Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Kid in Town - Dominican Kitchen

I have mentioned in previous posts my newfound love of Dominican cooking, which is a subset of my love for Caribbean cooking in general.  The thought of rice, plantains, and slow-cooked pork just sets my heart a-flutter.  With so many tasty Latin American options in my neighborhood, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that a Dominican restaurant might find a place alongside the Mexican, Peruvian, and Salvadoran establishments.  Still I was surprised when it opened - and pleasantly so.  I couldn't wait to not have to wait until I was at work to get my Dominican fix.

As it goes with many new restaurants, it took longer than I wanted to eat there finally.  It's always hard to get Sir Pickypants to try a new place.  It's twice as hard if the restaurant in question is not the least bit busy.  He is always suspicious of empty restaurants.   It must be a sign that a new place is bad, rather than because potential new customers simply aren't aware of it yet and the owners can't afford big gala openings to promote it.  I took it upon myself to feel sort of responsible for their success.  If we ate there and I blogged and Yelped it, I might encourage more patrons.  If we didn't lead the charge and create more awareness to bring more patrons to the restaurant and it closed due to lack of business, I would feel terribly guilty.

Perhaps I do suffer from a sense of self-importance.  Why would I believe a new restaurant's fate would lie in my hands?

I finally did try the place this weekend thanks to a visit from a culinarily adventurous friend.  I am now here to tell you about it.  I feel much better now.

Various delis and coffee shops previously occupied Dominican Kitchen's space.  The decor doesn't do much to change that.  It is a very casual place that is still rooted in the coffee shop origins.  It's pretty plain with a few touches here and there to spruce it up and remind diners of its ethnic origins.  It has the deli counters still in place.

Our hosts were very nice, although they were women of few words.  English was clearly not their first language, but I'm not bothered by that.  Service might be called slow, but I think they were just mindful of the fact that my husband, my friend, and I were simply enjoying a leisurely evening of long conversations.  We were the only guests eating in the place, so they were in no hurry to turn the table. They paid attention to our water glasses the whole evening.

But enough about the atmosphere.  Let's talk food.

They brought a basket of toasted bread.  I didn't eat it as I was trying to be somewhat good that night. The word from those who did eat it was that it was good.

They have a regular permanent menu consisting of several seafood dishes and a few beef and chicken dishes.  In addition to that they have rotating daily specials.  I was hoping for pernil, but alas, Friday was not pernil night.  I decided to go with another Dominican (by way of Puerto Rico) specialty, mofongo, as did my friend.  They serve my favorite, mangu`, but only for breakfast.  I had to have my plantains in another form.

Mofongo is a molded dish of seasoned fried and mashed plantains mixed with meat  Dominican Kitchen offers it in pork or chicken.  We both tried pork.  It was a very filling and flavorful dish.  It was rather heavy on the garlic - I still had dragon breath in the morning - but filled with wonderful crispy bits of pork.  A small pitcher of jus-like sauce was served alongside it that helped add extra meaty flavor and moistened it a bit (plantains can be a bit dry when cooked).

The less adventurous member of our party chose something a bit more familiar - shrimp and rice.

There were no sides to speak of.  Things like rice or beans were sold a la carte.  We ordered no appetizers either.  It might have seemed like there wasn't much food, but my dinner was very filling.  I didn't need anything else.

While we were the only diners eating in house, I stopped worrying so much about the restaurant's fate.  The number of people I saw coming in for pickups demonstrated a fairly robust takeout business.  

I definitely want to eat here again and explore the menu further.  I must eat here on pernil day!  I will likely follow the crowd though and order takeout.  That way I don't have to worry about a husband feeling self-conscious in an empty restaurant.  Takeout has its advantages after all (like Domincan Kitchen doesn't serve alcohol).


Blond Duck said...

I've never tried Dominican food!

Blond Duck said...

Hope you're doing well!

Blond Duck said...

I love that Marc Jacobs bottle!