Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Here We Go Againn

Don’t get be wrong... I love me some fish and chips. But that is about as adventurous as I tend to be when it comes to British pub fare here in the States. I guess you could say that some of the names just plain scare me. Bangers and Mash sounds like a horror movie. Spotted Dick sends shivers down my spine just hearing it spoken aloud. Bubble and Squeak makes me think of a cat getting its tail stepped on. British food just can’t win in my book, at least mentally.

Well, at least it couldn’t until I tried Againn on a recent Friday night. It was one of those places that had been on my million-mile long “to-try” list for far too long, partly because I hardly ever make it to downtown DC in time for happy hour. Yet, an early release from work allowed me to make it in time to sneak up to the bar at Againn and try their delicious fare.

Before speaking about the food, though, I’ve got to give the libations (and those who serve them) the accolades that they deserve. It’s not hard to tell that Againn is serious about everything that they serve at the bar. This is, after all, the restaurant that allows you to rent your own scotch locker on a yearly basis. Minutes after sitting down, bartenders Andrew and Rich were explaining how Againn makes spherical ice cubes for serving scotch; spheres have the smallest surface area of any three-dimensional figure and therefore melt slower. The two would serve as our docents for the evening, suggesting food and beverage pairings. In essence, the pair gave us a lecture in Bar Tending 101. Sitting at the bar and watching them create and perfectly intricate drinks was a treat in and of itself.

Because I had a LivingSocial coupon, I was able to try a wide variety of food on the menu. Yet I found it completely possible to eat and drink well at Againn on a budget. Elliot and I started off with hand cut chips (a.k.a. fries) and the Guinness soft pretzels. The fries were served with an amazing garlic aioli that was so good I was tempted to eat it with a spoon. I knew the pretzels were on their way because I could smell them before they were even in front of us. The gooey inside combined with the delicate crunch on the outside (and some spicy house-made mustard to boot) made for a fantastic treat.

I also went ahead and ordered the ½ pint of Atlantic prawns, a happy hour special. The shrimp were served chilled with Againn’s version of cocktail sauce, which was a bit more creamy than the standard fare. Eating those prawns made me feel like I was back in England standing on the beach. They were that fresh.

By this time I wasn’t very hungry anymore, but Elliot was still hungry. (Boys…what are you going to do with them?) The bartenders recommended the bangers and mash. For those of you that don’t speak "British," that translates to "sausage and mashed potatoes." Both were wonderful and full of flavor. The potatoes were creamy and offset by sautéed onions that packed just the right amount of punch.

To top our meal off one off, the bartenders recommended that we order the Guinness float. Yes, you read that correctly. This dessert is a root beer float wherein Guinness serves as a substitute for the traditional carbonated beverage. This is truly a “can’t miss” in my book. The homemade stout ice cream pairs perfectly with the hoppy flavors in the beer. And, if you wrap up your meal with this sweet ending, I can guarantee you that it will be impossible to leave unhappy. If you go for happy hour your wallet will agree.

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  1. Hey I just found your blog and I love it- this is exactly what I need. I'm also a college student on a budget and need to find places where I can eat for cheap :) Thanks for the heads up!! Can't wait to read more.


  2. Hmmm. Sounds more authentically like home fare than I'd expected. Maybe I should flex my LivingSocial voucher this week as well!

  3. Just an afterthought. The sauce you mention is Marie Rose sauce, and it's all people from England will think of if you mention cocktail sauce. We have no idea that it's usually different over here. I'm very happy to find somewhere serving it.