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NY Hound Back From D.C.

OK-here goes. Citronelle was wonderful. Tasting menu including the mini-lobster burger, foie gras opera cake, squab minute steak, mushroom "cigar", haricot vert tartare, faux egg, cheese, chocolate 3 ways-all fantastic.
City Zen-7 courses- egg, leeks and serrano in broth, foie gras in lemon beer gelee, sturgeon, crepinette of veal, mini-Parker House rolls, cheese-amazing
Inn at Little Washington-worth the hour drive-to die for-lamb carpaccio, crudo, hot and cold foie gras, rabbit, deconstructed veal parmesan, mooing cheese cart-unbelievable
Maestro- beef carpaccio with quail egg and tofu, hamachi, suckling pig, mushroom risotto, gnocchi bacala, marzipan souffle, hay broiled brill- mind blowing.
Also Pizza Paradiso (great beer selection in Georgetown), 2 Amy's (on a par with Una pizza Napoletana in NY plus great charcuterie), Five Guys double greasy cheeseburger and spicy fries, Jaleo for tapas (loved the conejo) and of course, Ben's Chili Bowl for a chili half-smoke with the works.
Lastly-big greasy vegetable egg rolls from the hot dog stands on the Mall.
How'd I do?

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  1. You left a few great spots for your next trip but you couldnt better than the choices you made.

    1. You did the crème de la crème in the Area. Try to nail MiniBar and Laboratorio next time. Maybe 2941and Equinox...

      4 Replies
      1. re: cookiejesus

        Maybe 2941? 2941 shouldn't ever be a maybe- it's incredible. Chef Krinn is doing some amazing things right now.

        Also you've still got Restaurant Eve which is simply the best restaurant in the region and Palena as well.

          1. re: jpschust

            I never did get to go to 2941 in my time there. I heard both good and not so good... but then again, you hear that about everyone.

            Maybe next time I'm around I'll be sure to go.

            1. re: cookiejesus

              I'd ignore the bad, and I'll even explain why I feel that I can say that. I've now eaten there 3 times in the last 2 weeks. It's a long story (let's just say drinks turned into a much more serious conversation and we decided to dine), but I've now eaten off half that menu including some repeats and the quality has been consistent, the service has been excellent, and the selection is amazing. I can't imagine anyone giving this place a negative review at this point, but that said everyone has some off moments.

        1. Planning my return in March. Have to repeat City Zen and the Inn at LW. Thinking 2941 and Eve to try for the first time. Any other recs?

          20 Replies
          1. re: guttergourmet

            Krinn left 2941 and they "imported" a French chef from NY. People left in droves because 2941 was all about Krinn. He will be opening a new place of his own in the middle of Tysons Corner in the fall.
            For your next visit, try Le Paradou, Gerard's, and maybe Puck's new place called "The Source". Eve is right up your alley, and you might try their casual "English Chipper" down the street or another of their "American Eclectic" casual places called The Majestic.

            1. re: HSBSteveM

              Not sure where you're getting your information about people leaving in droves when Krimm left 2941. Basedon on our observations during Scott Bryan's tenure, a different way to put this might be that if people left in droves and equal number of people arrived in droves. Now that the new permanent chef is on the scene, it's time to visit 2941 again.

              Frankly, one of the big draws for us has always been the stellar sommelier, and she was still there as of December. There seem to be fewer top sommeliers compared to top chefs. The late-lamented Maestro had one (and he's still on the Ritz scene), but I can't think of any other restaurants with sommeliers performing at that level.

              1. re: Indy 67

                Well, to be more accurate, the "drove" consists of everybody I know who went there because of Krinn. So your point is well taken. One thing they can't ever take away from 2941 is the dramatic space - almost nothing like it in DC metro area - feels like NY, eh?

              2. re: guttergourmet

                See if you can get a reservation for Komi. Unbelievebale chef's tasting. The best restaurant experience I've had in DC.

                1. re: gatorfoodie

                  I absolutely agree - best DC restaurant for me. I feel like I'm in one of those little places in the Village in NYC. Johnny's great!

                2. re: guttergourmet

                  Yes: Marcel's and The Oval Room.

                  Eat at The Oval Room and you'll be reminded of Jean Georges. Four of the principals in The Oval Room are ex-Jean Georges.

                  Marcel's is classic French with some Belgian influences. Superb execution of dishes and polished service.

