Date Night at Little Serow-the best Goodbye Dinner
Posted May 06 2013 11:15am
One of my closest friends here in DC is moving, and I couldn’t be happier for her and sadder that she is leaving. She is my foodie soulmate, and when we met over 2 years ago it just clicked. We bonded over our recent break ups and then immediately realized we had the same love for food and drinks. And the rest is history. Many nights we went out to eat, many nights we stayed in and cooked, many nights we laughed and sometimes we cried, but most of all we had so much fun doing it all.
Last October I invited Jill to Napa Valley with me because I knew there was no better person to enjoy the amazing food and wine that Napa has to offer and make me laugh my head of 24/7.
No relationship is perfect all the time, but this girl made me a stronger, more confident person, and I am forever changed my her friendship.
But enough about that…let’s talk about our dinner! We always had a list of restaurants to try and now that she’s leaving soon, there was one place we knew we had to check out before her departure. Little Serow is literally a hidden gem. The restaurant has no sign and is located in the basement of Komi, they don’t take reservations, and the it only holds about 20ish people. A line starts forming about an hour before the door opens at 5:30pm. With all that being said, it was one of the best food experiences of my life. I got there at 4 not knowing what to expect, but no one was there yet so I grabbed a beer at Agora, a nearby restaurant.
Once I saw people standing around the door of 1511 17th street (that is the only way you know you’re at the restaurant-there are literally no signs) around 4:30 I got my spot in line. In that hour wait the line was 30-40 people long. Even with out a sign or much marketing, people know about Little Serow.
The doors open at 5:30 and we were taken into the restaurant one party at a time. Located in the basement of a row home, this dark restaurant transformed you to Thailand. Bright turquoise walls, white water pitchers, and lit only by a couple lights and candles. It really was unique, but such a clean and appealing atmosphere. I especially got a kick out of the country music that played in the background.
The service was top notch. Each server was upbeat, kind, and very knowledgeable on the menu and the drinks that the restaurant served. You were paid special attention and they helped you pick the best drink pairings for the food. The restaurant serves a set menu of 8 family-style dinner of northern and northeastern Thai dishes for $45 per person. There are no substitutions and the menu changes each week. The food is very spicy, and the drink menu is geared towards sweeter wines and beers to help balance the spiciness.
We both started with a Rose. I chose the fruitier Château Musar and Jill went with a lighter bodied Provence style Rose. And then the food started pouring out. I can’t remember all the details about each dish, and the pictures aren’t great because you can’t use flash in the restaurant. But let me assure you that each bit was better than the last. I couldn’t get over how spicy each dish was, but how flavorful and harmonious it was either. The spiciness was just enough to keep you coming back.
We started with the Nam Prik Num which was a salsa like dip made from finger chilies, shallot, and bla rah. This was served with crispy pork rinds and fresh vegetables. The vegetables and rice stay on the table and are refilled for each dish.
Next we were served the Tom Kha Gapi, a soup of shrimp, ramps, and galangal. A spicy lemongrass soup with shrimp and *I think* coconut milk.
Soop Naw Mai; bamboo shoots, snakehead fish, and rice powder. An interesting combination at first, but I couldn’t put the fork down. At this point our eyes were water from the spice, and we didn’t know how much worse it could get. But it was a good spice, the kind that you can’t stop eating.
I had switched to a bittersweet vermouth by this point. Upon recommendation from our server, I went with the Imbue Vermouth. Sweet at first and bitter on the end and very refreshing. The perfect pairing for our next spicy dish.
Gai Laap Chiang Mai; chicken liver, sawtooth, and long peppers. This was served with cabbage leaves to balance the heat.
The next dish that was served was one we had read about in many reviews. Naem Khao Tod; crispy rice, sour pork, and peanuts. This was an outstanding combination of flavors. I loved the salty and tangy pork with the fried rice balls, and the crunchiness from the peanuts. There was a slight hint of dill that made this dish really refreshing.
The next dish was one of my favorites from the evening. Gai Lan Bla Kem; greens, salted fish, and egg. It started out sweet and finished spicy. The sauce was sweet, savory, and spicy. I literally wanted to bathe in it.
When I told our server how much I loved this sauce she said “just wait till the next dish”. And she was right!
Before the last dish I switched to the Perucchi Vermouth, again upon the servers recommendations. This Vermouth is sweeter with notes of orange and cinnamon and clove. The flavors paired really well with the next dish and enhanced each characteristic.
Our last and final dish of the evening was the Si Krong Muu; Pork ribs in a mekhong whiskey sauce. The ribs melted in your mouth, and the sauce was by far one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. It was umami. The flavors were rich, hearty, tangy, fresh, and powerful. It was absolutely delicious. However, we were stuffed and barely finished this one.
This was such an amazing restaurant, and I could not have been happier with my experience. The best goodbye dinner for the best of friends.