Restaurants alter menus to provide comfort cuisine during pandemic

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Camille DeSanto | Staff Photographer

A new pop-up called Fedwich, based out of the Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle, is offering six hearty sandwiches and some lighter options for order online.

Chefs and restaurant owners have come to know that the best way to help people through quarantine is through what they know best: food.

With D.C. social distancing rules in place until May 15, restaurants across the District are switching up their menus to include new dishes that are meant to comfort and warm souls. From hearty quick bites to DIY desserts, mastering takeout menus is becoming commonplace for food establishments. 

Here are four restaurants that have gone the extra mile to give customers an extraordinary at-home dining experience. 

Fedwich

For those who miss Southern barbecue, Federalist Pig’s pitmaster, Rob Sonderman, is offering quick lunch options through a new sandwich pop-up, chiefly named “Fedwich.” The pop-up is located in the Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle. 

The sandwich shop lacks its mother restaurant’s giant smokers, but the shop includes a flat top grill where the meats are seared to a brilliant and flavorful crisp. Sonderman said he is still trying to balance fat, acid and heat at the pop-up with several menu offerings. 

Guests can expect six types of hearty, juicy sandwiches which are stuffed with some of Federalist Pig’s most popular proteins, including pulled pork and shaved ribeye. Sonderman said patrons can also find lighter options like veggie sandwiches and salads.

He said his favorite sandwich is the pulled pork melt ($14), but customers seem to love the “Feddy” cheesesteak ($15) too.

Sonderman said he wants to offer a menu diverse enough that someone can eat there several times a week without getting bored of the food. 

“The menu is inspired by some of the great sandwich and burger places we’ve been to and of course with a little bit of the Fed Pig barbecue flair we have become known for in our sandwiches here,” Sonderman said. 

Customers can order delivery via Postmates or DoorDash or place an order for curbside pickup at Kramerbooks every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Bresca

If you don’t have a garden to relish in the fresh produce of spring, look no further than Bresca’s “#BeeHome” menu available Tuesday through Sunday. 

The modern bistro is selling $45 tickets via Tock-to-go for a four-course rotating menu offering flavors from the Michelin Star restaurant’s rooftop garden. 

Some entrées customers can choose from the fixed-price menu include a plump, brioche-stuffed chicken with a blueberry mustard drizzle and an “au vin” duck leg with heirloom rice. 

Although many of the dishes are globally inspired, Bresca’s profile on Tock To-Go indicates customers can expect to find elements of Bresca Chef Ryan Ratino’s “love for French cuisine and technique” with every bite. 

In addition to wine pairing and cocktails for two or more people, Bresca is temporarily offering a $195 steak dinner for two, fit with a shrimp cocktail or wedge salad, a 32-ounce prime dry-aged ribeye and a chocolate tart. 

Bresca is open for pick-up only Tuesday through Sunday. All orders must be placed on Tock To-Go. 

Midlands Beer Garden

If you’re craving a crisp European growler beer, order dinner from Midlands Beer Garden and you can enjoy a refreshing IPA or a warming brown ale of your choice.  

Robin Webb, the co-owner of the spring-time oasis along with her husband Trent Allen, said they are the only two workers running the modified take-out service. She said the restaurant’s European and local beers and “rich and comforting” foods like homemade soups are meant to cheer people up during the pandemic. 

“We can all share a salad and go for a run when this is over,” Webb said. 

Webb said her favorite item on the menu is the cheesy, savory waffle paired with barbecue pulled pork. You can also pick up a bowl of their award-winning chili ($8), which she said includes an “absurd amount of Guinness.”

“Pair it with a Manhattan and call it a night – or breakfast?” she said. “Who are we kidding, there are no rules anymore.”

For those with a sweet tooth, customers can enjoy a tube of raw cookie dough ($5), either to eat as is or bake at home. Webb said she and Allen have also re-introduced $1 chocolate truffles – a staple from the now-closed Kangaroo Boxing Club where Allen used to be the head chef. 

In order to purchase any growler, a barrel-aged Manhattan or a nitro lemon drop, Midlands asks that customers order some food items, even if that means ordering a single truffle. Midlands is open for pick-up Thursday through Sunday from 1 to 8 p.m. 

Gravitas

COVID-19 has left thousands of small-business employees in dire economic situations. To both comfort his staff and deliver a mouth-watering meal, Gravitas head chef Matt Baker tailored a rotating menu displaying his employee’s heritages and favorite dishes.

“During this difficult time, we find ourselves working tirelessly to try to continue to operate our business so that we can continue to support our staff and their families,” Baker wrote on Gravitas’ website. “With that in mind, we thought, what better way to honor our staff than to let them cook dishes that are inspired by their families and respective cultures?”

Reflecting the nation’s multiculturalism, customers can begin with one of seven appetizers like the $16 bold and spicy Mexican posole (hominy) soup or Salvadoran pupusas ($12) followed by one of five entrées like a serving of spaghetti and meatballs ($26) or a serving of salsa roja chicken and cheese enchiladas ($21). 

Like Midlands, the modern American bistro is also delivering ready-to-bake cookie dough tubes ($12 ) along with a pint of homemade triple fudge ice cream ($10). If you need essential pantry and fridge items, the bistro is also delivering certain groceries like eggs ($5 for a dozen) and butter ($4 for a pound). 

Gravitas is open for pickup and delivery Wednesday through Sunday.

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