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Tail Up Goat, Chef Jon Sybert, Beverage Director Bill Jensen, and Service Director Jill Tyler All Come from the Komi Team - Adams Morgan

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Tail Up Goat opened tonight in Adams Morgan.  As you can read here, it comes from folks associated with the Komi empire.

It is at 1827 Adams Mill - where Lanier, Adams Mill, Calvert and Columbia all meet, on the Lanier side of the fancy new apartment building.

I am not as expert as many here, but I think that (if the location is not a killer) you will be hearing much about this restaurant.  Take, for instance, the "brown rice bread, fermented turnips, crème fraí®che" ($9) - sounds like remorseful punitive food, right? - but it is really darn delicious and not at all remorseful.  Everything I ate was similarly multi-faceted - very complicated and good flavors.  The bar staff was warm and friendly.  Everyone involved has clearly put an enormous amount of thought and heart into the food and into the beverages.

Check it out!

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We went to the soft open (full disclosure: food was comped).  The place has huge potential.  The space is gorgeous.  The service is great, save a few hiccups that are to be expected on day -1 of a new restaurant.  And the food was generally delicious and interesting.  I'll post a more detailed review once I've eaten there again.

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We were blessed to be at the soft opening as well (same disclosure), and were very impressed -- and so happy to see Bill again after missing him at Komi New Year's eve. We enjoyed everything: rabbit sausage, charred chocolate rye with salt-crusted sardines, stracciatella, cavatelli, whole stuffed porgy, and a couple of yummy desserts -- the last the only item I thought to get a picture of. We shared each course, and ended stuffed. Menu is here.

We'll be back soon!

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wandered in and snagged some bar seats; fortunately, you can eat at the bar. We ended up with crispy salt cod, grilled rabbit sausage, grilled quail, maltagliati, and the smoked hen of the woods. The quail took the gold star but it was all amazingly delicious. Was nice to see the place packed, and I didn't really notice any opening-week bobbles-- service was pleasant and smooth and there were happy faces everywhere. I am so happy they are in the neighborhood.

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Word to the wise:  Go now.  Within a month, it's gonna be impossible to get in.  It's running on all cylinders on day three . . . and, I'm sure, on day one, too, per Sam's report.  Maltagliati was scrumptious; and the almond cake was the best dessert I've had in ages.  Feels as if it's been a neighborhood institution for years.  And that's because Jon, Jill and Bill, and their great, carefully chosen staff, have been working really hard, for a really long time, to get up to speed.  They love what they're doing; they love making their customers happy; and it shows.  Possibly as welcoming as Komi and Little Serow--like those spots, from which they came, you know you're in good and welcoming hands as soon as you walk in.  Wish I could afford to go every night, or that, when I am there, that I could afford to always order the Selbach-Oster Spätlese they're offering at $18/glass, which Bill modestly describes as "The Greatest (White Wine on Earth)."  Thank god it's impossible to find a parking space (I circled for 20 minutes on a quiet Thursday), or else it'd be as hard a table to snag as Bad Saint--and it's about five times as large.

Oh, and the bread?  (I bought a brown rice loaf that we've been savoring all day.)  Better than Bread Furst, that's all.

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Word to the wise:  Go now.  Within a month, it's gonna be impossible to get in.  It's running on all cylinders on day three . . . and, I'm sure, on day one, too, per Sam's report.  Maltagliati was scrumptious; and the almond cake was the best dessert I've had in ages.  Feels as if it's been a neighborhood institution for years.  And that's because Jon, Jill and Bill, and their great, carefully chosen staff, have been working really hard, for a really long time, to get up to speed.  They love what they're doing; they love making their customers happy; and it shows.  Possibly as welcoming as Komi and Little Serow--like those spots, from which they came, you know you're in good and welcoming hands as soon as you walk in.  Wish I could afford to go every night, or that, when I am there, that I could afford to always order the Selbach-Oster Spätlese they're offering at $18/glass, which Bill modestly describes as "The Greatest (White Wine on Earth)."  Thank god it's impossible to find a parking space (I circled for 20 minutes on a quiet Thursday), or else it'd be as hard a table to snag as Bad Saint--and it's about five times as large.

Oh, and the bread?  (I bought a brown rice loaf that we've been savoring all day.)  Better than Bread Furst, that's all.