                  1. re: guttergourmet

                    In order: The Source. Minibar.Tosca. Komi. Equinox.
                    Tasting room @ Black Salt. Vidalia. Palena. Hook. Rasika.

                    1. re: guttergourmet

                      First I have to say 2941's braised veal is incredible, I don't think they lost much with Scott Bryan it might have been a gain, but their even newer chef will be there then and I haven't eaten there under him, yet, so I can't say. Their wine list is incredible we were so happy to find Jean Leon on their list for our dinner.

                      I would have to say: Eve, Komi, The Source, Minibar would be on the top of my list having eaten at the places you have.

                      1. re: ktmoomau

                        Ditto on The Source, and try their Cucumber Martini!

                        1. re: ktmoomau

                          I hear Eve is wonderful. I just haven't been yet.

                          1. re: keithdcil

                            Eve is incredible. I would definitely keep that on your list for your next visit.

                        2. re: guttergourmet

                          Nix 2941 and Eve. Both are in VA and neither is as good as a few groupies would lead you to believe.

                          Go to ($$$$): Minibar, Komi, Kinkeads, Le Paradou, Marcels
                          Go to ($): Eden Center, Myanmar, Old Ebbit (Oysters only), Central
                          Good, but certainly no big deal: Equinox, Blue Duck, Gerards, Source, Tosca

                          1. re: guttergourmet

                            2941 is between chefs. Don't bother.

                            I like Eve's Tasting Room. The Bistro is good but not worth a trip from NYC.

                            I recommend trying Komi -- small, informal,and fabulous food.

                            The Minibar at Cafe Atlantico is a must but you really do need reservations inadvance. I call one month to the day in advance I want, and often can't get in. They start taking reservations at 9am,by the way.

                            I also liek La Paradou very much but it doesn't get near the press it deserves.

                            I don't think DC has better ethnic food (Thai, Vietnamese, etc, than I have had in NYC, so why bother with that.

                            1. re: Dakota Guy

                              Thanks everyone. Interesting about chef Bryan. I'd been to Veritas in NY where he made his name which was great. Am I correct in understanding that he'll be gone from 2941 by the time I get there end of March? If so, I guess I'll be looking elsewhere. By the way, chef Trabocchi from Maestro is in NY at Fiamma wowing people though I haven't been able to get there yet. For what it's worth my ranking from my last visit to D.C. of the high end restaurants was 1. City Zen 2. Inn at Little Washington; 3. Maestro and 4. Citronelle. What's the thinking on Jaleo? Tell me more about Komi and Paradou.

                              1. re: guttergourmet

                                Jaleo serves a purpose, as most tapas places do, but not as a destination restaurant for fine dining. In fact, as Jose Andres's empire grows, some have complained that Jaleo has suffered. I do think, on the other hand, that Jose's star is just beginning to rise, and my guess is that his name will be as well known as Mario's in a few years. Even if you can't get into Minibar, a meal at Cafe Atlantico is a treat.

                                Komi is a small, slighly under-decorated place with a young, enthusiastic wait staff, and a wine list that probably tops out at $100. The draw in Johhnie Monie's (I think I butchered that name/spelling) cooking. Think gourmet Greek. The meal begins with a dozen successive courses of mezze, all perfectly cooked and artfully presented. When you can't possible eat another bite, a wonderful al dente pasta is presented with curious additions like dried fish roe, pine nuts, and chili. Finally, the main course might be a whole roasted fish, or a braised pork shank. A big-time meal, full of flavors.

                                Le Paradou is one of the most refined meals in town. Yannick Cam mans the kitchen. He was one of DC's first star chefs at La Pavillion 20 years ago (maybe even 30?). Very well prepared high-end cuisine of fish, squab, veal in magically light reduction sauces, with all the accompaniments of starched linen, heavy silver, delicate crystal and tuxedoed waiters and a wine list well into 4 figures.

                                1. re: Pappy

                                  That's pretty spot on for Komi...although I wouldn't say "under-decorated", maybe just subtle.

                                  The main course we had when I was there was roasted leg of goat. It was the most delicious piece of meat I've ever eaten, served with a lime / sea salt mix and a selection of greek sauces.

                                  It was a good thing that eventually the wait staff removed it from the table, because I would have seriously eaten everything that was there...(read: become seriously ill from stuffing my face full of so much fabulous food)

                                2. re: guttergourmet

                                  Bryan is gone already; he stayed at 2941 through the New Year's celebrations. This was always known to be a temporary arrangment, a brief post for Bryan while he was waiting to open his own place in NYC some time in the spring.

