Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Three days in D.C.


jordyn
 Share

Recommended Posts

I was going to recycle another thread, but this board needs more topics.

I'm going to be in D.C. next week, and I need to figure out where to eat. Assuming it's not too hard to get reservations, I'll probably visit Elysium one night. At least one other night I'm hoping to stay within my company's $30-ish cap for reimbursed dinners.

Here are my questions:

1) Any suggestions for a moderately priced dinner, preferably within the District proper?

2) Assuming price is not the issue on the other night, suggestions?

3) Is the Grapeseed Inn still serving Steve KLC inspired desserts?

3a) Is the Grapeseed Inn anywhere near public transportation?

4) Is there anywhere good to eat lunch near 1300 I, NW?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We just had a marvelous meal at Taberna Del Alabardero, 1776 Eye Street NW (entrance on 18th) 202-429-2200.

We ordered the tasting menu and a Guzman Aldazabal Rioja 1998. Started with a tomato soup topped with smoked tuna, and a drizzle of Spanish olive oil. Simple, yet fresh and awakened the palate nicely.

- Avocado, crab and frisee salad with fig oil.

- Seared rock fish with squid ink rice and potato and green pepper.

- Veal sweetbreads with veal stock sauce and shiitake mushrooms.

-Selection of Spanish cheeses, including Mahon, Idiazabel, Drunken Goat, Torta del Casar (the best bite of the night), Cabrales, a few aged goats.

- Selection of 9 (nine!) desserts including profiteroles, flan, kiwi and raspberry sorbets, pistachio mousse in a pastry horn, cheese ravioli, banana tart, and a 'gypsy arm' jellyroll cake.

Excellent service from David Bueno, also the assitant manager. Highly, highly recommended.

(Sorry for the rush by I'm late for a meeting...)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Grapeseed (not an inn) still has Steve's desserts. It's in Bethesda, MD. It's a minor schlep from the Metro but not an unbearable one. Red Line to Bethesda, come up to street level, turn left on Old Georgetown Road, walk a few blocks and turn right on Cordell Ave. It's about two blocks up on your left.

Where in DC are you staying?

From 13th and I, you can walk up to 14th and K and check out Jeff Tunks' DC Coast restaurant for a lovely seafood lunch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll tackle the lunch question:

Cheap lunch near 13th and I- Havana Breeze (next door to DC Coast at 14th and K). Decent traditional cuban/latin favorites - decidedly lowbrow, but one of my favorite lunches when I worked near there. Also good for a cheap lunch - southern Indian food counter at the Old Post Office Pavilion's food court (Penn and 11th, maybe, you can't miss it). Eat on the balcony overlooking downstairs or outside. Again, decidedly lowbrow but quick and tasty. Jaleo is good for a quick tapas lunch (go a bit early or reserve) a bit far at 7th and D, but you can hop metro red line one stop to Gallery Place and walk down 7th. Have an overpriced hotel salad (not particularly good food) and a drink on the roof of Hotel Washington (15th and Penn.) for the view - if its not too hot.

Museum lunches are fun in Washington. Lunch by the fountain in the National Gallery's West Wing is a favorite (not the big cafeteria with the waterfall). Closer to you is the Museum for Women in the Arts at New York and 13th, I believe. (don't pay the admission fee, just tell them you are going to lunch).

Old Ebbitt has a nice room, but unspectacular food - it's kind of a Washington institution for burgers and such (excellent raw bar actually). The Occidental Grill is better but pricier, another classic Washington lunch spot (seafood special is usually good especially if Rockfish, softshells or crabcakes). 15th and Penn. (willard Hotel)

I second the opinions of Malawry and Liza thus far (never been to Melrose) and I'm sure Klc will weigh in shortly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll be in the DC the first few days of October for a meeting. I may be entertaining clients, so high end places would be welcome as well. I'm staying at the Hilton Washington on Connecticut.

Thanks in advance.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Avoids for high end (for me through experience) would be Equinox, Bice and Butterfield 9.