Having heard who's behind it, and what it is, I initialized coverage of Tail Up Goat, in the blind, in Italic, and, tentatively ranked them as the #1 restaurant in Adams Morgan.

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Ordinarily, I wouldn't want you to take my word--or even mine and Sam's word--for it, Don.  But in this case, with all deference to Mintwood and Donburi, I think your newly christened #1 is a very, very safe bet:  that's not a very high bar to meet, especially now that Cedric is devoting his efforts to Convivial.

Having heard who's behind it, and what it is, I initialized coverage of Tail Up Goat, in the blind, in Italic, and, tentatively ranked them as the #1 restaurant in Adams Morgan.

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Having heard who's behind it, and what it is, I initialized coverage of Tail Up Goat, in the blind, in Italic, and, tentatively ranked them as the #1 restaurant in Adams Morgan.

I wouldn't quibble with that.

Also-- leaving aside the wonderful food, and the fantastic service, and the really spectacular dining room-- there are quotes from Finnegan's Wake in the menu. It's like they want me there every week.

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Is there a substantive review that I missed? Why did people get camped food? This bothers me that people say they got comped food but don't say why, yet offer non substantive reviews.

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Is there a substantive review that I missed? Why did people get camped food? This bothers me that people say they got comped food but don't say why, yet offer non substantive reviews.

??? The only people I saw that said their food was comped also stated that they were there for the soft opening (where food is often comped).

I'm eager to check this place out based on early reviews. I think we may regret our decision not to go this Saturday to give them time to work out kinks when next month we can't snag a reservation. :P

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??? The only people I saw that said their food was comped also stated that they were there for the soft opening (where food is often comped).

Yes, that was perfectly clear from the posts.

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Is there a substantive review that I missed? Why did people get camped food? This bothers me that people say they got comped food but don't say why, yet offer non substantive reviews.

I paid for my food, on real-opening night, which gave rise to my first post.  Then I went back two days later and paid for another meal.  I have every reason to believe that Marty L paid for his meal as well.  If you are saying that my post and his were not "substantive" then I am not sure what you mean.

In any event, every dish I have had at this place has been stellar.  I am not just talking about "good ingredients well cooked," but inventive and complex while still focusing primarily on taste rather than cleverness.  And the service is equally good.

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My question is, why are certain people invited to the soft opening? Did they just walk in by chance? By non-substantive reviews, I mean I haven't seen anyone discuss any single dish. Such and such is delicious is not a substantive review.

I looked at their menu and website. It's not a long menu, and it's not readily apparent what makes the items inventive or delicious. I guess I would love to see some in depth discussion.

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My question is, why are certain people invited to the soft opening? Did they just walk in by chance? By non-substantive reviews, I mean I haven't seen anyone discuss any single dish. Such and such is delicious is not a substantive review.

I looked at their menu and website. It's not a long menu, and it's not readily apparent what makes the items inventive or delicious. I guess I would love to see some in depth discussion.

This is a perfectly reasonable question, given that there have been meals enjoyed at Tail Up Goat. There are three stages of opening to the public:

1) Friends and Family - It means just what it's called, and there's a "gentlemen's agreement" that diners will not report on their experiences - sure to be flawed - on the internet, and are to answer a questionnaire about the meal  (the first time I've ever seen the instructions not to write anything on the internet - explicitly stated on the questionnaire - was at the opening of Proof). This is often the "price" of having been invited to "Friends and Family" opening, and the meals are complimentary. The diner has a moral responsibility to help the restaurant, and not to say a word on the internet (although I've never seen anyone complain about a positive comment!)

2) Soft Openings - These are one step closer to Grand Openings - anyone can walk in; there's just no advertising that they're open. And in those situations, people either pay full price, or get a token, 10%-ish discount ("for the first month we're open," etc.) - Soft Openings, rather than Friends and Family meals, are more "game" for internet reviews, as very little if anything has been given away. However, my opinion is that the writer has a responsibility to disclose that the restaurant isn't formally open yet, and that it's still in the "Soft Opening" stage. People find out about these by word of mouth, or- if they know someone working at the restaurant - by invitation.

3) Grand Openings - A regular old opening, announced to the world by PR reps, announced by major media, etc. This is the first day that a restaurant is "officially open for business."

