Red Hen, in a revitalized area near Rhode Isand Ave and 1st St,, NW, has gained a strong foodie following for its sophisticated and modern Italian food in a casual environment. It's clear to see why, just looking at the menu and feeling the vibe inside. People are really enjoying themselves.
I ordered four small items, lured by the summer season of corn and sugar snap peas. For the most part, the food justifies the popularity. One of the dishes was perfect, two others far from perfect but still wonderful, and the last was abysmal.
The chicken liver crostini (two large pieces) were perfect with a gentle swab af fig jam and planting of fresh thyme on top.
A chilled corn soup was very delicious, though not strong in corn flavor. A salad of sugar snap peas, crushed hazelnuts, and lettuce had a light, gorgeous parmesan dressing. The peas, though, were sliced in half lengthwise, deconstructing their essential snap and separating the peas from their pod. Kind of like sugar snap peas for people who don't like sugar snap peas. The showering of crushed hazelnuts was impressively generous, but lacked in flavor.
The failure was a polenta with no flavor of polenta. Again, perfect for people who do not like polenta. Pretty much overwhelmed by heavyhanded use of mascarpone and parmesan. This should be banished from the restaurant.