Ebbitts and the whole Clydes Group as a low/mid end are also no no's, unless with friends who are only there to drink the beer :wink: I find them to be great no brainers for anonomous dining alone, but the cuisine - nah!

Heard great reports about Bombay Club, but I've not been there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How much d'ya wanna show off, Varmint? You could really wow your guests and make a whole evening out of it by hitting Laboratorio Galileo. Reserve well in advance for a group. They aren't open every night. Don't eat in Galileo, insist on only the Laboratorio.

I echo SamanthaF's recommendation of Melrose for anybody visiting DC.

I am also a fan of TenPenh, at 10th and Pennsylvania (d'oh!). Pan-asian food that doesn't give "fusion" a bad name. Even the edamame are better there. Good for a lunch or dinner. This isn't too terribly far from 13th and I, either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a wonderful 40 dollar tasting menu, head to Cafe Atlantico. Latin inspired food. Terrific. For a nice 30 dollar lunch, head to Gerard's Place. Three courses, two choices per course. I had a asparagus veloute, lamb steak with baby root vegetables, and strawberry and rhubarb soup with white chocolate mousse. great stuff. for five dollars extra, you can get a glass of wine. Granted, it's not the most hip place, but you get good food there, in my opinion.

mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How much d'ya wanna show off, Varmint? You could really wow your guests and make a whole evening out of it by hitting Laboratorio Galileo. Reserve well in advance for a group. They aren't open every night. Don't eat in Galileo, insist on only the Laboratorio.

Rochelle-

I was thinking of the Laboratorio, but that might take more time than the clients would have. I'll run the idea by them.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few weeks ago we ate at Jaleo, 480 7th Street, NW and enjoyed it a lot. It serves tapas and while small plates can add up, we found it very reasonable. It seems like a place ideally suited to small groups and dating situations, but we were there with relative and two young kids on a Friday night. It worked great as the kids could pick and choose without having to commit to a whole dish. I think you could easily have three or four dishes and some wine and stay around $30. Our dishes ran from $4.50 to $7.50 each.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For interesting, stylish high end cooking in DC, I now recommend driving out to Great Falls for Yannick Cam at Le Relais rather than Elysium, if you can only do one. My current ranking would be 1. Le Relais (apps avg $16 though there are at least 6 or 7 which cost $8 or $9, entrees mid/high 20's, desserts 9) 2. Cafe 15 and 3. Elysium--based on two meals at Le Relais, four meals at Elysium and the gala opening of the new Sofitel, which houses the mod, urbane Cafe 15 and where I got to meet the chefs and Antoine Westermann and taste much of the menu and Westermann's representative style. (I was an invited guest and did not pay at the Sofitel for those who care about such disclosures.)

I've waxed poetic elsewhere on the site about how Yannick's ethereal deep fried soft shell crab quarters with a cilantro, sherry vinegar cream sauce is the best single dish I've had in a year or two. My other favorites--the cold soup of mussel, apple and curry which I described elsewhere; a wheatberry soup with duck confit and mushrooms; the composed salad of asparagus, olive tapenade, quail egg; the lobster ravioli--called "ravioli de homard, petit ragout de mais aux blancs de poireaux" on the menu--served over a stew/broth of white corn and leeks; the risotto with salsify, pan roasted chunks of shrimp flavored with truffle oil.

Why Le Relais over Elysium? Better chef, slightly better food overall, much more polished service, much better wines and much better desserts. Obviously, I've championed Elysium, its chef, his potential and his concept and still highly recommend it. Le Relais is just a better overall experience--it achieves a better overall level of excellence in more areas in a "Ducasse complete experience way" though I don't mean to say Le Relais should be compared to ADNY. I also suspect Elysium will continue on a downward arc from my last visit for a bit and that we may have seen its best effort for awhile, since the Post review came out and it was mentioned in Food Arts.

