by the glass is available for $7, and get the 2006 Pinot Meunier, which I believe is $15/glass otherwise. This is a red wine that will please oenophiles and non-wine-drinkers alike, and goes phenomenally with the potted pork (shut up, I'm addicted*). It's a grape almost always reserved for champagne/sparkling service, but pressed of its own accord, it's complex and yet eminently drinkable, neither too fruity nor too dry, and incredibly food-friendly.

Really -- the happy hour menu is a little bit denuded these days, but go and take advantage of the by-the-glass list. Is it the best in town? Of course not. But with every by-the-glass wine available for $7, you're not out a whole lot if you don't love what you choose (and you can probably get a taste first anyway).

Draft beers are $5, too, so's ya know.

*(No really, I'm addicted to the potted pork. Someone needs to help me.)

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#33 JPW

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 02:40 PM

2 stars

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#34 synaesthesia

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:41 PM

2 stars

My favorite ending is a sort of deconstructed banana pudding served in a Mason jar. The combination of fresh fruit slices, ganache, house-made graham cracker crumbs and "caramelized" milk is shareable and not overly sweet.

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#35 Hannah

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:29 PM

Yeah, and there's no "marrow fat" in mushy peas either - they're made from a kind of peas called marrowfat.

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#36 leleboo

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 06:52 AM

I was happy to see one of my favorite characters in the industry, head bartender Rachel Sergi, who spent the past couple of years running Zaytinya's outstanding bar program. Rachel remains underrated as a bartender, and should be considered in the upper echelon of drink-makers in this area.

Stopped in on my way elsewhere last night and was really glad I did, since it seems to have been Rachel's last night. :lol:

"He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." ~THHGTTG
"Are you from the future? Do they still have sandwiches there?" ~Montgomery Scott, Star Trek
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#37 Rovers2000

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 07:22 AM

Wow... :lol:

Any idea where she is off to?

Dave

"Make sure that the beer - four pints a week - goes to the troops under fire before any of the parties in the rear get a drop."
-Winston Churchill to his Secretary of War, 1944


#38 SeanMike

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 11:45 AM

Any idea where she is off to?

She's keeping that quiet for now.

Her last night I had the rabbit with ramps and grits - rather tasty. Still, as much as I like JP, I'll probably be much less likely to be returning to Againn without Rachel there.

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#39 GennaroE

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 01:14 PM

Still, as much as I like JP, I'll probably be much less likely to be returning to Againn without Rachel there.

Agreed. I've consistently enjoyed the food (though it has a tendency to be a bit overpriced), but Rachel and her cocktails were a major draw. Hence the fact that I've eaten there 7 or 8 times, and have yet to actually sit at a table.

#40 goodeats

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 12:31 PM

If you are nearby for lunch and care to make your coworkers jealous with smoked pork aroma wafting from you like a Chanel No. 5, then the BLT sandwich ($10) is beckeoning you. The pork belly inside really makes this sandwich (in addition to the smoky bacon in it).

But I would ask them to leave off the small side salad, unless you are shooting for a level 5 vegan status.
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#41 JPW

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 03:27 PM

Banner for new Againn spotted on Rockville Pike across from the strip mall with Bagel City.

Please tell me that I did not imagine this.

Joe
skewing old


#42 leleboo

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 03:28 PM

Banner for new Againn spotted on Rockville Pike across from the strip mall with Bagel City.

Please tell me that I did not imagine this.

See upthread a bit:

Don't say you weren't warned. :)


"He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." ~THHGTTG
"Are you from the future? Do they still have sandwiches there?" ~Montgomery Scott, Star Trek
------
Leigh


#43 DanielK

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 03:42 PM

End-of-the-month opening, I am hearing.

#44 Skipper10

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 11:33 PM

End-of-the-month opening, I am hearing.

I had lunch at Againn in DC last week. I "think" Wes Morton said that Rockville location will open on the 23rd of June, unless he said 21st? . (I was going down the drink list starting with the Mayflower Martini, which seemed too sweet for me... and I was tasting my third drink when we got to talk to to the chef. He said that he would be full time in Rockville for the first two months, after that he will commute between the two places. I asked him about marrow beans and whether the recipe included bone marrow as was mentioned in Sietsema review and questioned by a poster on this Forum. He said that originally they made those beans with bone marrow, but stopped soon after the review because of cost.

The food we had was pretty good, my green pea soup could have been a tad colder, but my salmon was excellent. I appreciated that they do pay attention to small details, like placing sea salt and what seemed freshly ground pepper in small containers on each table, and have hooks for purses for those sitting at the bar, but service could have been more attentive: long wait for drinks, and as we finished two different servers gave as our check twice, both for the same amount but in different formats.

I hope Rockville place will not be as loud, as conversation for the 6 of us was impossible.

#45 The Delicious

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 05:52 PM

Great food, terrible service. We were ignored for the first 15 minutes, then it took 25 minutes for our drinks to arrive, and 30 mins for the bread. Moreover, we ordered fries to go with our mains and they came out as an appetizer instead. Very disappointning.

