St. Anselm first opened in Brooklyn in 2010 but found its second home in D.C. with a joint effort between original founder, Joe Carroll, and Stephen Starr. Things at St. Anselm, in Washington’s fast-developing Union Market neighborhood, are generous. The portions: Ax-handle ribeye cuts range from 45 to 65 ounces; pork chops up to 55 ounces. The sides: thick cuts of bacon, heaps of crispy smashed potatoes. The pours—many available by the ounce—are invariably ample with an extra splash. The relaxed restaurant itself, in a capacious former industrial loft, has been conceived as a traditional American tavern with a large open kitchen where grill-masters turn out orders to the doneness desired. The decor salutes American history with period portraits and flags.
For starters, signature buttermilk biscuits, arrive steamy hot, accompanied by a pungent mound of pimento cheese. Weighty, flaky and melty all at once, they would make any Southern grandma proud. If you’re not ravenous for a slab of beef—one that could sate the entire Washington football team—you might order grilled local seafood—oysters, prawns or middleneck clams—as a main course.
Jack Zarecky, beverage manager and sommelier, has extended the Americana theme to the wine selection. “Madeira, rum and wine [traditions] particularly run deep and parallel with rising agricultural products in American history,” he says. With close to 75 Madeira bottlings, the restaurant has one of the largest collections on the East Coast of what was once the drink of the colonies. Zarecky suggests pairing a Bual with the New York Strip or the salty oysters. Or, for a mineral-driven red on the list, his current favorite is the Mayacamas 2011 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. The list covers old world and new—from the Lehigh Valley and Long Island to Lebanon and beyond. Return to Madeira to wind down a meal with an ounce or two or flight, alongside cheesecake or a scoop of ice cream. The creamy canvas showcases tangy fruit notes of the wine—a memorable pairing.
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