If hearing that Cure's monthly pop-up night is called "Family Meal" invokes images of a small bar where diners seem to know each other and smile out from their table over warm biscuits, then you've got the right idea. On the second Monday of each month (the next one's on January 14th), the tiny, park-side Capitol Hill haunt opens the doors on its off night, and invites in strangers to make it their home.
Each week the meal is priced between $12 and $15, which includes a beverage and a couple of courses. One month, the drink was a glass of red, the next a tall can of ice-cold Rolling Rock beer. The beer turned out to pair perfectly with that night's two courses. The starter was a light salad pairing crisp celery root and green apples with soft, impeccably seared albacore tuna. It wanted a little more of the Dijon vinaigrette, but for the price point and style, made for a pleasant meal.
Following the cool starter, as people poured in not long after the 7pm opening time, a warm main arrived: a bowl of thick New England clam chowder. The crackling garnish was a highlight, lifting a homey, but unremarkable soup up a small level. The biscuit that came with, while a lovely touch, was too dry to be memorable, but it's hard to complain about quality at a $15 meal with a drink included.
There is certainly better food out there (though often at higher prices), but what Cure offers in its departure from the regular menu of cheese and charcuterie, is a coziness and an ease that define a "Family Meal." By keeping the hours short (starts at 7pm, ends when they run out, which was 8:23 on a recent night), and the menu simple and the same for all, they can keep the focus on a fun, "everybody knows your name" sort of feel. Which might just be even more soul-warming than a slightly better clam chowder.