Monday, November 19, 2012

Buffalo and Bergen at Union Market

After our tasty DC Empanadas at Union Market, we were in need of something to drink.  We grabbed a stool at the counter of master mixologist Gina Chersevani's Buffalo and Bergen soda fountain.  The soda fountain wasn't 100% open when we visited.  They were serving a limited menu of sodas and knishes, and had a ways to go in the decorating department.  However, the two sodas we tasted are a promising sign of things to come.

We tried one pineapple soda and one cherry soda.  At $5 a pop (no pun intended), we were pleased that these were not your run-of-the-mill sodas.  Each had a complex and completely unexpected progression of flavors.  Is that cardamom in my cherry soda?  What's that firey kick at the back end of my pineapple soda?  Gina proudly explained the wild amalgamation of ingredients (including bay leaf and cardamom) that go into her creations.  These are ingredients that sound terrible on their own, but she makes them work.

People on Yelp are freaking out about the use of Harris Teeter soda water in the sodas.  I agree that it would be preferable to have olde timey soda fountain equipment to complete the experience and I can only assume that the H-Teet water is a temporary thing during this "pop up" phase.  So give them a chance to fully open before you get your panties in a bunch, people. 

Gina Chersevani has proven herself a legend in the DC drink scene with stints at Rasika, PS 7s and Hank's on the Hill.  I have no doubt she'll shine just as brightly with Buffalo and Bergen.

Second Thoughts from B

Whether it is sports or politics, the strategy is always the same during an interview.  When in doubt, use a cliche, just like Crash Davis taught you.  Every player and manager will tell you that they are taking it "one game at a time," just like every press secretary these days will tell you how their boss cares about the people on Main Street rather than those on Wall Street.

The food industry is no different.  I've not been to culinary school but I'm convinced that at some point between saute and sous vide, a veteran chef pulls each student aside and says, "Always tell people that you put love into your dishes."

As we were about to leave Buffalo and Bergen for a pre-Superstorm Sandy evening, Gina Chersevani asked if we'd like to take home some of her short rib with maple jus knishes.  It didn't take long for us to accept such a kind offer (and add something to the tip jar).  Gina explained that she put so much love into these knishes that she'd rather give them away than see them in the trash.  It sounded like a cliche but was straight from the heart.

As the storm blew through the city, we were both stuck working from home in the warmth and safety of our condo.  We also got to indulge in these not-so-little balls of love.  I didn't grow up with knishes but they tasted, no... felt, like home.  You know you've found comfort food at its best when you have to describe it with feelings rather than flavors.

As for the sodas, you could tell that they were made by someone who understands flavor because they had the same level of complexity as a well-executed entree.  Still, I had a bit of a hard time shelling out $5 for a soda.  I don't know why, but $7 for a fancy ice cream soda seems more sensible.  So I guess next time I'll have my knish and soda a la mode.
Buffalo & Bergen on Urbanspoon

No comments: