27 May 2008

Go East, young Mayorga...


I conspired to meet the missus at Mayorga Lounge after work today, to celebrate.

Hell, who needs a reason? Uh... to celebrate the longer-lasting sunlight... celebrate her last and final visit to the bone-doc, following a long ordeal of healing a busted knee... (no? it wasn't the last visit? There's another appointment? Jeezus, these doctor creatures are vampires!)

As it turns out, tonight was the first night of a new menu at Mayorga.

Gone was the predictable cafe grub, which was always decent but mediocre. Now, I'm never one to complain unless it's really dreadful: Others were much more critical of the food there, whereas I still remember when the building was a dead shell of a place. Thus, I'm just grateful SOMETHING nice is in there, something clean and groovy and free of rats and crumbling plaster and racks of exposed rebar, looking like the ribs of a deceased antelope herd, rotting in the urban sun of northwest DC...

What? Anyway...

So today was the unveiling of the new menu: all Japanese and Korean stuff. The ownership and management is the same as it was before, but the kitchen crew is all new blood: The little Korean lady behind the swinging kitchen doors doesn't speak a word of English and bless her, the food was marvelous.


I'm no expert on the cuisine, but the modeum twigim appetizer (veg tempura with sides of kimchi, shredded radish, watercress, and some fish thing) was almost a meal in itself, and fresh enough to render the dipping sauce almost unnecessary.

We shared a bowl of the chop chae donburi (rice & wheat noodles with veg), which also came in a generous portion ("donburi" being the oversized rice-bowl: thank god for wikipedia): it was just enough to feed two moderately hungry adults. The noodles were done to perfection and the proportions balanced just right with the rice, vegetables, dressing, etc.

Having a Delaware beer with such a meal probably shatters the cultural vibe, but what the hell. It was a summer-ish day (mid-80s and a bit humid) so it all went down fine with a pint of Dogfish IPA.

Then, to completely destroy the Asian-cuisine vibe, I noticed the fresh bottle of 15-year Balvenie behind the bar. And, uh, well... call it "research" for our trip to the UK in a couple of months. Sure, we'll spend most of our time in London but I want to at least dip a toe into Scotland, and uh... "Research," as I said. Homework.


And the Balvenie 15 was the perfect cap on a cultural mishmash of food and booze at Mayorga. Any day that ends with a good single malt is a fine day indeed.

Anyway: for the locals here in Columbia Heights DC, I just wanted to spread the word on Mayorga's new menu. Get over there. It's a nice departure from the expected bar fare, and it appears to be authentic and quite well done.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is the first positive review I have heard of Mayorga (post-loung-ification). Perhaps this is a good thing - better to commit to the lounge/restaurant thing than straddle the awkward quasi-coffee shop vibe. It was a nice coffee shop a while back, but now, not so much - I still mourn the death of that place I used to go hang out with a good chai.

Anonymous said...

This is the first positive review I've seen of Mayorga since last summer. I quit going there because I became convinced the owners truly hate their customers. Is Korean food what the neighborhood really needs?

IntangibleArts said...

I guess we'll find out if it's what the neighborhood needs, based on the response. Clearly they haven't been making big business during the week (it's always dead upstairs until the weekend), so they're changing things up a bit, to see what catches on.

So I give 'em major credit for attacking the "problem" and trying new things.

I still think their taps need a better mix, but one thing at a time I suppose...

Steve said...

Sounds wonderful, though I'm a bit worried about "some fish thing."

I'm glad you're being thorough about your UK research. :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the heads up. i actually think it is exactly what the neighborhood needs! can't wait to try it.

Anonymous said...

Hooray Dogfish Head!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I take back anything negative I've said about the place over the last several months...I went ahead and sampled a few things over the weekend, and the food was amazing! Really good stuff and the cook seems pretty committed to using high quality ingredients and making things fresh herself. Yippee!!!!!!

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