If you’re looking to impress this Valentine’s Day, you’re definitely gonna want to check out Iron Gate’s Tunnel of Love menu. We got to sample various cocktails and plates from it, and everything was ridiculously good…as expected. It’s no secret that they’re one of our favorite restaurants in DC. The culinary team there is SO brilliant that it’s straight up stupid. Chef Anthony Chittum never disappoints, and Paola Velez, the pastry chef, is also incredible.
Stop and Smell the Cocktails ($13 – malfy gin, italicus, dolin blanc, rose/bergamot mist with a rose garnish.
Nick Farrell, the Spirits Director, crafted a special drink list for the occasion, and it’s all so beyond creative, BUT we need to talk about the menu a bit more before diving into cocktails. Iron Gate’s Tunnel of Love is divided into two sections: “full hearts” and “heartbreaks.” Clever, right? The former’s lovey-dovey like the name suggests, while the latter’s a bit darker, and by “bit,” we mean A LOT, ha! Each menu has four drinks, 3 plates, and 1 dessert.
Also, can we just talk about decor for a sec? *insert fire emoji*
“Heartbreak” was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe – hence, the crow decor – and as mentioned previously, they feature dark hues, while items from the “Full Hearts” menu are more feminine (think lots of pink and red). The drinks above and below are the more romantic options (obviously).
…just in case the rose petal didn’t give it away, ha…
The gorgeous tray above is called “Galentine’s Day,” and it’s $20 per person. It has two rodham rye manhattans, sparkling wine for two (or more), and amaro truffles (made in house, of course). The dark chocolate truffles were to-die-for good, and the sparkling wine was seriously amazing.
The drink below is the “You Complete Me” cocktail. Made with civic vodka, st. germain, don ciccio figli, cherry blossom aperitivo, lime, hibiscus soda, and garnished with a cardboard valentine and heart straw. Priced at $13, this is the 3rd drink that’s offered on the hearts menu! The fourth (not pictured) is the “DC Tinder Negroni,” and it comes with 2 treats: a drink and a heart-shaped jello shot. For those of you interested, the drink’s made with green hat gin and capitoline vermouth.
Now onto a dark drank! This neat concoction is called, “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fungus” because it contains winter truffle-infused iron in addition to scotch, rust chinato and bitters. As you can see below, it’s also garnished with it.
Andddd dark drank no. 2 is the “Cask of Amontillado.” Priced at $13, this cocktail contains activated charcoal, chapman’s apple brandy, mezcal, amontillado sherry, and cocchi americano. The other two drinks aren’t pictured, but they’re the “Mysterious Death by Chocolate” and the “Telltale Heart.” The first’s basically spiked hot chocolate (super nomtastic), and the second’s a must-try for tequila lovers. It has blood orange cello, habanero shrub, club soda, and black heart ice cubes (!!!!)
Now let’s talk food! Here are the choices for “Full Hearts”…
- Grilled Tangier Island Oysters ($15) – goat’s milk butter, calabrian chili, and pickled shallot
- New Frontier Bison Tartare ($17) – beet variations, dill, shaved foie gras torchon
- Seven Hills Farm Short Rib ($46 for two) – beef short rib served bone-in with citrus chili glaze, torn mint, and shaved fennel salad
- White Chocolate Mousse ($9) – folius sabayon, citrus, shortbread cookie
We didn’t get to try the bison or short rib, but the oysters were super delicious – hands down, one of the best oyster apps we’ve ever had. The flavor profile was explosive, and the pickled shallot enhanced the texture tenfold. The white chocolate mousse (pictured below) was also very tasty, BUT we liked the dessert from the “Heartbreaks” menu more. Definitely feel free to mix and match depending on your tastes! Everything’s a la carte so you can pick and choose whatever you please.
The dark menu had…
- Charred Avocado ($11) – blood orange, winter radish, vin cotto
- Squid Ink Gnocchetti Sardi ($15) – yellow fin tuna crudo, bird chilies, garlic breadcrumbs
- “Quoth the Chicken Nevermore” ($24) – crispy chicken leg, virginia ham, buratta, pomodoro
- Blackout Cake ($9) – bourbon caramel, meringue chards, carbon gelato
See the Edgar Allan Poe influence now? We absolutely LOVED this chicken dish! Warning: they kept the feet on for presentation so it’s not for the squeamish, but if you can deal with the toenails, we highly recommend getting this. It’s like an elevated synthesis of cordon bleu and chicken parm, and we couldn’t get enough. Props to Chef Chittum for stuffing this with buratta and frying it to absolute perfection.
above: squid ink pasta || below: who knew carbon gelato was so damn good?
Anddddd that’s a wrap for today, Nomsters. What did you think of their Iron Gate’s Tunnel of Love concept? Let us know what you thought by leaving us a comment below. Also, of you want to book a reservation, hit them up at 202-524-5202 or visit their website and click their “reservations” tab. ‘Til next time, friends!