                                  Krimm's permanent replacement, Bertrand Chemel, ex of Cafe Boulud in NYC, is now on the job.

                              2. re: guttergourmet

                                You must go to Le Paradou and get the 10 course tasting menu (which is whatever the chef decides to cook).

                              3. You hit all the spots I would have wanted to hit if I was a visitor. Great trip!

                                1. awesome!

                                  can you give a bit more detail on the trip to CityZen? I have reservations there for Valentine's day and am just curious to know how you think it fared against the rest of the places you went to.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: MarcDC

                                    I am not guttergourment but I have been to all of the same places. I would rank them Citronelle, TIALW, Cityzen, ...all the rest [of course Maestro is no longer in business]. You will enjoy Cityzen, I am sure. It has great food, service, and wine. I only wish that all of the deuces (2-person tables) were not lined up along one interior wall.

                                    1. re: Dakota Guy

                                      great thanks for the info. do you think i should get the wine tasting for $90 or buy a bottle of wine (to go along with the 7 course meal)?

                                      1. re: MarcDC

                                        I have found some great new wines doing wine pairings; I have also had some I really dislike. Usually when I am having an expensive meal, e.g, Citronelle, Cityzen, etc, I buy a bottle simply because I am more assured that I will get a great wine to go with a great meal. I tend to experiment more with wine tastings with more modest meals. But that's just me.

                                  2. One rec for your return trip: Obelisk. it's awesome. Check for the many posts on it. it's my fave. Also 1789 wasn't on your list; a DC institution.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: DCDOLL

                                      Booked City Zen, Inn at LW, Eve and Blue Duck. Will report back.

                                      1. re: guttergourmet

                                        if anything happens to change your plans remember Obelisk! given the places you've already gone it's right up your alley...

                                    2. I'm back-fantastic trip again-here's the report:
                                      Restaurant Eve-Old Town Alexandria-the tasting room was magnificent-the duck foie gras in a poor man's brioche with armagnac; butter poached lobster; bacon, egg and cheese-incredible poached then fried egg with pork belly; mini-cheese fondue; brandy chocolate cake; wine pairings-we wanted to buy a house nearby just so we could go back.
                                      Cityzen took top honors again (despite the competition)-nothing was repetitive of last year, except thank God the parker house rolls and ham and gruyere bread. Lobster broth with lobster sausage was heavenly; foie gras with leek tempura was perfection; skate rolled around a ham hock was decadent; roast duck was platonic. Great cheese selection. Had a front row view of Ziebold and his team in the kitchen.
                                      Blue Duck Tavern-Dungeness crab mac and cheese; California snails with black trumpet mushrooms, garlic and crisp salami; fried pig's trotter, bacon and egg sauce-each one richer than the next. Two deboned quails stuffed with proscuitto, chestnut and chanterelles. MMMMM! Could barely get up to get to Blues Alley to catch Larry Coryell.
                                      Inn at Little Washington-like fine wine-improves with age. Poached pullet egg in oxtail broth, morels and plenty of black truffles- I wanted to swim in the bowl. Hot and cold foie gras always a classic; minced squab, peanuts, shitake and hoisin served on endives; rabbit loin wrapped in pancetta was amazing and I was lucky to get a taste of my wife's lamb carpaccio and her veal cheek saffron risotto. Mooing cow cart and my favorite American cheese, Grayson from Virginia was truly local.
                                      Other memorable meals were:
                                      Kinkead's for oysters, clams, shrimp cocktail and squid. Jaleo and La Tasca for tapas. 2 Amy's (twice) and Pizza Paradiso for pizza and salumi. Five Guys burger which we now have in NYC. Ben's Chili Bowl-why oh why don't we have chili half smokes in NYC? Eric Ripert's Westend Bistro was an unplanned surprise-mini pork pies and lamb sandwiches and a really cool place. Finally, a revelatory banh mi at Banh Mi DC in Falls Church equal or better than any that I've had in NYC or San Francisco( and I've had a lot of them).
                                      All in all, NYC has nothing on DC food wise (or museum wise).

