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Oya - New Restaurant Downtown


ju12
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Oya just openend up downtown. I stumbled upon it - it is right next to Zaytinya. Went in for a drink and a wonderful dessert (banana bread pudding and rum/rasin ice cream) on Saturday night. I heard no buzz about this restaurant, as I usually do for other opening. Going there for dinner on Thursday, will let you know how it is. Place is super trendy and has a California feel to it, a hip lounge area and they also seem to focus on high quality cuisine. Hey they got their chef from Aquavit in NY!

Here is write-up I found in the Washingtonian.

website www.oyadc.com

QUOTING FROM THE WASHINGTONIAN:

FROM THE CARIBBEAN BY WAY OF SWEDEN

With a red crocodile-skin bar, white marble fireplaces, waterfall illusions on the walls, and capiz-shell chandeliers, Oya—slated to open in February—doesn’t look like your average restaurant. Errol Lawrence, who grew up in DC and has run restaurants in Los Angeles, wants his Chinatown space to be both “a party every night” in the lounge area and a fine-dining destination.

Lawrence lured St. Lucia–born chef Kingsley John from New York, where he worked for eight years under renowned Aquavit chef Marcus Samuelsson. John says his menu is “all over the place,” showing his Caribbean roots but also Samuelsson’s Swedish influence. Take the jerk-salmon gravlax flatbread: John uses the gravlax and espresso-mustard sauce Samuelsson taught him, then sprinkles it with jerk spices and lays it on the type of flatbread he grew up with. Other appetizers include baby-conch salad with pineapple sorbet and jerk-salmon avocado rolls.

Featured dinner entrées are pimiento-crusted duck with taro root; smoked lamb chops with green bananas and black-eyed peas; and a crispy whole fish surrounded by dill broth. At lunch there’s curried goat, and mango barbecue chicken with callalou. Lunch entrées are $12 to $23, dinner main courses $18 to $35.

John hired Aquavit’s Jean-Rony Fougere to craft the desserts. Look for chilled coconut soup with passionfruit dumplings, and a chocolate-mousse dome with spiced caramel.

Oya’s favorite liquor is rum. Aquavit bar master Christian Post is helping John concoct a palette of infused rums. One cocktail blends spiced rum with ginger beer and sorrel. And flights of rum sorbets will be served in the lounge.

Oya (777 Ninth St., NW; 202-393-1400) is open weekdays for lunch and dinner. A late-night menu is served until 1 am.

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Sure the Washingtonian piece was a press release, but there's no way this was a publicist post - one would NEVER say "I heard no buzz about this restaurant"!

Oh, yes they would...you'd be surprised.

I've been to Oya twice now. The first visit was a private event so I have no idea if the food was representative of what they are serving now, and the second visit was drinks only. Bottom line, I really can't comment on the food except to say "hold on to your wallet."

Appetizers start around $10 and go deep into the teens. The least expensive entree is a vegetable plate for $20. At least two entrees are priced at $30+. Given my sorry budget, the food had better be good for the price. With that in mind, I'm going to let them settle in before ante-ing up for a meal.

The decor is very striking and I've enjoyed the cocktails I've tried there (the drink menu is somewhat creative, I'll say). Again, though, price will turn some people off. I believe wines by the glass start at $9 and cocktails at $11.

I like the crowd - a nice mix of ages and races. The presence of some dapper gentlemen aged 50+ surprised me a little in that I would have expected the hyper-stylishness of the place to turn some old guard Washingtonians off. Apparently not!

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I'm not a publicist. Just excited about new restaurants FINALLY coming to downtown DC/MCI center area. I posted the Washingtonian article...i obviously didn't write that.

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I'm not a publicist.  Just excited about new restaurants FINALLY coming to downtown DC/MCI center area.  I posted the Washingtonian article...i obviously didn't write that.

I've been waiting for ages for new restaurants to open down there. I've been going to the same ol run down Chinese place for years. :hmmm:

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I'm not a publicist.  Just excited about new restaurants FINALLY coming to downtown DC/MCI center area.  I posted the Washingtonian article...i obviously didn't write that.

Ummmm.

Zaytinya, Andale, all the places in MCI itself, the Grill House, Zola, need I go on?

I second Al's :hmmm: and raise him one :hmmm:

Edit to add - And how could I forget Rosa Mexicano!!! I hear they serve ventworm nuts.

Edited by JPW (log)

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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Ummmm.

Zaytinya, Andale, all the places in MCI itself, the Grill House, Zola, need I go on?

I second Al's  :hmmm:  and raise him one  :hmmm:

Edit to add - And how could I forget Rosa Mexicano!!! I hear they serve ventworm nuts.

