You probably pass many seemingly average strangers every day. While you’re busy getting to work, running errands, or attempting to jog without tripping over yourself, you may unknowingly cross paths with a surgeon who does improv, or a person who designs video games for dogs, or someone who’s just trying to be a normal young adult and go to college despite their parents casually being the king and queen of Denmark. OK, that last one was the plot of The Prince & Me. But you get it.
These cool people are a lot like Cook Weaver, an upscale European-Asian fusion restaurant in Capitol Hill. It would be easy to breeze past this place in the course of your daily life, without realizing you’d been missing out on something immensely awesome. But that would be a mistake.
This restaurant is on a quiet stretch of Roy Street, in a little stone-covered strip mall - yeah, the one with the trendy men’s underwear store and the boutique that never seems to be open. The first thing that hits you when you walk inside is the space. The walls are covered with 1930s-era paintings depicting the Russian folk tale The Tale of Tsar Saltan (classical music nerds, Flight Of The Bumblebee is from that one), and there are bits of stained glass in the windows near the front door. These things may make you feel, for a brief moment, like you’ve walked into a fictional dimension.
The good news is that this fictional dimension has excellent food. The theme, in Cook Weaver’s own words, is “inauthentic Eurasian,” and each dish is thoughtfully put together from a wide variety of interesting ingredients. For example, there’s a green pea-infused spaetzle with king oyster mushrooms, fermented black beans, grated parmesan cheese, and beurre blanc - and a fried chicken that’s tossed in crab seasoning and then served with pineapple habanero hot sauce and crispy peanuts. Both of these are absolutely worthy of space on your table. Cocktails, like the “Traveling Merchant” (with vodka, grapefruit, lime, rose water, and cardamom), are also creative without being overdone.
While every element of each dish here is good on its own, the real genius is in the composed bite - when you get a bit of every ingredient at the same time, it’s impressive how well it all works. Take the braised brisket bibimbap with hominy, for example. The brisket is nice. So is the hominy. And you can’t go wrong with the fried egg on top. But a forkful of those, plus the pickled radish wedge, slaw, nori, and whole grain mustard, is really exceptional - and makes us feel a little sad that those mural characters have to sit there frozen in time and stare at this fantastic food every night.
We can’t recommend this place enough for a semi-fancy date, a meal with the parents that’s a calmer alternative to the rest of the Capitol Hill dining scene, or a group dinner when you want to seem like you have your sh*t together as the sophisticated person in the pack. So next time you find yourself on this less-busy part of Roy Street, stop in at Cook Weaver. Maybe even invite that dog-video-game designer from your morning commute.
A mandatory starter. The tahini and kimchi together make for a perfectly spicy, creamy accompaniment to the battered dumplings.
Imagine the most delicious chicken satay you’ve ever had, and then batter that, fry it, and serve it coated in crab seasoning with pineapple-habanero hot sauce, pickled radish slices, and crispy peanuts. We don’t know why it all works together, but we don’t know why Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart work so well together, either. You’d be smart to order this for the table.
This bowl of green pea-infused spaetzle, fermented black beans, seared king oyster mushrooms, grated parmesan, and beurre blanc is fantastic - kind of like the mushroom mac and cheese you never knew you wanted. The peas in the spaetzle add a freshness that we really like, and while the black beans are a little salty, just get a bit of every ingredient on your fork and you won’t really notice.
Tender brisket, charred hominy, a creamy slaw, pickled radish wedges, the same pineapple-habanero hot sauce that came with the chicken, a fried egg, and some pieces of nori. This is supposed to be “in the style of bibimbap,” and we only wish we had some rice to soak it all up.
This excellent smoked cod is resting with tasty collard greens in a tomato-bacon broth that reminds us of pozole. Not to mention that the cornmeal dumplings taste like fresh masa tortillas in fritter form. Awesome.