                                      25 Replies
                                      1. re: guttergourmet

                                        im jealous, that's awesome

                                        I just came back from NYC actually and had a FANTASTIC meal at Ushiwakamaru. We sat at the bar in front of Chef Hideo and it was a truly memorable experience. The needle fish, Belt fish, horse mackerel, uni, and amber jack were all fantastic. We kept the beer flowing for Hideo all night (prob about 6 glasses of beer) and he kept the sushi coming. He told us some really great stories too. I definitely cant wait to go back

                                        I also had dinner at Stanton Social (very fun) and brunch at Jane. Great trip.

                                        1. re: MarcDC

                                          Did you have the French toast at Jane? To die for!

                                          For those who may not know, Jane is a casual restaurant in the Village that makes the most decadent French toast possible. The brioche bread is soaked in an egg mixture that has been flavored like the recipe for creme brulee. Does anyone know of a place in the DC area that makes a similar French toast?

                                          1. re: Indy 67

                                            Thanks for steering this back to DC! For posters who want to talk about these places in NYC, please do post on the appropriate board.


                                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                              I have heard Boulevard Woodgrill makes decadent brioche french toast. I was somewhere else lately that had it and I just can't remember where, will try to think of it.

                                            2. re: Indy 67

                                              I did, in fact, have the french toast at Jane. It was unbelievable! I think it might be the best I've ever had.

                                              The only place in the DC area that I can think of is Poste... they do a pretty good french toast

                                              1. re: cleveland park

                                                Bingo. I think we have a winner. Flan is close enough to creme caramel/creme brulee, that Jaleo just moved to the top of the list.

                                              2. re: MarcDC

                                                Ushi is one of my favorites. Any sushi recs in DC? I'm kicking myself for not getting to Eden Center for more Vietnamese.

                                                1. re: guttergourmet

                                                  The best japanese in DC is Makoto (in the palisades). They serve sushi as part of their 10 course tasting menu, but it is not a sushibar. Make your reservation well in advance because the place is small 20-30 seats and very popular with visiting dignitaries from the Japanese embassy. Also very expensive... but that doesn't seem to be your concern.

                                                  Also, I was in NYC last weekend. We went to the Golden Unicorn for DIM SUM on Sunday... It was good, but I remember it being better. We don't have very good dim sum in DC, we have to go to the suburbs here. Where would you go in NY for dim sum?

                                                  1. re: guttergourmet

                                                    I would say the best sushi in DC is either Sushi Taro or Kaz Sushi Bistro. I'm not enamored with Sushi-Ko and as keithdcil points out, Makoto's focus isnt on the fish but much more japanese cuisine as a whole. Honestly, I'd save yourself the time and money, which could be better spent at Yasuda and Ushi.

                                                    Have you had the ethiopian food in DC? If not, next time youre in town, get thee to Etete down off of U Street

                                                    1. re: MarcDC

                                                      I am ashamed to say that I have never had Ethiopian. I will rectify.

                                                      1. re: guttergourmet

                                                        I second Etete and Sushi Taro. I wasn't that impressed with either Kaz or Sushi Ko when I went, but of the two, I'd go back to Sushi Ko because the quality of the fish was better (but admittedly, I've only been to either one once).

                                                        You can in fact get just sushi at Makoto, but most people do get the omakase. Or go upstairs to their much more informal sister, Kotobuki, which does definitely do sushi.

                                                        1. re: kallisti

                                                          This is a great thread for the best that DC has at the high end--with a few great value choices also (e.g., Eamons Dublin Chipper).

                                                          Without being repetitive, I thought I'd weigh in to respectfully disagree on Kaz, Sushi Ko and Sushi Taro (and mildly on City Zen for that matter). On the sushi places, I've always found the three to be somewhat inconsistent and usually mediocre with Taro probably the best of the lot. Makoto is hands down the best Japanese in this region and, contrary to a few posts here, it absolutely does have a sushi bar. We go frequently and while, yes, the fixed price menu is the way to go for first timers (and 2nd/3rd timers too), it's a great experience to go there and just order the fish. Everything is top notch quality prepared by chefs with real expertise. At more reasonable prices, Kotobuki (as has been covered here) is a DC treasure. I also like Tako Grill in Bethesday. Very good quality fish (the yellow tail on the main menu is an especially good value) at moderate prices between Kotobuki and Makoto.

