Monday, July 9, 2007

Dinner at Axis Bar and Grill on U Street

Axis Bar and Grill is a rare true neighborhoody spot in the heart of the U Street area. The space is narrow with high ceilings, brick walls, a large and sturdy wooden bar and minimalist design features and furniture. The space feels relaxed and homey thanks to a friendly staff and a relaxed vibe amongst the staff and the patrons. A group of us dined at Axis over the weekend and had a really great experience. I have been to Axis several times before, but never for a full meal, so this was a treat for sure. We were seated on the small upstairs level which is only in the back portion of the space and thus overlooks the action on the main level. We started off with various libations ranging from the classic Manhattan to the more modern and fruity variety of cocktails. I shared a bottle of a quite crisp and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, which was perfect for the hot and humid evening outside. We perused the somewhat brief yet pleasingly simple and more than ample menu while we settled in. The menu offers various starters, mains and sides, and is generally all-American fare with twists on ingredients and an upscale touch here and there. I decided to go with the Chef Salad, which for $8.50 is an absolute bargain. The salad arrives on a large oval platter topped with heaps of fresh Romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumber, shredded cheddar cheese, hard boiled eggs, thily sliced mozzerella, strips of smoky ham and lots of gorgeous grilled chicken. The dressing is a creamy and delicious ranch. Other stars were various varieties of steak, most of which come with a heap of creamy mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables, Fried Calamari, Long Island Roast Duck, Penne with Smoked Chicken and Tomato Sauce, and my hands down favorite - Baby Back Ribs. I only had one rib, but it was enough to flavor my palate for the rest of the evening. The sweet and smoky barbecue sauce was a perfect match to the moist and rich meat, and delicious caramelized bits of goodness made for a gorgeous mouthfeel. It was a perfect little added decadence to my mostly healthy meal, and the meaty rib was gorgeous with my crisp wine. Axis also has a few dessert offerings, all of which were tempting, but we finished up with our drinks and lingered a bit to end the dinner portion of the evening. Axis also offers a bar menu with around six options, all around $5 to $8, and which includes various wraps and other tasty small plates, and does happy hour until 7pm on weekdays. It's a great spot with a simple but nice wine list, about 10 beers on tap, reliable food, and it's great to have it in the neighborhood.

Axis Bar and Grill
1340 U Street in NW DC

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