Happy Holidays! It's been an amazing few months for me here in DC. I work with an incredible group of residents at the hospital, and despite spending 60+ hours a week with each other, we still like one another enough to hang out after work. Tonight, after speaking with the promising new applicants for next year's resident class over beers in Cleveland Park, Aimee, Lauren, Nate, and I went looking for a hot bowl of pho. We wound up at Sprig & Sprout, a brand new Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of Glover Park.
Sprig and Sprout isn't your typical hole-in-the-wall Viet shop in Alexandria with dim lighting, greasy floors, and mismatched china, but you wouldn't expect that from a restaurant in the District. The space itself is relatively small - 4 or 5 tables for two, with bar tables lined up along the perimeter of the place. Large, clean posters adorn the walls, teaching newbies how to order and eat your meal. If you're a pho veteran, you'll be glad to know that you can choose exactly which cuts of beef you want in your bowl, which I really valued as that's not something you can do everywhere - without the fear of spit in your soup, that is.
Sprig & Sprout sells vermicelli, rice bowls, and banh mi sandwiches, but we came here for pho. I was famished, so I went for a couple of their pork and shrimp spring rolls to start with. My order took a little longer than I expected to come around as they were freshly frying my spring rolls, and yes, it was worth the wait.
These rolls were supremely crispy on the outside, and incredibly well-seasoned on the inside. The fact that they were fresh out of the fryer made them so much tastier. They were hotter than the soup that came with my pho! As for the filling, they use a combination of ground pork and shrimp, which melded the sweetness of the shrimp with the saltiness of the pork beautifully. My only complaint is that my sauce bowl was empty; I would have liked some of that sweet rice vinegar that spring rolls are usually served with, but they worked just fine with hoisin sauce & Sriracha. But enough about appetizers, on to the main event!
My pho came with brisket, skirt flank, meatballs, and my all-time favorite, tripe, but rare eye of round & chicken are also available if you're into that. The broth was wonderfully pungent with the smell of beef, cilantro, and onion, and they gave enough bean sprouts, jalapenos, and lime to satiate most people. I loved how fresh the condiments were; I don't think I've ever had bean sprouts that crunchy ever. I do wish they were more liberal with the lime & sprouts though, as I like to munch on them with my plate of hoisin/sriracha when I'm taking a break from the pho. As for the pho, it tasted just fine, but my biggest beef - ha! no pun intended - was that the broth was unacceptably cold. That's not to say it came out of the fridge, but my friends who ordered rare eye of round were unable to get the red of out their meat, and that's just not cool. My cuts of beef were pretty tasty, and the noodles seemed a little on the soft side, but both I would have overlooked if the soup base was much fresher and hotter like it should be.
That's the four of us taking up 60% of the dining space at the restaurant. Such a good looking group! For serving up freshly fried spring rolls with not-so-fresh soup for a pretty decent price, Sprig & Sprout earns 3 Cherries.