FDCDC #20: Emilie’s

Imagine you’re on the Harry Potter train. Carts zooming around serving you tasty treats and magic all around. Except take away the train and the random girl embarrassingly pointing out that you’ve got dirt on your nose and add in a hip modern design aesthetic and a less candy-forward menu. You have arrived at Emilie’s, the new hot spot on Capitol Hill!

The vibe of Emilie’s is very cool. Clean bar with lots of glass and lots of angles. Nothing epitomizes a modern chic restaurant like artisan hipster paper clips, which Emilie’s had in spades. Kate and I were excited for what we had in store.

Can probably be found at BeforeItWasCool.net.

We started off with a few cocktails. Kate got some sort of rum punch and I went with the Absinthe Frappe. My primary memory of absinthe is being in a French basement bar wearing silly hats. This cocktail brought me back there right away, feelin’ silly. There’s something about really cold licorice that tastes great and refreshing, as opposed to room temperature licorice, which tastes like sadness. So props to Emilie’s for the absinthe in the cocktail. The only downside was that the sprig of mint was so vast that it kept going up my nose. The rum punch was pretty subtle and had lots of fresh cinnamon or something shaved on top. Kind of looked like sawdust. But the drink was refreshing.

Finally got that mint out of the way after a lot of finagling.

Our first foray into Emilie’s menu had us exploring their surprisingly expansive bread and spread menu. On the bread side, there was a tough choice between focaccia, sourdough, and some sort of special toasted sesame bread. We ended up with the mysterious sesame bread along with a chive & scallop butter (!!!!) and a Sichuan honey butter. First off, this bread was CRACKIN’. I think that is a young person phrase that means great. It was also literally crackin’. The sesame crust was excellent and the bread nice and fluffy. I also don’t know that I have ever gone out of my way to give a shout-out to a butter, but holy shit that chive & scallop butter was outrageous. Apparently it only had like 4 ingredients, but it seemed like there was a lot more happening, and everything that was happening was good. Creamy, salty, savory, herby, amazing. The Sichuan butter would have been more noteworthy if it wasn’t outshined by its buddy. You also get A LOT of butter. The spread-to-bread ratio is almost impossible to contend with, but we managed pretty well. That may be a lot of time to spend on this course, but the ol’ bread n’ spread at Emilie’s will run you $9, so I need you to know, emphatically, that is worth your time.

We ate A LOT of butter.

Next was our first foray into the carts of goodies zooming around with extra treats. The breads n’ spreads are on a cart, as well as an assortment of pickled veggies and a cart full of desserts once your meal is over (more on that last part later). We ordered some pickled eggplant and gigante beans from the pickly cart. The eggplant was solid – super tangy and a nice complement to our sesame bread. The gigante beans were indeed gigante and definitely beans, but not much else. Kind of boring. The only real disappointment of the meal.

Seriously gigante tho

The first larger course that arrived was the beef tartar. After having many different tartars over the years with FDC, I can confidently say this was excellent. It had one funky lil twist, instead of a fried egg on top there were shaved pieces of egg yolk on top. Somehow when it was all mixed together it was creamier than if it had a runny egg. It was rich. Like really rich. The beef was super fatty along with all the egg and cheese and CRAB FAT MUSTARD. One of those things you eat that’s delicious but you immediately know it’s terrible for you. I felt like instead of having clogged arteries I had a clogged tongue. And you might think I am describing an experience we didn’t enjoy, but I am not. It was delicious and I am willing to shave a few minutes off my life to eat it again.

Before we hit our main course, we fit in a quick pasta, as you do. Doughy, almost gnocchi-like pasta (almost reminded me of Creepy Crawlers) with an andouille style sauce. It was similar to what Kate and I tried at Himitsu (which makes sense – same chef!). Another situation where you don’t expect that flavor to work, but it really did. Add in some mustard greens for a little bitterness and some breadcrumbs for some crunch, and you’ve got yourself a pretty tasty pasta.

Definitely something Professor Googengrime would make.

At this point, we were both already stuffed and slightly regretting how much food we had ordered. We didn’t really know what to expect from the “pork blade steak” we ordered but were gonna give it our best shot. In the meantime, the wait staff and I had a fun moment where in my head I wanted a glass of wine with the main course, but I needed a recommendation and only wanted the recommendation to be one of Emilie’s’s orange wines because I really wanted to try one. And that’s exactly what was recommended! So Emilie’s also has psychics on staff, using their powers for good. It was kind of like when I saw Obama speak at a campaign rally at Michigan State, and said I would vote for John McCain if he didn’t say “Go Green!” (he did). Glad I am a more informed voter now! Anyways, the wine pairing ended up being perfect with the next course – definitely needed something acidic. Much better than the syrupy dealer’s choice drink Kate got with dinner.


Once the blade steak was served, I was immediately struck by how clever it was. Actually on second thought at first I was struck by the massive quantity of food that was set down in front of us.

Unlike Kate, I do not spend any time at all setting up my photos, and it really shows in this one.

But then I thought about how clever it was. This dish was basically pho turned into lettuce wraps. And despite there being no broth, it really worked! Some really nice bib lettuce, stuff with marinated pork (hence your pho flavor), noodles, and fresh herbs and then dipped in a spicy fish sauce or a peanut sauce (or both if you were feeling bold). So many flavors happening. These mobile pho units were a joy to eat and distracted me (probably too much) from my increasingly stuffed tum tum. But we powered through and polished off pretty much the whole thing. My only minor quibble with this dish is that the pork had a lot of bones and fatty bits, which made it a logistical challenge to get it into lettuce wrap form. But a little extra work never killed anyone.

So pho-n!

To end our meal, we chose the smallest dessert off the cart, the rye chocolate chip cookie with “fancy milk.” The person pushing the cart said the fancy milk had those little honeycomb candies melted into it that we all had when we were kids. I had no idea what she was talking about (thanks a lot, mom and dad!). The cookie was pretty perfect though, and the little extra sweetness in the tiny glass of milk was a great combo. I really wish I had been hungry enough to try the chocolate/chili/honey sundae (or the squash cake [or the apple pie {or the doughnuts}]), but I wasn’t actually hungry enough for the tiny little cookie either. Kate and I basically spent the rest of the night writhing around on the couch. We felt extra stupid because not days earlier Kate’s cousin had warned us that it was easy to over-order. Oh wells.

Notice the thumbs up dragging on the table as I get increasing sluggish from all the food.

At the end of the night, despite how awful I felt from way over-eating, I had a ton of fun eating a meal at Emilie’s. Kate and I are both super pumped that we have a new fancy restaurant in our neighborhood (see her take here!). It is definitely not a cheap night out, especially when you order enough food for four people, but the amazing atmosphere, food, and staff make it a worthwhile visit. 3.75 out of 4 om noms.