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

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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.

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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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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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.

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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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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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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.

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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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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.

A bannoffee pie? Dear Sir, Please call it by its proper name. It's a proper British portmanteau!

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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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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:

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

This Friday, WBJ's Missy Frederick published a fluffy interview with The Whisk Group LLC CEO Mark Weiss.

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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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?

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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.

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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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