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Tis the Season to Eat Political

Few in Washington escape election season fever, and restaurants are no exception. Taking advantage of the partisan feelings coursing through the city, area restaurants are offering diners the chance to vote with their palates. [IMGCAP(1)]

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) won in a landslide — 82 percent to 18 percent — during August’s Krispy Kreme doughnut poll in Dupont Circle, but will President Bush fare better at California Tortilla or TenPenh?

Here’s a rundown of some of the election-inspired meals and libations being offered around the city.

Charlie Palmer Steak: A special three-course menu designed for each candidate is available during lunch for $20.04. The menus feature interpretations of the candidates’ home state cuisine and favorite foods. On Kerry’s menu, diners will find sweet New England little neck clams in a leek and sweet corn broth with cucumber linguine; filo wrapped Chatham cod with braised mustard greens, applewood smoked bacon and butternut squash; and for dessert, Boston cream pie.

President Bush is saluted with smoked heirloom tomato and cannellini bean

soup with mascarpone cheese dumplings; marinated hanger steak with polenta and tomatilla salsa and red pepper caponata; and Key Lime pie to finish.

Each menu is paired with a wine from the candidates’ regions for an additional $6 a glass.

California Tortilla: Through Oct. 28, all seven California Tortilla locations, including the one at 728 Seventh St. NW, are offering competing presidential burritos and tallying the votes. Bush’s hickory chicken burrito combines grilled chicken, black beans and horseradish mashed potatoes with a Texas hickory sauce and salsa. Kerry’s savory chicken burrito features grilled chicken with Mexican rice, Boston baked beans, salsa and a splash of Heinz 57.

At press time, Kerry had a slim lead in the burrito poll — 1,296 to 1,254 for Bush.

Ceiba, TenPenh and DC Coast: At this trio of restaurants, diners can choose between two ice cream flavors inspired by the candidates’ favorites. At DC Coast, Bush is represented by pralines and cream ice cream and Kerry with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. TenPenh adds an Asian touch with Chinese five spice pralines and cream ice cream for the president and white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie dough ice cream for the Massachusetts Senator. The Latin-themed Ceiba offers pralines and cream ice cream for Bush and Mexican wedding cookie dough ice cream for Kerry.

The results of the ice cream race will be tallied, and the winner announced on the eve of the election.

Helix: Over in Logan Circle, the Helix bar is offering two partisan-inspired cocktails. The Disco Donkey, in honor of the Democratic Party, mixes Stoli raspberry and peach vodkas, sour apple schnapps, sour mix and a cherry. The Republican Party is represented by the Pink Elephant, which blends brandy, Liquor 43, cranberry juice and pineapple juice.

Priced at $9 apiece, the cocktails will be available through Election Day, at which time the winning party’s drink garners a permanent spot on the menu.

The Hay-Adams: Across the street from the White House on election night, the hotel’s Off the Record bar will offer six party- inspired cocktails including a cosmo compassionate conservative and a Kerry berry-tini (a martini with raspberry vodka). The Lafayette, the hotel’s restaurant, will offer Boston clam chowder and roasted Cornish hen with Boston baked bean gratin in honor of Kerry and a Texas style charbroiled bison strip steak with “Crawford” cornbread in honor of the president.

La Tasca: The Spanish tapas restaurant doesn’t care who you voted for as long as you voted. Anyone displaying an “I Voted” sticker on Election Day will get a free tortilla Americana tapas, a traditional Spanish omelette with potatoes and red peppers.

Belga Café Set to Open. The much-anticipated Belga Café will open Friday on Barracks Row, adding an upscale dining spot to the diverse stretch of restaurants on Eighth Street Southeast.

The restaurant will serve classic Belgian cuisine with a twist and “Eurofusion” cuisine, according to chef Bart Vandaele. That translates to dishes such as leg of rabbit with red ale beer; sweet and sour duck breast with celery root and duck confit; and a take on the traditional coquilles Saint-Jacques dish that combines pan-seared scallops with carrot mousseline and baby carrots flavored with cumin.

Steamed mussels will be served six ways including with garlic butter, curry cream and white beer, and Belgian fries will be accompanied by homemade mayonnaise for dipping.

Brunch will bring waffles with caramelized apples, crepes with Nutella, and poached eggs with salmon and asparagus.

The café also boasts a list of 35 Belgian and Belgian-style beers and will feature a beer of the week and beer tasting events.

Belga Café is located at 514 Eighth St. SE.

Special Delivery. Beginning Nov. 3, Oceanaire will receive daily shipments of fresh Nantucket Bay scallops, which are only available November through March each year.

The sweet mollusks receive a simple preparation from executive chef Rob Klink. “I like to simply sautée these scallops in garlic, olive oil and parsley in order to allow the natural sweet flavor to come through.”

Local fishermen harvest the scallops, and availability is limited because of restrictions placed on the harvest.

Oceanaire is located at 1201 F St. NW.

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