WWII Memorial Inspires Dinner, Drink Specials

Posted April 26, 2004 at 11:17am

Diners aiming to take a comestible journey back to the days of victory gardens, bobby socks and Glenn Miller’s big band revelries need look no further than many of the city’s popular restaurants.

As part of “America Celebrates the Greatest Generation,” a 100-day, summer-long tribute to the men and women who fought the battles at home and abroad in the effort to defeat Nazism launched in conjunction with the unveiling of the World War II Memorial, several area dining venues are offering WWII-influenced menu items.

In a play on “c-rations” — the boxed meals served to troops in the field — McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant (1625 K St. NW and 901 F St. NW) will whip up its version of “Sea-Rations,” featuring a weekly changing selection of seafood items.

Several establishments will highlight the culinary creativity required during a period of widespread shortages, when staples such as sugar and meat were often scarce and every patriotic effort (no matter how minor) counted. Along these lines, restaurants are turning to the victory garden, planted during wartime to help relieve food shortages, for inspiration.

Capitol Hill’s own Charlie Palmer Steak (101 Constitution Ave. NW) gets into the act with “Tongue and Cheek,” a dish of braised veal tongue resting on a bed of white corn grits with soffritto and crisp basil coupled with braised veal cheek pot au feu and baby summer vegetables. Likewise, Signatures (801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) offers braised hog jowls served with confit garden squashes, macaroni and cheese casserole and pepper-berry jus.

Ortanique (730 11th St. NW) tosses up a crispy soft shell crab and victory garden salad made with local produce, while the Federalist (in the Madison Hotel at 15th and M streets Northwest) plumbs wartime recipes for its meat and vegetable layered casserole and applesauce raisin cake.

Ever-popular comfort foods with a twist will be found at Hamilton Crowne Plaza’s 14K (14th and K streets Northwest), which will offer spaghetti alla bolognese, roasted meat loaves with mashed potatoes and red wine jus, stuffed tomatoes with chicken and greens, and Sara Lee Cheesecake with warm chocolate sauce. And at Metro Center’s Metro Grille Restaurant (775 12th St. NW), diners can feast on honey barbecue wings with celeriac bleu cheese salad, pan-roasted chicken breast with pan jus, roasted butternut squash puree and sautéed greens, topped off with six-inch classic chocolate cake.

For a finer take on classic all-American favorites, the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel’s Café Promenade (1127 Connecticut Ave. NW) will unveil a special three-course $35 prix fixe dinner menu featuring a choice of oysters Rockefeller, shrimp cocktail, or salad of mixed lettuce and tomato to start; followed by an entrée selection of filet of sole belle meuniere, pan-roasted pork chop with apple rosemary sauce, or steak au poivre with bourbon sauce, with apple pie a la mode or cheesecake for dessert.

If an after-hours rendez-vous is more your style, capital city watering holes are also featuring a slew of USO-worthy libations.

At Palette (1155 15th St. NW), quench your thirst with the “Waving Flag,” a mix of Kettle One citron, sour mix, soda, Campari and blue curacao, or down a “Starburst” of citrus vodka, amaretto and cranberry juice. Helix Lounge (1430 Rhode Island Ave. NW) marches out the “Stormin’ Normandy,” a concoction of white cacao, Malibu rum, Tuaca and cream; while Bar Rouge (1315 16th St. NW) experiments with a “Manhattan Project” mix of Makers Mark, sweet vermouth and bitters. For a less bloody romp through the Pacific theater, try Topaz Bar’s (1733 N St. NW) “Iwo Jima-tini,” with Stoli O and Hpnotiq.

Finally, if a truly retro experience is on the agenda, the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown (3100 South St. NW) reaches back to the 1940s to create four WWII-era cocktails: “The Perfect 10 Gibson,” named in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, who never lost a bomber to enemy fire, and made with Tanqueray 10 Gin, vermouth and three onions; the “Casablanca,” a mixture of Dewars Scotch and ginger ale; the “Flamingo Cocktail” with Bombay Sapphire Gin, Peach Schnapps, lime and grenadine; and the “Appleton Rum Rickey,” a combo of the eponymous rum and sour mix.

The above specials are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. For more information on the celebration, go to www.americas greatestgeneration.com.