The Ten: Best Doughnuts

So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.

This time around we’re tackling Home Simpson’s favorite food that’s not beer: doughnuts.

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

I have seen the future of doughnuts and its name is Astro. Former Fiola pastry chef Jason Gehring has reinvented the jelly doughnut by turning it into a square with a hole at the center. He pipes the filling into the four struts, thereby maximizing the jelly to dough ratio. Genius! His tropical take on the sweet includes a tangy passion fruit glaze and a just-tart-enough lemon curd. The shop doesn’t open until early next year, but Astro is catering events this holiday season.

Lyon Hall

Doughnuts are a must-order when you brunch at this corner favorite in Arlington. The flavors rotate, so you might get the sweet heat of an Asian five-spice, coffee-spiked mocha, or a straight-up vanilla glazed. You also get a free doughnut hole with if you order the platter of four. Winning!

Pizzeria Orso

You probably don’t expect doughnuts at a pizzeria, but executive chef Will Artley is a master of the sweet treats. Order the lemon glazed crowned with a spiral of rich Nutella cream. After you’ve stopped softly sobbing with joy and licked your fingers, you can drop us a thank you email.

Jackie’s

The sterling brunch at this Silver Spring standard-bearer is made even better by a plate of pastry chef Carolyn Crow’s doughnuts. Choose between chocolate, raspberry and dulce de leche – or go on a binge and get all three.

Krispy Kreme

When the Hot Now sign lights up, it triggers an irresistible Pavlovian urge for freshly fried glazed doughnuts. It doesn’t matter that Krispy Kreme is a global chain, they still make a damn fine doughnut that deserves your utmost respect.

Find out the rest of the top ten at CityEats’ Plate blog now.

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The Ten: Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Photo by Elizabeth Parker

So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.

We’ve started digging out our sweaters and using the briskness as a talking point during conversational lulls, so we want something hearty and heartwarming when we go out to eat. Nothing is more universally comforting on a chilly autumn day than a good grilled cheese sandwich. So we rounded up 10 favorites that are a perfect panacea for shivers and S.A.D.

Founding Farmers

The triple threat at this cradle of comfort food with locations in Foggy Bottom and Park Potomac is packed with Muenster, white cheddar and Gruyere. It comes with a cup of roasted tomato soup that’s perfect for dipping.

Ripple

The Swiss Bank Account at this Cleveland Park wine bar is the 1% of grilled cheeses. That’s because translucently thin prosciutto and creamy, cellar-aged Challerhocker cheese are slathered with truffle butter before the sandwich is grilled golden brown.

Lunchbox

Bryan Voltaggio forgoes the molecular gastronomy of Volt and keeps it simple at his canalside grab ‘n’ go in Frederick. For his grilled cheese, thick slices of Tilamook cheddar are bookended between fresh slices white bread. Just like Dad used to make when he was in charge of dinner.

The Big Cheese

It’s a truck that sells nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches – genius! Our favorite is the Cherry Glen, which uses creamy chèvre from its namesake then spreads on a sweet, citrusy lemon fig jam.

Grilled Cheese & Co.

The Sweetest Thing at this Catonsville hot spot will convince you that grilled cheese can be dessert. Golden-griddled triangles of thick white bread hold together creamy mascarpone cheese, raspberry preserves and gooey melted chocolate chips, which nicely offset a thick layer of funky brie.

Find out the rest of the top ten by clicking over to CityEats’ Plate blog now.

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Dream Cheese: Our Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Spring is almost here, but there still may be frosty days on the calendar. Keep comforted by enjoying one of these cheesy sandwiches.

Fiola

Fabio Trabocchi is best known for the white-tablecloth cuisine at his Penn Quarter dining room, but he does blue-collar classics just as well. His grilled buffalo-mozzarella-with-basil sandwich accompanies a steaming bowl of rustic Tuscan-style tomato soup.

601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-628-2888

Bob & Edith’s Diner

For more than 40 years, this 24/7 roadside diner has been using white bread and orange American-cheese singles to make grilled sandwiches that taste like what you probably had as a five-year-old—and are still good at any hour.

2310 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-920-6103

Finish reading this article on the Washingtonian website now.

Photo courtesy of nettsu on Flickr.

