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Jan 10, 2005 07:40 AM


  • g

Just a quick note about the newly opened 21P in Dupont Circle - 2100 P St. NW

Had dinner there on Saturday night with my wife. The place has been remodeled (used to be BeDuCi's) and is a lovely space, simple and nicely done.

Starters: seafood tamale- outstanding; blackened sea scallops- wish we could have gotten more. Second course: black bean soup - really nice, subtle flavoring; mixed green salad with walnuts, feta etc - lovely. Entree: We split a fantastic, and large, lamb shank. meat dripping off the bone, just the way it should be. Normally served with white beans and a bit of greens, they were out of white beans so substituted with black. Dessert: pot de creme - delicious, just the way it should be, and served in a demitasse, so it was the right amount, not some huge over chocolatey dessert.

Overall, food was outstanding. Service was rough but earnest, but no more than you'd expect from a new place trying to find its legs.

Two starters, two seconds, one entree, one bottle water, two beers, tab=$70.

This is a great addition to Dupont. Go now before the word gets completely out.

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  1. I also had the seafood tamale and I must say it was the worst tamale i've ever had. the masa harina (if that was what it was made out of) was dry and flaky and tasted more like bland, stale sponge bread than tamale. it wasn't steamy and luscious like a tamale is supposed to be.

    i am perplexed by the fact that some of the salvadoran dishwashers at this restaurant could probably make a better tamale than the chef.

    i have nothing against the restaurant. but i totally disagree with you about the tamale. in fact, i suggest people go there and taste it and convince the chef to delve deeper into local talent all around him.

    3 Replies
    1. re: josh w.

      how do you know the dishwashers are salvadoran?

      1. re: olga
        Dupont Neighbor

        Learn more about food Salvadoran Tamales are totally different tahn Mexican. Mexican are dryer and in corn husks Salvadoran are in banana leaf and like pudding. I really liked this dish I was there Saturday also. Very busy at 8:30. Curry Crusted Scallop was my favorite. Had wild boar for dinner very good. We are lucky to have 21p in Dupont

        1. re: Dupont Neighbor

          I understand the difference between a Salvadoran tamale and a Mexican tamale, but the "tamale" that was served at 21P was neither really.

          I usually eat the Salvadoran tamales at the food stand up at 16th and Park Road outside the church. They cost a buck each. They are good but not the best I've had.

          The masa harina is moist and congealed but nothing like pudding which is a custard and has eggs/dairy. These do not. They are steamed in banana leaves --and often stuffed with chicken, pimiento stuffed olives, potato, even a hard-boiled egg. they are absolutely delicious.

          The Mexican tamales that I've had are steamed in corn husks and are moist and congealed, often stuffed with stew meat but I've had them with all sorts of stuffings. You are right they are not as moist as a Salvadoran. But neither are they as dry as a week-old sponge cake either.

          There is nothing wrong with this restaurant. I just think they could do a better job with their tamales.

    2. d
      Dupont Neighbor

      Totally Agree. My bad not there Sat. was there Friday Had to wait 45min for a table.

      1. Is there a website for 21P? I seem to remember one being posted awhile ago but I can't find the link. Thanks!

        2 Replies
        1. Went with a group of friends recently and had a good time there.

          Decor was very contemporary and fit in well with the Dupont Circle scene. Our group was seated in a semi-private nook with a n opening looking out to the main dining area/street.

          The cocktails were a big hit with everyone in the group. Try the berry mojito and the apple-honey (?) martini.

          The chipotle aioli for the crab cake was wonderful and so was the wasabi aoiloi for the tuna tartare.

          The chilled cucumber soup had a nice concept to it, but could of went with a bit more acidity with the lime juice and a bit more heat.

          Entree wise, I never pass up a chance for a smoked tea meat when I see it on the menu. The smoked tea chicken had a beautiful delicate smoke flavor infused into the meat, but was a bit on the dry side.

          The rose-water creme brulee (not on menu) was to die for. A very nice, light perfume on the delicate brulee made for a spectacular/interesting dessert.

          Service was very attentive, but the host was a bit "interesting" and off-color. It left the group something to talk about afterwards, but distracted from the evening a bit.

          Our group comes from regular helpings of the "new" SBC Cafe in Herndon (21P's Owner's former restaurant). With many dishes similar on both menus, ie the lamb shank, meat loaf, etc, we felt the actual food at SBC tasted better, though 21P wins out on decor.

          A great place to try if you're in the Dupont Circle area with friends or on a date. If you want a comparison and can make the hike out to Herndon, try SBC Cafe too.