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

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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.....

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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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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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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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(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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(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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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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...

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?)

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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.

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