Cafe 15 is stylish in a restrained way--elements of Westermann's supervised cuisine here remind me of Daniel Boulud and especially of db Bistro Moderne. Depending on where you are staying, it is centrally located in a "nice" part of DC and might be the most convenient for you. The hotel interior and exterior reflects a sort of "DC dumbing down" as compared to the very interesting new Chicago Sofitel property--but in DC they had to gut and renovate an older, historic building rather than start from scratch. As I said, I haven't taken a meal in the restaurant itself yet, though I noshed my way through elements of the menu--presented in tasting menu or appetizer portions. Very refined, elegant, subtle flavors and textures--conservative yet interesting and not dated--wise use of gelee, of foams and emulsions (including an incredible pea foam layered atop a tiny cup of bacon in gelee) as the best chefs are capable of--regardless of whether they are conservative, as Westermann is, or innovative, as Adria is. Certain critics operate under the misimpression "foam" is a fad--one taste of this foam and you, too, will understand why it appears on the menus of the best restaurants in this country and abroad.

Note that Le Relais also does an incredibly bargain-priced $26 three course fixed price dinner in their bar area, which has 3 or 4 tables, includes your choice of a glass of wine off their list by the glass ($9-12 otherwise) of about 15 choices, and offers several interesting choices of app, entree and dessert. It might meet your bargain budget as well. The night we sampled this menu--and loved it for the price--we had a perfect creme brulee, which should not be disparaged in a city of depressing desserts, is a rarity to find well done and was appreciated by both of us (two pastry chefs) and his "Chocolate mousse cake with orange coulis" which was served with a chocolate sorbet. This was excellent for DC but would be merely acceptable for more knowledgeable diners or more knowledgeable chocoholics--chocolate mousse packed into a demisphere mold resting on a very thin chocolate/cocoa jaconde with nice orange flavor and a very nicely executed sorbet. It could have been more bitter, more acidic, with some crunch--but as it was it was better than any dessert I've ever had at Citronelle or any of the other comparable price point restaurants around town.

But, this brings me back to the reason Cafe 15 rates so high on my list is of the three restaurants Cafe 15 has a real pastry chef--a fantastic young French pastry chef named Romain, I think, and his desserts were superb, by far the best tasting in DC, very Herme/Valrhona/Bau influenced. (If Le Relais or Citronelle were smart, they'd steal this guy away fast otherwise they risk being surpassed down the road.) Elements that should be thin, flavorful, moist, crisp, unctuous, whatever--were so--and were done in miniature, which as any pastry chef will tell you is harder to do well.

My favorites of the Westermann-supervised dishes--again, all presented as stylish pick-up amuses in little cups or on Vietnamese soup spoons and a word to the wise--if you are salt-phobic, don't eat here. Salt is not over-used but it is used properly, emphasized inherently in ingredients and noticeably added if necessary:

Osetra caviar, shellfish aspic, cauliflower cream (really a foam/emulsion;)

Red bell pepper bavarois, Maine lobster, herb jus;

Duck foie gras and fig marmalade;

Crunchy vegetables, sauteed crab meat in spices;

Crayfish broth with Riesling;

Marinated sardines with vegetables confit;

Chilled tomato consommé, gourmet "tartine;"

Scrambled eggs with fresh tomato and basil;

Beef tartar with fried quail egg;

Foie gras mousse with black truffle;

Tuna tartar with dill;

Desserts which stood out? All of them, from the one bite financiers to the excellent, excellent rhubarb marmalade to the chocolate cream "Grand-Mother style"--which Colleen really liked but I thought was too thick; he did a perfect floating island with infused verbena custard, a close to perfect lemon madeleine with wild strawberries and thyme tuile and a very polished very Herme-like rose macaroon with raspberries.

I'm of course a huge fan of Jaleo on the budget-to-moderate end and am employed by their restaurant group. Along with Cafe Atlantico it would make my top 10 in the city, which is also moderately priced. I'd do both, first, over every other moderate option mentioned.

