Autumn comes to Georgetown heralding cooler weather, colorful foliage and sprightly fall flavors. Local restaurants are gearing up to make delicious use of nearby growers’ seasonal produce. Diners can enjoy this bounty in exciting new dishes at some popular dining spots.
Green Olive Pantry – Owner-chef Cagla Onal Urel transforms deliveries of local produce into intriguing Mediterranean dishes each week. She is excited about the colorful, sweet fingerling potatoes that, along with rosemary and garlic, top her pillowy focaccia. Her butternut squash soup, vibrant with cinnamon, bay leaf and onion, is so creamy that it is hard to believe it is vegan, she says. Growing up in Turkey, she learned to make a braised celeriac stuffed with a potato, carrot, onion and leek mixture. It’s another fall vegan dish with a rich taste that seems to defy the genre.
Lutece – Chef Matt Conroy is roasting kabocha squash with rosemary and sage and topping it with fromage blanc and brown butter at this modern French American bistro. Duck is on the menu, enhanced with fall plums; soon, quail roasted and stuffed with apple and leek confit will make an appearance. Conroy’s four-seat “chef’s table” (a counter facing the kitchen) offers seasonal surprises. Asked about his fall food memories, he recalls going apple picking with his family and stopping for cider donuts – a treat that may pop up at brunch.
Rasika West End – Executive Chef Rakesh Singh offers diners a different taste of fall at this cosmopolitan Indian venue. Smoked butternut squash Bharta from Northern India is an elaborate preparation of roasted, mashed squash with onions, tomatoes, green chili, cloves and cumin powder that is smoked for hours. A mushroom stew embodies Southern Indian flavors – fennel, coconut, ginger, garlic and onion – in a creamy sauce. Chicken or lamb is sometimes added to this dish, Singh says.
1310 Kitchen & Bar – Chef-owner Jenn Crovato, whose bistro focuses on market-fresh ingredients, is channeling her Italian food heritage. This fall, she will be crafting sweet potato-filled ravioli served with sage butter. “This pasta is such an essential part of every family gathering,” she tells us, that when guests were invited to her sister’s wedding, some answered: “We will attend if there are sweet potato ravioli.” Her menu also features seasonal squash in a soup made vibrant with Moroccan spicing. Soon, she will add bratwurst crafted by Georgetown Butcher.
1789 – Fall flavors add new dimensions to cocktails at this elegant retreat, thanks to the ingenuity of Brian Zipin, general manager and wine and beverage director. “Autumn in Peru” features a special pisco (a muscat brandy) whose “clean, light and friendly flavors” work well with fall ingredients, Zipin says. Here, these flavors include a spiced pear liquor and a slightly sweet clove and cinnamon syrup with a marshmallow accent and bitters. Another fall drink – a browned butter old-fashioned – combines butter-washed bourbon with a brown sugar syrup and chocolate bitters for a soft creaminess. Non-alcoholic fall drinks include a blood orange and ginger spritzer made with a distilled cane spirit. To pair with hearty main dishes, like tournedos Rossini, lamb and duck, he recommends a “powerful but refined” red wine from his favorite region in Bordeaux – Château Tournefeuille Lalande-De-Pomerol. “Nicely textured, medium- to full-bodied, pure, and elegant on the palate,” Zipin explains. “It has terrific tannins as well as outstanding length.”