The Cherry Blossom Festival is upon us once again. Every year, busloads of tourists descend upon D.C. to marvel at the hundreds of trees blooming in brilliant fashion. Last year brought us a Japanese beer garden — samurai bouncers included. This year is sure to bring us new festivities as we walk around the Tidal Basin. Getting swept up in the cherry blossom craze are some of D.C.’s best restaurants, with hundreds of cherry-inspired dishes cooking up throughout the city. Here are a few to get you started:
Georgia Brown’s – 950 15th St. NW
A slice of low-country cuisine and hospitality, Georgia Brown’s is offering some enticing dishes in celebration of the cherry blossoms. Known for taking some upscale dishes and giving them a soulful twist, Georgia Brown’s does not disappoint with its cherry-themed dishes. The standout is the peanut butter and jelly foie gras with dried cherry jelly. What?! PB and J foie gras? And if that doesn’t sound good enough, check out this dessert: Mexican chocolate and cherry cobbler with cinnamon sticky bun ice cream. I mean, I was sold on the PB and J concoction. But cinnamon sticky bun ice cream? Wow…
Neyla – 3206 N St. NW
This Georgetown mainstay is jumping on the cherry-themed bandwagon. This will probably be people’s best option to try out some cherry dishes — it’s right down N Street. And the options are enticing, including duck manti with dried cherries, baby arugula salad with arak-soaked cherries and pan-roasted grouper with kiln-dried cherries. As for the desserts, Neyla comes out with a rich, dark cherry crème brûlee to satisfy your sweet tooth. It may be a different take than the usual crème brûlée, but it is sure to be decadent. As delicious as all of these creations sound, the best cherry item on the menu might just be the chocolate covered cherry martini — Valhrona chocolate, vanilla vodka and dark cherries. Yeah, that just happened.
Zengo – 781 7th St. NW
Japanese for “give and take,” Zengo serves up an eccentric fusion of Latin-Asian cuisine. This creative and vibrant restaurant welcomes the spring with its cherry dishes and offers fine sake pairings with each dish. Try the camarones al cana de azucar, a wonderful Vietnamese dish consisting of grilled shrimp paste wrapped around a skewer of sugarcane, with chile ancho-cherry marinade, chilled summer noodles and chimichurri. Like Neyla, Zengo will also be offering a special cocktail as a toast to the spring season: Blushing Geisha, consisting of Absolut kurant, sake and brandied cherries. Now that’s a cocktail to toast with.
There is something to be found for all tastes during D.C.’s cherry blossom festival. The three above are just a small sample of the local restaurants ushering in the changing of the seasons with a nod to the cherry blossoms, as eateries serving cuisines from all over the world are trying their hand at cooking with cherries for a few weeks. Leo’s most definitely will not be offering cherry-themed dishes anytime soon (except for that cheesecake with globs of cherry-flavored gelatin on top), so make sure you go explore the D.C. restaurant scene while the cherry blossom craze lasts. If anything, at least go for the PB and J foie gras.