                                                          City Zen: I know this will prompt some controversy but I've just always found it to be uninteresting. I do agree the food is very good/top tier. It's just that I find it boring because it lacks any innovation in approach. Every major US city has a restaurant just like it. Very good food, super expensive, similar types of formulas. Many of the others here: Eve, Palena, Inn at Little Washington, etc are not only outstanding but also very memorable and unique. The gap between Keller and Ziebold is fiairly wide; at least in comparing CZ to French Laundry. Night and day. Not sure about Per Se as I haven't yet made it there.

                                                          1. re: nwdchound

                                                            Interesting reply. I've been to Tako Grill a couple times and been thoroughly unimpressed with the quality of their sushi. Nothing terrible, but certainly nothing that would make me go back when Niwano Hana is much closer to home and Sushi Taro to work. Perhaps I should try it again sometime.

                                                            1. re: kallisti

                                                              Can't comment on Niwano since I haven't tried it but I'd be curious to know how you think it rates relative to Kotobuki (my vote for best sushi value in the area)? Tako isn't exceptional but, in some categories, better than most for the money. Also relative to Sushi Ko and Kaz, both of which I've found to be pretty disappointing on most visits. If you do try Tako again, try the yellowtail sashimi from the regular menu in particular (or the red snapper which is usually on the specials menu). I think those are a notch ahead of Taro.

                                                              1. re: nwdchound

                                                                i think niwano hana is more about gimmicky rolls versus good sushi... i think Kotobuki is FAR better

                                                                1. re: MarcDC

                                                                  There are definitely lots of specialty rolls at Niwano Hana. I admit that I love love love the Salmango (avocado and tobiko inside out roll with alternating slices of salmon and mango on the top, with little mounds of black roe on top of each piece). However, if the quality of the fish were not up to par, I really would not go back, and I do order hamachi sashimi and toro almost every time I go. I have consistently good fish there, and am happy that I live nearby.

                                                                  Unfortunately, that means that I don't get much chance to be in the neighborhood of Kotobuki, which I'm still dying to try. If Kotobuki does end up being far better than Niwano Hana, then I'll have to make the trip often! :)

                                                                2. re: nwdchound

                                                                  As I just mentioned below to MarcDC, I unfortunately have not been to Kotobuki though I know it's supposed to be great.

                                                                  Any other recs for specific dishes/fish at Tako? I would rather try what's supposedly best on the menu than get the things I got before (which I don't remember but were clearly the things I like and get often) and be disappointed again.

                                                              2. re: nwdchound

                                                                I went to Per Se a week after City Zen last year-City Zen was vastly superior.

                                                    2. re: guttergourmet

                                                      What a trip!! How long were you in town for because that's a hell of a lot of eating :)

                                                      I'm jealous of all your wonderful foodie experiences this time around. I wish I could come along for the ride. :)

                                                      1. re: Elyssa

                                                        I'm proud (or embarassed) to say one week. If I stayed for 2 weeks I'd be in trouble.

                                                        1. re: guttergourmet

                                                          So now the hard part: what was your absolute fave of all the dining experiences...not just food but total package? And, if your fave for 'food' and your overall fave are different please tell about both. You are making all of us locals hungry... :)

                                                          1. re: DCDOLL

                                                            I already said that Cityzen is the winner 2 years running against stiff competition. Last year it ruined Per Se for me which I went to 2 weeks later by being so much better. Ironically Ziebold trained under Keller.

                                                            1. re: guttergourmet

                                                              sorry, i didn't want to take the time to go thru the entire thread i guess which is why i didn't see that you already said what your fave was.
                                                              Did you use opentable to get a CityZen res or did you call? i cant' seem to get a weekend res on opentable so i was thinking calling might work better.

                                                              1. re: DCDOLL

                                                                Always call any restaurant if you can't get a reservation through Open Table. No restaurant is going to let all its tables be filled up via the internet.

                                                                At the extreme, I remember reading about The French Laundry in CA which sets aside a single reservation for one of the two dinner seatings and a single reservation for the lunch seating via Open Table on the weekends. (I think there are further restrictions since one of those reservations is for a party of two and the other one is for a party of four.)

                                                                When my husband and I have been shut out of a DC restaurant via Open Table, we've always called. Invariably, we can get a table although these phone offers tend to be too early or too late for our plans or preferences, but that's not always the case. Sometimes, the phone reservation is exactly what we were shut out of by Open Table. The fact remains that phone reservations haven't disappeared in the face of Open Table.

                                                      2. re: guttergourmet

                                                        Seriously, you guys are champs. Was this an extended visit??