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20 Hottest New Restaurants: Indie picks run the gamut from casual to fancy fine-dining spots

From the North to the South and from sea to shining sea, we scoured the country for the hottest new independent restaurants. This list highlights a wide range of establishments, including casual concepts and fancy fine-dining hot spots, single-item formats and intricate tasting menus, and big-city ventures alongside small-town endeavors. These 20 top picks stood out above the considerable competition, helping make 2011 one of the most vibrant years ever in the independent restaurant scene.

The Catbird Seat

When you think of Nashville’s food scene, you probably think of barbecue or fried chicken. Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson want to change that reputation with their 32-seat tasting-menu restaurant. Diners sit at a U-shaped curve around the open kitchen, where the two toques prepare an ever-changing $100 seven-course dinner. The high price point wasn’t a concern when they were fleshing out their concept. “Yes, guests are more focused on their money, so they want to get more quality for their dollar,” Habiger says. “This is more of an experience; it’s like a sporting event.” The menu stays flexible to accommodate the seasonal availability of ingredients and the chefs’ whims. “We can do whatever we want,” Anderson says. “The plating style has a modern look, but what goes on those plates can change at a moment’s notice.”

Salinas

There’s a Spanish food revolution happening in New York City, and Salinas is helping lead the charge. Since opening in the middle of last year, chef Luis Bollo has earned kudos from The New York Times, Esquire, and Time Out for his thoughtful updates on Mediterranean classics. To complement this cuisine, diners can choose from 75 Spanish wines and a variety of Medi-styled craft cocktails. Located in the center of Chelsea, the 90-seat restaurant is complemented by a 35-seat glass-covered garden with a custom-built fireplace, so patrons can dine either indoors or outdoors year-round.

Ink

Michael Voltaggio showed off a lot of ink on Top Chef, but the tattooed toque didn’t debut Ink, his first restaurant, until almost two years after he conquered the reality competition. Since opening in September in Los Angeles, the eatery has earned him even more acclaim for creative dishes that highlight the razzle-dazzle techniques of molecular gastronomy. For less flash, but just as much flavor, head next door to his casual sandwich shop Ink.Sack. There are eight sammies to choose from, including a nod to Voltaggio’s mentor José Andrés. “The Spanish Godfather” comes packed with Serrano ham, chorizo, lomo, and Manchego. It looks as if the talented chef enjoys showing the love just as much as he enjoy showing off his tats.

Find out my other top picks on the Restaurant Management website now.

Photo courtesy of The Catbird Seat.

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Wholly Smoked

Secondhand smoke isn’t so bad when it’s delivered by your waiter. Experimental chefs and mixologists all over the District are infusing meals and cocktails with pleasing vapors that transport patrons beyond the dining room. “Smoke makes you feel like you’re outside,” says Bibiana’s executive chef, Nicholas Stefanelli. “It always reminds me of cooking on the grill.” Whether reminiscent of the great outdoors or not, these smoky creations are a breath of fresh air.

Eola

2020 P St. NW; 202-466-4441. (Dupont Circle)

Once a month, this palace of pork hosts a bacon-centric brunch to showcase six to 10 homemade bacons, ($6 each, $14 for a flight of three, above), each made from a different pig. Chef Daniel Singhofen first rubs the hog bellies with a mixture of brown sugar, kosher salt, water and curing mix, and cold-smokes them with a combination of applewood and cherrywood for 12 hours. After taking them out and chilling them, he seals them in bags of lard before sous vide cooking them for another half day. “That’s how we achieve that melt-in-your-mouth texture,” Singhofen says. Finally, the bacon is sliced and fried to order.

Read about my other four smoky spots on the Express website now.

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The Italian Nod: Fiola Restaurant Offers Mediterranean Classics

20110630-fiola-450

Chef Fabio Trabocchi became a James Beard Award winner during his time at Maestro in Tysons Corner, but he left for New York City in 2007 to open the Italian eatery Fiamma. That venture closed down a little more than a year after it opened, but Trabocchi didn’t lose his passion for the cuisine of his homeland. Now he has returned to the area that made him famous — in Penn Quarter, this time around — with the chic-yet-casual Fiola, which opened in April.

THE VISION: “Our menu must reflect the seasons. That’s been the principle behind Italian cooking for the last 500 years,” Trabocchi says. The offerings rotate based on market availability, so asparagus may show up in several dishes one day, and sea urchin may take center stage the next. “The creativity starts when the ingredients come in,” Trabocchi says. “They naturally suggest what ends up on the table.”

Finish reading this preview over on the Express website.

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