... Matchbox, Poste, Kanlaya, Ella's, IndeBleu... :wink:

But back to Oya. The place is quite a looker. Fire in the walls, water running down the walls, white leather everywhere.... Can't wait for some preliminary reports from the field on the food. Press release mentions braised short ribs with vanilla pear puree, and grilled green curry lobster. Press release fails to mention $30 price tags.

Amanda

Metrocurean, a D.C. restaurant and food blog

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Oya just openend up downtown.  I stumbled upon it - it is right next to Zaytinya.  Went in for a drink and a wonderful dessert (banana bread pudding and rum/rasin ice cream) on Saturday night.  I heard no buzz about this restaurant, as I usually do for other opening.  Going there for dinner on Thursday, will let you know how it is.  Place is super trendy and has a California feel to it, a hip lounge area and they also seem to focus on high quality cuisine.  Hey they got their chef from Aquavit in NY!

Hey ju12, thanks for the info! I'm a BIG fan of Marcus Samuelsson, and it sounds like Oya is a great new addition to downtown. I'd also like to thank the other posters for PR-ing THEIR favorite restaurants downtown after slamming ju12. Let us know how your dinner goes!

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OK here it goes:

Decor: Super cool. Enough Said. See Washingtonian description above.

Service: Above average for a restaurant in its 2nd week. The Female wait staff look great in fancy orange tops, but the male waitstaff where organg long sleeve T-shirt?? They certainly need something more respectable. Good timing for drinks, appetzier, entree and dessert - often a challenge for new places. My one major complaint was that the soup I ordered arrived cold and once I sent it back it didn't arrive much warmer....I made a point to tell the manager so hopefully this will be fixed. They waitstaff is trained well and professional. They even folded our napkins when we went to the bathroom mid-meal. I appreciate little things like that. They also provided new silverware in between our courses and didn't seem put-off when we answered their query of "sparkling or flat" with "tap water please."

You also get a solitary sushi roll with smoked salmon before your appetizer and cookies with the check. I nice touch, but this is getting more and more common at good restaurants.

Food/drinks: The three drinks we had were excellent, although they better be considering they were $15 each. I had the Tanqueray Tea which tased much like lemon iced-tea but with a gin induced zing was my favorite. The Spicy mango rum drink is very good - much like a bloody marry but wtih mango. The ginger beer/drink was excellent too.

Appetizers: Good selection of appetizers. In addition to salads, short ribs, interesting soups, seafood dishes, chicken curry sushi-like rolls, jicama beef salad, etc. We had the Lentil soup with oxtail meet wrapped in Plaintain Gnocchi. This was my least favorite dish - the soup ($12) didn't taste much better than canned and it was served cold twice. But the oxtail wrapped in the Gnocchi was very good, but not worth getting the soup for the three dumplings. The Crab cakes ($15)were very good. One hot/traditional crab cake and one cold crabcake. Accompanied by Guacamole, a rum raisn coleslaw and a corn blini. This was very good and the flavors mixed well.

The entrees were just OK. I had the strip steak ($35). It was three medallions of steak, each topped with onion and served on top of a mix of mashed potatoes and sauce and veggies. It was a small portion, or maybe a normal portion but all of the other restaurants serve large portions. The steak was very tender and supposedly had jalepeno rub on it, but I didn't taste it. The steak and the sauce went very well together - but I wouldn't say it was extraordinary. My date had the veggie plate ($20), which was good but again a slightly small portion.

Desserts: This was the highlight. It might be worth coming to Oya, getting two of their interesting drinks and sharing the Mini-Pinaple Baked Alaska. This was WOW good. It is served in a pineapple and filled with pineapple ice-cream and I think sponge cake and topped with slightly browned merengue. The other dessert ws Rhubarb soup with floating sorbet and strawberries. Pretty good but too acidic.

The management gave us the two desserts for free. Not sure the occassion - possibly b/c it's they just opened and we ordered well and sent the soup back.

In all, slighlty disappointed by the food, but happy with the service. A great place for drinks and very cool decor. Worth a stop. I would recommend visiting for drinks and dessert and waiting a bit for a full meal until they work the kinks out...

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I dunno, the cited menu examples sound pretty tasty in that 'huh...interesting' , 'to the brink of - but not quite - confused' fusion cuisine sort of way. Pass on the cilantro daquiri, though. Writeup didn't feel THAT harsh, though the "Ok, we're here now, consider yourselves hip' line made me cringe a little.

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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That felt to me like the harshest Weekly Dish I can remember from Tom. Looking forward to the real review.

After the harsh - but unspecific - comments from Tom, I feel the need to report on my experience at Oya. I stopped by for a drink the other night and had a wonderful time. Oya had everything that I had wanted from - but did not find at - Indebleu. I tried thier take on a pina colada and the cilantro dacquiri. Both were amazing (and, unlike the drinks at Indebleu, neither contained pucker). My husband and I tried several of the bar appetizers also, and found them to be wonderful. The beef skewers were tender and very flavorful, and the chef had anticipated the need for a fresh contrast by serving them over chopped salad garnish. We also tried the ceasar salad, which was quite good. Most interestingly, the bowl is the crouton itself. When that was first described for me, I thought that it was a bit gimmicky, but the flavors were actually excellent and the salad was dressed perfectly to allow the bottom to retain the flavor of the dressing without becoming soggy. On the other hand, I thought that the pork stuffed mushroom tempura could stand to be a little less greasy.

We also tried the baked alaska pineapple, which was to die for. I eat desserts infrequently becuase they are so often disappointing around here, but I was pretty much squeezing out the empty pineapple shell to try to get leftover tidbits at the end of this one. I would highly recommend it.

The ambience is also excellent. I was so impressed by the interior. Adamstein and Demetriou do a good job with all of our high end interesting restaurant interiors, but it was refreshing to see something new and different. I was amazed when I found out that the owner - who introduced himself and spoke to us for a little while - actually designed the restaurant himself and even acted as the general contractor.

Although I can not comment from personal experience on the waitstaff as I was at the bar, the service that we had was outstanding. The bartender was nice and perky and seemed to actually be enjoying her job. Moreover, I overheard several conversations between the bartender, the manager, and the waitstaff in which it was clear that they were bending over backwards to create a beverage that would perfectly satiate one of the customers in the dining room. I don't know whether they will be able to keep this up, but it seems as if the delay in opening has given them enough time to form a well-trained staff who actually cares about the product.

The prices are high. Especially the drink prices. The infused rum drinks are all $15 dollars each. They are amazing, but not strong. I would highly recommend them despite the price, but maybe just one to start off. I would feel so much better if they were just a couple dollars less. The wine prices (by the glass) were actually very reasonable. Most of the glasses were under $10, and there are many places around town that price these wines much higher. Although the bar appetizers appeared particularly expensive on the menu, they were fairly large (and quite good) so I didn't feel that they were particularly overpriced.

There are a few small details that I believe could be improved. They could use slightly better stemware, although thankfully they do not employ the universal wine glass (which is a huge pet peeve of mine and seems more common all the time). I would be hesitant to order champagne due to the champagne glasses, which allow the champagne to flow through the stem of the glass. It seems that your hands would warm the champagne quickly. Also, they have no beer!! They have not yet chosen thier beer, but they should probably stock some in the meantime.

There are a few kinks that they need to work out, but overall I am extremely impressed by the performance of such a young restaurant.

Edited by lackadaisi (log)
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I dunno, the cited menu examples sound pretty tasty in that 'huh...interesting' , 'to the brink of - but not quite - confused' fusion cuisine sort of way. 

Some of the drinks on the cocktail menu gave me that same reaction. I was going to try to give examples, however the web site is still under construction.

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lackadaisi - What was the tab for the two of you? Just trying to get a feel for cost and if it would be worth a visit.

Edited by mdt (log)
Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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lackadaisi -  What was the tab for the two of you?  Just trying to get a feel for cost and if it would be worth a visit.

I think it was about $150, but that included many glasses of wine also. We were there for a very long time.

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lackadaisi -  What was the tab for the two of you?  Just trying to get a feel for cost and if it would be worth a visit.

I think it was about $150, but that included many glasses of wine also. We were there for a very long time.

That was for a few appetizers, dessert and wine, but no entrees, right?

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The ambience is also excellent.  I was so impressed by the interior.  Adamstein and Demetriou do a good job with all of our high end interesting restaurant interiors, but it was refreshing to see something new and different.  I was amazed when I found out that the owner - who introduced himself and spoke to us for a little while - actually designed the restaurant himself and even acted as the general contractor.

Actually, the restaurant was designed by Griz Dwight, of GrizForm Design Architects. Griz was formerly a Senior Project Manager for Adamstein and Demetriou and has worked on many beautiful DC restaurants. In addition to Oya he is working on a number of projects right now, including... Sonoma, (Capitol Hill) which is the 'soon to be open' sister restaurant to Mendocino. We've been very impressed with his work and his knowledge. As I understand it, the owner of Oya did act as his own contractor though.

Anyway, welcome Oya...to the Washington restaurant scene.

Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar

Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar

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lackadaisi -  What was the tab for the two of you?  Just trying to get a feel for cost and if it would be worth a visit.

I think it was about $150, but that included many glasses of wine also. We were there for a very long time.

That was for a few appetizers, dessert and wine, but no entrees, right?

[/quot

No entrees, but it included a few appetizers, dessert, 4 rum-infused beverages ($15 each), and several glasses of wine.

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