Tuesday, May 28, 2013
The Carving Room (Washington, D.C.)
Since it opened a few years ago, Taylor Gourmet has reigned supreme as the top sandwich-maker in the Mount Vernon Triangle area. Well, it's got some competition now from The Carving Room, which opened earlier this year and is serving thoughtfully crafted sandwiches made with quality ingredients.
The style of sandwich at Carving Room is quite different than Taylor: think large chunks of herb-roasted, flavorful meat served on a variety of breads with condiments like grainy mustard and bacon-caramelized onion. Pickles accompany each dish. And I'm not talking about dill cucumbers: they pickle all sorts of vegetables, including cauliflower, carrots and onion. I love how the side salad is basically just greens and pickles, a tart, satisfying combination.
The roast beef sandwich has been my favorite so far, with tender, flavorful slices of beef sandwiched between provolone and weck, short for "kummelweck," which is like a kaiser roll flecked with caraway seeds. There's just enough horseradish to give the sandwich a little kick without overpowering its other ingredients.
I also liked the roast turkey with bacon-onion compote (basically bacon-flavored caramelized onion). The turkey was flavorful, tender and not at all dry. The only drawback was the rosemary-tomato bread which, while tasty, fell apart a bit while eating the sandwich. For vegetarians (or cheese lovers like me), I recommend the grilled cheese sandwich, made with cheddar, gruyere and fontina and served with roasted red pepper. There are also mushroom and egg salad sandwich options.
Although it's a great lunch place, The Carving Room stays open through the dinner hours. All the better for sampling its other menu: cocktails! Not surprisingly, several drinks come garnished with pickles and one, The Dirty Pickle, even contains pickle juice.
The care they take with their sandwiches carries over to the drinks, which are made from top-quality ingredients and house-made syrups. The Feisty Señorita is a deliciously spicy take on a margarita. Although many such cocktails get their kick from habanero shrub, the bartender told me that they make their agave-habanero syrup in house. The sharp bite of ginger imbues the Redemption, a rye drink with house-made sour mix.
So whether you're grabbing a sandwich to take back to the office or meeting friends after work for drinks, The Carving Room can serve either function. And now that the weather has warmed, their outdoor space makes a good argument for not returning to the office with that sandwich. Just be careful not to indulge in too many mid-day cocktails, lest you return to the office, um, pickled.
The Carving Room, 300 Massachusetts Avenue NW (entrance on 4th Street), Washington, D.C. (near Mount Vernon Triangle, Chinatown and Union Station). (202) 525-2116.