The food itself was delicious, however. The fries were cooked perfectly, and the aioli was one of the best I've ever had. The pork belly was cooked nicely as well, with crispy strips of skin adding a nice smoky bacon flavor. My wife's flank steak was cooked as ordered and well seasoned.

I'd return, just hope for a different server.

#46 wysguymd

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 09:42 PM

I tried the new Rockville location this weekend. It was practically empty at 1pm on Saturday afternoon - not a good sign! But I enjoyed it and hope it makes out. We weren't too adventurous with our food selections, but everything was good. I had a burger - it was cooked to order and wasn't overly seasoned. The chips (fries) were very good too. My friend had the Fish&Chips. He said the portion was rather small, but the fish wasn't greasy. For dessert we shared the Bannoffee Pie - a chocolate banana pie in a jar. It was excellent, although the portion was very small and hard to eat out of the jar.

The service was good, but the staff still seems new and inexperienced. The manager and waiter were both coming around looking for comments - including passing comment cards and pens to everyone at the table. The waiter said they have already made changes to the menu based on comments and more to come. My only complaint would be the value - it was rather pricey and portion sizes are small. But it's a welcome addition to Rockville Pike. It will be interesting to see how it makes out, especially with Matchbox opening a few blocks north.

#47 Lydia R

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 03:15 PM

Dropped by the Rockville location this weekend. Good music, mostly Brit retro-rock, at appropriate sound level. Got enthusiastic, though tentative, service [given that they've been open less than a week = great service]. My +1 loved the burger ($14). My Fish & Chips were on their way to challenging Bobby's, but the chips/fries were sad [maybe the little rectangular dish is to blame - perhaps a paper scrap of an old menu could be use instead].

It was excellent, although the portion was very small and hard to eat out of the jar.

We shared a Triffle for dessert and it was served in a Mason Jar Mug. Cute idea, but I agree with wysguymd, it was difficult to eat. Ended up spooning it onto plates as a blobby mess.

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Why open Whisk Group? The restaurant part of things was always my biggest role in the hotels, coming up from the food and beverage ranks. A natural step for me was to form my own company and really work on the restaurant side on my own. I see that eventually branching out to managing restaurant concepts within hotels.

What’s next for Whisk Group? We’ve got several concepts already outlined — an Italian restaurant, a French concept, a bakery, and we’re trying to open one or two of each in various cities. We just took over the Aqua concept out of San Francisco.

Will return and hope that, as their business picks up, the sound level will remain comfortable.

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#48 dinwiddie

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 10:15 AM

Banner for new Againn spotted on Rockville Pike across from the strip mall with Bagel City.

Please tell me that I did not imagine this.

This is the old Houston's location isn't it?

#49 rockcreek

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 10:51 PM

This is the old Houston's location isn't it?

Sure is.

We had a lovely evening at Againn. It's a refreshing departure from all the humdrum on Rockville Pike - of which there is a lot. Burger went over well with my wife, I had the corned beef sandwich - big chunks of tender meat, seasoned with an even hand. Fries are good, could be a little crisper, and the CB came with a nice dish of pickled cauliflower and, um, pickles. The Pimm's Cup was bright and refreshing on a 95 degree day.

So fast forward 90 minutes, and after running an errand we came back for a nightcap and made the acquaintance of a nice lady sitting next to us who turned out to be Bahar, the COO of The Whisk Group. She is delightful and gracious, and introduced us to JP, who runs the bar downtown and was in Rockville this evening. So, MoCo's nutty liquor laws being what they are, they apologized for the the selection being smaller than their other location, but JP introduced me to a sniff of Ardbeg and then something else that was fairly peaty, and I ended up with a glass of Glenmorangie Nectar D'or - which, to me, was revelatory. (Yeah, yeah. I don't get out much. I know.)

Anyway, we were late for the babysitter, but it was totally worth it. Glad to have them in the neighborhood.

I would gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today.


#50 zoramargolis

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 09:26 AM

I had the corned beef sandwich - big chunks of tender meat, seasoned with an even hand. Fries are good, could be a little crisper, and the CB came with a nice dish of pickled cauliflower and, um, pickles.

I had the corned beef sandwich for lunch yesterday, but I wasn't as impressed. The flavor was nice, but I didn't care for the way the meat was cut in big thick hunks, like it would be for corned beef and cabbage--I think it would have been much more pleasant to chew if it had been thin-sliced. And I don't know about yours, but my sandwich came thickly slathered with mayonnaise. They presented a side dish with ramekins of dijon mustard, ketchup and "garlic aioli", the latter two destined for the fries, presumably, although what was called garlic aioli tasted like it came straight out of a Hellman's jar.( It was clearly not an aioli, which is thickened with bread, and there wasn't even a hint of garlic.) But I didn't understand why I was given the choice of mustard and mayo but the kitchen made the decision that I would have mayo on my sandwich. Okay, it was on a bun, not rye bread, but still-- who eats corned beef with mayonnaise? I liked the fries and the little dish of pickled onion threads, cuke slices and a cauliflower floret or two, but I have to say I wasn't too happy with that sandwich.





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