When the temperatures drop, take the advice of the people of Switzerland, who have the best answer to cold weather: hot cheese. But not just any hot cheese. On dark winter nights, the Swiss eat raclette.
Raclette is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese made in the French and Swiss Alps, but it is also the name of a soul-warming meal that is reminiscent of fondue. Using a fire or a specialty grill, a half wheel of cheese is melted and then scraped onto a plate, where it is accompanied by assorted vegetables and meats. (The word raclette comes from the French racler, which means to scrape.)
Many die-hard raclette fans have their own appliances to enjoy the melted indulgence whenever they please, but for the uninitiated, there are a few D.C. restaurants that can facilitate the experience. Here’s where to warm up with raclette this winter.
ENO Wine Bar
2810 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, ENO Wine Bar hosts a pop-up raclette station. Diners can approach the station to have the cheese scraped over savory bites like crusty bread, baby golden potatoes, pearl onions, cornichon pickles, and charcuterie. Of course, wine pairings are also available.
3911 Georgia Ave. NW
Bring a group to tackle the raclette platter at Homestead, which features herb-roasted fingerling potatoes smothered in melted cheese.
1101 K St. NW
The only thing better than melted cheese is free melted cheese. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly, patrons in the bar area can get a complementary helping of raclette. There will also be traditional accompaniments on offer, including boiled pee wee potatoes and gherkin pickles.
The Big Stick
20 M St. SE
This ski lodge-themed restaurant will reprise their winter raclette special this year, but only by request. Interested parties of four or more should call three days in advance to book their hearty meal of melted cheese accompanied by vegetables and sausages.
The Fainting Goat
1330 U St. NW
Beginning in January, The Fainting Goat will offer a three-course raclette dinner. Guests will begin with a salad before moving on to the main event of cheese served with shrimp skewers, pork loin skewers, finochiatta, country ham, potatoes, cauliflower, roasted carrots, radish, mushrooms, cornichons, pickled vegetables, and olives. For dessert, there’s a chocolate pot de crème.
Raclette cheese itself can also be found on the menu in various other forms, including a grilled cheese and a whipped spread, at these restaurants: Woodward Table, Requin, Bidwell, and Cheesetique.