A taste of the Caribbean

Not exactly travel, but I'm not sure where to put this. On Saturday night, Carol and I went to Celtic Christmas, a concert held at Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown. The concert was good, but the meal ahead of time was spectacular!

Red Ginger of Georgetown (located at 1564 Wisconsin) is a find of a restaurant and well worth trekking through the morass of traffic to find a treasured parking spot to get there.

We hadn't intended on going there, but we're walking around Georgetown on our way to the church with some time to kill and hunger pains in our stomachs.

As we walked down Wisconsin (which was surprisingly devoid of people for a Saturday night), we walked past an Argentinean ice cream shop (which we would later stop at and have the best Dolce de Leche that I've had since Buenos Aires) and found ourselves passing Red Ginger. Carol quickly remembered having read something positive about it and we noticed there were few customers inside, so we decided to take a flier and have dinner there.

The interior is a bit interesting, with odd-shaped tables and a modern post- art deco style of furnishing, but as you would expect the music was Caribbean from the moment we walked in.

Our waiter, who later received a handsome tip, was there at the door to great us and offer us a nice window table with an enthusiastic voice and broad smile.

Choosing from the menu was easy for us, because the chef had just started offering a sampler, allowing us to try a number of appetizers and mains, as well as some scrumptious deserts, but we'll get to that later.

The wine list was mostly South American, especially for the by-the-glass selections, and we found the relatively inexpensive Argentinean red to be quite palatable, and its white counterpart was not acceptable, at least not to Carol and I, who are notoriously not white wine drinkers.

The first course was a soup, a choice of a lobster bisque, which was great, or a butternut squash soup which was completely out of this world.

Next were the appetizers... I don't remember vividly each of them, but the scallops were great, moist and full of flavor with a nice presentation. The jerk chicken was excellent, with a spicy flavor that didn't overwhelm the depth of the true taste, allowing you to both enjoy the flavor and the "volume" of the spices.

Main courses, a succulent red snapper dish, prepared perfectly and an out-of- this-world fried chicken dish, which I hesitate to call fried chicken, lest people avoid ordering it, were excellent.

By the near-end of the meal, we were both roiling in our enjoyment of the meal and certainly in the mood for continued good cheer at the concert. The service was attentive and enthusiastic throughout the meal. In fact, our waiter went to the trouble of drawing up a map to our final destination because we had mentioned we were going there.

Late in the meal, the chef visited to check out our experience. He'd only recently taken over the place and apparently prior to his arrival, it had gotten a negative reputation (apparently after the reviews that Carol had read). He had just added the tasting menu to encourage people to come in and try the dishes and was pleased to hear that our experience was so positive. We assured him that we'd be telling our friends about the place.

Ah, did I forget desert? On the tasting menu (perfectly designed for two, by the way as there were almost exclusively either-or choices), there was a crème brulee that included a layer of sweet potato that was absolutely the best desert I've had in a long while and a walnut tart that was exceptional in its own right (but not as good as the sweet potato dish).

I'd wholeheartedly encourage anyone in the DC area who has interest in Jamaican, Caribbean, or Latin American cuisine (there's a bit of Latin American fusion in there) to give this place a try.