Anyone who has been to 2) or 3) is perfectly welcome to write about their meals, depending on their own comfort level, available time, etc. I'm personally not a fan of "rushed reviews" - it can be interesting to see pictures of a place, and a copy of the menu, but early reviews don't mean a whole lot unless the restaurant is run by seasoned professionals who have participated in other openings. Nobody's obligated to write anything, but they can if they want.

I've been to a new restaurant with insanely high expectations five times just this year (six, if you include the one time I showed up the evening of the ice storm, and the door was locked  :angry:), and could write a review that's so detailed that no others would be necessary - it would be the first out of the gate, and would get me lots of attention. I don't care enough about any types of accolades to write it this early, I have other writing obligations to complete first (RK, it's coming, I promise!), and good restaurant reviews take time (and, for me, are mentally taxing). When I asked the owner if he'd like me to write an extended review, his response was that he'd like for us to take that time, and come back in to enjoy another meal. I'm *going* to write a review at some point, but I have a lot going on in my life right now, and I'd rather write nothing than write poorly.

Writing little teasing comments are of little value, but they take hardly any time either, and they at least convey *some* information - does anybody care *that much* if someone's braised collards were flecked with red pepper flakes, and contained a small amount of golden raisins, etc.?

Eric, the substantive reviews will come; it's just a matter of when. I don't want writing reviews to be an unnecessary stressor for our members, and if someone only wants to write for a couple of minutes, I'd rather see, "This place was fantastic, and has the potential to be an important restaurant" than nothing at all. I, too, am looking forward to lengthier essays about Tail Up Goat, and they'll arrive in due course.

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Tail Up Goat, where filling up on bread is a good thing, a very tasty delicious good thing.

Impressive first meal tonight, with the restaurant barely two weeks old. The bar and dining room pretty much full from our 7 pm arrival to our 8:30 departure. The operation is already running smoothly, no doubt years of Komi training in action. The opening dishes are sophisticated and these guy are doing it with winter produce: turnips, rutabega, and other root vegetables star on the menu. It will be interesting to see what they do with summer's bounty.

As I suppose is trendy these days the menu features a lot of pickling and charring to build flavors. Most dishes on the menu only list 3 or 4 components, but there are a lot of hidden rich layered flavors going on.

Sadly, the only clanger was the opening taste, a shot glass of celery shrub. Even the waitress admitted people either love it or hate it. I've never met a shrub I loved, nor liked.

Salt cod came as five marble sized fried croquettes, with a cauliflower puree and pickled red onion. A perfect lick your plate clean starter.

The bread courses are toasted on the grill slabs with various toppings We ended up going with the trifecta, the winner being brown rice bread with turnips, mint and creme fraiche. Show goes to the seaweed sourdough, topped with ciccioli, sort of a fatty pork paste and pickled fennel. The charred chocolate rye placed due to execution, the salt baked whole sardine come on a seperate plate on top of a base of salt crust. The idea is to make your own open faced sandwich with the butter and pickles but the concept falls flat. However the sardine is excellent and this dish just needs to be re-thought.

The braised carrots was the weakest dish of the night, served with sticky garlic and a homeycomb broth. The carrots could have been braised several minutes longer and lacked flavor. The dish needed some acid to counter the sweetness of the honeycomb. At $13 not worth the calories.

The pasta course of smoked rutabega ravioli with gingerbread and basil mint pesto was outstanding.

We skipped the entree section, with the only pescatarian friendly option being the whole roasted porgy for two at $35. Overall the portion sizes fall into the medium plate range, and people with healthy appetites will ring up a sizable bill quickly. Dinner for two, sharing 6 dishes, plus 2 cocktails came to $125 with tax and tip.

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The braised carrots was the weakest dish of the night, served with sticky garlic and a homeycomb broth. The carrots could have been braised several minutes longer and lacked flavor. The dish needed some acid to counter the sweetness of the honeycomb. At $13 not worth the calories.

We skipped the entree section, with the only pescatarian friendly option being the whole roasted porgy for two at $35. Overall the portion sizes fall into the medium plate range, and people with healthy appetites will ring up a sizable bill quickly. Dinner for two, sharing 6 dishes, plus 2 cocktails came to $125 with tax and tip.

