Wednesday, May 22, 2013

MITSITAM CAFÉ - Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.

Food, fun and culture at the Mitsitam Café you can get it all.  Admission to the museum is free like all of the Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C.  My taxi cab driver turned me on to this café. Who would have thought that that a museum actually has decent food?  Not me so I was skeptical when he told me about it.  I went in with the lowest expectations as possible and was overwhelmed by the menu selections. 

Where else can you get snake, goat stew, bison burgers or how about red bean and alligator soup?  No where that I know of.  I strongly recommend that come before 12pm because the rush crowd even on Sunday can send your head spinning.  Given the fact that Georgetown University had its graduation at the National Mall that did not deter me as I believed that the parents would be taking their graduates to a fine dining establishment to get their party on.  I was so mistaken as the graduates took their parents to the Mitsitam Café for the experience of their life time.  Lucky for me I anticipated the rush and arrived Sunday at 11:30am buy the time I sat down the place was packed.  I was surrounded by proud parents and a sea of colors (the graduation colors of each degree).  The atmosphere was one of exhilaration.

But alas I digress; I should be talking about the menu and food.  I promise you that if these graduates knew anything it was definitely about food.

There are four stations of different tastes.  At The Great Plains you can experience Buffalo Chili, Chipotle Chicken Taco, or the Indian Taco which is buffalo chili on fry bread.   How about the Ground Buffalo or Duck Burger made with roasted pepper dijonaise, smoked tomato and aged cheddar cheese.  The burgers are moist not dry and pack so much flavor that you do not need any condiments and frankly you should be shunned if you do so.

If Buffalo is not to your liking then you can experience the Northern Woodlands.  You have your choice of Spring Corn and Quahog Clam Soup or Red Bean and Alligator Soup.  The Wild Rice and Watercress Salad became my addiction.  As the server was putting it on my plating I kept on saying “please sir may I have some more?”  I think he finally was tired of my rendition of Pink Floyd that he just gave in and piled it mile high.  Oh well, more for me.   The Hominy and Grilled Asparagus Salad I would not order again as it lacked flavor.  That made me sad as I love hominy.  So do not waste the calories and order it there is so much better sides to indulge in for instance the Maple Pudding is sweet and reminded me of home, Vancouver.  Rather what I love to call home in my reality.  It was sweet and moist and you must give it a nibble if only for the taste that takes me back home.

Now we move on to South America.  Pastel de Cobra sounds like rattlesnake but its not it is Stewed Goat Pie, thick and rich.  Perhaps chicken is more your stile then try the Pollo Tamal, Salsa de Man simply put chicken tamal with peanut sauce.  The peanut sauce is light and not to heavy to overwhelm the flavor of the chicken.  I highly recommend the Aji De Garbanzo which is sautéed garbanzo beans with ali peppers.  Warning eat slowly because the heat of the pepper will be your after taste but it is so good that you cannot stop shoveling it into your mouth.  The Sautéed Green beans with Pork was packed with flavor.

Now continue straight to Northwest Coast where fish is the king.  Start with an appetizer such as Macadamia Sunfish Poke and follow that with Cedar Plank Wild Salmon served with grilled corn and cherry tapenada.  The fish is not fishy tasting which again was surprising as this is a cafeteria but refuses to serve typical cafeteria food.

One more territory to cover and that is Mesoamerica a tex-mex flavor.  The main dishes consist of tacos, but I recommend the Rojo Yucca Cake made with black bean, tomato salsa and cilantro cream. Here you can indulge in nachos served with salsa, guacamole or carne asada. 

Each territory has a delectable dessert but I headed straight to the dessert try and tried Banana Cake topped with a light cream cheese frosting.  Every bite had a fresh banana flavor.  Do not be fooled by the lightness and texture this dessert expands in your tummy so tread lightly.

This Café deserves Four Forks Up for its innovation.  Your view will be a waterfall outside the floor to ceiling to windows.  However, I must warn you like any cafeteria your eyes can be bigger than your stomach and that includes the price.  It is quite pricey once you start exploring each area.  There are specials, so be aware of them read the signs above each section.  For example you can get a main entrée with 2 sides.  I recommend ordering a special.  I definitely would go back next time I am in DC and that will be shortly.  After lunch feel free to explore the exhibits you will learn something and the art will take your breath away.  

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