Most of the others mentioned-- I find disappointing for their price point or effort mailed in, though because my experiences were disappointing I haven't made the effort to go back or stay current in the past year. I wouldn't go back to the DC Coasts, Pangauds, Equinoxes, Roberto Donnas of DC unless someone dragged me and was paying. (Just me--I'm sure each is capable of excellent cooking.)

I haven't re-worked Jaleo's desserts yet but they are quite good--Jaleo perhaps sells more desserts than any other restaurant in the city as well. But in October Zaytinya opens--that's Jose Andres's new Greek/Turkish/Lebanese influenced restaurant which I'm currently developing the desserts for. I'll have complete creative control and ongoing supervision, unlike at Grapeseed. When you know your dates, message me and I'll let you know if we're open. At the moment, I can't guarantee the desserts at Grapeseed meet my level of expectation--I just got back from vacation and haven't been there in a few weeks.

The high-end hotel wildcard I'll throw out to the thread is Maestro in the Tysons Ritz--I haven't been yet but have heard very good things about the chef (Fabio Trabocchi) from some palates I trust. I've had endemically poor bordering on horrifyingly indifferent customer service experiences with every previous restaurant incarnation at this Ritz--but I'll go in with an open mind. For my hotel money--the rejuvenated, revitalized DC Four Seasons, with new chef Douglas Anderson from Vancouver, has shown me they are already capable of great things--if given the chance by their clientele.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, everyone. This is very helpful for me. My biggest problem is that I'm in town on a Sunday and Monday night -- the two worst restaurant nights imaginable. I'll track down availability for those nights.

Being from North Cackalacky, I don't get the opportunity to participate in any eGullet get togethers. Please let me know if anyone is interested in getting together on September 29th or 30th. I'll go out with the client the other night! This is so far in the future that I don't expect much response, but if there's at least a trickle of interest, we can create a new thread.

Thanks!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Café 15 and Le Relais seems very intreresting...I'll have to visit DC :hmmm:

It's always welcome to see that some restaurants really care for overall quality and hire a talented pastry chef.

Steve-do you know where Cafe 15 pastry chef was working before?

Patrice Demers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No Patrice. I haven't followed up with him yet. But definitely in France. He might not be out of school for too long.

Here's an excellent review of Le Relais by the fair and knowledgeable Tom Head, who was with me at the Sofitel opening and who recommended we go to Le Relais:

http://www.washingtonian.com/dining/Profil...s/lerelais.html

Here's the press release:

Accor Hotels’ Sofitel Lafayette Square,Washington D.C. Launches A New Partnership With Michelin Three-Star Chef Antoine Westermann.

Washington, D.C.—The luxurious Sofitel at Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. announces that Michelin three-star chef Antoine Westermann has joined its team as a consultant. Scheduled for a late spring 2002 completion date, the new Sofitel is located at 806 15th Street, NW and will feature the elegant, French contemporary 60-seat Café 15 restaurant overlooking 15th Street. The 237-room hotel is aconversion of the former historic 180,000-square-foot, 12-story Shoreham office building with a handsome, updated interior by renowned French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who also designed the Sofitel New York, which opened last July 2000.

According to Francis Cossutta, General Manager of the Sofitel Lafayette Square, Chef Westermann will supervise the kitchen staff, training the Sofitel chefs in Washington and in his own restaurant in France, for reviewing product content and quality, and overseeing the hotel’s banquet operations. He will also create seasonal menus for the Café 15. During Chef Westermann’s regularly scheduled visits to Washington, the hotel plans to host events, such as wine dinners and chef’s tables, to showcase the newsworthy chef and his signature menus.

To maximize Chef Westermann’s unprecedented involvement as the restaurant’s consultant, his sous chef Anthony Clemot from France will work fulltime with Philippe Piel, the recently appointed executive chef of Sofitel Lafayette Square, Washington, DC. This will ensure that the hotel’s Café 15 restaurant and the banquet operation maintain the same quality standards Antoine Westermann has achieved in his Michelin three-star restaurant, Restaurant Buerehiesel, in Strasbourg, France.

