Time to Social-ize
Social’s savory spin on the traditional Louisiana pastry, the Beignet.
Brace yourselves people… I’m about to gush. Last Saturday I went to Social – a new D.C. restaurant located at the north end of Columbia Heights. Social is the first lounge-y, Dupontish-style joint to venture north of Columbia Road, but it thankfully forgoes the snooty downtown attitude in favor of warmly welcoming waitstaff and hosts, and a design that encourages you to stay and hang out all night (and get Social – get it?).
The service was superlative, the lounge-y setup is comfortable (think low lights, candles, comfy black couches and chairs, softly stuccoed walls, and plenty of cherry wood tables to rest your drinks and food upon), the drinks were fun and dangerously delicious, and the food … the food was incredible. Period.
The food is Creole/Cajun and Asian fusion inspired. This is a serious claim to make in my estimation – as much of my mother’s family hails from Louisiana. I get pissed when restaurants purport to be Creole or Creole-inspired and then fail to come through with the requisite creativity and spicy zestiness that typifies Creole cooking. But Social delivers creative menu items ranging from meatball pomodoro sliders (a large portion of which our group scarfed down in less than five minutes) to “Mud Bug” Beignets (the crawfish fritters, pictured above. Sometime ES blogger Edubs described these fritters as shredded and deliciously spiced crawfish goodness, surrounded by a lightly fried batter). Edubs also fully enjoyed snagging bites of her husband‘s Sonoran Mahi Mahi Tacos — corn tortillas filled with an unexpectedly intricate blend of southwestern, Mexican, and south pacific flavors – the crisp citrus tones of the grilled and marinated white fish were accented by jalapeño cabbage and mango salsa and were topped with tomato and garlic sauce.
The menu is organized in a really interesting fashion. It’s built to handle parties of varying sizes. You can order 3 different portion sizes, which was perfect for our birthday group, as we waxed and waned in size throughout the night.
More stories about gorging on cheftastic kitchen creations and dodging skeezey dudes after the jump…
For us veggies, there were vegetable crudités accompanied by a spread of tasty dipping sauces. Funny story about one of the dips: On the menu there was a chipotle hummus. Apparently the tahini the chef ordered never arrived. So Social’s chef took the chipotle peppers and some basil and made a chipotle pesto dip that blew me away. I was gushing (gushing!) about the dip for about half the evening. It was the perfect heat level (and I’m a hard to please lady when it comes to heat level) and was the exquisite complement to spread on a french bread loaf they brought out for me (the menu is a little thin on non-dairy veggie options so they brought me some bread to sop up the dips). My compliments to the chef for taking what could have been a disastrous ordering mishap and making one of the most damnedly delicious dips I have ever tried. I recommend that Social seriously consider making the chipotle pesto a staple addition to the menu.
The wine list is extensive, and they even serve some of my favorite Chilean wines. But my favorite sneak attack drink was the Superfly, ordered in copious amounts by the Birthday Girl. It was an amazing blend of mint firefly vodka and pink lemonade. It tasted like a refreshing ice tea – not like long island ice tea, like straight up ice tea. Great drink; you just have to remind yourself not to down five glasses.
The picture above is from the upstairs “family room” dining area. The downstairs lounge where we hung-out is referred to as “the cellar.” The atmosphere of the whole place was comfy-chic and the staff was impeccable at handling our ever-growing, increasingly tipsy crowd. Of course, maybe I should expect all of the above (great food, great drinks, great service) from any establishment I frequent, but you all know how, ahem, interesting customer service attitudes can be in DC. The staff really went above and beyond to make our time enjoyable, going so far as to fend off a skeevey douchey middle-aged dude, a diminutive Ben Stein look-a-like, who attempted to penetrate our group on several occasions and even paid me the dubious compliment of trying to follow me into the bathroom (ugh!)…. Unwanted attention is seldom something bar staff notice, comment or act upon, and I was impressed by how they handled the situation.
So yeah, it was a great night at a hot new place in MY neighborhood, and I am delighted to fully endorse Social and demand that you all get your asses there ASAP.
Social, located at 14th St NW & Meridian Pl NW, opens daily at 4:00 p.m. Phone: 202-797-1100, http://www.social14.com/