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Compass Rose, Owner Rose Previte's International Street Food on 14th and T St, NW


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No thread on this place yet, and it's been open since, what, April?  It's a nice little place with a neighborhood (rather than destination) kind of vibe.  Not too many items on the menu, but it's wide ranging: Indian, Georgian (republic, not US State), Turkey, a lot of South American dishes...  Four of us spent and hour and a half grazing our way through.  Nothing we had was spectacular, but everything was good: well-conceived and executed.  I'm not really inspired to describe any of the dishes, but wanted to get the thread going.  This is the kind of place I'd stop at once a week or so, walking home from work, if I lived and worked in the area.

Compass Rose

1346 T Street
NW Washington, DC 20009

202-506-4765

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Sundays are my day to eat out. Early October, I was to meet friends for dinner at Kapnos, but I was in area early enough so I tried Compass Rose for the first time. It was around 5 pm and there are few people already inside. Since I was alone, I sat at the bar. The place is beautifully put together, and all the components of the dining room complement each other. (Floors, furniture, color of the walls, and the layout of the space) They had a nice list of cocktails, and I was amused by the names of the drinks. (They were named after different cities around the world, and for each city the corresponding drink had a spirit associated with the country which the city was from) By the end of my stay, I enjoyed three different cocktails: Edinburgh, Moscow, and Havana themed drinks but I believe their drink menu is different now, as I looked up online to remember the exact names to write my post.

The premise of the food menu is interesting: international street food. After reading through the menu, I began to think perhaps there is a reason why these dishes are considered street food in their respective countries. From my experience, street food is a small snack to enjoy in between meals. If street food was to be enjoyed as the main meal, you would have to order few items to get full, a lot like meze or tapas. I think I realize what's happening here, so I pick three options, mussels, chicken skewers, and khachapuri. Mussels and chicken skewers were made well and I enjoyed them. Khachapuri was excellent. Even though I`m inclined to call it a variation of pide, combination of buttery egg(y) goodness is too delicious to get hung up on national borders. Since a well made pide is impossible to find in the US, Khachapuri is enough of a reason for me to return. I enjoyed every bite that afternoon and when I showed up at Kapnos, I was way too full to order anything, so I ate a little from each dish that my friends already ordered.

Since my first visit, I made the trip out to Compass Rose again. This time Khachapuri was my main goal. It is really hard to pair and match street fare from distinctly different cultures and regions and put together a cohesive meal without feeling like you`re filming a knock-off version of "Parts Unknown". So I based my order around Khachapuri. I ordered cheese trio, chicken skewers, and Khachapuri. Once again everything was well, and Khachapuri was excellent. And I was really inclined to learn more about it. I researched online and called some friends who are from the Black Sea region, come to find out that Khachapuri has it's root in Abkhaz people, and is originally called Khachapur, the -i was added to the end to fit the Georgian language.

At this point, as long as Compass Rose continues to make Khachapur(i), I will visit them few times a month.

(As the saying "if you ain't Cav..." goes, same applies for balik ekmek "if it isn't Eminöní¼...")

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ate here recently and committed a major faux pas by not doing my research and seeing that khachapuri was a must.  Despite this, I enjoyed several dishes including fried baby fish, pupusas, and bhel puri chat.  This is a fun, casual spot- perfect for sharing dishes with a group.  I must return to correct my omission.

My blog post on Compass Rose is here.

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This place is fantastic. Love that we swiped right and went here on Friday night.

It's international street food and they do their takes on various types of world foods. Interesting drinks, too.

The decor is really cool, funky. Bartenders are pure hipster and tremendous mustaches abound. The service at the bar is attentive and they don't seem rushed, even though it's a busy place. I had a hot spiced cider at the bar, needing a warmer upper after walking from the metro. I met the public health friend here, and we were waiting for the lawyer and the cardiologist to arrive. She had this chocolate milk like drink that was phenomenal and could have drunk like 6 of them, but they were strong.They got there ten minutes after and we went to a table in the front of the joint. Before I had arrived, I'd planned on ordering the entire menu. I'd always wanted to do that, "We will have one of everything!" and dismissively wave them away. But, my dining partners didn't think that every thing needed to be ordered. Like Taylor has artfully noted, "haters gonna hate hate hate". So, we were slightly more selective. Here is what I remember.

Pescadito Fritos - tiny little fried fish. Salty and delicious. Nice white sauce with it, aioli or something. Just like Spain.

Brussel Sprouts - a great version of them.

Three Drips and Fry Bread - not quite fry bread. Just nice crispy thick chips. Hummus and two other dips that were tasty and I couldn't tell what they were, and we were having too much fun to ask.

Balik Ekmak - Mackeral sandwich. Really delicious. I never liked mackeral at sushi places, so wasn't expecting to like this, but it was tasty.

Shrimp - garlic sauce. What can I say? It was good

Bhel Puri Chaat - this was a controversial dish. My mom's bhel puri is really good. Their version was modified, and much more like a salad, and there were concerns. Heated debate ensued, harsh words were uttered, but actual physical violence did not occur. It's not really bhel puri, but it's a good twist on it.

Khachapuri - this is what everyone talks about here. It's a flat bread with cheese and butter, then they break the egg on top of it at the table and it sort of cooks on the bread. Very unique, perhaps probably not for a Georgian.

Lamb Kefta - ground spiced lamb. Obviously, it was great. Because how the F could it be bad? It's ground spiced lamb.

Chicken skewers - I was getting full, and it was on the other side of the table, so I didn't get to it. The reports for that it was good

Lomitos - Pork roast sandwich. With an avocado. Like the ones at Italian delis, but a little twist on it. We killed it.

