My reaction when I hear that Google Reader is set to disappear after July 1? WTF!
WTF also comes to mind when one day I find myself driving to work, talking on the phone, and suddenly not sure if I am headed in the right direction.
Which is why I find it curious that Woodward Table, which opened in the space formerly occupied by Potenza last November, names its fast-casual companion WTF. This stands for Woodward Takeout Food. Apparently owner Jeff Buben, of Vidalia and Bistro Bis, does not realize the meaning until it’s too late. I depart Woodward Table thinking about those letters as they relate to my meal. But not in a bad way. As in WTF! This food is a really nice surprise!
It’s not that I don’t expect good food from Chef Buben. Both of his restaurants are well regarded in DC. And although it’s been two years since I dined at Bistro Bis, I gave it a thumbs up in my blog post. But it’s not often that nearly every dish on a menu appeals to me, and this makes me wary. Can so many dishes that appeal on the page deliver on the plate? Thankfully my five dining companions are willing accomplices in an attempt to sample as much as possible on Woodward Table’s menu of seasonal American cuisine.
I hold my breath as I eagerly pull apart a roll from the kitchen’s hearth oven. If I like a restaurant’s bread, I often find it’s a precursor to how I feel about the rest of the meal. The bread is warm and soft with just a touch of sea salt on top. Perfection. The rolls pass my taste test with flying colors. They are hard to resist, even though I know there are flatbreads just ahead.
Woodward Table’s flatbreads are thin, perfectly charred, and extra crispy, just the way I like them. Flatbread with duck confit, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and manchego cheese is a beautiful balance of flavors.
I am not an anchovy-lover. But my husband is intrigued by a flatbread special with pickled peppers, artichoke, arugula, manchego cheese, and anchovy tomato sauce. He gets the go-ahead from the group. The anchovy is subtle enough so that it doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients. It’s a hit. I’m beginning to think this kitchen could put anything atop their flatbread and I would be satisfied.
Four salad options have equal appeal. We agree on two: kale and chopped salad. Kale salad is a sweet and savory mix of bacon, caramelized onions, dates and apples, with a pommery mustard vinaigrette. The generous cubes of bacon and dates make for an irresistible dish.
The chopped salad has my go-to too often ingredients: beets and goat cheese. When will I stop ordering this? But the addition of radishes, cauliflower, and apricots provide enough of a twist. (Don’t tell the others but I stole a couple of extra bites of kale salad over the chopped salad, simply because it veers off my normal path.) But both salads are winners.
I’m relieved when my friend agrees to split an entree. I know this is the only way I’m going to make it all the way to dessert unscathed.
Seared scallops with kabocha squash puree, spiced pumpkin seeds, and caramelized pears is the ideal choice of entree. A recent run-in with undercooked scallops have left me wary. Fortunately, I decide it’s time to try again. This is the dish to restore my faith in scallops. The ingredients could potentially result in a dish that’s overly sweet, but I find the combination to be just right.
Other entrees at the table include a lovely pan roasted trout with king trumpet mushrooms, brussels sprouts and sweet potato as well as a tender honey glazed pork rib chop with braised greens, cipollini onions, and creamy grits.
Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post recently reviewed Woodward Table and has good things to say about some of the signature sides. We don’t want to miss out, so we sample four of the seven options. Woodward fries, cauliflower, mac and cheese, and brussels sprouts. None disappoint, but I personally favor the caramelized cauliflower with cranberries.
Many of the dishes at Woodward Table incorporate an element of sweetness. Nonetheless, dessert is a necessity. They stay consistent with the rest of the meal. I’m enamored with the apple sampler which includes an apple cupcake, apple upside-down tart, cider sorbet, and white chocolate apple mousse.
Others favor the pear tart with caramel pears, crisp pastry, blue cheese ice cream, and sea salt-caramel sauce. Both desserts really are delightful.
We are one group of content diners, with everyone nodding in unanimous approval at the end of the meal. The Woodward Table team has given WTF new meaning: Wonderfully Tasty Food.
Woodward Table, 1426 H Street, NW Washington, DC
Washington Post review
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