If had to choose one word to describe FDCDC’s meal at ANXO, it would be “whirlwind”. I had actually been to ANXO a few times already (and a few times since) for drinks, but this was the first time for food. The restaurant itself opened up in Shaw recently to bring both Basque cuisine and craft cider to DC (and I thank them for both things). The reason the experience was such a blur is due to the style of food served. 90% of the menu is served tapas style, or pinxtos (with the ‘x’ pronounced like a ‘ch’), as they call the small plates in Basque country. With a table of eight, we were going to trying a lot of things little bite sized foods. And try we did. We also got lucky that our combination FDC/birthday dinner (HBD, Becky!) involved a little cooperation from Momma Nature. It was supposed to rain all night but instead we were treated to a lovely evening out on ANXO’s spacious patio. Combined with the excellent Hello Kitty balloons for the birthday girl, the ambience was tre classy.
First, a note on the booze. Cider is fun. You can get flights of it at ANXO. That is all.
I can’t possibly give every dish justice, so I’m going to try to crank out as many hot takes as I can:
- Fried artichoke: Super pretty, and gotta love anything topped with an egg yolk.
- Grilled asparagus: Might have been might favorite of the night, even though it prepped really simply. Had the perfect amount of char, and some fancy olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A+.
- Grilled green onions: No one seemed to be that into these, but I wolfed them down. Admittedly weird to see green onion as the main part of a dish. The romesco sauce underneath paired nicely.
- Stuffed txipiron: First of all, not sure how to pronounce that whether it’s pronounced with an x or a ch. Txipiron is squid, apparently. It was really tender and tasty.
- Cider-poached pulpo: The octopus was a little tough compared to its squid cousin above, and I was really confused that it came on a bed of saffron mashed potatoes. But then I tried the mashers and didn’t question it anymore. They ruled.
- Fried pigs ears: I demanded that we try this, and definitely hated it way more than anyone else. The texture was so off-putting, and it was this gnarly grayish white color. I wish I could find a clever metaphor for that texture, but I think it’s a texture all its own. And it can keep it (this is, by the way, the exact type of unhinged rant I went on at dinner). A lot of people liked it and have promised to come to the pig ears’ defense. Why. Next.
- Gamba a la rusa/gamba a la plancha: Some kind of shrimp dishes. I think one was good and one was bad. I can’t remember which. End of very helpful review.
- Short rib montadito: Montadito translates to “lil biteski”. This was specifically a lil biteski of short rib and onions on toast. It was a winner. We ordered several of them.
- L’escala montadito: Anchovy and egg on toast. It was pretty salty. I mostly just remember that everyone kept trying to prank each other by putting the anchovy tail in each other’s waters. Great entertainment value provided.
- Croquettes? Maybe salt cod?: There definitely were croquettes, and they definitely were crispy and delicious.
- I feel like we must have gotten a Spanish tortilla: And it was probably good.
- Definitely got some cheese, too: That was for sure good.
- Maybe some olives as well?: I didn’t eat any because olives are narsty.
There were probably more things, too. A dessert? It was Becky’s birthday, and birthdays usually lead to dessert. Also have to give a shout-out on service. ANXO brought in a lot of their staff from the brewery and winery industry, and our server in particular was great at describing all the different ciders and vermouths they have around. Great example: faced with much skepticism from yours truly, he described the white vermouth as having a cream soda taste to it. He was right, I was wrong. In addition, despite us ordering a lot of food, it all felt like it was coursed out at a rate we could all keep up with. Granted we had 8 of us hoovering down whatever was set down, but still, I remembering walking away giving a mental tip o’ the hat to the ANXO staff.
The other most important part of the ANXO experience? Two words: Bone Lantern.
It’s hard not to have a fun meal at ANXO. You get to try approximately 20,000 bites of food, there are lots of unique ciders to try (definitely try the sidras), great patio, and bone lantern. Nothing we ate really knocked my socks off, but everything except those stupid pig ears was tasty and the unique booze experience and excellent service earns a few extra points. ANXO clocks in at 3.5 out of 4 om noms.