Fried Anchovy Bones at 2 Amys, Cathedral Heights

2 Amys is a diner’s best friend – the most important restaurant in the history of Washington, DC remains one of its very best, serving such diverse customers as families with infants in strollers, older couples out on date night, and award-winning chefs (chefs eat here all the time).

It’s a well-known “secret” in the DC dining community that the small plates offered at the bar (and which can be ordered in the main dining area) rotate on a regular basis, and is essentially Peter Pastan’s playground for experimenting with new and seasonal dishes.

What isn’t well-known is that legendary bar chef Scott Hager – who became a local celebrity by being drawn on 2 Amys menu (yes, that gentleman with the glasses was Scott) – has left and returned to Chesapeake, Virginia after many years running the food bar here. This Tuesday, the bar food was being made by a gentleman of enormous passion, creativity, and respect for tradition: Rick Cook, who has come from Etto, and who worked at both BlackSalt and at The Grill Room with the legendary Frank Ruta.

Perhaps even less-known is that once or twice a week – sometimes early on Tuesdays and Fridays – the wonderful trilogy of anchovies 2 Amys serves are de-boned, each one by hand, and instead of discarding the bones, they’re lightly coated and fried, resulting in one of the most delicious bar snacks you’ll ever taste – served in a basket atop a white napkin, as if they were potato chips, these bones are the essence of the anchovy, crispy like thin pretzels but with the flavor of the ocean, and not at all sharp. As the anchovies are packed in liquid, they’re salty as you would expect, making them the perfect beer snack.

Alas, this past Tuesday, my dining companion and I saw them sitting out on the bar, having arrived just before 5:30 on Tuesday to an almost completely empty restaurant. We ordered a carafe of the 2015 2 Amys’ ‘No Longer’ Rosé (a classic example of an “orange wine,” which goes perfectly with this – I urge you to try this combination if you get the chance). We were treated to one of the humblest and finest food and wine pairings you could imagine, and our little basket of fried anchovy bones went a shockingly long way – these things are deceptively rich, and even though it didn’t look like much, we ate our fill, and then some.

And it’s a good thing, because there were only *three* orders for the entire evening, and I must re-emphasize: They only de-bone the anchovies once or twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays are your best bet, but you should check before committing). At $4 per order – especially considering the labor-intensive nature of these anchovy bones – this is not a money-maker for 2 Amys; it’s a labor of love, walking the walk when it comes to using the whole animal and minimizing waste – this is precisely what Peter Pastan – and more recently Rick Cook – have always espoused, and it’s on full display here.

Fried Anchovy Bones with a carafe of 2 Amys’ ‘No Longer’ Rosé – a match made in, well, a match made under the sea and under the soil. Get them, and then try anything and everything else you see that looks or sounds good – do not hesitate to turn yourself over to the hands of Rick and the wonderful bartender Allie: They will help you to dine, and to dine well.

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