Sorry this isn't super descriptive. It's just that this place is so fun and neat and interesting. Even if you didn't love the food, you'd probably like the unique experience. It's like tapas, but not boring like how tapas has become in DC. It makes me want to chase down an actual Lomitos or try Khachapuri at a Georgian restaurant. I'm happy we have this place. I think I'll probably come a lot.

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Sorry this isn't super descriptive. It's just that this place is so fun and neat and interesting. Even if you didn't love the food, you'd probably like the unique experience. It's like tapas, but not boring like how tapas has become in DC. It makes me want to chase down an actual Lomitos or try Khachapuri at a Georgian restaurant. I'm happy we have this place. I think I'll probably come a lot.

Simul:

Awesome report. We had a very similar experience here last Thursday night. Just a really fun, cool spot, with some bangin' food.

Also, you're famous! 

Cheers!

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went here Friday night; it was completely jam-packed. We put our name in, couldn't get within 10 feet of the bar, so went out for a drink and came back when they texted us.

Our choices:

Lamb Kefta

Khachapuri

Pescadito Fritos

Squid

Three Drips and Fry Bread

Khachapuri was of course my favorite; Nick was all over the Kefta like a house afire. The small fish were delightfully crunchy, though Nick was disappointed by the lack of heads on the "whole" baby fish. (Heads are the best part, guys! why are the heads missing?) The squid was splayed on a skewer and chargrilled.  The three drips and fry bread was probably the least interesting. I gravitated toward a curried dip, and nick toward the hummus; there was a honey-and-pomegranate (and maybe eggplant?) dip that neither of us could really get behind.

Nick like the spiced cider here, I could have used more cinnamon.

It's a cute space, we'll probably try it again on maybe a quiet rainy tuesday :)

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International street food means lack of focus and high probability of poor execution to me.  So it is that I waited until last week to visit, and only because the menu had goat curry.  Goat curry is a common dish found in the Caribbean, usually made with bone-in chunks of meat.  This version was boneless, but it had good flavor and a deceptive amount of heat.  The best dish, however, was the El Lomito -  pork roasted, barbare roll, avocado, 'ndula, tomato, lettuce.  We didn't realize it was a sandwich, but it turned out to be a great sandwich.  Juicy roast pork sandwich, matched only by John's & Tony Luke's in Philly.  The Poke, Mozambique Shrimp Piri Piri (nicely cooked, tender), Pescaditos Fritos (fried little fish), and Bhel Puri Chaat were all decent.  

So Compass Rose surpassed my expectations.  It deserves a bit more attention.

IMG_2227.JPG

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I usually love, love, love this place. Went last night with my good friends that are leaving the area. We were waiting for a new friend of mine to join, but she was not going to be there til near the end of the meal. I had hyped this place to no end. Wife shares similar tastes in food with me, loving most Asian foods (especially Chinese), and trying many varieties of cuisine, while the husband is pickier. 

I got a Shiner Bock, and the consultant got the house red, which comes in a stemless glass, and that makes me happy. We ordered the: 1) goat curry (Jamaican style) 2) Korean short rib 3) El Lomito 4) Tostones Rellenos de Salmorejo (i.e. crab stuffed plantains) 5) Khachapuri. 

Goat curry was good, slight kick, flavored well, but for $16 was quite a small portion. The ribs were tasty, again $5.50 a bone seems steep. Cooked well, fell right off the bone. The El Lomito was well liked, and this was probably the favorite of the group. I had a pretty good Cuban sandwich from a deli in Waldorf for lunch, but CR's roast pork was better. The Tostones were my least favorite. Hardly could taste the crab or the plantain. It was like a crab fritter, to me, with very little crab.  And, the Khachapuri was as good as always, but I think I've reached "peak Khachapuri" and it's not that exciting to me any more. 

Turned out to be sort of an ordinary meal, but my company was extraordinary, so I'm not complaining too much. Wonder if the place is coasting a bit.

-S 

Edit: Justice Sotomayor was there. Surely, she's a member of the forum, so thank you for your service!

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2 hours ago, Simul Parikh said:

 And, the Khachapuri was as good as always, but I think I've reached "peak Khachapuri" and it's not that exciting to me any more. 

-S 

Edit: Justice Sotomayor was there. Surely, she's a member of the forum, so thank you for your service!

Shhhhh....that might be grounds for treason in Georgia (the country)..................................or worse!!!!!  :ph34r:

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29 minutes ago, Bart said:

Has anyone been here recently?  Does a line form prior to opening like Rose's/Little Serow?  Or can you just arrive on the early side (5:30) and get a table?

I've walked in twice on weeknights (I think Tuesday both times) as a solo diner around 7 pm and been able to get served at that little ledge near the bar, albeit not the bar itself.  I don't know what it's like for people wanting a table; both times it was lively but there was no line or milling crowd and it didn't seem like they were turning people away in volume.

In any case, the food is good but not great, in my experience; I actually think Bar Pilar offers better value of late, though Compass Rose has a more interesting wine list.

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Solid dinner here last week with my cousin and aunt who were in town for the cousin's college tours and @MichaelBDC. My cousin asked for something "hip" and my aunt wanted small plates. I steered them away from Momofuku and towards Compass Rose. We didn't have to wait for a table once we got there a little before 7pm and had a really fun time. 

Started off with a bottle of lambrusco for the adults. First dish to arrive was the poke. Fish was good, but there was way too much rice. Seemed like a rice topped with fish rather than poke. Steamed buns were excellent (aunt and cousin loved it) as was the pan con tomate. Lamb Kefta with freekah salad was my favorite dish of the evening. My aunt and cousin loved the steak that came with the asado, but were not interested in the sausage. Finished off with the Khapchouri which was as good as everyone has been saying. 

Now that it may be easier to get a table here, I will have to return and try more of the menu, especially the goat curry.

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