I had dinner at Bad Saint with my friend/survey methodology idol Diane on 3-6-2017. While it wasn’t the most comfortable seating arrangement ever, the space was fun and quirky, the server was lovely and the meal had some standout dishes. And of course, there was the line.
Atmosphere: 4 out of 5
Food & Drink: 4 out of 5
Bad Saint is one of the crop of D.C. restaurants that’s incredibly popular and does not take reservations. People line up outside as early as 3:30pm. This was the line at 4:48pm on a Monday in March. You really do have to get there at around 4pm if you want to be in the first seating at 5:30pm.
And since getting there that early is not not possible if you work or have things to do, we hired a Task Rabbiter! She started waiting at 4pm and was about the 10th person in line when I arrived to relieve her.
If you want to try Task Rabbit here’s a link for $20 off: https://www.taskrabbit.com/r/301b0/try
After waiting for the doors to open at 5:30pm, we were seated immediately. The restaurant itself was teeny, tiny and mainly dominated by the open kitchen. Below is the view from the front door.
There’s mainly only counter seating, with the exception of two booths that seat about four people each. Below is the view of that same space from the back of the restaurant.
I don’t always post this many pictures of the inside of the restaurant but I really had no idea how small this place was. I emailed once about bringing a group and Bad Saint replied the restaurant wouldn’t be a good fit for a large party. I can clearly see why now!
Above is where we sat. It was basically a counter lining a hallway between the main dining room and the bathroom. The stools were close together and bolted to the floor, which is why the space gets a few points off for comfort. However the eclectic music (Lauren Hill, flamenco, etc.), unique space and almost buzzing vibe helped overcome the tight quarters.
After wedging myself in, I was ready to eat all the things.
Left – Balisong (rye, Bittermans Tepache, coconut liqueur, Carpano Antica, Angostura). This smelled very lime-y, tasted very whisky-y and finished very coconut-y. Too strong for my taste but for the rye drinker it’s probably a nice combo.
Right – Willy Santos (lamganog, Cocchi Americano, Banane du Bresil, lime). This was so good! It was like a banana sour almost. It was definitely sweet and fruity but acidic enough not to be cloying. I would definitely recommend this.
Also note the wall was lined with mirrors so you get to stare at yourself while you eat.
Ginisang Ampalaya (bitter melon, egg, green pepper, onion, preserved black bean, rice). The waitress warned us that due to the bitter melon this was a very polarizing dish. That of course made me want to try it more, just to see what it was all about. I’m glad we did. It had a flavor that was a little smoky, of course bitter and also had a hint of vinegar. Something about the blend of flavors and the egg in it made it almost like comfort food.
Kinilaw Na Pugita (octopus, fingerling potatoes, queen olives). WHOA. Say hello to my new favorite ceviche in life! This was my favorite dish of the meal by far. Imagine octopus ceviche, but then in addition to the normal flavors there’s olive juice. It might sound weird but I don’t know if I ever want to eat normal ceviche again.
Ginisang Tulya (littleneck clams, chinese sausage, coconut milk, donuts). This was really good. The broth was tomato-based and the chinese sausage reminded me of pancetta in both texture and flavor. The dish was a little spicy and a little sweet, kind of like a curry. The donuts on the left were for dipping in the sauce and, while not really sweet at all, vaguely reminded me of the deep fried flavors you encounter at a carnival.
Sisig (pork jowl, onions, egg, chili vinegar). This came out sizzling, like when you order a fajita. In fact, the dish was hot enough to cook that raw egg once you stirred it around. While that part was fun the flavor itself wasn’t amazing, even though the chili vinegar gave it both a spice and acid kick. It kind of reminded me of skillet you’d get for breakfast at a diner. I joked it’d probably be amazing for hungover brunch.
Marinated five spice apples (deep fried in pastry, edible flowers, caramelized coconut milk). This was absolutely amazing! The apples were tart, which nicely balanced the sweetness of the coconut milk. Also why doesn’t everywhere offered caramelized coconut milk?! It was so, so, so good.
Overall this was a delightful meal. I didn’t love the line but it wasn’t that long or that cold and we were seated immediately. I will, however, be excited when D.C. stops that funny business.
P.S. Even toddlers love Bad Saint leftovers.