CLAIRE CARRIQUE FOR THE HOYA Aside from the red-quinoa stuffed peppers, the expensive lunch options at Second State on M. Street leave a lasting impression. However, the prices are not tailored for college students.
Aside from the red-quinoa stuffed peppers, the expensive lunch options at Second State on M. Street leave a lasting impression. However, the prices are not tailored for college students.

The recently opened restaurant Second State’s venue almost goes unnoticed on the opposite end of M Street — or at least so the heavy rain made it seem. Located at 1831 M Street, right off of Dupont Circle, Second State was easily and inexpensively accessible by splitting an Uber with some friends. A reservation is highly recommended, and once you make one, you can be sure you are in for a treat.

This new restaurant offers American food with a twist. Several dishes on the menu consisted of what is normally regarded as average or even banal: mashed potatoes, trout filet, pork chop, filet mignon, butternut- squash soup and ribs. However, these are transformed into mouth-watering dishes: smoked-gouda mashed potatoes; pecan-crusted trout filet; maple-brined Ossabaw pork chop with ancho-chili rub and heirloom- apple chutney; filet mignon with bourbon and green-peppercorn cream; puree butternut-squash soup with a touch of vanilla; root-beer braised short ribs over parsnip and garlic confit puree. These dishes definitely did not fail to impress and were doubtless not lacking in originality.

Other items on the menu will also catch a hungry eye right away. Second State offered a wide variety of delicious starters, entrees and sides. Choices included mashed sweet potatoes, fried brussels sprouts with maple-mustard vinaigrette, roasted duck breast, red-quinoa stuffed peppers, potato and cheddar pierogies, scallops and foie gras, and many more — just a heads up, making a choice was not easy.

Since we visited during Restaurant Week, we were luckily able to try a variety of different items on the menu. My recommendations are the trout filet and the brown-ale butter chicken. For starters, both the onion and butternut-squash soups were amazing, really tasty and, in the case of the butternut-squash soup, perfectly spiced. The onion soup was $8 for a bowl, while the butter squash was $9.  Make sure to try the cheddar pierogies, which were absolutely delicious. The ingredients complement each other without flaw, and you will want to keep the orders coming, especially since it was a small appetizer.

Out of every dish we tried, only one disappointed: the red-quinoa stuffed peppers, despite our waiter’s recommendation. While appealing on the menu, they overall lacked quality flavor. However, if anyone in the party is looking for a healthier option to cut down the calories, this is still an acceptable item to choose.

The stout brownie with Nutella ice cream nicely wraps up a satisfying meal, priced at a steep $8. It was as exquisite and incredible as it sounds.  In all honesty, I would go back over and over again just for the sake of tasting that dessert one more time. Remember to keep in mind that they offer this heaven-send of a dessert, and leave some open appetite for it.

Second State has much more to offer besides its unique and innovative menu. The service was exceptional; everyone who served us was extremely friendly and polite, from the hostesses to our waiter. They offered to check our coats as soon as we walked in, which was a big plus considering the weather in Washington D.C. Moreover, as a final touch, for those of age, they offered complimentary chocolate-infused whiskies, which were an ideal companion for dessert.

The venue was very well decorated. It was hip and modern, but at the same time cozy and warm, offering its customers a very pleasant and comfortable dining experience. The blue, gray and white color scheme combined with touches of wood and tin made up a great atmosphere that reminded me of a beach, a lighthouse or even a cool warehouse. This particular feeling was somewhat lost at night when the place was under dim lights and candles. Nonetheless, Second State had a beautiful venue that appears to be the perfect Sunday-brunch spot, for which it offers a special menu.

Other aspects about Second State made it unconventional: Its specially-seasoned buckets of popcorn, instead of the traditional breadbasket, and its particular choice of tableware made for a great dining experience.

The place was rather empty, and it would have been nice if it had been slightly more crowded, or if there had been more people hanging out by the trendy bar. Despite the fact that there were few people there, the quiet and peacefulness of the place was enjoyable.

This restaurant was a wonderful find, and I definitely recommend that everyone try it out. The prices were a little above average, but Second State was absolutely worth it for its well-prepared and satisfying food, service and atmosphere.

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