I stopped by an empty Sally’s Middle Name at 5:30 on Monday evening, and had one of the very best meals I’ve had in a long time.
First of all, it’s important to note that Sally’s Middle Name (SMN) was still working out the final details for their ABRA licenses. They weren’t serving alcohol on Monday, but I was told with confidence that it was a matter of days, and almost surely by this weekend. Although a liquor license might take a bit longer than a beer and wine license, and although you should call first to be sure, it seems like they’re on track to be serving beer and wine by this weekend.
This is a charming little restaurant with a really nice marble bar. The menu is written behind the bar on a chalkboard, easily visible from all points in the restaurant. And the deeper I got into my meal, the more my head kept turning around, wanting to try more and more.
In lieu of wine (which this food richly deserves), I enjoyed a Rhubarb Shrub ($4). SMN has several non-alcoholic drinks that are beyond the norm, and this shrub made me glad that they didn’t have their ABRA license finalized, as I never would have tried it. Even if you do get alcohol, I would urge you to try this wonderful drink (and shrubs are generally not my favorite thing in the world, as I don’t love the thought of drinking vinegar; nevertheless, this was delicious).
Laugh if you will, but the best dish I’ve had in recent memory was SMN’s Snap Peas with Goat Butter and Mint ($6). This dish was so good that I would revel in eating it every single day if I only could. It is exactly what you picture: snap peas, mostly shelled, sautéed in a wonderful goat butter, with a dazzling undertone of mint that jolted me into realizing how few restaurants are actually *cooking* these days, certainly not at this level of quality and execution. Executive Chef Sam Adkins wasn’t in, but Chef de Cuisine Miranda Rosenfelt knocked this dish out of the park. She was back there, with her sauté pan, cooking my peas like her life depended on it, and what showed up in front of me was a golden shower of peas that I will remember for a long, long time. Get this dish. Trust me, just get it, and thank me later.
Rabbit Livers with Brioche and Cherries ($12) was another home run, and an absolutely perfect combination of flavors and textures, the only nitpick being that the brioche was a bit too saturated with butter, but I simply placed it on top of my rabbit liver, and pulled a Smash Burger, allowing the butter to drip down onto my liver. This would have been a very, very good dish with just the rabbit liver and brioche, but the cherries sent it soaring through the chimney.
I had only come in for a small, early meal, but there was no way I was leaving without trying at least one other thing, so I ordered the Virginia Green Beans with Lamb Pancetta ($8), equal in technical quality to the snap peas, and falling short only in the indefinable quality of magic. This was a great plate of green beans, and how often do you see lamb pancetta? Of note: SMN was also serving another rabbit dish, and it’s generally a great sign when a restaurant like this has multiple preparations of an unusual meat, because that means they’re butchering in-house.
Tempted by the house made ice cream, or a strawberry milk shake, or a babka, I instead left knowing that I would return in the very near future, and with the satisfaction of having stumbled upon what will be one of the greatest restaurants to open in the Washington, DC area in 2015. Go to Sally’s Middle Name *now*, while you can still get a seat. A standing ovation for this fantastic new restaurant, which is one of only a microscopic number of restaurants successfully combining the very best of the old world and the new.
And there’s no tipping! An 18% service charge is included on your bill, and there isn’t even a space on the credit card receipt to leave a tip.
I am initializing coverage of Sally’s Middle Name by ranking it *strongly* in Italic, and also ranking it #1 on the H Street Corridor in the Dining Guide. Bravo!