As part of a mini-doughnut crawl, I took myself to the Pepples Donuts counter in the Ferry Building for a two-doughnut lunch (for the record, I recommend everyone do this at some point in their week). Having eaten only one other vegan doughnut in my life, I was curious to see how theirs would fare against their regular, egg-endowed counterparts. The answer was splendidly: as one who pitches her tent firmly in the cake doughnut camp, I appreciated how cakey they were—cakey, that is, without being too dense or dry. Both the lemon poppyseed and salted caramel had a fluffy, tender crumb, and icing that actually tasted like their advertised flavors; the lemon, with its puckery punch, was particularly satisfying. So: vegan doughnuts for the win. And yes, I ate them both, every last crumb’s worth. —R.F.M.
Last month, the duo behind the celebrated Sons & Daughters opened their second restaurant called The Square. Located across from Washington Park, it’s hidden behind a tree in the old Washbag space. Rebecca and I sat down to dinner there last night. The main courses—a grilled whole trout with potatoes and grilled fennel, squab with spring onions and huckleberries—tasted like the kind of meal you’d be served by your friend who happened to be a talented home cook. Homey, but professional. However, it was two of the starters that I really loved: a dish of asparagus wrapped in spec with a little spoonful of whipped whey (who knew whipped whey could be so good?) and equally delicious, a little crock of fried corona beans with piment d’espelette and lime. Soft and creamy with a little sour, crispy, spicy pop, they could win as the best bar snack of 2014.—S.D.
Bocce ball and some very fine cocktails lure many through the doors of Make Westing, but what has me hooked is the bar’s habanero-and-cilantro-infused popcorn with lime butter, cotija cheese, and Aleppo pepper. It’s more or less the popcorn equivalent of elote, Mexican street food-style corn on the cob: it hits the same spicy, savory, cheesy notes, but with the added bonus (or danger, depending on your point of view) that you can cram it in your mouth by the fistful. This is the sort of food that separates a smart bar menu from an average one—it’s fast, cheap, and hot, but also has just enough flair and originality to elevate it beyond its basic function, which is to serve as a sponge for all of the alcohol you’re so busily consuming.—R.F.M.
Luke’s Local delivered one of their weekly, rotating “dinner kits” to my house on Tuesday evening. And—with two friends coming over for dinner—it was just in the nick of time. In the box was an uncooked, whole brined chicken; bread from Josey Baker; a bunch of asparagus; grapefruit; and a fennel bulb. Though they sent along a recipe for a bread-and-asparagus salad, I half followed it and half did my own thing. Only forty-five minutes later, a gorgeous roasted chicken emerged from my oven and I served it up. A lovely meal for four for $30, with the raw ingredients dropped at our door. Not terrible. Not terrible at all.—S.D.
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