It’s tomato time and I for one could not be happier. I’ll be honest, I think people who don’t like tomatoes are weird. That being said, it’s equally as weird to love them as obsessively as I do. My mom always tells this story about me as a kid when she had chopped a bunch of tomatoes for a stew she was making and when she left the kitchen for a few minutes I ate every last one of them. Even now, I eat them with almost every meal. But regardless of whether you are obsessed on my level or just plain enjoy a sweet cherry tomato in the summer, the tomato-centric menus at Oval Room, 701 Restaurant, and NoPa Kitchen + Bar are something every DC resident needs to try. Each three-course tomato infused menu is being offered for $50 – frankly, a steal at these high-end spots. Grab your best tomato-loving friend and check out these menus asap, they’re only available until August 12.
As soon I as saw the menu at the Oval Room I was on the struggle bus: cold tomato soup? Ideal for this murderous humidity. Tomato salad with gorgonzola? Yessssssss. Country fried tomatoes? Hell yeah. How would I choose? Well, the glutton in me went for the fried tomatoes and I did not regret it. Battered preserved tomatoes come with a dollop of cool crème fraiche, a spicy jam, and shards of garlic. Its sweet and spicy and smoky all at once. Luckily, it was less hard to choose an entrée: the tomato risotto had my name written all over it. Made with tomato water, served with tomato sauce, blended with fresh and preserved tomatoes and topped with a tomato foam, this is the dish that represents my dreams. It was succulent and heavenly. For dessert get the melt-in-your-mouth ricotta cheesecake, which comes topped with a sweet tomato relish and a few candied pine nuts for crunch.
The tomato menu at 701 is on par with Oval Room’s when it comes to creativity. Both appetizers options are a win: a tomato tartine which comes with mashed avocados (and we all know avocado makes everything delish) or an heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese, dried tomato “leather” and a sweet dressing infused with ice wine. For your entrée: the standout is clearly the olive and tomato ravioli. I love the contrast of sweet tomatoes and bitter olives. Creamy goat cheese adds creaminess and a mild tang.
For me the standout dishes on NoPa’s tomato menu are the desserts: a sweet, luscious tomato and peach tart served with buttermilk ice cream and vanilla bean cheesecake with a strawberry and tomato compote. Both of choices are rich and sultry and summery. Savory options on the menu are good too – tomato gazpacho, tomato carpaccio, and tomato gnocchi – but you’re definitely going to want to get both of these desserts and share. Screw summer bodies, there’s just too much good food to be had.