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Josh

Bidwell - Chef John Mooney's Farm-To-Table Southern American in Union Market

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Bidwell opened recently in Union Market, and as hard as it was to pass up the amazing smells of Toki Underground (he was serving a Thai yellow curry), we decided on a real-deal sit down lunch.  The space is very smartly done, balancing the sterile white of the market with a mix of dark and grey wood.  The country music playing was a bit of an odd choice that really didn't seem to fit the mood of the restaurant or the neighborhood.

From what I can tell, there are not separate lunch and dinner menus.  There were 4 of us, plus the boy, so we sampled a reasonable bit of the menu.

Swedish meatballs: We ordered these right as we sat so my son would have something to munch on. No one was particularly impressed by them.  Very dense and served in a brown gravy that could've used...something to brighten things up.

Lobster tacos: These have gotten a bit of press, but don't go expecting tacos.  This is more of kind of an unfried flauta.  The lobster filling had a nice texture, not the least bit rubbery, and the avocado-tomatillo salsa was a nice, if a bit too subdued accompanyment.  I would call for a good bit more spice, but I tend toward the spicy.  I actually think the dish might be improved if the tortilla had a bit of crunch to it to contrast with the lobster.

Crispy deviled eggs: Just a standard deviled egg fried with a light batter.  The ranch dressing is touted as having roasted jalapeno, but I didn't taste any smokiness or heat.  Probably would be a pretty good bar snack with a few beers.

Fried oysters with green chile buttermilk dressing: Nicely fried...these went in a hurry, though at $12 I kind of expected 4 oysters instead of 3...YMMV.

Raclette grilled cheese: White truffle listed on the ingredient list...pretty mild influence on the flavor of the sandwich.  It was nicely grilled, and I liked the poached egg on top.  Definitely a knife and fork kind of sandwich.  I guess I'm just used to a more pungent cheese in my grilled cheese (Taleggio is our house favorite), but I found this kind of on the bland side.

Gin and tonic salmon: This was the clear winner of the day.  A lightly cured piece of salmon that was perfectly seared.  Quite tasty on its own, and fantastic with the bright slightly creamy lime emulsion.  The cauliflower "steak" beneath it was excellent, with tons of great carmelized bits.  Definitely a go-to dish here.

Our server was great, and they didn't bat an eye at bringing out a high chair for the boy.  I'd be interested to hear what kind of dinner service they are doing.  We were 1 of only 3 tables during lunch that day.  Of course, that location doesn't really lend itself to a bustling crowd for a formal sit-down lunch.

Overall, I'd call it a pleasant experience, but nothing that blew me away (except the salmon dish).  Of course it's early on, so I'd be interested to hear others' experiences in the next few weeks.  We'll be back, given we're in the market multiple times a week...I'd be curious to see if they start a brunch menu, as I imagine they would do a brisk business.

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Swedish meatballs: We ordered these right as we sat so my son would have something to munch on. No one was particularly impressed by them.  Very dense and served in a brown gravy that could've used...something to brighten things up.

A milling of peppercorns?

This was an excellent review, Josh - you made me feel like I was at your meal, and that's a symptom of a really well-written piece. You spent some time and mental energy on this, and it shows.

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The +1, little Bug (just turned 8 months!) and I went to Bidwell for brunch this past Sunday with our friends and their 9.5 month old. We were seated at the perfect corner table which was large enough for our four chairs, plus two high chairs, and the random assortment of food we ordered and the little things we brought for the babies.

First of all, I echo Josh on the space. We all really liked the look and layout, and the chairs were very comfortable. Our server was also very patient with us and the kids, and helpful offering recommendations from the brunch menu. Our friends had been for dinner and weren't thrilled with the quality for the price, but I think were happier with how brunch turned out.

We started out with a smoothie and order of fries for the kids to share. The strawberry and banana smoothie seemed to be well-received by both babies. And we all liked the well-seasoned fries.

The two people that ordered the Breakfast Burrito were very pleased with both the burrito (chorizo, tomatillo salsa, etc) and the little mixed green salad on the side. The bite I had was really good as well. The +1 has ordered breakfast burritos at a number of places around the city, and said this was one of the best.

I had the Mushroom, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Omelette, which was served with breakfast potatoes and a small salad. It was good, but not amazing. I had ordering envy over the burritos.

The fourth person had the Pear Salad w/pecans and blue cheese, and she seemed to like that a lot.

I think we were all pleased with the food and the drinks (some mimosas and some cinnamon margaritas). My slight complaint would be on the price of the drinks. There are certainly plenty of places that charge $9 for a mimosa ($20 for bottomless), but when I just had the same deal at Liberty Tree the weekend before ($7 for one and $15 for bottomless), that extra few dollars just sounded expensive. I think the margaritas were $12 or $13.

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Cassie the bartender named a mocktail there after me! If you ask for an "Anh-with-an-H" you get a lovely basil watermelon lemonade. Refreshing and not too sweet.

I love their salads with greens gathered from their roof garden, but my favorite dish hands down is the pasta - egg fettuccine with rock shrimp, chanterelles and asparagus. It's perfectly light yet filling and the chewy noodles really shine.

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I sat at the Bidwell bar the other day for the first time in probably over a year.  A couple rounds, a bar snack, and everything in the glass and plate was in line with what I experienced previously.  But the striking thing was clientele, or really, the community assembled in Bidwell.  I have underestimated the importance of this restaurant, based on the deaf community (presumably Gallaudet University) that I saw in full force here that day. I have been seen many H Street bartenders and servers who know some rudimentary ASL, and some bars may have closed captions on their TVs, but I haven't seen so many people signing openly before at any other venue.  Everyone seemed comfortable here.  Clearly not everyone was a gourmand, but I saw black, white, the well-heeled, the modest, the straight, the gay, the older, the younger, all signing and having fun.  I see Bidwell now in a bit of a different light.  

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