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First Look: Poppy


M and I had an opportunity to visit Poppy this last week.  Poppy is the much anticipated new location for Jerry Traunfeld, former chef at the Herbfarm.  Poppy has been open a few months now and while the place was definitely full it was quite easy for us to grab seats at the bar.
As you approach you are greeted by a brightly painted door and once inside you notice bright orange – or poppy – accents throughout the softly lit dining room and bar.   The kitchen is not actually open but one side sports a long glass window which allows you to check out what is going on inside. Along the shelf fronting the window are teapots, plates and other serving pieces providing both a culinary sculpture and useful storage for the kitchen.  

M started with a glass of sparkling wine but I opted for their featured flight of wines.  It was comprised of a chardonnay, a pinot noir and a red blend.  If you have selected a variety of foods it’s a nice way to get a wine to go with just about anything.  
Poppy’s focus is on thali, a platter of small bites that is sort of a tasting menu served all at once.  M and I opted to try just a few of the bar bites instead.  

Our first choice was a fancy grilled cheese sandwich:  blue cheese on spice bread served with a tart cherry condiment to go along with it.  Perfectly grilled, the bread was not so spicy as to overwhelm but enhanced the cheese.  The cherries provided a nice sweet-tart contrast. There were just three 2-bite pieces but the flavors were so good that the dish was satisfying.  
Next we sampled the scallops and potato croquettes.  The scallops were simply grilled, the croquettes were rich and creamy inside while crispy outside. A paprika aioli accompanied the skewered components.  It was good but I wish it had been just a tad more assertive. 

We finished with a plate of Berkshire pork.  The ribs were seasoned with a dry rub and the meat fell off the bone.  Polenta and naan were included with the ribs.  The little naan was great, the polenta I thought was just okay.  M liked it a lot, though.  My one complaint about this dish is that there were three ribs.  Although this dish may have been envisioned as a small plate for one, chefs need to realize that bar food is often shared. While three ribs make a nicer presentation than four (odd numbers always display better than even) at some point it’s best to think of your customer’s experience.  The three sandwich pieces were fine as the third was easily divided.  Not so easy to do with the ribs.  Their saving grace was that the meat fell so easily from the ribs that it was pretty easy to divide.  But that robbed me of the experience of picking up the ribs and gnawing the meat from the bone, as I happen to think is the best way to eat a rib.  It’s a slight nit but one I wish more chefs would pay attention to.
We did not have dessert but the man sitting next to me did and he offered to let me photograph it.  It looked divine  – home made ice cream topped with, I think, candied ginger. 
If you are a big eater the cost of dinner here could add up.  In most cases while the plates are small they pack such great flavor that a little really goes a long way.
A few more photos here
622 Broadway E
Capitol Hill

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