A native of the Alsace-Lorraine Region of France, Chef Antoine Westermann has reached superstar status along with chefs Alain Ducasse and Marc Veyrat of France, and Gordon Ramsay of the United Kingdom. He has entered this very exclusive group as one of only four chefs in the world to hold more than three Michelin stars simultaneously. Besides receiving numerous accolades during his career, such as Chef of the Year by GaultMillau in 1994, Chef Westermann has created his famed Michelin three-star restaurant in France; a nearby boutique-deli selling select dishes from his restaurant menu; and a Michelin one-star restaurant, the Fortaleza do Guincho, outside of Lisbon, Portugal, where he serves as the culinary consultant.

Westermann notes that he has surrounded himself with a cooking staff who share not only his deep-seated love and appreciation for quality ingredients and but also his own cooking philosophy, which is building upon the classics and expanding upon them with a sense of creativity. This makes his working days much like being with his own family. As he concludes, "To not advance any more, to not do any more research, to not question yourself any longer—that is to die a bit….Therefore, live in the cuisine of movement the creative cuisine, which vibrates the five senses and the spirit."

Built in an historic landmark building erected in 1880, the hotel is located at the corner of Lafayette Square, which borders the White House. An exclusive location, close to the famous museums of the Smithsonian Institute, national monuments, principal government agencies, Embassy Row, and the Convention Center. It contains 237 rooms, including 17 suites, lobby lounge, and six meeting rooms for up to 160 people. The hotel also offers a fitness center. Its restaurant offers exceptionally refined contemporary French cuisine by consulting Michelin three-star chef Antoine Westermann at Café 15.

Location: 806 15th Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20005

Phone Numbers: Reservations: (800) 763-4835 or www.sofitel.com

Hotel: (202) 737-8800

Fax: (202) 639-4677

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several of us (Malawry, Edemuth) are planning a DC eGullet dinner for Sunday, September 29. The plans haven't been finalized, but let us know if you'd like to join us. Everything but the date is wide open (although, let's stay away from those beefeaters' havens for Malawry's sake).

:biggrin:

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patrice--you know you are welcome anytime! Here's another review of a recently opened restaurant, not by the Post's "lead" reviewer but by Eve Zibart--who writes a restaurant themed food column in the Friday "Weekend" section of the newspaper. Sometimes it's a full review of a single restaurant--other times, not. Eve is perceptive--and clearly fell under the spell of Mina Newman at Restauarnt Seven, as I did back in January.

Here's the link to her review of Restaurant 7--the stylish newcomer to our area with a transplanted NYC chef and where Colleen and I have had 3 very good meals in their upscale restaurant portion and one not so good lunch in the cafe section:

http://eg.washingtonpost.com/profile/10717...ext=restaurants

The problems? Why didn't Tom Sietsema review this place already? He was behind the curve on Elysium and off the curve with Seven. The Washingtonian magazine reviewers have found alot to like about this place and have said so in print. My first meal in January knocked my socks off--finally, some interesting food in Virginia. Unfortunately, the desserts sucked then and they still disappoint now. Also, the restaurant Seven cooking and plating has come to emulate Bob Kinkead and Kinkeads/Colvin Run Tavern--typically big uninteresting safe conservative power DC food--and over the course of our visits what I liked about Mina's food and presentations in the beginning has now faded slightly. There's still hope, however.

Maybe the next NYC chef transplant will not bend.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

We lived in DC from 1976 to 1980. I am so thrilled to hear that Yannick Cam is (again) cooking in the area!!!! Still remember Le Pavillion. Go wherever he is, eat there!

There is so much more good food there than when we were around. Jaleo is terrific. Is Market Inn still open? (not far from the Arena) They used to have an all-day-Saturday half-price oyster deal. And the cooked-food stands at Eastern Market were a treasure.

Mina Newman is cheffing there now? Wow, gotta make a trip down! I knew her from Myriad Group here in NYC.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...