Red Hen – Washington D.C.
We were in DC for several days and for dinner on our last night we chose Red Hen – and Italian-inspired American restaurant in the historic Bloomingdale neighborhood. With a super cute exterior, a handsome, rustic interior, and a menu full of delicious dishes, it was the perfect spot to round out our mini vacay in DC.
My brother joined us for dinner and we decided that we would collectively order a bunch of different dishes and share – because I’m all about the sharing. We started out the meal with beautiful bottle of wine and several starters. We had the Smoked Ricotta Crostini with Balsamic Brown Butter & Truffle Honey, the Burrata with ‘Broccolini Marinati’, Pickled Red Chiles & Vin Cotto, and the Salt Cod Brandade with Chives & Garlic Toast. First of all – if you see brown butter and truffle honey in a dish you pretty much just have to order it, right?! I’m happy to say that the crostini did live up to my expectations. I’m always a sucker for burrata and Red Hen’s preparation did not disappoint. This is one of their dishes that frequently changes based on whatever fresh, seasonal ingredients they have. I also really loved the brandade – it definitely has a strong salty fish taste that might not be for everyone, but that’s what I was expecting and it was perfect.
After the starters it was time to try a few pastas. We ordered the Saffron Fettuccini with Rabbit Sugo, Cinnamon, Grilled Snap Peas and Mustard Breadcrumbs, the Mezze Rigatoni with Fennel Sausage Ragu & Pecorino Romano, and the Baked Semolina Gnocchi with Wild Mushroom Ragu, Spring Onion and Hazelnut Pesto. Each was different and delicious in their own way but I think the table favorite was the rigatoni that is a permanent fixture on their menu. As you can tell from the ingredients, the saffron fettuccini and the gnocchi were definitely interesting dishes (I had never tried semolina gnocchi before!), but interesting in a very good way!
Our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs when we ordered so after the pastas we still had 2 more dishes coming our way – the Caramelized Scallops with Fregola, English Peas, Pancetta & Littleneck Clams and the Crispy Artichokes with Dill & Anchovy Aioli. The scallops were sweet and perfectly cooked and the crispy artichokes were amazing! I’m usually intimidated by artichokes but this preparation was perfect and I wanted to eat every last bite!
Stuffed as I may be, there’s always a little room for dessert. We ordered a slice of the lemon layer cake that their pastry chef had just whipped up special for the day as well as the Maple Custard with Toasted Hazelnut Crumble. The lemon cake was bright and lemony with the perfect amount of sweetness and the perfect frosting-to-cake ratio (very important in my book). The custard, though, was the standout dessert – I was seriously debating licking the dish when it was all gone. I’m not usually one for custard but we were told by our fantastic server that this was not to be missed – and we listened. Make sure you save room for this treat, your sweet tooth will thank you! All around a great dinner and great atmosphere at Red Hen, I definitely recommend checking them out if you’re in DC!
Red Hen is located at 1822 First Street NW in Washington D.C.’s Bloomingdale neighborhood.