D.C. is an exciting place, but there so many beautiful opportunities for life and excitement in the nearby suburbs. I took the semi-short trek out to this new and hip area of Northern Virginia called “The Mosaic District,” which is easily accessible from the Metro’s Orange Line. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk from the actual Metro itself, but once you arrive, you’ll be enamored with your new surroundings. From chic boutiques to some of the area’s best restaurants, and even a brand new movie theater, The Mosaic District is a shining beacon of wonder available to all…
Once you walk towards the end of the stretch, you’ll stumble upon Brine, a visually stunning restaurant with a menu that will nearly require you to walk inside and grab a table. I feel like I should say now that if you are a fan of seafood, Brine is a place you absolutely must visit.
As I mentioned earlier, Brine has a fantastic menu. What’s even better is that they have an entire “Simple Fish” section that changes daily. There are about fifteen varieties of fish the restaurant acquires on a rotating basis, and after you painstakingly decide which delicious option to get, you can choose from three preparations: preserved lemon aioli, Wakame salsa verde, or Sofrito sauces.
On this occasion, I did not opt for any simple fish because I was too enamored with the multitude of options on the permanent menu. Before I even talk about the food, I need to say some words about the cocktails. If you are of age, you must get a cocktail at Brine. I ordered the Rizal cocktail, with vodka, spiced guavamansi soda, and lime. The guavamansi soda is one testament to how serious Brine is about their drink program. They make this from scratch from simple syrup, lemongrass, Thai chili, lemon, guava puree, and kalamansi juice. Making this soda is a four-to-five day process, and trust me, the results do not go unnoticed. But while this drink was fantastic, my friend ordered the Who Shot J.R.?, made with Laird’s Applejack, pomegranate syrup, lime, egg white, and a cinnamon tincture and I was completely enamored with it. I can say this cocktail easily fell within my top five cocktails I’ve ever consumed. The flavor profile was mind-numbingly impressive, and the creaminess from the egg whites shone through beautifully. Okay, now we can talk about food.
I started the actual meal with the Ceviche. This was delicious. The fish was tender but substantial. The citrus flavor shone through nicely, but was not overpowering. My server also brought over a bottle of hot sauce that was made in-house. I ate half of the ceviche plain and the other half with the hot sauce and I can definitely say the sauce added flavor and not too much heat, like many hot sauces unfortunately do to a meal. In full disclosure, I bought a bottle of the stuff right then and there, because I absolutely needed that hot sauce in my life permanently, not just for the fleeting moment I was eating at the restaurant.
Next came the Lambs & Clams, and a delightful salad with arugula, spinach and a homemade Beet Tahini. The salad was very tasty. I’m a huge fan of tahini and this did not disappoint. I also always enjoy a little bit of creaminess with my greens. The Lambs & Clams were meaty, salty, and spicy, and I loved every bite. This dish was served in a shallow bowl that accommodated for a nice broth containing harissa, and I gladly consumed this in its entirety with a spoon even after the proteins were gone. Another thing to note about this dish is that Brine makes their Merguez lamb sausage in-house. I always have mad respect for a place that takes the time to make their sausage from scratch, as I truly believe this makes a huge difference.
As a sort of interlude to the main course, I indulged in the Carolina Trout, which was served with marinated root vegetables, chilies, and Lima beans. The trout was seared to perfection, and the Lima beans added a gentle creaminess to the dish, which was an amicable pairing with the meatiness of the fish.
Finally, the star of the show arrived: Brine’s Seafood Rotisserie. Prepared with charred lemon and anchovy salsa verde, this fish takes thirty minutes to cook and is cooked slowly over oak for the entire duration. The oak lent a nice, smoky flavor to the fish, while the cooking method itself produced a very succulent and moist texture. To accompany the rotisserie, I also ordered the Crisp Fingerling Potatoes with lemon aioli, and some Braised Greens, with golden raisins, pine nuts, and sautéed onions.
As if this meal wasn’t large enough, I insisted on getting dessert. I opted for the Chocolate Baravois, which consisted of milk chocolate mousse, raspberry sauce, raspberry, gelato, a meringue, and chocolate ganache sauce. This dessert was decadent, to say the least. I’m kind of glad I had a companion to split this with me, as a few bites were enough to satisfy even my notoriously insatiable sweet tooth.
All in all, Brine is a restaurant you should definitely go to if you love seafood, but also if you love good food in general. You will not be disappointed by the incredible food, carefully crafted cocktails, and impeccable service.