Often when we travel I find restaurants that are great to visit with kids but that I probably wouldn’t go back to if Matt and I were to return for a more grownup trip. So I’m always delighted by that rare place that really fills both my need to eat out with the kids and to enjoy a meal that I’d happily sit down to anyway. Firefly in Washington, DC may do this better than any restaurant I’ve ever visited.
I took it as an excellent sign when we entered only to be greeted warmly by the chic hostess and shown to a table that was surrounded by families with children even younger than ours. Everyone was smiling. There were also groups of grownups and a nice looking crowd of young people at the bar. And a tree in the middle of it all.
Yes, that’s right, I said a tree. It’s not a real tree (we checked). But it sure looks like one and along with some actual birch trunks that line the wall, it reinforces the fun, casual vibe and the idea that this is a suitable site for an urban picnic – and a great place to come with kids.
There is of course a kids menu that was accompanied by crayons. But this menu steps outside of the chicken nuggets box. Choices for the under-five set are The Giving Tree and The Very Lonely Firefly and include options like apple wedges, buttered noodles and parmesan, and baby shrimp. For older kids there are some obvious choices (PB & J, mac and cheese) but also items like chicken matzoh ball soup and a BLT with avocado.
Teddy loved it that the cheeseburger on the kids menu is described as “bigger than your head” and dutifully ordered it as such. Tommy was not swayed by this description and went for the burger on the regular menu, which comes served with applewood bacon, carmelized onions, honey mustard, and truffle fries (which Matt and I may or may not have sneaked continuously off his plate).
Immediately after we submitted our order, the waiter appeared with two cookie dough men and a saucer of decorations for each child. This may be the most brilliant and child-friendly thing (heck, I’ll come right out and say it – it’s the most parent-friendly thing) I’ve ever seen a restaurant do. While Matt and I sipped our drinks, the boys set busily to work.
When they were finished, the cookies were whisked away to bake while we ate our meal.
So we’ve established that the food and atmosphere are great for kids. But what about the grownups? That’s what makes this place such a great option. First of all, I love any restaurant that takes its cocktails seriously, and Firefly definitely does. I started my evening with a Peppered Pear – pear-infused gin, pear brandy, black pepper syrup, sage, and grapefruit. (Hmm. No picture. I must have been too busy guzzling.)
Matt and I wanted to try as many things as possible, so we chose a number of small plates and sides and weren’t disappointed at all. Matt ordered artichokes drenched in aioli, grits with bacon and parmesan, and chicken fried oysters.
I had to have the shrimp and grits (yes, we ate two orders of grits for dinner and no, we weren’t sorry) and the asparagus salad topped with prosciutto.
You see that oval breaded thing? That my friends is a deep-fried soft-boiled egg. When I cut into it, a perfectly runny yolk ran all over everything. If that doesn’t make your mouth water than I’m afraid I can’t help you.
What else would I want to try on this menu? Well let’s see. I’d definitely like to try the house-made charcuterie. And collard beans with Italian sausage. And let’s not forget the ricotta gnocchi! And I didn’t even look at the dessert menu and only now have I discovered that it contains a chocolate terrine served with bananas foster sauce. My only consolation is that the menu is seasonal and changes often so it’s possible that wasn’t even on the list two weeks ago.
At the end of it all, this is how our check arrived:
It was accompanied by the boys’ freshly baked cookies.
I know that’s a lot of cuteness, but when it’s backed up with fantastic food and booze, I’m hooked. Whether you are going to DC with or without the kids, I say, get thee to Firefly, which is near Dupont Circle on New Hampshire Avenue. Oh – and they serve breakfast on weekdays and brunch on the weekend, so if your child just doesn’t do well in the evening, you can check it out in the morning.
(Word to the wise – this is a popular place; you’ll want a reservation.)
Want to read about some more fabulous food? Check out Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick.