Dish of the Week: Residents’ Basque cheesecake

Media Credit: Elissa Detellis I Staff Photographer

You could share this lusciously creamy and light dish with a friend, but after one bite you won’t want to.

With beautiful cherry blossom-themed decorations, exquisite cocktails and sweet and savory bites, Residents Café and Bar is the ultimate spring brunch spot.

Situated on 18th Street in Dupont Circle, Residents is about a mile walk from campus and is also easily accessible by bus. With dinner and brunch menus featuring shareable spreads, curated dishes and an atmosphere reminiscent of a beachside café, this D.C. spot is sure to be popular this summer, so make your reservations now.

The restaurant’s managing partners’ immigration to D.C. from various countries, including Lebanon and Serbia, inspired the name of the restaurant where they hope their patrons become “residents of Residents,” who visit regularly and feel at home. The restaurant’s menu, curated by a chef from Kenya, features a diverse mix of Mediterranean flavors and ingredients from around the world, including African spices, European delicacies and American foods trends.

After my visit, you can count me in as a resident of Residents, now one of my new personal favorite D.C. dining spots because of the natural atmosphere filled with cherry blossoms and their fusion of unexpected global flavors with classic American dishes. Walk in and you’ll find a spread of pink and green velvet chairs and couches, marble tables and artificial seasonal plants – a scene fit for my Pinterest dreams. Artificial cherry blossoms overhang the seating with various patterned rugs and pitchers filled with baby’s-breath blossoms complementing the aesthetic. The space is furnished with a variety of seating options including regular and high-top tables, couches and counter seating across two floors of indoor dining, a bar and a sidewalk seating area.

I popped in to Residents looking for an afternoon snack, so the zucchini fritters ($9) quickly made my shortlist, but I had to satisfy my sweet tooth – the Basque cheesecake ($11) was my final pick. Basque is lighter than a New York style cheesecake because of the heavy cream in the batter, and the slice should have a slight wobble in the center when taken out of the oven. While it lacks the crust that a typical cheesecake would have, Basque cheesecake includes a slightly burnt, deep gold caramelized top that adds a subtle nutty flavor.

The cheesecake came positioned on its side on a large, white and gray ceramic plate where the plating of the dish could really shine. The chef had drizzled the cake with bright orange passion fruit coulis – French for a thin sauce made from fruits or vegetables. A crumble made of panko and ras el hanout, a spicy and warm north African spice mixture often used in marinades and soups, was sprinkled across the dish. The spice and crunch added a needed element to the creaminess of the cheesecake. You could share the dish with a friend, but after one bite you won’t want to.

The cheesecake was lusciously creamy and very light, but the top was slightly bitter for my taste, burnt past the point of a deep golden. The passion fruit added a wonderful freshness and tanginess that balanced the richness of the cheesecake.

I also tried the 0% jalapeño ($15) which is made with lemon, pineapple, green pepper and Seedlip Grove 42, a nonalcoholic spirit. The drink had an exquisite green color with the ingredients combining to create a refreshing beverage with just a hint of heat from the peppers. The slight tanginess of the lemon and pineapple paired well with the passion fruit flavors of the cheesecake and helped to cut through any feelings of heaviness. This drink perfectly hit the spot, but during my next visit I will definitely opt for the popular espresso martini ($17), which is well known for its innovative use of ghee – a clarified butter.

Make your way over to Residents Café and Bar to get those cute brunch pics and soak up the atmosphere while you sip on a refreshing cocktail and enjoy a fresh and varied meal.

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