Once again I give the disclaimer: I sell District wine so I am not a totally uninvolved, unbiased reviewer. I review because I enjoyed my meal. And anyway you can't really judge a restaurant in the first week or so. It takes some time for the kitchen and servers to all form a working relationship.
District is a large, open space; it has an upstairs and down, connected by a large opening in the second floor, which looks down on the bar of the first. The connection between the two dining areas makes it feel larger and busier. I sat upstairs at the small service bar and immediately noticed the art on the walls by Johnathon Bisbee, an artist and professor at Bowdoin who makes art with worked foot long spikes, they look great on the walls .
Here's how I'd categorize the cuisine: rich, hearty, earthy, substantial food. It's not delicate food that you have to tip toe around. It's very satisfying food that you can really dig into.
The menu was, to me, a really interesting mix of Italian, American, unintimidating comfort food, and more creative exciting options. It has lots of meat, lots of rich food, although there were at least three vegetarian options for the main course. I was excited to see things like baked halloumi, mussels with creme fraiche, chicken wings with goat cheese dip for appetizers, along with a raw bar with oysters, littleneck clams, and king crab claws. There's also a selection of offal and charcuterie that includes buffalo chicken livers, steak tartar, roasted bone marrow, and foie gras. The main courses included options like suckling pig for two, a grilled cheese burger, veal schnitzel, and roasted and buttermilk fried chicken.
I ordered the baked halloumi and veal schnitzel. I liked the presentation, the halloumi came in a small cast iron sauce pan with toast and cornichons to go with it. It was great, like id expect; I mean how can you dislike baked cheese?! The cornichons were a great mildly acidic balance. The schnitzel was very tasty, cooked perfectly, and served with a zingy lemon sauce and capers. I've had a lot of bad schnitzel in my day. It's pounded so thin and then breaded and fried, that it becomes easy to over cook and screw up the texture. This was just right.
And for dessert: the dessert menu carried through the full flavored, creative theme of the rest of the menu. I choose a bourbon flavored root beer float! It was essentially a normal very good root beer float, but with a slight bourbon flavor added that gave it a smokey earthy quality and kept it from being too sweet tasting. It was delicious. I had the bartender and a passing server try it and we all agreed.
I would be really remiss if I didn't touch on the wine list. The guy who put it together, Anthony, really knows his stuff. He used to have Tropa wines up on Congress. The list isn't huge to the point of being un-navigable, but it has depth and covers the bases, while including a lot of really cool under appreciated wines. He's got three Valtellinas on the list! Valtellina is a very tasty unique wine made from Nebbiolo that comes from Lombardy. Most importantly the list looks well chosen to pair with the food.
Overall I think District will be a great placed to hang out over the winter. It's warm and comfortable inside, but primarily its the food that makes me say that. The satisfying heartiness will make this a useful antidote to the dark cold days of winter.