Agree on the carrots.  FYI, the porgy is great.  And for another pescatarian option, the mushroom entree can be done without the chicken skins.

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What a great meal we had on Tuesday!  Everything was wonderful, with some real standouts.

Service was warm, friendly, and efficient.  We loved the complementary shrub they give you to start off the meal, and appreciated the offer of carbonated tap water for free.  My friends had never tried orange wine before, so I asked about the ones on the extensive list and the sommelier came over to explain them.  He was a young, energetic guy who was a delight to talk to. He steered us toward a wine made by Cisturcian nuns in Lazio that was off list (and happily close to the bottom of the price scale) - Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium Ruscum 2013, which we enjoyed.  Even better, mid meal he came by with a different bottle from the same makers (less time on the skins) and poured the three of us generous tastes so we could experience the differences between the two bottles.  Classy, and it really made us feel like we were among friends, not in a service environment.

We ordered:

The brown rice flatbread discussed above:  Really delicious, transcends the ingredients to be more than the sum of its parts.

The sunchokes with bottarga:  Fine, but not spectacular.  I've had better.  Some were not roasted enough and were still hard.  The least interesting dish of the night.

The rutabaga ravioli with gingerbread:  WOW.  I could eat 5 more plates of these.  One of the most interesting, delicious things I have eaten this year and truly spectacular.  Unexpected flavors that just work.

The stuffed Porgy:  A whole deboned porgy, stuffed with kale, served with potatoes, parnip "cream" and some roasted vegetables.  Also very, very good.  Moist, perfectly deboned/prepared.

We finished with the almond cake and the butterscotch budino.  Both were good, but I would have preferred the budino without the candied fruit that was in it.

For three of us, this was a perfect amount of food.  And, at about $70 each for bill, tax, and tip, it seemed to be a very good deal.  I am happy I live near this place!

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Dinner for two last night. We had:

  • charred chocolate rye, salt-crusted sardine, butter, pickles [14]
  • sunchokes, bagna cauda, parsley  [12]
  • maltagliati, fermented honey sausage, pea shoots [17] 
  • lamb ribs, sumac onions, beets "“ for two [42]
  • butterscotch budino, blood orange, candied pistachios [9]

We thought the first three dishes were excellent. My wife concurred with the post above about the assemble-it-yourself nature of the chocolate rye bread dish, but the ingredients were so good and the sardine so funky that I really didn't care. The sunchokes were roasted to perfection. The maltagliati was a nice change-up from the charred chocolate rye, having a nice savory cream sauce that had absorbed the sweetness of the pea shoots.

Our first bites of the lamb ribs were delicious. Great Mediterranean flavors in play. But as we ate it, there seemed to be a lot of fatty chunks still in the ribs. Perhaps that's just the nature of lamb ribs, but I would have liked these more, and felt better afterwards, if the ribs had been cooked a bit lower and slower.

The butterscotch budino? Meh. It was on the small side, and delivered with gigantic spoons which did not fit the dish.

We each had a cocktail, which were bitter and complex, and a glass of wine. My wife had the delicious brambly Rioja, and I had the 2001 Lebanese Cinsault (Old Wine From Big Bottles?), which was fantastic, albeit a steep $32. Dinner itself came to a relatively steep amount for 2.

All of the flavors were deeply satisfying. I think the lamb ribs need some work with the cooking. We will be back, especially to stop by for a glass of wine and a small bite at the bar.

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Eric, the substantive reviews will come; it's just a matter of when. I don't want writing reviews to be an unnecessary stressor for our members, and if someone only wants to write for a couple of minutes, I'd rather see, "This place was fantastic, and has the potential to be an important restaurant" than nothing at all. I, too, am looking forward to lengthier essays about Tail Up Goat, and they'll arrive in due course.

They've arrived.

At first thought, three people from Johnny Monis' duo of outstanding restaurants leaving to start their own might sound mutinous, but I've never heard one single person in the industry say a cross word about Johnny (which is puzzling), and the fact that three alumni trusted each other enough to go into business together suggests that Johnny fostered an atmosphere of congeniality and independence. In the end, part of a chef's greatness rests in the list of former employees who went on to become successful in their own right. Think of it as Harvard, and a few students starting a small business in a garage.

Off-topic: Even though I lived through it, it has grown difficult to imagine that Sebastian Zutant used to work at Komi.

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Our first bites of the lamb ribs were delicious. Great Mediterranean flavors in play. But as we ate it, there seemed to be a lot of fatty chunks still in the ribs. Perhaps that's just the nature of lamb ribs, but I would have liked these more, and felt better afterwards, if the ribs had been cooked a bit lower and slower.

wrote about Tail Up Goat a few weeks ago and will repost here.  To sum it up though- I think this is one of the most interesting restaurants to debut in DC recently- and there have been many.  I am anxious to go back for the lamb ribs- which I do think are fatty by nature. I absolutely loved the smoked rutabaga ravioli and would go back for that dish alone. There's much to explore here, and I agree it's an important and very welcome addition to DC dining.

Here's a link to my full post

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How to tell the difference between the two from a distance, on an island overrun with both: "Tail up goat. Tail down sheep."

Such is the origin behind the name of Adams Morgan's hottest new restaurant, Tail Up Goat - and I loathe to use the word "hot," but that's what it is, yes, already. 

Late on a Tuesday evening, around 8 PM, I called just to make sure it wasn't full, and was told that the bar area is first-come, first-serve, and that a couple is finishing up their entrees right now (so yes, it was full). I suppose I arrived around 9 PM, trying to park in the lot just south of the new building housing both Tail Up Goat and Philz Coffee (Tail Up Goat is hard to see, but it's around the corner, on the north side of the building, on Adams Mill Road). 

I pulled into the parking lot, which had a bunch of towing signs on the wall, and began to turn around and leave before seeing an attendant. "How much is parking?" I asked. "Twenty dollars," he replied. "Nah, that's too much," I said, and he answered, "How long will you be here?" I said "About seventy-five minutes," and he said, "You can park for ten dollars." It was Tuesday night at 9 PM, and even in Adams Morgan I knew I'd find a space, so I politely declined and went on my way. Take note: the "twenty-dollar" parking charge might be negotiable.

I walked into a full Tail Up Goat, and while the main restaurant on the other side of the divider was full, there were two seats available facing the wall on the side counter near the bar, and I nabbed one of them (I hate seats like these, because the wall is right in front of you - but they're designed to be a holding area). Unfortunately, I sat there for about five minutes without being waited on (was I supposed to walk up to the bar?) Anyway, two bar seats opened up a few minutes later, and I looked at the hostess, inquisitively - she nodded her head, I took one of them, and from that point forward, service was delightful.

You'll be initially taken back by the price of beverages here - they're expensive, and there's no getting around it. I desperately searched for something in the single-digits before stumbling across something I'd never seen before: a Grapefruit Radler ($7 for a 16-ounce can) by Stiegl Brewery in Salzburg, Austria. And boy am I glad I did, because not only was it delicious, but it went perfectly with my entire meal. It was essentially a beer mixed with grapefruit juice, about half-and-half I think, and is less than 3.2% alcohol - that was fine by me, and you'll be surprised at how good this is (it's not overly sweet, which makes it something of a mead-like beverage).

Tail Up Goat has three "bread courses" which *start* at $10 each. 'This had better be some pretty good bread,' I thought to myself, before asking, and finding out that they were essentially open-faced sandwiches; not just bread (this is not clear from the menu, so don't let it scare you away). I began my dinner with a Brown Rice Bread ($10) with fermented turnips, yogurt, and hazelnut picada, and I knew right away that I was in new culinary territory with Tail Up Goat - I'd never had anything like this in my life: An absolutely delicious wedge of bread, cut in half, about the length and width of a woman's forearm from elbow to wrist, and almost an inch thick - slathered with these wonderful vegetarian toppings which were unlike anything I'd ever eaten. The bread was homemade and pretty-much perfect - calling for a knife-and-fork cut - and the flavors from the toppings knit together in a way that defined synergy - the sum was greater than the parts (even though the parts were wonderful), and this was one of the most delicious things I've eaten lately (I also hadn't eaten in well over twelve hours, so I was starving).

I didn't feel any need to change from my Grapefruit Radler for the duration of the meal, and continued with a small main course - a pasta dish - Maltagliati ($17), wide, sheet-like pasta, house-made, with fermented honey sausage, pea shoots, and a buttery or semi-creamy sauce that brought it all together. I was surprised at the intensity of the pea shoots, because there weren't *that* many of them, but that's what quality produce will do for you, and even though there wasn't much sausage, that, too, permeated the dish - the sauce was the vehicle for all the flavors to co-mingle, and it was like a party of complimentary tastes, the pasta itself lending texture and substance. Although not a huge dish, the quantity rested in the quality. 

About halfway through my pasta, I asked my kindly bartender if I could order something to go - I wanted to try some more of their menu, but my tank was getting full. Unfortunately, they don't do carryout (unless you have leftovers on your plate), and it's probably for the best. So I decided to stuff myself, and ordered a Mortadella Sammy ($6), which immediately got my bartender's approval - she said that's a dish where nearly everything is made in-house. The wonderful, brioche-like roll (this is essentially one single slider), house-made mortadella, fermented fennel, and preserved-lemon aïoli - I could have *sworn* there was cheese in this sandwich, but the menu says otherwise - *something* lends an intense flavor and binds it together, probably the fermented fennel.

My bartender asked me if I wanted to see the dessert menu. "See it, yes," I said, "but *only* see it, because I'm stuffed." Oh, it hurt to pass on the Budino, but that's what next-time's are for.

I've never had food like I had at Tail Up Goat, and I'm not even sure how to classify it - when I asked my bartender, she said that it couldn't be pinned down to a single country, and she's right. 'It's sort of Mediterranean,' she said (or something like that), and I can see that, but I can also *not* see that. For now, I'm calling it "Modern Alpine" (a term I just made up because I can't think of another) as well as "Modern Mediterranean" which doesn't feel quite right - although I've been to Scandinavia, and even had dinner at the Michelin two-star Bagatelle in 2000, which was the only Michelin two-star restaurant in all of Norway until 2012, this was nothing like that, as Bagatelle was much more traditional and very seafood-oriented (the Porgy for Two caught my eye at Tail up Goat, and is something I plan on trying one of these days). However, there's *something* about Tail Up Goat that gives a Scandinavian "feeling," although I don't know why - it's kind of how I picture the modern-Scandinavian movement led by Noma, but I really don't know much about that movement or its cuisine, and quite honestly, I really don't know why I think that - perhaps it's because I can't think of anything else!

Needless to say, Tail Up Goat is ranked *strongly* in Italic, and is now officially christened as the #1 restaurant in Adams Morgan. Cedric, if you were at Mintwood Place full-time, it might be a different story, but I associate you now with Convivial, and in my mind, it's essentially impossible for a chef to play ball at this level in two different restaurants, especially if they're in different neighborhoods. Although you may not agree with me, I hope you understand. And for those who are curious, I would have had Convivial instead of The Dabney in the James Beard Awards for Best New Restaurant - regardless, I have it ranked as the #1 restaurant in Shaw, which is exactly where it belongs.

Although there is some painful mediocrity in the DC area of late, at the top level, life is awfully good right now, and Tail Up Goat is right up there. This is an important opening, and I predict great things for Tail Up Goat - congratulations to all who are involved with this fine restaurant which doesn't even blink when it comes to using fermentation, mild sweetness, and texture as integral parts of its cuisine.

Screenshot 2016-04-06 at 21.39.22.pngScreenshot 2016-04-06 at 21.39.39.pngScreenshot 2016-04-06 at 21.40.02.png

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The mortadella sammy is something else. And any of the pastas, And the grilled pork main with taleggio polenta. And the interesting bar program (albeit definitely more expensive than I would want it to be in a world where this is my neighborhood restaurant -- Mt. Pleasant, close enough -- and I could gladly hang out here three times a week). And the service, well up to Little Serow standards of openness, friendliness, and genuineness. This place is great. I look forward to them changing up their menu with the seasons, so I can try as much from this team as possible.

(I'm not a fan of the salt-crusted sardine, though.)

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On 4/7/2016 at 8:41 PM, DonRocks said:

This is an important opening, and I predict great things for Tail Up Goat - congratulations to all who are involved with this fine restaurant which doesn't even blink when it comes to using fermentation, mild sweetness, and texture as integral parts of its cuisine.

Don- really enjoy your review- particularly since I'm headed back to Tail Up Goat soon.  and now I can't wait!

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