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Recap: New Kitchens on the Block at Mess Hall

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I recently had the pleasure of attending the New Kitchens on the Block showcase at Mess Hall. The event gave up-and-coming D.C. restaurants an opportunity to test out their recipes and source feedback from the crowd. Some restaurants already have spaces lined up and are waiting to break ground while others are just in the beginning stages of searching for the perfect locale. Even though these creative chefs are new to D.C., it doesn’t mean that the food is anything but extraordinary. One thing is for sure–D.C. is in for some amazing culinary creativity in the near future.

Let’s start with the drinks. There was no shortage of alcohol at this event which was much appreciated by this particularly thirsty writer. My favorite drinks were the adult snow cones, obviously, from The Eat Good Feel Good group. I loved the “I Long for Turkoise Water” which was made of Mezcal, El Dorado rum, grapefruit juice, and house-made pimento dram. A tasty drink in and of itself, but made even better by the whimsical and very Instagram-able icy cone presentation.

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The draft beer from Farmwoods Brewery was a fan favorite with this crowd. While I don’t love beer, this tart and funky draft won me over. The bartenders were lovely as well as helpful and extremely knowledgeable—informing me about all of the fun activities and concerts at Farmwoods that I can’t wait to check out!

Another drink that caught my eye was the Peanut Butter Negroni from Colada. This drink was made with peanut butter infused Green Hat Gin, Aperol, Campari, and sweet Vermouth. While this beverage was way too strong for my wimpy alcoholic preferences, others seemed to love it and kept coming back for more. I also loved the empanadas from Colada. They were flaky, buttery, and stuffed with guava filling. They were very different and super creative.

Now for the food. I went back for seconds (and maybe even thirds) of the Maryland crab salad from Addie’s. This dish was incredibly tasty and different, and seemed to please the masses. It was made with fresh Maryland crab, curried sweet corn, and cherry tomatoes, served over a sweet sauce. The fresh, seasonal dish was perfect for summer.

The food from Rooster & Owl struck my fancy as well. They were offering a watermelon dish as well as their take on fried rice. The watermelon was fresh and sweet and topped with green curry, almonds, and crispy shallots. This was unique and very flavorful. The fried rice was made with soft scrambled eggs, Chinese sausage, and plum. I loved this dish as it was creative and well-executed.

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The swag bags were provided by Munchery–a new start-up that takes the hassle and effort out of dinner at an affordable cost. The concept is similar to businesses like Blue Apron, except your food arrives cooked and ready to eat. At only $13 a meal, dinner is made ten times easier and affordable. Munchery provided a raspberry crumble with the swag bags–which I devoured before my Uber ride ended!

I recommend checking out Mess Hall and also any of the start-ups that come from this culinary incubator. If Mess Hall’s other events are anything like this one, I would highly recommend them all! We had a great time; left satiated; and snagged some awesome kitchen swag to boot.

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